Monday, January 29, 2007

Scary Beautiful by Niki Burnham

He’s moving! Chloe’s close boyfriend, Sean, is moving across the country because his dad got a new job at the University of Chicago. After he broke up with her at the airport, word spread quickly. So instead of being Sean’s girlfriend now, she is instead the girl who everybody hates since she is extremely attractive. One day during computer lab, Chloe looks over toward the windows--something she never does--and she sees a guy whom she thinks is Billy the Woo Woo Pizza Guy, the guy whom her friend Rachel likes. After they see each other in the computer lab, they start sitting together and that’s how the whole thing started between them. Chloe knows that whomever Rachel likes is off limits but how can she stop liking Billy, a total geek, when she is totally falling head-over-heels for him? But if she goes out with him, what will this do to her friendship with Rachel and her popularity status?

This is an awesome book! I really enjoyed Chloe because it was easy to understand what she was going through and she was fresh, interesting, and it was fun to read about her life. The author, Niki Burnham, created this book very well and it was almost like you were a part of the book and you were living in Chloe’s complicated world. I think the author did very well at developing Chloe’s character, but I don’t think she developed the other characters very well, definitely Chloe’s friends. I would have liked to have known more details about them and their personalities. This book is extremely realistic and what happened to Chloe could definitely be something that could happen in a real teenage girl’s life. I really enjoyed reading this book and I hope to get a chance to read other books in the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy series. I recommend this fantastic story to teens, ages 12-16.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, Pa United States

The Poker Diaries by Liza Conrad

Lulu has the best of both worlds in New York City. She spends time among high society with her mom in uptown New York. And she spends every other weekend playing backroom poker at her grandfather’s bar in downtown New York. Lulu is leading a pretty uneventful life until her best friend, Dack, breaks the number two poker rule: never bet what you can’t afford to lose. Now Lulu has to try to win back Dack’s watch, deal with her mom’s engagement to the mayor of New York, and her downtown love interest, Mark. But when she is suddenly blackmailed, everything gets out of control. Now she has to play a high stakes, highly illegal poker game or risk a leak to the press that could ruin the mayor’s chances of re-election and her mom’s happiness.

I absolutely loved this book! I could hardly put it down. This is the perfect book for a quick weekend or summer read. Liza Conrad combines the right amount of humor and suspense. I liked the love story between Mark and Lulu and Lulu’s mom and the mayor. I, also, really enjoyed the poker hands, poker slang, and poker rules that were included.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

When Jeremy was just eight years old, his father passed away in an automobile accident. His family had been dreading this day almost all of his life, ever since a fortune-teller told him he would die at age forty. She was wrong: He died at age thirty-nine.

Five years later, one month before his thirteenth birthday, Jeremy gets a package in the mail that contains a locked, carved box and a note from his father. Fascinated by this gift, Jeremy and his lifelong best friend Lizzy are initially saddened to hear that the keys to the box were lost. Almost immediately, they become determined to find these keys and discover the meaning to life, something which the carving and the note both promise.

The search that follows is filled with ups and downs, tears and smiles, as Jeremy and Lizzie meet many strange and wonderful adults who attempt to help them unlock the box. Though Jeremy ultimately learns that some things are set up to happen in a certain way to aid him in his search, he embraces spontaneity a little bit as well. Throughout the story, he honors the memory of his father, as does his mother. She is still mourning the loss of her husband but is nevertheless a strong character who is a great means of support for her son. He is surprised when he realizes how much she needs him, too.

Think of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass as I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak for the younger set. As with her previous novels A Mango-Shaped Space and Leap Day, Mass has created a book that will make readers think about life on a grand scale as well as a more personal one. This Meaning of Life is a sweet, touching tale, and readers need only to turn the pages to discover it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Great Tree of Avalon by T. A. Barron

This book is the third, and final, book in the series "The Great Tree of Avalon". The main characters: Tamwyn, Elli, Scree, and Brionna, are on a race against time to stop the spirit warlord, Rhita Gawr, and his servant, Kulwych, from conquering Avalon. Tamwyn is trying to climb the branches of the tree of Avalon to reach the stars. The stars are actually the gateways to different worlds: the spirit world and the Earth. Tamwyn is working to stop Rhita Graw from reaching Avalon from these gateways. The only way to do this is to travel through the River of Time. Along the way, Tamwyn meets some new people, and learns new things about some of his old friends. On the roots of the tree of Avalon, Elli must travel to the most dangerous place in Avalon, the realm of Shadowroot. Here, she must find a way to reach a deserted mine where Rhita Graw's servant, Kulwych, has created a deadly weapon, which Elli must destroy. On the realm of Woodroot, Brionna and her friends are trying to stop the Humanity First movement and its leader, Belamir, from unwittingly helping Rhita Graw to destroy Avalon. Instead they will be captured, and learn a dark secret about Belamir. Scree is on the realm of Fireroot, where he is trying to help a village of eaglefolk to re-write their shameful past, and to convince them to fight for the freedom of Avalon. Yet, despite the companions' efforts, nothing can stop the growing battle between Rhita Graw and the defenders of Avalon. In the air and on the ground, a terrible war will be fought to decide the fate of Avalon.

