Thursday, December 21, 2006

Frogs and French Kisses

Rachel has finally got over the fact that she does not have any magical powers and uses her sister, Miri, as much as possible. In exchange for simple spells, like a love spell for her crush, Raf, Rachel has to help Miri stop wildfires, feed the needy and other plots to save the world. Suddenly everything starts to go wrong. First off, their mother, a non-practicing witch who has not been on a date for a very long time becomes a serial dater and uses magic for every possible situation. Then, the love spell goes awry and instead of Raf falling in love with Rachel, it is his brother Will who is under the love spell. Then Miri's attempt to save the world endangers other parts of the world, and even affects the senior prom. And it's up to Rachel to save the day, without magic.

I really liked the first book, Bras and Broomsticks, so I figured that the sequel would be just as much fun. I wasn't disappointed with Frogs and French Kisses, but I don't think it was as good as the first one. The story was interesting though and I kept wanting to know what happened next. The ending also leaves room for the next book, which I'll be looking forward to.

Reviewer: PS

Secrets of a South Beach Princess by Mary Kennedy

Amber Fielding is a local celebrity-her father owns one of the most popular hotels in South Beach and she's an up and coming model. Her life seems perfect, but underneath that facade, Amber has a lot to deal with. First, there's Nick, a guy who she's just hit it off with, but he seems to be flirting with her best friends as well as her. Then, her best friend Zia ends up in the hospital and she gets all the blame. Then, to make things even more complicated, the Changelings, a popular band ends up checking into the hotel a month earlier than they were expected. Amber is finding out that people are not who they first seem to be.

I thought that this book was really entertaining. The crazy twists and turns of the plot kept me reading until the very end. I rarely put the book down! I also loved that the story took place in Florida. The descriptions of South Beach made me want to go there immediately. Overall, I was pleased with how the story ended and I'm looking forward to picking up more books by Mary Kennedy.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey

Fay Harper is like any other “most popular girls at school”-or at least that’s how she appears. But she is really a 300 hundred year old witch that stays young by taking over the bodies young girls. Fay’s power has been running low so she targets Deke, a psychic (though he doesn’t know it), by acting like his girlfriend until she can take his power. She also goes after Monica, the new girl in school who is getting pretty friendly with Deke. Deke’s dad notices something is wrong and calls in his old friend Diana Tregarde. It’s up to Diana to protect Deke and Monica, take down Fay, and prevent an ancient power from waking up and destroying Tulsa.

At first I thought the book was really slow-moving and not getting anywhere. It took a while for Fay to be discovered for what she was even though it was pretty obvious to the reader. But once I was about halfway through it was hard to put down. I really liked how the story built on itself and had a lot of small plots that connected at the end. Mercedes Lackey does a great job of connecting the reader to the characters emotions because I really understood how they were feeling.

Content:MATURE READER
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States

Beyond Basketball by Mike Krzyzewski

Beyond Basketball is a book composed of many personal anecdotes from the life of Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to teach readers about the most important characteristics and aspects of life. Coach K talks about 40 different words, from adversity to work, that can be used to define success. Coach K has had a very successful coaching career at Duke, and he uses these exact same ideas principle and characteristics throughout his daily life. This book is a simple read but is also an excellent teaching tool for any team, business corporation, or family to truly attain success.

Overall, I think this book served its purpose very well. Coach K definitely shows that he not only coaches his players for basketball, but also for life. The author does a great job of presenting a simple layout of these ideals, but he also shares some very important lessons that are critical to achieving success. Each chapter focuses on one idea, but instead of simply defining the term, Coach K uses a personal story in his life to help readers understand this idea and to define it in their own terms. I think it is great that Coach K has written this book because it can connect to a wide variety of audiences. It is simple enough for children, but informative enough for adults. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book, and it should be very successful.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Confessions of a Beauty Editor by Linda Wells

This book was very good and very imformative about beauty. It basically touches every topic you can think about such as; skin care, applying make-up, dealing with your hair, and it even has tips on going to the salon and spa. In each section it gives you do's and dont's, and even special beauty secrets. It also answers beauty myths which is very important for women.

I really enjoyed this book. I learned so much from it. Its really enjoyable to read because it's not set up in a conventional book set up. The chapters have really small paragraphs, pictures, and boxed in words, and it makes reading the book so much more fun. I would reccommend this book to any girl or woman who is interested in reading about make-up and how to work with your hair or really anything that has to do with your body.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Dundee, Oregon USA

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff

Just in Case is the story of a boy who wants desperately to escape fate. He runs and runs from fate, but can’t ever seem to go quick enough to escape. First he changes his name from David to Justin, with the mentality that he can trick fate into forgetting his existence. He changes his physical state, his wardrobe, even his friends, but all in vain. Fate is not so easily fooled. As the book progresses Justin’s fate plays out in many unexpected and refreshingly peculiar ways.

Reading the first couple chapters of Just in Case, I thought it would have a predictable teenage book plot: guy has problem then guy meets girl, they date and his problem is fixed, leaving him a changed man. No big deal, nothing new. I was so wrong. After further reading I was pleasantly surprised by many unexpected plot twists. As in her first novel, Ms. Rosoff plays with the strand of character relationships until it becomes a delicate and complex web. This works well for the most part, however, it becomes a bit confusing when Fate is given a voice in the novel. The way the book is written, Fate speaks as an ominous entity, seeing all that the characters do. The position of Fate is at times a tad confusing and hard to understand as relevant to the story, but in the end Fate adds to the perplexity of the story line. Although the book begins rather slowly, it picks up shortly and is refreshing because of its ending and intricacy of character relations.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sasquatch by Jeff Meldrum

This book starts with the explanation of cryptozoology, the study of mythical creatures. It then proceeds to relate the story of a man who found a sasquatch footprint, Ray Wallace. Wallace found a very large footprint in the construction sight where he was working. When Bigfoot hunters appearred though, he said he felt sorry for the critter and said he faked the tracks. From there the book moves on to topics that are grounded in science, such as vocalization and behavioral similarities. It also tells about sighting that were misproven and DNA evidence. Then the author sums up the information in the book as to whether or not the sasquatch exists. He says that based on the scientific evidence that the sasquatch does exist.

This book was highly informative about Bigfoot. There is a large amount of complicated science involved with the text, yet the author explains it a thoroughness that helps the reader understand the material without diluting the science. However, at some points, I found the book to be slightly boring, enough to dissuade casual readers that aren't very interested. Although, in spite of this, this book was a good read.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Though he doesn’t fully understand what is going on around him, Bruno’s new friend in the striped hat and pajamas helps nine-year-old Bruno get though his new life. In the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the large fence outside of Bruno’s house always separates Bruno from his only friend Shmuel and all of the other mysterious, cheerless looking people on the other side of that fence. Bruno does not realize that what is going on around him is the Holocaust. Though Bruno and Shmuel talked every day, always with that eerie fence between them, Bruno never fully understands how horrible a thing is going on right outside his house. The shocking ending of this moving book will help you realize just a little more how horrific the Holocaust was.

This story is not suspenseful or action-filled, but something special about it grips you and makes it so you just have to keep reading. Bruno, in his na├»ve state of mind, is the reason this story has such an impact. He is only nine years old and does not understand exactly what horrible things are happening during the Holocaust. That is what made this book so interesting. Though Bruno’s viewpoint is the foundation of what made The Boy in the Striped Pajamas have such an effect, Bruno annoyed me at some points. He was just a nine-year-old though so it’s understandable. Bruno had no idea what was going on around him, or even how to pronounce the names of the horrible things having to do with the Holocaust, so it told the story from a different, yet interesting, vantage point. This shocking, but compelling story is definitely worth reading.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairview Heights, Illinois USA

Wide Awake bt David Levithan

Wide Awake is about the journey of a group of teenagers, especially a young couple, across the country to preserve what they believe in. America has elected the first gay and jewish president in its history, and plenty of controversy has followed it. When the governor of Kansas demands a recount in attempt to overturn the election, everything in the lives of these teenagers, political and personal, is put into question. This journey tests the strength of the young teenagers' relationships and political identity that will leave the readers' imaginations asking for more.

I thought this book did a great job of posing the question: What if? The author creates such a unique setting in the future of the World that truly drew me into this book. All aspects of the plot were very well presented, but there was just enough uncertainty that caused me to keep wanting to turn the pages. Also, the struggles that the young people go through mentally, physically, and emotionally makes the plot even more interesting. I think this book can be very appealing to many readers because is presents one idea for the future of the world. With everything occurring in the world today, this book could not have come at a better time to enlighten the imaginations of all. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I think others will too.

Content:Some sexual content and discriminative slang terms.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

Rogue Angel: Destiny by Alex Archer

Rogue Angel is a series of books starring Annja Creed, an archaeologist. In Destiny, Annja travels to France on assignment for Chasing History's Monsters, a television show she occasionally works for to make money. She's investigating La Bete de Gevaudan (the Beast of Gevaudan)in the Cervannes Mountians, when she realizes that she's not the only one hunting la Bete and that there are many secrets hidden in the Mountians. Lesauvage, a criminal searching for la Bete to find hidden treasure, sends men after Annja to capture her. Roux, a five hundred year old man who once served Joan of Arc, helps Annja only to steal the medallion she found. As the story unfolds, mystery surrounds the characters, each holding a fact that leads to the discovery of the truth. It turns out that Annja is the successor of Joan of Arc, possessing her magical sword to do Good.

Rogue Angel: Destiny encompasses many genres, historical fiction, mystery, mythology, and science fiction to name a few and is likely to appeal to a wide range of readers. It is a definite page turner in which Annja Creed faces evil with intelligence and grace. Her quick thinking gains the admiration of even her ennemies. The author, Alex Archer, does an excellent job of explaining the complicated plot and moving it forward without leaving the reader in the dark. I enjoyed the historical references throughout the novel but the book is far from a boring history lesson, it is a thrilling mystery! I would recommend it to high school age readers of all interests.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO USA

Room For One More by Devra Newberger Speregen

11-year old Harlie has everything going for her-great friends, great parents, and she might even qualify for the Team USA Junior Gymnastics Championships in Miami, Florida. She even had a cool birthday party to see a comic book exhibit at the museum with her friends, Miss O, Juliette, Isabella, and Justine! Her life is pretty much perfect-and she's happy with it. But then things start happening all at once; a new family moves into her apartment building, and Harlie's expected to entertain their very annoying Kindergartener, Lanie! There's more: her mom's been acting really weird, and Harlie still hasn't heard back from her coach if she's made it or not to the gymnastics championships! That's when her parents tell her: her mom's having a baby-and it's due the exact same week as when Harlie's hoping to be in Miami competing! Needless to say, she's not too psyched about things. Will she make it to Miami? Will things start getting better? And for Pete's sake, will Lanie finally leave Harlie alone?!?

“Room For One More” reminded me a lot of how girls act in their tween years. I forgot we had a language of our own! Although I did not particularly like the book, I know my “tween” sister will love it. All in all, it's pretty much the new “Baby Sitter's Club,” of sorts--most likely the next popular series of books for girls. Based on the popular website, missoandfriends.com, it's a sure hit with all of those girls out there who are fans of the website and who are between the ages of 8 and 11!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: , IN USA

All You Need Is Love by Emily Franklin

17-year old Love Bukowski returns mid semester to Hadley Prep from her study abroad in London to be near her aunt Mable who has breast cancer. Once back, Love can only seem to compare her wonderful, though few months in London—living in a flat with her best friend Arabella—with her old life where she doesn’t seem to fit in anymore. As Love deals with the pain of seeing her Aunt Mable slowly dying before her eyes, keeping up a long distance relationship with her Brit boyfriend Asher, and her dad’s seemingly tough crackdown on everything concerning her life, Love does not know what to do anymore. In addition, she learns that the schoolwork she did in London will not count because she left mid semester. So now, she not only has to worry about her relationships with old friends, including Jacob her ex, but doing another project as well as writing her college essays. However, it seems as though she is getting closer to finding out who her real mom is.

All you need is Love, by Emily Franklin, was a great lighthearted addition to the principles of Love series. Love is a down to earth girl who is easy to relate to and seems to be stuck in situations that any 17-year-old girl can understand. Although, Hadley Prep (a boarding school) is a college prep high school, the school has a more college atmosphere than high school. If you have not read the previous books in the series, it is hard to understand that she is actually in high school and not college. Franklin writes a fun fast-paced novel, with an ending that is sure to have readers waiting in anticipation for the next sequel.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, Missouri USA

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three Clams and an Oyster by Randy Powell

While searching for a fourth member for their flag football team three friends learn something new about themselves and each other.

This book is entertaining, but nothing to write home about. Throughout the book the author focuses on three main characters, all part of a four man flag football team. The characters are faced with the decision to replace Cade, an unreliable member of their team, after he misses a couple of practices. The author mainly dawdles on events such as going to a hot dog stand or the the flee market rather the than more interesting stuff as in the actual football game. The author does scatter a fair amount of humor into the book but just enough to keep it interesting. In the end you feel as if the author rushed to meet a deadline. Overall this pearl is better left inside the oyster.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Starkville, MS United States

Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough

Sadie and her family have just moved across the country from her old home in California. Even the skies and the ocean are different, and Sadie isn't so sure that she'll be able to fit in here. While her worries about friends, boys, and school are normal enough, Sadie has one more tough thing to deal with. Her family is still healing from the death of her twin brother, Ollie, four years ago. The two were twelve years old then, and Ollie will be twelve forever. Sadie still sees him and talks to him, and tries to paint the ocean for him, her last promise to her brother.

Carolyn MacCullough has created great characters in this novel. These characters populate a powerful story that is very well written, one that will capture the attention of readers from the very first chapter. Sadie's worries about her new school will be familiar to any teen who has ever been the new kid (and to many who have not). Hopefully not many people will be able to relate to her struggles over the death of her brother, but that aspect of the book is very well done; the emotions and reactions of Sadie and her family are very realistic. This isn't a book that readers will want to miss, especially if they are fans of MacCullough's earlier work.

Content:Drug use. More mature readers, probably.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Fangs 4 Freaks by Serena Robar

In this sequel to Serena Robar's Braced 2 Bite, Colby has set up a sorority house that's rather exclusive. Psi Phi is just for half-blood vampires. Colby is one of these half-bloods, but she's more than that; she's their Protector, the one who got rid of the unfair laws persecuting them. Without her, they could all be executed! Of course, now that they're free to exist, that doesn't mean all of their troubles are over. The half-bloods are still being targeted, and it looks like there's a spy in the Psi Phi house. Aside from being a that, Colby's got some problems that aren't so particular to her status as half-blood Protector. Namely, guy problems--she and her boyfriend Thomas aren't taking things to the next level the way Colby would like! Despite the fact that Colby has freed her people, life is anything but cushy for the sisters at Psi Phi House.

Fangs 4 Freaks is a well written book and an original take on the vampire legend. Serena Robar's characters are original and fun to read about. These include a half-blood vampire who wants to be a vegan, one who is overly confrontational, and another who, as royalty, sees herself as above the rest of the sisters. This novel is a fun, suspenseful read with a real surprise twist at the end! It isn't necessary to have read Braced 2 Bite before picking this book up, but it would probably help to fill in some of the background information that I'm still a little fuzzy on after finishing the novel. Fans of vampire novels and even those who don't have a great love for vampire stories will love this book!

Content:Sexual situations, violence.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Don't Feed The Bully by Brad Tassell

Hannibal Greatneck III is a detective. Handy finds he has some work to do as a sixth grade transfer student in his new school, William B Travis elementary. His new school has a very different idea of what to do about bullies. Handy notices this soon after entering the school--it would be hard to miss. There is a cage, where the bully Ralphie is made to sit, in the middle of the classroom. The power to stop the bullies is given to wimpy Kurt, and that power can be used another way...to become a bully. People in school are scared, and Handy has to figure out why and fix it.

Don't Feed The Bully is a quick read that kids will be able to relate to. Important lessons are taught, but the book still manages to be funny and entertaining! Even reluctant readers will enjoy this book, with its fun characters and the mystery that is the center of the story. To add to the fun, there are entertaining illustrations by Logan Sibrel that definitely add to the book. Most of thte pictures are a great addition to the story. Just because there are pictures doesn't make this a book for little kids, though; everyone will enjoy this story!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fugitive from Corinth by Caroline Lawrence

Flavia's father is severely injured one night, and the only suspect Flavia has in mind is her own tutor. Nubia, Jonathan, and Lupus (and later on, Megara) join her in her pursual of him, through unknown terrain, and various cities. An oracle tells Flavia's messanger with a rhyme, which none of them can figure out, and the group dismisses it after a little thought. Before that, though, they'd met a young beggar boy, who seems a little odd, but was otherwise a great help in some ways and a great bother in others. Later on, the boy revealed himself as a girl, Megara, who had more information on the tutor and his brother than any of them had imagined. It's finally in the cave of the Furies that they catch up with the tutor and his brother, who both have stories to tell. It turns out that no one had intended to hurt Flavia's father, and they all run back to Corinth and find him awake and live happily ever after.

I think that the book was a little childish and mainstream. The murder mysteries that end up with everyone living happily ever after, when it shouldn't happen are a little annoying. Other than that, Lawrence delivers the tale in a slightly more interesting way- this takes place in ancient times. With a change of character, setting, and behavior, an otherwise boring tale is made slightly more interesting. Some parts are a little bit strange- like, they just happen to meet a little beggar boy who just happens to be a girl who just happens to know a hell of a lot of stuff about Aristo. But otherwise, it's not that bad.

Content:They give a brief mention to various female parts, but I wouldn't worry.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mahomet, Illinois The United States of America

Adventures in Unhistory by Avram Davidson

Adventures in Unhistory is a collection of mini-lectures that deal with the fantastic: from dragons to mermaids to the travels of Sinbad. Davidson takes on the task of providing the facts of popular myths. As he presents the details that make each legend plausible, he interjects little quips and anecdotes that liven the narration and makes each scholarly essay enjoyable and easy to process. The essays teach a significant amount of history to the reader, but present it in such a way that the knowledge is transferred painlessly, unlike reading a history textbook. It seems almost as though Davidson were speaking directly and personally to the reader. When the reader finishes this book, he/she will be able to fully comprehend the history behind the fantasy in novels that deal heavily with these legends.

This book was immensely exciting to read. The essays, at first, seemed a little dry, but as I adjusted to the witty comments and seemingly random points (that were always tied up at the end), the essays came to life and almost read like a novel. There were times when I was at a loss to some of the humor, mainly because I was not familiar with the background, such as the Latin words Ars longa, vita breva. But it took little away from the narration, and was not hard to research and figure out. And since the stories covered a broad variety of topics, the knowledge gained was well rounded, and applicable to other areas not pertaining to fantasy. I think this book is essential to the fantasy fanatic’s library, and even those with no interest in werewolves or phoenixes will still be captivated by the wealth of information tucked inside this little book.

