Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Mars: The City Dome by John L. Manning, Jr.

John L. Manning Jr.'s "The New Mars: The City Dome" is a fabrication of reality in every sense of the word. From living quarters to shopping centers to relationships, everything is copacetic. The plot follows three college students, their families, and their girlfriends. Initially on a vacation, they tour the Mars planet that has been newly developed for long term visitation. Basically, the characters serve as venues for the author to describe how each new structure in Mars is "cool." Pages are full of explanations as to what each place does and why it is important. There is not so much dialog, and the interactions between the characters are brief.

This book, like its predecessor, is very predictable. There is not really any mystery, and the whole story is expounding on what Mars is like. There is some Pod racing, but not as much as there was in the previous novel in the series. Most of the story is based on entertainment facilities and how fantastic they appear to be. There isn't really much scientific explanation given as to why the planet is inhabitable, but there are spare facts thrown in every ten pages or so. This book is more grammatically correct than its predecessor, but it still has vague associations with inappropriate behavior.

Vague encounters among couples and sparse drug reference

Reviewer Age: 17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The New Mars by John L. Manning Jr.

"The New Mars" by John L. Manning Jr. is science fiction. It encapsulates what life would be like if Mars were colonized. First in the series of several Mars books, this details the beginning stages of civilization. Malls, condos, entertainment facilities, and other structures are built towards the very end of the novel. The bulk of the plot focuses on NASA workers building racing vehicles dubbed Pods. While working on several machines, the workers find that they have many leftover parts. Thus, they begin to build their Pods and race them. A good 200 pages repeats the building, repairing, racing, and promoting process.

This novel does not go much further beyond what the back of the book suggests. The workers races as described on the back is detailed and mentioned over and over. The story then gets a little boring and redundant, only inserting a bit of suspense in the last twenty pages. Additionally, there are some grammatical errors in the book. For young readers just learning their syntax, they should not pick up this book. Also, there are some drug associations and explicit content. While nothing is graphic, its mere mention may be disturbing to some readers.

Drugs and intimacy mentioned

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

An Interview with Author Renee Riva

Renee Riva has been writing humorous stories about animals ever since she was a child. A former greeting card writer as well as a speaker for women's groups, Renee has also written for family magazines. Her books include Izzy the Lizzy, and Guido's Gondola, both picture books. Her first novel, Saving Sailor, released in May 2007. The sequel, Taking Tuscany, releases in May 2009. Renee also offers school visits and presentations.

When did you first consider yourself an author?
I won a creative writing contest in second grade and that pretty much started the whole thing, but it took another thirty years to actually get my first book published. It was when Guido's Gondola arrived on my doorstep and I saw my name on that book. That's when I knew I was a real author.

What inspired you to write Saving Sailor?
I had such great childhood memories from growing up in a big family and spending our summers on an island. One memory in particular often came to mind. I would go out in my little rowboat with my dog and just drift around in the sun, no hurry to go anywhere. I had a photo of the two of us in the rowboat--I was rowing and my dog was wearing a life jacket. That photo triggered the story Saving Sailor.

What made you decide to move from children's picture books to YA Fiction?
After writing Izzy the Lizzy and Guido's Gondola, I wanted to read a good humorous, but clean novel. I couldn't find one--so I wrote my own.

Is it true that Taking Tuscany is the second book in a trilogy? When will the next book come out?
Yep. After A.J.'s family moves to Italy, A.J. has a hard time adjusting and fitting in to a new culture--especially at age 14. Things get pretty crazy in Tuscany for her! It's a very fun adventure, which is coming out May 1 2009. But all of my readers were dying to know what happens between A.J. and her childhood friend, Danny, who she left behind on Indian Island, along with her dog, Sailor. So book three, "Heading Home" will be their island reunion when A.J. is 18, and Danny is 21. It's coming out April 2010.

Can you tell us two of your favorite YA books?
Saving Sailor & Taking Tuscany :O)
Okay, besides those:
The Secret Life of Bees
The Good Nearby
& Flipped
(I know that's 3--but they tied).

What book are you reading now?
The Martyr's Song by Tedd Dekker
It's about a high school girl who learns what it really means to be beautiful.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
If it's in your blood to write, then WRITE! Write for the love of writing, but if you want to get published, join writing contests, go to writing conferences, develop your craft, and don't give up. It's the writers who are still in the game after everyone else gives up who end up being authors. You have to be persistent, write what's in your heart, and have faith that your words will someday be read by someone beside yourself.

I wish you all my best!

Thanks again to Renee Riva for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check Provato Events.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Interview with Author Stacy Nyikos

A graduate of the University of Virginia, author, Stacy A. Nyikos, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer and musician. Her books include the aquatic picture book series Squirt, Shelby, and Dizzy. Stacy's first novel, Dragon Wishes, came out in 2008. Stacy also offers presentations and workshops to students in grades K-8. She has presented at more than 50 schools. In addition, she has presented events at the World Aquarium in St. Louis, the Shedd, the Houston Zoo, the Tulsa Zoo, and the Oklahoma Aquarium.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing when I went to college, which seems like a lifetime ago, but I didn't start writing for children until about six years ago, after I finished my Ph.D. and finally had the chance to write what I wanted to. I went right back to fiction, albeit this time for children.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That's a good question. I think I've considered myself a writer ever since I started an M.A. I've just written different things. I've also loved turns of phrase, how a single word can change the entire meaning of legions of text. How interpretation can hang on one sentence. Language and the written word have always fascinated me.

What inspired you to move from writing picture books to writing for young adults?
I haven't stopped writing picture books, however, some ideas are just too big for a picture book. Those are the ones that turn into middle grades or YAs. I never know how an idea is going to come out. Some are small, conceptual shorts, and others are long, mini-series masterpieces.

Who or what has influenced your writing?
Maya Angelou has long been a writer I look up to. I admire her work, her abilities, and the life she's led. She's my female role model. I also like the spunk of Mark Twain, and the unbelievable literary abilities of Markus Zusak (Plus, he's really cute).

There are is such a rich mix of culture in Dragon Wishes. How did you decide on the middle school setting as a backdrop for the story?
I can't say that was a very conscious decision. That story came to me in a rush. However, because I wanted the main character to go through a transition, I felt like 11 was a good age. It's that time when we first leave a part of childhood behind and begin to look toward the adults we may become.

Is there a message in Dragon Wishes that you want readers to grasp?
Love is everywhere. We just have to reach out and grab hold. It sounds simple enough, but if you're going through loss, it can be the hardest step ever to take.

Can you tell us two of your favorite books?
The Book Thief
Lord of the Rings

What book are you reading now?
Alice in Wonderland, Louis Carroll
Passing, Nella Larsson
Following the Equator, Mark Twain
Peak, Roland Smith

I like to read more than one book at a time. It's like going to a buffet and sampling everything. It makes my reading experience richer.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a YA set in 19th century New Zealand. It's called Pelorus Jack and is the story of a fifteen year old boy, George, who lives on a sheep farm that has fallen on hard times. Since George has a clubbed foot, his father doesn't trust him to work the farm, so George takes to the sea to save his family's farm. He meets a dolphin, Pelorus Jack, and together, they save more than just the farm.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
No story is ever finished. I thought, when I started writing novels, I would know when a story was finished because I would sense it. Then I wrote one. I realized somewhere after the zillionth round of revisions my story will never feel "done." I created it. My characters didn't just come to life, they are alive for me. They follow me around. They talk to me whenever they want to. So I don't look for the "feel done" moment anymore. I look for that time when I start changing the story in order to stay in it, not to make it better. That when it's time for me to put the keyboard down and let the story be the story that it is.

Thanks again to Stacy Nyikos for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check Provato Events.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Deirdre Monaghan thought she was just an ordinary teenager who played the harp. But when a mysterious and handsome stranger with a flute comes into her life, Deirdre learns that she is not so ordinary. In fact, she learns that she is a Cloverhand, one who can see the Fey. But this gift does not come without sacrifices and thus Deirdre's journey of danger, love, and strength begins. In this contemporary fairy tale, Deirdre must learn the truth about herself and find strength to survive.

I absolutely LOVED this novel! Maggie Stiefvater does a fantastic job writing this gripping tale of friendship, romance, music, and magic. Every page was thrilling. I was pulled into the story from the very beginning and I didn't put it down until the last page. It was that good. Stiefvater's detailed character development quickly made the story's personalities familiar. Her story captured my attention and flowed effortlessly off the page. I had so much fun reading this book and I will be counting down the days until the sequel, Ballad, is released!!!

