Monday, May 29, 2006

The Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey

The Callahan Cousins: Summer BeginsAuthor: Elizabeth Doyle CareyISBN: 0316736902 Summary: At first, it would seem that The Callahan Cousins couldn't be more different if they tried. Kind, worrisome Kate loves baking. Phoebe is a perfectionist who likes order, cleanliness, and bohemian fashion. Neeve has lived all over the world and has a sophisticated flair. Hillary is still reeling from her parents splitting up and thinks up ways to rebuild her family. When these four get together for a parent-free summer at their grandmother's house, they bond almost immediately. They are twelve years old and determined to take over the world - or, at least, ride their bicycles around Gull Island and stir up an old family secret or two!

This is a good, clean story, just right for a breezy summer read. The book is suitable for ages 8 and up. Each reader will find a character to relate to, as each cousin has a distinct style, appearance, and main interest. Though the girls do engage in a little feud with another family on the island, their intentions are well-meant; they attempt to plant a flag in an attempt to mimic something their fathers did twenty years early. This summer does not only give each girl a self of independence, but one of togetherness, of family.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Pish Posh by Ellen Potter

Pish Posh is the place to be in New York City. Superstars and wannabes dine at the aptly named restaurant, craving attention and enjoying the fabulous food. Each person secretly hopes that he or she will not be deemed the next Nobody, and everyone there fears the person who would deliver that verdict: an eleven year old little girl. Clara Frankofile, daughter of the Pish Posh owners and chef, wears a black dress everyday (she has hundreds of the same outfit) and looks down on people through her tinted sunglasses. What she says goes. An actress who walked in as the It Girl may be declared a Nobody before she is done with her meal.

Though I like Ellen Potter's Olivia Kidney series, I found myself wanting more from Pish Posh than I ultimately got. It begins as a sarcastic take on society and celebrity, which I liked, but the focus changed not once but twice before the story was through. Based on the jacket summary, I thought I was in for a cross between the book So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld and the film To Catch a Thief, as Clara befriends a girl barely older than her who is a jewel thief. It then became a story about past lives, in a way. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say it fell a little short of my expectations. Still, Potter delivers descriptive and funny writing, and I'll certainly continue to pick up her novels.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 23

Jack's Knife by Beverly Wood and Chris Wood

Jackson Kyle is your typical 14-year-old boy. His best friend is Al McMann, a 90-year-old former Alaskan marshal. After a baseball game, a mysterious dog turns up and takes one of the baseballs. When Jack chases the dog down the street, she leads him into a bush and through a fence, but he doesn't just turn up on the other side of the fence. He finds himself in Juneau, Alaska in the 1930's. Confused, Jack tells Captain Harper, a local captain of a ship, everything that has happened. Captain Harper tells Jack about another boy who was brought to Juneau by this dog. He was only returned home when he did exactly what the dog wanted him to do. Now, to return to his own time, he must correct an error in time and save a life from jail.

I thought that Jack's Knife, by Beverly Wood and Chris Wood, was a good book. The fact that a few of the characters in the book were based off of real people was really interesting. Every character's personality changed throughout the plot of the story. The best quality of the book was that one event led to another. The book stayed to the story and didn't skip around much. I reccommend this book to any dog-lovers and anyone who loves books that foreshadow alot.

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

Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn by Sarah Miller

Gideon Rayburn has a twist of fate when he mananges to secure a position in a fancy prep school. From day one, his life is completely changed. His new roommates, Cullen and Nicholas, influence him to do drugs, drink, and even make a bet for him to lose his virginity. With so many girls around, Gideon does not know how to act around them or who he really likes. Through the course of his first term of boarding school, he learns a lot about his personality and what is really important in relationships.

What is different about this book is that it is told through the voice of a girl who is "inside his mind". She is one of the girls Gideon comes face to face with at his prep school, and the thrill of reading this is to find out the identity of the girl. That was the main reason why I finished this book. Gideon was a cute character, but I couldn't get into this story. Maybe I would have liked it better being told through a girl's perspective, but that would defeat the purpose of the story. It was nice reading about what guys think, but I don't think this was the best book. Maybe I will like Miller's next novel more.

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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fingers by William Sleator

Humphrey hadn't been doing to well in his last concerts. Now that he is a big man, and not a little boy, people don't want to see him play anymore. When he was younger, he played great for his age, and people thought he was so cute. Now, his music isn't played like a real musician, and he is no longer cute. Bridget, Humphrey's stepmom and Sam's mom, comes up with a great idea to make it seem like Humphrey created music from the ghost of a famous dead composer. The plan works out great, and Humphrey is once again famous. Until, all of a sudden, it seems like Humphrey is actually composing the music from the dead musician. Will all the strange events like an old man knowing he exact notes that was changed by Humphreys dad, Luke, be coincidence? Or is it something out of the supernatural?

