Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Door in the Forest by Roderick Townley

Title: The Door in the Forest
Author: Roderick Townley
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Random House Canada
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: Young Readers

"At the mid point of three towns, in the center of three streams, in the heart of a forest, lies a mysterious island. Encircled by quicksand and sewn shut by vines, it is impenetrable to all but the poisonous snakes patrolling its waters. But Daniel is determined to get there, along with his friend Emily.

Emily is a bit mysterious herself. A girl who seems to know more than she can say, whose mother was taken away by government troops, and whose eccentric grandmother reads the future in her bubble bath.

Enter the soldiers. Their menacing commander is terribly interested in sleepy little Everwood. Is he searching for something? A treasure map? The island? The girl?

Roderick Townley spins a magical tale of lies and truths, of secrets kept and secrets revealed.

Sooner or later, we all must step through the door in the forest." (

About the Author:

"I've always loved to write. I can still see myself at eight or nine, scribbling a story in a notebook, my brothers jostling me in the back seat while my parents drove into town. My heart was pounding with an excitement that no one around me noticed.
Of course, lots of kids like to write. Luckily I have a couple of other things going for me: I actually like to rewrite. Even today I will revise a chapter a dozen times if it will make the story any better.
And I love to research. For The Constellation of Sylvie, I visited NASA in Houston and interviewed an astronaut who had set foot on the moon. For The Red Thread, I trekked to a castle in England and peered into sewers in New Hampshire. For The Blue Shoe, I researched mining operations, gemology, and mythical creatures in ancient cultures. It may seem odd, but even in a fantasy novel every fact has to be right.
That attitude helped me during my years as a journalist in New York, where I worked on the staff of several magazines. I did everything, went everywhere—burrowed into coal mines, visited war zones, interviewed movie stars, opera singers, a former Secretary of Defense, a president of El Salvador. I even ghost-wrote an article for an orangutan. (Don't ask.)
Somehow I found time to emit an odd assortment of books, a few of them fine and unfortunately out of print, and a couple of them awful and mercifully out of print.
The time came when my wife Wyatt (a fellow writer) and I decided to leave New York and live by the ocean. It's possible we took a wrong turn at Weehawken, because here we are in Kansas, where we've been for some time, still writing our books and waiting for the surf to come up." (

This is another book that I happened upon at the library. Honestly, I thought the cover was neat and I was intrigued, so I brought it home with me. I just love young readers books. They are so much fun, their adventures are full of new things and just make you wish you were there. I want to go to the island in this book. It sounds so cool, and it would be an absolute wonderland for any kid (or adult for that matter!) The characters in this story work together so well. They are different enough that you find them believable, but similar enough that the bond that forms makes sense. I'm not very good at riddles and figuring out clues to stuff, so I was quite happy that these kids are smarter than I am (if I were the one in charge we never would have made it to the island.)  Overall, it was just a really fun adventure to read about. There are happy parts, scary/adventurous parts, and a sad part or two. It would be a FANTASTIC read for any child who loves adventures and to just escape to another world. And, if you're like me and love kids books, this book will not disappoint adults.
Happy Reading!

Related Links:
Author's Website
Random House Canada
Ms. Yingling Reads

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster Canada)
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

"In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime." (

About the Author:

"I was born and raised in the Seattle area, with the exception of a few short stints in Phoenix, Boise, and San Jose. I had a colorful childhood, raised by a single mother who worked her butt off to make ends meet. She showed my brother and me how to enjoy life on a shoestring budget. She was the kind of person who, given the choice between paying a bill and taking us to the circus, would always opt for the circus...and somehow, she always managed to pay the bill. She was the one who taught me how to laugh.

My publishing career began at an early age, when I started making homemade coloring books with sheets of blank paper and a stapler, and then went door-to-door to sell them. Unfortunately, my neighbors had limited disposable income for such frivolous purchases, so I was forced to seek my fortunes elsewhere.

I first fell in love with writing (giving up my childhood dreams of being a Veterinarian, and then my later aspirations of "lady trucker") when I signed up for Journalism as my 7th grade elective. It was supposed to an easy A, but it soon became my passion. I moved on to be Copy Editor of the high school yearbook so that I could correct other people's writing mistakes and fill in when they missed their deadlines (and, hey, it was high school...deadlines were frequently missed!).

I still live in the Pacific Northwest, which is the ideal place to be writing anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. I live with my husband and our three beautiful (and often mouthy) children, who serve as an endless source of inspiration for my writing." (

I randomly found this book at the library one day and thought I should read it. I did not know much about it, had not really heard anything, so I just decided to give it a shot. I think this is one of my favourite dystopian novels so far. I was sucked in from the beginning, I loved the characters, the setting, the ranking in society (although I strongly disagree with this kind of set-up in society, it makes for an interesting read), and the abilities a couple of the characters have. In this story, no one is who you think they are. Literally. There are so many surprises revealed towards the end and I found myself gasping out loud at a few different parts. I could not (and did not) put this book down until I finished it. It was wrapped up pretty well at the end so I think (?) this might be a stand alone, but I'm really not sure. Authors always seem to find something more they can say about a story. Not that I'm complaining, I would LOVE to read more about the adventures of Charlie, Max, Brooklynn, and Xander!!!!

Thanks for reading this and Happy Reading all!

Related Links:

Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Penguin Young Reader Group
Format: Trade Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

"In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion." (

About the Author:

"Ally Condie received a degree in English Teaching from Brigham Young University and spent a number of years teaching high school English in Utah and in upstate New York. She lives with her husband and three sons outside of Salt Lake City, Utah." (

I know a lot of people who have read this book and said it was fantastic, so I thought I would give it a try. I LOVED it! I loved the idea, all of the rules in this particular society, the fact that the government chooses a life mate for you, and that nobody questions it (which is usually how all of these books start...) I'm super curious about who set Cassia up and made the "mistake". It is going to drive me crazy not knowing where this story is going, but I love it when an author is capable of making the reader feel that way! Will Cassia find what she's looking for? Will she get caught? AAAAHHHH!!!! If you loved The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, etc. you will love Matched! Happy Reading!

Related Links:
Matched Website
Author Website

Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan

Title: Swordbird
Author: Nancy Yi Fan
Release Date: January 18, 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 240
Genre: Young Reader 9-12 Fantasy

"The blue jays and cardinals of Stone-Run Forest have turned against each other. According to legend, only Swordbird, son of the Great Spirit, has the power to conquer evil and restore peace to the land.
Teenage author Nancy Yi Fan weaves a captivating tale about the heroism, courage, and resourcefulness in the birds of Stone-Run's quest for peace." (

About the Author:

"Nancy Yi Fan spent the first part of her childhood in China, where she was born in 1993. When she was seven years old, Nancy moved with her parents to the United States and attended American schools. Birds, a life long passion of the author's, provided the inspiration for Swordbird. After awaking from a vivid dream about birds at war, Nancy wrote Swordbird as a way to convey her message of peace to the world." (

I have an 11 year old niece and I thought it would be fun for us to read a book together. We stacked up a bunch on the floor and she proceeded to read through the back of all of them and eventually settled on Swordbird. We read it out loud, each taking turns (she is much better at voices and actions than I am.) I really enjoyed this book for two reasons. One, it gave me a chance to spend some time with my niece doing something we both love: reading. Two, this was a fun book. I could not help but constantly remind myself that a CHILD wrote this book. It's still amazing to me. It was a really great adventure story, with many different kinds of birds (some of which neither of us had heard of), lots of action, and times that were happy and/or sad. Overall, it was a fun read and I'm looking forward to when we start reading the sequel, Sword Quest.
I asked my niece for some comments. I apologize for the "modern" speak:
"the dude that died is my favourite bc he risked his life just for his team (Milton.) and i didnt like the names bc they were hard to pronounce and i liked it how the writer changed the words like somebird and things like that. And i liked the settings and how they fought and idk". Spoken like a true child of today! Lol. Thanks for your review!

Happy Reading everyone!!!!

Related Links:

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt: The Astonishing and Unlikely True Story of One of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Paleontological Discoveries by William Nothdurft and Josh Smith

Title: The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt
Author: William Nothdurft and Josh Smith
Release Date: September 9, 2003
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Format: Trade Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Genre: Non-Fiction

"The date is January 11, 1911. A young German paleontologist, accompanied only by a guide, a cook, four camels, and a couple of camel drivers, reaches the lip of the vast Bahariya Depression after a long trek across the bleak plateau of the western desert of Egypt. The scientist, Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach, hopes to find fossil evidence of early mammals. In this, he will be disappointed, for the rocks here will prove to be much older than he thinks. They are nearly a hundred million years old. Stromer is about to learn that he has walked into the age of the dinosaurs.

At the bottom of the Bahariya Depression, Stromer will find the remains of four immense and entirely new dinosaurs, along with dozens of other unique specimens. But there will be reversals—shipments delayed for years by war, fossils shattered in transit, stunning personal and professional setbacks. Then, in a single cataclysmic night, all of his work will be destroyed and Ernst Stromer will slip into history and be forgotten.

The date is January 11, 2000—eighty-nine years to the day after Stromer descended into Bahariya. Another young paleontologist, Ameri-can graduate student Josh Smith, has brought a team of fellow scientists to Egypt to find Stromer’s dinosaur graveyard and resurrect the German pioneer’s legacy. After weeks of digging, often under appalling conditions, they fail utterly at rediscovering any of Stromer’s dinosaur species.

Then, just when they are about to declare defeat, Smith’s team discovers a dinosaur of such staggering immensity that it will stun the world of paleontology and make headlines around the globe.