This book may seem to be just another fantasy story- but think again! This book has wonderful messages about the environment. It reminds us that everything in nature is connected, and that we must protect every part of the environment in order for us all to survive. Although the story takes place in another land, the message shines clear- that humans should not pretend to be above the rest of the environment, but rather protect and care for it. This is an important message for us all. This book also contains some important messages about growing up, friendship, and believing in yourself. The characters were well-developed. The book was also funny. I thought the battle scenes were too drawn-out, but I really enjoyed the ending of the book. I thought it properly wrapped-up the series in a satisfying way.

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

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen

Holly is a twelve-year old orphan. Her father died in a freak tractor accident and her mother overdosed on drugs. Since then, Holly had been in the hands of social services and was moved from foster home to foster home. Finally, after a particularly abusive foster home, Holly runs away and becomes a "gypsy". As she goes through her many hardships of surviving on the streets and avoiding the police, Holly writes down poems and her experiences in her journal. Will Holly ever find a good home that truly welcomes her?

This was an amazing and touching book. Relating Holly’s amazing journey to find a family that truly cared for her, the book was extraordinarily detailed with a lot of emotion poured into it. As you read through the book, you will begin to feel sympathy for Holly yet eager to see what her next adventure as a “gypsy” is. I thought it was a great read and not your normal book. It contained many deep thoughts and insights into life which can leave you with a whole different impression of those less fortunate than you. I would recommend this book to slightly older readers for understanding issues and the ending will leave you very satisfied and glad you read this book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

The Quest for the Trilogy by Mel Odom

Grandmagister Juhg, head librarian of the Vault of All Known Knowledge, has undertaken a mission. He is trying to convince people who don’t know how to read and have never seen a book in their lives to set up schools so that everybody can cherish books. Oh and another thing: they all fear books like the plague due to the goblinkin rebellion, a time during which everyone found with a book was either killed or enslaved. Craugh, a 1000 year old wizard infamous for turning people into toads who was close friends with Juhg’s mentor Grandmagister Lamplighter, gives Juhg an excuse to detour. Juhg is thrilled; at least until he realizes how dangerous and important it is. His new mission involves tracking down three books written by Grandmagister Lamplighter detailing his encounter with Lord Kharrion’s Wrath. They also, hopefully, reveal the traitor from the Battle of Fell’s Keep, which 1000 years later, still causes distrust between the dwarves, elves, and humans. Juhg soon realizes that discovering the identity of the traitor is the only way for him to succeed with his previous mission anyway. Unless the traitor is found, the humans, elves, and dwarves will never trust each other enough to even consider building schools together. The secret must come out. This is the story of the quests of two Grandmagisters; one of the past, and one of the present.

The Quest for the Trilogy is composed of Grandmagister Lamplighter’s three books and Juhg’s quest to find them. This is a true page turner, full of magic, mystery, and two miniature heroes. Mel Odom’s newest addition to the Rover trilogy is a must read for fantasy readers young and old, whether already fans of Juhg and Wick, or readers new to this amazing world full of friendship, treachery, and the unexpected.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA USA

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mike and a Lynx Named Kitty by Mike Kerr

Mike is a 10-year-old Alaskan boy who discovers a lynx while on a fishing trip with his father. Mike names the lynx Kitty. His father doesn’t want to take the little lynx in at first, until they find out that Kitty’s mother and sister have been crushed by a fallen tree. Mike is excited to have Kitty and can’t wait to have an adventure with him. As it turns out, he doesn’t have to wait long! Immediately after returning home with Kitty, the two find themselves saving a girl’s life! When Mike and Kitty retire to the woods for a campout, they save three lost kids. It seems like the excitement will never stop! Soon Mike takes Kitty with him and his father on another fishing trip. Kitty wanders off as usual, but this time, he doesn’t come back. Mike’s father doesn’t want to wait any longer, so Mike is forced to leave Kitty behind. Mike grows up and marries. He learns to fly a plane and continues to enjoy the beautiful Alaskan wilderness he and Kitty used to love to explore together. One day, Mike flies his plane to an island to rest the engine. A rustle in the bushes . . . then . . . Kitty! Kitty limps toward his friend, gray-furred and worn. His paw has been severely injured, and he is dying. Mike says good-bye to his old friend Kitty, and then Kitty passes away. Mike builds a grave for his friend, and then flies home—to be greeted by a new plane, named Kitty—a present from his wife! Mike will never forget his beloved friend, the lynx named Kitty.

