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Your Bookmark Here: Through the Woods

December 23, 2014 | Amanda | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review of Through the Woods by Emily Carroll


Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a graphic novel filled with short stories that follow fairy tale like themes. This graphic novel is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The short stories are filled with wonderful images and eerie tales of love, loss, and death. Carroll weaves all of these short stories magically together, forcing the reader to want to keep turning the pages for more. The book captures the reader and beckons them to take part in the story, to watch the characters come to life, and to read on to allow the story to unfold. The book is wonderfully creepy and captures perfectly just how sinister the unknown can be and what may lurk behind the shadows in the cold dark woods.


The book begins by introducing the reader to the unknown through Carroll’s use of language: “What if I reached out… and something waiting there, grabbed me…” The images focus on a young person reading quietly in a dark, desolate room with a single light shining brightly over her book. Carroll immediately takes the reader into the dark place that the character imagines, by introducing the first of five short stories…

Our Neighbor’s House:

This is a story about three young sisters who await their father’s return from a hunting trip. Needless to say, Dad never comes home and strange things start to happen to each sister one-by-one. Father warns the girls to leave and head to their neighbors house if he does not return by the third night. The subdued color palate and the eerily dark images help to bring this story to life. A great start to a truly scary compilation…..

  Through the woods table of contents
A Lady’s Hands are Cold

This is a love story about a woman and a man and their enormously large home and the man’s dead fiancé. The woman marries the man and they live together in the man’s home. Each night they break bread together and the woman is waited on hand and foot by her loyal servants. One night, she begins to hear strange noises coming from the walls and the floor boards. In the dead of the night is when the sounds are truly horrifying. This story is one that will stay with the reader long after the tale is complete. As you read on, you discover that the noises are coming from different parts of the home and over the course of the story, the fiancés body parts being to show up one-by-one. Read this story to find out what happens.


The Nesting Place:

This was truly the most frightening of all the stories. This story begins with Bell and her mother. Bell’s mother would always tell her stories of monsters. She would say that the worst kind of monster was the burrowing kind… “The sort that crawled into you and made a home there… the sort you couldn’t name, and the sort you couldn’t see… the monster that ate you alive from the inside out.” This is a frightening story about a young girl who is forced to live with her older brother and his fiancé. Little does Bell know what lurks in the forest near their home or what secrets Rebecca (bro’s fiancé) is hiding. I don’t want to tell you too much about this story because I really think you should read this book.


All in all, this is a great read and I cannot recommend it enough. For more information on Emily Carroll, check out her blog and her art at:

 For more titles like this one, check out these great reads:

Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes



Something that everyone should read -- UNINVITED by Sophie Jordan

August 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover uninvited by sophie JordanUninvited by Sophie Jordan

reviewed by Michelle

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to identify every killer, every monster? Even before they come out of the darkness? Even before they hurt and kill? Wouldn't it be nice?

It's not possible in our world. But it is for the world in Sophie's Jordan's amazing book, Uninvited. An amazing book in which there is a gene, the killer's gene. Everyone gets tested for it, at some point in their lives. As was Davy Hamilton, popular, beautiful, smart talented, musical prodigy, with a loving boyfriend.

Someone who couldn't possibly be a carrier of the gene.
Someone who couldn't possibly ever be a killer.
But her results came back positive.

And that changes everything. But you'll need to read the book to find out what happens next. The writing is amazing, as is the voice. The story is told from Davy's perspective, however there are a few things in the story that are not. Such as radio broadcasts, conversations between other carriers, conversations between the people who used to be a part of a her life. But they don't distract or disrupt the story.

They add to it, they provide us with other perspectives, other facts. Not many authors can handle that well but Sophie Jordan does. Not only that, but the characters are real and fleshed out. The world is real and it could be possible. In our future, there may very well be something that could clearly identify killers.

And yes, on the surface, it'd be nice.
For the ones who aren't killers, it'd be nice.

But this book doesn't just talk about the surface, it goes deeper. It is not only well written, well paced, but it makes the reader think. It made me think.

It is something that everyone should read.

Remember That Time When...

August 29, 2014 | Alice | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

There are those times, those rare occasions that seem to bubble with a sense of limitless possibility, like you could do just about anything. Maybe it's a special night, a trip, doing something you've always wanted to. Or maybe you didn't even see it coming until you were in it and found yourself suddenly riding a wave of excitement, ready for something - anything - to happen. It seems... like magic. Like it's changed you. Like things will never be quite the same again.

Breakfast-Club-movie-posterThere are movies that capture this perfectly - 80s teen movie master John Hughes was a master of this lightning-in-a-bottle feeling. It's exactly what made Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off into instant favourites of countless people. Sometimes the movies are goofier, heavier on comedy, but still create that bonding moment - think Hot Tub Time Machine, for example, or pretty much any road trip movie ever made.

I had the same feeling from a couple of books I was reading for this summer - like the one that landed on the list to exemplify this, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life. It's one night, and it's supposed to be amazing. Mary has a vision of how it should go in her head, and a fantasy of how triumphing over a school rival is going to feel soooooo good, it will change everything. Things of course don't quite go according to this plan of hers because, life. Still, even as things fall apart, other things come together, and by the end of the night, Mary has had a night to remember, it just wasn't the one that she expected. And most of all, she's been forced to examine some of her hopes for that night, and whether they really meant what she thought they did in the first place.

Tag alongTag Along is kind of like this, too - and also happens at the end of the school year, when everyone is celebrating and summer feels ripe with possibility. In this case, though, three kids whose prom plans fell through and one who is just out on her own meet up and spend time in various different combinations over the course of the night, forging unlikely friendships, pushing boundaries, learning about each other and themselves, and in the end, turning a total disappointing disaster of a night into something they'll remember for years.

Nick + noraI think my very favourite example of this, though, has to be the fantastic Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. A night that started out not that exciting, not that important, turned into a series of adventures, up and downs, and steps toward falling in love in a way that is bound to change both Nick and Norah. Romantic, music-filled, and beating with the rhythm of New York's Village, it's a great read. They even managed to make a movie of it that does a surprisingly good job of keeping the same spirit, despite my real worries about them ruining it!

I think it's no accident that these are often set in and around summer, as summer can feel like just the sort of little golden bubble of time that incubates otherwise impossible things. I hope you enjoyed your summer here with us, and that maybe it's transformed you a little, made you think a bit, or given you a little something special to consider as you go back to real life, back to the rhythms of school. I know I've had a fun time writing and sharing conversation in comments, so I hope you all have, too. Thanks for coming around and being part of Word Out this summer, everyone, and I hope your school year is a great one!

"Unlike anything else I've ever read" -- ALMOST PERFECT reviewed

August 28, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover almost perfect by brian katcherAlmost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Reviewed by Michelle

This book was unlike anything else I've ever read.

In fact, even though I already read it, I would like a copy of my own. Just so I could hug it and look at its gorgeous cover and read it multiple times. It was a flawless book with realistic characters like:

Logan, a boy who was still wounded after discovering his girlfriend -- now, ex -- had cheated on him. And Sage, a new student and a new friend who seemed perfect. Husky voice. Beautiful curls. Beautiful face. Tall. Interesting. But she had secrets. Like why she had been homeschooled for several years and why her parents wouldn't let her date anyone. Why her parents treated her differently from her sister. Why she wouldn't tell Logan all of these whys. 

But that didn't stop Logan from being in love with her and...kissing her one day. And she finally tells him her biggest secret of all. She's a boy. 

Hooked yet? I was. I was captivated from beginning to end. There were times when I didn't like Logan, when I wished he acted differently, acted better and was a better person. But his reactions made sense. He acted like an actual human being, dealing with something he didn't know how to. And it made me wonder how I would have acted in his situation. Or in Sage's. This book, this story, wasn't just a brilliant one but an eye opener. Something that made me think and long after I read the book. 

The characters weren't just characters. They were real. They were people. And not only were Logan and Sage fleshed out but also their relationships with their families and others: Logan's mother and sister, Sage's sister and parents. It was a story set in a small town but it was anything but small. 

There are books that you just have to read. That will make you think. That will make you better after reading. And I believe that Almost Perfect is one of them. 

Dueling reviews: Ketchup Cloud by Annabel Pitcher

August 28, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...


Librarian review:

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher is a bit of a conundrum for me. I really wanted to like this book, I really, really did. But . . . I did not like it really at all. The problem I have with this novel is that too much was going on and none of it was satisfying for me. I did appreciate the family dynamics that Pitcher created in this novel, I found them real and refreshing and fun to read. I did not like Zoe writing letters to a condemned man on death row. Artistically I think that the author was going for a sort of "Dexter" meets "My Mad Fat Diary" but it does not really work out.

I kept waiting for the action to start interesting me and drawing me in and I waited till the very end of the novel. The prose is lovely and succinct and the characters have some depth and are not cardboard, but I just felt that too many loose ends did not tie up and there was too many side plots and other issues that really had nothing to do with the main core of the story.

This is not a terrible book my any means and as youth novels go it had some lovely moments. Perhaps being an older person I am jaded or there is something that I am not getting from this book. I suggest you read it to find out, I don't think you will feel like you have wasted time - in fact maybe you will get something out of it that I did not.

