Saturday, May 31, 2008

Catwalk by Deborah Gregory

In the fashion industry, only the most talented models
make it to the big time. The main characters of this book
go to Fashion International, the school where it doesnt
matter where you come from but it's what you wear that
counts. The Catwalk competition is the only way to get
the true prize or a job working with fashion. This novel
shows the rewards while drama weaves its way through to
see who will truly last to come home with the
prize.

Catwalk used language that truly exemplified the
general feeling of attitude that is shown throughout the
chapters. The characters also carried this attitude
through the way they talked and acted. This book used
terms that were a bit confusing at times such as blang
which is bling squared. This book was a bit of a slow
read for me because it didn't catch my attention.
Cattiness set aside, I would recommend this for a younger
age group and to people who are interested in the fashion
world.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and
Country: Richmond, Virginia United States of America

A Horse of Her Own by Annie Wedekind

There is nothing in the world that fourteen year old Jane loves more than horses. Especially Beau, the horse she rides over at the local barn, Sunny Acres. While she loves Beau to death she still wishes that she had a horse to call her own. Even though Beau is not her own, Jane is excited to learn that she will get to ride him at riding camp this summer. Whats even more exciting is that she gets to spend six weeks with her best friend Robin. The down side is she will have to endure that group of rich girls whose favorite thing is to tease her. Just after camp begins though Jane receives devastating news. Beau has been sold. Janes heart breaks as she realizes her trusted companion is gone and so are her chances of participating in the end of summer show. All hope is not lost though. When Janes trainer offers her the chance to help train a new horse Lancelot, who is a little rough around the edges but has great potential. Jane is a little leery, but eventually she realizes that she cant say no. With the help of the new stable boy Ben, Robin, and her trainer Susan, Jane embarks on a journey of hope and self-discovery that will change the way she sees everything.

A Horse of Her Own was a great book. I really enjoyed the compassion embedded in the pages and felt so connected with Jane. While I am not a horse-savvy person I felt that it was very easy to follow the story. I loved how Jane was able to discover herself in such an original tale. The other characters were also well developed. While Jane is definitely the center of the story I liked how the author put the spotlight on some of the other characters too. It gave a refreshing variety to the story and made me enjoy the book that much more. For fans of horse stories this is definitely a book for you, but even those who arent still pick up the book -it is definitely worth your while. It is a beautifully written novel about truly discovering yourself and learning to get back up when youre pushed down.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Currituck, NC U.S.A

Friday, May 30, 2008

How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart

After getting her mothers test results back, Jesse needs
to get away from reality. What better way to forget about
it all then a road trip with her crazy, fun loving best
friend Vicks! It's a perfect plan until of course the new
girl invites herself along. With few belongings, and all
the reasons in the world to leave the real world for a
weekend, these three unlikely girls make their way to
Miami Florida. Together, with the help of Jesses moms
beaten up car, some mangos, and a credit card, these polar
opposite girls find love, friendship, and themselves.

E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle did an
amazing job together on this book. Since each chapter was
from Mel, Vicks, or Jesse's point of view, you really got
the in-depth perception of the road trip. I loved all the
witty remarks between people, and the love is in the air
feel. I thought this book was funny, realistic, and
sweet. If you're looking for a good book, and a good
laugh, you should defiantly read this book!
Inappropriate language, and sexual content.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Seaside, OR US.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

Two brothers, Haydn and Ewan, have to deal with more than
the loss of their mother. One night while they were
sleeping, Ewan had a dream that called him to an arch they
discovered, which turned out to be a portal to a new land
of Karac Tor. His brother followed him into the portal.
They met several people in this new land. Flogg the gnome,
Sorge the warrior monk, Asandra the mirling, and several
other characters become their allies. The boys discover
that this land is slowly falling to the evil sorceress,
Nemesia, and that they were Called to stop her. Working
bravely for the defeat of Nemesia, they face revenge,
kidnapping, deceit, and mysteries that aren't so easy to
solve.

As I started to read The Book of Names I was
overcome with how unique and awesome it was. I can't
exactly put my finger on what was so amazing, but this
book possesses strong qualities that are wonderful for a
fantasy. The characters are extremely diverse in
personality, and there are several with great character
foil. I love the vocabulary because it made me pay
attention better to the words instead of just flying
through the story. The plot is extremely well-developed
through the entire story. However, many events happen near
the end that I couldn't comprehend as much because they
didn't have enough detail. Overall, The Book of Names was
a very good read and I recommend it to any fantasy
lover.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and
Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg

Never tell white people what they don't want to hear. This is the motto Addie Ann Pickett has lived by all her life, but now that she is growing up she has more responsibilities and is getting a much clearer picture of how unfair America is to African Americans in 1963. It doesn't matter how ugly Mrs. Worth's hat is, you are not allowed to smirk at it. And if you do, your brother may disappear. And it doesn't matter that Old Man Adams left his garden to everyone in the town of Kuckachoo-whites and Negroes alike. As long as the sheriff and mayor are in charge of the land, you won't ever get to see the vegetables planted in it. But when Addie Ann's Uncle is framed for a crime he did not commit, it's up to her to learn that sometimes you have to speak up if it means doing what's right.

