Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Pena

Sticky lives with his foster mom, foster brothers, and foster sisters. Sticky is a tough, beat around kid who has no life except for basketball. Sticky is very competitive and once he tried basketball, he got hooked on it and practiced nonstop. Sticky has no future in school or anything else except for basketball. Sticky practices at a local gym, with some regulars who act like his family that he never had. Sticky also plays for JV on his high school team. However during the Varsity playoffs Sticky gets asked to play for them. Sticky puts on a great show and he gets a notice to tryout for some of the best colleges. This might be Sticky's only way out of his hard life that he lives.

This was one of my favorite books. The book was written so well, and the flow was great. I read this whole book in one sitting. I could relate to what Sticky was feeling at certain times, like when he was in a sticky situation, or if things were turning out perfectly. I would feel joy and sadness when he felt it. I felt like I knew Sticky so well and that he was real, because the author went into depth to explain his life.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lutherville, MD United States

Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr

The Book I reviewed was Stay With Me. It's about a 16 year old girl named Leila. Leila's older sister commits suicide, and Leila goes on a mission to find out why her sister would do this horrible thing. While Leila is trying to figure out information about her sister. She ends up finding out information about herself. She also ends up finding a man that she likes, but he happens to be 31 years old. Leila doesn't care though. Age means nothing to her. Eamon clearly states that he doesn't want to date a teenager, but Leila is determind to find a way to change his mind.

I liked the general idea of the book. I just didn't like how Leila fell in love with a 31 year old man. I kinda found that disturbing. If the author hadn't made him so old it wouldn't have been bad, but a 31 year old dating a 17 year old that's kinda wacked and against the law.

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

The Skyborn by Paul Collins

Welkin Quinn was a fourteen year old ensign on the spaceship city 'Colony' until it crashed on planet Earth. There, Welkin, his sister, and some of his other friends were "specially" selected as a team to scout the land. Outside of 'Colony' Welkin and the others discover many things about Earth; the sparse vegetation, desolate landscape, and a devolved race of humans called the Earthborn. The most frightening discovery about Welkin's assignment is the realization that this is one task he isn't supposed to return from. Welkin and his fellow abandoned Skyborn trek the Earth in search of hospitality, which they find when they meet Sarah, an Earthborn approximatly Welkin's age, who leads her own "family". Together they combine their families' talent, knowledge, and technology into one for the sole purpose of survival. A chance encounter with a fellow abandoned Skyborn alerts Welkin to a plot hatched by the Elders of the Skyborn that is to rid the Earth of the Earthborn. Fuelled by his watch-dog instincts and a desire for revenge, Welkin steps in to defuse the threat. In spite of dangerous situations and the risk of certain death if caught, Welkin braves it all, honoring his sense of duty. Unfortunately he has no idea what fate may await him upon re-entering Colony!

The Skyborn, by Paul Collins is a futuristic thriller that keeps the reader involved with a suspense-filled plot that always leaves you guessing. The Skyborn is Collins' follow-up to The Earthborn, a book published in 2003. Because of the intense character drama and detailed backstory, I wouldn't recommend diving into The Skyborn without first reading The Earthborn, as I did. It takes too much time sorting through the character's personalities and figuring out who the characters are, that it distracts from the plot of The Skyborn. Collins does an excellent job making the individual characters in The Skyborn believable. You find yourself caught up in their journey and rooting for them to not only survive, but succeed. Unfortunately his details of the setting is less descriptive so it was hard to imagine clearly what Collins pictured as a post-disaster Earth. Despite the difficult level of reading, I really enjoyed The Skyborn. So much so I purchased The Earthborn (better late than never)and hope there is a The Hiveborn in the works.