Content:Though this book contains no violence, sexual situations, or profanity, the language of the book assumes that the reader has significant understanding of classical works and a fairly detailed comprehension of history. Thus, while the content is appropriate for younger children, much of the humor and subtext would not be conveyed. So, the recommendation would be for a mature, intellectual reader.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Overland Park, Kansas United States

Monday, November 27, 2006

Firestorm by Daniel Kass

Have you ever been broken the school rushing record, been turned down by your girlfriend, found out your parents aren’t your parents, and been chased off into the night by strangers, all in one evening? Well, Jack Danielson has, and he wasn’t too happy about the latter three. First he breaks the school rushing record by 200 yards (the rushing record is how far you can run with the ball in football before you are tackled, drop the ball, or make a touchdown,) tries to get his girlfriend to go all the way with him, and gets turned down. He then drives home and his dad tells him to get in the car. He tells Jack that he is not his dad and his mom is not his mom. His dad does these radical tricks with his car to get away from these creatures that are now chasing them. His “dad” tells him to run down to the dock where he will find a boat. Jack rides that boat down to Manhattan. Jack looks around the boat and finds, locked in a safe, the papers to the boat, which have his name on them, and a crazy watch which he puts on. Once in Manhattan, he sells his boat and goes to the park and falls asleep. He is picked up by this girl who offers to take him back to her apartment. She seduces him and then turns into one of those creatures who were looking for him. He quickly gets away, and finds a talking dog named Gisco. The dog leads him away to a train station and they get onboard as a blind man and his seeing eye dog. Quickly they iscover a plot to get them and they jump off of the train. A group of bikers finds them and sells Javk a bike and fresh clothes. Jack and Gisco ride off into the night. Gisco leads Jack to a barn and locks him inside. Jack is furious. He sleeps through the night. When he wakes up he finds a ninja standing there. The ninja beats him up for three days until Jack can beat him. Once Jack finally beats the ninja, he unmasks it and finds it’s a girl. They drive to the beach and train Jack to fight. He is chased away from the islad, with Gisco, by the creatures. To find out more, pick this book up at your local library or bookstore!

This was one of the greatest books I have ever read. This will definitely be the next Harry Potter. Out of all my likes, I had only one dislike, and it was the fact that he, David Klass, used a lot of fragments instead of actual sentences. That got a little annoying. I did like the fact that it was a little fantasy, adventure, romance, and science fiction all wrapped up into one story.

Content:mature reader due to sexual situations and and some violence

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13

The End by Lemony Snicket

In The End, Clause and Sunny and Violet, all get shipwrecked on a coastal shelf, along with Count Olaf that is. They meet a girl named Friday, who takes them back to her village to meet Ishmael, who likes to be called Ish. She leaves Count Olaf behind because he is a wicked man. The Baudelaires are made get rid of all their possessions, including Clause’s commonplace book, Violet’s hair ribbon, and Sunny’s whisk. They are put into white robes (that is what the whole village is made to wear) and must drink coconut cordial, the only drink found on the island except salt water. The Baudelaires are fine until they are whisked into an evil plot to overthrow Ishmael and force him off the island. Later they find that there are secrets on the island their parents had kept from them. They find these secrets just as Count Olaf comes with his own deadly plot to make the island his own. He fails and all the inhabitants of the village are forced off the island in a boat. The Baudelaires live on the island a whole other year until they completed a boat to get off the island.

I liked this book a lot. It had adventure and many plots and subplots. One thing I liked was that there was a surprise little extra chapter at the back of the book. One thing I disliked was the fact it told none of the secrets Lemony always wrote about in his books. Overall the final book was not the best in his series, but it was good.


Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Don't Feed The Bully by Brad Tassell

Hannibal "Handy" Greatneck III, a boy detective, moves to a new school. There he discovers an unusual sight. There is a cage in the classroom, and all the students seem to be afraid of a puny Kurt Pesterman. When Handy tries to expose Kurt's misuse of power to the teachers, Kurt frames Handy in an attempt to get Handy in deep trouble. Don't Feed the Bully is a humorous story with a very good moral.

To be frank, I was skeptical about this book when I recieved it. It was thin, had drawings, and sounded...well like something a child would read. I was somewhat wrong. While the plot is geared more towards ages 10-12, there was a surprising amount of extensive vocabulary. The analogies Brad Tassel writes made me chuckle every time. The plot had great lessons on how to stop or deter bullying, and that was amplified by the appendix giving step-by-step explanations about how to overpower bullies. The book has great potential, and I think Brad Tassell could make this into a series. Handy Greatneck might just be the next Encyclopedia Brown.


Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Quincy, Pennsylvania United States of America

Being AGirl That Leads by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio

Primicerio develops Being a Girl Who Leads as a thought provoking and guiding Christian work aimed at teenage girls. She covers everyday topics such as clothing, friends, profanity, boundaries and limits vs. freedom, lying and gossiping, intimate relationships, and parents in a way that explores the Christian point of view but allows people of all faiths and backgrounds to reflect on their actions. Each chapter discusses a relevant topic by explaining how what is often expected of girls, or what they expect of themselves, contradicts Christian teachings and sometimes even common sense. The author provides great examples, some from her life and experience, to illustrate her points. She provides ideas for further thought at the end of each chapter, as well as what should be expected from a good leader.

Being A Girl Who Leads is a great guide for girls to refocus their lives to look at what is important in life. Primicerio takes a very simple and understandable approach to topics that most girls think are out of their control, such as clothing fashions that may be inappropriate. I really think this book would be excellent for youth groups or groups of girls to discuss after reading or topic by topic. My only drawback, for non-Christians, is that the author focuses a lot on the Christian point of view. However, I still reflected on myself and my decisions while reading this book. It's an easy and quick read and worthwhile.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO USA

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Horse from the Sea by Victoria Holmes

On a dark and stormy night, Spanish ships started crashing on the shore located near Nora Donovan’s home. The next morning her family and their close neighbors help gather up the remains that have drifted ashore from the ship. What Nora finds will change her life forever—a Spanish boy gasping for help. Nora decides to deliver him from the sea, from the English armies who are searching for the Spanish survivors to kill, and also from the evil wrath of Manannan mac Lir (the god of the sea). She also finds a beautiful stallion as white as sea foam which has a wounded shoulder. She decides to call the horse Lir, and takes him to a cave close by to help him recover his health, but inside lurking in the shadows is the injured shipwrecked Spanish sailor. He asks Nora if she will take him to a ship that will take him back to Spain and after pondering the idea for a while, she agrees. She will have to disobey her parents, leave without a trace, escape English soldiers, give up her beloved horse, and risk her life to save a boy she hardly even knows.

The Horse from the Sea is a wonderful book that I enjoyed reading. It is full of adventure and edge of your seat suspense. Victoria Holmes has two other horse novels called Rider in the Dark and Heart of Fire, which I can’t wait to read. The plot was well chosen, the title fit very well, and the cover was gorgeous. Even though this book was a good read, I think that the story was continued for too long and should have ended much sooner. I recommend this book mostly to girls ages 9-14.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA US

Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Pasquala, a.k.a Paski, was known as one of the populars in Taos, New Mexico. Her mother left Paski and her trying-too-hard-to-be-a-role-model father when Paski was only a little girl. The only "women" figures she has now is her weird, physic grandmother and her expreienced best friends, Emily and Janet. When Paski's life seemed to be going well, it came to a halt. Her dad got a promotion in Los Angeles. It may sound cool leaving the snow and heading for sunshine but when her grandmother warns her of bad times to come, she's not so sure about it anymore. Now she has to deal with a whole new school and a whole new group called the Haters. When Paski sees trouble ahead for one of the Haters she has to decide whether to tell her and be compoletely humiliated or let it take its course...literally.

I have to say this is probally one of the best books I have read coming out of Flamingnet. I was kind of iffy about it because I am used to reading books that can be realistic somewhat. Paski, the main character, has the ability to see in the future and that turned me off at first. But then I realized, without it, the book would be one of those popular, sterotypical books that get old after a while. Haters has substance and didn't drag on like other 350 page books do. I would love to see Rodriguez create a sequel or another young adult novel that had as much interest and integrity as Haters did.

Content:The majority of the book was fine. However, there was a paragraph or two towards the end of the book that I strongly suggest should only be for a mature audience due to sexual content.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
eviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Villa Hills, Kentucky United States

More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas

Just when Morgan Carter was beginning to love the simple life she had built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, her true identity as an infamous Hollywood starlet was exposed. This book is a sequel to “Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet” and features the same characters. Morgan is now 17 and trying to live the simple life in Fort Wayne when her archenemy: Debbie Ackerman revealed her identity as a Hollywood starlet. Now she is trying to deal with her new life being followed by paparazzi after she left rehab. Morgan has a choice to make: return to her glamorous movie star existence—or stick with the wholesome life, and love, she's found in the Midwest. In this journal by Morgan, she tells gossips and rumors. Her mom, Bianca, wants her back in LA for Thanksgiving with Sam, her stepfather. But Morgan wants to stay with her new “boyfriend” Eli and the rest of her new friends. She goes through countless mood swings, and encounters many obstacles on her way to become sober from drugs and alcohol. This is definitely a good story for teenage girls, for it has a lot of elements that will be especially interesting for them.

