Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell

Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell is the story of a young girl who loves to blow things up. She’s (mostly) well trained with explosives and she’s on a quest to save her friend who has been wrongly accused of putting a boy in a catatonic state. Along the way, she needs to free herself […]


I usually wait until an entire series (or at least most of it) is published before I start reading—that avoids the situation of anxiously waiting for the next book to come out, a situation I faced with Scarlet, the hotly anticipated sequel to Cinder. Of course, as soon as the book was in my house, […]

Brian’s Winter

Review written by Jocelyn Koehler. Brian’s Winter, by Gary Paulsen, is the sequel/continuance/what-if to Hatchet, which is probably Paulsen’s best known book, and certainly one of the most durable modern “boy books” around. Full disclosure: I adore Hatchet. I own it, I reread it often, and I recommend it like it’s my job (and for […]


Review written by Jocelyn Koehler. Hatchet is one of my favorite-est “boy books” (more on that below). It freaks me out to think that it’s 25 years old! Maybe that’s partly because it seems like it should be ageless. The core of the story is a boy living alone in the woods, and no amount […]

The City of Ember

My son read The City of Ember for school and thought I might like it as well. He and I had opposite reactions, actually—he thought it was kind of boring until toward the end, whereas I found the earlier parts more compelling. Regardless, it’s an interesting and thought-provoking read. Lina and Doon live in Ember […]

Green Angel

Review written by Jocelyn Koehler How will we react when the worst happens? Will we curl up and despair? Or will we rise up and endure? The answer to that question lies at the heart of Hoffman’s deceptively slender novel Green Angel. Taking equal inspiration from traditional fairy tales and the September 11 attacks, Hoffman […]

The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s stories, but the premise is that Carroll wrote his books based on the stories of Alyss who is truly from Wonderland but trapped in Victorian London. Familiarity with Carroll’s novels will add to a reader’s enjoyment of The Looking Glass Wars—it’s fun to see how Frank […]


Sheep is about the adventures of a Border collie pup. When the sheep ranch where he was born burns down, he’s sold to a pet store. From there, he ends up as a pet and then runs away, traveling with several people or alone, until he finally finds the home where he belongs. In many […]

Water Sky

Water Sky is the story of Lincoln Noah Stonewright who, at around age 13, goes to Alaska to visit friends of his father. Lincoln is part Eskimo*, but he’s grown up around Boston and doesn’t know the Eskimo ways. While he’s there, he learns a lot about the culture and wrestles with the morality of […]

The Talking Earth

Jean Craighead George wrote many books about nature and protecting the environment. I recently reread The Talking Earth, which is about a young Seminole girl name Billie Wind who spends 3 months on her own in the Everglades. When Billie Wind says that she doesn’t believe the legends of her people, she’s sent to spend […]