Jillicious Reading: July 2009


The Lab

by Jack Heath

Summary: Agent Six of Hearts lives in a futuristic world that is controlled by the evil corporation Chaosonic. Six works for the Deck, a secret agency trying to provide justice in a corrupt world. He is the Deck’s most brilliant agent; mission after mission is executed perfectly. But, Six is about to face his most dangerous assignment yet, and he may not be prepared for what lies ahead.
Thoughts: The Lab is a fast-paced, suspenseful thrill ride that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. I really enjoyed the action and look forward to more Agent Six of Hearts adventures. Interesting note: This debut novel was written by the author when he was in high school!

Shadowed Summer

by Saundra Mitchell

Summary: Bored and looking for something to do in their small town, friends Iris and Collette hang out in the cemetery pretending to cast spells and call up spirits. But then, Iris actually hears someone whispering in her ear. Could it be the ghost of Elijah the local boy whose death years ago was never explained? The girls’ summer becomes anything but boring as they start looking into Elijah’s death and Iris continues to be haunted by a restless spirit.
Thoughts: This is a suspenseful novel that pulled me in from the beginning. I could easily relate to the girls’ search for something to do, and then I was immediately captivated by the mystery. Also, the novel emphasizes the struggles of friendship and romance which added depth and realism to the supernatural story.

The Last Invisible Boy

by Evan Kuhlman

Summary: As he is trying to deal with the sudden death of his father, Finn realizes he is slowly starting to disappear. He tells and illustrates his story attempting to figure out what is happening to him and to hold on to the memories of his father.

Thoughts: This book really surprised me; it’s realistic, magical, funny, and touching all in one unique novel. I loved Finn’s engaging voice and his realistic struggle with devastating loss. The illustrations used throughout are an excellent complement to the writing. Readers who like the format of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series but would also enjoy a more serious story should check out The Invisible Boy.

Franny Parker

by Hannah Roberts McKinnon

Summary: Franny expects to spend her summer caring for injured animals in the makeshift veterinary hospital she has set up in the barn. What she doesn’t expect is to get a gorgeous new neighbor. When Lucas and his mother move in next door, Franny is in for many surprises.

Thoughts: This is an engaging story about helping those in need – of both the four-legged and the two-legged variety. I really liked Franny and her family; they are exactly the kind of people you would want for next-door neighbors. I look forward to more form this firt-time novelist.

The Seven Keys of Balabad
by Paul Haven

Summary: Seven keys were used to lock up the national treasures of the country of Balabad; the keys were then taken by seven brothers to different corners of the world. Five hundred years later, Oliver Finch moves with his parents from Manhattan to Baladad. At first he is bored and homesick, but then one of his friends is kidnapped and Oliver finds himself in the middle of an ancient mystery and in serious danger!

Thoughts: This is a fast-paced, intriguing mystery full of villains, double-crosses, and dangerous escapes. I liked the Middle Eastern setting and the ancient secrets. The author worked as a foreign correspondent and his experience lends authenticity to the story and its setting.

Absolutely Maybe

by Lisa Yee

Summary: Maybe just can’t make it through another one of her mother’s weddings. Desperate to get away, she decides to take off to California with friend Hollywood who is entering film school and other best buddy, Ted. She hopes to find the father she never knew and ends up on the ride of her life.

Thoughts: Absolutely Maybe is a delightful book! It is funny, entertaining and full of quirky, memorable characters. The story also shows depth as Maybe deals with difficult situations in an authentic way. This book is for a slightly older audience than Mrs. Yee’s previous books, and I thoroughly enjoyed this new direction.

A Kiss in Time

by Alex Flinn

Summary: Right before her sixteenth birthday, Princess Talia pricks her finger on a spindle and slips into a deep sleep. Three hundred years later, Jack, an American teenager touring in Europe, comes across the sleeping princess and can’t resist kissing her. The princess awakens, and both she and Jack find themselves in an unexpected predicament.

Thoughts: Author Alex Flinn, the author of Beastly, has written another fun, modern retelling of a classic fairy tale. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one at first, because Princess Talia is quite a spoiled brat! However, as the story and the princess develop, I really grew to like her and also loved her observations of the modern world. 🙂 A Kiss in Time is a great choice for lovers of fantasy, realistic fiction, or romance.

