Books by L.S. Matthews

LEXI by L.S. Matthews
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 11, 2008

Just as in A Dog for Life (2006), Matthews combines elements of fantasy with a sometimes rather grim reality. Lexi, a young girl, awakens in the forest with a bad headache and total amnesia. She's rescued by a concerned older man, Joe, and taken to a shelter in a city torn apart by violent crime. The only clue to her past is a silver key she wears on a necklace. A recently deceased rock-star father, a missing identical twin, a long-lost grandmother and a criminal with evil intent but a poorly developed plan all melodramatically contribute to an exciting climax. One subplot in which a small boy is haunted by his older brother's death seems to serve no purpose at all. Next to Lexi, who has a clear and amusing voice, the other characters seem underdeveloped and flat. The predictable plot features a feel-good ending that seems contrived. Fans may welcome this new effort, but after the author's other, excellent works, this one may disappoint. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE OUTCASTS by L.S. Matthews
FANTASY
Released: Nov. 13, 2007

A class trip brings a collection of misfits into a dangerous magical world. Iz and Helen are prone to outbursts, Mia has an autism-like inability to cope with people, Joe is a follower and all four of them do poorly in school. Along with Chris, a popular and brilliant jock, the four are thrown into a shifted dimension. There, guided by the troubled young Johan, they must pass a series of tests in order to return home and set the world aright. If they fail, they will die. The adventures give each of the teams a chance to shine. Joe makes instinctive leaps of logic when they need decisions made in a hurry. Mia, unable to understand people, communicates perfectly with a dangerous panther. Their epiphanies on the adventure's conclusion don't follow coherently from the adventures and lessons the five had, but are nonetheless satisfying. This uneven but enjoyable magical tale brings its outcast characters together: a magical version of The Breakfast Club in the English countryside. (Fantasy. 12-14)Read full book review >
A DOG FOR LIFE by L.S. Matthews
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 10, 2006

Because of his brother's critical illness, John Hawkins's mother says the family dog must go. Knowing that Mouse is necessary to his brother's recovery, John takes her from the north end of the country to the south, where he hopes an uncle he has barely met will keep her temporarily. On the way he has adventures, exaggerated in later news stories to include saving a baby, a pack of wild horses and an entire gypsy caravan. Here, John tells his story straight, in a convincing colloquial voice. Hopeful, helpful John is an engaging nine or ten year old. The English setting is incidental to the adventure of his journey, which is very nearly as suspenseful as the reporting would have suggested, and far more interesting because of the telepathic connection between the dog and the boys. Underlying the appealing plot are some serious issues: a family's grief, "natural" healing, scientific experimentation on animals, prejudice against gypsies and dealing with differences. Episodic enough to be read aloud, this should have wide appeal. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
FISH by L.S. Matthews
FICTION
Released: June 6, 2004

In an unnamed time and place a war has reduced the population to starvation levels. Now they must flee the soldiers from both sides. Led by a wise guide, husband-and-wife aid workers and their young child, Tiger, are the last to leave, heading for a nation whose borders have been closed to refugees. Tiger rescues a fish from a fast-drying mud hole and carries it throughout the harrowing journey. An introduction states that a powerful story can help young readers connect with harsh realities that seem removed from their daily lives. However, in an effort to achieve universality, the possibility of a real connection is diminished. The characters have no names or nationalities. It is unclear whether Tiger is male or female. The adults treat each setback with calm acceptance, perhaps to spare Tiger. But the lack of strong emotion serves to lessen the intensity. Everyone survives even the most dangerous and violent event without explanation. There are allusions to mysticism and allegory as well via the Guide and the fish. It's all probably way over the heads of its intended readers. Well intentioned, but flawed. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >