Seven to Ten Quick Takes: 50 Books: Guest Post: I like colons


Today’s guest post is written by my ever-enthusiastic 13-year-old daughter, Dora (who was born and named approximately six months before Dora the Usurper Explorer made her irritating debut). 

Standard disclaimer:  I have read some, but not all of these books, neglectful mother, ideas have consequences, corrupting the youth, blah blah blah.  I have read Shooting Kabul and it was fine, and I loved The Star of Kazan — thought it was really sweet and imaginative, and just altogether much more pleasant, well-written and entertaining than 99% of literature for this age group.  I have a bit of a prejudice against books that come out as an instant series, and haven’t read the other ones. 



The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

bart trilogy

Individual books:  The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, Ptolemy’s Gate

This has three really funny, really awesome books.  The series follows the story of a demonic daemon (djinn) named Bartimaeus.  He is constantly being summoned by a snotty brat of a magician, Nathaniel.  In the second one, I was laughing  over a buffalo.  When I first saw the books, I only checked the first two out, and was very angry at myself for weeks before I finally got back to the library, and got the last book.  I recommend this to anyone over ten who is a good reader and has a sense of humor.


Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

shooting kabul

This is an amazingly good book. I got it from my schools “free book day,” or something.  It’s about a family that’s trying to escape from Afghanistan to the United States right before 9/11.  On the way, the youngest child gets left behind, and throughout the whole book, her older brother, Fadi, is trying to find her.  It is unsure, though, if there is a happy ending.  [I think she means the reader is not sure whether it will end happily.  Spoiler for my more nervous readers, since this is a pretty good book, and worth reading: The little girl does get found! — Admin]  Emotional people, beware, this book will probably make you cry.


The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

star of kazan

A super-dee-duper awesome book about an orphaned girl living in a wonderful home in Vienna.  One day a woman shows up at her doorstep, claiming to be her mother.  This great story is filled with twists, and when I read it, sometimes it gets so good I want to throw it down and stalk away.  [I read this sentence several times, uncertain of its meaning, and finally concluded that my daughter is a weirdo. –Admin] Everything is tied up at the end, and one of my favorite parts is the epilogue.  All in all an awesome book.


The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

secret series

This is the start of a captivating, but maddening, series.  It is called the Secret Series.  There are five books in all, and you need a lot of patience to read them all.  It follows the story of someone who might be named Cass, as she tries to find out the Secret of Life.  It gets a little wearisome after a while, what with all the “Oh, I guess I’ll tell you the Secret.  Oh, wait!  Never mind!” from the narrator, but once you get past that, it is pretty good.


  1. Sim, these are great! And Dora is a great writer! Maddi just turned 11, but these sound like they’d be good for her! And maybe Kyle (will be 10 in Feb.), too! Thanks!!

    • Oh, good! I love how Dora’s personality comes through. When we were homeschooling, I could not, could not break her of the habit of addressing the reader directly in everything she wrote. As in, “Well, I hope you enjoyed this little essay about colonial women’s clothing! See ya later!” It was so cute, but I’m glad to see her teacher has gotten through to her.

  2. What sweet reviews! If I sent Dora a copy of my book, “The Telmaj,” (in her age range) do you think she might be willing to write a review of it as well? I write wholesome sci-fi for the 8 or 9-and-up crowd; my first book is here (and there’s a less-expensive Kindle version too):

    and the manuscript for the sequel has just been sent out to my super-secret team of advance readers, and should be published in the spring of 2013. And in case anyone is wondering, book three is written, and book four is almost finished; there will be at least seven of these things, and maybe more.

    My pledge as both a Catholic parent and a Catholic writer is to avoid inappropriate content to the highest degree possible. Some characters may (spoiler alert!) get married and even have children eventually, but as far as younger readers are concerned, storks and cabbage leaves might as well be involved given the complete lack of detail about the baby-making process. Again, (spoiler alert!) given that these are sci-fi action/adventure stories taking place in a universe with an evil galactic government and slavery, there is some peril, danger, and occasional violence, but I work really hard on not filling my readers’ heads with gratuitously graphic images of blood and gore. All of this arose out of the frustration I felt as a parent when my children were eager for more exciting adventure stories but (back then) not anywhere *near* ready for the YA shelf and its often dubious offerings.

    Simcha, please let me know if I can send Dora a copy to review!

  3. Erin, congratulations! I’m sure Dora would be absolutely tickled pink to review the book. Maybe I can get the other girls (ages 14 and 12) to give me their take on it, too, since their tastes vary so much. I will email you our mailing address, and thank you!

  4. Awesome! My husband and I have recently taken up reading to our as-yet-unborn child (really its just a fun evening thing for us to do) and are trying to compile future reading list! This helps 🙂

  5. Girls 12, 13, and 14! Wow, wow, wow! Triple fun, triple trouble, lol. Triple hormones 🙂 🙂 :)…! My two sisters and I ran our guardian angels ragged when we were out and about together…
    Anyhow, my dedicated evening reader (husband) told me he needs fresh material for the little stinkers: 3.5, 6 and 9. I think he is living the childhood he never really had as well, so this is all good. What I want to do is just one big final conclusive order, so I’m kind of waiting for your list to be complete. I have really enjoyed the reviews, and of course the guest reviewers too. 🙂 Even though I’m presently in “I Have to Sit Down” blog EXILE! Maybe they can help you make that final list of 50, separated into preschool. elementary (boy or girl), middle school,(boy or girl) (high school?) and adult? I’d really like to get as many as possible but am a little muddled, and if I can’t get them all, then just the ones that my kids would read right now.
    Oh, and if I’m having an Aspy moment by even asking for this, teach me a lesson and say:” NO! Do it yourself, lazy butt!”
    @Hannah, heh. Good job, that’s sweet. Mine has gotten to hear me yell a lot lately, like at the police officer that just gave me a $450 ticket because my six year-old was twisted around in his seat to look at his squad car! Ahhhhh! (cuss word.)

    • Are you talking about not getting emails for new posts? If so, that happened to me too. WordPress decided it would just dump my subscriptions. Strange.

  6. Great reviews Dora! I totally know what you mean about something being so good you want to throw it down and stalk away. Sometimes the good stuff makes us feel so awesome it feels strange and we just need a break. Just imagine, when you meet God face to face it will feel like that but you’ll only want more. And He’ll give it to you. Crazy! Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. I love your name. I have a daughter named Dora too. It’s a great name even if it makes everyone else think of a silly cartoon girl with weird speech patterns.

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