 Kirkus review:

Of course Zoe isn’t anything like Texas death row inmate Stuart Harris. She got away with her murder.

Plagued by guilt and using the alias “Zoe,” the British teen writes a series of confessional letters to Harris. These episodic letters reveal a string of fateful decisions, including her role in a young man’s death. Seizing on her parents’ marital problems, Zoe escapes to a party and finds instant attraction with “The Boy with the Brown Eyes.” But when he disappears, she takes solace—with clothing removed—with popular Max Morgan. While periodically running into the mysterious guy, who she learns is named Aaron, Zoe continues her mostly physical relationship with Max. When she also discovers that Aaron and Max are brothers, readers clearly understand that one of them will die because of her. It’s not just suspense that drives this epistolary page-turner, but Zoe’s authentic emotional responses and unyielding wit (“who knew that vomit could be flirtatious?”). Zoe’s not a monster here but a typical adolescent who does like Max but is in love with Aaron. An engaging subplot involving Zoe’s younger, deaf sister and her mother’s culpability in her disability mirror Zoe’s mounting tension.

After many red herrings, a bittersweet ending brings compassion and answers to Zoe’s dilemma and shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and how hard love can be.

Read it for the awesome life quotes -- THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES reviewed

August 27, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover the secrets of lily graves by sarah strohmeyerThe Secrets Of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer


Reviewed by Anupya, age 15


“More often than not, it was the little things that brought you down.” – Lily Graves


The Secrets of Lily Graves is a crime novel by Sarah Strohmeyer about the death of seemingly perfect Erin Donohue, frenemy of Lily Graves. After an exciting catfight between Lily and Erin, leaving Lily wounded and bruised, Erin is found dead the next morning. Fingers are pointed at an alarming rate as main suspects are rounded up and interrogated. Like in every good crime novel, everyone’s got a secret, the theme of betrayal stands triumphant and the killer is hidden in plain sight. The book is like the high school version of Broadchurch. It portrays death in a realistic way with the repercussions in the community. Lily and Sara are adamant to not be normal (they refer to Erin’s gang as “Tragically Normals” while they are “Happily Twisted”). The reader can’t blame Lily and Sara because the TNs unfairly judge Lily for her family business. The first half of the book is perfect and a juicily entertaining read.

That’s where the excellence of The Secrets of Lily Graves stops.

The female supporting characters serve no purpose in the story except to bully Lily. The men in the book however, are a huge part of the plot. Each one is important. Someone close to Lily is accused of being a psychopath and a murderer yet she pays no heed and can’t wait to see him. It is stupid. At one point, she decides to meet up with the same person in a remote area, loudly voicing, “I don’t care about safe.” Although it does turn out to be harmless, it stands as a terrible response to general creepiness. The romance in the story ruins the suspense and action since it changes the focus of the story. The last line of the book does not reflect on the death of Erin but more on Lily’s love life. It feels anticlimactic. It’s not the best crime-fiction I’ve read, but read it for plot and awesome life quotes.

Like a projector in my head! DYING TO GO VIRAL reviewed

August 26, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (7) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover dying to go viral by sylvia mcnicollDying to go Viral by Sylvia McNicoll! 

Reviewed by Nicole

Would you believe me if I told you you had the chance to relive one week of your life after you've died?

Probably not. But Jade, a 14-year-old girl, does. After passing away from a bad skateboarding accident, she's left the world without saying goodbye to her dad, brother (Devon), and her best friend (Stephen Craig Alan Thomas Chalms a.k.a. "Scratch").

In Heaven, she meets her mother who grants Jade another week to relive her life. But Jade has a few goals she wants to achieve by the end of the week. Seven goals to be exact. But those are for you to find out within the book! 

The first sentence of the book is: "It was a perfect day to die." Not like a lot of books that might start with something else a little less pessimistic. Throughout the whole book, my interest was carried through and that made the book even more interesting to read. Cliffhangers were left here and there, leaving you to read more (obviously). I found out that I was really into this book after I read six chapters within a day. The POV of the book is Jade's -- first person. I liked how the author did that, rather than being third person omniscient. You get to learn a lot about Jade because she is the one talking throughout the whole book. 

By the first chapter, you're hooked into the book. You can't put it down because it feels like you've reached the climax, but you don't realize that there's more. There are humorous parts, some sad parts, along with some romantic parts, which makes the book 10x more awesome. I felt like the book was if you could relate to it in a way. The author didn't make something up for the people to say; it felt quite real. What Jade said in the book was something a 14-year-old girl would say in real life. I really loved how the author took the time to describe what was going on in the scene. There was like a projector in my head that was projecting everything I read on the book, somewhat into a movie. This is how well the author described the scenes. 

