Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rescue Me by Alex McAuley

Maggie Leigh is trying to be a normal girl. But that's hard when London is in the midst of World War II and German bombs are raining on the city every other day. After an attack that leaves Maggie's aunt in a coma, Maggie's ultra-religious mother sends her to a faraway boarding school in Wales. The school is run by nuns that are even more religious than her mother and slightly crazier to boot. After only one day at the school, an incident on the beach causes Maggie and her three friends to flee for their lives.

This book was weird. Most of the characters were really odd, with the exception of the protagonist Maggie and maybe a few minor characters. I have read other books where girls in this time period are sent to boarding school, and this doesn't compare at all. I feel like the author wanted to write a historical novel but didn't quite know how to do it. So he wrote in a lot of things, like the crazy nuns, to add to the "creep" factor and then turned the plot upside with a huge twist at the end. I want to say if this story was better written I would have liked it, but even then I don't think I would have.

Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania, United States

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Orphaned at 13, Quincie Morris is left in the care of her uncle. She finds support and comfort in her werewolf best friend and love interest Kieren. Quincie and her uncle manage the family's Italian restaurant. Four years after the death of her parents, they decide to renovate the restaurant to a vampire themed night spot. They expect that in the unusual town of Austin, Texas, where Vampires and Were-people are tolerated, the vamp theme will attract and inspire all sorts of new guests. And so it does. A month before the opening of the restaurant, the head chef Vaggio, is viciously murdered. Bottling up all the emotion from the death of Vaggio, Quincie must decide where her allegiances lie. When a tantalizing new chef is hired by the restaurant, whose shoulder will she turn to?

I did enjoy this book but found it a little slow and dull at times. It has a great story line. Most of the characters were described well but others failed to grip my attention. I loved the strained relationships and love triangle between Quince, Kieren the new chef, Bradley Sanguini. I think the author was clever in the way she twisted the plot and made it hard to decide what was coming next. I felt disappointed at the end as I expected a big ending and really got no closure. This was an easy read that at times, fascinated and enthralled me. I would recommend this novel to teenagers from 12 up as a book not to taken too seriously. A tantalizing read with all the seduction of good spaghetti and all the fright of men in capes.

Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne , Victoria, Australia

My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath

Jane Fielding lives in an ocean-side cottage in New England with her mother, a local poet, and her three younger siblings. At the age of twelve, she is yearning for adventure amidst the otherwise hum-drum goings-on in her little sea-side town. Surely enough, adventure finds her, first with a hijacked hot-air balloon ride, and then with the strange appearances of her mother's old boyfriends--and her possible fathers. Befriending the town's preacher and babysitting the unruly Gourd children lead to even further adventures. But beyond the simple pleasure of finding excitement and mystery, Jane's adventures lead to her own revelations about life, relationships, faith, and, most of all, herself.

The book's most remarkable feature is its beautiful imagery. From the sand blown across the floorboards of the Fieldings' cottage, to a dumpy trailer park, where there lives a man with an acute resemblance to Santa Claus, every image is stunning and memorable. Jane's exploits do not drive the novel's plot, instead the reader's interest is drawn to the adult characters in Jane's life. I found that the adventures and conflicts that surrounded Jane were more compelling stories than Jane's own trials babysitting and trailing behind the eccentric preacher. At a later part in the novel, Jane reflects that "all our lives are mundane but all our lives are also poetry." Indeed, My One Hundred Adventures is simply a story about a girl's summer, but in the way that it's told, the mundane becomes poetic, and even at day at the beach can be an adventure.

The novel contains some domestic violence.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Concord, MA USA

Rating 8

Content Rating: 2

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Nineteen-year-old Cassandra (Cassie) Parrish is dead in a motel room in New Hampshire. Before she died, she called her best friend, Emma (a struggling bulimic), begging Emma to pick up. After leaving Emma thirty-three messages, she suddenly died. Now, Emma is being visited by the "ghost" of Cassie. Emma once again turns to bulimia to try to cope with the situation. This life-altering decision will send her down a path to destruction, with the ghost of Cassie leading the reigns.

Though the book was interesting in some parts, I thought that it was hard to understand. The way that the author wrote some of the paragraphs was somewhat hard to comprehend; the narrator would say something, then cross out the idea and re-write it. Once I decoded what the author was trying to portray, I thought that the idea was interesting and that the writing was written exactly like people think. Personally, I thought that the topic of the novel was very realistic. The whole concept of Emma fighting an inner battles (her vs. her weight and her vs. the guilt of not picking up the phone when Cassie called) and the battle with her best friend (Cassie vs. Emma) was heart-wrenching. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys reading a story about coming-of-age and likes reading about overcoming obstacles.

Reviewer Age:15

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

xxxHolic: Anotherholic by Nisioisin

Kimihiro Watanuki is plagued by spirits; he can never get rid of them. One day, he stumbles upon a bizarre wish-granting shop owned by Y√Ľko Ichihara. She tells Kimihiro that she can make the spirits go away & for a price. Now he must serve her and help with her business. He encounters many strange phenomena while working at this shop.

This book was based off of a manga series and is, in my opinion, not as good. This book isn't very descriptive. It used only the main details of the plot. The imagery that you usually get from a good novel wasnt there. It was like reading a manga without the pictures. It was not the best book I have ever read.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania USA

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Hammer by Vance Neudorf

Corvan was finally turning 16, the age of becoming a man in his little village town. All he wanted as a birthday present was to be able to stand up to the bullies at school and have his families financial problems disappear, but Corvan got a whole lot more than that. Beginning with the finding of a single hammer with strange blue writing on it, mysteries begin to unfold after his parents hint around about the real meaning of his name and the secrets of the hammer. Corvan is confused and scared and turns to his one and only friend Kate. This decision pulls Kate into a world of dangers behind doors of which only Corvan can save her. Corvan is forced into a world with prejudice, dangers, and lies, with only the hammer to guide him as the Cor-Van, this world's only glimmer of hope. The Hammer is an enjoyable adventure/fantasy book.

This book really captured my attention with the fantasy and adventure that came with it. The plot was very simple and was an easy read but, was slightly confusing in explaining the characters attitudes and looks. I had a hard time picturing the plot and that caused me to guess a lot of the events. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend this book as an easy and adventurous read. I will most definitely read the upcoming sequel to end this decent series.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: colleyville, Texas USA

Black Dragon Codex by R. D. Henham

Black Dragon Codex is a very interesting adventure book. It starts with a bang, and the beginning really holds the reader's interest. However, after that, there is a lull of action and it is quite boring for awhile. Then, the end is also very exciting.
The two main characters in this book are Satia, a girl taken by a dragon, and Septimus, the black dragon that snatches Satia. An evil wizard named Thordane captures Septimus's mother, who transforms Septimus into a boy. Now, Septimus and Satia are together, and they make a pact that they will help rescue Septimus's mother, and Septimus will, in return, take her home. In order to find out what happens next you must read Black Dragon Codex.

In my opinion, the book Black Dragon Codex is a fairly exciting story. One thing I especially like about this book is how, in the action-packed parts, you can't wait to turn the page. Also, I like how the book starts out with a bang, and that makes you want to continue reading it. Another thing I enjoyed about this book was how it varies the main focus. At some points, it concentrates on Septimus, while at other points, the main character is Satia. This is nice, because it gives the story two different perspectives.
There were quite a few things I did not enjoy about this book. I did not like how during the middle of the book, there was very little action and excitement. Also, the author never made me feel like I was one of the characters in the book. I liked Bronze Dragon Codex much better than Black Dragon Codex. Overall, I wouldn't say this book is great, but it is surely not a bad book.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Baltimore, Maryland United States of America

Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Crown" by Deborah Chester

Deborah Chester's "The Crown" is an exquisite fantasy novel. It has all the aspects of a fairy tale, as well as action that one would find in a blockbuster. The book follows the story of Lea, a princess of light. She is captured by Shadrael and his men. Pretty as can be, Lea is subjected to wooing from Shadrael's men; yet Shadrael himself shows no sign of his libido around her. Shadrael has no soul and was supposed to deliver Lea to his brother. Instead, he sends Lea to Vindicants in exchange for a soul. Over the course of the novel, Lea bewitches Shadrael so that eventually, Shadrael realizes that Lea is the most important thing in his life. After all, Lea has several opportunities in the book to run away from Shadrael or kill him; however, she stays by his side and even protects him. Drama and action ensue as one of Shadrael's men betrays him and Lea is used as a source of life for evil lords. The overall genre is fantasy, but this book incorporates all genres into it, making Chester worthy of her national bestselling author title.

This book is a page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, reading the entire book in a night. Deborah Chester's "The Crown" spins a tale of romance and forbidden love, action and classic light vs. dark combat. The chemistry between Lea and Shadrael is wonderfully composed. It is subtle at first and escalates to matrimony towards the end of the novel. The love between the characters is tender, yet there are no grotesquely chauvinistic love scenes described. Hence, this book is great for those whom love romance yet do not want to read a steamy book full of explicit descriptions and no literary density. Also, many small internal conflicts arise between characters and their families. Chester's writing style flows superbly, and the chapters coalesce in an ebbing fashion. Lea struggles against her fate with light, whilst Shadrael struggles against his taste for blood and deceit. This novel is magical and depicts the coveted struggle which is so clearly portrayed on the cover.

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

The Stepsister Scheme

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines revisits the classic fairy tales Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as the first installment of the Princess series. In Hines' fantasy, these "happily ever after" fairy tales come to us with a twist. Cinderella's (known to her stepsisters as Cinderwench) real name is Danielle Whiteshore, Sleeping Beauty is actually a martial arts master who goes by Talia and hates fairies despite their blessings, and Snow is a sorceress who changed her name to hide her royal roots. After Danielle's stepsister attempts to take her life and her husband, Prince Armand, is kidnapped, these three princesses head out to Fairyland on a mission to find the evil stepsisters and rescue the prince. On the way, the princesses are forced to revisit their pasts, outthink riddles, conquer magical beings, and, most importantly, trust each other.

This princess trio is certainly one to admire, full of courage, wit, beauty, and fun. As a great lover of fairy tales, I enjoyed how Hines combined the traditional fairy tales with the Disney ones in his own retelling, empowering the female characters as they went to rescue the prince. These strong heroines were well-developed and relatable, and their unique abilities and personalities balanced each other well. The Stepsister Scheme is full of action, moving the plot along while helping to attract a male audience in addition to the obvious female one. After being introduced to Danielle, Talia, and Snow in The Stepsister Scheme, I can't wait until The Mermaid's Madness is released to see how Hines merges these tough princesses into the tale of The Little Mermaid.

Content: 1
Rating: 8
Reviewer Age:19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA

The Chimera's Curse, by Julia Golding

Connie Lionheart is once again dealing with the stress and
dilemmas of the magical society. Ever since the first
book, Secret of the Sirens, Connie has been growing and
strengthening to defeat the evil being, Kullervo. When
Connie first found out that she was a Universal Companion,
or able to communicate with any mythological creature, she
had no clue what she was up against. Connie started to
train with a rock dwarf in the earlier books, but Connie
now finds herself learning different attacks on her own.
She plans to use these attacks and weapons to defeat
Kullervo. The leaders of the society want to keep her safe
and free from danger, so they do not want Connie to go
anywhere near him. Meanwhile, Connie's brother, Simon, has
been acting strangely around the woods of their home. Does
he have any connection with the chimera that has been
roaming around? What will the society do about Simon, and
can Connie defeat both the chimera and Kullervo?
I thought that The Chimera's Curse was a good end to the
Companion Quartet. Although it was a bit slow at times,
the relationships and intentions of the characters were
very realistic. I also liked how Golding incorporated many
conflicts to stand in Connie's way and the steps she took
to overcome them. Unlike the first in the series, I did
not think that this book was a page turner. The vocabulary
was written primarily for readers that are in their early
teens. I would only recommend this book to people who have
read the other three, but I do recommend this series to
everyone who has spare time.

Reviewer
Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country:
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Death by Denim by Linda Gerber

Death By Denim is the third book in a series. It is about a high school girl named Aphra Connolly whose mother is a CIA agent. Currently they are hiding out in Paris and running from bad guys who work for a person called The Mole. The only way for her to survive is to keep away from her love interest, Seth, who is also being chased by The Mole. But when one of her mom's coworkers is found dead in the river with a deadly message in his mouth, she knows she will keep running and hiding until the Mole is dead... so she does the only thing she thinks is right, but was it the safest decision?

This book was wonderful and although it is not the first book in the series, it explained a lot so I wasn't lost. If this book were a movie (it would make a good one at that) it would be a similar genre to Pirates of the Caribbean because it is full of action but has romance in it at the same time. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes a good book.

Reviewer Age:14

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

The adventure of the Dragon Rider, Eragon, and his dragon, Saphira continues in this third installment of the Inheritance series. In a time of chaos and war, it is up to Eragon to secure the Varden, create alliances, and discover secrets. In this novel, Eragon matures into the strong and determined warrior necessary to save his friends and family from the evil clutches of the Empire.

When I saw that there was a third novel about Eragon and his adventure, I was thrilled! I loved the first two books and I had high hopes for this one as well. Brisingr, however, was not my favorite. There were some wonderful plots and surprising twists, but sometimes the reading was tedious. There were many graphically violent and bloody battles that were not my cup of tea. I do, however, still love the characters and I am therefore excited to see what will happen in the fourth and final installment of the Inheritance series.

Reviewer Age:17

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zodiac Girls: Star Child by Cathy Hopkins

Every girl wants her special day, usually her Sweet Sixteen. But what if she got a whole month? One month that is all about her. One month when she gets special presents and where she gets to meet all sorts of cool people who's main focus is making the month the best for her. Well this month it is Thebe Battye's turn. She's a Virgo girl and she couldn't be happier. But what happens when all the people who are supposed to make the month amazing for her focus more on her family? Her time as a Virgo girl is almost up, but what can Thebe do to make everyone realize how she feels? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and once it's gone it's gone and she will never get to have this experience again. What can she do before it's to late?
I loved this book! At first I was a little hesitant thinking that this book would be too predictable, but to my surprise not only was this book interesting and fun, I also was provided with a lot of information about my birth sign. I learned about other signs, as a lot of questions I had about the stars were answered in this book. For anyone wanting a light, pleasant read, Virgo girl is for you.
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Casa Grande, Arizona USA

Vidalia in Paris

Vidalia's life is great for her, but it is full of stress. She just won a scholarship to study art in Paris during the summer. Her mother is extremely needy and relies on Vidalia way too much; Vidalia is happy to have a break from that. In Paris, Vidalia meets two boys. One is named Julien, who she thinks of as just a friend, and the other is Marco. She falls for Marco rather quickly; however, Vidalia also learns of his career as an "art dealer." Her relationship with Marco overpowers her feelings toward his illegal behavior. Can Vidalia maintain her life as it has been and help Marco with his problem?


This romance book was, to me, extremely appealing. Normally I do not like books that are realistic. However, "Vidalia in Paris" reminded me so much of my own life. I believe that anyone could relate the characters to themselves or people that they know. The realness of the book made the plot so much more intense and exciting. I take French classes in school, and I was happy to read the bits of French that were scattered in the dialogue. Though the book is not very short, it could be finished rather quickly. I thought that the ending of the story was the way that it needed to end; it was realistic, depressing, and beautiful at the same time. I recommend this book to people who speak French, are interested in French culture, or who like romances.

There are sexual scenes and thievery.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Astonishing Fantasy Worlds by Christopher Hart

Take a portal to a fantasy world full of faeries, ogres, fierce vikings, and all sorts of other creatures with this art book. Learn how to draw medieval characters, Gothic style creatures, and any faerie you can think of. This book has clear and complete step-by-step illustrations that will help you through any creature in this book. Your mind and imagination is the only limit.
This was a great drawing guide for fantasy art. I loved how it gave great tips on how to draw the object/creature and especially the faerie variations. This book is great for any art fanatic that is lacking the skills on their fantasy side.
Caution: sexual references
Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Northport, New York USA

Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors

Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors is an amazing new fairytale that tells about the strength of the heart and the need to be strong to save those that we care most about. Ten years ago Isabelle was left on a doorstep in a town called Runny Cove, and was taken in by an elderly woman named Grandma Maxine. Grandma Maxine tells stories about long ago when it didn't rain every day and the town was called Sunny Cove. Back then the fathers would fish for food and profit instead of working in the umbrella factory. Now, because of a man named Mr. Supreme, everyone in the town works in the factory, because if they didn't they would starve, since the fish swam away. Isabelle is curious about her past, and it comes and finds her in a way she didn't expect. Her family's farm has an interesting past, but can she find out why she was left on a doorstep, and can she convince her grandfather to help her friends in Runny Cove to be free of the wicked Mr. Supreme?
This book is an amazing find. It has magic on every page and surprises that keep you guessing. I enjoyed reading this and loved every minute of it. Suzanne is an amazing author. She develops her characters so well that you begin to believe that they are real. I hope that she will continue to write more and believe that she has the ability to become the next J.K. Rowling.
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas USA

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year tells the story of three students-
now seniors- most excellent year (their freshman year)
and how their lives all changed for the better. First,
there's T.C.( Anthony), who's obsessed with all things
related to baseball, his best friend Augie, and
Alejeandra, the girl he's in love with, but who doesn't
return his feelings. Augie loves all things that have to
do with Broadway and his best friend T.C. Also, everyone
knows Augie's gay, but he just hasn't realized his true
feelings yet. Lastly, there is Alejeandra. Alejeandra grew
up in a very political and fundamental family. Her father
is a rich diplomat. Though, Alejeandra is expected to
grow up to be just like her parents and her brother her
true love is dancing and singing which is unacceptable to
her family. As, she pursues this passion in life she
begins to become friends with Augie and T.C. and just may
fall in love with the T.C.

My Most Excellent Year was a truly hysterical and cute read that had me turning the
pages nonstop. Steve Kluger told this story in diary entrees, instant message conversations, and letters. I've read this type of writing before, but have never enjoyed it as much as in this novel. It let me get to know the
characters, probably better than it being told in first or
third person, and it kept the story interesting most of
the time. At the beginning his writing could feel a bit so-
so , but as the story continued, and as the characters
began to get more developed, it picked up and started to
get pretty funny. Especially during Augie's parts. Also, I
enjoyed seeing how each character began to grow in one way
or another throughout the novel. At the end, I was sad to
see it come to a close, but knew that it was just the
right time to conclude it. Overall, this story was a cute
coming of age novel that I recommend to all age groups.
Be aware, though, that the beginning was a tad boring.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country:
Mountain Top, PA USA

The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson

The Tsarina's Daughter, a historical fiction book, begins as Tatiana, the daughter of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, is an old lady living in Canada, retelling the story of her childhood. However, she is not referred to as Tatiana; rather she is known as Daria Gradov. This story explains how her name changed from Tatiana to Daria. Only her husband, who is dead, knows the whole story. Her story begins in 1904 at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tatiana's father, Tsar Nicholas II, is the tsar of Russia and her mother is Tsarina Alexandria. The people of Russia like her parents. Tatiana is living happily in the royal place, receiving a good education. However, things begin to change. Tatiana leaves the Royal Palace and sees that the people of St. Petersburg are living in poverty. At the same time, the citizens of Russia revolt and the Russian Revolution begins. Both of these events have a huge affect on her life. Tatiana decides she must help her citizens, so she trains as a nurse and cares for the injured soldiers in the Royal Palace. Tatiana falls in love with an injured soldier, Michael, who she nurses back to health. Michael works for Tatiana's father during the Revolution, but the family is overthrown and forced from the palace to Siberia. Here, they live a very hard life and they held prisoners in their house by the Cossacks. Tatiana becomes very ill in Siberia and Michael nurses her back to health. The local nuns and citizens are trying to free Tatiana and her family. Most of the plans fail because her father is reluctant to leave because he doesn't think the plan will work. Her mother just gives up on all escape plans. At a festival in Siberia, the family has plans to escape. The Cossacks cannot follow them into the church, so a plan is developed for their escape. You'll have to see if the escape plan works!

I would recommend the book, The Tsarina's Daughter for many reasons. I think this book was very suspenseful and full of excitement. Although it is fiction, much of the information about Russia at that time is true. Carolly Erickson wrote many nonfiction books before writing this fiction book. I did learn a lot about the Russian Revolution and would like to read more books about it.

Sexual content and fowl language

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Finksburg, Maryalnd USA

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena

This novel starts out with a simple plot: a boy moves to his cousin's home, who is very popular. The boy is just about the complete opposite of his cousin, Sofia. Danny is shy, doesn't talk much (because he is ashamed of his non-Mexican accent), and doesn't understand the fashion style in Sofia's world. Sofia introduces him, gets him started in school, and Danny begins his story slowly, revealing his anxiety and self-mutilation problems. A few chapters into the book, an African-American/Spanish boy named Uno enters the story, from his point of view. He doesn't trust Danny and has already given him stitches. However, he is infatuated with Sofia.

I wasn't as happy with the beginning; it had a very small plot, and I was hoping for a more involved story. But Matt de la Pena soon complicated it, and was able to captivate me by the fifteenth page! I was very impressed by his foreshadowing, and there were many examples of it, such as hitting a road sign with a stone: three out of five hits means whatever you're wishing for will happen.

De la Pena was adept at explaining how racial status meant so much to those who were under pressure for it. Spanish, English, and African-American people experience so much more than I had imagined. I am very glad I had the chance to read Mexican WhiteBoy.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Eagle Creek, OR USA

Thornspell by Helen Love

Ever since he was little, Prince Sigismund has heard about the stories. Of dragons, giant snakes, fairies, and heroic quests that involve princesses being rescued. Could these stories actually be true? From the day a mysterious lady shows up at the castle gates and speaks to him, the young prince's world turns completely over. He dreams of a girl trapped in thorns, a palace waiting for something, and a man in red armor riding a red horse that suddenly turns up at his castle! Sigismund is about to learn whose real, whose fake, what's real, what's a dream, and what's a dream that becomes real.

This book was probably the best book I have gotten from Flamingnet! It was so descriptive. Basically, this book is a version of Sleeping Beauty. Sigismund is the type of character you instantly love and want for a big brother. There are good fairies and bad fairies. But the author is from New Zealand so they call them Faie or Faerie. It was a little confusing at first! I would reccomend this book to anybody who loves adventure, romance, and mystery

Reviewer Age:14

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

Key to Redemption by Talia Gryphon

This book is absolutely amazing! But Key to Redemption is definitely a PG-13 book. I just couldn't put the book down! I like how it doesn't recap the character's lives for a few chapters but gets straight into the story. Key to Redemption has some great humor, and yet, some very serious points. In the book, Gillian Key is a therapist to the paranormal that have been recently legalized. Someone from her recent past comes back and ends up making the therapist need therapy. I really hope another book will come out and expand upon one of Gillian's client's.

I liked how the book was written. It covers all the thoughts of the characters but mostly sticks with Gillian throughout the book. And doesn't randomly cut to another person at a really exciting moment. I also feel like that I can connect with Gillian and feel what she feels. Furthermore, I like the explanations of some of the paranormal creatures that she deals with. This is a series that you don't have to necessarily read in order.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Guilderland, New york USA

The Knights of the Cornerstone by James P. Blaylock

This novel is set in the isolated, present-day town of New Cyprus. Calvin Bryson is a man who lives alone with his collection of old books. One day, he receives a strange package in the mail and is told to deliver it to his aunt and uncle in New Cyprus. The package supposedly contains the haunted shroud of a dead relative he never knew. On his way to delivering the package, it is stolen. When he arrives in New Cyprus, his uncle tells him that it was a fake and that the real shroud has already been delivered. Calvin stays to visit with his family. He meets a woman named Donna, and they soon get close. However, curiosity, bravery, and danger shatter Calvin's peaceful world. Calvin discovers that the shroud is actually a holy relic and that New Cyprus is the home of the Knights Templar, which he is invited to join. A sinister group led by Bob Postum plan to steal the relic and wreck the Knights' society. Calvin must collaborate with the Knight to save New Cyprus. This novel was written to entertain and is an adventure and mystery novel with religious occult undertones.

I found this book a bit mediocre and confusing. The plot is fairly typical, with a secret society that the main character joins and fights for. The romance is quick and straightforward. The religious occult part of the book make it unique, yet also confusing. The powers of the relics are never truly explained. Also, near the end, the plot moves very quickly with too little information or explanation. I never quite figured out each character's role in the ending action. The book was not bad, but I felt it was just mundane.

This book has some sexual references, violence, and death. There are also religious references, but the book does not require knowledge about religion or belief in God to read.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Slant by Laura E. Williams

Lauren is a Korean-American teenager, who was adopted when she was a year old. Being Asian her eyes are slightly different from everyone else in her class. Her best friend tells her she has beautiful eyes, but some of the boys in her class disagree. They call her derogatory names such as "Slant" and "Gook". After a long time of listening to their racial comments, Lauren finally has enough money to pay for a special eye surgery. This surgery will deepen the crease of her eyes to make her look like everyone else in her class. When she finally has her father's agreement on the surgery she has to make the decision: should she undergo the surgery and hope she obtains confidence and the popularity that she desires, or can she obtain the confidence she needs in herself without such drastic steps?

I thought this book faced a very important issue, discrimination. By Laura E. Williams having Lauren face teasing because of her race, she connects her book with anyone who feels different. I thought it was particularly interesting how Lauren feels that she needs to be so drastic in her way to overcome her emotional conflict. While the book deals with a very heavy topic, it reads very quickly. I thought this book shed light on an issue that some people did not realize existed.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Plesset, Maryland USA

Out of Reach by V. M. Jones

Out of Reach by V.M. Jones is a story about a struggling relationship between a father and son. Thirteen year old Pip McLeod has been playing soccer since he was little. He is always striving for perfection to meet his father's approval. After every game Pip played, his father looked at him in disappointment, wondering why he wasn't like his brother Nick. Pip wasn't like his brother. He didn't like soccer and he could never have the same bond his father and Nick shared. One day Pip came across a new sport, climbing. He began to climb and soon couldn't stop. Pip enjoys the sport and all he can do is think, dream and live climbing. The only thing keeping him from reaching the top is his father and their relationship that is falling apart.

I thought the book Out of Reach by V.M. Jones was a great book. The beginning was boring, but once you got past the introduction it was hard to put down. Somewhere after the introduction I began to be interested in the struggles Pip and his father shared and began to wonder what would happen next. The strength in this book was the ending. The ending left you with very few questions and many answers. The weakness was the introduction. The author had many messages in this book. One that stood out was how you can have a best friend; but when it comes down to it family is always going to be number one. I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories based on relationships and family struggles.

Reviewer Age:14

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

The Wooden Mile by Chris Mould

In Chris Mould's The Wooden Mile, the protagonist, Stanley Buggles, travels to Crampton Rock, a fishing village, where he's come to explore his inheritance, an old manor. What he expects to be a relaxing summer exploring his new house turns into a baffling adventure full of pirates, a werewolf, and a talking fish. Stanley first notices the odd nature of the town at nighttime, when a horn is sounded and all the people of the town flee into their houses while watchmen hide up in designated towers. When Stanley starts investigating the reasons behind the curfew, he meets Randell Flynn, a part of a group of pirates seemingly dedicated to getting rid of a suspected werewolf. Through his adventures with the pirates, Stanley confronts the problem of who is really good and who is evil and what that means for him.

This book was a little young for me. I would recommend it to kids who are in the middle school to late elementary school age range, depending on their reading level and ability. Its a gripping tale, and leaves you wanting more at the end with an decent attempt at a cliff hanger ending. It is the first in a series of books about Stanley, of which there are 3+ already published, so is you're a young reader looking for a spooky series, then this is the one for you. Stanley appeals to younger kids because he is young himself, and his thoughts and words are portrayed as if a 10 year old were actually saying them instead of an adult trying to sound like a 10 year old. I think that over all, this book is a compelling novel, and a great start to a series.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Hingham, MA USA

City of Jade by Dennis L. McKiernam

The City of Jade is a stand alone novel in the series of Mithgar by Dennis McKiernan. It is the tale of an elf named Aravan and his true love, Aylis, as they embark on their beloved ship, Eroean. After years of fighting apart they join together, finally, to return to the thing they love most: sailing. They have no trouble acquiring forty men to sail, a war band of forty dwarves to protect and with their tiny Psyk friend, Alissa, as scout, the couple is ready to journey out into the world. There they find a strange jade statue that leads them to the mythical City of Jade, a place clouded in mystery and evil. Unknowingly, they walk into a trap that not all will survive.

When I first decided to read the City of Jade I expected to find a captivating story of danger and adventure. Unfortunately I found little of either. The City of Jade had a rather erratic plot line which did not flow continuously and had little to do with the summary. It reminded me of one of those sitcom flashback episodes, where the main characters do nothing but remember the past. Aravan and company were entertaining and slightly realistic, but carried on far too much about events that had happened in previous books. I, who has never read a Mithgar book before, found this extremely annoying. As mentioned before, there was little intrigue, except in the story of two sub-characters, the Warrows Pipper and Binkton, whose chapters narrated their Robin Hood-like escapades. I have to give McKiernan credit, however, for his attention to detail. Every scene on the Eroean was written with impressive knowledge of the ship. It felt like a sailor was describing what was going on and were the only scenes that read like McKiernan was actually talking to you.

violence and sexual content

Reviewer Age:15

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

Hunter Jones Joins the Civil War by Julian Olson

Hunter Jones Joins the Civil War(Missouri) by Jinx Olson
is a book written about a young boy who is forced to grow
up physically and emotionally much greater and faster than
most kids his age. At the beginning of the novel, Hunter's
dad is shot by a gambler firing at another man. The bullet
misses the intended target, hitting his father in the
chest and sending him overboard into the strong current
never to be seen again. He is accused of being someone
just hitching a ride at that point, and when asked to show
his ticket finds that the tickets were with his father. He
is kicked off of the boat and nearly arrested by the
sheriff. He spends some time in the next few days trying
to find his father but fails and decides to set camp up in
a magnolia tree. He finds a raccoon, an orphan similar to
himself, and befriends him. A group of confederate
soldiers accidently shoot him and he is taken care of by
them. He is made to run errands for the general and make
sure his horse is taken care of. After some time, he is
given a drum and learns how to play it. While running one
of his errands he falls into a coma due to a head wound,
and lays in the hospital. His friends read the newspaper
each day, and in his coma he lives out what is summarized
in the daily newspaper, read by his friends, giving the
reader a first-hand experience of the events that took
place during the Civil War. General Lyon becomes Hunter's
new father figure.

Aside from a few editing errors, I believe this book is
well put together. The writing is good grammatically and
the story is interesting and keeps the reader wanting to
read and learn more. The books theme of wandering and
exile might make the reader think of The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, and when you consider the facts are
historically accurate, this makes the book both fun and
informative. There is much to be learned from this story.
It makes you think about history, and think about your
inner self, what would you do in Hunter's
situation.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and
Country: Waterford, Michigan U.S.A.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Slipping

When 13 year old Michael's grandfather passes away, he is not extremely perturbed. Why should he be? He hasn't seen the man since he was seven years old. However, after a fight with his father about the acknowledgement of his grandfather's passing, he begins to feel his grandfather's presence near him. This leads to his seeing his grandfather, and traveling through a river of memories, the river of the dead. However, after altering the past, Michael becomes trapped in the river and has to rely on the help of his friends and father to struggle to extricate himself from it, before he remains frozen there forever.

I thoroughly enjoyed Slipping. Ms. Davitt Bell uses a great deal of description, and I could easily place myself into the story. The tone of the book was a bit dark, as all books dealing with death are, but I believe that it has the potential to become one of the best children's books of our time. This is due to, again, her great descriptions, deep characters, and a great narration. From Michael's perspective, we see the story as it is, and he is straightforward and explains exactly what is going on. This makes the storyline easy to follow, but still stimulating, and I approve greatly of the representation of his grandfather's passing on. Through the understanding of this novel, I learned a great deal about death, and established several new theories about life after death. Although I loved the book itself, I did find some shortcomings. I felt that the ending did not tie up all of the strings, and let Michael's father in a bit of a weak position. Despite this, overall, I would definitely recommend it to all audiences.

Content: 1
Rating: 9
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston, West Virginia United States

Friday, December 19, 2008

Peacekeeper by Laura E. Reeve

Laura E. Reeve's "Peacekeeper" juxtaposes regular war violence with futuristic technologies. It follows the story of a female pilot named Ari. Her crew members keep her company, whilst simultaneously ordering her around like a dog. Fifteen years ago, she was involved in a military coup in the universe, which required her to annihilate over four billion organisms and an entire section of space. In present times, she is being hunted down. Slowly, the members of her crew are killed, and she is next. At one point in the novel, she is interrogated, abused, and even sexually assaulted all because of her deathly past.

Interestingly, Reeve starts off all of her chapters with quotations from books of the future. She does this excellently and makes them so believable that readers think Ari's futuristic story is actually believable.

Additionally, religion is inserted into the book as Gaia is the one creator of the universe. She is seen as a nurturing mother and isn't really expounded on much. This makes the reader think about what religion will be in the far future. Like the war, it is just assumed and not questioned very much at all.

Overall, this book is one of action, despair, and a strong woman that will stop at nothing to protect nationalistic values she may not even wholly understand.

"Peacekeeper" by Laura E. Reeve shines a scarily true light onto warfare and the soldiers enlisted therein. Set in the future, this novel portrays technology doing most of the fighting, with the humans controlling which part of space is attacked. Even though the book is futuristic, it is easy to relate to in such a time of international conflict. After all, regardless of what time era people live in, there is always some sort of disagreement and fighting. Sadly, soldiers like Ari lose their innocence as they are propelled into fighting that they are told is right and true. In the end, they end up being tracked down and beaten to bloody pulps by extremists that belong to sects of annihilated civilizations. Also, when aliens are encountered, some have no faces and skin. This makes them entirely hard to read expression-wise. The militia can not possibly know when they are being fooled when all they see is a blank conglomerate staring back at them. Also, the novel features aspects of intimacy, but is not too graphic. Ari's relations with members of her Crew are alluded to but not necessarily described. As for the scenes when Ari is molested, those have detail but are not erotic as they relate to what truly happens to both male and female soldiers when they are captured by enemy forces. In general, this book is entertaining and akin to a futuristic movie.

Reviewer Age:17

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

Rating: 4

Content Rating: 1

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sleep Before Evening by Magdalena Ball

Marianne Cotton is a straight A student. Her loving grandfather provides the constant support of a caring father figure while her bipolar mother flaunts around the country chasing her dream of becoming a successful artist. But when her grandfather dies of an unexpected stroke and her mother's marriage falls apart, Marianne finds her stunning academic career unraveling and her prosperous future darkening. Marianne meets an exotic street music performer, Miles, who introduces her to the lures of the lower east side. Marianne's private school scholarship becomes unimportant and her easygoing teenage life is thrown away for one of sex, drugs and murky music clubs. Through Miles' music, freedom and connections Marianne opens her eyes to the depths and shadows of New York's rugged and dangerous inner city scene.

This was a harrowing and believable book, which I actually really enjoyed! Magdalena Ball writes with such conviction and describes even the grittiest scenes with their own kind of beauty that makes this novel hard to put down. Having never read anything quite like this book before, I was dubious at the beginning. However, upon finishing the novel, I realized that I had been living as Marianne, experiencing her loss, grief and struggles. I lived the painful emotion behind the words of the narrator while sharing the experiences and feelings of Marianne; this sets the book apart. I would definitely recommend Sleep Before Evening to others but possibly to those older than myself. Throughout the novel Marianne is faced with the daunting trials of drug addiction, sex and the fight for survival in the big city. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I think it might be better suited to people from 16 up. The words of Magdalena Ball in Sleep Before Evening will without a doubt stay with me for years to come.

Sex
Drug Addiction
Violence

Reviewer Age: 14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne, Victoria Australia

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Following the death of his parents, Michael Walden can't erase the image of his Father and Mother drowning while he swam to safety, narrowly escaping the hurricane that had suddenly consumed their boat. Now living with his grandmother, who is also stricken with grief, Michael battles nightmares and depression. He also is dealing with the desire to dive back into the waters that had once given him peace. Enter Leesie Hunt, a Mormon church-goer who longs to relieve Michael of the guilt that often interferes with their budding romance.

Although this novel is a love story, it mainly exists in the world of reality. The girl is not your typical love-struck teen and the guy is not so soft and perfect,which often happens in a young romance story. The conflict of Michael's loose morals and misconception of love verse Leesie's pledge of abstinence and own raging hormones make this novel one of interest. Still; it does fall into some the same traps of many other young adult novels. Namely, a few unrealistic moments, over use of modern slang and an obvious effort to keep everything within a PG13 rating.

There were some issues on Michael's side about him longing for sex and him obtaining that desire. Even Leesie loosened her morals which led to a several steamy make-out scenes. And the problems Michael dealt with after his parents died may be too mature for young readers.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Holly Springs, North Carolina United States of America

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chatlas

When 14 year old Anke's brother and sister are abused, she just sits in the background as a witness, like furniture. Her mother can't help them in any way, because she fears her abusive husband would kill everyone. Anke's home life continues to worsen as her brother has near-broken bones and her sister is bruised, while their father cheats on their mother. Anke wants to do something but never gets the chance, because everything she seems to do is wrong. She is filled with terror; everywhere she turns a new dilemma faces her. After Anke joins the volleyball team, she suddenly finds a voice she never knew she had; just proclaiming the word “mine” changes her life. Can she save her family and friends before time runs out?


“Because I am Furniture”, by Thalia Chatlas, is a pretty good book with a unique format and full of great description. I enjoyed the poetic form because it added a little bit of reality to the book. The ongoing dilemmas make “Because I am Furniture” a definite page turner; you never know what is going to pop up next. I think it has the possibility of becoming a bestseller, because poetic-form novels have gained popularity. I also like the way Chatlas describes her characters. She makes the reader feel like he/she is experiencing the traumatic events firsthand. I recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic drama.


Mentions of rape, drinking, violent actions


Reviewer Age:12

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay

All Megan Berry wants to do is go to Homecoming. But that might not be possible, seeing how she's a Settler, and must be around to "settle" the Undead's affairs. Megan doesn't like being around dead people -- and after a freak accident a few years ago, she thought her powers were gone for good. But now they're back, and she must re-learn everything about putting the dead to rest. At the same time that Megan's getting a hang of the ropes, someone starts using black magic to turn the Undead into Zombies and she must figure out who it is before it's too late!

I really liked this book. It was an interesting take on zombies, and having the power to put the undead back to their eternal rest is kind of cool. I liked Megan as a character, though in the beginning she annoyed me. She really didn't want to be a Settler again, especially since it was ruining her dates with boys, and she would not stop complaining about it. But finally Megan accepts what she has to do and gives the reader a break from the whining. There was a lot of zombie action, especially at the end, but I didn't really like who the villains ended up being. Their motives for the black magic and awakening zombies weren't very good, and I feel like the author decided last minute who the bad guys were. Needless to say, this is a very good read and I can't wait for the sequel Undead Much to be written.

Reviewer Age:16

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

Prince of Stories by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden & Stephen Bissette

This book is a biography of Neil Gaiman, arguably one of the best Science Fiction/Fantasy writers of the 21st century. This is a collaboration of his works such as short stories, novels, films, and comic books. This book has just the right stuff for any Gaiman fan. Journey through Neil's brain but be cautious because if you go too far in we may lose you forever.
This book didn'tgrab me like other books do. Even though there was fascinating stores, pictures, and a comic book it just didnt get to me. I have read one of his works before and it got me very curious which got him to write his books. He was the guy that got me caught on graphic novels. This is only recommended for extreme fans, people who want to get a better insights on his work, and find what he was thinking about threw his various works.
This book had some bad language in it.
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Northport, NY USA
Jesse Bowman: A Union Boy's War Story
This historical fiction book starts out on the night of April 21, 1861. While attending a meeting, two boys, Jesse Bowman and Harlow Basset, saw the Zovare soldiers for the first time. That's when Jesse and Harlow decided they wanted to become soldiers and fight in the Civil War to help protect the Union. They went to the head desk on Darbon Street. Immediately they too signed up to join the army. They rode a train to the campsite and saw a big pine tree, which was the marking for their campsite. At first, camping out and living outside was adventurous. After a while they found out about the hardship of the war. Losing people you care about and being wounded are some of the difficulties of war. Even though becoming a soldier was not as exactly as planned. Jesse feels proud of his accomplishments.

I liked this book because it was very detailed. The descriptions made me feel as if I were right along beside them fighting in the civil war. I felt as if I could reach out and touch them. It made me wonder how I would want to be brave and stand up for things I believe in but would probably be scared and homesick, too. I love history books and this one will go on my list as a favorite. I recommend it for students in grades 3-6.

Reviewer Age:12Leopold, Mo United States of America

Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde

Lost and confused a twelve year old girl is chased by hunting dogs and found by a man. The man takes her to a village nearby and tries to figure out her identity. Nobody in the village knows who she is, or where she came from. Worst of all, the girl,herself, doesn't even know! A weary mother assumes the confused girl is her long lost daughter, so the girl is told she is Isabelle. Is she really Isabelle? If she isn't, then who is she?

I thought this book was well written and very interesting. Everything leading up to the end, made me fly through the pages. It kept my interest the whole time and got me wanting to know what would occur.I liked how it ended, although I wish it could have continued. Altogether, it was a good book, just too short for my liking.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Of Quills and Kings by Joel Reeves

Jonathan Quintain is relucant to accept the leadership he is given when his father, the Baron, abandons his family. The castle mage,Gamitof Pym, literally turns the whole castle upside down with a spell. Since the spell was cast, it freed an evil hedgehog and displaced a magical orb. In this fantasy the orb is the orb of mortality, it has the power to make one a god and to prolong life. The evil hedgehog, named Walpole, has the orb and intends to end humankind. Jonathan goes on an adventure with his friends, to travel the land to stop Walpole. Will they succeed or will they fail miserably?

I thought that this book was interesting and some parts I couldn't stop reading. The beginning of the book was a little slow and confusing. It started off being overwhelming with all the names and then everything quickly turns to action. It has a quirky humor but was very entertaining. I would recommend it to readers who have patience and are up for a good read.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Sermonsnacks by Don Collette

Sermonsnacks by Don Collette is compiled with encouragement and guidance. Its customary sections juxtapose faith and advice. The book conquers pain, loneliness, work, finances, family, and other issues. It is formatted like a normal devotional book. Devotionals tend to have a Bible verse, explanation of the verse, and a connection to modern times / issues on each page. The layout of the book is very instructive so anyone can understand the messages--both Christians and non-Christians.

All age groups can relate to most discussions. Additionally, Don Colette sends the message that anyone can have what they want in life if they follow Jesus. Material goods are said to be distractions in a successfully spiritually life. "No sooner is the silver added, than you cease to see others, and you see only yourself," (Colette, 112). Many excerpts have messages like this that can be applied to everyone. Only a few of parts of the book are truly geared towards certain audiences.

The section on family is geared more towards older married men and the finance section is meant for full-time workers. The work section is purposely vague as to relate to both adults at work and youngsters that may work after school. The pain and loneliness sections cover many acceptance issues, peer pressure, as well as fear of assimilation. Moreover, the faith section is for all since it pertains to human belief and hope.

Anyone can pick up Sermonsnacks. Occasionally, readers need to peruse over uplifting words. Luckily, consolation, victory, hope, belief, promises, blessings, and more leak through "Sermonsnacks." Colette says that all wrongs will be righted if one just trusts in God. He also mentions how God's promises may take a while; the interim may even painful, but God will eventually implement divine favor. This book will provide comfort to many people, regardless of their faith. Colette conveys the message that one needs to lead a honest life devoid of shallow ideologies. While human errors are pointed out, Colette does not point fingers at any sect of religion. He gives advice that points towards Christianity, but he does not force the religion upon readers.

Rating: 8
Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hottie by Jonathan Bernstein

Alison Cole has just been elected class president. Instead of being looked up to, a nasty trick is played to convince her she needs surgery to give her symmetry. Unfortunately, she gets zapped by a lightning bolt during the procedure and now she can shoot fire from her fingertips! David Eels jumps at the chance to coach a real superhero. But what happens when David falls for her? What about the supervillian lurking in LA?

Overall, Hottie was a very good book, although it swore alot. But it's exactly how a teenager in LA would talk. The characters were very well made and very funny (especially David Eels (the superhero geek)) The battles were also well written (I could see them in my head) and action-packed. I did notice that Hottie's name was a bit of surprise to people at school (it's a middle school) and my parents. But I honestly could not see Alison using a different name since it was like a stereotypical LA teen. Plus, it makes her character unique in the story. Overall, I would suggest this title to anyone looking for a good book.

I rated the book's content 2 because it swore a whole bunch.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Denton, Texas US

It's all a Matter of Taste

Tucked into a little corner of an inside page of the entertainment section of my local paper are a few spare lines about a couple of books. Although print reviews are becoming scarcer, review blogs, like this one, are becoming much more ubiquitous. What do all these reviews have in common? They were placed there by someone the average reader knows nothing about. We don’t know what other books s/he’s read or liked. We don’t know if s/he has the same taste in books as we do. We don’t even know if s/he actually read the book. Most book reviewers have a pile of books to read through, and many of them have deadlines! With over 800 new books published daily, it’s no wonder that so many books get lost in the shuffle. Perhaps some reviewers don’t (or can’t) take the time to read each one cover to cover, so they just skim them. Perhaps that explains why I couldn’t even get through the last book I tried to read, even though it was covered in praise by several prestigious periodicals and the fourth book by an author whose previous three books I highly enjoyed.

It’s all a matter of taste.

Different people like different things. When it comes right down to it, even the name of the author isn’t a guarantee one’s time reading a new book will be enjoyable, although it helps. Chances are, if you enjoyed an author’s first book, you will enjoy their second. If you enjoyed the first two, likely you will enjoy the third. But this isn’t always the case, as I’ve quit authors halfway through the series because it no longer appealed to me for one reason or another. So, when authors no longer entertain us, we must turn to new authors and new books. Trying new authors is always a risk I approach with caution, often re-reading books I’ve previously enjoyed before risking someone new. Even authors who have received the praise of millions may leave me bored. However, we must give new authors a chance, and reviews often help us take these calculated risks with our precious time. Especially if those reviews come from reviewers with whom we’ve built a relationship. Reviewers we have come to trust because their opinions closely match our own.

It’s all a matter of taste.

In the 5 weeks since it’s release, Rowan of the Wood has had overwhelmingly great reviews and has won a National Award! We keep hearing that our readers “couldn’t put it down” or they’re asking when the sequel will be out because they "can't wait" to find out what happens next. Take a look at our review page. Okay, it still is a matter of taste, but could so many diverse people be wrong? ;-) …so…take a chance on these new authors! The book is available now via Amazon (Kindle, too) and wherever books are sold.

Christine and Ethan Rose are the authors of the new YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood. They live in Austin, TX with their three dogs and Shadow the Cat.
http://www.christineandethanrose.com/* http://www.rowanofthewood.com/

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Look Both Ways

Jacquelyn Mitchard's "Look Both Ways" closely follows both the social and magical angst of two teenage twins. Merry Brynn has visions of the past; Mally Brynn has visions of the future. When dating older boys and senioritis couple with dangerous mystical encounters, the young ladies consult their family and closest friends. This book is part of the "Midnight Twins" series, but readers can easily follow the plot without any prior knowledge of Mitchard's other lackadaisical novels. The main intrigue revolves around a robust cat wreaking havoc, which turns out to be a shape-shifting friend. Adventure ensues as the sisters are urged to fight for humanity and fight over common love interests. When the dynamic duo are involved in soccer, cheerleading, and various other extracurricular activities, students around them begin to pick up on their aura of unusualness.

One will definitely not be on the edge of their seat while reading "Look Both Ways" by Jacquelyn Mitchard. When there is a juxtaposition of teenage melodrama and supernatural phenomena, all enthusiasm is lost in the process. The novel has little descriptions of magical scenes with the exception of some haunting night sweats. As for the melodrama, it seems mostly cliched and easy to predict. While the book is an easy read that definitely entertains the reader, it is by no means a page-turner. Readers interested in teen magic should find novels that better coalesce the two genres of fantasy and drama. While one does not have to read the other "Midnight Twins" novels, this book seems more appropriate for collectors of the series as opposed to capricious readers looking for a dazzling piece of literature.

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

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christine & Ethan Rose: Guest Bloggers on Wednesday

Flamingnet is excited to host Christine and Ethan Rose, authors of the new, award-winning YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood during their Geekalicious Yuletide Blog Book Tour! The authors are stopping by here on Wednesday, December 10th as guest bloggers. Their post is called "A Matter of Taste" about the subjectivity of book reviews.

Rowan of the Wood:
An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.

The authors are also hosting a contest on YouTube and giving away a digital camcorder just for following four simple steps. Check it out!

Come back and visit on Wednesday, read their blog, and post questions/comments. The authors will be available all day Wednesday and Thursday to answer your questions. Every comment on this blog is an entry to win a signed, limited edition print of Christine's Green Man II painting. The authors are also giving away autographed books and over $600 in other prizes through their website.


Gankutsuou 1: The Count of Monte Cristo

Albert is a young Parisian who is vacationing on the moon. His friend Franz is accompanying him, but he cannot seem to keep Albert out of trouble. Albert decides to follow a man, finding out later that the man is the Count of Monte Cristo. Albert is instantly intrigued and fascinated by him, but does not know what the Count’s intentions are. Apparently, betrayal was committed against the Count years ago, and now he seeks revenge for it, planning that Albert’s parents, and the entirety of Paris, will feel his wrath soon.

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo was a very different kind of story to read. I have never read the actual story of The Count of Monte Cristo, and this manga made me want to read it. At first I thought that the characters were drawn strangely and looked incomplete. As I read on, though, I got used to the images and they seemed to be drawn exactly how they should be for this certain story. Overall, the plotline was great. It moved quickly and kept my attention. I was confused a few times, due to the quantity of characters and events that take place. I recommend people who have read The Count of Monte Cristo or people who like manga to read this book.

Rating: 7
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

The King's Rose

A new and different approach to the Tudors and Henry VIII, Alisa Libby's The King's Rose tells the story of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Cousin to Anne Boleyn, Catherine's story reveals her concerns with the marriage even before the king's proposal. Free from any glaring historical anomalies, The King's Rose builds upon real letters and testimonies to develop a love plot between Catherine and her cousin Thomas. The novel is structured around the contradictions of court life. Though outsiders to the situation may see her as greedy, this portrayal of Catherine focuses on her young age and responsibility, especially as her marriage is presented as a duty. In this way, The King's Rose tells the story of a teenage girl who perhaps isn't ready to become Queen, but who is thrown into the position regardless in order to protect her family interests and then must struggle to balance King Henry's interests with her own.

Considering my interest in history, I truly enjoyed reading The King's Rose. To my knowledge, the setting is accurate and well developed, though liberty was clearly taken with the romantic plot. I was pleased to note Libby's emphasis on the importance of family in early English society, between Henry's nightmares over his heir and Catherine's rise to Queen as critical to social status of the Howard lineage. Though I knew how the novel would end, I appreciated how Libby led into it. Like Catherine herself, the reader feels helpless to the control of the council and upon finishing will likely contemplate Catherine's decisions as I couldn't help but do. In addition to young adults, this novel is certainly accessible to an older crowd with an interest in the Tudor era and the many wives of Henry VII.

Reviewer Age:19

Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA

The Case of the Silk King

"The Case of the Silk King", one of the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, is a book of many adventures. In this story the reader is the main character. You, as the reader, are a detective and haven't had an exciting case in a year. You start with the same beginning by getting a plain brown envelope with no return address. It contains two one thousand dollar bills, a plane ticket, and a newspaper article. The article is about Jim Thomas. He works for the OSS and has now disappeared while visiting friends in Malaysia. As you continue you will have to decide what to do; such as, if you decide to leave for Bangkok tonight, turn to page 15. If you decide to put off your leave until you have more information, turn to page 6.

If you like adventurous books, you will be interested in The Case of the Silk King. I would recommend this book for ages ten and up. The hand drawn sketches are terrific and detailed. You never know what will happen next. Each character has their own individual personality. Mr. Sing is a sly man and Ning is a young friendly woman. I chose three different ways to find Jim Thomas. Out of the three different ways I chose two of them ended in disaster and one was sucessful. Each route is about fifteen pages long. I enjoyed this book very much and hope you do to.

Reviewer Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, Missouri USA

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith

Joel Espen was the nice guy of the community - always friendly, kind, and helpful. Everyone considered Joel to be a friend. So, when he unexpectedly dies of dehydration on a boy scout camping trip, the whole town of Haven is shocked and upset. In this heartbreaking novel, the six teens closest to Joel each explain their story and must learn to cope with Joel's death, and learn to live the way he did.

I was not impressed by this book at all. Since the novel has the point-of-view of six different teenagers, and each teenager takes turns narrating, the novel was choppy and unorganized. There was no plot, just six people rambling on about nothing very important. The characters didn't have any interaction with each other, and the author should have tried to tie them together better. The only saving grace of the book was the character of Joel, and he wasn't even alive. He seemed to be a good person, and a respectable role model for all teens.

Reviewer Age:16

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

Friday, December 05, 2008

Ariel's Journey by Doug Kane & Christy Wood

Ariel's Journey by Doug Kane and Christy Wood is a fantasy book. The book starts out in a 'normal' world with Kim and Emily, two sisters whose parents own Icelandic horses they keep behind their house. They are great friends with many girls, like Darcy, from the 4-H club that they attend. However, girls from the club often make fun of Kim and Emily for their love of the Icelandic ponies. After Emily gets into a fight with another girl from 4-H, Emily and Kim's mother decides to arrange for all the girls to go on an overnight trail ride in hopes they will bond. This begins an adventure that brings the girls to a 'fantasy' world where they will discover more about their horses and themselves.

I liked Ariel's Journey initially because it was about horses, a genre that I enjoy a lot because of my own horseback riding experiences. The characters were likeable and believable, as well as the relationships they share with their horses. However, after the girls transport into the other world I lost interest in the book. Instead of a page-turner, the book turns to a lot of description and I found myself flipping past many parts. I didn't feel satisfied with the way the author sums things up at the end of the novel. Many loose ends tie up quickly and without depth. I would recommend this book for horse loving children under the age of 12; however, I would not recommend this book if you are looking for a fast-paced adventure story.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Westerville, OH USA

The New York Yankees by Matt Christopher

The reason I love this book is because of all the facts that were given. I liked learning that the Yankees won 26 World Series and 39 pennants. Another fact given was when Babe Ruth called his shot to center field, and then on the next pitch he hit it right where he pointed! That was a really good story. I never knew the New York Yankees had such a history.

I loved the stats given at the end such as the Hall of Famers and their regular season results. I even keep stats myself, mostly of the Cardinals because they're my favorite team. It's fun to see what today's players like Albert Pujols are doing compared to the great players of years ago like Babe Ruth. This book will be enjoyed by many sports fans.

Reviewer Age:11
Leopold, MO USA

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Faust

Faust is a book about the japenese culture of manga-ka. There are ten stories in this book. They are all different examples of how manga is different from english writing styles. Some are about being different and not following the crowd, and how it may affect a person's abilities later in life. Others tell about what can drive a person to suicide; and how one girl can save many others. This book includes stories by: Clamp, Takeshi Obata, Ueda Hajime, NISIOISIN, Yun Kouga, Take, and Kouhei Kadono. There is also an interview between Kinoku Nasu and the writers of the book, mostly asking questions to Nasu about his book The Garden of Sinners. If you thought this was a manga book, this is not the book for you.

To me Faust was a totally different from what I expected because I thought this was a manga book. For me it was hard reading a book that is about manga, and having parts of the books in it that I may have already read without the pictures. So of course like a normal book I had to picture everything that was happening. Also it was a little difficult to follow because all the different stories made it hard to keep up. Other than that I totally loved this book. I was fascinated with all the different styles of manga-ka.

because it has sexual content

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Casa Grande, Arizona United states

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Golden Tower by Fiona Patton

This book is about two boys named Spar and Graize. They both live in completely different worlds. They both have a demon/god. He is both children's demon and god. Graize wants to burn down Spar's city so he enlists the help of a different tribe. I thought I would really like this book, but I found it confusing.

You should not read this book until you have read the first one. It doesn't seem to make much sense by itself. Maybe I should have read the first book so I could understand what was going on in the story. The character names and cities seem to be difficult to say and remember. I don't really feel it's fair to say it's not a good book, maybe if I would have read the first one it would make more sense.
Age 12
Leopold, Missouri USA

Sandlot Summit by Fishman

Sandlot Summit is a great fictional story. It is about two teams [American and the Soviet Union]playing baseball. During 1984 President Regan and famous Russian General Kostilo' Boneface' Zolotov have young baseball players. Each team must battle for their own country.The teams are playing baseball instead of fighting a war. Whoever wins the baseball game wins the war.

I like the book Sandlot Summit because it is about baseball. I also like it because it is funny. I would recommend this book to a young reader ages 9-12. I would also recommend this book to a person who likes to read baseball or humorous books. I really enjoyed this book.

Age:11
Leopold, MO USA

Sam's Quest: The Royal Trident by Ben Furman

This is the second book in a series. Even though I hadn't read the first book,I could follow the action. Sam's Quest is a story about a girl who goes on a trip with her Grandpa's dog on the Crimson Crystal. Then, she meets up with a prince. Together they save King Kaylan from the Pax.

I love this book because it is action-packed and exciting. The author did a very good job of thinking of the adventures in the book. Also, it was clever how both Sam and Princess Digan looked exactly alike. Prince Buznor was very funny to me.

Age:11
Leopold, MO USA

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

This book is about a boy with five other brothers. He is the second born and they get in a lot of trouble together. They also have a lot of fun. They are average boys with average boy dreams. They like the Law Of The Pack promise because to them it means they should run around like a bunch of wild animals.

This book is action packed and realistic. My favorite part is that it is so funny. It is even hysterical at times. It tells about living with five other brothers. They even made up their own game called Slaughter Ball. In Slaughter Ball you jump on the guy with the ball. Boys like that kind of thing. The realistic humor is why I like this book.

Reviewer Age:11
Leopold, Missouri USA

The Return of the Light

The Return of Light is a great book. Treewing is tree that became a Christmas tree a year early. The Christmas deer said he had a special destiny. When they came for the trees, Treewing was taken. When he got to the lot,he was disappointed because he had been told wonderful stories about becoming a Christmas tree. This was not like the stories at all. Soon he realized he had to be sold to someone first to be able to be part of the wonderful Christmas Stories about becoming a Christmas tree. He waited and waited. He wasn't sold. A young boy named Luke had stopped by every day to see him. He had put an ornaments on Treewing that he had made at school because he didn't have a tree of his own to put it on. A woman named Peacock saw the tree with the ornaments and thought it was a sign that this tree was special. Of course, Lolly, the woman who owned the lot would take the ornaments off. On Christmas Eve, Lolly left the lot to go to the store. While she was gone, Peacock came by with a group of friends and started to decorate Treewing. When Lolly came back she was not very happy with what she saw. Treewing was all decorated for Christmas. Luke persuaded Lolly to join in the decorating fun by giving her a special baseball that his father had given to him. Treewing now knew that this was the special destiny the deer had been talking about. Treewing soon started to light up with a bright glow that everyone was amazed to see. He had brought the return of the light.

The Return of the Light is an awesome book. It has good details. I felt like I could see everything that was happening. It is not sad or scary. It is a very happy book. It is not an action/adventure type of book but it has a great story. It is a book full of surprises. I wish everyone would read it.


Age:12
Leopold, Missouri USA

The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa

Space travel? Enemy aboard ship? The human race depending on you? These are only a few of the problems Triana Marshall faces as she pulls away from earth with 250 other teenagers- none over the age of 16- in her command. Their mission is to save Earth from the quickly spreading disease that the comet Bhaktul is causing, the result of which is death. Will the young adults succeed? Or will human life cease to exist as we know it?

I've never been a huge fan of science fiction, but this book has forever changed my opinion. It was filled with a constant eerie mystery and a little hint of romance. What I liked most about this book is the description of character. It was like I had met each person in the book personally. Dom Testa did a wonderful job creating the sense of suspense, and character. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick entertaining, suspense filled read.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Seaside, OR USA

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Haunting of Anne MacKay

The Haunting of Annie MacKay is more of a mystery than a scary story. It's about a young middle school girl named Annie MacKay. She and her parents are starving artists and they move a lot. Then the news comes that Annie inherits a house and the family moves into it. Annie begins to learn of the mystery of a girl named Annie MacKay (she's been named after this other girl.) The Annie from the past suffered a traumatic death and the Annie of today has to figure out how the other Annie died.

I enjoyed this book very much. It's very easy to read and it's a page turner. I couldn't put it down. I like mystery books and this one was great. The book demonstrates friendship, love and determination. I love the relationship Annie had with her parents. They told each other the truth no matter how ridiculous it may have seemed.

Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Newville, Pennsylvania Untied States