Book Review: The Musician's Daughter

The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap
Click on the cover to find a library copy.

SUMMARY: Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace–and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is. (from the Amazon.com Product Description)

OPINION: Theresa lives in comfort, if not style, until the day her musician father is murdered. Left with just her very pregnant mother and a younger brother, Theresa realizes that they have no money and little future without him. Theresa is duty-bound to hold her family together by making an advantageous marriage, but puts everything at risk to pursue the mystery of her father's death. The complicated political situation that emerges does threaten to overwhelm the story at times. I think it would have helped to know more about the geography and politics of the time to really understand the plot that Theresa uncovers. Nonetheless, you don't have to be a student of history to enjoy this story. With descriptions of clothes and court life, plenty of heart-pounding narrow escapes, and just a hint of romance, this book is a quick read. I recommend it for middle and high school girls who like their historical fiction on the light side.


Find Us on Facebook!

It's taken forever, but I finally created a Sellers Library Teens group on Facebook! It is for everyone in grades 6 to 12 who wants to know what is going on at our library. There is already a Sellers Library group, which you are welcome to join, but the new group will focus on teen announcements and events. The teen group is closed, so you have to request to join. I will approve everyone who is a middle or high school student, even if I don't personally know you. Look us up and join today!



Yesterday, 12 teens showed up to play DDR after school. It was nice to see some new faces, talk with some old friends, and hang out with the library regulars! Everyone participated in the tournament, and Jamie actually had some competition. The final match ended up being among Ross, Jamie, and Laurel. Jamie won, but the other two were close behind him! Jamie received a $10 gift card to GameStop, while Laurel and Ross got candy for their efforts. We'll be playing DDR again soon, so look for it on the spring schedule.


Book Review: Evil Star

Evil Star by Anthony Horowitz
(Click on the cover to find a library copy.)

SUMMARY: Matt thought his troubles were over when he closed Raven's Gate...but, in fact, they were just beginning. Evil forces will stop at nothing to track him down and destroy him. When a suspicious accident destroys part of his school, Matt is forced to fight back. Matt's fate--and the fate of the world--is tied to four other kids across the globe. The second is a street kid in Peru. He and Matt have never met; they don't even speak the same language. But destiny is going to throw them together as the threat of the Old Ones grows, a strange and insidious villain beckons, and another Gate suddenly comes into play. (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: This is the second book in The Gatekeepers series, after Raven's Gate. It has a similar fast-paced plot, with lots of dramatic action scenes. What I especially liked about this book was the exploration of mythical aspects of Peruvian culture. The mysteries of the Incas and other people groups are lost to history, but sites like Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines remain as a testament to their abilities. The setting made the book much more interesting than the first one, even though the writing was about the same. I guessed some of the major plot revelations before they happened and I was annoyed by the fact that Matt and Pedro could communicate in English their dreams when they didn't speak the same language in real life. However, I still kept reading because the story was fun. I liked how the ending was not similar to that of Raven's Gate. It definitely allows more interesting possibilities for the remaining three books in the series. Overall, I say this is a good series for middle school readers looking for quick and action-packed reads.

SERIES TITLE: This series is published as The Gatekeepers in the U.S., but in England it is know as The Power of Five. They are the same books.

AUTHOR WEBSITE: Visit Anthony Horowitz online at http://www.anthonyhorowitz.com/


Good Books to Read

If you are always looking for another good book to read, sign up for the Teen Scene email newsletter from NextReads! Every month, I get great suggestions delivered to my inbox from this free service provided by the Delaware County Library System. This month's list features new books ranging from a teen cookbook to historical fiction to short stories, and also a cute thematic list called "Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines." All of the books on the thematic list are related to NASCAR racing! That's one theme I never thought to make a booklist on, but some of the titles actually look good. I definitely recommend subscribing to Teen Scene.


Book Review: The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Click on the cover to find a library copy.

SUMMARY: The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook. The Truth: Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss’ parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts. (from the back cover)

OPINION: As I librarian, I am ashamed to admit it, but I have never read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carrol. I am familiar with the characters and some plot elements, of course, mostly from the Disney movie. Now I have to go back and read the real books. Why? Because I thoroughly enjoyed Frank Beddor's reimagining of Wonderland and want to find out more about the original. The card solders were definitely my favorite part of Beddor's Wonderland, especially because he included drawings of how they worked. The engaging action/adventure plot kept me turning the pages, and the hint of romance kept me hopeful throughout the story. If you are the type of reader who likes to get lost in a fantasy world, this one's for you.

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE: Frank Beddor maintains a great site devoted to The Looking Glass Wars, including sections devoted to fan art, fan fiction, and even fan videos! There are screensavers and wallpapers to download, e-cards to send, flash-animated games to play, and forums where you can talk to other fans.

FUTHER READING: This is the first book in a trilogy, followed by Seeing Redd and ArchEnemy. There is also a graphic novel series following the adventures of Hatter Madigan as he searches for Alyss in our world. This series includes Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars and Hatter M: Mad with Wonder so far. The third volume, Hatter M: The Nature of Wonder, is scheduled for release later this year.

FURTHER WATCHING: A new Alice in Wonderland movie comes to the big screen this March, and I have heard that it has some parallels to The Looking Glass Wars (even though a movie of this book has been optioned as well). IMDB's plot summary says, "19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror." Hmmm. The rumors may be true! Plus, it is directed by Tim Burton and has Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, so it can't be all bad.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournament

Since the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game has become popular again, several members of our weekly Gaming Club have been asking me to have a tournament. We used to do a lot of tournaments, but it has been a few years since our last one, so I decided to give it a try. Last Friday, 11 players and 2 judges showed up for our tournament. Most of them were from our Gaming Club, but there were a few new faces. It was a small group, but some of the early gameplay took forever! Thanks to Alex F. and David J. who put up with a lot as our judges. We got through two rounds of three games each, but we actually had to suspend the tournament in the middle of the finals and resume it at Gaming Club on Monday! After all of that, Alex C. emerged as the winner and got a $15 gift card to Toys R Us to buy some new cards. Our top three finishers also included Jamie M. and John E., who each won candy for their efforts. It was fun to try this again, so thanks to everyone who showed up to duel and judge!


Teen Random-A-Thon Fundraiser!

On Saturday, Feburary 27, the Teen Advisory Board is hosting a Random-A-Thon Fundraiser to support teen events at the library. Just collect pledges and donations ahead of time, then hang out and have fun on the day of the event! Activities will include video games, crafts, board games, and more. It will be from 9:00 to 5:00, and everyone in grades 6 to 12 is invitied to come when you can and stay for as long as possible.

Register now and pick up your fundraising packet! A complete schedule of activities and a lot more information about the Random-A-Thon is included with the registration materials. If you have questions, please contact Gretchen Ipock at 610-789-4440 or yaservices@udlibraries.org.


More Books for Us

Here are the latest items to come through processing for our teen section:
  • Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
  • Secret Society by Tom Dolby
  • The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  • Shock Point by April Henry
  • The Secret Circle: The Captive Part II and The Power by L. J. Smith
  • Otherspace by David Stahler, Jr. (Truesight trilogy)
  • Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger