Category Archives: 1990s-

375G: Darker Harry Potter-Like Novel Series I read in the early 2010s

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out the name of a young adult fantasy series that I read in the early 2010s. From what I remember, there was a male protagonist (probably teenaged?) who was extraordinarily skilled in some magical system that revolved around basic elements (fire, earth, water, etc). I feel like the series may have begun with some sort of entrance exam, that was repeated at the start of every book/school year. There was always some dark force acting as an antagonist, but the protagonist wasn’t very well liked with classmates (I think they had all had a lot more training than him, some kind of elitist thing). All that’s to say that other students may have been minor antagonists as well. This one is a total shot in the dark but I believe the main bad guy wore a mask of some sort. It wasn’t actually super reminiscent of Harry Potter, besides the basic plot of a super talented kid appears out of nowhere and isn’t well liked. But, I can’t think of a better title so I’m sticking with that. The cover was a dark brown, maybe maroon-leaning, with a simple icon on the front I believe. This is the detail I’m least sure about since, during my search, I found a copy of Swann’s Way that looks a lot like what I’m describing and I may be conflating mental images here. I understand that none of this is super specific, or concrete for that matter, but any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated!

375E: Very dark YA, MC teen boy dies saving girl he kidnapped

Published date2002-2007 at least that is when we had it in Australia
Story– MC is a teen boy who doesn’t have any friends and is in high school, he is “good” however he is timid and very unsure of himself – he has a crush on a beautiful popular girl from school but she doesn’t know he exists- he makes friends with a boy who is nice to him and a little weird who has a group of friends outside of school so he introduces MC to them- the friends are all boys and they have extreme views and want to act out violently, however MC doesn’t care about this as he doesn’t think the boys will act on it and it’s better than being alone- one day the leader of the group devises a plan to kidnap someone from school to hold them hostage (for reasons I cannot remember sorry), the leader has a car and weapons and makes MC get involved as he is a weak character- it turns out the leader of the group wanted to kidnap the girl from MCs school who he has a crush on and he feels very conflicted about this but doesn’t know how to voice this and get out of the group or tell the police- they kidnap the girl and hold her hostage in a friend’s house but the kidnapping makes the news and it becomes a full blown investigation which escalates the situation quickly- MC had thought that they would just release the girl after the leaders demands are met however due to the kidnapping becoming breaking news he realises there is no way out- he tries to come up with plans to help her escape and make her feel less distressed without getting caught by the leader but it doesn’t work- the leader of the group decides that because his demands are not taken seriously by the police he will take the girl into the woods at night and kill her by hanging her- they tie her up and take her into the woods and put a noose around her however something happens and i think she slips and she suddenly becomes hung – at this point the police have found them and they all run away except MC who desperately tries to cut her free- he manages to save her however there’s a siege and the police find him and start shooting at him and so he runs- the story ends quickly after this chase as he is shot dead.
As you can see this is an incredibly dark story and I was super surprised that it was YA and in my school library! The book absolutely wrecked me for weeks when I was 15. I think it must be out of print as I can’t find it anywhere on google/goodreads.

375D: Poetry Anthology Including “If”

I am looking for what I think is an anthology of poetry, illustrated, that contains an extremely cleverly illustrated version of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”. Black and white line drawings I believe. I remember seeing it in a bookstore in Ithaca circa 2012 it might have been newly published then. There were other poems in the book, possibly also short stories? And authors besides Kipling?

375C: Girls hide and take care of abused horse (Solved!)

It was a children’s fiction novel I read in the early to mid 1990s. The story was about a horse that had escaped from its owners, who I think were neglecting it. The escaped horse was found by two young girls who were friends, both of whom want to help the horse when they realise he’s hungry and in poor condition. Knowing that if they return the horse to the rightful owners that he’ll probably just continue to be neglected, the girls decide to care for him in secret rather than return him to the abusive owners. There’s an abandoned, overgrown stable at the back of a nearby property that is owned by a mysterious recluse who lives in the property’s main house, so the girls have to be very careful to not get caught trespassing by the landowner. The girls have to clear a tall enough path through the undergrowth and remove the poison ivy so they can move the horse into the old stable, which they do their best to clean and repair. They share the responsibility of caring for the horse, taking odd jobs around their neighbourhood to earn extra cash and they pool their pocket money to purchase the feed and supplies they need from the hardware store. Much of the story revolves around the girls working to feed the horse up to improve his physical condition and health, but it is also stressful and difficult for the young girls to constantly manage the demanding routine by themselves and still keep it secret from everyone, which creates some tension in their friendship. Eventually they get found out by the landowner, and the girls are terrified he will call the police and that they’ll be in big trouble for stabling the horse on his property without his permission. But when they finally speak to the man who owns the old stable they are surprised to find that he is actually a kind man and not scary like the schoolyard rumours said. He explains to them that he let the stable go to seed after his horse-loving daughter died, as it was just too painful for him to look at it and constantly be reminded of her. The young girls explain their side of the story to him and the man is touched by their passion and empathy for the neglected horse. To his surprise they remind him of his daughter, but not in the painful way he used to experience in years gone past. Instead he feels quite touched by their efforts to care for the horse and he realises that he also wants to see the horse properly looked after because his daughter would have wanted the same thing. He gives the girls permission to keep stabling the horse on his property, and I think he even promises to help repair stable and maybe even assist with some of expenses associated with keeping the horse. But the condition he gives them is that they have to come clean to their parents about what they’ve been doing. By the end of the book the girls are very happy to be caring for the horse openly with the permission of the owner and their parents, but they kind of miss the excitement of keeping such a huge and exciting secret from everyone.

374Z: Children’s book that existed between 1992-2002 (Solved!)

Full color picture book. A boys parents warn him not to go into woods. He sneaks out anyway, each page is a separate part of the woods and he encounters a unique type of creature/monster per page. I think one is like a colony of tree people, but at the end of the woods and in the final pages he starts getting chased by a smog creature, for like 4 pages he’s just running as the color pages are filling up with smoke. He barely escaped the forest and gets back into house or bed and thinks to himself “never doing that again”. The big part of the book is the escaping through the forest and running home from the smoke (which looks similar to a dragon maybe) but I think they never reveal what the monster is. This book is probably 14-33 pages. The other identifier is that each stage of the forest is a unique creature. Fantasy vibes. Pretty sure the book as color as well. – I know it’s not where are the wild things, and I know it’s not the tomtins. 

354Q: Bastard Child, Kidnapping, and a Mysterious Stranger

All I can remember is that this woman was engaged to a man that her sister wanted. This sister got her drunk one night & walked her into a room with a strange man. The man had a lot of clout in his family. The sister told her fiancé & father what she did & the wedding was called off. The father sent her away when he found out she was pregnant by a stranger.

The woman gets a message from her father to come home for his youngest daughter’s engagement party. (This is the same man that she was engaged to 4 years ago.) The sister & fiancé pick her up at the airport. This man overheard the conversation that the family was saying about her son being a bastard. The man speaks up & introduces himself as the woman’s husband. The family shut up & was surprised she had a man. Well the little boy speaks up & says thank you daddy for helping mommy from these bad people.

It ends there until they run into each other again at a restaurant & from that point on the little boy keeps calling him daddy from here on out. This stranger comes to her rescue time & time again. He really has feelings for her but he never says a thing. Natalie tells the handsome stranger that she is going back home to her own place but her father takes her passport & tells her she isn’t going anywhere till she marries this old man who is a stranger to her.

He runs into Natalie again & he tells her I thought you were going home. She said she was till her father stepped in & changed all that. He invites the woman to his family home & introduces her to his mother. The little boy is very polite and says hi to the woman. The handsome stranger’s mother tell him that the little boy looks just like him when he was younger. She wanted to know who this woman & child were & why were they there.

He invites this woman to live in his home free of charge. He comes up with a contract for them to sign that says they are together but not in a sexual way so there is no drama. The both of them have their own lives & separate bedrooms.

When he moved her into his house he had the house assistant give her anything she wants. The house keeper even enrolls the boy into a prestigious school that the man went to himself when he was younger. The housekeeper tell him the same thing his mother said. How he looks just like him when was younger?
The housekeeper then suggest that the both of them take him & pick him up together so the boy knows he’s loved. This stranger has fallen in love with this woman but again he never says a word.

The lady’s name I believe was Natalie. Well to her family Natalie is nothing to them. Natalie’s father wants her to marry this older man so their family will be in business together. Natalie’s father kidnapped her son to force her into marrying this old man. When this stranger finds out he sends his friend & another man to find him. During this time we find out Natalie had an important job back home. She works with movie stars in her last job so she knows what she is capable of.

This stranger family owns a music business. It’s under one of his other companies. This strangers cousin runs it but he is running it into the ground. His big name actor is being forced to do whatever his representative says & the actor wants out of his contract with the company because of him. Well Natalie gets the job & takes this actor jobs to new heights. This actor has a sister who has some medical problems & if he gets some work he can get her that needed surgery. Natalie pays for his sister’s surgery out of her own pocket.

Well this cousin wants his client back & he will do anything to get him. The cousin is at a party that Natalie attends. His friend helps him get Natalie drunk & take her upstairs to a room in the hotel they are at. The actor is at the party & waits outside the bathroom door for Natalie too return to the party. The cousin & his friend takes Natalie a different direction so she won’t be seen. The handsome stranger is at a party himself that his company throws ever year but this is the first time he has ever attended. He comes downstairs looking for Natalie & he runs into the actor Natalie is representing. The handsome stranger goes in the bathroom & he notices she’s not there. He asks for the manager of the hotel & they go into the communication office where
all the cameras are. He notices what his cousin has done & the handsome stranger sends in his best friend to handle the situation. To get Natalie out of there. The cousin will be handled by him at a later time.

There is a little more to say but I believe I’ve said enough. I hope you can find this. I know it’s not to old maybe just a couple of years if that.

374O: Doll family loses grandfather in garden

This is a book from the 1990’s because I remember buying it for my son who was born in 1989.  It was about a doll family, or a tiny statue family who lived in the bathroom (?) and a child played with them when they took a bath.  At some point one of the statues/dolls gets lost– grandfather or grandmother and they think it blew into the garden when the window was open. They all decide to go look for the missing statue, and have adventures in the garden.  They find the statue and it ends with the grandma and grandpa dancing together.  Beautiful colored illustrations.d

374M: The Rose of Death (Solved!)

Seeking a murder mystery about drowned boy who was bullied probably published around 2000-2003, maybe up to 2005 this book was for high schooler and young adults and I think the cover was blue with a rose. The main story line of the book was an investigator was trying to find the cause of death of a teenage boy who was found in the river who they initially thought was a drowning but then found stool in his lungs that was his cause of asphyxiation. The river had once had a sewage issue, but that was investigated and found that the problem was fixed. He was accidentally killed by other students who gave him a swirly (dunked head into a toilet) that had stool in it that caused him to suffocate. The reason that he was given the swirly was he had a crush on a girl and had given her a rose he had changed the color of from red to (possibly) blue as a magic trick, the book did describe the chemical trick used to perform this. I do not remember the color of the rose, apologies. The girl’s bf or some other significant male figure.