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

Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong

Emily Wu is Chinese-American, working with her immigrant parents in their Chinese restaurant in Richmond. Like her mother, she has a great love of art and is entranced while drawing. A new boy at school, Alex (also the son of family friends of the Wu's), moves to Richmond with his aunt and uncle while his parents continue working in Taiwan. He has a great love of art also, and he and Emily are both picked to paint a mural for the school's hallway. At first Emily is weary of the idea, but soon becomes friends with Alex. Emily tells us, while consumed in sketching and painting the mural, how sometimes her life is kind of like the various animals she paints. She feels insecure, wanting to fly and truly become herself, but not knowing how. Even after she gets her first boyfriend, she feels incomplete. Then her parents tell her they are going to send her to their native Taiwan, to become better at speaking Chinese. Only then do the pieces of her life and heritage finally start fitting together, and she can start seeing and becoming herself, Emily.

This book gave a very poetic, vivid picture of Emily's life. It felt like you were experiencing the same emotions she was when they were happening. Written in free verse, Seeing Emily is a wonderful, fast read for anyone on the journey to finding and truly becoming themselves. A great book for young adults ages 13-20.

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

Friday, January 27, 2006

Souls of the North Wind by Chrissy K. Mcvay

After Iksik angers a prehistoric demon wolf by killing his mate, two cousins have to go on the journey of a lifetime. Iksik and Kiviok, have to travel all the way to the sea to consult the wise shaman, Pukak, about the demon wolf who is stalking them. However, the journey will not be easy. With the demon wolf waiting at every turn for them to make a mistake and white men interfering. WIll they ever get to the sea and lift the curse?

I think that this book was relatively good. It had a lot of good word choices. For example: "A light breeze brought the overwhelming stench of its body. It was the smell of a beast that slept in its own filth. The long shaggy hair covering its massive chest was layered with the dried blood of old kills ....." The ending is kind of interesting because it is both what you expected to happen and you didn't expect to happen. A pretty good read and appropriate for all ages.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Maureen the Detective by Veda Boyd Jones

After Maureen and Mark take the job offer that Mrs. Hoag gave them for finding her purse and returning it to her, they start cataloging every item she has in each very large room in her mansion. In the western room Maureen just absolutely loves one piece of artwork called the Wicked Pony. She loves it so much that she asks if she can take a picture of it. When they get the film developed Maureen asks Mrs. Hoag if she can compare the picture to the statue, but when she goes to find the statue another statue is in its place instead. Mrs. Hoag said she didn’t move it, but if she didn’t move it, who did? So begins the mystery of the missing artwork, and who but Maureen and Mark to solve the case?

This book called Maureen the Detective was awesome. I loved the book because it was well written and was interesting to find out who was stealing Mrs. Hoag’s artwork. Maureen the Detective is mostly a mystery book. I thought it was cool how each character had a very different personality compared to the other. This book is for ages 8-12 and is one of many in the Sisters in Time series. I hope everyone who reads Maureen the Detective will enjoy it as much as I did.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upperstrasburg, PA US

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Telling Pool by David Clement-Davies

Rhodri Falcon has lived his 11 years in happiness with his mother and father, a master falconer. But as unrest in the lands sends his father, Owen, to fight in the wars, Rhodri has to take up the responsiblities of the man of the house, much to his disappointment. Over the next few years, Rhodri is haunted by a fourtune he heard at a fair and one day, he ventures into the forest against his parents wishes, where he comes upon a blind hermit named Tantallon. Tantallon guides him in the ways of magic and shows him the Telling Pool, a place where Rhodri sees what's happening to his father. When Rhodri discovers that his father has been enchanted by a witch namd Homeira, it's up to him to find the fabled sword Excalibur, the sword once held by King Arthur himself, to break the curse. On his journey, Rhodri discovers secrets about his family history. It's up to Rhodri to use his wits carefully before he gets enchanted too.