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Phoenix, MD United States

Blitzed by Robert Swindells

Blitzed is another spin by Carnegie Medal-winning author Robert Swindells on his winning formula of mixing historical verity with pure fiction to create an enthralling adventure. The plot follows the mishaps and adventures of George, a young boy in England who is fascinated by World War II and reckons that it would be much more "exciting" than his boring life at home. That is, until he finds himself in 1940s era London standing in the aftermath of a bombing raid by Germany, instead of gaping at replica model planes and guns with his friends at a field trip to Eden Camp. George has been mysteriously transported back to London under the iron fist of World War II, where starvation and death are omnipresent. Over the next few days, George begins to appreciate the peace and calm of his own existence, and gradually adjusts to the frantic existence of his milieu. Eventually, he is able to gain friends with a group of young children who have taken refuge in one of the old manors damaged by the bombing. George spends his days helping "Ma," the caretaker of the children, with her job and surveying the wartime ambiance. The relatively calm atmosphere of the novel changes dramatically with the death of one of George's friends, and most importantly his discovery of a Nazi spy in London! George attempts to convince the others that he has actually found a spy, but decides upon scorn to search for evidence to prove that he is right and everyone else wrong. His decisions will make or break the entire German effort to capture England.

Blitzed proves overall a pleasing, gratifying read for one who is seeking to fritter away the hours, but does not represent an exceptional or distinguished piece of literature. The storyline begins in a gripping manner, but gradually decays into a laborious assignment sure to hold only the interest of the desperate. Fortunately, the plot experiences a renascent induction of inspiration about halfway into the novel, resuscitating lagging interests through new pools of stratagem and conspiracy. Similarly, while purists might find objection to the simple, straightforward diction of the novel, most readers will find it to complement the plot and enhance the appeal of the characters. Blitzed was an enjoyable novel, but much too short. The lack of length is most apparent when looking at the development of the plot and characters. A few additional pages would allow the plot to recognize a pace and flesh out more detail. Character development and the storyline felt somewhat rushed, preventing the author from fully accessing the achievement the novel could have been. In terms of quality, Blitzed resides at the middle of the spectrum. However, although not particularly well developed or exercised, Blitzed still encloses enough streams of plot acceleration to satisfy less demanding readers with a desire for a short, engaging adventure and mystery novel.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shrewsbury, MA USA

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Return To Sender by Julia Alvarez

In Return to Sender by Julie Alvarez, the main character,
Tyler, finds out his father has hired illegal immigrants to
work on their failing farm. Tyler's father had been in a
tractor accident resulting in his inability to work or run
the farm. Tyler is infuriated to find that his dad is
breaking the law. Many times, Tyler considers telling the
authorities or his teachers about the Mexicans working on
the farm. After a few weeks, he meets the three daughters of
one of the workers, develops a close relationship with Mari,
the oldest of the three. Eventually Homeland Security
Officers pay a visit to the farm and deport the entire
family. Tyler realizes how complicated immigration issues
are because Mari's mother is in trouble and they can not
tell the police for fear of being deported. There is a
surprise ending, so read Return to Sender if you want to
find out what happens after these Mexican farm workers are

This book was gripping. The story of the three daughters
captivates you, and holds your attention. I've never read
any other books like this one; it is really original and
worth the time and effort that it takes to read it. It took
a while to get into, but after page 20, it is hard to put
down. Overall, this is a well written and interesting book.
I would recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hingham, MA USA

Tobbi's Amazing Adventures in Cloudland

"Tobbi's Amazing Adventures in Cloudland" by Ilya Simakovsky borders on adventure and fantasy. The story follows the struggle of an eleven year old boy in a wheelchair. His various reveries and dreams are plastered across the pages. In the boy's mind, clouds become real and he is able to fly. Most of his friends are either animals or personified inanimate objects. In the real world of middle school, Tobbi is not the most popular boy. He has a few friends, but most students just pity him because he is disabled. To make matters worse, Tobbi has to face the school bully every day. Regardless, the bulk of the plot does not take place in the real world; it takes place in Tobbi's cloudland. To others, Tobbi's land of adventure is just a silly dream or medical hallucination, but--to him--it is as real as raindrops on a freshly flowered geranium.