This was a really eerie book. It made you think and wonder what could have caused the coincidences in the story. The author kept me wanting to know what happens, and he kept me bound to the book. I always wondered what would eventually happen at the end. The ending was very good, and made me say "o my gosh" over and over to my self. The author wrote the bok with just the right amount of details, so I wasn't bored at all while reading.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lutherville, Maryland United States of America

Archer's Quest by Linda Sue Park

Chu-mong fell off his tiger and apparently lands in Kevin’s room. Chu-mung tells Kevin call him Koh, Chu-mong the skillful archer but, Kevin insists on calling him Archie or Archer. Archie follows Kevin to the computer which Archie calls a magic box and finds two facts, one he already knows, the other one was that Archie changed his name, when he was king in the time of 55 B.C.. Kevin decides that they would go to the history museum. Archie couldn’t go in the museum because of his bow and arrows. Once, Kevin entered the Korean section of the museum, he realizes that all the things they had were way too recent. It only went as far back as the 1800’s. Kevin decides to talk to Mr. Lee and learns that Archie brought the chopsticks over to Korea from China. Since, Chu-mung’s time was Mr. Lee’s favorite time in history, Kevin knew that he would go on and on about useless information that Kevin didn’t need to know. So, Kevin cuts Mr. Lee short and ran out the door to the awaiting Archie. Kevin has the idea to go to the zoo to see what Archie would do if he sees a tiger. When they go to the zoo, Archie disappears and Kevin finds him inside the tiger cage, petting the tiger. Then Archie climbs out. While going to find another tiger that is metal, they are followed by Mr. Lee. Chu-mung gets on the tiger, Mr. Lee grabs him to take him back to the museum, unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, Kevin figures out that it’s the year of the dirt now and it was they year of metal when Chu-mung lived, Kevin decides to spreads dirt all over the tiger and Chu-mung. Chu-mung disappears.

At first the book, Archer’s Quest was not very interesting however, as I read on it caught my attention. Although I found this book to be an easy read. The book was exciting because, I love books where kids solve the mysteries and in this book Kevin figures out how to get Archie back to his time. At least that is what I think happens. The author kind of leaves you guessing as to what really happens. This book was very unpredictable! The ending was shocking, I thought that Kevin was going to wake up from a dream! I learned that zoos were once called the garden of intelligence. But, I didn’t really learn anything else. I felt as if this book should have been written for lower than the average fifth grade reading level. I was able to finish this book in just one day. Nothing stood out in the author’s writing style. I have not read anything else by this author but, I think that I would love any of her books, comparing them to this book. I think the author could have improved this story by making the first chapter catch your attention. The author could have also improved this book by explaining what happened to Archie. Can Kevin figure out how to get Archie back to his time or not? Was Archie sent to another time in history, not his time? Is Kevin Dreaming?

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

Saturday, May 20, 2006

King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork is the story of a sophomore boy named Tom, who is your average, unexpected protagonist. He is a loser. He gets beat up in school, chicks aren’t into him (well not at first anyway), his home-life is messy, he loves and truly appreciates Rock and Roll, and has only one friend like figure. Yet he still manages to view the world through a cynical, witty, and slightly askew eye. Throughout the book he yearns to sew the mystery of his father’s death into his present, by reading his father’s old books and tracking down people his father once knew. He struggles with ever bewildering females and the poor, inane educational structure of AP classes. He is constantly trying to avoid the brainwashed normalcy of the Catcher cult, and humor his hippie-wannabe mother and “cool” new stepfather. All this while trying to play one song in unison with his band.

There are many words in the English language but only one that I can think of to describe this book, amazing. At least it was for me and the type of kids who want to be Bob Dylan, and thinks that the Velvet Underground was the best thing to come out of the Factory. It’s definitely a book for the sardonic Rock and Roller of the world, as it is chocked full of witty, sarcastic, tones and 60s pop culture references. The great thing about this book is that it takes everything you’ve ever thought about cool, redefines it, and makes it much, much better. When reading the book, you can see a little part of your life mirrored in one of the characters, whether it is Tom, his best friend, his illicit lovers, or his inept parental units. It is not a particularly good choice for readers who are not comfortable with sexual innuendo, but it is a great choice if Rock and Roll, bad movies, and uncertainty make up the bulk of your life.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Erlanger, Kentucky USA

Monday, May 15, 2006

George Washington; First in War, First in Peace by James A. Crutchfield

The book gives a concise narrative of the life of George Washington, from birth until death. It makes every attempt to debunk popular myths about our nation's first president, and gives as much historical information as possible without making the book overly pedantic.

All and all, the book was a pleasant read. Imagine my surprise upon finding a book that actually had historical subsistence and wasn’t overly dense. The Flesch-Kincaid level, for the passage I randomly picked, pegged at 12.0, but I find that hard to believe. If I had read this book as a senior, heads would have rolled. Fine read, yes; reflective of grade level, no. The book, I would think, could be easily approachable for middle school, granted that it’s not a “throw-me-into-the-deep-end” read, but even then, it may be achievable for some. I have few real complaints about the book. The biggest that I have is the lack of maps. Personally, I come from upstate New York and have resided in Pittsburgh (you’ll see what I mean when they start hashing out Pittsburgh’s three different rivers during the Fort Duquesne/Fort Pitt skirmish. Even I had to pay attention to remember which river was which), so I was quite familiar with the areas being discussed throughout the book. Someone, especially a middle schooler, from anywhere else would have a hard time keeping geographical track of things, and unless they’re a devotee of history, reading about events that are 200+ years old while trying to keep track of then-General Washington’s movements is not conducive to gaining someone’s interest. Next, while the book tries to not put Washington on a pedestal, like most do, it still has the aura of it. There are a few attempts in the book to show Washington’s “human” nature, but even then, these descriptions are quickly followed by “but then he got right up and persevered!”-ims. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but come now. Other than that, like I said, the book was quite readable and not historically dense. I give the book a 7 because, frankly, I don’t think I’d read it again, nor would I recommend it to anyone. If someone came up to me and specifically said: “I need a book that details all of Washington’s life briefly, and details major events in an easy-to-read format,” only then would I mention this book. This shouldn’t deter you from considering it. If you have a budding interest in the Revolutionary War period, this book will give you solid footing in the names, events, treaties, and nuances of the time. If you already know a lot about the Revolutionary War, you could safely pass the book up for something more investigative. In brief: good beginner book, good book to get someone interested in the time period, good book to hack through together as a class, perhaps; but hardly fulfilling for someone that has Revolutionary War knowledge and a decent grasp of the diplomacy of that era.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Rochester, New York United States

Saturday, May 13, 2006

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

She's half Taiwanese, from her crazy mother, and half caucasian, from her almost non exsisting father. She's a lonely freshman and tells it like it is. She is Patty Ho. Her overprotective, very strict mother sends her to summer math camp when Patty's fortune teller grandmother says she is going to meet a white man. Patty is furious when she finds out that she is going to camp while her suck up brother does nothing. So she is sent off to Stanford with no tendency of enjoying it. She is glad that she is getting away from the classmates who tease her but the thought of leaving her best friend makes her week to the knees. What she doesn't know is math camp at Stanford might not be so bad after all.....

For me, the book overall wasn't that interesting. At the very beginning of the book, the second paragraph, didn't make me want to read more. It was kind of weird and almost gave the wrong impression. I started to read more and I just couldn't get into it. There were some parts that were suspenseful and exciting but after a few pages, it got kind of dull. The excitement faded out. To me, I felt there was no plot. All the book focused on was that Patty Ho was half Asain and half white. I also couldn't relate to the book. It was hard to understand where Patty Ho was coming from being half and half. Headley used excellent description and I could the see the situations in my head as I was reading it but it didn't grab my attention.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 4
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Villa Hills, Kentucky USA

Girl in Development by Jordan Roter

In this cross between The A-List and Gossip Girl, this book provides a new look on the hardships of making it in Hollywood. Samantha Rose has been given an internship at a film company as a graduation present. Moving from the East Coast is a big deal, and Sam feels like she may not fit in like her cousin, Kate. As she gets into the West Coast way of life, she starts getting along with Kate, starts to get involved in scriptwriting and even starts to have a relationship with a hot co-worker. But just when Sam thinks she's on top, she realizes that she may not be getting credit for everything she deserves and goes about doing something to get back.

When I first saw this book, I thought it would be just like one of those books out there like the A-List books, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were likeable and the story was interesting as well. I loved the little quotes at the top of each chapter. This is a great summer read and I'm looking forward to the next book this author writes.