I really liked the Telling Pool. I took a while to get into the story; the beginning was a bit slow, but necessary to tie into the story. I'm fascinated with stories relating to King Arthur and Guenviere, so I enjoyed that aspect of the novel. The story was also cleverly set during the Third Crusade, and it's hard to find novels set at the time period. Being a fan of historical fiction, I really liked this new time. The magical element of the novel was fun as well. Clement-Davies did a good job of mixing history, old legends, magic, and even a bit of romance. I'd recommend this novel to anyone.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Sunday, January 15, 2006

ttfn by Lauren Myracle

TTFN is a sequel to TTYL. Both books are completely written in instant messages between three girls: Maddie, Zoe, and Angela. The story is progressed through the conversations of the 11th grade girls. One of the threesome is moving to California, will they be able to become long-distance friends?

You must have to be a young girl to like this book. All of the chatting seems insignificant even though the girls are tackling some hard issues of growing up. The book has a pretty straightforward plot but it becomes a novelty book because all the writing is done through instant messages. I would say that this is a good pick for pre-teen girls and no one else.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: cheverly, maryland USA

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain

Four best friends, Harper, Kate, Sophie and Becca are all looking forward to starting college. At least, 3 of them are. Harper has decided to follow her "dream" and stay behind to write the next famous American novel. As she convinces her 3 angry friends to see things from her point of view, they begin to realize that maybe they aren't ready for college yet either. Sophie decides to put her college career on hold to travel to Los Angeles in hopes of pursuing a career in acting. Harverd bound Kate, the one person who always does what's right, decides to take the year off and travel to Europe, which leaves Becca alone. Becca is the one person going to college, Middlebury, to ski for the best coach and find love. As the months go by, the four girls learn a lot about their families, life and love. They lose people who were important to them, but they also find new people who truely care.

When I first saw the title and cover of the book, I honestly didn't know what to expect. But I started the book and really got into the story. Being a college student, I could relate to what some of the girls were going through. It was great to read a story from the view of college students, as not many books out there feature main characters around that age. This book reminds me a lot of The Traveling Pants books by Ann Brashares. Yet it's a refreshing twist on not doing what everyone expects you to do and finding out your true personality. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend this.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude by Rosemary Graham

Kelsey has just been forced to move all the way from Boston to California during the worst time in her life, the beginning of 8th grade. She completes her year at a prestigious private all-girls school and realizes that she doesn't want to deal with snotty girls anymore. She decides to go to the public school, where she instantly gets recognized by the school celebrity, skateboarder C.J. Logan. Not long after, she becomes his girlfriend and gets to experience the perks of being popular. When Kelsey realizes that C.J. isn't putting in enough effort to be a good boyfriend, she dumps him after a year. But there's only one problem, C.J. has never been dumped before. So he spreads rumors about Kelsey around school and makes her miserable. But Kelsey tries to ignore them and becomes interested in the famed school newspaper, the Bee, and puts all her effort into making it as a journalist. When the rumors still affect her life one year later, Kelsey has to do something to stand up for herself before it's too late.

I was surprised at how much I liked this book. While I feel that younger teens would enjoy this book more, it was still entertaining to read. It was refreshing to read about a character like Kelsey. The story was really interesting too, even though the concept of a high school romance is common in many young adult books these days. I'd recommend this book as a fun, easy read to take your mind off things. The ending of the story made me want to know more. I don't know if the author is planning to write a sequel, but I know that I will probably pick up any other book that she writes.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Forest of the Pygmies by Isabel Allende

The finale of the acclaimed trilogy, that began with Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, has had a lot to live up to. Alex, now 18, along with his grandmother and friend, Nadia, travel to Kenya on an elephant safari. Like the previous two books, things do not exactly happen simply, and the trio encounter a whole host of problems such as after a plane crash, they end up trying to help save primitive Pygmies from slavery. A mixture of magic, adventure, and a sensous surrounding gives this book an edge that many children's books do not have.

Having read a few of Isabel Allende's books I was certainly looking forward to this one, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first two. However, by the time I got around to reading this one, I realized something was missing; it may have been that I was older and a more experienced reader, for it has been a while since I have read the first two. The character's still amused me, and the magic they possesed created something far more interesting than the trilogy would have been had they not had it. However, I found myself bored with a long drawn out plotline that, although had twists, followed the same basic outline as the first two. Despite my problems with it, and my need for a change, I feel that many people will enjoy it, and I am certainly going to reread the first two books. The blend of magic and fantasy with realism, and an amazing setting, certainly gives this book a head start to many children's books.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Bristol, England

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Falcondance by Amelia Atwater Rhodes,

While the first two of the trilogy focus on the story of Danica Shardae and Zane Corbrianna, and therefore the joining of two sworn communities of enemies. The third and final book in Amelia Atwater-Rhodes trilogy looks at the past. Nicias, a falcon, never felt at ease amongst the avians and serpiente, once sworn enemies but united in the first two books, although loyal to the heir of both thrones; Oliza Shardae Cobrianna. Bound by the strong magic he possesses, one that will destroy him if he cannot soon control it, he is forced to leave his position of personal guard to Oliza and learn from his Grandmother to bind it. Once gone from the only place Nicias has ever called home he uncovers deadly secrets of the past, ones that could, and will, haunt the newfound peace.

Although lacking the brilliant romance I loved in the first book, Rhodes does not cease to amaze. Her lush prose and gorgeous descriptions are again outstanding. And while the book takes a different turn to that of the first two, something that may not be wise in the finale, with different charcters introduced and those that we know and love barely touched on, Rhodes is clearly maturing as a writer, and this trilogy I do not think I will forget. I recommend this book to all teenagers, especially those looking for something different or a fan of the supernatural, mythological and other-worldly.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Bristol, - England

Maximum Ride by Jame Patterson

Maximum Ride is destined to save the world. Max is constantly worried about her flock of mutant bird-kids as Erasers, including Max’s younger brother, continually attack them. Erasers are kids that morph into wolves, and recently they’ve been given wings, so though they can’t fly nearly as well as Max and her flock. The six kids have just escaped the School where one experiment after another was conducted on them. They are on their way to Washington to find their families, but the Erasers show up and Fang, a member of the flock, is seriously injured. He is taken to a hospital, and of course, his wings are discovered. When Anne, a caring FBI agent, offers the flock a place to stay while Fang recovers, Max feels she has no choice but to accept. Fang’s life is on the line, and she is concerned about making the members of the flock, two who are only six-years old, flee from everything. Can the flock really trust Anne? Can they survive real school, something they’ve never had before? And ultimately, can Max figure out just how she’s supposed to save the world?

Maximum Ride School’s Out- Forever is a fast paced and thrilling novel. Readers never know who to trust as Max’s story is told. Which people are really Erasers? Which ones are scientists? The questions are constantly revolving around a reader’s head. James Patterson has written a book in which the pages are turned almost as fast as the eye can read as the reader tries to figure out what is coming next. An excellent novel for adventure and science fiction fans, Maximum Ride will capture readers everywhere.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA USA

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Silver May Tarnish by Andre Norton & Lyn McConchie

Lorcan, a young child and youngest son to the Dale owner, has loved his land very much. However, one day Alizon invaders attacked his land. The Dale army was no match for the Alizon invaders, so they retreated into a cave/passage. After many onslaughts of the invaders, Lorcan's brothers and father dies in the fighting. Lorcan and the head-of-arms master are the only one who escape to another Dale. At the other Dale Lorcan hunts for money, and he gets trained by the head-of-arms there. At the appropiate age, he joins the fight, and they win the battle against the invaders. After the battle, Lorcan travels around the land searching for followers who want to be in his Dale, and with the money that his old Dale secretly left behind for him, he is confident that he can do so. On the way in his travels, he meets Meive, a magic woman, some women with various ages, and 5 blank shields. With these people will Lorcan ever rebuild his Dale?? Or will he have the scars of battle forever, and forever be a nomad?

This book was an amazing book. I loved the flow of the book, and it kept me reading, and wanting to read more. There is always some action about it, and it whisked me into an imaginary world, that could also seem real, since the characters did real things. The author gave just the right amount of detail for certain things, which made the book more interesting for me.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lutherville, Maryland

Falcondance by Amelia Atwater Rhodes,

When Nicias Silvermead’s falcon magic reveals itself in his blood, he flies to Ahnmik to get help from his grandmother. Even though he is a falcon, his parents have not told him much of his heritage. They themselves are exiles from Ahnmik. Nicias finds the city mesmerizing, yet he knows that his true home is the wyvern’s court. During his stay in the city he finds out many startling details of his past, including why his parents made the decision to leave Ahnmik. He becomes entangled in a web of lies and deception. As Nicias fights his way through these barriers, he uncovers deadly secrets that could destroy the existence of Wyvern’s court.

The newest sequel in The Kiesha’ra series, FalconDance, by Amelia Atwater Rhodes, is mainly Nicias’s story. For the most part, FalconDance explains the mysteries of the two previous novels in the series. Though the novel is well written and does have a charm of its own, it does not really compare to Hawksong, the first in the series. It just feels as though Rhodes left too much of the story out. It does not flow as smoothly as the previous two. The whole aura of the series changes, instead of blending the different aspects in the novel they stand apart. The connection that the different characters were linked by in the previous novels has been severed. The novel seems rushed or maybe a new twist in the plot that isn’t quite concrete yet. Nevertheless, Rhodes writing is just as good as ever. I still look forward to her next novel, especially in this series because of her ending that seems to suggest another sequel in the series.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO U.S.A

The Queen of Second Place by Laura Peyton Roberts

Sophomore Cassie Howard is used to being second place. She has been her whole life. When Cassie meets Kevin Matthews, the new boy, in her sophomore Honors English class, she vows that she will come in first this time. But when her school nemesis, Sterling Carter, decides to move in on her crush first, Cassie decides to take action. Cheating on school assignments, taking her father’s car without permission, and betraying her friends all to try and win the attention of Kevin. Sterling, a.k.a. Fourteen-Karat, is of course one of those perfect girls that everyone wants to be best friend of and secretly despises. Through her desperate schemes, Cassie ends up making a mess of everything—including losing her best friends along the way. Will the queen of second place finally win what she wants most? As Cassie tries to solve the problems she created, she learns the meaning of real friends, her own capabilities, as well as self-confidence.

The Queen of Second Place by Laura Peyton Roberts is a great book to read on a rainy day. Although the plot is clich├ęd and Cassie’s antics are not surprising, Roberts makes the novel enjoyable through her creative writing. Even though the reader can predict exactly what will happen next, there’s still something in this novel that makes the reader want to read on. If you’re the person that enjoys a pointless novel just for the joy of reading, then this is the book for you.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO U.S.A

Being Bindy by Alyssa Brugman

Belinda Grubb, called Bindy, doesn't want to face changes; she wants her life to stay as it is with her best frienf Jane Madden, her dad, and brother Kyle. 8th grade starts out to be the ultimate test for Bindy; should she accept Janey's new popular friends and conform to their "cool" habits or stay behind while everything changes around her? Every aspect of her adolescent life changes quickly: her mom seems to care more for her boyfriend than parenting; school becomes unbearable when Janey and Hannah, a rich girl who thinks abbreviations are SVC (so very chic), taunt her for being a baby; and her father and Janey's mother start going out. The stress grows until Being Bindy reaches a climax with Janey passing around Bindy's underwear during a school assembly by Bindy and her brother Kyle. Can the girls get over their differences and remain best friends? Only time will tell when one is in eighth grade.

Alyssa Brugman's Being Bindy is unique among novels highlighting early adolescent issues because of the author's Australian influence and references throughout the novel. This shows how teens around the world are so similar yet have different educational systems. The book is a quick read and enjoyable because of the author's simple style and approach. I doubt Being Bindy will be a best seller, however, because of its similarity to other books aimed at young adolescents such as the Alice books by Phyllis Naylor and because it doesn't seem as captivating as The Princess Diaries for instance. I really liked the Australian references; it was something new and a great exposure to other world societies.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO USA

Shadowqueen by Debbie Federici and Susan Vaught

Brenden(Bren) and Jasimina(Jazz) have defeated the Shadowmaster, but have also lost Jazz to the cold grip of death in doing so. Bren misses Jazz. He has rebuilt the path with his brother and now all he wants is his girlfriend, Jazz, back. When Bren learns that there is a chance for him to get Jazz back, he sets his mind on taking that chance. But where Jazz is, few have dared enter, and even fewer have come back. Jazz is in Talamadden, and all she wants is to get back to Bren. And with the aid of a blue peacock, she intends on exiting Talamadden and going back home. Jazz needs to get back home. A spy has entered L.O.S.T., and it is Jazz's duty as queen of L.O.S.T., to make sure the spy doesn't harm her people. When, with the help of Bren, Jazz is free from Talamadden, she must hurry with Bren to stop the spy. When Jazz and Bren reach L.O.S.T., they find a battle raging. The battle leads Jazz back to Talamadden with Bren, where the new Shadowmaster lies in wait to kill them.

I liked this book. What I liked about it was the fact that the relationship of Bren and Jazz seemed to be all consuming to Bren and Jazz. When Jazz was in Talamadden, all she could think about was how much she wished she was with Bren, and all Bren could think about was how much he wished he was with Jazz. Jazz had more important matters on her mind while she was in Talamadden, like how was she going to get out or how would she get out in one piece? While Bren had to think about all of his people, and to make sure that his brother didn't do something stupid. When Bren and Jazz reunite, their relationship stays strong and grows stronger even though they act like jerks to each other, and that was the best thing - they could love each other and be complete jerks to each other at the same time. I also thought the book was good because Jazz and Bren continually had to overcome all the attacks on L.O.S.T. while they had to deal with the major problem on how to make their powers separate, or how to get Todd from being a complete jerk. It was interesting to see them trying to stop one thing while they had to fix another.

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

The Summer King by O.R. Melling

On the anniversary of her twin sister, Honor’s death, Laurel travels back to Ireland to finish something her sister never accomplished. After having strange dreams, Laurel is compelled to learn about the faerie world, though she does not believe in faeries. But when a strange, “roly-poly” man appears to her appealing for help to finish the mission Honor started, Laurel thinks it’s her duty to finish it and rescue Honor. What Laurel doesn’t know is that the journey is filled with danger, mystery, and excitement. She gets help from Ian, a boy she’s known since she was young. Together, Laurel and Ian face terrifying attacks from otherworldly creatures, including water faeries and raven-people. She is given guidance from the wise golden eagle and she manages to ally herself with one of the most powerful woman pirates, Grace O’Malley. Laurel’s goal is to return the Summer King back to the faeries so that he in turn will light the Ring of Fire. If she fails her mission, everything will be lost, both in the faerie world and the human world.

When I first started the book, I had to force myself to get through the first half of the book. I wasn’t getting interested in the story. But the story turned when the action began. O.R. Melling’s descriptions of Ireland really helped the story. I was interested in the faerie world, so I wanted to see how she depicted them. I also liked the history that she threw in, with Grace O’Malley. There were some twists thrown into the plot, which really livened up the story. I did not see the ending coming and I was really surprised. I’m glad that I finished reading the novel. I would recommend this to lovers of fantasy. As this is part of a quartet, I will look for the remaining stories and hopefully they will be entertaining as well.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sign of the Crescent by Debbie Federici

This book starts out with an introduction to Taryn. Taryn has just lost her grandmother, and is suffering heart break because of the lost. Mean while teenagers are getting snatched by some unknown source, and going out at night for teens is getting riskier. There are people from the world, Neworld, whose job is to protect the teens from earth, Oldworld. Erick is one of those people. One night, when Erick is out trying to stop the kidnappings, he comes across Taryn. Erick is dispatched far away from Taryn, and her rescue seems impossible. When the Zumarian warrior, working for the bad guy, comes to take Taryn he grabs her. Whenever a Zummarian warrior grabs a person of the Oldworld they immediatly freeze, but Tary doesn't freeze when grabbed, Taryn fights back. Erick, who witnesses this, knows there is something different with Taryn, and goes to meet her. Erick and Taryn build a relationship over time, but one night Taryn is taken, and Erick decides it is time to attack the bad guy. Taryn is confronted with the bad guy and learns that he is her father. Taryn is presented with a choice that will decide the future for everyone. Taryn is left with the choice to choose love or power, and whichever way she chooses she betrays someone.