I really liked this book because of the special friendship between Mike and Kitty. Also, it was interesting to read about Mike’s experiences in the Alaskan wilderness. His adventures with Kitty were very exciting. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys animal stories or who likes to spend time camping or enjoying nature. Also, anyone who has a favorite animal they really love would probably like this book a lot, too.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 10
Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, NY USA

This Is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

Logan Palony is stuck in a new town, which he hates, and where everything is 'fine' and 'nothing is wrong'. With no one to talk to, his best friend gone, and the whole neighborhood (including parents) ganged up on him, Logan doesn't know what to do. All he ever wanted to do was continue being an outcast, continue not liking girls, continue being terrible at sports and reading science textbooks. He never wanted to be like this, silent, alone, and harassed. Logan finds that doing one thing, in one night, can change his entire personality, his entire life, just like that. All from something that he did, and he knows he did. He's in therapy, and even his brothers think he is a complete loser. Aside from one girl who seems to understand him, his life is a complete wreck.

This is What I did: is written from the perspective of 8th grader, Logan Palony. Written in almost entirely screenplay, this book starts out extremely confusing and jumps around from past to present, giving it a choppy feeling which can be exciting for some, but quite tedious for others. The plot however, is original and keeps you turning pages, at least during the climax, but, it has a rather disappointing ending that leaves you hanging in too much suspense. Though This Is What I did: is writtten from the perspective of a boy, it would be enjoyable for girls as well. There is little challenging vocabulary, the reading level is at that of someone around the age of 10, but the content is too mature for someone of that age, making it an odd ‘fit’ for any type of reader. This book acts best as a very quick read, in between more challenging books, or something for light summer reading.

Content:This book has some adult content and is most definately best for a mature reader due to sexual situations and extreme violence.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Marblehead, Massachusetts USA

Monday, January 22, 2007

Corydon and the Island of the Monsters by Tobias Druit

This book is about a boy whose troubles lead him to a friendship with the Greek monsters. He lives with them and become family. Then a warrior comes along and threatens the very existence of his family. Whatever path he chooses I promise you it won’t be easy. He will journey through the pits of apocalypse and back to complete his journey.

I really liked this book. It’s an epic journey like the Greek myths but better. It has a moral. It has precise details of places from Greek myths. And best of all it doesn’t feel like the book is mocking Greek myths. If you like this and say want something like it for your younger child try the Myth-O-Maniac series.

Inventing Ott: The Legacy of Arthur C. Guyton

Inventing Ott: The Legacy of Arthur C. Guyton is about the life of a modern-day Renaissance man. Arthur C. Guyton, also known as Ott, was born on September 8, 1919 in Oxford, Mississippi. He would not only become a successful doctor and professor but also a sailor, radio expert, tennis player, pilot, inventor, carpenter, appliance repairman, electrician, husband, and father of ten children. In 1946, Ott caught paralytic polio which led him to invent the power wheelchair, the “walking” leg brace, and a type of hoist for humans. While teaching and doing research in physiology at the University of Mississippi’s University Medical Center, Ott discovered that kidneys control long-term blood pressure. He then discovered the true relationship between the blood, veins, heart, and kidneys. The more complex form of this discovery is known as the Theory of Infinite Gains. This theory led many people to consider Ott to be the Father of Modern Cardiovascular Physiology. In 1956, he first wrote the Textbook of Medical Physiology. It is the best-selling medical textbook of all time. His teaching methods were so popular that his students called themselves “Guytonians”. All of his ten children became doctors. August 25, 1989 was named “Arthur C. Guyton Day” by the United States Congress. Ott died in a car accident on April 3, 2003.

I use a modern power wheelchair and modern “walking” leg braces. I found learning about their inventor to be fascinating and educational. This book showed me how difficult it is for a person to be a medical resident. The author, Jerusha Bosarge, did not explain many of Ott’s inventions and scientific discoveries in much detail. For example, it would have been interesting to understand more about the instrument used to remove gases and liquids from the gastrointestinal tract during surgery. The author puts Arthur C. Guyton on a pedestal. Jerusha Bosarge keeps mentioning that Ott was a soldier; while he worked as a researcher and surgeon for the military in the United States, he never was a common soldier. Other than these few small errors, the book was very educational and wonderful.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois United States of America

House of Red Fish by Graham Salisbury and Wendy Lamb

Tomi is a Japenese-American boy who is trying to bring up his father's fishing boat, the Tayio Maru. He gets his old buddies to help but the boat is just too big, and there is Keet Wilson whose main goal at the moment is the expulsion of the Japenese traitors living on his family's land. He counteracts every attempt made by Tomi. In the end he brings a small army of teens to beat some sense into the boys. But when they arrive the teens see that whatever Keet told them was a lie. They help get the boat up and tow it to a dry-dock.

