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Engaging Methuen Readers


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One Minute Book Review: Something Real

Cover image for Something realSomething Real by Heather Demetrios

Ever wonder what it would be like to be famous? To have your own reality television show? Well, according to Bonnie™ Baker, it’s horrible. That’s right, her name is indeed trademarked. Bonnie™ and her eleven siblings have their own reality TV show called A Baker’s Dozen.  Since her birth, the show has been documenting all of their lives, up until her parent’s divorce. Now, Bonnie™ thinks she’s free of the reality (ahem, horror) show and the paparazzi, until she finds out her mom and step-dad sold their rights (again) for a reboot.

More than just a teen drama book, Something Real deals with mental illness, the rights of people, especially children, suicide, and the reality of it all. 

∼ Samm, Library Page

Something Real
by Heather Demetrios
New York:  Henry Holt and Company, c. 2014

 

 

 

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One Minute Book Review: History Decoded by Brad Meltzer

Cover image for History decoded : the 10 greatest conspiracies of all timeThis riveting book, History Decoded,  encompasses ten conspiracies from history that still intrigue to this day. For those readers out there who believe conspiracy theories are a load of bogus, Meltzer does his research, cites researchers, historians, and other experts, and only offers his viewpoint as simply that- another viewpoint of history.
So far, I have only read a few of them, but I’m already enthralled by Meltzer’s writing. He includes “evidence pieces,” aka removable facsimile documents that add to the detective feel of the read. The reader almost feels like a secret vigilante agent, looking at classified documents and reading thinking thoughts contrary to what the government tells us. Meltzer makes reading his book an experience, one that holds the reader willingly captive until the end of each section.
∼Samm, Library Page
History decoded : the 10 greatest conspiracies of all time 
by Brad Meltzer
New York, NY : Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2013


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One Minute Book Review: Warriors by Erin Hunter

Cover image for Into the WildAs a child, I’ve grown up reading Warriors since the third grade. I’m now in my second year of college, and I continue to keep updated with the series. I just can’t bear to leave these characters and their intricate plots behind. In my opinion, Warriors may be simply written but the ideas and the themes are definitely complex. After all, what’s so childish about politics, murder, and forbidden love?
Characters are pushed to their breaking point, and if the series were written for an older audience, I think we would see even more turmoil. However, as it’s marketed for children, most scenes are limited to the true gore and turmoil it could’ve portrayed. The authors could’ve gone further and beyond if they targeted an older audience. Personally, I believe targeting the books to an older audience would have allowed the authors freedom to expand their horizons on more “adult” topics. And as the series carries on, it loses the edge and spunk that the first mini-series held.  Are the ideas underdeveloped? Yes, truthfully, they are. Is Warriors worth the read then? It definitely still is.

                                                                                                                                     ∼ Samm, Library Page
Warriors Series by Erin Hunter
(first title in series:  Warriors:  Into the Wild)
New York : HarperCollins, 2003


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One Minute Book Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

In Jackaby, Abigail Rook, who has recently arrived in New Fiddleham, becomes assistant to R. F. Jackaby.  Jackaby is an eccentric detective of supernatural and inexplicable occurrences, whose last assistant has been turned into water fowl.  Jackaby’s home houses himself, a ghost named Jenny, Douglas, the aforementioned assistant turned duck, and now Abigail. The author does an amazing job of introducing us to the characters while still shrouding them in mystery.

With a string of murders occurring in New Fiddleham, Jackaby and Abigail set out to discover who, or what, is committing them. With the help of Officer Charlie Cane, they discover a banshee who reveals the next victim.  While keeping the identity and species of the killer in question, Ritter keeps it interesting and fast paced, never leaving a dull moment. He leads readers on an adventure with plot twists and even a few things that go bump in the night. It is a great read for anyone looking to be scared or for lovers of lore.

∼ Bistany, Library Page

Jackaby
by William Ritter
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin, c2014

 

 

 


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Review: A Wrinkle in Time (Graphic Novel)

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time, was originally published in 1962. Although we can now marvel at the fact that a juvenile science fiction novel with a female protagonist was written at that point in time, L’Engle had a lot of difficulty getting it published. The countless rejections she faced finally gave way to its publication though, and it proceeded to win the Newbery Medal. This modern adaptation of the work by Hope Larson sheds new light on the story.

Meg Murray’s father disappeared mysteriously while working for the government. Everyone in town talks about him leaving his family, but the Murrays still hold out hope that he will return. When strange new ladies move into an abandoned house nearby, Meg, her little brother, and an eager friend are shown the way to find him and rescue him. On a planet called Camazotz their father is trapped by IT, a dark, evil thing. Can they save him?

Done entirely in monochromatic blue, this graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson has the feel of an old-school comic book. It looks like the time period during which the novel was originally written. I thought I would get bored with the images, but the limited color scheme works well here and the verbage was well done.

Age Range: 10-12 years


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Review: The Princess in Black

The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale

Princesses do not wear black. Princesses do not run. And princesses certainly do not fight monsters. Princess Magnolia, however, does all of these things.

While dining with Duchess Wigtower, Princess Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off. She has to sneak away from the Duchess to stuff a monster back down the Monster Hole or he is going to start eating goats left and right. She manages the task, but while she is gone the Duchess has been snooping through the palace. Will Princess Magnolia’s secret be discovered?

The theme of The Princess in Black is what I love so much about this book. Princess Magnolia can be a princess, but she can also be a superhero. While it is potentially problematic that she cannot show people that she is also a superhero, the message to the reader is that she is good at being both. She even maintains the tiara while she is doing her superhero duties which indicates that her personality overlaps between the two jobs. This is a strong heroine who doesn’t have to choose between being a princess or being a superhero because she is great at being both.

This chapter book is ideal for children 2nd-4th grade who are interested in princesses. It is heavily illustrated and contains short chapters. This is definitely a princess book, but one with pizzazz that shows the strength of the female lead. She needs no rescuing, she will rescue you.


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Atmospheric Mysteries

Recently I finished the Tana French mystery series set in Dublin. A strong part of its appeal is the glimpse into modern Ireland today, with its uneasy mix of rich but tragic history and twenty-first century commercialism and economic problems. That got me thinking about how crucial atmosphere is to the success of many of the best mystery series today, along with strong plotting and memorable characters.

There are so many great series out there that it’s hard to know where to start, but here are a few:

Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice

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Colin Cotterill’s series starring crime reporter Jimm Juree, set in Thailand

The Scandinavians, including Steig Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbo:

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Alexander McCall Smith, who has evocative series in settings as disparate as Botswana and Scotland

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And there are many, many more…what other mystery series stand out to you because of their setting?