Featuring toothy cows, hidden secrets, crazy sockmen, books, Fangs, ridgerunners, and sea dragons; On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is a rip-roaring tale of adventures, intrigues, and three children-Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby. These children, living in a little house in the Glipwood Township have perfectly ordinary lives, or so they think-until a series of strange events occur that lead them to believe that perhaps their lives aren’t quite as ordinary as they thought. The ferocious Fangs of Dang are seeking for the lost jewels of Anniera, which are somehow tangled up in the history of the three Igiby children, their mother, and their ex-pirate grandfather; and the Fangs are determined to find the Igiby’s at any cost.
I would highly recommend On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, written by Andrew Peterson and published in 2008 by Waterbrook Press, for ages 10+. It’s witty, fun, fast-paced, and the plot twists will leave you on the edge of your seat. There is some minor violence to watch out for with younger readers. All in all, a well-written, wholesome book with unique characters and a twisty storyline. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The Outsiders, written by S.E. Hinton, is a coming-of-age story featuring 1960’s greasers, Socs, cars, switchblades, gangs, books, and family. Read about Ponyboy, his brothers, and their friends as they fight against injustice and prejudice both against them and that they have against others; and not everyone may make it out of the fight alive.
I would recommend this novel for ages 14+. It would fall under the historical fiction and young adult genres and is very well written with an excellent ending. The Outsiders is not one of my favorite books, it was predictable and not one of the most memorable stories I’ve read in my lifetime; there was also some content to watch out for younger readers. 3 out of 5 stars.
Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke and published in 2003 by Dressler Verlag, is a tale of stories slipping from the pages of books they belong in and entering the real world, bringing their magic, rivalries, and dangers with them. Follow the adventures of 12-year-old Meggie, her father Mo, and the enigmatic Dustfinger as they travel the countryside in an attempt to stop the villain Capricorn from covering the world with a darkness taken from the pages of his origin book. Fairy tales, classics, mythology, and reality collide as the Silvertongues read from their books in an attempt to save their own world.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 14+. It is well written, rich with literary references, and packed with adventure at every turn of the page. There are a few minor inappropriate jokes and some usage of mature language, as well as violence to watch out for. Full of memorable characters, a unique storyline, and bookish quotes, Inkheart is a book that will keep you up until the early hours of the morning. 4 out of 5 stars.
The Lost and Found Journal of a Miner 49er is a collection of tales regarding river mermaids, journeys, boxing kangaroos, love, bandits, acts of valor, and daring escapades. This novel features the brave Miner 49er, also known as Cody Kirschenbaum, and his darling daughter, Clementine. As you read these 17 wild adventures that take place at the time of the Gold Rush, you’ll learn valuable lessons, laugh at Cody’s dry wit and outlandish stories, and enjoy a good, Western fantasy book.
I would recommend this book, written by Jack Dublin, for ages 10+. Well written, humorous, with unexpected twists and fantastical creatures set in Gold Rush California; this book is great for a bit of lighthearted reading. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Professor Diggins from the University is a little cracked, or so the board of Directors believe. Any respectable marine biology professor should keep fantasies out of the classroom, according to the Directors; so when Diggins begins to teach his devoted students about dragons and dragon-hunting and rumors start spreading, there’s only one course of action the University can take. They must retire Professor Diggins. That course of action is not popular with anyone, however; and especially not with the children who walk the Professor to his class every day. When the Directors insist on the Professor having at least a vacation to clear his head of these dragon fantasies; he takes a group of these children with him to the beach for a camping trip, where they will meet the Professor’s dragons for themselves.
I would highly recommend Professor Diggins’ Dragons by Felice Holman for ages 8+. This is a fun, lighthearted children’s book, with excellent themes and eccentric, memorable characters; well written and humorous. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
“ ‘Oh dear!’ said Lydia. ‘Is this the end?’
‘Indeed not!’ said Professor Diggins. ‘Just a stopping place.’ ”*
*Excerpts taken from Professor Diggins’ Dragons, written by Felice Holman and published in 1996 by The Macmillan Company
The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic, is a marvelous addition to the Sherlock Holmes cannon. Consisting of fifteen short stories, including two selections from Mr. Holmes’ diary, a garden tea gone murderous, and a strange case of unsolved madness-these tales are sure to delight any Sherlockian. This book would fall under the historical fiction, crime, mystery, and adventure genres.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. Written true to the original stories, The Whole Art of Detection is a remarkable read with only some violence and one or two uses of mature language to watch out for. A well-written book with engaging action and faithful renderings of the famous detective and his faithful counterpart. 4 out of 5 stars.