It was a very good book. I could see what and where things were without having to go to the dictionary every other word. House of the Red Fish should be an easy and captivating read for everyone. This is a unique description of persecution of Japenese-Americans during WW2. It is also another peek into an Americanized Japenese culture.

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

Do-Over by Niki Burnham

After spending winter break with her mom in Virginia, Val is back in Schwerinborg with her father and things seem to be going well with her Prince boyfriend, Georg. They decide to take a ski trip, and everyone is having a good time until Val's dad decides to give her some big news, that he's seeing someone. Val doesn't handle this situation in the best way, so she sulks for most of the vacation. When she gets back to school, she decides to help her friend Ulrike set up for the school dance. She wants Georg to go with her, but since their relationship is private, he isn't able to go. Things don't seem to be working out for Val and on top of that, she's starting to feel guilty about going out with her childhood crush back in Virginia and not telling Georg. What will happen next in Val's crazy life?

It was so nice to read about Georg and Val in the next installation by Niki Burnham. The story picked up right where it left off in Spin Control and Val was just as fun to read about. Once I started the story, I couldn't put it down. I also loved how she connected Val with her American friends in the emails. I really hope that the author continues writing about Val and I'm looking forward to reading her next book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Swede Dreams by Eva Apelqvist

I’m going to Sweden! Calista Swanson is studying abroad in Stockholm, Sweden for a whole semester so she can learn Swedish and keep in contact with her boyfriend, Jonas, but a few days after arriving he dumps her because he decides that it isn’t a good time for him to have a girlfriend. She quickly gets over him after she meets Hakan, a friend of her neighbor’s daughter, Moa. Calista realizes that she has been choosing her boyfriends based on other people’s opinions, so she decides that it’s better to make her own decisions than to let other people make them for her. There is only one problem though; she thinks Hakan is going out with Moa, so why is he hitting on her then? Join Calista as she discovers the many wonders that Sweden has to offer, from trying new foods to learning about the Viking era to making new friends. Swede Dreams is one of the many books in the SASS series, in which each are written by different authors.

Swede Dreams by Eva Apelqvist is an amazing, realistic story that tells about how when you think everything will go terribly wrong that you should never worry because in the end everything will turn out okay. The characters were pretty well developed and I really enjoyed all of the characters except Moa because she is really strange. This story is a real page-turner that will keep you up all night long wondering what will happen next. You think that this book will take forever to read and before you know it you’re on the last paragraph wishing there was more. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the SASS series. I recommend this fantastic story to teens ages 12-16.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA United States

Dreams and Visions by M. Herry Weiss and Helen S. Weiss

A collection of short stories, this book focuses on the fantastic, the wild possibilities. A captivating read, the vast differences between each story is tied together by a single unifying thread: dreams. From a hippie's hallucinations to a woman who finds power through her God and her veil to a girl with writers' block, these stories resolve themselves through the power of dreams. Distinguished authors such as Charles De Lint and Tamora Pierce contribute to this book, infusing it with lively characters and captivation story lines. The concise nature of each story makes the book a fast read.

This book dealt with the dreams and aspirations of every fantasy novel reader. A wide range of topics and characters made it impossible not to appeal to anyone. The spectacular writers who created these stories wrote with grace and beauty, making the material inspiring and graphic. It was impossible to read a page without fully visualizing the scene and sympathizing with the characters. Though some of the stories were not as well crafted as others and some topics were a little childish, the overall effect was astonishing.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Overland Park, KS United States

Haunted Homeland by Michael Norman

Seen a ghost? Then perhaps your tale, along with others, is in Haunted Homeland. This book is about American and Canadian ghost stories. Crammed with detail, it tells not just about the ghost, but also about all the accounts of everyone claiming to have seen it. It includes lists of when those particular people were born, and when they died. It even lists how they died. Its grim facts can chill to the core, as you read spooky tales about ghosts and phantoms, poltergeists and specters.

The Haunted Homeland is an extremely fact-filled book. In fact, it is so crammed with detail, parts of it seem like reading a history textbook, rather then a collection of ghost stories. The few parts of this book that I liked were the small tid-bits of the actual ghost stories. I think that this book should be divided into two parts. One part containing the ghost stories, and the other full of the boring extraneous details. I did not like this book, but some people will love this book and all of its extra details.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Denair, California America

Hearts of Stone by Kathleen Ernst

Hearts of Stone is set in the mid 1800's right in the middle of the Civil War. The main character Hannah struggles with difficult decisions throughout the book. She finds herself homeless with 3 other siblings, hungry, and heartbroken. Her father went off to join the union and died, and her mother soon after that dies from stress, and heartache. Hannah faced with no other option decides that the only way she can keep her family together is to travel thousands of miles to Nashville. There they hope to find their only living relative.

I really enjoyed this book. I know a lot about the Civil War, but I didn't know how bad it was for the children. I know the book was fictional but I'm sure children really did pick cigar buds off the street just so they could have a little bit of food to keep them going one more day. I also felt really bad for Hannah, because the Civil War did put friends against friends and family members against family members. And being young, your confused and it was understandable why she cut off all ties with her best friend just because he was a confederate.

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

The Last Universe by William Sleator

Susan's older brother Gary falls ill and wheelchair-bound and she is forced to care for him. Unhappy about her new responsibility, she complains incessantly, especially when he makes her wheel him to the garden, a place that irrationally scares Susan. But when strange things happen in the garden, such as the discovery of a maze that they couldn't previously find, that make her brother healthier, she starts to despise the garden a little less. But every time they enter the maze, things change unpredictably in the world outside. As they struggle to find the perfect outcome, their view of perfection becomes more unclear, and they wonder if their only fate is to be lost forever in the maze.

The book began as a typical teenage-esque book, that took away from the heart of the story. As the plot intensified, the reader could excuse the language and enjoy the story, but initially, the story is hard to engage in. But the characters are realistic, and the setting is believable, so there are some redeeming qualities. I found it hard to enjoy fully, however, because the plot was predictable, especially the ending. And the science was explained too simply and for someone who knows a little about quantum physics, there were major plot holes. But the idea was exciting enough to carry me through.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Overland Park, KS United States

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Big Shuffle by Laura Pedersen

When her father dies of a heart attack, the task of heading the Palmer household falls to eighteen-year-old Hallie. It doesn't help matters that her father's death has caused her mother to go into shock. In a normal-sized family, this would be bad enough, but Hallie has nine brothers and sisters, seven of whom are still at home! She's not completely alone, though--scary but helpful Uncle Lenny, Pastor Costello, the church ladies, and her old friends Bernard and Gil are all helpful. She's got to keep her family together, though--that's something only Hallie can do.

Despite the tragedy that starts this story, it really is hilarious. I was laughing out loud through much of it! Of course, it has its serious, emotional moments, too. All of the crazy characters are interesting, believable, original, and funny--as is the entire book! It's a brilliant book, and I certainly plan to read more of Laura Pedersen's books, especially those about Hallie!

Content:This is for a mature reader due to sexual situations.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer City, State and Country: , NC USA

Crazy in Love by Dandi Daley Mackall

This book is about Mary Jane, a high school student who has a crush on a taken guy. Mary Jane is a second daughter whose older sister is a little slow, and is constantly plagued by her inner voices trying to chose her actions. But she is basically a normal girl with normal looks and a pretty normal life, which is why it is a big surprise for her, and amost everyone else, when one of the most popular guys in school seems interested in her. But the popular guy liking Mary Jane turns out to be a problem because it causes his current girlfriend, who constantly cheats on him, to make Mary Jane's life a living hell. As the book goes on, the whole school seems to turn against Mary Jane and her dream guy dumps his girlfriend and starts to date her. Mary Jane's life, although a little chaotic at the moment, seems perfect to her while with her new boyfriend, but as her relationship with him progresses sex becomes a factor in their relationship, and Mary Jane needs to decide to relinquish her virginity or to hold on to it.

Although the book has a pretty common idea, the book itself is really good. The author does a good job at adding new ideas to make the story break away from a common high school relationship that is often portrayed in books. The book forms characters you can symphasize with and antagonists that you really hate. For instances the book chose a really good mall scene with Mary Jane, her crush, and her crush's girlfriend, where the reader is shown new sides to characters and just how mean some are. I think the book's best part was the voices in Mary Jane's head telling her what to do. The book was an interesting story that portrayed interesting situations and people.

Content:adult guidance: contains some talk of sex

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona United States

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stake That! by Mari Mancusi

Stake that is about Sixteen year old Rayne who, after looseing her chance to become a vampire, her twin sister Sunny gets the chance to become a vampire and the hunky vampire as her boyfriend! Rayne then learns that she is the new vampire slayer in town, she must now go under cover and stop a vampire who is seeking power by spreading a fatal blood diease. With this and the regular things taht a teenage girl goes through (Boys,Makeup,Homework,More boys) shes under just a little pressure.

I like Stake That because behind all of the action there is a love story going on. After her dad leaving her mom, and her mom now going on dates again, people thinking that why she's dressing gothic is because her dad left, and on top of all of this the her sister's boyfriend and many others safety, might just be resting on her shoulders. You will find yourself being drawn into Rayne's life more and more as the story goes on. With a surprise ending you'll never doubt Mari Mancusi being a good author.