This book is an easy read for children. Boys will most likely prefer this book more than girls because of the issues raised. Tobbi is faced with the sudden change of mind about girls (they had cooties then, but now they are cute). Additionally, most of Tobbi's adventures are a bit masculine. They involve driving on the open road, skyrocketing into space, racing against time, and facing grotesquely monstrous enemies. That is not to say that only boys should read this book; they just might enjoy it more than girls would. The underlying tone of the book suggests that, as Tobbi is fighting evil in his make believe land, he is fighting his disease in real life. Only at the end of the book does he come to terms with what his cloudland truly is. Even then, he is not willing to close the book on that intermittent part of his life.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Despite the title, this book is not just about kissing
boys. The real drama lies in the girl taking kissing
lessons from her next door neighbor and falling for him.
She is doing this because it all falls into her ludicrous
master plan of being placed on the varsity soccer team. The
protagonist is a junior in high school and has played
soccer all of her life. In her freshman and sophomore
years, she placed on the junior varsity level and assumed
shed be moved up the next year. She is in a great state of
consternation whence she realizes she is still on the
junior varsity level due to a lack of room for her on the
higher level. To make matters worse, the girls arch
nemesis made the real varsity level and reminds the girl of
this every day. This madness ensues when the girl is
tormented every day in the hallways. The main character
wants to change this by getting the hottest boy in town to
come to a school event and approach the varsity girls
soccer kissing booth. There, he will demand that he kiss
the main character for three hundred dollars. According to
the girl, this will work perfectly and make the coach put
her on the team to gain money for the team.

The ABC'S of
Kissing Boys" by Tina Ferraro is definitely a teenage
drama. If it were ever made into a movie, it would fit into
the pigeonholed category of chick-flick. Nevertheless, the
plot is very engaging and suspenseful--definitely a page-
turner. The main events in the book lie in the girl trying
to learn how to kiss. After all, she wants her three
hundred dollar kiss to look real in front of her coach, or
else she will know that it was all a hoax. There are
facetious scenes intertwined into the book (e.g.- the girl
buying economy sized boxes of cherries and starbursts
candies in a vain attempt to become a kissing pro). Anyway,
the girl seeks the help of her hunky next door neighbor.
Little does she know that she will eventually end up
falling for him. She also does not know that she will
eventually make the varsity level for a whole different
reason that has nothing to do with kissing boys. The big
finale lies in the last twenty pages or so, but it is worth
the wait. Ferraro has an ease about her words that is
evident in the book. Sentences flow effortlessly and make
the pages flutter by.

Reviewer Age:17

City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wicked Dead by Stefan Petrucha

Tonight's tale . . .

Rabbit food. Windowpanes. Pennies. Chelsea Kaer counts and frets over everythingher OCD won't let her stop. But when her biology teacher, Ms. Mandisa, asks her to pet-sit, Chelsea can't think of a reason to say no. After all, it's extra pocket moneynothing to worry about, right?

Wrong. Ms. Mandisa's "pet" is a six-foot lizard with a poisonous bite and a taste for red meat. And if Chelsea doesn't think fast, she'll be dead meat. . . .

Student reviewer: RJam

Friday, February 13, 2009

Marvel The Marvelous by Laura Chester

Marvel The Marvelous by Laura Chester is a remarkable fairy tale. The bulk of the story involves adventure in a magically perfect land, but there is also suspense and mystery. The main pony in the story cares for a young girl that the King and Queen find frozen in the snow. Shortly after her convalescence, the two becomes best friends. With a clear head and warmed torso, the girl wants to find her family. The horse Marvel helps her, along with other talking animals. The journey to find the girl's family takes up the bulk of the plot. The adventures along the way make this a page-turner and not at all boring or redundant. New characters with differing persona are introduced, as well. Talking flowers, royalty, love, and gloom fill the pages, reminiscent of "Alice in Wonderland." The climax of the book comes when the girl must part with her beloved pony and the newly changed pony must return to her home. How has she changed? Read to find out!

This book is a cherished piece of work that is sure to please kids of all ages. The excellent illustrations bring the story to life and even inspire readers to try their own hand at sketching. Also, the large print makes this book easy to read and not too time consuming. For children, it is more like a delightful fairytale that they can understand. For adult, it is a novella that reminds them of the time when they got lost in magical stories. Many little lessons are imprinted into this book (e.g., how to cope with death, how to say goodbye to friends, why drinking and driving is bad, how it is good to stay clean, why tolerance is a blessing, etc.). Even self esteem lessons are included as the youngest pony is seen as lesser than her two gorgeous sisters in the beginning. Towards the end, the young pony learns that she is perfect just how she is. While females might enjoy this pony tale more than males, the book is still a shining star that all should collect on their bookshelves.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Magic in the Mirrorstone

This book consists of fifteen short fantasy stories. Each of them are different in their own way, creating fifteen little worlds to explore. The authors that created these fantasies are acclaimed fantasy authors as well as bestselling authors. There are many different tones in this book, that will keep you entertained for a time. They all contain varied ways of captivating you, so be ready.