The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones
by Rick Riordan

Summary: After their grandmother, Grace Cahill, passes away, Dan and his sister Amy are among the relatives invited to hear the reading of her will. To the surprise of all, Ms. Cahill gives everyone an option: they may each take one million dollars or they may take the first of 39 clues. The clues will lead to a treasure that will make the finder the most powerful person in the world. Dan is shocked when Amy forfeits their millions to start the search.

Thoughts: I finally had a chance to start The 39 Clues, and I was so impressed! I found the first book to be quite clever and entertaining. It was a wonderful blend of adventure, mystery, historical facts, and humor. I listened to this one on audio book, and I can’t wait to check out the others. Kudos to Mr. Riordan for creating such an ingenious new series!


by Aprilynne Pike

Summary: After years of homeschooling by her mother, Laurel enters a public high school in her new town. She is welcomed by the handsome David, but she doesn’t quite fit in with the other students. This is further evident when she grows a beautiful pair of wings.
Thoughts: Wings is a captivating fantasy novel with charming characters and a quickly moving plot. An intriguing love triangle develops that adds romance and spice! 🙂 This is the first in a series by a new author that is sure to find many fans. Judging from this and several other new novels, it seems vampires are out, and faeries are in!

If the Witness Lied

by Caroline B. Cooney

Summary: The children have had their share of heartache. As they are still grieving the loss of their mother, their father is killed in a terrible accident. The two sisters, Madison and Smithy, flee from home, one to boarding school and one to her godparents’. Jack is left behind to help his aunt with his little brother Tris. After their father’s birthday, the girls return home and together the children start to unravel mysteries surrounding their father’s death.

Thoughts: If the Witness Lied is a gripping, suspenseful novel. I enjoyed the fast-pace and found myself madly turning the pages to discover how things would play out. The characters were realistic and endearing as they dealt with their grief and banded together for the sake of their shattered family.

The Magician’s Elephant

by Kate DiCamillo
Summary: When orphan Peter Duchene is sent to the market, he discovers a fortune teller. Should he spend his money to ask the question he so desperately wants to know? Is his sister alive? Peter decides he must try, and he is surprised by the fortune teller’s answer which sets off a string of events no one expected.
Thoughts: Ms. DiCamillo’s latest novel has the feel of a classic tale. The timeless novel is dreamlike and magical and stresses the importance of hope, belonging, and family. I really enjoyed it; I love the way Ms. DiCamillo constantly explores different types of writing and always surprises her readers.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly

Summary: Growing up with six brothers is quite a challenge. It is also a challenge for a girl in 1899 who is interested in nature to accept that someday that she will likely become a wife and spend her time cooking and sewing, pursuits of which she has no interest. Luckily she develops a special relationship with her once distant grandfather that deepens her learning, broadens her horizons, and enlarges her dreams.

Thoughts: I love Calpurnia Tate! She is spunky, curious, and hilarious – a perfect heroine. Her adventures with her grandfather are fun and insightful. This is a delightful novel, and I truly hope Ms. Kelly writes more about Callie Vee.

The Contender

by Robert Lipsyte

Summary: As his best friend starts down a path of crime and drugs, Albert tries to resist in spite of constant harassment from street punks. He visits Donatelli’s Gym, the neighborhood boxing club, looking to overcome his fears. Does Albert have what it takes to be a contender? A champion? He’s about to find out.
Thoughts: This is such an absorbing novel. I was drawn to Albert from the beginning and pulled for him throughout every page. This book was published before I was born, but amazingly, it’s just as relevant and powerful today as it was when it was written.

Kaleidoscope Eyes

by Jen Bryant

Summary: While helping her father clean out her deceased grandfather’s house, Lyza finds a stack labeled “For Lyza ONLY.” A lover of geography, her grandfather has left her a collection of maps and clues that appear to lead to a buried pirate’s treasure. With the help of her friends, Lyza sets out on the hunt of a lifetime.

Thoughts: I was first drawn to this novel because it is written in free verse; but, I ended up really liking it because of the engrossing blend of historical fiction and adventure. The characters were realistic, and I loved the treasure hunt! This is a unique novel for those looking for something different.


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