Got Holiday Money?
Six Great New Books to Buy in Early 2011

WOW! I have got to say that there are some tremendous books coming out in the next three months. I'm listing some that I feeling you strongly need to consider adding to your reading-pile.

First of all, for all of who adored "Name of the Wind", Patrick Rothfuss is FINALLY coming out with the follow-up book. Titled "Wise Man's Fear", you can pre-order it for a March 1st delivery.

Next, there are some great YA dystopias coming out. I've listed the ones I recommend below.

And finally, there are some great books for middle-graders and one book in the Kid-department which I recommend.

I've listed them in order of age category and added notes for the books that could be read by another age group. For example, Adults and Young Adults can certainly enjoy Brandon Mull's new book.

For Kids

The Trouble with Chickens
(A J.J. Tully Mystery)
by Doreen Cronin
Kevin Cornell (Illustrator)

Publisher Description: J.J. Tully is a former search-and-rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement after years of performing daring missions saving lives. So he’s not terribly impressed when two chicks named Dirt and Sugar (who look like popcorn on legs), along with their chicken mom, show up demanding his help to track down their missing siblings.

Driven by the promise of a cheeseburger, J.J. begins to track down clues.
But is everything really like it seems?

My take:
Wonderful book
Doreen Cronin -- of Diary of a Worm fame -- has once again done it right and written a story for the elementary-aged crowd that an adult can be satisfied with as well.

Kevin Cornell's illustrations are fabulous. The chicks are adorable little trouble makers, and if mom's eyes got any closer she'd be a cyclops--lol. This book is funny throughout and ought to be a great series (we want more!) for both boy and girl readers. Good read-aloud!
  • Reading Level: generic 4
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • (March 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0061215325
  • amazon

For Middle-Graders

A World Without Heroes
by Brandon Mull

Publisher Description: Jason Walker has often wished his life could be less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank into a strange, imperiled world. Lyrian holds dangers and challenges unlike anyplace Jason has ever known. The people all live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes

My take:
Brandon Mull already has a huge audience who love him because of his Fablehaven series. The Beyonder series is only going to add to the throng because this just a great non-stop action story. What I particularly like about Mull's writing is his creativeness and what he brings to the genre. There may be a cliche or two, but he matches them one for one with fantastic and novel ideas.

Suitable for adults and young adults looking for a lighter read.
Suitable for Tweeners who can stick with a longer book.
  • Reading Level: generic 5
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • (March 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 141699792X
  • amazon

Eliza's Freedom Road
An Underground Railroad Diary

by Jerdine Nolen

Publisher Description: It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza's mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn't taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress's health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, " … travel the night … sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window." All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine's, Canada.

My Take:
A freaking brilliant book told in a first person diary format. Ms. Nolen doesn't delve into the age-inappropriate bad treatment slaves received, but rather tells the human side of this story so well that children aren't likely to fail to comprehend the great human cost of that abysmal institution. Simply an outstanding historical novel.

  • Reading Level: generic 4
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • (January 4, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1416958142
  • amazon

Suitable for any age.

For Young Adults

(The Chemical Garden Trilogy)
by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher Description: Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

My take:
These days it's not often that I'm pulled into a story from the first page, but Wither did it.
DeStefano absolutely mastered the first person voice of her character Rhine and even better, gave the story, which could have been trite, real bite. The characters, all except for the father-in-law, were sympathic and complex. A great dystopia.

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • (March 22, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1442409053
  • amazon

I’ve heard of this happening. Where I come from girls have been disappearing for a long time. They disappear from their beds or from the side of the road. It happened to a girl in my neighborhood. Her whole family disappeared after that, moved away, either to find her or because they knew she would never be returned.

Now it’s my turn. I know girls disappear, but any number of things could come after that. Will I become a murdered reject? Sold into prostitution? These things have happened. There’s only one other option. I could become a bride. I’ve seen them on television, reluctant yet beautiful teenage brides, on the arm of a wealthy man who is approaching the lethal age of twenty-five.

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

**Starred Review** Kirkus

Publisher Description: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone--one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship--tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

My take:

Part scifi, part mystery. I was drawn into Amy's perspective right from the start, but truly it was the mystery that kept me up reading late into the night. Beth Revis did a good job keeping things twisting and turning.

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • (January 11, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1595143971
  • amazon


The Wise Man's Fear
by Patrick Rothfuss
(Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2)

Publisher Description: My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me... So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view—a story unequaled in fantasy literature.

My Take:
Haven't read it. (Are you listening DAW?)
  • Hardcover: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: DAW Hardcover (March 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0756404738
  • amazon

Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss
(Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1)

**Starred Review** Publisher's Weekly

4.5 Stars with nearly 800 reviews on Amazon

My Take:
This is a very detailed fantasy story about a man who is more capable than the rest of us, so if such a premise isn't your cup of tea, keep alookin' for your next great read .

Description: Kvothe was brought up
as an actor in his family's traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters. When they are murdered by mystical creatures he ends up as a feral child on the streets of a port. That doesn't keep him though from gaining entry into THE University where he soon excels over even his best instructors. It's unclear in the first book entirely what motivates Kvothe. He is certainly driven to acquire knowledge for his own sake. But in back of the reader's mind is that this must somehow relate to solving the riddle of why his family was massacred.

Suitable for young adults looking for intricate fantasy read.

Somewhere in the X-burbs

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