Jillicious Reading: July 2008


The Debutante

by Kathryn Williams

Summary: Annie can’t believe it. The summer before her senior year her parents decide to move from Connecticut, the home she’s always known, to her father’s hometown of Beaufort, Alabama. Annie feels like she’s moved to another planet! And, if that’s not bad enough, her well-to-do grandmother decides that Annie will be a debutante, presented to society as a true Southern lady. This goes against everything Annie is or wants to be. All she can do is hope to survive and count the days until graduation. However, Annie is in for several surprises, including new friends that might be more like her than she ever thought possible and a really cute Southern gentleman.
Thoughts: The Debutante is an enjoyable, chick-lit novel full of likeable characters and good, Southern fun!


by Joan Bauer

Summary: Fear is raging through the little apple-growing community of Banesville. Ghost sightings, mysterious warning signs, and a death at the Old Ludlow place have the town in a scared frenzy. Hildy, reporter for the high school newspaper, is determined to report the truth about what is really going on. As the spunky teen and her fellow reporters investigate, they make many surprising discoveries, some that are rotten to the core.

Thoughts: I really liked Hildy, her love for journalism, and her commitment to the truth. This is an entertaining, delicious read that would best be enjoyed with a piece of warm apple cake!

Skulduggery Pleasant

by Derek Landy

Summary: Stephanie’s mysterious uncle, a bestselling novelist, dies and leaves her his entire estate. On the first visit to her newly acquired property, Stephanie is attacked by an evil man who is desperately looking for something. She is rescued by a walking, talking, fire-throwing skeleton named Skulduggery Pleasant. Stephanie deduces that her uncle was murdered, and she teams up with this strange skeleton detective to solve the crime. Stephanie is pulled into a dangerous world full of magic, secrets, strange characters, and evil villains as she seeks to find her uncle’s murderer.

Thoughts: The audio of this book is a true treat for the ears! I loved the different voices and the musical interludes. This is a sassy, fun, new mystery series that really delivers. The action continues in the recently-released sequel, Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire.


All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story

by Mary Downing Hahn

Summary: Travis and his younger sister Corey are feisty, fun-loving kids who like to pull off pranks and jokes. They head to Vermont to spend the summer with their grandmother at her recently purchased inn, Fox Hill. Travis and Corey are delighted when they learn that Fox Hill is supposedly haunted; they can’t wait to cook up their own “hauntings” to spook the guests and create their own fun. Things take a frightening turn, however, when their mischievous pranks awaken the real ghosts that reside at Fox Hill.

Thoughts: This is a fun, not-too-creepy ghost story.


Red Moon at Sharpsburg

by Rosemary Wells

Summary: Twelve-year-old India’s school is closed at the outbreak of the Civil War, and she is tutored by her brilliant neighbor Emory Trimble. Instead of focusing on the typical female studies of scripture, household economics, and handwriting, Emory teaches India all about the natural sciences. India is an eager learner and dreams of going to college someday to further her studies. Meanwhile the Civil War is escalating, India’s beloved father joins the fight, and many young soldiers are losing their lives. India witnesses the horrors of the war and works hard to help her mother and others suffering around her; but, she continues to hope for the day she can enroll in college and live a different life.
Thoughts: This novel provides a deeper understanding of the Civil War and the horrible realities of battle. I loved India and her desire to live a different life than women were allowed at this time.


Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging
by Louise Rennison

Summary: This is the diary of 14-year-old British teen, Georgia Nicholson. In this hilarious journal, Georgia tries to control her wild cat, Angus, deal with her weird parents, keep her little sister occupied, make her nose stop growing, avoid as much school work as possible, and win the love of older man Robbie. The diary is complete with a British – American glossary which defines “snogging” and other Brit slang terms.

Thoughts: I am a huge fan of the “fabbity, fab, fab” Georgia. Be sure to get to know this feisty heroine before the movie (Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging) hits the big screen this year. There are several books in this series describing Georgia’s hilarious and often embarrassing adventures. And, they are a blast on audio!

