Book review: Never Say Die, by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz, Anthony.  Never Say Die. (Alex Rider series, #11) Philomel Books, 2017. 349 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781524739300. Ages 13+. P8Q7

This book about a brilliant teen spy is packed with crazy adventure! I haven’t read the other books, so sometimes felt like I was missing something about his motivations, but I still enjoyed it very much and felt like the character of Alex was believable, even though unbelievable things happen to him. It was really fast paced, and I got carried along and wanted to see what would happen next.

VERDICT: Any teen who likes action/ adventure movies or books will love this one.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.


Book review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao

Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Series: Rise of the Empress, Book 1). Philomel Books, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9781524738297. 363 pages.  Ages 14-.  P8 Q7

Xifeng is told that her destiny is to become an empress.  Throughout her journey, there are external and internal conflicts. She deals with complicated internal struggles between herself and the serpent god.  Based with Asian roots, culture, and ideas of royalty, in order for Xifeng to become more powerful, she has to kill and eat the hearts of the victims which is conflicting to standards of good morals.

Verdict: This is a good book for a library as it would attract people who enjoy unusual relationship between the protagonist and the antagonists.  This unusual fantasy is full of plot twists.

November 2017 reviews by B.G. [student]



Book review: Time Out!, by Ale Barba

Barba, Ale. Time Out! Philomel Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780399163043. 32 pages. P6 Q6

A boy crashes on his skateboard and is sent to time out. While the person putting him into time out wants him to “think about what he did” he uses the time to create an adventure. The text is simple and the illustrations are colorful and action packed. The book left me a bit confused. While it is realistic that a child could create an adventure while he is in “time out” that is not usually the goal of a time out. I felt the book was a bit of a disconnect. It appeared in the first page that the boy was in time out because of crash he had with his skate board. It did not appear that he was disobedient, just busy. I would not feel comfortable reading the story to my children because it misses the whole point of time out, to reflect on one’s behavior.

Verdict: While the book is colorful and full of imagination, I do not recommend it. It portrays the adult as punitive. The child uses his imagination and is rewarded for “behaving”. The book ended without a conclusion, there was no clear point to the story.

September 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Homemade Stuffing Caper, by John Madormo

Madormo, John. The Homemade Stuffing Caper. (Charlie Collier Snoop For Hire series, mystery #1) Philomel Books, 2012. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25543-4. 248 p. Gr. 5 and up. P8Q8

madormo-homemade-stuffing-caperCharlie opens his own detective agency in his parents’ garage.  He wants to put his puzzle solving skills to good use and follow in the footsteps of his favorite fictional detective, Sam Solomon.  Soon Charlie is involved in a mystery that contains real danger and he needs his grandma, two school friends, and a former real-life spy to help.

Verdict: For readers who like mysteries and adventures this is the book.  It is the first in a series that now contains three books.  The author’s style includes details that enhance the narrative and keep the reader engaged.  I found the descriptions of Eugene’s office, an exact replica of Sam Solomon’s office, to be implausible.  The character of Eugene could have easily been introduced to the story without that unbelievable feature and his obsession with Sam Solomon.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.

Book review: Milk Goes to School, by Terry Border

Border, Terry.  Milk Goes To School. Philomel Books/Penguin Random House, 2016.  $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17619-7. 30 pgs. Ages 3-7. P7/Q7

border-milk-goes-to-schoolThis is a story of trying to fit in and make friends in a clever way using puns and familiar foods.  All the characters are real food such as a cupcake, waffle, an egg, chicken nuggets, and the main character is a small carton of milk who her father says is the “Crème de la crème”.  Milk keeps saying the wrong things that make her classmates upset.  She doesn’t mean to.  She truly has good intentions, and by the end of the book all the misunderstandings get cleared up. All the photos are done with digital art work using three-dimensional objects.  This is a story that young readers will enjoy and find funny.  Some of the puns may go over their heads, but will be amusing to adults reading to their young ones.

November 2016 review by Helyn Layton.

Book review: Snow in Summer, by Jane Yolen

Yolen, Jane. Snow in Summer. Philomel Books, 2011. 243 pgs. $16.99. ISBN:978-0-399-25663-9. Gr.6+.  P7 Q7

Yolen Snow in SummerSet in the mountains of West Virginia, Summer and her father mourn the loss of her mother. They cope well together till the day her father remarries and brings his new wife home. She is an evil woman who poisons Summer’s father and next tries to rid herself of Summer. Reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, this story depicts the resources of a young girl who fights evil to survive.

November 2015 review by Carol Bernardi.

[Editor’s note: Although Jane Yolen has published more than 300 books, the current fairy tale retelling, Snow in Summer, does not entirely work.  Set in post-war West Virginia, Snow in Summer is an orphan whose father succumbs to the wiles of a woman versed in poisons who is a member of a snake-handling cult.  The historical description is very well done, but the attempts at multiple points of view and the fact that the heroine is alternately highly intelligent and then overlooks direct clues to what is going on weakens the story.  Yolen’s book, Briar Rose, is a much stronger offering.]

Book review: Millie Fierce

Manning, Jane. “Millie Fierce”. Philomel Books, 2012. $16.99. ISBN 9780399256424, Unp. Ages pre-school. P7/Q7.

Millie was a good little girl who no one noticed so she decided to become wild and fierce. She broke all of the rules and was loud and wild everyone noticed but ignored her. She did something so mean she made the birthday boy cry and then decided she really didn’t like being noticed if she was mean to do it. She told him sorry and started helping others and was happy that everyone was noticing her for being good and not fierce. This is a good story to help children understand how important it is to be noticed for being kind and doing nice things for others. October 2014 review by Melinda Dye.