Books for girls are reviewed here. We do not accept advertising revenue. We just give the straight scoop on what's good!
Dorothy Must Die (No Place Like Oz) by TBD- 4 Star Fiction. Buy at Barnes & Nobel, Amazon, The Apple Book Store or any major on line retailor.
The Kansas girl grows up & realizes she made a mistake. But how can she get back to Oz?
Dorothy Gale visited Oz when she was a sweet girl of 13. By her 15th birthday, she realizes the Kansas farm offers little opportunity and is boring. Back in Oz, she was the hero witch slayer in a beautiful place with people who worshiped her. She made a big mistake in returning to Kansas.
After a disasterous 15th birthday party, she is crying in her room when Toto the dog pulls a final gift from under the bed. A pair of red shoes in the Oz style.
A gripping fictional account that brings realism into the story of Oz. This book is a bit cynical but is appropriate for girls age 13 and up.
p.s. I once read a review of some Oz books in which the commentator talked about the Dark Side of Oz. And I thought "What are you talking about?" Since then, I have read many more of the original Oz stories and discovered the commentator was right. I conclude by saying that "Dorothy Must Die" is not "off base" either in terms of the original stories or in terms of a realistic assessment of Dorothy's life as she grew into a teenager during the Kansas Depression Years.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford- 4 Star Fiction. I bought my copy at Powell's Book City in Portland Oregon. Should not be hard to find.
Fast moving mystery in an "old house" during a snow covered Christmas.
Milo is looking forward to a quiet Christmas with his family in their ramshakle house hotel, when six strange guests arrive. Arguments soon erupt between the guests as an odd assortment of things goes missing from their rooms. Milo is soon involved with Mendy in trying to find the missing objects and unravelling why this odd assortment of guests arrived.
Fast moving, constantly entertaining and enjoyable. I highly recommend Greenglass House for boys and girls age 9 to 12.
A Previous Spotlight Book for Girls & Boys ages 8 through 13. Girls or Boys fiction, no outright violence but petty quarrels & strange people.
The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick is a fantastically imaginative YA novel that explores the consequences of time gone awry. Four young teenagers discover a small stone that came out of a bird's nest -- the kind that stores dormant 'time eating insects' that are usually under control but are turned loose and start multiplying as a result of the stone's mishandling.
The Time Fetch begins as Dweeboo (AKA Edward) removes a small, odd stone from a bird's nest and puts it into his pocket. Soon, he is in class as his science teacher lectures on the consequences of species reproduction in the absence of natural population controls. The lecture is boring, but thankfully it seems very, very short that day. A few pages later, all kinds of things are happening without the usual cadence of life. Edward, Feenix, Danton & Bridget are soon struggling to figure out what has gone wrong when Edward's Aunt sends them on a quest to save the world...
The Time Fetch is interesting, throught provoking & full of non-stop action as a rich weave of science & imagionation set the stage for this fast paced story.
Review by Athena
The Story Thieves by James Riley: 5 Star Fiction Girls fiction, magical violence of the funny sort, Age 10 & up (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, e-book etc.)
"The Story Thieves" is a book about a kid who goes into a library and sees a girl from his school crawl out of the pages of a book. After some tough negotiating, she agrees to take him along and the two of them jump into his favorite magical fantasy series. It's not long before 'the Magister' is not so nice as he seemed in fictional readings and he is most unhappy to be told that his life is a script and without free will. As a result ....
Well, you really will have to read it to find out the consequences of Betheny and Owen's involvement in the fictional domain.
"Story Thieves" is a Must Read!
The Stolen Chapters: 5 Star fiction by James Riley. Buy from any major retailor.
for girls or boys 11 to 13
Sequel to Story Thieves: In book 2 of this series, Owen, Bethany and Kiel become embroiled in the fictional universe after Betheny breaks her own rules by engaging fictional characters. She attempted to contract the great grandson of Sherlock Holmes to find her father, who is lost in the fictional domain.
Bethany finds herself trapped in a small room that is slowly filling with water while Owen and Kiel desparately try to save her. The story soon breaks down into a mystery that involves a fictional Owen, the grandson of Sherlock Holmes and quite a few other fictional characters.
