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Inferno By Dan Brown

by Dan Brown

I usually grab the images for my book recommendations from  Barnes and Noble.  I have a process:  see how the blog is doing, open a new post, type in the title and insert the image URL copied from  I just did my search for Inferno over at Barnes and Noble, and Dan Brown's novel is the first to populate the search, but it isn't the only one...

Next to the image of the novel I was looking for, there are a few steamy romance novels,some science fiction books and at number 10, Dante Alighiere's original.  I must admit that this doesn't really surprise me. The classics aren't always on the top of contemporary reading lists.  I have to admit that I have never read it myself.

I have, however, read and listened to Dan Brown's novel that uses the Dante original as a backdrop to his latest suspense thriller.  I have read many of Brown's novels and must say that he is a master of place.  I have never been to Italy, but through his pages I truly get a sense of its antiquity and majesty.  Italy's backdrop of art, history and architecture creates a perfect setting for this thriller.  Much like Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, the mysteries of the novel unfold because of Robert Langdon, the book's main character's, knowledge of code and symbol.

I have challenged my 8th grade book club to read this novel because I am tired of hearing from this group that the story is boring.  They may have many things to say about this novel, but boring isn't one of them.  I am hoping they will go on this ride with Robert and help prevent what might be the next world wide disaster. If it goes well, I hope to share a few of their thoughts with you.


Igraine the Brave

Igraine the Brave
by Cornelia Funke
narration by Xanthe Elbrick 

With delight, I am planning my first trip to Great Britain.  As I read through the travel books, I keep seeing the beautiful images of the castles.  This is the land of fairies, dragon, knights and squires that I grew up reading about.  The creators of these stories have painted a country that I can only hope will live up in reality.

One newer book on the scene, that visits the land of magic, knights and honor is Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke. This is exactly the kind of book I would have devoured in elementary school.  In my day, all of the heroes of these tales were men.  In this wonderful story, Funke creates a spunky girl who plans to grow up to fill her grandfather's armor.  Though her parents had hoped it was a phase, after a mishap of magic, they are forced to let her have a go with lance and armor.

In spite of the looming danger, Igraine leaves home on her quest to find the giant that can help undo the magical mistake made back at the castle.  The road will be long, but the reward will be great.  If she succeeds she will restore her family, defeat a dark lord, and help a sorrowful knight restore his honor.

The narration is upbeat, the characters lovable, and the story line clear.  For any new reader who dreams of dragons and giants, talking cats, and magic mice, this book is a must.

Age Range 8-12


The Giver

The Giver
by Lois Lowry

Last fall at the National Book Festival, I had the honor of attending a talk by the writer Lois Lowry.  She was at the festival promoting her newest book, Son.  It is a continuation of the story she began 11 years ago with her Newbery Award winning novel, The Giver.  If you have middle school aged children, this title may be familiar to you.  The Giver was added to the required reading list of most middle schools in America once it became so acclaimed.  It was added because it met two major hurdles: it is loved by 11-13 year old readers, and it fulfills the science fiction requirements in my state's English standards.

Son will be out in paperback soon and inevitably onto my 8th grade book club lists, so I decided to listen to The Giver this week.  I must admit I also listened to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  I've read it before but enjoyed listening to it again all the same.  If you want to know the details about this book, check out my post.  It was wonderful listening to The Giver.  I read it when it was published, and don't remember liking it as much as I did this time.

In the future, as described by Lois Lowry, every member of the community has a specific job that is assigned to them at the Ceremony of Twelve.  The jobs are assigned to children after years of being observed by the adults of the community.  Once you are given a job, it is yours for a lifetime.  Twelve year old Jonas is assigned the job of receiver.  There is only one receiver in the community at a time.  He is the only member of the community who holds memories.  Once Jonas is chosen, the past receiver becomes the giver and begins passing all of his memories to Jonas.  At first, the process seems delightful to Jonas, but in short order, the pain of difficult memories begins to weigh on Jonas.  The more he learns, the more he begins to distrust his society.

There are four stories that evolve around this futuristic society.  According to Lowry, she only meant to write one story.  She received so many inquiries about the characters of her novel she began adding other novels: Gathering Blue, Messenger and now Son.   I must say, listening and reading these novels is worth your time.