Content:adult guidance
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: fridley, minnesota united states

Monday, January 08, 2007

Vampirates by Justin Somper

“Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a vampirates life for me.” Have you ever dreamt of the vampirates that have sailed the oceans for many a thousand years? Well, twins Connor and Grace Tempest have. Especially after their father had sung the old vampirate sea shanty to put them to sleep. A little later, the twins father dies, leaving them alone with his lighthouse. It is either move into the orphanage, or move in with the rich and snobby banker. Well, Grace and Connor decide to run. They take their father’s ship and sail away onto the horizon. Once out in the ocean, there is huge storm which wrecks their boat. Connor is lifted onto a pirate ship and thinks Grace is dead and has drowned. Grace on the other hand, is lifted onto some mysterious ship where the crew only goes out on the deck at night. Could this be the dreaded vampirate ship? Will Grace ever see Connor again?

This was definitely a well-thought out, delightful book. You can tell right off the bat that Somper has an amazing bunch of characters who actually feel something, they are not a mindless bunch of drones. This was definitely an interesting read. I have never once in my life read a book as far-out as this one is. The way he describes everything with great detail is just astounding. Overall, this is one of the best books I have read yet.

Content:selected readers for minor violence
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Unresolved by T.K. Welsh

Mallory's story begins on the day she dies. Soon after her first kiss, the steamship on which she is traveling goes up in flames, and, because of her old, waterlogged life jacket, she drowns. She's not the only one to die in the accident; the lifeboats are rusted to the deck, the water hoses rotten, and the lifejackets useless, so many of her friends and neighbors, as well as her little sister, die that day in New York City. Mallory is a silent, incorporeal observer to the aftermath of the accident, unable to move on into whatever comes next for spirits who leave this world. This is not normal historical fiction--it's told from the perspective of a ghost.

The aftermath of the accident, when everyone is trying to assign the blame to someone, anyone, is very interesting. It's a look at the way justice worked in 1904, and it's not particularly different from the way it seems to work today. TK Welsh's style, however, isn't as good as it could have been. This could have been a beautifully dark, tragic story; instead it's just an interesting one. The characters, too, are a little disappointing; none of them really jump off the page. Still, this is a gripping story that will surely keep reader's attention. It's worth reading, but it probably won't be anyone's absolute favorite book ever.

Content:It's a book about a horrific accident, and there are details about that accident.

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

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

In 1918, Hattie Brooks receives word that an uncle she's never known has passed away and left his homestead in Montana to her. She travels across the country to plant roots in this new place. She is understandably hesitant when she first realizes how much work she has to do to "prove up" her land, but she tackles the many jobs with determination and her own two hands. Those hands also craft letters to her friend Charlie, who is fighting in France, and articles for the newspaper. She befriends a lovable family and others in town as she fights to stake her claim.

This memorable pioneer tale is perfect for fans of Little House, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.

Though shelved in teen fiction, this heartwarming story is suitable for kids of all ages. Adults will love it too, especially those who love turn-of-the-century historical fiction and WWI homefront stories. This is the kind of book which could be shelved in three different areas of the library or bookstore and find a following in each place.

I highly recommend Hattie Big Sky, especially to families with children of various ages. Hattie is an admirable leading lady with a great head on her shoulders, unflagging determination, and a big pocketful of hope.

The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee

What happens when a teacher and a famous rock star give a class of middle schoolers a writing prompt - but assign each student a different writing style?

This hilarious and self-aware story has two portions:
the initial setup, which is written in prose, and then the variations on the project, which are written in every way imaginable. There's a screenplay. A limerick. A newspaper article. A transcript. The point of view of an insider, an outsider, a popular girl, a gossip hound. Different styles, different kids.

This book completely lives up to its premise. I encourage teachers and students to read and discuss this book in their classroom, then create their own Fruit Bowl Project.

The Hollywood Sisters: Backstage Pass by Mary Wilcox

Sixteen-year-old Eva Ortiz dazzles viewers weekly on a hit television sitcom. Her younger sister, Jessica, does not have any acting aspirations, preferring to led an average life off-camera. When accidents start happening on the set and things start to go missing, Jess decides it's up to her to solve the mysteries.

Jess often has pratfalls, but she also has a very big heart. In fact, the entire family is loving and supportive. Though she is a rising star, Eva is very down-to-earth and likable.

A quick read which is refreshing clean, Hollywood
Sisters: Backstage Pass is suitable for young readers who want a little mystery, a little glamour, and a lot of fun.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone by Alex Archer

Another Rogue Angel book, The Spider Stone has a lot of the same elements as Destiny. Annja Creed, an archaeologist, is called in about the discovery of several skeletons of slaves in Kirktown, Georgia. The identity of one of the slaves, Yohance, leads Annja, Professor Hallinger, and McIntosh to West Africa. In possession of the Spider Stone, they become the target of Tafari, an African Warlord after the treasure of the Spider god, Anansi. Roux and Garin, characters from Destiny, also play roles throughout the book. Various minor characters appear and add to the story, leading to all out fights with Annja using her sword (from Destiny) and strength.

I would recommend reading Destiny before reading The Spider Stone to better understand Annja's sword and it's abilities. Like Alex Archer's other novel, this is a page-turner that keeps the reader involved through sharing different characters actions in episodic succession. There is much to learn with the historical content of this novel and Archer does an excellent job of infrming the reader with the background story while narrarating. The characters are formed well, especially the minor characters who move the plot forward. With aspects of mystery as well as history, many readers will enjoy The Spider Stone.

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

The Grays by Whitley Strieber

Think all those stories about UFOs and alien abductions are bunk? Whitley Strieber’s new book, The Grays, disagrees. In this work of fiction, aliens do exist and are about to make the ultimate human contact. For years they’ve been following the life of one special little boy, Connor Callaghan, whose very conception they orchestrated. Now they must send one of their own into Connor’s soul in an attempt to understand the human race and save both species. But not everyone on earth is ready to let the grays carry out their plan. A group of wealthy and powerful men, known as The Trust, is inherently skeptical of the grays and will do anything to stop them from enacting their plot, even if it means destroying all of humanity. Ultimately, the survival of both humans and the grays rests in the hands of Connor Callaghan and his neighbors in a small Kentucky town. The novel ends with plenty of action and suspense and lends itself well to another installment.

Strieber paints vivid and imaginative scenes throughout the novel, whether describing extraterrestrial phenomena or the snow-packed Kentucky landscape. However, his creativity does not come through so well in his characters, who tend to be stereotypical. Most are middle aged, white males with some kind of either intellectual or military power (or both). There are no strong females represented in the story, only an overly-doting mother and a sex-crazed Air Force officer; each scene with the mother involves some kind of gushing sentiment for her husband or son, and each with the officer an analysis of her sexual feelings, past and present. Connor Callaghan himself is so full of self-importance that it’s difficult to sympathize with him as he’s being taunted by classmates or even as he’s being invaded by the grays. Strieber passes up another opportunity to add depth to his characters through their conversations, during which it is impossible to tell one voice from another. This adds to the difficulty readers may have in keeping characters straight and makes this a purely plot-driven novel. Regrettably, the plot leaves too many loose ends to be satisfying. This is most evident when The Trust causes a major earthquake in Washington, D.C., near the end of the story, which kills the president but seems to have no clear or lasting purpose overall. Finally, the plot is weakened by clumsy sentences that feature unnecessary repetition, frequent contradictions, and obscure references—like the one to Swedish actor von Sydow—that are simply meaningless to many educated adult readers, let alone young adults, and really have no place in the story. Even the small details that Strieber doesn’t get quite right, like when the Air Force officer’s colleague refers to her as “soldier” (a term used for Army personnel, not Air Force) rather than “airman” or by rank, detract from the narrator’s reliability and the overall believability of the story. Although The Grays introduces an interesting story and is marked by some vivid and creative descriptions, it feels more like a novel in its draft stages than a finished work.

Content:Mature readers. Book deals with a good amount of inter- and extra-marital sex.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 3
Reviewer Age: 26
Reviewer City, State and Country: New Braunfels, TX USA

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Clabbernappers by Len Bailey

Is this a dream or what? Danny Ray, the best rodeo cowboy of the Junior Division in Oklahoma, gets a nasty surprise when he walks through a doorway. One second he was at the Cherokee Country Fair Grounds and another at a Chess-piece Kingdom named Elidor. There he is burdened by a mission: to find the queen before the Great Chess Game begins! Along with the snobby Prince of Elidor, Danny Ray is twirled into an adventure of a lifetime.

Although beginning with a cliché start, Clabbernappers is definitely an entertaining, adventurous and humorous read. Filled with effective details and intriguing suspense, the tale is extremely similar to the style displayed in “Jabberwocky”, a poem by Lewis Carroll. Some may think the story is childish, others may not. In conclusion, Clabbernappers is a must-read for people who love the unlimited borders of imagination.

Rating: 7

Monday, January 01, 2007

Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn FitzGerald

No more sports! That’s what Tess is afraid of when the school district threatens to take away all of the sports, unless the community decides to pay higher taxes. Tess joins the levy committee which supports higher taxes, and she helps with the effort by putting up signs, holding protest signs outside of a school, and throwing a Halloween party to help raise money to keep sports alive. When election day comes everyone is anxious about what the results will be, but it is always important to remember Rule #2: Even when the odds are against you, it never hurts to think positive. If the levy fails there is still something that can be learned from all that has happened, Rule #6: Sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team.

This an amazing story that tells not only about soccer but about what happens in Tess’s busy life. The author picked a very good plot for Soccer Chick Rules and did very well at writing this wonderful book. It was really easy to relate to Tess because she is in middle school, and she’s a girl who loves soccer and having fun just like me. Exciting soccer action is packed into one amazing story that is divided into sections within the chapters. Dawn Fitzgerald really tied the title in with the book because no matter what happened there was almost always a rule that went along with it. This story was kind of dirty with the stuff that the characters say and do, but overall this book was fairly clean and decent for teens to read. I recommend Soccer Chick Rules mostly to young adults, ages 12-16, who love soccer and realistic fiction.

Content:infrequent use of profanity

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

All The Way: Prom Night by Megan Stine

Carmen Salgado has just moved to a new school. It is her senior year and it has been going horrible. Her only three friends are her cousin, her cousin's best friend, and her best friend from her old school. Most importantly, Carmen NEEDS a date to the prom. Finally, the most popular guy in school asks her out near the end of the school year and she accepts. They go to the donkey basketball game and everyone stares at them the entire time, especially his ex-girlfriend. When they leave the game, he takes her to a lake. He wants to go all the way, but she won't have it. So she walks home, three miles, and is extremely agrivated. He posted a message on his website, that the whole school reads, saying that they did go the whole way. Everyone believed him of course. Her friends and her tried out for the school play and she wanted to be the lead along with her crush, Tyler North. When The entire play cast goes to Cleveland to audition for American Superstar Carmen finds out the real Tyler. Does she ever get Tyler to like her? Does she find a prom date? Will everyone believe her side of what happened? Does she get revenge?

All the Way: Prom Night is a very good read. I read it in one night! The book is a page turner because the reader is always wondering if Carmen will get what she wants. The vocabulary is not difficult either. At the end of the book it kind of leaves you hanging because you don't know what happens to some of the characters. Megan Stine could have added an epilogue to it so we did know what happened. I definitly learned that you should learn more about people before you start to trust them as well as Carmen did. I recomend this book to any female mature readers (guys would be bored because the promlems in it are pretty much female issues).

Content:mature reader for sexual situations

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

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

Twelve-year-old Deeba Resham and Zanna Moon were just regular schoolgirls, when strange things started to happen in their hometown London. One night, they ventured out and were teleported to a parallel universe called UnLondon. In UnLondon, they discovered that the abcity was ready to go into war with the Smog, a huge cluster of gas, poison, and other chemicals that had been created from global warming. The Smog has gotten so powerful over the years from all of the pollutions created that it generated the ability to think for itself. Zanna, the Chosen One who's destined to defeat the Smog in the Prophesy, was knocked unconscious during a fight and was sent back to London without remembering a thing. Now, it's up to Deeba to save UnLondon from the powerful wrath of the Smog. Throughout her treacherous journey, she met many friends who were also determined to help her win the battle. With her bravery and dedication, she defeats the Smog once and for all and saved the people of UnLondon from a horrible fate.

This novel is very well written by Miéville. The story has suspense and at the same time, is filled with humor. Just when I thought something was going to happen or Debba was finally going to defeat the Smog, something unexpected happened and Deeba must find a new way to try to annihilate the Smog. For example, when Deeba finally obtained the UnGun, which is the only weapon that is able to defeat the Smog, one of her allies stole it and gave it to the Smog's allies. This created many problems for Deeba and her wide range of friends, which included a milk carton, a half-ghost, a bird, some "words", a rebrella (a fixed unbrella, which is a broken umbrella). But they were able to get the UnGun back and defeat the Smog. The 425-page-book is divided into 99 “chapters” so it’s easy to read and stop. It never gets dull and is packed with action. This is truly a must-read book that everybody will be able to enjoy.

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

Dragon Avenger by E.E. Knight

In the beginning of Dragon Avenger two dragon eggs are hatching. The evil Wheel of Fire clan (dwarves) come into the cave and Wistala (one of the hatchlings) leaves the cave with her older brother. Her brother sacrifices himself to save her and then she is left alone to find her father. When she does, Wistala needs to get metal for her father's stomach. She travels to Tumbledown and meets a cat named Yari-Tab. When the evil Fangbreaker comes to kill her father and her, Wistala runs away. Later she meets Rainfall, an old elf, and the circus led by Ragwrist. Many terrors come and go throughout this book along with deaths and triumphs. Will the book end with one of those? or both?

Dragon Avenger was an interesting book to read. I suggest that only very good readers read this book. It is extremely challenging even for me; I was at an 8th grade reading level in 2nd grade! Otherwise, the book was very good. It kept me entertained all the way throughout reading it.

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