…has returned to Baker Street. *
*All excerpts taken from The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic.
How shall I begin? How might I convey to you, the reader, of a most troublesome circumstance which befell me, whereby I might kindle in you an understanding of the dark misgivings which linger in my nightmares? *
Sherlock Holmes and his faithful biographer, Dr. John Watson have embarked on a new set of fantastical adventures. A mysterious client has sent them a number of questions involving unsolved Biblical mysteries, and the great Detective is determined to solve every one. The only catch-the mysteries happened over 1,000 years ago. And in order to solve them, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson have to trust a machine that was designed by the nefarious Professor Moriarty to take them into the past to solve these mysteries. Will they be able to solve all the mysteries before the police get wind of their potentially illegal activities? And who exactly is this mysterious client that has sent them on this dangerous mission? Find out in Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye by Len Bailey, published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. This book falls under the Christian fiction and mystery genres.
I highly recommend this book for ages 15+. There are some mildly thematic elements to watch out for, as well as some violence. This book is a medium reading difficulty, and the dialogue and descriptions are excellent. The book is a little slow at times, but the characters are well written and the mysteries are intriguing. All in all, 3 out of 5 stars.
*Excerpt taken from Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye, written by Len Bailey and published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson.
It’s London, England in the year 1872, and Mycroft Holmes is a rising young member of the British War Office. With wealth, friends, and a massive intellect, Mycroft has what appears to be an almost-perfect life with a promising future ahead. But with burdened with poor health, his unpopular prediction of British financial problems, past heartbreak, and an extraordinarily aggravating younger brother; not everything is a perfect as it seems with Mycroft’s personal life. And when his brother, Sherlock Holmes, gets fixated on the recent murders that have been plaguing London, Mycroft discovers that there may be more to these gruesome deaths than meets the eye. Featuring intrigues, rain-swept docks, smugglers, hidden romance, back-alley fights, friendships, secrets; and set against the enticing backdrop of Victorian England, this book is a must-read for any Holmesian.
Mycroft and Sherlock, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse and published in 2018 by Titan Books, is a book I’d highly recommend for ages 15+. There is one or two instances of mature language as well as some mature, gruesome details regarding the murders and some occasional violence. All in all, an excellent mystery\adventure story featuring the roots of the famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with action, intrigue, and banter worthy of any original Holmes story. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
War Horse, written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982 by the Scholastic Press, is an inspiring and moving tale of war, friendship, and the love between a horse and its owner. This novel falls under the historical fiction\middle grade genres.
Joey, a beautiful red-bay horse, is torn from his farm home and tossed headlong into war. Learning to pull heavy artillery, charge enemy forces, and carry wounded men-enemy and otherwise-Joey is passed from owner to owner, from English forces to German, and from kind men to cruel. He experiences both loss and joy, and is witness to the front line fighting in World War One. But through it all, he fights to stay alive. For his heart yearns for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind him, and he’s determined to find him again. Will he escape the horrors of the war unscathed?
I recommend this book for ages 14+. There is some violence and mature language to watch out for, but all in all it’s an excellent book with a gripping plot, terse details, and memorable characters, both horse and human. 4 out of 5 stars.
Sophie Foster is an extraordinary 12-year-old girl. Ever since she was 5 years old, she’s had a very special ability-she can hear people’s thoughts. Because of this unexplainable talent, she never fits in anywhere, and never really feels like she belongs. When she meets a boy named Fitz who can do the same thing she can, she finds out that she’s not all that she thought, and that there is somewhere for her to belong. She has to leave everything behind and embark on a wild adventure in a new place, with new rules to learn and a new culture to experience. Learning to control her massive powers and abilities is just part of her new life. When her new friends discover that there are hidden secrets inside of her head, they have to endeavor to keep her safe; for there are things inside of her that people would kill for. Sophie has to discover who she really is, and why she was hidden with the humans; for she might be the key to unraveling her new world…unless her enemies reach her first.
Keeper of the Lost Cities, written by Shannon Messenger and published in 2012 by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, is a riveting story of new beginnings, belonging, and a fantastical world. This book would fall under the middle grade fantasy genre.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12+. There is some violence and romance to watch out for, but it is a very well written book with memorable characters and fun world building details. All in all, a book well worth the read. 4 out of 5 stars.