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

Desert Blood 10pm/9c by Ronald Cree

Gus Gonzales, is a fourteen year old boy who has just been adopted by a twenty-six-year old famous actor. Despite it's glamorous appearance Gus' life is far from perfect. A group of upperclassmen make it their business to humiliate him daily. Some have even threatened to kidnap him. Find out what happens to Gus in this fast-paced action/mystery novel Desert Blood 10pm/9c

Desert Blood is a fast-paced Hollywood mystery full of movie stars, annoying paparazzi, and crazy fans. The characters are vivid, likable, and easy to relate to. This book will capture the interest of readers, regardless of what genre they fancy. The book is humorous, with a superb ending that was unpredictable, but yet it is believable. The surprising twist makes reading the book worth while. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to people who like action/mystery books. I look forward to reading the author's next book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Starkville, Mississippi USA

The Year the Gypsies Came by Linzi Glass

The Year the Gypsies Came, by Linzi Glass, is a heartbreaking yet heartwarming novel set in apartheid Johannesburg, South Africa. The story is about tomboy Emily Iris, her older, flawless sister Sarah, and their self-centered, bickering parents, who welcome travelers and vagabonds into their home to ease their constant arguing and create the fa├žade of a perfect home. Buza, the elderly Zulu watchman, is Emily’s constant companion, along with her sister. One year, when Emily is 12 years old, her parents invite the Mallorys, a “gypsy” family of traveling rovers – a wildlife photographer, his wife, their mentally retarded son Otis, and their younger son Streak, who is Emily’s age- to stay with them. The Mallorys’, a dysfunctional family in themselves, frighten everyone, especially Emily, and Emily and her family are transformed and devastated by their stay.

Linzi Glass has created a beautiful story of love, tragedy, and hope. The eloquence of her writing raises the English language to a whole other level of brilliance. Johannesburg, the author’s native city, is elevated to a state of exquisiteness. Emily Iris and other endearing characters will capture your heart, just like this book. The Year the Gypsies Came is a definite must-read.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aurora, Colorado United States

Grand and Humble by Brent Hartinger

This book is about two boys, Harlan and Manny. Harlan is having terrifying premonitions that leave him questioning them. Manny is having nightmares that he thinks are concerning his past. Little do the boys know that their problems have to do with their past and present lives. It turns out they know less about their past than they thought.

I thought this book was an excellent book! It was compelling, adventerous, and psychological - all in one book. I was not able to put it down. I also hope that their is an equally thrilling sequel. Everybody thought I was crazy walking around while trying to read that book because it was such a page turner.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Minooka, Illinois America

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Second Life of Linus Hoppe by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Linus Hoppe is a student currently living in Realm One. After he takes the exam by the Great Processor that decides which realm he will be in, he swaps scores with his friend, Yosh. He thought it would be fun living in Realm Two, but he is treated terribly and cannot see his friends anymore. When a girl named Toscane comes to talk to him, he is forced into hiding. With the help of a few of his friends, he must try to stop the Great Processor and all the exams to creat one big realm.

I thought that The Second Life of Linus Hoppe was put together very well. The characters all had there own importance and skill in the book when it was needed most. Sometimes it was hard to understand the book. That was mainly at the beginning of the book when they were introducing all the realms and characters though. What I thought was one of the best aspects of the book was that at first it told three storys that didn't mean anything but toward the end everything tied in well. I recommend this book for anyone who wants a good sci-fi book or even an adventure book to read.

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

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A LIttle Honesty by Jonathan Pearce

In A Little Honesty is a book about 16 year old Zack Burnross who is dealing with a lot in his life. His father is developing Alzheimer's, and his much younger mother is having an affair with the town scammer. He also has to deal with two girls; One violent and hormone prone the other a news paper journalist with a appetite not only for food... both are much older than him. He goes to a physiatrist because his teacher believes he is weird. To top it off he has to go to summer school or he can't achieve his dream of becoming a Supreme Court Justice.

When I first picked this book up I thought it would be a run-of-the-mill "how I got through summer school" book. I was wrong. The author uses a somewhat basic plot--a teenage boy going through summer school-- and transforms it into something exciting and fun to read. There are a lot of colorful characters: from a talking cat named Ally, to a private eye poet. These characters add a pleasant charm to the novel. This book is humorous which is a major plus. It keeps you interested and looking forward to the next joke. There were some things left unexplained that I wanted to know, for instance, how the boy could comprehend the speech of animals. Overall, this is an average book that is worthy of reading.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Starkville, Mississippi USA

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dr. Susan's Weight Loss Book for Girls by Dr. Susan Bartell

I loved the book. It is written perfectly for the mid to high school student. It gives proper nutritional advice that is easy to understand and doable. Girls will be drawn to the colorful pages. The exercises are well explained and the chapter flow logically and carefully. It covers some excellent concerns with dieting and issues that can result. It teaches young women the proper way to LIVE not DIET! I will recommend this book wholeheartedly in my library!

Danna G. Williams
Library Media Specialist - NBCT
4208 Chieftain Lane
Jonesboro, AR 72401
(870)910-7819 x128
dwilliams@nettletonschools.net