I thought that the group of authors selected did a very good job on using their talents to create a different adventure to a new world. All of them interested me and brought a new tone and a new way of creating a fantasy story. I was very happy with the description in all of the stories and most of them held fast paces, that kept me reading. This is a great way of seeing what each author has to offer and taking notice to their writing styles.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, PA United States

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Dark Ferryman by Jenna Rhodes

Warrior Queen Lariel Anderieon is faced with inevitable battle. Plagued with worries and visions she prepares for a battle against the Galdarkan warlord, Abayan Diort. She calls upon staunch friends and uneasy allies in order to have enough support for the upcoming war. While preparing, the ancient Raymy attack the shores of Kerith. An unholy alliance between this ancient foe and Quendius, the half-breed weaponsmith intends to bring both Vaelinar and Galdarkan to their knees. The Hand of the Queen, the half-breed Sevryn, would lay down his life to protect his lady Rivergrace, and his queen. When Rivergrace is accused of treachery he has to choose between the two. With his love imprisoned and a demon struggling to possess him, what will he choose?

I enjoyed this book very much. It took me several chapters to get into it but once I did I couldn't put it down. The enduring love of Sevryn and Rivergrace pulled me into their story. Jenna Rhodes used descriptive language to make the settings and situations flow off the page and into the reader's heart and mind. The treachery and hurt that the characters suffered made my heart ache and I rejoiced with them during times of joy. Reading this book had given me a new author to look for and a new series to enjoy.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Braintree, Massachusetts USA

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Devil's Paintbox

This novel is historical fiction set in the western United
States during the 1860s. The story focuses on Aiden Lynch
and his sister Maddy, orphans who are facing starvation on a farm
in a deserted area of Kansas. Their adventure begins when they join up with Jefferson J. Jackson, a guide looking for men to work in lumber camps
in Seattle. Aiden convinces Jackson that he will make a
strong worker once he eats more, so Jackson allows the two
to join his wagon train heading west. While on the trail,
friends and enemies are made and, most significantly, Aiden
befriends several Indians along the trail after they save
his life. Eventually Aiden must take bold action to help
the Indians as they battle a smallpox outbreak. This
trial, as well as many others, tests Aiden and his
friendships with both the travelers and the Indians.

I enjoyed this book more than I was anticipating. I normally
do not read historical fiction, but I found this novel
entertaining. Although the plot is uncomplicated, with few
surprises, the characters and the settings are very
interesting. The diverse characters, both male and female,
provide interesting snapshots of how people lived during
this period in history. The settings range from the plains
of Kansas, through mountains and rivers of the western
U.S., to lumber camps near Seattle. While reading this
book I also learned some interesting facts about smallpox
and Native Americans in U.S. history. I recommend this
book for anyone.

Content: 1
Rating: 9
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Royersford, PA United States

Return To Sender by Julia Alvarez

In Return to Sender by Julie Alvarez, the main character, Tyler, finds out his father has hired illegal immigrants to work on their failing farm. Tyler's father had been in a tractor accident resulting in his inability to work or run the farm. Tyler is infuriated to find that his dad is breaking the law. Many times, Tyler considers telling the authorities or his teachers about the Mexicans working on the farm. After a few weeks, he meets the three daughters of one of the workers, develops a close relationship with Mari, the oldest of the three. Eventually Homeland Security Officers pay a visit to the farm and deport the entire family. Tyler realizes how complicated immigration issues are because Mari's mother is in trouble and they can not tell the police for fear of being deported. There is a surprise ending, so read Return to Sender if you want to find out what happens after these Mexican farm workers are caught.

This book was gripping. The story of the three daughters captivates you, and holds your attention. I've never read any other books like this one; it is really original and worth the time and effort that it takes to read it. It took a while to get into, but after page 20, it is hard to put down. Overall, this is a well written and interesting book. I would recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hingham, MA USA

The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap

The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap, by H.M.Bouwamn, is a fantasy book about two different girls and their lifestyles. Lucy's tribe, the Colay, owned several small islands. But when a British ship crashed, the passengers, the Anglish, started taking over. They also began to blame murders on the Colay people, and mysterious things happened to both tribes. When Lucy is told to kill her baby brother, the last baby born to the Colay, she knows she must save him. Snowcap, the Child Governor of the Anglish, finds a horrible plot and starts to uncover the mystery of the two groups. When the girls meet, they must help each other and save the tribes.