I loved reading A Thousand Never Evers. I got it right when school let out and there was no better way to kick off summer vacation than sitting by the pool with this book and a glass lemonade. This book gave me a better understanding of how racial discrimination was legal as little as forty years ago! This book will be great for anyone who wants a good pool side read, but also wants a book that will make them think. An awesome book, A Thousand Never Evers is a one that will make a lasting impression on how you think about America's history.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Casa Grande, Arizona USA

Rating: 9

Content Rating: 1

How To Be a Creative Genius by Gary Unger

How To Be A Creative Genius is a book that consists of a very long checklist of what not to do if you wish to be a creative genius. The sarcasm of the book provides an interesting spin to the topic. Embedded within the checklist are De facto sections. These sections actually tell readers what to do to move towards a creative genius status. The combination of what to do and what not to do creates a unique message for those striving to become creative, to become geniuses, or both. How To Be A Creative Genius is a quick read that can be finished in a 20 minute bus ride.

Even though the sarcastic comments are meant to tell readers what not to do, I wonder if some readers will actually take this advice. This insight initiates my reservation with the book. I would have liked more positive ideas from the text, but the sarcasm makes the De facto sections seem more intriguing. While it is a very unique way to look at the concept, I think it falls short in value. At least it is a short read and it provides a few laughs.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Told in first person narrative, Madapple chronicles the life of Aslaug Datter. Raised by her mother to have a special appreciation of herbs and plants, Aslaug feels trapped in her home. That is, until her mother dies and she has a chance at freedom. Aslaug runs away from the nosy police officers and nosy social worker, and makes her way to the home of her long lost relatives. Aslaug is quickly pulled in by the ideas of her aunt, Sara, and cousin, Sanne, that she was born of a virgin birth, born to be special. But when Aslaug becomes pregnant, Sara and Sanne turn these ideas to the baby and Aslaug is once again trapped in her life. She must now decide whether to escape and start a life of her own or continue to be imprisoned by others.

I thought Madapple was a very interesting and philosophical book, but it wasn't
something I would typically read. I did really like the format of the book- a chapter of Aslaugs musings followed by excerpts from her trial. It really gave the book a sense of fullness and completeness. Madapple presented some new ideas and stayed interesting, but I was a little bothered by the suggestions of incest.

sexual content and suggestions of incest

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States

Angel by Cliff McNish

Freya has finally recovered from years of seeming insanity, stemming from a memory of seeing an angel. Now she has moved to a new school, given herself a makeover, and befriended a popular girl. She doesn't notice that her father is ill or that her brother is endangering himself by protecting a boy for a bully. To Freya, it seems that her life is finally normal. This quickly changes with the arrival of a dark angel and a strange, angel-obsessed girl named Stephanie, who insists upon befriending her. Freya comes face-to-face with the angel who she saw when she was eight, and learns that she herself is one.



The book Angel veers back and forth between cliche and originality. It is a very character-driven book, with dialogue taking up the majority of the story. While this appeals to me, a fantasy focused on character development must work extra-hard on making the characters believable. The author's depiction of bullies and popular girls borders on stereotypes, with some of the dialogue making me wonder how many teenagers he has actually spoken to within the last three years. Furthermore, he seemed too intent on making the reader understand just how strange Stephanie was, and often managed this by making her utterly irrational. However, at other times, the characters seemed very realistic. Freya's brother Luke, conflicted between a desire to protect a boy named Sam and hesitance to fight, drew me in. The dark angel was one of the most complex characters in the book, far more so than either Freya or Stephanie, and the author did a brilliant job at portraying him.

I enjoyed reading Angel and getting to know the characters, but the pacing threw me off. While offbeat pacing is not necessarily bad, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Freya met Stephanie once before choosing to confide with her, and that the event highlighted in the summaryn--Freya's transformation into an angel--was one of the final events. This could have been forgivable or even an asset, but in the end it felt as if the author had spent too long elaborating on relatively worthless plot points and just ran out of time. The ending, which could have been moving in the right context, felt too rushed. There is a difference between deliberately refusing to wrap everything into a tidy bow and simply ignoring loose ends, and I'm not sure the author realized it.

Very mild references to sexuality.
Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Bellevue, WA United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguie

The back of the book asks, "Will this be the summer that Candace hoped for?" That question sets the tone for Debbie Viguie’s book. Candace Thompson goes through almost anything you could imagine. She starts off by looking for a job, which she finds at "the Zone," a local theme park. One girl tells her there are people who work at the park, people who visit the park, and people who do both, otherwise known as "Zoners". Will Candace be a Zoner or is this STILL just a summer job? As the story goes on, she finds romance, friendship, competition, faith, and a change in her values and how she looks at life.

This book was truly amazing. Even the name of the book pulled me in. As the book went on, it started becoming an obsession. I just had to finish it! The author's description was pretty good. I mean no one likes too much detail, but there could have been a little more. Yet the characters were so well described, I felt like I was in the room with them. Candace, Josh, Becca, Kurt, and Tamara were amazing characters! My final view is that the author achieved what she set out to do: write a great book!!

Rating:9

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Audubon, New Jersey United States

Front Lines by Denise Little

In the short story collection Front Lines, edited and compiled by Denise Little, Corporal Kenso is a weary soldier fighting to protect Earth's colonies from the fierce, alien "Slimies" that are relentlessly attacking the Milky Way. Mollie is a young girl whose incredible, strange powers of healing force her to be out on a battlefield every day, helping to fight a war she doesn't believe in. Leefa Ka is the warrior daughter of the chieftain in her village who foolishly has ridden into a cursed forest haunted by those dead in battle to prove her courage to her father. Lieutenant Conner Davis is the only man left alive in his unit on Aldebaran, one of Earth's colonies that has rebelled and begun a civil war. All of these people are scarred by the myriad horrors of war, the main theme of Front Lines.

As a fan of most different kinds of genres, I liked this book and was hooked by many of the stories. Like with any short story collection, there is a wide range of styles, from humorous to serious and all kinds in between. Because most of the stories are science fiction, I would recommend it to science fiction fans because many of the stories have to do with futuristic warfare on different planets or against invading alien species. Also, most of the stories aren't clich├ęs that have been written about over and over again; they shed new light on being on the front lines of a battlefield, something that most Americans probably haven't experienced. Warfare is a tough subject to both think about and write about, but most of the stories in Front Lines do a great job of making the subject realistic-you often feel as though you are one of the soldiers fighting a hopeless battle against creatures that seem to have no weak points to strike out at. The book really connects well with its readers, and you want the soldiers to succeed in the wars that they each fight. Although the main theme of the book doesn't, in the end, quite hit home as strongly as it's supposed to, it's still a strong presence throughout and will make you think about it as you read. If you're looking for something that's fast-paced and action-packed, but also thoughtful and serious at the same time, take a look at Front Lines.

There are many scenes of violence, seeing as this is a book about war.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Richmond, VA USA

Secrets for Sale

In Secrets for Sale by Kristi Holl, a work of Christian fiction, protagonist Jeri finds herself neck-deep in a case of blackmail against her best friend, Rosa. But the worst part is that Rosa thinks Jeri is doing the blackmailing! Jeri is determined to help her friend and save their friendship. Starting with the most likely suspects, Jeri is sidetracked when Rosa is thrown off the drama team because she did not pay the blackmailer. Miss Kimberly, the drama teacher, seems appalled, but yet . . . not so much. Is there more to Miss Kimberly than meets the eye? Jeri finds out that there is . . . and she barely escapes with her life!

This book does not hide the fact that it is Christian fiction, but it has the added quality of being a mystery. There are some good thrills and chills in it! When Jeri is fighting, literally, for her life, she is rescued by her Dad and credits God with guiding her dad to find and save her. This is unlike many other books, where the rescuer's appearance would be frustratingly random and make me think, "Yeah, right, he just HAPPENED to guess she was in the clock tower!" To me, this was unique and satisfying. I also liked that there was a true villain, and that the characters had to go through real danger and struggles. If you like Nancy Drew, I think you should give this book, and others in the series, a shot.

Reviewer Age:12

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trion Rising by Robert Elmer

What would happen if Jesus came to another planet? Oriannon Hightower of Nyssa is a girl living the good life on the bright side of her planet, Corista. She is an eidich, a person who remembers everything that ever happened to her. Every single detail; she can never forget. But that's exactly what starts to happen when a new mentor of a mysterious background comes to her school. He starts teaching new songs and new ideas, and suspicions arise that he might be a fabled faithbreaker, trying to tempt them away from the teachings of the Maker and the word of the High Assembly. When she discovers that their water supply is being stolen from the people on the dark half of the planet, where the new mentor, Jesmet, comes from, will Oriannon have the strength to do what's right?

I found Trion Rising to be intriguing, the concept of the book alone pulled me in. The characters are really well developed, if a little hard to relate to. The plot sometimes moved in fits and starts, which made it hard to keep going. But as you near the end, the tension builds so much that it left me a little startled when the end came; I wanted to find out what happens next. Her amazing memory aside, Oriannon is just a typical teen, finding ways to talk to her friends in class without getting caught and arguing with her stubborn dad. The way the author used music to convey feelings and tie everything together made it even more powerful. Towards the end, you see many more references to the Bible, and it leaves you curious, on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Shoreview, Minnesota United States

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kandide and the Secret of the Mists by Diana S. Zimmerman

When Kandide is struck by lightning while picking pomegranates in the meadows, her wing is badly damaged. In the society illustrated in this book, those with injuries are not permitted; the 'Imperfects' are removed from society. Kandide, the soon-to-be queen (because of her father's unexpected death), is sent to the Veil, a place built by Imperfects that was begun by her father and by her mother (with a magic spell). There she meets several notable characters, including Jake, Leanne, and Selena, her mother's long-forgotten sister.