I'm not such a big fan for journals, especially ones with gossip and other things that are mostly intended to entertain girls. The author did a good job of putting all of the elements together and made it look like a book, but I'm not really interested in reading it. Like I said before, this book really isn't for boys, but Lola Douglas did not really intend to write it just for girls. Overall, it's not a bad book, but I'm just not interested when reading More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. The book might be a little more interesting if I've read the previous book: "Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet".

Content:The book is mostly intended for teenage girls, but boys are not restricted to reading it. There is some profanity and sexual situations, so I'm recommending that you have to be at least 12 and up to read this.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, IL USA

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss Princess of Wonderland is set to recieve the throne of wonderland once her dear mother passed away many years in the future, that is until her evil Aunt Redd assasinates her parents in an evil plan to control the world. ALyss escapes through a magical pool to Earth and is taken in by a nice London family. She procedes to grow up teaching herself to believe wonderland was a figment of her imagination. Her perfect life is shattered on her wedding day when her childhood playmate Dodge. She is swept back into wonderland and all of its politics as she is forced to battle Redd for the Queendom.

The book is a very nicely done spin-off of Lewis Carrol's Classic. This book will most likely overcome the shadow of Carrol's book. The card soldier invention was great. I would enjoy to read any sequal by Beddor, and he should write a sequal. The adding of imagination powers is a nice addition.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Raymond, illinois United States of America

Queen B by Laura Peyton Roberts

Cassie Howard, always the runner up in school, has somehow managed to take the hottest guy, Kevin, from Sterling, the most popular girl in school. As her popularity starts to rise in the school, so does her rivalry with Sterling. Add on to the situation a little brother who manages to get her into sticky situations, Cassie seems to be losing her touch. Then, she is given a role of stage director in the talent school her school is holding, and more and more people are not taking Cassie seriously. She has to find some way to hold on to her new boyfriend and solve problems in school before it's too late.

I thought that this book was really cute. As soon as I picked it up, I couldn't stop reading this. Cassie was such a cute character to read about. The situations she got into were so funny. I can't wait to read the prequel to Queen B! I think this is the perfect book to pick up. I hope that Laura Peyton Roberts continues to write about Cassie's adventures.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Thursday, November 16, 2006

London Calling by Edward Bloor

Martin Conway is in serious depression. At his school, he gets slapped in the face by a boy living up to a legacy, his father is an alcholic, and his grandmother recently died. When Martin visits his Aunt's house where his grandmother lived, he inheirits an old radio. Every night, instead of the TV, he tunes the radio between stations and falls asleep to the soft glow of the dial. But this is not without consequence. Every time he falls asleep to the radio, he is transported back in time to 1940s London during the Blitz. There he meets a boy who needs Martin's help. Martin's time-travling adventures lead to a trip to present-day London, in order to help the boy.

Edward Bloor wrote one of my favorite books of all time, Tangerine. London Calling is every bit as captivating. Martin portrays a common figure, in a not-so-common circumstance. The things that happen to Martin (other than his time-traveling) could easily happen to anyone. His struggle through life, then the uplifting of his spirits makes this novel an emotional adventure too. The book was consistently well-paced, and kept me reading the whole time. The ending is capable of warming even the coldest heart. Bloor writes yet another tale that makes you question what could happen, or what we believe in. London Calling has great potential win awards, or simply capture young minds to the enthralling adventure that is life.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Quincy, Pennsylvania United States

Underland by Mary Patterson Thornburg

After giving her a mysterious gift, Alyssha Dodson's older brother Billy vanished without a trace. Now, four years later, Alyssha is twelve, and being chased by frightening strange men who are searching for something, Alyssha runs to a room under a bridge, the refuge shown to her by her brother soon before his disappearance. When she leaves that room, she is in another universe. It is much like the one she left, but also very different, and she is not as safe there as she might have hoped; she is still being pursued, this time by the powerful Lord Raf Var Ne, whose stepson, Kardl, aids Alyssha in her escape from the Rydor Lord and her search for her brother; Billy, apparently, also traveled to this parallel world. The following adventure includes a revolution, a hint of romance, and more!

Upon opening this book, I had no expectations as to the quality of it, but if I had they would certainly have been surpassed! The characters and plot were well-thought out, and the writing pulled me right in! I couldn't put down Underland; I found myself turning page after page until I'd read the entire book in one sitting! Though the characters are realistic, they also seem a bit too mature for their supposed ages a lot of the time (Alyssha and Kardl in particular); but then, I suppose they've been through a lot. Still, it might have been a bit more believable had their ages been stated as a few years older than those given. I also had a few unanswered questions upon finishing the book, but hopefully that just means there is a sequel in the works!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn

This story describes the hardships of two young boys in Vienna, Austria during World War II. One of the boys, Karl, is forced to leave his home after his mother is taken away by soldiers. He goes to his best friend Emil’s house. Emil is Jewish, but Karl is not. Emil’s father has been killed, and his mother has lost her mind. Together, Emil and Karl go into the city, meeting some kind people, others not, while searching for a safe place to stay.

I really enjoyed this book. The book showed the power of friendship. I liked the many different characters, and how they each resembled different people’s reactions to what was going on around them. Some people were too afraid to speak out against hate, others were taken in by hate, while other people tried to fight back against hatred. The book also showed that in the midst of hatred, there are still kind people. I thought the translator’s introduction was touching, giving the reader a picture of who was reading this book when it was released in Yiddish in 1940. It reminded the reader that this story cannot just tell about the past, but also reminds the reader to remember the challenges faced by children around the world.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana , Illinois United States of America

The Black Tatoo by Sam Enthoven

It all begins with two normal teenage boys, Charlie and Jack, walking down the street leading seemingly normal lives. That is, until they are stopped by a mysterious, dark stranger named Nick. Nick soon pulls Charlie and Jack into the Brotherhood, a secret society charged with keeping the Scourge, a liquid black Demon, imprisoned. The boys team up with Esme, another teenage girl who has trained all her life to fight the Scourge. During a fight for leadership of the Brotherhood, Charlie accidentally becomes the host body of the Scourge, which has escaped. Through Charlie the Scourge opens and enters the Fracture, or gateway to Hell. Jack and Esme follow and are confronted by the Emperor who only grants requests by winning a match in the bloody gladiator pits. The book continues as Jack tries to stay alive, Esme braces herself to fulfill her destiny, and Charlie fights to save his friends and himself.

I really liked this book. When I first got it and saw how many pages there were I thought it would be long and boring. But it was packed with adventure, suspense and mystery. Sam Enthoven did a great job of the keeping the novel moving. I could really connect with the characters and their emotions. It also presents unconventional, interesting viewpoints about demons, etc. Overall, I thought it was a great book.

Content:adult guidance
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters

Ever since he was little, Nick has been teased because he has two moms. Nick's mothers taught him not to be ashamed of his parentage, no matter what others said.

Though it is hard for him to deal with bullies and name-calling at school, Nick is pretty happy when he is home.

Happy, that is, until his moms split up. Nick stays at home with Erin - who he calls Mom, who he's always called Mom, because she biologically is just that - while Jo gets an apartment of her own.

What happens when your parents break up? What if they were not married in the eyes of the law, and one of them has no biological or legal claim to you?

As always, Julie Anne Peters has written a realistic, dramatic story. Children of divorce will benefit from reading this book just as much as those who are products of a same-sex marriage. Hopefully, this and other stories by Peters will encourage readers to be more open-minded and more compassionate towards others.

Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

This thick tome follows young orphan Mosca as she travels across land and sea with a strange man named Eponymous Clent. In no time at all, she is caught up in an intriguing struggle for power between different persons and guilds.

Fly by Night is not a fantasy book, nor is it historical fiction. Instead, her world is something somewhat like our world a few hundred years ago -- but with different laws and events, which have shaped its history and its people accordingly.

Initially, I thought this story revolved around books and literacy because the attractive front cover boldly states, "Imagine a world in which all books have been banned!" Though it did deal with writing and words, the book was ultimately more about power, greed, politics, and trickery.
Some of my acquaintances really loved Fly by Night. It was recommended to me by more than one person. The book never quite lived up to the hype which preceeded it. Perhaps it was not my cup of tea because it wasn't everything that I expected, but that is not to say it was a poor book. I did enjoy some moments of suspense, and I liked Mosca's pet goose.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt

Simone is a fairly well-adjusted teenager who is about to have her life turned upside down. She has known since she was a little girl that she was adopted, but she has never met her biological parents. She has never considered her adoptive parents anything less than Mom and Dad, and she loves them as much as and as well as her younger brother.

Then the phone rings. Simone's biological mother, Rivka has called in hopes that she can finally meet her sixteen-year-old daughter. Simone is understandably anxious about their first meeting, and becomes even more troubled after Rivka gives her some undeniably sad news.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life is a double
delight: a fantastic debut novel and a fantastic novel, PERIOD. It deals with family, friends, and fears - high school, home, and hope - love, laughter, and loss. This book's wit and wisdom will stay with readers for a long time. Highly recommended.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Specials, the third book in the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, offers just as much intrigue and action as the previous two installments.

What if everyone in the world was pretty? What if things were more peaceful because of it? Would you conform to the norm or fight to be unique?

When Tally was almost sixteen, she was ready to get her obligatory operation, just as everyone else gets at that age. She thought the world was a pretty okay place and took her surroundings and standing in stride.

Then she learned that not everyone gets the surgery, some escaping to a safe haven known as the Smoke, where people look and live as naturally as possible.

Forced by the authorities to visit the Smoke, Tally found herself siding with the dissenters - a decision that risked her life and the lives of those she loved.
After the smoke cleared - no pun intended - Tally found herself one of the Pretties, having undergone the surgery anyway, again under the thumb of those in power. At first, she did not know any better, but once she learned of their mind-altering surgeries, she fought back, this time stronger and smarter than before.

Now she is one of the Specials - stronger than she ever could have imagined, with special privileges and high-powered contacts. But at what price? Sure, she enjoys the power, the strength, the immunity - but she has been given all of these gifts from people who may not have her best intentions at heart.

One thing is for sure: Tally is no longer the blissfully ignorant girl she was a few years ago. She cannot be. She can, however, attempt to right some of the wrongs she has been a part of, and, in the process, change her life and her society.

Readers of Uglies and Pretties will not be disappointed. Specials delivers all that it should and more. The action sequences are packed with octane, an the writing is imaginative and descriptive. The ending of Specials will challenge readers to think, really think, about what they take for granted and what they should truly value.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties continues the story Scott Westerfeld started in Uglies. Set in a dystopic future where everyone gets an operation at age sixteen to make one pretty, teenaged Tally is learning that everything may not be as peaceful as it seems.
When last we left Tally, she and her friend Shay had attempted to evade the authorities and protect the secret location of the Smoke, a settlement where people who refuse the surgery could find refuge.

Pretties opens with Tally and her buddies getting ready for a party. They are extremely happy and "bubbly," all Pretties now, condoning conformity rather than condemning it. How and why did this happen? Readers may be surprised.

Readers who cheered for Tally in Uglies will continue to do so in Pretties. She is sharper in this story than in the previous tale. In fact, "sharper" may be taken literally when she discovers a painful way to reclaim her wits.

Tally must decide whether or not to follow through on the promises and bargains she has made. Not every decision is an easy one, and none of friends will make it through this journey unscathed.

Trilogies often sag in the middle, producing a second book which is not quite as good as the first and not as important as the last. Such is not the case here.
Pretties is more than a mere second step. It is just as fast-paced as Uglies and perhaps even more thought-provoking. It is followed up excellently with Specials, the final book in the trilogy.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Maximum Ride: Schools Out Forever by James Patterson

Fresh out of New York City, Max Ride and her flock of human-avian hybrids fly to Washington D.C. to locate their parents. On their way, Fang, one of the older flock members, gets his side cut by flying Erasers, human-wolf hybrids, including Ari, who Max supposedly killed in the first book. The flock then goes to a hospital, where an FBI member meets them and lets them stay in her house. Things aren't as they seem to be, and the flock eventually finds themselves in Florida, investigating a major company who will supposedly blow up the world. Maximum Ride is one ride you'll wish would last forever.

James Patterson is one of the most popular adult novelists out there. His attempt at a young adult series proves why the nation loves him. This is a sequel, but there really is no need to read the first book, as he gives details about it as they come up. Still, I would reccommend reading The Angel Experiment first, to set the stage. The characters all have their own unique personality that is pretty consistent throughout the book. Iggy acts blind, the Gasman is a typical kid, Angel is sweet and innocent, Nudge is talkative, Fang is silent, and Max is caring, yet sarcastic. There are many twists and turns in the book, which make you question yourself as you are reading almost every page. Yet all (or most) of the twists are explained, either through inference or simply reading it outright. Patterson's storytelling is amazing, and the major questions in the stories still isn't answered. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel (there is plans for one), but not so much the movie, because, well...make your own movie/book comparisons. Still, Patterson proves that he can write just as well for Young Adults as he can for Adults.

Adult Guidance: NONE, some violence
RATING:9
Age:13
Name: Josh McLucas
City:Quincy
State: Pennsylvania
Country: United States

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless by Ahmet Zappa

The book I read was The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless by Ahmet Zappa. The protagonist’s name is Minerva. She has a brother, Max, and they live with their father; her mother is deceased. One day when Minerva’s father is out of the house buying a cake in honor of the anniversary of his wife’s death, Minerva and Max discover their father’s study and learn that he is a monsterminator—a monster hunter. In their father’s study, Max and Minerva discover the Monstranomicon, a living book about monsters. The Monstranomicon bites Minerva, and its venom knocks her out. Her father finds that the children have been in his study, and he explains his occupation and warns them never to go into the study again. They, of course, ignore him. One day, a mysterious package arrives, and the next day monsters kidnap Minerva’s father. Will Max and Minerva save their father? Read the Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless to find out!

I loved this book! It was creative and funny. I liked the illustrations—a great mix of drawings and photos--because they give the reader a visual guide to the book. Also, there are really cool, funny monster defense recipes scattered throughout the book. This book is a must-read. I would recommend it to anyone who loves monsters, the Charlie Bone books, or the Harry Potter series.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, NY USA

Trouble With A Capital O by Miss O, with Devra Newberger Speregen

Olivia (“Miss O”) wakes up on the first day of the school year with a bad feeling. Not even dressed yet, she starts dreading the first day. She has been assigned to the worst teacher in the school—Mrs. Hintermeister (“the Hinter Monster”). To top things off, none of her friends are in her class! Miss O knows she’s in for a long year when she steps into class one minute late and almost gets detention. A few days later, Miss O’s friend Isabella breaks the news that while Googling the other night, she came across a picture of the Hinter Monster with a caption saying “Local Teacher Behind Bars”! Olivia has an exciting year ahead of her—unraveling the mystery behind her teacher’s “mug shot,” entering her one-of-a-kind oatmeal cookie recipe in a baking contest, and dealing with a suddenly obnoxious older sister. How will her cookies turn out? Will she survive fifth grade with the Hinter Monster? Check out Miss O and Friends: Trouble with a Capital O to find out!

I really liked this book. It seemed like it was about a girl exactly like me. Miss O has all these encouraging friends, and this story seems like everything could really take place. I recommend this book to 10- to 12-year-old girls, especially fifth graders. This book is about relationships among friends and family members, and when siblings have trouble getting along. I think girls my age will get a lot out of this book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 10
Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, NY USA

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Estrella deMadrigal was confident in who she was and her place in the world. She was a good Christian girl; a daughter, a best friend, a sister, a granddaughter. When Jews are persecuted for their beliefs, though, Estrella's world is changed. She learns that her family are the worst criminals in Spain in the year 1500: marranos, Jews who only pretended to convert to Christianity. When she learns of her true identity, everything changes. Even through all of that, though, Estrella -- or Esther-- is still going through the normal process of growing up and falling in love. In a time when she has to fight every day to even live to the next morning, Estrella is falling in love.

Incantation is a fantastic story. It's a very well-written novel about an interesting time in history. The characters are all very believable as well. Estrella seems very real, and her story captured my attention from the first page, and held it until the end. I didn't want this book to be over, but, at the same time, I raced through it, anxious to find out what would happen next! It's a short, quick read, but Alice Hoffman manages to tell a beautiful, sad, and amazing story in fewer pages than some authors take to write a not so great story. This is a wonderful book that everyone should read!

Content:Violence, death, very sad book about a sad time in history, but not particularly graphic.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, North Carolina USA

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Baudelaire siblings are at Briny Beach. The oldest, Violet, likes to invent things. The middle child, Klaus, likes to read books. The youngest is Sunny, who is just a baby and loves to bite things. Mr. Poe comes down the beach to in order to tell them about their parents’ death in a great fire that destroyed their house and all their possessions. Mr. Poe takes them to live with their third cousin four times removed, or their fourth cousin three times removed, Olaf. Olaf is an evil theatre performer who messes up the children’s lives. They have to do back-breaking chores and cook all the meals. Then comes a time when Olaf wants the huge Baudelaire fortune. He devises a theatrical performance that involves a real marriage. Klaus figures out Olaf’s plot which was to marry Violet in order to get claims on the Baudelaire fortune. Olaf then hangs poor Sunny out a window in order to get Violet to marry him. She goes along with it, but Olaf’s plan is foiled anyway. He gets away, but not with the money.

I liked this book. I have read several in the series and I really liked all of them. I would say the tone of this book is misery and misfortune. You feel bad for the three children because their parents have died, all their things were lost in a fire and they are stuck living with a raving lunatic. Count Olaf makes them do back-breaking chores and cook all the meals. The characters cope with whatever is thrown at them. Even though I was happy that they no longer had to live with Olaf by the end of the story, I was also sad because they have to go live with another relative they don’t know. I sometimes had trouble relating to what the children were going through, but the story was quirky and kept my interest. I would also recommend reading these books in order because they will make no sense if you don’t.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania United States of America

The Adventures of Michael MacInnes by Jeff Carney

The year is 1924... Michael MacInnes is a cleaver and rebellious sixteen year old orphan who is accepted to a boy's only boarding school called Stoney Batter. At the time, Stoney Batter was one of the few schools with a letter-press and Michael wants desperately to write poetry for the school paper, but is rejected. Michael's school life may not seem very promising, but all that changes when he meets a mysterious woman who tells him that his poetry will receive great notoriety and he will soon fall in love with a beautiful girl. Michael is skeptical at first, but the predictions soon come true when he publishes a popular underground magazine expressing his controversial views on the school's religious practices and meets a girl from another nearby school. Jeff Carney's The Adventures of Machael MacInnes contains many elements that define the period such as bootlegging and an aerial blimp rescue. Michael is a character who is willing to stand up for what he believes in even if it means cruel retaliation from the school's Dean Reverend and some of the other students.

I really enjoyed how this book takes place in 1924, and addresses many topics that are considered quite controversial even today such as homosexuality and atheism. It's not often that an author comes around who's daring enough to delve into the complex issues many authors dare not write about. I hope that teens who read this book will find it an eye opening and mind freeing experience. Jeff Carney has created a great piece of historical fiction with a very modern twist that many teens can identify with. I look forward to any books Jeff Carney writes in the future and hope to be one of the first to be waiting in line to buy his next work of fiction.

Content:mature reader

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Navarre, Florida USA

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Notorious Izzy Fink by Don Brown

Sam Glodsky, a 13 year old boy, live in the rough streets of the East Side of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. Because his dad needs help making money, Sam is constantly looking for jobs to make a few cents here and there. To help a friend he has to work for a big time gangster Monk Eastman, who no one wants to mess with. He and his archenemy are mixed up with Monk, and Monk ends up trying to kill them. Read this book to find out how he gets out of this mess....and if he gets out of it.

I thought this was a pretty good book. It had a lot of action and suspence, just the kind of book I like. It was a gang book, which kept me very interested. The author put enought detail so I could picture everything in my head. It seemed like it was in the twentieth century, and it really told me something about teh times. Overall, it was a great book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lutherville, Maryland United States Of America

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

The story takes place in a rural, 1900s town in Illinois. Peewee (real name is Eleanor and her brother Jake operate a automechanic shop. When three women stop to get there car fixed, Eleanor's life changes forever. The one woman, Irene Ridpath, believes that the three of them can revive the old town library. Soon Irene begins to transform Eleanor from a tomboy to a high-class young adult. When her brother becomes unable to race his car, Eleanor has to take his place and try to win the race.

This book was mildly interesting. However, some parts seemed slow and bogged down. It had a surprising ending and was a real page-turner at times. Richard Peck is a great writer and easily captures the mood of early twentieth century rural America. His descriptions are very rich. This book would be a good read for preteens.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Just For You To Know by Cheryl Harness

Twelve-year-old Carmen Cathcart, the oldest sister to five brothers, is constantly embarrassed by her overly large family. Several weeks after settling into their new home, Carmen and her pregnant mother start planning Carmen’s thirteenth birthday celebration. Carmen’s birthday has finally arrived, and Robin (her new best friend) and Carmen go off to see the movie Cleopatra with her aunt. When she comes home she starts thinking of how she could draw Cleopatra when she hears a gasp and glass breaking in the kitchen (the room her mom just walked into). Tomato, glittering glass, and dark red blood lay all over the floor; her mom was going to have the baby! What will happen next in this suspenseful, edge of your seat novel?

Just for You to Know is a very realistic, touching, and heartbreaking book that rips your heart to pieces. I felt a lot of emotion towards the characters while reading this fantastic book. Just for You to Know is such a realistic book that it was almost like you were a part of the Cathcart family and their lives. This book really teaches you that no matter what happens in life, time is going to keep ticking with or without you there. I recommend this book to anyone ages 10 and up who loves real life fiction stories.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA United States

Monday, October 02, 2006

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

This book tells a story about a ten-year-old boy, who throughout his journey through the forests of Alabama learns the true meaning of friendship. Moon Blake knows how to find just about anything in the forest. He and his father, a Vietnam War veteran who dislikes the government, had been hiding in a forest in Alabama for as long as Moon can remember. His mother died young, and she was buried not far from their little hidden shelter in the woods. But when the land they are living in was sold to a big-city lawyer, things started to go wrong. Pap died because he won't let Moon get any help from the outside world when he got a leg infection, and he was buried next to Moon’s mother. Before Pap died, he told Moon to head to Alaska, where there are other people who hate the government. But he was caught by Mr. Wellington, the lawyer who owns the land, and was turned in to a boy’s home. Moon soon escaped with his new friends, and made their way back to the forest; planning to head to Alaska together. Mr. Gene from the boy’s home contacted an insane constable who would do anything to track down the boys. But Moon soon find himself very lonely when one of his friends went to live with his father and his best friend got sick and had to go to the hospital. Throughout this book, Moon learns more and more about the world around him, and just when Mr. Wellington found his long forgotten uncle who agreed to adopt him, his best friend got really sick and later died. Moon was overwhelmed with grief, but soon got over it. Finally, his uncle, who was just like Pap, came and adopted Moon and brought him to Mobile, Alabama to live with his family. Moon never got lonely again.

When I first began reading ALABAMA MOON, I had no idea what to expect. I had to force myself to keep reading during the first couple of pages because there were so many things to establish. But when I got to the middle of the story, the excitement began… The plot was very interesting, and I can tell that the author spent a lot of time doing research and applying that to his well-written story. Overall, I believe that ALABAMA MOON is a book worth reading because it not only tells an interesting story, but also explains to us what friendship is all about.

Content:Even though the character in the story is only 10, I suggest that the readers should be 12 and up when reading this because of some profanity.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois United States of America

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Listen by Stephanie S. Tolan

Charlene, a young girl, is currently ailed by a broken leg, and the two-year-long loss of her mother. Her father, of course, worries about her condition, and forces her to start walking again, claiming that it'll help with her strength. And then Charley runs into something amazing; a dog, a wild dog, which at first, she dismisses, but gradually grows to respect. As she embarks on a journey to save him from the wild, she gives him a name- Coyote. 'The Taming', as she calls it, takes a long time, but she's determined, and after many long, hard weeks, she'd rewarded. Coyote is a semi-tamed dog; although when the book ends, he's still pretty cautious.

'Listen!' definitely had a good story line, for me. I found myself interested in what was going to happen next- and the taming of the dog seemed realistic enough, as realistic as you get, I assume, since Coyote had a very interesting temperment. What seemed a little unrealistic was Charley's... visions of the dog, but the story didn't go badly with a fantasy touch to it. Now, this appears to be written for children, simple content, large text (in that particular edition), and a childish main character. Also, I found the girl's, the father's, and the maid's temperments very real; not perfect, as (unfortunately) many stories are. I did appreciate that.

Content:Censorship? Not really. There was a brief thing around the end of the book, when Coyote disappeared to mate with some random female dog, but... I'm really not going to be such a great judge on this, since censorship isn't a big thing with me. So if you've got an extremely sheltered family, compared to a bunch of biologists...

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mahomet, Illinois United States of America

I Was a Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum

Floe Ryan…Frozen zombie or out-of-date freak? Floe was a girl of sixteen when she was “frozen.” She and her parents contracted this strange disease called lympaticotosis, and the only option to come back to life after she had been declared “legally dead” was to be frozen, or vitrified. After a whole ten years, Floe is brought back to life again by the cyronics team (the people who do the vitrifying). With all that done, she must go through rehab. Along with her is totally hot Taz Taber. She has had a crush on him since before she was vitrified. Once through with rehab, Abe Dixon (short for Abercrombie), the cyonics lab owner, shows them one of the latest trends: HOVERBLADING!!! Back in Venice Beach, Floe and Taz were expert bladers; now they have to adjust. Sunny, Floe’s younger sister, comes to take custody of her until her parents are revived since Sunny is now her OLDER SISTER! She is forced to go to the school in the Valley. She meets a new friend, Halley, and her worst enemy ever, Ashleigh Jones, the congressman’s daughter! Soon the cyronics center is being threatened to be closed down. Floe must help save it so she can get her parents back. She comes up with a way to earn money: selling retro bracelets. They are all the rage and the kids make ton of money selling the bracelets, but still no change in the lawsuit from the cyronics center. Ashleigh falls sick with the same disease as Floe and is vitrified, Dick Jones drops the law suit and the cyronics center is reopened. In the end, Floe’s parents are revived.

I liked this book a lot. It had great characters and a gripping plot. The “freezing” was a little freaky because it didn’t seem real, but the book was fun to read. This book also had great relationships between the characters. My favorite character was Taz because he was just that laid back kind of guy – funny and a wonderful friend to Floe. The difficult situations Floe was put through were real enough that I could put myself in her place and relate to her feelings. This made it a better read for me. The only thing I did not like was the fact that they didn’t say what happened to Floe, Sunny, and their parents after they get unfrozen. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story and a little Sci-Fi. I would also recommend it to people between ages 10-18.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss

High school is awful under the best circumstances. When Isabell's swollen glands result in a diagnosis of lymphoma, ordinary concerns of homework and popularity give way to hospital visits and chemotherapy. The kids at school don't know how to react and send emotional cards and tastelss videos. Izzy's familt tries to handle the upheaval while holding on to just a bit of normalcy. Izzy make her way through treatment not as a shining hero, but as a regular kid.

Koss addresses issues students have trouble facing with cancer. Humor and clarity carry Izzy from diagnosis and chemotherapy to the joy of being cancer free. What do you do when your friend has cancer? Read Side Effects and let Izzy and her friends and family share their story. This book belongs in school libraries and oncology waiting rooms.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 59
Reviewer City, State and Country: Timonium, MD US

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mia the Meek by Eileen Boggess

Fourteen-going-on-fifteen-year-old Mia Fullerton is a very shy person who has the nickname, “Mia the Meek”. She will soon start her freshman year of school at St. Hilary’s with a goal of getting rid of her nickname and being known throughout her school. There are a few problems getting that accomplished though, such as her mom being her English teacher, her annoying little brother, and new neighbors with a son her age named Tim. At first she thinks Tim is the best neighbor she could possibly get--hot, has her teddy bear’s eyes, and loves her favorite book, until she realizes that he is the biggest jerk ever after he contradicts everything she says. After school started, an election was held for class president and Mia was nominated by her best friend and was seconded by her forever crush, Jake Harris. What better way to leave her shell and lose her nickname? The only problem is that she is running against her popular archenemy, Cassie. Who will win the battle for class president, and will Mia get to finally date Jake?