I think people who like Shannon Hale will enjoy this book. I found that it was very similar to the basic plot of The Princess Academy. It was a very easy read and would probably be a lot more interesting to 9 and 10 year olds. I would only recommend this book to young fantasy fans who can handle a slightly dull plot. I also disliked that a lot of the book talked about history, which I found annoying when I just wanted to stick to the storyline. It skips around a lot, focusing on different characters every chapter. The end was rushed, only giving a brief summmary of what happens next and exactly how the book even ended. Overall, it was an interesting story, but not very descriptive or focused to the main idea.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Braintree, MA USA

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

The House of Night, the school for vampyre fledglings, is no longer safe. The High Priestess (principal), Neferet, has turned away from the vampyre goddess, Nyx, and joined forces with the fallen angel Kalona and his Raven Mockers. Humans and vampyres alike are being attacked and no one is safe.

Enter Zoey Redbird, the fledgling with an unusual affinity for all of the elements. She is the only one that can defeat Neferet and Kalona because of her gift. The only problem is getting into the House of Night (which is guarded heavily), finding a way to banish Kalona back to where he came, and sorting out her twisted love life. That doesn't sound too hard, does it?

I absolutely loved this book. I really liked the way that the authors were able to tell what had happened in the previous books; this allowed me to be able to follow along completely even though I had not read the previous books. I enjoyed the story line very much and thought that the authors had correctly portrayed the mind of a teenager. The addition of Zoey's romance problems adds an interesting twist to the story.

I would recommend this book to vampyre fans and anyone who would enjoy a wondrous fantasy story.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Pottstown, PA United States

Rating: 9

Content Rating: 1

The King's Gold by Yxta Maya Murray

The King's Gold is an adventure packed book. Lola Sanchez
is a book lover who owns a bookshop in California. She
also loves adventure. One day, a mysterious man and his
companions enter her shop. Marco shows Lola an ancient
letter, giving details of a treasure she has been
searching for. Intrigued by the letter, Lola listens to
Marco. However, he has other plans. Kidnapping Lola,
they head off to Italy, on an outrageous treasure hunt.
However, Lola is to be married in two weeks to Eric.
After he receives a confusing text from Lola, he takes off
to Italy to find her. Together, they try to outwit Marco
on the hunt for the king's gold. An action packed, clue
seeking journey around Italy begins. Who will get to the
gold first? Who will survive the deadly places they must
look for clues? Will Lola and Eric get married? And who
is the mysterious man who is helping Lola? If you enjoy
action packed books, this is the one for you!

The King's Gold is certainly a book filled with lots of action.
However, I found the book to be a little unbelievable.
Lola and Eric are searching for a centuries' old treasure,
but they always seem to figure out the next clue the first
time! Their luck is always the best, with just minor
bumps along their road. For me, the book became a little
too predictable as I read along. The author certainly
knows the area and time period she is talking about, which
did add interest to the story. If you enjoy adventure
stories like Indiana Jones, this is the book for

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Finksburg, MD USA

Batter Off Dead by Tamar Myers

Minerva J. Jay is known for her prodigious appetite. When she falls over dead at the local Mennonite pancake feed, after ingesting twenty-six pancakes and seventeen sausages, the question is: was this hotcake homicide, or Minerva's abused stomach? The church's Head Deaconess can answer that, even though she is eight months pregnant; Magdalena is a closet super-sleuth. The police call Magdalena for her help, and she' a little less than willing. She gives in, and finds a big surprise on her hands. When she takes on the murder, and investigates seven unlucky folks, her prime suspect turns up dead by a driverless steamroller. Will Magdalena find the murderer?

Batter Off Dead, by Tamar Myers, is overall a good book. It is much more of a leisurely read than a page turner. The plot is enjoyable although it is more of a book that asks whodunit, instead of an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery. Myers includes a twinge of wit that helps the reader keep turning the pages for more. I recommend this book to those looking for something to read on a rainy day, and those readers who like wit and mystery.

some mentions of sex and there is some violence

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Osseo, Wisconsin United States

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pieces of Me

"Pieces of Me" has a very appropriate title. The book is literally in pieces. Each part is only several paragraphs long, separated by icons that indicate a break in the story. Through this, you get to know Mirabelle, the main character. She hates her name and goes by Mira instead, deciding it sounds more beautiful. She lives in a "half-basement" with her mom, who is slightly crazy. Her mom, somewhat of a fashion designer, is constantly paranoid that someone will steal her designs and insists that all the hot designs were created by her. Mira's father left them years ago and Mira has no real hope for anything in life. But then Cath shows up. Cath is different than all the other girls. She actually pays attention to Mira and shows an interest in art which is Mira's favorite subject. Throw that together with escalating tension between Mira and her mother, Mira's crush on her Art teacher (who she calls "the birdman"), and her first kissing experiment, and it is bound to be an interesting year.