This book is about choosing. Throughout the book the characters are met with choices. Taryn faces the choice between love and power, while Erick faces the choice between following the rules and following the heart. The choices the characters choose are pretty alike, but one does the right thing while the other does the thing that goes against what is considered right. I thought the book was interesting because it showed how heavily the choices weighed upon each character. It showed how the characters ended up at least trying to do the right thing, but how their choice always seemed to out weigh the other choice. The characters were interesting together because one character knew what was going on while the other was learning. The characters were also interesting because they were different. One of the characters was a warrior, in perfect health, while the other was more of a thinker, who had to fight hearing loss and was battling a disease. Their differences extended deeper than that since one of the characters was born into a good family while the other was born into an evil family.The story itself was pretty good. The author did a very good job in describing the scenes in detail, and the thought processes that the author wrote for the characters were also detailed, and because of that the reader could get more of an insight into who the characters were. This book was a good book that could hold the readers interest easily and had main characters that you could easily like and antagonists that you hated but pitied.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona U.S.A.

Foxmask by Juliet Marillier

Thorvald, at the age of 18 years, has just been told about his true parentage. He immediately sets on a mission to find his father, with the help of his friend, Sam, an experienced sailor. What Thorvald doesn't expect is that his other friend, Creidhe, stows away on the boat and isn't found until it's too late to turn back. So the three journey together where they come across the Long Knife People. After hearing their story, Thorvald and Sam decide to stay on and help. Thorvald also believes that Asgrim, the leader of the Long Knife People is his father, so he decides to become a great warrior to make him proud. What he doesn't realize until too late is that Asgrim had other plans for Creidhe and when those plans go awry, she is thought to be dead. Instead, Cheidhe is on the Isle of Clouds, the exact place where the Long Knife People fight year after year to find Foxmask, the seer of their enemy. Thorvald makes it his mission to train the men to become true warriors and return Foxmask to his rightful place. On his journey, Thorvald learns about power, hope, sorrow, love and the importance of family.

Not being an avid fan of fantasy, I was a bit apprehensive when I first got this book, it being over 500 pages. After getting through the beginning, I couldn't put the book down. Thorvald's journey is fascinating. Juliet Marillier has a way of describing characters and places. With all the twists and turns in the novel, it was hard to predict what would happen next. I went from loving a character to hating them. This was the first book I've read by Juliet Marillier, but now I can't wait to read the rest. I'd recommend Foxmask to fantasy readers and nonreaders alike. I thought that this book was amazing and I can't wait to read more by Marillier.

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

Spain or Shine by Michelle Jellen

Overshadowed by her other siblings, Elena feels like she never stands out. So she takes a once in a lifetime opportunity to study for a semester in San Sebastian, Spain. In Spain, she quickly becomes friends with outgoing Jenna, which leads her to experience many new things in Spain, from visiting Tapas bars to relaxing on the beach everyday. But Elena also has her playwriting on her mind as she wants her play to be selected to be performed for the school. Adding to her stress is the cute boy Miguel she has her eyes on. But when Elena meets her namesake, her great aunt Elena, things seem to make sense and Elena learns that she shouldn't feel hidden by other people.

I thought that this book was cute. I love reading books that take place in other countries, so I loved the descriptions of San Sebastian and Madrid. I think that there was a good mix of everything in this book, romance, culture, suspense. I was a bit disappointed in the ending. But overall, I enjoyed reading this book. As this is only one of the books in the Students Across the Seven Seas series, I look forward to reading the others soon.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA