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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback: December 2006

And now, a flashback to what I reviewed in December 2006!

Ishmael by Barbara Hambly. From my review: “It’s Star Trek meets Here Come the Brides. Spock winds up back in 1867 Seattle, has amnesia, meets the HCTB people. It has something to do with Klingons trying to do yadda yadda yadda….that doesn’t matter. What matters, or why this book is awesome: Nowhere in the book, including the book jacket and copyright page, is Here Come the Brides acknowledged or credited. In other words; if you don’t know, you don’t know. . . .  It’s not the only crossover in the book. I KNOW. As I was reading, there was a description of someone that sounded like Doctor Who. And then later on, I’m like, huh, that sounds like Little Joe and Hoss. Don’t believe me? Read it and weep in joy.

Clay by David Almond. From my review: “Davie is an altar boy, living in a small town in England when he first sees Stephen. Before this, it is a typical boyhood; a flirtation with a girl at school, a best friend, a rivalry with the kids from the next town that is a self described “war”. But after Stephen arrives, a strange boy living with Crazy Mary, things change. Stephen makes things out of clay. And says he can make them live. Are they alive? Davie is drawn to Stephen, to this power he has, and other things fall by the wayside. The pretty girl, his best friend. But the war with Martin “Mouldy” Mould only escalates. Stephen’s answer? Create a man of clay to take care of Mouldy. . . . Davie is Catholic; he believes in miracles and the miraculous and this story is set at a time when one may start to question those beliefs. Enter Stephen, with proof of miracles; proof of good and evil. And Davie believes; believes in Stephen’s power, even when he sees Stephen create and destroy and treat people like toys. Believes because he sees these things.”

Kampung Boy by Lat. From my review: “This is a beautiful story of a traditional, Eden-like childhood in Malaysia. It’s simple: going to school, a cousin’s wedding, sneaking away to go swimming. It’s sweet; it’s funny; and it’s full of traditions of another place and another time (it’s set in the 1950s.) It ends, as all good books about childhood end, with the main character, Mat, going away to school. There are also hints that the family may leave the Kampung for the city; that his boyhood home is truly an Eden that will vanish away forever. But Mat, with the innocence of childhood, an innocence he doesn’t know he has, doesn’t realize it.

Hello, Hello by Fumiko Takeshita, illustrated by Jun Takabatake. From my review: “How to use the telephone.

Dramacon Vol. 2 by Svetlana Chmakova. From my review: “During an anime convention, Christie, a teenage writer of online comics and manga, meets up with her crush (Matt) from last year’s convention and has assorted con adventures. LOVED IT. . . . But what really rocked my world was the semi-romance between Christie and Matt. Christie likes Matt, Matt likes Christie, but after last year they each went their separate ways. Meaning, while Christie is single she dated other guys; and Matt is now dating Emily. Oh, the deliciousness of it all, as they exchange looks, and we, like Christie, first hate Emily (just because!) and then find things to like in Emily, and then —OK, I refuse to spoil the entire storyline. Both Christie and Matt try to deal with their feelings about each other contrasted with the realities of their lives. And I loved, loved, loved every second of it.

Astonishing X Men: Gifted Vol 1 by Joss WhedonJohn Cassaday. From my review: “The X Men are putting aside from differences, getting together, and re-opening the school. It doesn’t go according to plan.

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett. From my review: “Gabriel is dying. He lies in bed, aged only twenty, his life slipping by and looks back on his life; his strict parents, his isolated town, his brother, his beloved dog, and his friendship with the Finnigan, a Huck Finn type child who is wild and unruly, the opposite of Gabriel. But nothing is what it seems; even Gabriel’s name isn’t Gabriel. Surrender is his dog; but it’s much more than that, as Gabriel surrenders to his fate.”

Witch Catcher by Mary Downing Hahn. From my review: “Jen’s widowed father inherits a castle in West Virginia; well, actually, it’s an old house that looks like a castle. And it is full of antiques and treasures and strange things; including a tower in the back, with a padlocked door. Jen, 12, cannot resist the temptation to go exploring and discovers a strange glass globe. Moura, a friend of her father’s, asks Jen if she’s seen a glass globe — a “witch catcher.” Jen doesn’t like this new woman, and doesn’t admit it’s upstairs in her room. It turns out that there is something trapped in the globe; something that looks like a girl. Jen’s cat, Tink, breaks the witch catcher, releasing what was trapped inside. Is Moura a friend, or foe? What about the witch — or thing — trapped in the globe? Who should Jen trust?

Ancient Egypt: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Egypt’s Past by Jill Rubalcaba with Janice Kamrin, Consultant. From my review: “Don’t you love a title that explains it all? It’s about Egypt. Ancient Egypt. And how archaeology unlocks Egypt’s past. Including the secrets of it’s past. Sometimes it’s difficult to write these short plot summaries; other times, not so much.

Learning To Play Gin by Ally Carter. From my review: “It’s ten months since Julie and Lance got together and for two people who are dating, they barely see each other. His acting career has taken off, so he’s either filming or promoting his movies; her career has come to stand still (who wants to read a self help book about how awesome it is to be single when the writer is now in a picture perfect relationship?), so Julie spends her time renovating her house and being with her family and friends in her native Oklahoma. Julie is surprised to hear via a TV interview that Lance has bought a house in LA, and even more surprised when he asks her to go to California. She’s not sure what to do or where she belongs; but she goes. Can someone who was so good at Solitaire learn how to play Gin? Is it possible for Julie to be happy in a relationship?

Santa Knows by Cynthia & Greg Leitich Smith; illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. From my review: “Alfie F. Snorklepuss doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He’s more than just a little annoyed when his younger sister, Noelle, insists on believing (and insists that he believe), so Alfie sets out to prove there is no Santa. When you know you’re right, you want the world to agree.

Pop! by Aury Wallington. From my review: “Marit has made a decision: she’s going to lose her virginity. She’s also going to get a boyfriend. The thing is, she has also decided that these two things have nothing to do with each other. She has a crush on the new guy at school, Noah; but she believes her nervousness about sex is getting in the way. Luckily, there’s her best friend Jamie. She doesn’t love him, but she trusts him. Things don’t always go according to plan . . .

Blood On The River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone . From my review: “It’s James Town in 1607. OK, OK, you want more? It’s told by Samuel Collier (based on a real life person) is page to Captain John Smith; Sam relates the story of James Town, from the time the ships left England up till 1610. Sam’s reasons for leaving England make sense: he’s an orphan so is unwilling (he’s been made a page to Smith) but he also has no options or future in England and this journey gives him an opportunity for a future that is lacking in England.

John Smith Escapes Again! by Rosalyn Schanzer. From my review: John Smith, 1583 to 1631, is the ultimate real life escape artist, whether it’s escaping being a pirate, being a slave, or escaping jail. This biography of Smith is told via the framework of his many and varied escapes. Each escape is introduced by brief facts of Smith’s life.

The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets Of Love by Rosie Rushton. From my review: “Modern teen version of Sense And Sensibility. Not enough for you? Three sisters find their lives changed forever when their father dies and their home is left to other relatives; in a new town, in reduced circumstances, they rebuild their lives and fall in love along the way.”

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. From my review: “It’s been a tough year for fifteen year old DJ; with her mother working two jobs, her father injured and her two older brothers away at college, it’s up to DJ to take care of the family dairy farm. Summer should be a bit of break (DJ won’t think about how she failed English); but it’s lonely. Then Brian shows up. Brian lives in the next town over; which means he is on the football team; the rival football team. He’s also cute and popular. His coach is good friends with DJ’s family, and DJ’s family needs the help. Football is very important to DJ’s family — heck, the cows are named after football players. So since is what the coach wants, Brian helps out. DJ gives him a bit of a rough time, but who wouldn’t? Brian clearly can’t pull his weight. When DJ overhears an angry Brian telling his friends she’s a Dairy Queen — no better than the cows — DJ starts to reexamine her life, her family and her friends.

How To Ruin A Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles. From my review: “What could be worse than your father deciding to spend time with you? What, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing? Did I mention he’s a deadbeat, barely remembering to call on birthdays? Or that he’s now decided that you’re going to spend the entire summer with him, and for some reason, your Mom has agreed? Meaning you cannot spend the summer with your best friend and your boyfriend? OK, maybe this will convince you — the sudden reason he’s all Daddy dearest is he wants to introduce you to his sick mother. Talk about playing the sympathy card! Oh, and another thing, not only have you never met this Grandmother, guess where his mother lives. Israel!! I know!! It gets worse, if you can believe it. Mom and Dad never having been married; and it’s not until you’re in Israel, outside the house, that Dad lets you know his family knows nothing about you.”

Holidays Around the World: National GeographicNational Geographic’s new Holidays Around the World series, written by Deborah Heiligman. From my review: “I enjoyed each book; each was a great introduction to kids, with just enough information to give a sense of the holiday. Each book also showed things that all kids can identify with: time spent with family, special foods, various games and other traditions.

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud. From my review: “The conclusion of the Bartimaeus trilogy. Nathaniel (known publicly as John, magicians must keep their true names a secret) has achieved a position of power and prestige in the government. Life should be perfect; isn’t living well the best revenge? He justifies the abuses of the government and magicians because…. well, he is a magician! And works for the government! Maintaining his place in the world isn’t easy; Nathaniel relies heavily on Bartimaeus, a powerful (and snarky) djinni who has lost some of his strength because Nathaniel never gives him a break to return to the Other Place. Seriously; a djinni needs to recharge every now and then, but Nathaniel doesn’t allow it. Meanwhile, Kitty, a commoner with a bit of magic, continues to work for the good of the people, which means freedom from magicians like Nathaniel. Bartimaeus wishes for freedom also; freedom from being bound to Nathaniel and other magicians, freedom to return to the Other Place. It all comes to a head when a magician oversteps himself and London itself is threatened.”