Readers beware: The first few chapters seem to be missing; but, this is not a publishing defect. Kiel and Owen have lost part of their memories and thus, the material in those chapters must be reconstructed as the story develops. They do eventually get their memories back, but can they overcome the handicap in time to save Bethany? Read this lovely little page turner and find out!
Review by Athena
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff: 4 Star Fiction Girls fiction, little violence, Age 10 & up (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, e-book etc.)
"A Tangle of Knots" gives readers a great story line. Each chapter intertwines with another somewhere in the book. Eventually, all story elements combine to create an elaborate whole. Part story, part mystery, "A Tangle of Knots" leaves lots of knots for the reader to unravel before threads form a satisfying conclusion.
"A Tangle of Knots" is a Must Read!
Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski: 5 Star Rating. I bought mine at Barnes and Nobel
This was formerly one of my spotlight books, because the writing, characters and setting are all wonderful. I have moved it to make room for new entries, but it remains one of my favorites. (G,v,F, Age 6-12, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, e-book etc.)
Marie Rutkoski brings us excitement, action & great characters through the adventures of a 10 year old girl in medieval Bohemia.
This is not your average, magic wielding fantasy book for 8 to 11 year girls. It is a rich & beautifully written adventure about a very good girl in an exiotic land. After the prince steals her father's eyes leaving him blind, she decides to go to Prague & steal them back. Her desperate plan forces her to join forces with a Gypsy thief, use deception to get a job in the castle and finally try to break into the Prince's collection. Through the unfolding of this lovely story, we witness the maturing of a child into an adult who must deal with a world of hard choices that is no longer "black and white".
I like this story because it reveals the unfolding of conflicting elements in a journey of discovery and problem solving. Petra obviously has high moral standards & yet is thrust into a world of midieval cruelty. She must somehow reconcile the "rightness" of her mission with the deception, trickery & questionable alliances needed to achieve her goal.
There are two other stories in this series and I have begun reading the second one to my 8 year old daughter. Cabinet of Wonders (book 1) is truely a gem for either girls or boys. It is sure to please.
Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone- 4.5 Star Rating (9 to 75 years old) for boys & girls who like cats) I bought mine from the Apple Bookstore. This should be easy to find on major on-line book stores.
Amy & James follow their cat Kiwi into the night, only to be invited to go with her to Cat City. Upon arrival, they find themselves transformed into kittens & along for the ride as Kiwi helps Inspector Furrball unravel the Cat Crime of the decade.
Kiwi in Cat City is fast paced & fun. Pace & utter disregard for reality result in a novel with the spontaneity of a good comic. Ridiculous but fun. Park your brain & go for the ride. You'll like it!
Review by Athena: 5 Star Rating I recommend the book for any age (9 to ...... 108 years). This book has everything including good fun, action & humor.
The book is about 9 year old Amy & her younger brother who follow their cat Kiwi into the night to see what she does when they're asleep.
The two kids get the shock of their lives when they end up in Cat City, where they are transformed into kittens. From there, Amy & James follow their cat around (instead of their cat following them) in a fast paced mystery & cat-crime adventure.
The author seems to have an unlimited imagination which makes the story enjoyable for all ages. I recommend that you read this book. I believe you will have a bucket full of enjoyment!
Kiwi in the Realm of Ra by Vickie Johnstone- 4.5 Star Rating (9 to 75 years old) for boys & girls who like cats
Kiwi in the Realm of Ra is yet another of Vickie Johnstone's wonderful adventures of Kiwi the cat and her human masters (Amy and James). In this episode, Kiwi and her human masters (James and Amy) are transported back in time and visit ancient Egypt. Together with animal friends from earlier books, they end up on the trail of Dev the criminal mastermind of the cat world. Ancient Pyramids, cat bandits and Ancient gods who are often not in sympathy with the cats are all intertwined in a book of mindless fun so typical of this author.
I have read and enjoyed all the Kiwi books. In "Kiwi and the Missing Magic" Kiwii's mother and father are introduced and play prominent roles. A new dimension of "cat magic" is introduced in the stories. The Kiwi Christmas story is good. In fact, all the Kiwi books are all good, but the Realm of Ra is outstanding!
Varjak Paw by S. F. Said: 5 Star (animal stories)
B&G, v, F, Age 6-60, Amazon, Barnes&Nobel, e-book
Young Varjak's family is in danger when the Contesa dies & a strange man with his black cats take over the house. Moments before being murdered, his grandfather sends the young kitten Varjak to seek help in the outside world & to save his family. Varjak has great help from Holly and Tam. But can these three cats succeed?
This is a fabulous "comming of age" story & also a story of loyalty to family and friends. Sequel The Outlaw Varjak Paw is equally gripping. We only regret there are no more.
The English Roses by Madonna: 5 Star
G, F, Age 5-10, Amazon, Barnes&Nobel etc.
Five best friends almost break-up their friendship over an unbelievably cute new boy in class. This beautifully illustrated book follows the story of their jealousy, the help of their teacher and a final resolution that preserves their friendship. (60 pages, about half text)
There are many books in this series. It seems they are all lovely and well illustrated with fun artwork!
Rama the Gypsy Cat by Betsy C. Byars- Three Star Rating (7 to 11 years old) for boys & girls who like cats) Open Road Integrated Media
Rama the Gypsy Cat is a story about a perfectly normal tom cat. That is, a cat without the powers of speech or complex reasoning. He begins his life in a Gypsy wagon before being separated as a young tom. He goes through a series of adventures and challenges. With each change, Rama finds himself in a new circumstance with a new master.
Like most cats, he feels a loyalty to his human, even as the chain of circumstance leads him from a Gypsy woman, to a farm family and finally to a life with a traveling merchant.
I read this story to my 9 year old daughter. It is a brief story, but both of us enjoyed it. If you are looking for a 'cat book' Rama the Gypsy Cat is a good choice.
Rama the Gypsy Cat is apparently out of print ; but, is available as an e-book for Kendal, Nook and likely others. It can also be found at used book sellers or Amazon New & Used for very reasonable prices.
The Thirteenth Unicorn by W. D. Newman: 3 Star (Fantasy)
B&G,v, F, Age 5-8, Barnes&Nobel, Amazon, Smash Books in e-book only
9 year old Ben Alderman & his 13 year old sister Casey discover a "pathway" between their grandmother's farm and a magical world with Dwarfs, Elfs and all that. This is very much a story of good vs. evil like so many. The story offers a sequence of events terminating in a great surprise ending.
Story quality of this book is not bad & the writing is acceptable; but the plot seems a bit unoriginal. Significant character development is not a major theme. That said, my 6+ year old daughter enjoyed it very much & she really is the intended audience.
Ink Heart by Cornelia Funke, 4 Star (Fantasy)
G,v, F, Age 6-12, Barnes&Nobel, Amazon & others
11 year old Meggie doesn't know that her father Mo can "read" people, animals and things out of story books, nor the reason for her mother's disappearance when she was quite young. She & her father live a gypsy life, never staying in one place for very long. Could these circumstances be related & what do they mean?
This is a beautifully written story & most creative. Characters are rich & the story moves at reasonable pace. For me, the one weakness is the somewhat depressing setting for most of the story. I have not read the sequels, but this author is very good.
The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu, 4 Star (Fantasy)
G, F, Age 6-10, Barnes&Nobel, Amazon etc.
Charlotte is disappointed with life & just about everything is wrong. That is, until cousin Zee shows up & the two attempt to rescue Charlotte's English teacher who has been abducted & carried into the Underworld of Ancient Greece.
This story is fairly well written & the basic idea creative. Character growth is evident. For me, the one downfall is an oppressive under world setting for most of the story.
The City of Ember by Jean DuPrau, 4 Star (Futuristic)
G, F, Age 8-14, Barnes&Nobel, Amazon etc.
12 year old Lina and her (boy) friend Doon grow up in a futuristic underground city, intended to "protect humanity" for 200 years. But the time is passed & supplies are almost gone. They sense something is terribly wrong & it is time to push to the outside world despite political leadership that thinks otherwise. Can they break free from the city they know & escape to the outside world? Can they take the people of Ember along on this journey? This is their challenge.
This story is very well written & the theme solid. Character growth is evident. A clear portrait of possible futures is presented along with its ultimate consequences. This book is a bit old & possibly hard to find, but well worth reading.
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Paul F. Watson