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!


by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: When her mother remarries, Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix to rain-soaked Forks, Washington to live with her father. She just wants to fit into her new school without being noticed. But noticed she is, by the gorgeous and mysterious Edward Cullen. Bella is instantly drawn to Edward, and she is determined to unveil the true identity behind this distant yet alluring boy.

Thoughts: This captivating novel is one of my very favorites. If you haven’t read Bella & Edward’s story, be sure to do so before the film release on December 12, 2008. The story continues in New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

Summary: The city of Ember was built 241 years ago to ensure that the human race would continue on earth. However, Ember is rapidly decaying, and the instructions for how to get out of the city have long since been lost and forgotten. Twelve-year-old Lina and her friend Doon are convinced that the only chance to survive is by finding a way out. The courageous duo works together, determined to save the doomed city before the lights go out forever.
Thoughts: This is a creative, fast-paced novel that makes the reader thankful for life on earth. If you haven’t read it, be sure to do so before the movie hits theaters in October 2008. Also, the story continues in The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold.


A Crooked Kind of Perfect

By Linda Urban

Summary: Zoe dreams of getting a piano, becoming a prodigy, and playing at Carnegie Hall. But, instead of a piano, her father buys her an ugly, wheezy, Perfectone D-60 electric organ. “This is not how it is supposed to be,” but Zoe resigns herself to learning to play the Perfectone since it seems to be the closest she is going to get to the piano of her dreams. She endures her quirky teacher and the golden oldies songbook in hopes that she’ll make it to Carnegie Hall someday….or at least to the “Perfectone Perform-O-Rama.”

Thoughts: This is a wonderful story. Zoe’s voice is delightful and amusing; I loved following her on her musical journey as well as meeting all of the nutty characters that played a part in her story. I look forward to more from this new novelist.



by Michael Grant

Summary: One minute their teacher is teaching a lesson, and the next moment he is gone. But, he is not the only one. Actually everyone over the age of 14 just vanished in the blink of an eye. At first, it seems like a dream come true; but Sam, Quinn and Astrid soon discover that surviving in a world without any adults is a lot more challenging and scary than they could ever imagine.

Thoughts: Wow! This novel grabbed me from the first page and kept me reading & guessing until the end. I certainly hope a sequel is in the works!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart

Summary: Witty, spunky, and cute, sophomore Frankie attracts the attention of a gorgeous senior at Alabaster Prep Academy. Matthew is charming, popular and also happens to be one of the leaders of the elite, all-male, secret society, “The Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds.” At first Frankie is content to spend time with Matthew and his cool senior friends, but she soon grows tired of the secrets and exclusivity. She takes matters into her own hands with a clever scheme in hopes that the guys will finally acknowledge her wits and equality.

Thoughts: This is an original, clever, and surprising novel. I loved Frankie… her independence, her smarts, and her unique insights. One of my favorites of the summer!

Finding Daddy

by Louise Plummer
Summary: Mira is very close to her mother, her grandmother, and her friends. But, she has never known her father. Her mother & grandmother have never told her the details of his leaving nor answered many of her questions about him. Fed up with their evasiveness, she starts looking for him on her own with the help of the Internet. At the same time, strange things start happening that deeply frighten Mira and her family. Things get creepier and creepier in this tense, suspenseful thriller.

Thoughts: Yikes. This is an intense but thorougly captivating novel. It’s deliciously spine tingling!

The London Eye Mystery

by Siobhan Dowd

Summary: Ted and Kat are excited to spend time with their cousin, Salim, and to show him around London. They watch Salim board the London Eye ferris wheel, but he never gets off! He seems to have disappearred quite literally into thin air! Ted (whose mind is “wired a bit differently”) and his curious older sister work together to solve this intriguing mystery.