Mia the Meek is an extremely hilarious, laugh-out-loud book with an acceptable amount of romance. I highly recommend this amazing book to young adults who enjoy funny love stories. This is the first book in the Mia Fullerton series and I can’t wait to read the next one, which is called Mia the Melodramatic. The only thing I really didn’t overly enjoy and I thought took away from this book was the swear words and the use of God’s name in vain. Overall though, I think this is an incredible book that I wouldn’t mind reading again and I would definitely give praise to the author for writing this marvelous piece of art.

Content:Use of "oh my God" , "thank God almighty" and Phrases like that talk about stuffing bras

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA United States

In the Break by Jack Lopez

Jamie and Juan are best friends and dedicated surfers. When Jamie injures his stepfather, F, during a fight, he needs to get away--and Juan's going with him. So is Jamie's older sister and Juan's unattainable crush, Amber. The three of them are heading South, going down the coast to Mexico and stopping to surf; there are some great waves along the way. They're running from the law, but they're having the time of their lives at the same time...At least while they're in the water and able to forget about what they're running from, and what they might be runing towards.

In The Break is a fantastic story, once you get caught up enough in it not to take so much notice of all the slightly tedious talk about surfing (though that's probably not a problem for people who know something about surfing). The fact that Jamie, Juan, and Amber are surfers is a big part of the story, but it's a great story even for those of us who know nothing about surfing! It's definitely a page-turner, with very believable characters. The characters, and their relationships with each other, are very real, but real life doesn't always have the neatly tied-up happy endings that a lot of movies or books do. The ending of In The Break is very realistic, which isn't a bad thing, but be warned--if you like tidy, happy endings, this isn't the book for you. It is, however, an awesome story!

Content:Some sexual situations & violence.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

May Bird - Among the Stars by Jodi Lynn Anderson

What happens when you're lost in a strange world and need to find your way home? If you're May Bird, you enlist the help of some unique friends, face the bad guys head-on, and believe that you'll get home, no matter what.

May Bird Among the Stars is the second book in a trilogy. It picks up right where the first book, May Bird and the Ever After, leaves off. May is the only living human in the Evil After, where ghosts and the undead roam. She and her loyal cat, Somber Kitty, must escape before the evil Bo Cleevil finds them.

This book does just what the middle book in a trilogy should do: continue the story set up in the first book, offer changes, dangers, and rewards to existing characters, introduce new characters, and have skirmishes with the villains.

May Bird Among the Stars is just as funny and well-paced as its predecessor. It delicately balances the humorous bits with the scary parts, and is intelligent enough to engage adults while fun enough for the target audience of kids.

As soon as the third and final book comes out, I plan to read it all in one sitting. I am quite anxious to see how this wraps up!

May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson

What happens when you fall into another world? Alice could tell you all about Wonderland.

Likewise, May Bird could tell you all about the Ever After.

May Bird is a bright, independent and imaginative young girl whose best friend is her hairless cat, the aptly-named Somber Kitty. One day, she receives a mysterious letter which prompts her to visit the nearby woods. Little does she know that she's about to go on the trip of her life -- among the no-longer-living!

With the help of Pumpkin - a timid ghost who has, without her knowledge, been her long-time guardian - she navigates the strange land. The Ever After is part Beetlejuice, part Oz, and sometimes a little scary for May, but her bravery sees her through.
Somber Kitty also fell into the Ever After, but he was separated from his owner. While May Bird tries to find a way home, Somber Kitty attempts to find her by following her scent. Somber Kitty is absolutely adorable and simply meowvelous. His determination and loyalty make his part of the story just as important as hers.

May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson is the first in a trilogy. The second, May Bird Among the Stars, comes out this fall; the third title has yet to be released or announced.

I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Go Ask Malice by Robert Joseph Levy

During Season Three of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, viewers were introduced to Faith, a bold Slayer who loved breaking the rules and testing the limits. A fan favorite, she appeared on the spin-off series Angel on multiple occasions, then came back to BtVS during its final season.

Faith was one of my favorite characters. She was memorably portrayed by actress Eliza Dushku. Many fans wished she had her own spin-off. Those who were loyal readers of the official BtVS/Angel original books also wished for a book that focused solely on Faith.
The book Go Ask Malice is supposed to be Faith's diary, chronicling the time of her callling, and found in the ruins of Sunnydale after the series finale.

This means that, from the get-go, the reader is supposed to believe that Faith would 1) keep a diary; and 2) carry it around through multiple moves, from Boston to Sunnydale to Los Angeles, then prison, then out of prison, then back to Sunnydale. I tried to suspend disbelief for the sake of the story, but I couldn't.

I never stop reading a story once I've started it, but this was really hard to get through. Since it was a diary, it was written in first person, but it didn't sound like Faith's voice to me. I constantly wanted to correct it. It wasn't one hundred percent wrong.
Little tidbits were thrown at readers here and there - things and people Faith had said on the show in passing were made into plots and crucial characters - but overall, it never felt right.

For a better taste of Faith fiction, try the short story written by Christopher Golden and Thomas E.
Sniegoski in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds:
Prima's Official Strategy Guide. It is brief but powerful, and you'll be wishing Golden and Sniegoski wrote a full Faith novel instead.

The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

Vampires really do exist.
The apocalypse is nigh.
And the band played on.

Scott Westerfeld follows up Peeps, his bestselling vampire story, with The Last Days. I thoroughly enjoyed Peeps, and when I discovered that there was to be a sequel, I was very excited.

The Last Days was quite different from what I expected. Instead of following the typical sequel format and employing the same main characters and same narrative style as the first story, Westerfeld opted to introduce five new main characters, each of which shares his or her view of things in alternating chapters. While Peeps falls into the category of dark comedy and seems more controlled and steady, The Last Days is an apocalypse story which feels more dystopic and chaotic.

The tale begins innocently enough: Best buds Moz and Zahler have been fooling with guitars for years now but never really had a serious band. All that changes when they meet Pearl, a musical genius who brings serious talent to the group. She also brings along her friend Minerva, whose very prescence simultaneously unnerves and intrigues the boys. The band is rounded out by Alanna Ray, a paint-can drummer with an inner metronome and hidden afflictions.
Minerva is inflicted herself, being a peep who has struggled with the disease and spent months locked up in her room, cut off from the world. It is with Pearl's help, then that of the band, that she re-connects with the world; it is due to her peep status that the book begins to tie-in with its predecessor.

When Cal, the protagonist of Peeps, finally showed up, I cheered out loud. The action kicks in, the beasts are unleashed, and the ultimate showdown between good and evil becomes more dependent on music than violence. An interesting tale - though I must admit, I prefer Peeps.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Boy meets girl.
Boy likes girl.
Boy gets infected.
Boy helps save the world.

Nowadays, a unique spin on the classic vampire story is hard to come by. Thankfully, Scott Westerfeld delivers with Peeps, which drips with snarky dialogue, well-researched diseases, and fresh twists.

In this novel, vampirism isn't a curse; it's a disease. There's no big Dracula-esque bloodsucker, but there are plenty of rats and cats. Cal learns all this and more when he moves from Texas to the Big Apple, meets a girl, and gets infected. Instead of getting the full-scale disease, he is a carrier, a peep, slang for parasite-positive.

Ultimately, Peeps is about science and natural selection, rather than horror and campfire tales. This dark comedy will make readers laugh and think - two great elements of escapism. Peeps is a fast-paced story which is as catchy as the disease it details.

Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley

Patty doesn't think she fits in anywhere, not even in her own family. She has a strict Taiwanese mother, an absentee white father and a college-bound older brother. As far as she can see, the scoreboard reads world = 100, Patty = 0. She is dragged with her mother to meet a fortune teller who reads her belly button
(!) while everyone else is rocking out at the high school dance. She has to go to math camp while everyone else has fun summer plans. In other words, everyone else wins at life, while Patty comes up empty.

Patty's story is not just for hapas - read the book to discover the definition! - and not only for biracial teens. It has many levels of appeal. I recommend Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley to a wide variety of people - both genders, various races, all thoughtful teens, and all astute adults, especially parents. This is a story for anyone who has wondered about an absent parent or struggled with a strict parent. This is for the smart kids who wonder why their parents keep testing them and making them prove themselves. This is for the kids who look different from their classmates on the outside or simply feel different on the inside. This is for anyone who considered his or her own personal secrets, lies, and truths.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Last Apprentice: The Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney

Mr. Gregory has an apprentice named Tom Ward. The spook (a person who takes care of dark creatures) is out sick and Tom must catch a ripper for him. A ripper is a dark creature who sucks on the blood of a human. Risking his master's brother's life, Tom catches the ripper and puts it to rest. With all this done, Tom goes back to his master. A little while later, news comes that Mr. Gregory's brother is now dead. The spook and his apprentice go to the funeral in Priestown, (a town that is full of priests who hate spooks because they "sell their spirits to the devil), but only because there is a dark monster in the catacombs under the church. On the way to the funeral, the Quisitor makes an appearance with a cart full of fake witches to try and burn at the stake. On that cart is one of Tom's friends, Alice. Tom can do nothing but go into the funeral. Some time later the spook is taken into prison for being a spook. Tom goes to rescue them and, to do that, must go into the catascombs near the bane. So he does and gets almost all the prisoners out but a few. After that he goes back into the catacombs. On his way out he found the spook sitting in front of the golden gate which is a gate that kept the evil shape-shifting bane locked up. Tom was tricked and it really was the bane he was talking to. Alice comes up out of nowhere and spits on the bane. The bane hates women so he fled. Tom and Alice went out the gate. That night the bane tried to get Tom to give it some of his blood to eat. Tom said no, so the bane tried Alice. Alice gave her soul to the monster and let it out past the silver gate. It’s the day of the burning and Alice and Tom go and save the people from burning with the banes help. Since Alice gave it her blood, it gave her three requests and that was one. The spook and they set off and figure out how to defeat the bane. They do defeat the bane in the end.

I really enjoyed this book because fantasy is one of my favorites. I enjoyed reading about the dark creatures in this book – they were interesting, really creepy and gave me chills. Tom was very spunky, Alice was quirky and Mr. Gregory was queer in a good way. I’d really like to know more about his past. The setting of the story was very religious, with Priestown being full of churches and priests. This was a contrast to the characters, who were dark and spooky. The wording was easy to understand, but it kept me interested for the duration of the story. There were a few places where I was confused because I didn’t read the first book (this is the second in the series) and I recommend that people read the first book before reading this one.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania United States

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fugitives of Chaos by John C. Wright

The five orphens of chaos have had their memories erased, and now they are going back to the schedule they had before they tried to escape. Then Amelia remembers everything that happened to her and her friends, and knows their memories have been erased. The five know they have to try to escape the school and recover their memories, and this time they are better prepared to face their enemy. Their escape seems to be working but then Colin attacks Boggins and disappears and Amelia is taking by Mr. Glum into his underwater lair. The five eventually reunite with one another, and all of their memories are retrieved, but they learn that their absence from the world will mean the distruction for all, and if that realization is not enough to freak them out they also have to deal with someone trying to kill them.

I liked the characters in the book, and how even though they are completely different from each other, as in they are different species and have completely different attitudes, they are able to work together to save each other. I really liked how the author had Amelia use physics throughout the book and I liked the friendship between the five chaoses and how they children never stopped trying to save each other. I liked that the author used the Greek gods as characters in the book, because its interesting to read of these gods and goddesses, that once were considered everything and now are considered a myth, be put in a world where the majority of people don't belive they ever existed. The author also did a good job in putting the story of Aphrodite's and Ares' relationship in the story. I liked this book better than the first book, though. The first book ended on a kind of sad note because the kids were getting their memory erased and their only hope at remebering was really small, but the at the end of this book they've escaped from the school and they're boat to freedom is coming and just ends on such a more optimistic note than the first book. All in all it was a very good book and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Content:I would consider this book for a mature reader, because there is a part where a naked guy is described and also there is a little violence in it.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona U.S.A.

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Claire Danvers is one of those exceptionally bright students who is able to get out of high school early. But instead of letting Claire go hundreds of miles away for college, her parents send her to Texas Prairie University in the small town of Morganville, Texas. Claire’s dorm situation is absolutely awful, the most popular girl, Monica, is out to hurt her, even kill her. So Claire moves off campus and becomes the fourth roommate in the Glass House. Her three roommates, Eve, a goth girl who was kicked out by her parents, Shane, a perspective love interest to Claire, and Michael, a boy who sleeps during the day and comes out at night, quickly fill Claire in on the situation at Morganville-it’s a town run by vampires. After learning the truth Claire fights to stay alive, which isn’t easy when the roommates have secrets of their own.

When I first got this book I didn’t think I would like it that much since I’m not really into vampires, but this was one of the best suspense books I have read in a while. It is a thrilling page-turner that I just couldn’t put down. Even though it is suspenseful there is a bit of a love story going on, too. The only part I didn’t like was the cliff-hanger ending.

Content:mature reader

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez

This book is about a witty and extraordinarily mediocre protagonist called Never Dead Ned. Although as is said in the book, Occasionally Dead Ned would be more specific, but that doesn't have that certain ring to it, does it? Ned can die well enough, it’s just the staying dead part that seems to get him. Every time Ned finds himself six feet under a mysterious Red Women resurrects him with her magic. Ned gets a job in book keeping him well and alive, but when he gets a dreaded blue slip, he is unwillingly promoted to commander of the infamous Ogre Company. When he gets to Ogre Company he meets the elite of the group. They include the binge smoking en- er uh treefolk, a red hot salamander named Sally, a giant extremely rare two headed ogre, a moonstruck Amazon, a very motivate siren, a blind oracle who can now only hear and smell the future, orc who looks like a goblin, yet another suicidal goblin, and many more. As more and more of Neds deep and disturbing past, and as the Ogre Company gets more and more motivated this story spirals upwards to the climax of a battle against an endless demon hoard, and only Neds hidden power can save those he loves, and everyone else besides...

This book is a deep, engrossing, can’t put it down comedy that will keep you reading and laughing till the very end. The character's personalities and the jokes throughout the book will keep you laughing. This book uses hilarious jokes and character interaction to riotous results. One of the funniest parts of the book is the total disregard for the death of a goblin. The goblins lifespan is measured in months, only rarely years, so when an ogre just happens to step on a goblin and kill him, before anyone even bats an eye. The goblins are given the most dangerous and stupid jobs thinkable, like training giant reptilian birds called rocs, which really just amounts to getting eaten until the rocs get either full or board. This book is a must read for anyone wanting a laugh.

Content: This book should be approved by a parent before reading due to slightly suggestive content, cursing, and violence.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fayetteville, Pennsylvania USA

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Shan Serafin

In Seventeen, author Shan Serafin introduces readers to Sophia. She's a seventeen-year-old taking college classes for the summer in New York City with her two best friends (extroverted, smart, blonde bombshell Shauna and Shauna's brother, introverted, brilliant, and unique JP) and a bunch of strangers. That doesn't sound so bad, but Sophia's life isn't going the way she wants. She isn't as smart as either of her friends, as beautiful as Shauna, or any of it. She's not sure life's worth living, so she sets an ultimatum: show me a reason to live or I'll kill myself in seven days.

Seventeen is a brilliantly written story, and one that is not often told. Most of the characters, but especially Sophia and JP, are very real. I had a hard time seeing Shauna as three-dimensional, though. The writing is breathtaking, and it's a story that will really draw the reader into it; it's a page-turner! The ending is surprising, and sad but certainly not what you'd expect. This is a very unique book that shouldn't be missed!Content:This book is probably best suited for more mature readers.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Monday, September 11, 2006

Butterflies in May by Karen Hart

Karen Hart's novel Butterflies in May is about Ali, a teenage girl whose life is going pretty well. She has a great boyfriend, she gets along pretty well with her parents, she has a fabulous best friend, she is doing well in school, and she's sure to get into a great college when she graduates. When her suspicions are confirmed about what's happening to her body, however, her world isn't so perfect anymore. Ali is pregnant, and that means making some hard choices. Still, Ali has help, and it'll all turn out okay. Right?

The subject of Butterflies In May is important, and this book doesn't preach about premarital sex the way some books do; Karen Hart realizes that some things are just going to keep on happening. It is also obvious, however, that people have to deal with the consequences of their actions, the way Ali and Matt do (but it doesn't seem like the worst possible thing always happens to every character in the book). The writing in this book is decent, and the plot one that is certainly not terrible either, if a little unremarkable. There are plenty of stories about pregnant teenagers on television, in books, in the movies, everywhere. This isn't a new spin on any of it. It is, however, an important story to tell, and Karen Hart does a fairly good job with it.

Content:This book is probably for a bit more mature readers, but nothing too bad. It deals issues that should be discussed with parents, though.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Keeper of the Flames by Jenna Solitaire

The main character of the book is Jenna Solitaire who is the Keeper of the Boards. Jenna has already found two boards and with them she can summon their powers for her own use. Her companion, Simon, and her are going in search of the board of fire which they think is somewhere in Pompeii. While she is there she meets an old man who apparently knew her great-great grandmother and will help Jenna in her quest for the board of fire. Paraud, an evil wizard is trying to take the two boards Jenna has for himself so he can use their powers.

I thought that overall the book was somewhat good. One thing I didn't like about the book is that it was more ment for a girl rather than a boy. There were also a lot of kissing scenes. I think that if the author would have cut back on the kissing then more boys would also enjoy the book. However there also was adventure and excitement. This probably wouldn't be one of my favorite books.

Content:adult guidance kissing scenes

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks (award-winning author of So B. It) is beautifully written and easy to read with short chapters and explanations of advanced vocabulary, but its subject matter is not suited for its ten-year-old target audience. Better suited for readers over the age of twelve, this young adult book looks at sexual abuse through the eyes of the victim.

Eleven-year-old Jamie Reardon wants nothing more than for his life to be as “normal as cornflakes” – the way it was before his cat died, his father left, and he and his mother moved from their house to his aunt’s trailer to help her recover from an accident that claimed her short term memory. But achieving normalcy is difficult – especially when Jamie can’t forget about the night he was abused by the trailer park manager.

Helping Jamie deal with this traumatic experience is a cast of secondary characters that are both quirky and endearing. Audrey, a classmate otherwise known as Madame Yerdua (Audrey spelled backwards) the hypnotist, befriends Jamie and “sees” him. Arthur, as Jamie nicknamed him, helps Jamie feel safe again. And Aunt Sapphy, short for Sapphire, helps Jamie by being someone he can finally tell his secret to – someone who won’t remember it in the morning. With their support, Jamie learns to face his fears and jump the scratch – like on a broken record – in his life.

Like an after school special, this book mixes poignant moments with a serious topic but only scratches the surface of this delicate issue.