I have had very mixed thoughts about this book. On one hand, the writing was excellent and I really felt for Mira on several occasions. However, the story progressed at an excruciatingly slow pace for the first sixty pages or so. After that, I was hooked. I stayed up late just to get further in the book. Yes, it was that good. I did not enjoy the fact that it would skip from one thing to another without giving a logical explanation of time or place. However, I found this to be manageable after several chapters. It makes for a very interesting read. The ending was not all that good, but still okay. I would probably recommend this to some people, but not to all. Some people would definitely not enjoy this because of the way the author writes, but I enjoyed this one.

There were numerous incidents of sexual behavior and references.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Westerville, Ohio USA

Friday, February 06, 2009

Unusual Suspects

Unusual Suspects is the go-to book for contemporary mystery and fantasy stories of the new year. Twelve amazing authors combine mystery, sci-fi and fantasy elements to create some of the most amusing short stories this reviewer has ever read! From dragons to vampires to Santa Clause, Unusual Suspects will keep readers entertained with its colorful cast of cunning detectives and odd villains. It leaves nothing to be desired. Each story will satisfy fantasy and mystery lovers alike!

Unusual Suspects was a very enjoyable read. By far one of the better short story collections I've read, each one had a different theme, yet tied in nicely with the entire book. I loved that most of the stories had morals, like the The Duh-Vice by Micheal Armstrong, that stressed the importance of "going green". Or A Woman's Work by Dana Stabenow, that addressed the wrongs of sexism. Many of the stories have comedy, which made it, my opinion, a favorable read but two stories stood out to me above them all: The House by Laurie R. King, and Appetite For Murder by Simon R. Green, both of which were written uniquely with completely surprising endings. This book is absolutely a read for anyone that enjoys being entertained.

violence, language and sexual content

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Albany, New York USA

Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez

Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez is a whimsical fantasy adventure of a kobold named Nessy. Nessy is short, furry, and sensible. She takes care of the castle with a crazy wizard only known as Margle the Horrendous. Oddly enough he finds no fun in killing his opponents; instead he transforms them into cursed forms and locks them up in his castle. When Margle suddenly dies, Nessy still takes charge of the monsters and the horrors of the castle. Though her allies don't help her either—a voice without a body, a monster under her bed, some pieces of a wizard in a jar, and an angry fruit bat. Join her in her mission to put her foot down to control these horrors!

I really liked this book. It had a lot of imagery; so much that I kept thinking I was watching a movie. Sometimes I would be thinking about it, and I would say to myself, what movie was that? And then I would remember that it was this great book. This book makes you feel like you are tagging along with these characters in an adventure to keep everything safe. I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys fantasy or wants to pick up a good read.

Reviewer Age: 16

Reviewer Cities, State and Country: Northport, New York USA

Hiding Glory by Laura Chester

"Hiding Glory" by Laura Chester is a classic children's book. It features a main young protagonist in her dual setting of the real world juxtaposed with the incredible glee of Joya. Turner is a grammar school girl who keeps horse figurines in her room along with flowers. Then, one day, a magical blue horse named Glory comes out of a morning glory flower and invites her to Joya. There, Turner learns the majestic yet silly ways of the land. She ventures to this land when she is ready for bedtime. This would make readers think Joya is just part of Turner's dreaming subconscious, but Chester's vivid descriptions say otherwise. Glory is actually a tiny horse, but whenever he meets Turner, they match up to be the same size so he can ride her to his lackadaisical land of happiness and delight.

This book has many subtle undertones that the average child may not pick up. The main antagonists are called Kurmudgins, who love order, and hate any sort of fun. The main adventure in the story involves Turner helping Glory to make them less cantankerous--so to speak. This is the order from the royal King and Queen. The Kurmudgins sound awfully like curmudgeons, but children will most likely not know this word. Still, there are other themes that youngsters can understand. For one, the Golden Rule is outlined: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. This is even spelled out in pure dialog by the characters. Additionally, there is the moral of turning the cheek when others are malevolent towards you. Excellent lessons are alongside breathtaking illustrations in this cherished book.