The Mislaid Magician Or Ten Years AfterBeing the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. From my review: “Cecy and Kate are two cousins with a knack for stumbling across intrigue. They live in nineteenth century England; it’s Jane Austen meets Harry Potter; a magical world that is gentler and kinder than that of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, but equally thrilling and dangerous. In The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Cecy and Kate are teenagers, who save England and find husbands; in The Grand Tour, the have married the men introduced in Chocolate Pot, are touring Europe, and saving either the world or England. It’s about ten years later, and so their children also get involved in the fun. This time it has to do with protecting England and helping a magician who has been turned into a dog.”

Five For A Little One bChris Raschka. From my review: “It’s a picture book; a bunny and his five senses.”

Liftoff: A Photobiography of John Glenn by Don Mitchell. From my review: “Liftoff is not just about liftoff into space; it’s also about liftoff into a life that is about “what can I do for others” rather than “what can I do for me.””

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch. From my review: “Keir is a good kid. So he has no idea how he got in this position; basically, a girl accusing him of rape. Rape! Keir know that is inexcusable, something he would never, ever do. . . . This is not “a boy unfairly accused book,” except in Keir’s own warped version of how the the world works and his place in the world. (And sadly many people buy what Keir is selling.) In Keir, Lynch has captured a true criminal: “It’s not me” “It’s not my fault” to the point where some readers may be shocked when they realize that Keir is not innocent.”

The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket. From my review: “Letters between Beatrice and Lemony Snicket. This is Lemony Snicket; there are no such things as answers, just more questions. This book explores more of the mysteries of the Baudelaire universe. Some of the letters are creased and folded notes; some are typewritten letters. The wit is in every line:All I can do is hope for the best, but hoping for the best, like hoping for a bat to obey your orders, almost always leads to disappointment.”

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. From my review: “Colin Singleton was a child prodigy; he’s no longer a child, so what is he? Who is he? He’s someone who just graduated high school and longs to be more than a prodigy (a quick learner); he wants to be a genius (someone who actually does something.) He’s also only dated girls named Katherine (with that specific spelling); and he’s always been the person dumped. His best friend convinces him there is only one answer to his problems: Road Trip!

The Dog Den Mystery: Jack Russell: Dog Detective, # 1, The Dog Den Mystery by Darrel and Sally Odgers. From my review: “Jack (a Jack Russell terrier) lives with Sarge (a police detective) and solves crimes.

The Wand In The Word: Conversations With the Writers of Fantasy, compiled by Leonard S. Marcus. From my review: “This is an awesome collection of interviews, thirteen in total. As I read it I kept scribbling notes to myself; and if I didn’t hold back, this entry would be the longest blog post in history.”

Corbenic byCatherine Fisher. From my review: “Cal is one his way to live with his successful uncle, leaving behind, forever, his past; especially his mentally ill mother. Cal, in confusion, gets off at the wrong train stop and finds himself at a feast, where something is expected of him, but he remains silent rather than following his instinct. He awakes to find himself in an abandoned house; was the night before all in his imagination? Cal finds his way to his uncle’s house and has to determine whether he does have a quest to follow; or whether, like his mother, he is slipping into mental illness.”

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan. From my review: “Naima lives in Bangladesh with her parents and her younger sister. Her father owns a rickshaw; Naima’s time at school is over because now it’s her younger sister’s turn. Naima is a talented alpana painter; but she longs to be able to help her father. Naima’s friend, Saleem, can help his father by driving their family rickshaw to both earn extra money and give his father a rest. But Naima’s family has only daughters, so her father struggles alone. What can Naima do?

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson: The Olympians, Book One) by Rick Riordan. From my review: “Percy is at his umpteenth boarding school; basically, a school for troubled kids. Percy doesn’t think of himself as troubled; he has dyslexia. And ADD. His home life — don’t even mention it. His Mom is great, but his stepdad is horrid. Yet it looks like he may have no option but to return home after he vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher. Yeah, you read right. Turns out things aren’t quite what they seem. The truth? Gods are real; at least, the Greek gods are real. Percy’s dad, his real dad, happens to be a Greek god. Percy’s powers are beginning to make themselves known, so he’s off to Camp Half Blood. Full of kids who are just like him. For the first time, Percy feels like he belongs; like he’s normal. Of course, nothing is ever as perfect as it seems…. And just who is his father, anyway?

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. From my review: “Nick’s band just finished playing their set in a NYC club when he sees his ex-girlfriend, Tris, with her new guy. Wanting to prove that he has also moved on (even tho he hasn’t) he turns to the girl standing next to him and asks, “Will you be my girlfriend for the next five minutes?” Norah, seeing the annoying groupie from school and wanting to do anything to avoid talking to her, say yes. So begins the night that Nick and Norah meet.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is