Masterfully weaving together history, science, and human drama, The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt is the gripping account of not one but two of the twentieth century’s great expeditions of discovery." (

 About the Author:
"William Nothdurft is the author, coauthor, or ghostwriter of nearly a dozen books, including the award-winning Ghosts of Everest, about the search for the missing mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.  
Josh Smith served six years in the U.S. Army before getting his B.Sc. from the University of Massachusetts and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in paleontology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently an assistant professor at Washington University." (

This book greatly appeals to my nerdy side. I have always been fascinated by dinosaurs and archaeology, and this was a great book to read that included both interests. Very well written, it is easy for anybody to read and understand. A ton of information is given on the history of the world, geological practices and knowledge, as well as background information on the team who participated in this project. There are some great pictures so the reader can get a sense of the environment in which the dig took place, as well as the conditions worked in. I do not recall hearing about this discovery back in the early 2000s, but now that I have I want to know more! I really hope you will give this book a shot. Like I said, anyone could read it and understand it, and it's fascinating to hear different theories about how the Earth used to be formed, how the continents split, what creatures lived at what time. Let me know what you thought if you read it! Happy Reading!

Related Links:
Random House

The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy Book #1) by Robin Bridges

Title: The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy Book #1)
Author: Robin Bridges
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House Canada)
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy for Young Adults

"St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?" (

 About the Author:
"By day, I am a mild-mannered writer of fantasy and paranormal fiction for young adults.  By night, I'm a pediatric nurse.  I live on the Gulf Coast with my husband, one soon-to-be teenager, and two slobbery Mastiffs.  I like playing video games and watching Jane Austen movies.  (Alas, if only there was a Jane Austen video game!) THE GATHERING STORM is my first novel.

You can find me on LiveJournal, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads

(And probably on one of the latest MMO’s as well.)" (

 I was introduced to this book by my friend, Michelle B., when she sent me a pic of it and said, "Cool." I did a search for it on the internet and read the summary and I thought, "I need to read this book." I like the idea of taking something like Russian royalty and mixing it with the supernatural. It took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did I absolutely loved it. I love the idea of curses and having an ability that you don't even know how to use or control. I loved reading all the names and what the characters status was in society, as well as reading about grand balls and getting all dressed up.
The characters in this book are easy to love (or hate, whatever the author is hoping you feel about the characters) and I can't wait to read the next one. It is easy to see that there will be a blossoming relationship between two of the characters and I can't wait to see how that unfolds! Keep 'em coming, Robin Bridges!!!! 

As always, thank you for reading my blog! Happy Reading!

Related Links:
Author Website
Random House Kids Website
Random House Website

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

 “Tell me what it's like. The race."

"What it's like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood. The fastest and strongest of what is left from two weeks of preparation on the sand. It's the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It's speed, if you're lucky. It's life and it's death or it's both, and there's nothing like it.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

I love Maggie Stiefvater. I love her stories, I love her writing, I love her mind. I picked up The Scorpio Races because I read Shiver, Linger, and Forever and thought they were so creatively written and thought out that I wanted to see what else she could do. Wow.

Let me start off by saying, I’m a bit afraid of horses. Being not quite 5’2”, they have a bit of an advantage over me and quite frankly, I have always been afraid of their teeth. I think they are beautiful and if I have a chance to be around them I will take it, but I usually keep a bit of space between myself and these four legged beings. I love the idea of water horses. I understand there are some myths about them (Stiefvater wrote using her own interpretation), but I had never before heard of them. I absolutely fell in love with the horses in this story, even the blood-thirsty piebald that Mutt chose. The descriptions of them coming out of the water, their desire to be in the water, and the fierceness these flesh eaters have were spectacularly written.

I also love the characters. Puck is not your average girl. She is strong, but afraid. Beautiful, but plain. Smart, but, some would say, stupid to enter the races. They are all easy to like, and I am particularly curious about Finn and what his story is. 

I really hope you will read this story or at least pass it on to someone you know who enjoys young adult stories. It was  a really great read.

Maggie: I know you said you would not write the "other half"....but will you PLEASE?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Happy Reading everyone!

Related Links:

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Cronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu

I happened upon these books one day in Chapters. I had seen them before, but not given them much attention, so one day I decided to actually see what the first one was about. With all the buzz about the Percy Jackson series (which I have not yet read), I was excited to discover this one was also about the Greek Gods. I have never taken any Greek mythology, but have always had an interest in learning, so I picked up this trilogy. The first book, The Shadow Thieves, is about Hades and the underworld, the second book, The Siren Song, is about Poseidon and the ocean, and the third book, The Immortal Fire, is about Zeus and Olympus.

I read the first book and I fell in love. It was really well written, the characters were just your ordinary grade eight kids, and there was a surprise at the end that made me gasp. I was gripped from the get-go and couldn't wait to read the other two. And they did not disappoint. I really hope that more kids read this trilogy. The writing was well-done and the stories were written in a way that kids could feel as though they could fight against the Greek gods like Charlotte and Zee! I hope Ursu will try another trilogy (maybe an offshoot of this series, using Maddy or another character we are introduced to in this trilogy) introducing some of the other Greek gods or maybe just some other myths and tales!

As I said, I have not read the Percy Jackson series, but I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who has. I think it is great that kids are learning about the Greek gods, as the myths are far from being nice, fluffy, and bright. This series also shows that even Greek gods have family spats :).

If you would like more information about these books, please check out the links below. Happy Reading!