Thoughts: I loved this mystery, and I loved Ted! He is a delightful narrator and sleuth. I hope this is the first of many more Ted & Kat mysteries.


The Crossroads
by Chris Grabenstein

Summary: Zack moves with his father and new step-mother to Connecticut. He is hoping to escape the ghost of his lost mother that constantly haunts him. What he doesn’t expect is that he will find even more evil lurking right behind his new home at… The Crossroads.

Thoughts: Whoa. This is a deliciously creepy tale full of ghosts, suspense, and spine-tingling horror. So fun!


by Gary D. Schmidt

Summary: Henry’s father has always said, “If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.” But, then Henry’s older brother Franklin is critically injured in a car accident … Trouble has arrived and it just keeps on coming. Racial tensions flare up against the driver, and secrets are revealed about Franklin. Trouble has definitely found the family, and now Henry must learn how to deal with it.

Thoughts: This is a powerful novel. It is beautifully written and tackles some tough issues in an original way. This is a memorable story that stays with you long after you close the book.


by Gordon Korman

Summary: Griffin Bing finds a rare Babe Ruth baseball card that may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! The only problem is that before he discovers its value, he sells it to S. Wendell Palomino for almost nothing. When Griffin discovers he’s been swindled, he puts together a team of friends with the unique talents needed to pull off the perfect heist. Griffin is determined to get the card back from the man who tricked him and to teach S. Wendell to think before trying to take advantage of a kid again!

Thoughts: I love Gordon Korman! He delivers again with this latest novel – it is fun, fast-paced and full of suprises.

The Red Necklace
by Sally Gardner
Summary: Yann Margoza, a young magician’s apprentice, meets Sido, the daughter of a self-indulgent, heartless marquis, on the fateful night when Yann’s life begins to unravel. Their two lives become entwined along with the evil plots of the treacherous Count Vallovski. Against the backdrop of the emerging French Revolution, this story unfolds with much intrigue, suspense, and romance.
Thoughts: The haunting story of Yann and Sido is a captivating historical piece. The turbulent times in France are the perfect setting for this exciting, eventful tale. The story leaves a strong possibility of a sequel which I hope the author pursues!

H.I.V.E. :
Higher Institute of Villainous Education

by Mark Walden
Summary: Otto Malpense is kidnapped and taken to the secretive H.I.V.E., the Higher Institute of Villainous Education. He and the other captives have shown a special talent for villainy and are enrolled in this elite school to learn the way to total world domination. Otto and three new friends immediately begin to formulate a plan to escape the island – a feat that has been attempted by many would-be villains but has never succeeded.
Thoughts: What a fun adventure! I really liked the original premise and the fast pace of the novel. This is the first in a series that is sure to please fans of exciting stories full of cool gadgets and superhero-ish characters.

Waiting for Normal

by Leslie Connor
Summary: Addie’s mother is up to her old tricks. She has divorced Dwight, Addie’s beloved stepfather, and is involved in yet another business venture guaranteed to solve all of their problems. While Addie is making new friends in the neighborhood and at school, she desperately misses Dwight and her little half-sisters who live with him. When Addie’s mother stays gone for longer and longer periods of time, Addie does the best to take care of herself and keep her mom’s absence a secret all the while yearning for a “normal” life.

Thoughts: Addie is a delightful character. She is strong, resilient and optimistic. I thoroughly enjoyed this hopeful, heartwarming story and its determined young heroine.

by Rachel Vail

Summary: Phoebe is a lucky girl. She has a great family, a beautiful house, and four fabulous best friends. Everything always seems to go her way. But, as she and her friends are planning the perfect eighth-grade graduation party, Phoebe’s luck starts to change. An unexpected family problem and Phoebe’s attempt to hide it threatens to ruin her party and her comfortable world.
Thoughts: I liked Phoebe’s story; it is realistic and engaging. This is the first in a planned trilogy of books told by Phoebe and her two sisters. I look forward to the next volume.


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