What really interested me to read the book was if Jade got to get her last week perfect. I wondered if she achieved the goals she wanted to finish before she had to go back to her mom. That was what caught my eye. It was also eye catching to see how the author would explain each goal and how Jade could reach it. 

So the real question is: Did Jade reach any of her goals within the week she had? Or did she fall short on time? 

Get the book and read it to find out! 

A Gripping Tale of Wonder

August 26, 2014 | Christine | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick coverWhat would you do if you thought your father had gone missing? What if no one believed you? This is what happens to Laureth Peak, the 16-year-old daughter of Jack Peak, a British author who has been trying write a novel about coincidence for several years. Her mother thinks he’s obsessed, and Laureth thinks he’s on the verge of a complete mental breakdown. During a time when her father is supposed to be doing research in Austria, his personal notebook is found in New York City. Sensing that something is terribly wrong, Laureth tries to figure out what has happened to her father. On an impulse, she steals her mother’s credit card, and with her seven-year-old brother Benjamin in tow, takes a flight across the Atlantic to the United States. Over the next twenty-four hours, Laureth and Benjamin are reunited with the notebook, and must then try to follow the clues written inside to find their father in the bewildering streets of New York City. The siblings face many challenges and threats over the course of their journey, all of which are even more difficult for Laureth. That’s because Laureth Peak is blind.

I think that She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick is an excellent book. I really enjoyed reading this novel, and liked the challenge of trying to see the world from Laureth’s perspective. I felt that her character had a very strong presence, and that her interactions with other characters were very believable, especially those with her brother Benjamin and his toy raven Stan. I also liked the inclusion of hand-written images from the father's lost-and-found notebook. I felt that this gave a lot of depth to the story, and provided a lot of details about the different kinds of research the father had been doing for his writing about coincidences. If you are looking for an exciting and intriguing book to read this summer, I highly recommend this novel.

What do you think of She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick?

Friendship, loyalty, world-building and explosions -- IDOLS reviewed

August 25, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover idols by margaret stohlIdols, by Margaret Stohl

Reviewed by Anupya, age 15

“How do we fit together? These men who call us children yet insist we are not?”


A sequel to Icons, Idols is an action-packed, fast-paced novel written by Margaret Stohl about Doloria Maria De La Cruz, her position as an Icon Child and the responsibilities that come with it, including saving the world from destruction by the ‘Lords’. The Icon Children are humans fallen from the sky, who are immune to Icons stopping their hearts. However, one Icon Child is missing and it is their mission to find him/her. The theme of hero’s journey is highly evident as the story progresses -- there is a mentor, friends, a major death and a major transformation that Dol undergoes.

I suggest you read the first book first, since not doing so makes it very hard to keep up with the pacing of the story. Mythology plays a great part, explained with great symbolism and metaphors elevating the reading experience. One criticism I can give is that it might have been a relief for the reader if the author switched points of view. Dol’s head contains way too much doom, gloom, confusion regarding her romantic choices (yes, there is a love triangle) and angst –- it gets tiring to read her conflict, emulated multiple times in different fashions. Exploring a different character’s thoughts might have enhance the reader's enjoyment of the book. Besides, the two guys, Ro and Lucas, bicker over Dol like elementary kids. It’s annoying. Dol is better off breaking up with both of them and being alone.

The book has a major plot twist in the end, confirming your subconscious suspicions. Additional warning: major death. If you are someone who loves excitement, friendship, loyalty, world-building and explosions in every chapter, Idols is for you.

You can't stop reading once you start! SMELLS LIKE DOG reviewed

August 22, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover smells like dog by suzanne selforsSmells like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

Reviewed by Ashanth, age 13

This book is about Homer Pudding who's an ordinary farm boy but he's got some big dreams and he wants to become like his Uncle Drake who is a famous treasure hunter but when he goes missing and is pronounced dead because he was eaten by a man eating tortoise, Homer then gets Uncle Drake's possessions from the lawyer who is a droopy-eyed, clumsy dog with no sense of smell with a gold coin on his collar spelling the letters L.O.S.T  and a letter saying it is his most prized possession. But later on Homer decides to go to the city which is dangerous according to his dad to search for an important map and finds out the dog has a hidden talent.

This book is full of adventure and you can't stop reading once you start. It will also keep you interested because a new question opens up when another one closes.And this book is very thrilling and has won many awards and if you want to find out what is the hidden talent then you're going to have to read the book.