With Kandide out of the way characters with large ambitions begin to try to gain control, such as Lady Aron. In order for their mother to live, Teren and Tara, the siblings of Kandide, search for her.

In the end, everything works out for the better. This book covers many categories/genres such as adventure, action, and even a bit of romance.

The writing in this book wasn't really that complex, but it that doesn't mean that readers will collapse from boredom. It is meant for younger readers, around the middle school grades. This is not a book for those in middle school, at least not generally. Kandide was a pretty quick read, and it wasn't at all a masterpiece; but that's not to say that it was a completely terrible work. I had a slight problem with the foods. For a story that takes place in Europe, it seemed a little strange to eat pomegranates, mangoes, and pineapples. It seemed pretty similar to other books that I've read, what with the strange creatures, forgotten family members, and strange lands. It was pretty full of morals, such as acceptance of those that are different and how absolute power corrupts. This book was ok, but not superb. I'd recommend this book to those in search of a short, quick read without a lot of depth, but with plenty of interesting and unusual characters.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston, SC USA

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean

Dolores had never imagined that life in Cape Canaveral could be anything but perfect. She loves the launches, the broadcasts, her family, her friends, and knows everything there is to know about space. She keeps a journal of every launch, dutifully recording all of the relevant facts in order to further her dreams of becoming an astronaut, confirming the details with her NASA technician father and her best friend, Eric. She's the best in her class, her teachers love her, and, most importantly, she's happy. But without warning, everything changes. When her father is fired, Dolores' mother has to go to work, coming home every day too exhausted to do anything but argue. As if that weren't enough, Dolores enters high school a year early, finding herself among older strangers who tease her for her intelligence. And the worst is yet to come, because although Dolores doesn't know it yet, the Challenger launch is fast approaching and soon she'll be forced to face her greatest nightmare.

Although it starts out slow, The Time it Takes to Fall proves worth the wait. Margaret Dean has created a masterful first novel, certainly an example of historical fiction at its best. While most first time authors would focus on the effects of the Challenger tragedy on a would-be astronaut, Dean instead writes about characters-- unique, lovable, characters -- who are all entirely, believably human. These characters connect the reader to the book, and even the most unenthusiastic reader will find him- or herself sympathizing as he or she is drawn into their lives. A reluctant historical fiction reader myself, I found that I was actually guessing what would happen next! The plot never falters, and the characters only get stronger as the story goes on. This is one book that's certainly worth a read!

Although parts of the book seem to be geared toward younger readers, there is a sex scene and a rather frightening description of the deaths of the Challenger astronauts. Many characters smoke.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: , Maryland United States

Likely Story by David Van Etten

Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer MDG

Mallory's life feels like it should be a TV show: her mother's an actress on a popular soap opera and her boyfriend won't break up with his girlfriend. Mallory needs less drama in her life, not more. So when she writes her own soap opera, entitled Likely Story, she wants it to be about real people with real problems. However, this seems to cause more catastrophes. Her mother is now jealous, she needs to get her best friend the lead on the show, and she thinks she might be falling for the lead male actor. What's a girl to do?

The best way I can describe this book is that it was okay. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. The plot was interesting; not many normal teenagers have a semi- famous mother, although this made it slightly hard to relate to Mallory. She is a likable character, though her moral compass might be spinning in the wrong direction. For example, she has a boyfriend that already has a girlfriend, which makes me think that she doesn't respect herself. However, this book is part of a series, so hopefully the rest will be better.


Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Thursday, May 22, 2008

She Came From Heaven by Rosanne Pellicane

She Came From Heaven is about an interior designer named Rosanne who is temporarily living alone with her pets in New York City. After a separation, her husband Jim is moving back in after living and working in Washington DC. Jim joins her in their New York house, and starts his own business from home. Life seems to be getting better until Jim's business flounders, and things go terribly wrong. Rosanne's pets become a source of comfort to her during her struggles.

This book started with an interesting premise but failed to hold my attention. The content and vocabulary seemed to be for an older audience. As the book progressed, the emphasis on religion and God became overbearing and seemed to supplant the story line. I would recommend this book to people who are animal lovers and enjoy stories with strong religious messages.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Renton, WA United States

Rating: 4

Content Rating: 4

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mad Kestrel by Misty Massey

Kestrel, a female pirate, leads a life full of adventure. She grew up on the streets, eventually finding work in a local tavern. She then signs on as a crew member of the Wolfshead. One day Kestrel sees a "ghost ship" during a storm. This ship takes shelter in Kestrel's home town's harbor, along with the Wolfshead. While they're there, Kestrel's Captain Artie is arrested and taken on a Navy ship to be hanged. He leaves Kestrel his log book, instructing her to take it to Lig, the King's advisor. Kestrel is left to captain the remaining crew, rescue Artie, and solve the mystery of the Wolfshead log book.

I enjoyed reading this book. It had a good plot and likable characters. The only thing I had trouble with was that it wasn't really a 'page turner'. When I read it, I liked it a lot and got pulled in, but when I had to stop reading halfway through a chapter, I didn't feel all that curious about what would happen next. I think this is probably just me, but that's my opinion. All in all, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Hockessin, DE United States

Dark Well of Decision by Anne Kimberly

Imagine you are a teenaged girl whose curiosity has taken over and you end up inside a cold forbidding well? Thats how thirteen-year-old Zoe feels in the novel Dark Well of Decision by Anne Kimberly. Being a teenager is pretty harsh on Zoe, and when she ends up trapped in a well she is suddenly nursed out of hypothermia by a bunch of five-inch descendants of God, which is when life gets even crazier. She adjusts to life in this miraculous world of Gods miniature creatures, but Zoe realizes that evil captors are gnawing into a safety rope called Jasper. Zoe believes that there is a God, but she doesnt know of the dangers of the devil she is about to face in Dark Well of Decision.

I didn't find Dark Well of Decision as appealing I had intended to, even though I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. The beginning and middle of the novel were a bit boring, and I had to continue reading to let the meanings really sink in and tie everything together. The novel is Christian-based and focuses on good defeating evil. The age level should be lowered to about 7-10 rather than 9-12, because the plot seemed juvenile. Bits and pieces were boring, but the climax drew 100% of my attention.

Reviewer Age:11

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

Sweet Valley High 2, Secrets

For Jessica Wakefield everything pretty much comes easy...or in other words, she gets what she wants. But now what she wants more than ever is to become homecoming queen, and more importantly, to get Bruce Patman. The one thing that is keeping her from getting what she wants is Enid Rollins. Enid is the best friend of Jessica's twin sister Elizabeth. When Jessica finds out one of Enid's deep dark secrets it's only a matter of time before the world would knows. Elizabeth is the only one who can possibly stop her sister before it's too late.

If you're looking for a good easy read at the beach this summer this is a great choice of book! It's a sweet traditional teen story which has your typical mean girl versus good girl plot line. The book could be a little more moving or have some more action just to entertain the reader. This story isn't a page-turner, however it's not boring either. You should definitely put this on your summer reading list!

There are a few swear words and some mature references.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania U.S.

The Morganville Vampires: Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine

Handsome. Charming. Trapped. Dead. Michael is all of those: trapped in the glass house he died in, the handsome and charming crush of Eve, and Shane’s best friend. Eve and Claire, two best friends, live in the same house as Michael while they go to school in Morganville. Life is good, until they get on the bad side of the local police, who just happen to be vampires! Between the psycho, battling vampires, Eve’s un-known brother popping up out of nowhere, and a kick-butt party, this year is sure to be very interesting.

The second in the Morganville Vampire series, Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine starts with a bang! As the first chapter started, I was a little wary; I hadn’t read the prequel, so I was a little unsure of the people and places, and the beginning started fast. Fortunately, Caine left little to be desired in her catch-up and I was ready to press on in no time. The ending wasn't the kind to spoil the whole book, but one that simply closes it (as in, I could tell you how the book ends, but I won't!). The entire book was everything the title evoked in me: fear, wonder at the subject, and a need to know the truth about the Morganville Vampires.

Rating:8

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Marblehead, MA USA

The Schoolboy by Tony Rosa

Sam Parma does not like to golf. He's a baseball player, not a golfer! But one summer morning, his outlook changes quite a bit. Reluctantly entered in the Schoolboy, a junior golf tournament, Sam only participates to please his mother. After all, what's the harm in a day at the golf course? But conflict arises quickly as Sam is grouped with an experienced golfer, a foul-mouthed cheater, and an intimidating bully for the day's golfing. Thus an innocent tournament soon evolves into a test of character where winning is the least of Sam's worries.

Overall, Tony Rosa's "The Schoolboy" is not a bad book, though the exposition is not convincing, and overuse of golf lingo distracts from the story. The book picks up speed as it continues. Laced with life lessons, each chapter serves a specific purpose. Though well-intended, many of these points are too preachy for its audience. That a few hours of golfing could change the main character's outlook on life is not believable, especially considering that the point of view is that of a fourteen-year-old boy. In the words of Rosa himself, "sometimes you just can't make them all."

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tipp City, OH USA

Barefoot by Lizann Bassham

Opal spends her childhood in a small town with her mother's family and friends. Her mother died when Opal was only seven years old and Opal feels that it is her fault, because before her mother died, Opal hadn't been following directions. Her father is off traveling and Opal's dearest cousin has gone to war. Opal is always afraid that if she does the slightest thing wrong, her new family will leave her. But as she grows older, Opal learns that through thick and thin, the people who love her will always be there.

The book was intriguing, and, although slow at first, became more and more entrancing as I got deeper into the story. Lizann Bassham, an amazing author, made detailed scenes that were easy to imagine. Opal and her family went through many tragic events, in which the author captured the emotions of the family, especially when Opal's cousin went off to war. This book shows the pros and cons of small-town living in the 1960's. The realization of Opal's that her family will not leave her is built gradually, which makes for an interesting story. It a sweet, yet sometimes tragic page-turner, and I would recommend it to everyone over the age of ten.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Boothwyn, Pennsylvania USA

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding

When Connie Lionheart's great-aunt and uncle try to keep her away from the Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures, they don't count on her being the most important member, the universal companion who can communicate with all mythical creatures. Connie has to find out why Great-aunt Godiva hates the society so much. In doing so, she discovers a dark part of her family's past. Meanwhile, the evil Kullervo stirs up trouble for the society. When Kullervo starts bringing some of the mythical creatures and their companions to the dark side, who can Connie trust?

I really liked this book. I thought that it would be confusing to someone who hadn't read the first book, Secret of the Sirens, though. The author did a good job creating a subplot with Great-aunt Godiva. The plot moves quickly. I liked how this book had many mythical creatures.

Rating:7

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, New Hampshire United States

Toto! The Wonderful Adventure

All Kakashi wants to do is go on an adventure. Ever since his dad left for one and never came back, Kakashi has been trying to leave his island. When he finally gets the opportunity to climb aboard an airship to leave, the Man Chicken Family (a gang of criminals) tries to stop him. Kakashi is strong enough to stay on the airship, and he eventually lands on the mainland. With a map of the world, his new found dog, and a friend named Dorothy he takes off on the first adventure of his life -- with quite a few complications.

Toto! The Wonderful Adventure was a really cool story. It was an extremely quick read for me, so it would be good for a short wait or in the car. I liked how the beginning introduced so much about the main character, Kakashi. He is unique because he will do anything to take after his father and go on an adventure. The ending leaves you hanging for the second book in the series, but it is definitely a good finish! I liked how there were little references to Wizard of Oz because they were funny. I think most teenage readers would enjoy it and I look forward to reading the second book in the series."

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

Friday, May 16, 2008

From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between by Elizabeth Atkinson

When Alice Bunt moves from the city to the suburbs, she thinks life is going to be perfect. Boy, is she wrong. Alice runs into Zen, a boy from down the street, and he gives the tomboy some information about middle school. They take some magazine quizzes to figure out who Alice should be friends with. It turns out that the results are way wrong and Alice learns not to be what everybody else is, but to act as an individual.

I think From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between is a great book. Elizabeth Atkinson convinced me that the characters were real. Plus, I can relate to Alice and her adventures. This book has a very interesting story line which led to me not being able to put it down. I would recommend this book to anybody who is looking for a nice, easy summer read.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Oakmont, Pennsylvania United States

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beyond The Orphan Train by Donna Nordmark Aviles

Oliver Nordmark has run away from his foster family in
search of his brother who was given to a different
family. On his way, he learns to build sod houses,
harvest wheat, build a barn, grow a garden, and work in
the navy. He also does exiting things like hopping
trains! But when he finally reaches where his brother
was, he's not there. Now Oliver has to relocate him!
Will he ever find him?

This book was very good because it was interesting to
learn about the early 1900's. Although it was an easy
reader, all the facts were true because Oliver was the
author's grandfather! I would highly suggest reading the
first book, "Fly Little Bird, Fly" first so you can find
out more about the orphan train; it was a little confusing
because I haven't read it. Other than that, I loved this
book!

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Gearhart, Oregon United States

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fading Tracks by: Kristi Holl

This book is about Jeri McKane, a girl who attends a fancy
boarding school on a scholarship. Jeri is already having
second thoughts about going to the boarding school when
her best friend's bus never returns from a field trip.
When Jeri tries to help, she gets yelled at. Though
malicious principals and meddling reporters try to stop
her, she never stops trying to do the right thing. She
eventually discovers that the saying "never judge a book
by its cover" is completely true, and that praying can
solve even your most daunting problems.

Okay, let me start by saying that if you start reading
this book, you MUST finish it, be cause the last 3 chapter bring it all together. Holl's unrealistic characters are
very confusing. They seem to change personalities too
quickly, perhaps to make the story line work out the way
the author intended. One example is the boarding school's
principal, who is mean at the beginning, then half way
through turns nice, seemingly overnight. Also the rest of
the characters are either good or evil, there isn't any
gray area. In the end of the book you find out that
everyone and everything is good except the one 'bad guy',
and that all the problems of the book were just
misunderstandings. I think that at least 1 or 2 of the
problems should have been real, because it would have made
the rest of the book more satisfying.

Reviewer
Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, New
Hampshire USA

Fran, The Second Time Around by Amy L. Bernstein

As this book opens, Fran is dreading the first day of high school, a place full of new people she has never met. Mystery surrounds the reasons why she has not continued on with the schoolmates she has known all of her life. Eventually, it emerges that a tragic accident has occurred, one that shocked her family and friends, and dictated her decision to switch schools. The book is divided into three parts, the first describes her life after the accident, the second her life as a popular and carefree middle schooler before, and the third occurs right before, during and after the tragedy. Her parents are supportive, her younger brother Tobey, seems oblivious to her suffering, and her former best friend Tracey has totally rejected her. To help Fran fight her overwhelming depression, her mother introduces her to Peter, who has learned to use meditation to survive the death of both of his parents. Although she initially resists Peters advice, Fran gradually learns to forgive herself. In this book, the reader will discover how people cope with challenges in different ways, and how one girl works to overcome a dreadful situation, and make herself a whole new life.

This book was gripping, from the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I would highly recommend it, especially to middle schoolers or older. The author pulls you into Fran's life by starting the book in the middle and then working backwards. Sometimes it is a little hard to keep track of the characters and time that everything takes place. However, overall it was a really great book. The ending could have been better, it was a little predictable.

This book includes death so some readers maybe react strongly to it.

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

Monday, May 12, 2008

The SFWA European Hall of Fame by James & Kathryn Morrow

This book is a collection of short science fiction stories from Europe that have been translated from their native language into English. The sixteen contemporary stories are vastly different from each other. Some topics that are covered are time travel, paradoxes, aliens, the future, space flight, and other worlds. Many of these stories are not hard science fiction filled with detailed futuristic technology. They are closer to fantasy. Some of the stories are designed to make you think about society and the issues that face our world. Very few of the stories have a genuinely happy ending.

I had mixed feeling about this book. I enjoyed some of the stories, but not others. I felt that a better collection of more classic stories, with at least a few more happy endings, could have been chosen. However, the purpose of this collection was partially to provoke thought, and all of the stories did this. Each story was unique and created its own setting, though the characters and settings could have been more thoroughly described. The lack of detail is mainly due to the brevity of the stories. All in all, you should only read this if you enjoy philosophical science fiction and fantasy that has sad endings. Otherwise, more mainstream collections may be better.

Most of the stories contain violence or death. Additionally, some contain sexual content not suitable to young readers.

Reviewer Age:14

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

Friday, May 09, 2008

Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

"Don't let things fall apart once I'm gone."

That's what Elvira's dad tells her as he packs up his car
to go to Las Vegas for an Elvis impersonation contest.
But when he leaves, it seems like everything starts to
fall apart. Her pregnant mother won't leave the couch,
and her eight year old sister is behaving like she's
three. Elvira feels like everything is up to her, and
it's definitely not fair.

Just when things are getting too hard to handle, a phone
call from Aunt Clare brings the family to Memphis, and a
series of events threatens to push the fragile family
apart. But as time goes on, Elvira begins to realize
that family doesn't have to be perfect, and that
sometimes, you just have to take things as they come.
This feel-good novel about family and forgiveness will win
the heart of girls everywhere, and its intriguing plot
will keep any reader hooked.

This heartfelt story is easy to relate to, and brings
insight into the inner workings of a family. I loved that
the storyline was entertaining and full of laugh out loud
moments. Full of southern charm and dynamic
characters, "Love Me Tender" will satisfy any girl who
loves a good story.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City,
State and Country: Tipp City, OH USA

Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park

Maggie, as most people call her, or Margaret Olivia Fortini,
is one of the biggest Brooklyn Dodgers fans there is. Maggie
lives near the firehouse and has some friends in there. She
listens to every game with them at the firehouse, and even
though she doesn't play the game, she knows a lot about it.
She can recite player statistics, batting averages, innings
and she understands all of the plays. She prays so much but
year after agonizing year the Dodgers still don't win the
World Series. When the firehouse gets a new fire fighter,
Jim, Maggie starts to bond with him over baseball. Then Jim
has to go off to the war in Korea, and the only contact
Maggie has with him is through letters. But what can you do
when your new friend stops sending you letters, while you
worry about his health, and all you can do for the Dodgers
is pray? How can Maggie handle it all?

Linda Sue Park did
a good job and I didn't really want to put it down. It was
an interesting read. I liked this book. I'm not a big
baseball fan but overall it was a good book and I would like
to read more. I would recommend this book to people who like
baseball.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and
Country: Oakville, Pennsylvania United States

Thursday, May 08, 2008

H.I.V.E. The Overlord Protocol by Mark Walden

The Higher Institute of Villainous Education (H.I.V.E.) is an unusual school that focuses on teaching the world’s future dominators. At this school, they teach all the essentials to make your child the best super villain they can be. Otto Malpenese is one of their promising students. Secretly funded by Global League of Villainous Enterprises (G.L.O.V.E.), this special school is constantly in danger from the authorities or other criminal parties. All the danger begins when Otto’s best friend Wing receives word that his father was mysteriously killed in an accident at his lab. When Otto and Wing go to the funeral, they are suddenly ambushed by one of G.L.O.V.E.’s own members, Cypher. Otto just barely escapes and now he must protect his school while seeking his friend’s kidnapper.

H.I.V.E. The Overlord Protocol is a fantastic book. It is full of constant action and deception. This book is hard to put down. Otto is a fantastic character; with his strange ability to absorb knowledge from books, the possibilities seem endless. Wing, Otto’s friend, is also an enormously brilliant addition to the story. It would have been nice if the character Wing would have been better developed throughout the story.

Rating:9

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Hamilton , Ohio USA

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty

In the small town of Olena, lives a quiet girl, named Lily Mathis, with a secret past. When the general store owner's niece, Tinny, comes to visit, everything changes. Tinny steals candy and blames it on Lily. She also tries to steal Lily’s friends and her father's love. Then Tinny disappears and Lily must find her. But it means confronting her hidden past.

This book is terrific! It is very detailed and it feels like you are actually there. I could not put this book down because I wanted to know where Tinny was and how Lily was going to find her! I would go to bed at night dreaming about what I had just read and what would happen next. Of course I was completely wrong about the ending!

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Gearhart, Oregon United States

Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

Cassie Palmer is in trouble. She recently became the Pythia, the most powerful psychic in the world. Unfortunately, she is bound by a spell to a vampire named Mircea. If she completes the spell, she will end up being under his control for the rest of her life. Her only hope is a book named the Codex: a spell book written by Merlin himself that contains the only spell that can release her from Mircea's control. There are only two problems with retrieving the book: the Dark Circle (the bad people) wants the book and the book had disappeared in the seventeenth century. With the help of her friend, Pritkin, can Cassie break the spell and eventually save the world?

The action and the plot in the novel are phenomenal. The author describes a magical scenery and creates many characters. Girls will enjoy the book because of the female heroine, while the boys will enjoy the action. Because this book is the third in a series, it was hard to start off. If you have not read the other books, you may have a difficult time in the beginning, though you will eventually learn who is who and what is what. This book is filled with magic and mystery, yet the level of romance in the book makes in unsuitable for the young adult category. I would have to recommend the book for ages 17 and up.

The romantic content in the book is only suitable for mature readers.

Rating:8

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Pottstown, PA 19464

Throwing Like A Girl by Weezie Kerr Mackey

Ella Kessler moves to Dallas, Texas in the middle of her sophomore year. She expects bland people, country music, and country accents, but she finds more than that. She finds out she has great athletic ability and tries out for the softball team. She makes it but never understands what is going on in the game. On the team, she meets two girls named Mo and Frannie who becime her good friends. Then she meets Sally Fontineau who becomes her enemy. Sally's brother, Nate, is Ella's partner in a marriage project and she tries to avoid girls’ evil looks, and go on with high school with out making any mistakes. She can't keep letting people fight her battles and she has to learn to stick up for herself.

This book was the best. There are several parts in the book when I could not put it down. It also describes in detail how to throw a softball and how to play the game of softball and of life. This is the perfect book for athletes or teens.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Norristown, Pennsylvania USA

Twisted Sisters by Stephanie Hale

Twisted Sisters by Stephanie Hale is and amazing love/mystery book. It is about an eighteen-year-old girl named Aspen Brooks who keeps finding herself solving mysteries. Aspen is a total twirly girly with a capital "TG" who is starting college at the local community college. This book tells you all about Aspen, her hot boyfriend, her incurable diseases and the lunatic, stalking, psychotic boys who fall in love. While at the school Aspen joins a sorority so that she can try to figure out what happened to the member who went missing last semester. But, will she find her, or will someone, maybe even her supposed "sisters," try to take her out of the game? Find out in this amazing sequel to Revenge of the Homecoming Queen.


I really enjoyed this book. Aspen was perfect. She was full of herself, funny, and an amazingly good friend and girlfriend. This book totally captured me and I never once found myself daydreaming or wishing I had read a different book. I totally got the author's purpose and the point of the book. She explains the book so well that you could read it and not read the first, but I wouldn't recommend it, the first book is every bit as engaging. I am so glad that I read this book and I hope that you will be too.

Rating: 10

Content: 1

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas USA

Friday, May 02, 2008

Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli

Everyone at Sophie's house is getting ready for summerhouse time. Then, a new Italian boy, named Jimmy, moves in next to Sophie's real house and she thinks she's in love. When they make it to the summerhouse, everything is normal except Sophie's favorite cousin, Connie, is mean and grumpy. Other than that everything is going great, Cooper is going into the ocean and Jimmy is writing when Orange, the family cat is lost. When you read Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli, you will learn how this family's problem's unravel.

Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli is a great read. I read it in one day because of the adventures Sophie has with her family. I can definitely relate to Sophie because of grumpy relatives, singing relatives, and needy relatives. I like Summerhouse Time because it related to Spinelli's actual experiences in New Jersey. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a good read and a good laugh.

Reviewer Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Oakmont, Pennsylvania United States