Thursday, December 21, 2006

Frogs and French Kisses

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

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

Reviewer: PS

Secrets of a South Beach Princess by Mary Kennedy

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

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

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

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey

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

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

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

Beyond Basketball by Mike Krzyzewski

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

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

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Confessions of a Beauty Editor by Linda Wells

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

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

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

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff

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

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

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sasquatch by Jeff Meldrum

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

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

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

The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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

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

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

Wide Awake bt David Levithan

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

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

Content:Some sexual content and discriminative slang terms.

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

Rogue Angel: Destiny by Alex Archer

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

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

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

Room For One More by Devra Newberger Speregen

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

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

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

All You Need Is Love by Emily Franklin

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

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

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