Matched by Ally Condie is the first in a trilogy. It is along the lines of The Giver, 1984, Brave New World, and The Hunger Games. Cassia lives in a dysophia society where they choose everything for her and just tell her what to do. But when you turn 17 you can choose to be matched, and the Society will match you with your perfect mate. Amazingly Cassia gets matched with her best friend Xander, but then later when she gets home another name and face flashes on her screen of who she should be matched to--Ky--who is someone she also knows. Cassia is torn by this "mistake" and who is her real and true match? In a society with no choices, she now has one, and it is the biggest one of her life. This is a great read. Thought provoking--how lucky are we with our choices and our lives--even when we don't always make the right choices. What is true love and how do you really show it? How can you show freedom and make your life your own if you never have any choices? My 10-year-old daughter picked this up right after I put it down, and she is also enjoying it. We can't wait for the 2nd to come out in November 2011 and the 3rd set for November 2012. Does it have to take that long????
Heist Society by Ally Carter was the first book picked for my local book club. Ally Carter is known for her Gallagher Girls books, but this was the first book of hers that I had read. Katarina's family has a business, but it is not your typical family business, and she wants out. Her family are professional thieves, and she has been in the business helping since she was three, and now she is 15. She decides she wants out and wants a normal life and tries to go to a boarding school, but her family has an emergency and needs her back. Her dad has been falsely accused of stealing some paintings from a very bad guy, but Katarina knows he is innocent. The only way she can prove he is and get her dad out of trouble is to steal the painting back from whoever really stole them, and that is what this book is about. Katarina puts together a teen group of top of the line thieves and tries to steal the paintings back from the most secure art museum in the world. A good, fun read. The story is fiction, but it is actually based on the real fact that during WWII the Nazi stole many works of art from whoever they wanted and then kept them or sold them, and there are people working today trying to return those stolen pieces of art to their rightful owners.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is a mystery set in 1950's England in a small village. Flavia is an 11 year old girl who has a passion for chemistry in general and poisons specifically. One early morning at her big house she hears something in the garden and goes to investigate. It is a man lying in the cucumbers, and he breathes his last breath in her face. She should be scared, but she isn't. This is the most exciting thing to happen in her whole life. She has a mission to solve the mystery. I used to think that mysteries were not really my thing, but I loved Josi Kilpack's culinary mysteries, and I really enjoyed this. Flavia is a great character. The book is written from her perspective and from her mind. She will make you smile, laugh, and really think. This is an adult book even though the main character is 11, but it is highly entertaining and a very "clean" murder mystery. I love the Inspector who is assigned to the case. You can just tell how he is trying to restrain himself and deal with this 11 year old who keeps butting into his case. A great read. Check it out.
I read The Crossing by Jim Murphy last week to my 10 year old daughter who was home sick from school one day. We finished the whole thing in one day, and we both really enjoyed it. Jim Murphy writes non-fiction historical books for kids. The Great Fire, The Blizzard, An American Plague, and Truce are some of his works. I read Truce last year which was about a WWI Christmas along the front lines. It was very good. He has a great way of making history very accessible to children. Having read 1776 by David McCullough and loving it, I was anxious to check this "kids" version out. It didn't disappoint. He has pictures and diagrams on almost every page to help you understand where the armies were and what was happening. It was fun to read out loud to my daughter because we discussed a lot of the circumstances where "lucky" things happened--like the wind changing so British ships couldn't get up the river to attack the Americans and heavy fogs suddenly developing so the British could not see the Americans retreating as they left New York. I kept asking my daughter, "Do you think that was an accident? Do you think they were just lucky?" "No, mom. God was helping them." And Jim Murphy mentions in the book that so many of the men, including Washington, felt that God was leading, guiding, and directing them. It was great. George Washington is a hero, is one of my heroes, and after reading this with my daughter, he is now one of her heroes. Can't ask for anything better from a book than that.
The Exiled Queen is book two in the Seven Realms Novel series. Book one is called The Demon King. I read book one last year and really enjoyed it. Hans is a street thief, the head of a street gang, but who really wants to do more with his life. Then there is the Princess who Hans meets as Rebecca. It is a fantasy novel but set in a middle ages type world with wizards and magic. I was excited when the second came out. The Princess has run away from home and is disguising herself as a normal woman and heading to school to become a soldier. Not the first place you would look for a lost princess, so a good place to hide. Hans has gone to wizard school right across the river, and they meet up again. Hans still doesn't know that Rebecca is really his soon to be queen, and their friendship grows until both are forced to leave at the end. Anxiously awaiting book three. . . This is a very good fantasy, magic, romantic series that I would recommend.