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A Series of Unfortunate Events – Reviewed

The thirteen books in Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events provide humorous if formulaic escapism which, like an emergency room full of merely-competent doctors, does no obvious harm. While many contemporary children’s series positively ooze with socially-conscious messages that their authors or publishers think “The Children” need to hear, these books are mercifully bereft of such earnest nonsense. True, the series is also free of anything like transcendence, and it offers no remedy to the problem of evil that is its main source of drama (and humor), but at…

The Lost Island

Island Adventures There is something about an island that makes for a good adventure story.  Three that come to mind are Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, and Ian Cameron’s The Island at the Top of the World. An island, by definition, is cut off; it is remote, separate and unknown. Such stories are often two adventures in one: the adventure of getting to the island, and then the adventure of what is on the island.  (With perhaps a third – the adventure of getting home…

Readers Wanted: A Great Adventure Awaits

M.L. Forman’s 5-book series, Adventurers Wanted, is a wonderful and fantastical journey, in the true sense of those words. What at first seems like a simple, perhaps even naïve, tale of a boy discovering a new life surprises the reader as it gradually delves deeper into the nuances of honor and responsibility, courage and cowardice, and many other aspects of human nature.  Slathbog’s Gold We enter the story, Slathbog’s Gold, as Alex Taylor, a fairly typical teenage boy, finds himself applying for a position as “adventurer” in a book shop…

The Enduring Tale of the Boy Who Lived

Editor’s Note:  Admittedly, this has become a bit of a controversial series, both because of the books themselves, but also because of the subsequent development of the Harry Potter brand.  Please note the following.  First, we take the books as we find them on the shelf.  Second, our review of Harry Potter does not in any way indicate our views of any related sequels (in book or film form), which some avid Potter fans justifiably view as too dark and explicitly intertwined with the occult.  Are we surprised that the…

The Unwanteds

This fictional, conflicted world provides little merit for readers of any age. I recommend passing on The Unwanteds series in favor of others.


Dignity and gravitas sound together to form the deep chords of this piece, and author Neal Shusterman is a somber organist.

Ready Player One

The pros, in my opinion, far outweigh the cons. The book affirms the value of online social interaction as a step in the right direction if you’re living in a dystopia, but that reality is still best.

The Champagne Will Never Taste So Good

“In the basement, when she wrote about her life, Liesel vowed that she would never drink champagne again, for it would never taste as good as it did on that warm afternoon in July” (357). In the last eight years I have mostly lost the habit of writing in the margins of books, instead keeping shorthand notes with page numbers near the beginning of the volume, or making digital notes files with transcriptions. I think this change must have been motivated by the constant need to useevidence to support claims I…