Reviewer Age: 17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Life in Pink and Green

"My Life in Pink and Green" by Lisa Greenwald is a spunky book of a budding entrepreneur. Still in middle school, Lucy has her small group of friends and her family pharmacy to worry about. She is a melancholy girl with too much responsibility on her shoulders. However, Lucy learns how to enjoy life and be happy when she can utilize her knowledge of beauty products to help "cool" kids and make a name for herself. Also, when the family pharmacy is in jeopardy of being shut down, Lucy takes it upon herself to find a solution. Throughout the novel, the plot sticks to just a few characters and is mainly concerned with Lucy's business adventures. Childhood crushes come into play in a sweet way towards the end, as well.

This novel is an excellent read for young adults, although it is geared more towards girls. Each chapter includes a beauty tip or business tip. These fun facts, coupled with the theme of beauty products sprinkled throughout the book, makes this tremendously appropriate for girls. The book teaches girls how they can be more confident and beautiful with both outer makeup and inner self-esteem. Also, for younger girls that have never worn makeup before, this novel subconsciously tells them to not overdo it when they finally start using the products for the first time. The term "green" is thrown around a lot in the book, as Lucy joins an Earth Club. Overall, the book is easy to follow and is a clean read for young girls.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Courage in Patience

Whoosh. That's the sound that Ashley Asher hears when her stepfather sexually abuses her. As a fifteen-year old she is no longer a child, but she never was an ordinary child to begin with. She endures emotional and physical pain while living with her biological mother, who doesn't care for her at all, and her abusive stepfather. The only way to save herself is to confront her mother and reveal the years of abuse she has received from her stepfather. When Ashley finally has the courage to tell her mother of the painful details of her horrific childhood, her mother turns her back on Ashley and continues to believe that nothing is wrong. The only people that care and are concerned for her safety are Ashley's friends and her teacher. When her teacher contacts Ashley's father (who Ashley has never seen) her life is turned upside down. She leaves her selfish mother and abusive stepfather to live with her caring biological father and stepmother in Patience. She learns that there are people out there that care about her and would do anything to protect her. It is where Ashley finally understands the meaning

Courage in Patience was an emotional, heart-warming book that is unforgettable and hard to put down. I haven't read a book like this in a long time. It makes you realize that life comes in many forms and how it begins or ends all depends on you as a person. Even though I have never endured the pain that Ashley did, I could feel inside of me what she felt when her mother turned her back on Ashley and how her heart shattered into little pieces. It was just so detailed, it felt like my heart was shattering into little pieces as well. When she moves to live with her biological dad, it felt as though my heart was healing along with Ashley's. I think this book will really touch the hearts of every reader and give them the sense of let-down and then the sense of somebody pulling you back on your feet and giving you the chance to live a life of hope and courage. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a heart, which includes everyone.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Gearhart, Or U.S.A.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Man in the Moon", by Dotti Enderle

"Man in the Moon" by Dotti Enderle is a children's chapter book. As its appropriate title suggests, the plot is focused around a peculiar man in a moon. Technically, the part about the moon is just a metaphor, but, towards the end of the book, the reader may take this statement to be more than just literary. The story follows a girl growing up in the sixties with a sickly younger brother. The boy yearns to play outside but is confined to his indoor setting. One day, a very unique man comes to visit. He saved the girl's father back in World War II and has a fascination with the moon. Oddly enough, he gains weight when the moon waxes and looses weight when the moon wanes.

This book is a must read for young and old alike. There are no swear words in it or inappropriate scenes. While younger ones will benefit greatly from reading this, it is also great for all ages. Children will learn life lessons and start up a love of reading while adults will enjoy a story that doesn't take too long for them to read with their busy schedules. Family issues, friendship, the notion of death, destiny, dreams, and social interactions are spelled out in the book. The book truly is a coming of age story that involves a silly yet somber man in the moon.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA
Wow! This book is amazing! In this book a fourteen year old girl, Savvey, tries out for an eighteen year old basketball elite team and makes it. Then her older sister, Callie, tries out for cheer leading but just barely makes it because she is too heavy. When Savvey plays in her game, Callie gets mad because Savvey becomes the star of the game and gets all the attention. During one of her games, steroids mysteriously appear in her bag at half-time. In the end, the book tells who put the steroids in Savvey's gym bag.

The reason I think this book is good is because it has a great sequence of events. The fact that steroids magically appeared in Savvey's gym bag during the middle of the game kept my attention. I wanted to know how the drugs got in the bag. I hoped that she didn't take steroids because she was a great athlete and the team needed her. She proved that she could be a great player without taking drugs. This book was really interesting and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

Reviewer Age:11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA