Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Prism Blade by Patricia Bow

The Prism Blade is the second book in the series The Passage to Mythrin. Amelia, Simon, and Ike get caught in the middle of a battle that has been raging forever between Dragons and Humans. Simon wants his life to go back to normal after the first visit to Mythrin, but Amelia and Mara (the dragon she met in the last visit) have different ideas. Amelia believes that she is being sent dreams from Mara that are telling her to go find a passage way to Mythrin. The dreams eventually lead them to a library window, which eventually leads them to Mythrin. When they return to their world, a 12 year old seeker returns with them to see if this world is safe from Dragons. She is also on the search for something called The Prism Blade. It is said that The Prism Blade can kill off all the Dragons. When Amelia returns the face off is about to begin. Can she stop it? And if not, whose side is she going to take? Read the book to find out.

The Prism Blade is good for anyone who likes fantasy. It never has a slow point where I wanted to put it down. The book is a never ending adventure. Whether it is winning a trophy or it is finding a Passage to Mythrin or even looking for a window, Amelia will one way or another make it sound like the best thing ever. This one takes a different view on dragons, one like I have never seen before. If you liked Eragon, Dragonspell, and/or The Dragons in our Midst series than you should like this one too. It ended up being one of my favorite books I have read. Enjoy!

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Topeka, Kansas United States of America

In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash

Casey has finally started to fit in with the rich and sophisticated at Meadowlark Academy. Her fashion sense is improving, she's hanging out with Madison, Sophie and Phoebe, and Drew might be her kinda-sorta boyfriend. Even though Casey's retaining her small town roots, she feels like she might be giving up herself to be more like the other girls. And she's not sure that's necessarily a good thing...

This is the sequel to The Elite, so it's recommended that you read The Elite first, but you don't have to read it to understand everything. If you're looking for a light, easy read, In Too Deep is perfect. The writing is clear and concise, so it doesn't take much brainpower to understand the author. The reader gets to read from the points of view of all the different characters, so you get to see inside each person's head. It's a good way to show what everyone's thinking and to keep the reader interested. And if you're a fan of Gossip Girl, you will thoroughly enjoy In Too Deep.

Reviewer Age:17

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

What's the Weather Inside?

"What's the Weather Inside?" by Karma Wilson is a fun little book of poems. Despite what the cover and title may allude to, this book covers more than just the weather. In fact, poems about the weather aren't even a major theme in the book. Rather, the poems chosen are comical little poems about facetious nuances in life that children notice. There are many plays on words and copious double entendres. Animals, sports, emotions, family life, and more dance on the pages alongside clever illustrations in black and white. The rhyme schemes vary and the poems are all relatively short.

This book is appropriate for children. It encourages creative thinking as well as semantics. Words are used with different meanings in the poems to generate curiosity. The point is for a youngster to read a poem and see a picture that they like; this will propel them to pick up a dictionary and look up new words they are unfamiliar with (that may just sound a bit silly, too!). As for illustrations, they are drawn with old fashioned style. There is nothing inappropriate in the book. As a matter of fact, the scariest part of the book involves a poem about a substitute teacher with horns on his angry head.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hail to the Chief

Ollie Paras, the White House Executive Chef, is friendly with the First Lady, Mrs. Campbell. However, Ollie has a lot on her plate. Mrs. Campbell is trying to persuade her nephew Sean to come to the White House on Thanksgiving and Ollie is helping to convince Sean to come. At the same time, a bomb threat comes into the White House and everyone is on high alert for other threats. Next, a kindly electrician, Gene, dies one day while working on an electrical problem near the kitchen! And then, Sean, Mrs. Campbell's nephew is found dead! In the midst of all this, Ollie is approached by Senator' Blanchard's assistant and asked to fix the annual gingerbread decorating contest for his children. Is there any correlation between the bomb threat and Gene's electrocution? Will Ollie rig the gingerbread contest in favor of Senator Blanchard's children? Will she discover any more bombs? Did Sean really commit suicide or was it murder? You will have to read Hail to the Chef to find out.

Hail to the Chef is a suspenseful mystery book. Every page offers new mysteries and clues to the happenings in the White House kitchen. Ollie is a very believable character and the action keeps moving. I have read a lot of mystery books and I found it hard to stop reading this book. It was fun to read this book and learn about the secrets of the White House, especially around holiday time. If you are a big mystery fan, I would highly recommend this book.

Rating: 10
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Finksburg, MD USA

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Midnight Twins is about twin sisters, Mallory and Meredith, who are just like twins should be. They can read one another's minds and feel one another's pain. They are so completely close and everyone loves them. Their lives are interrupted when a fire starts at their aunt's house as the sisters are babysitting their cousins and younger brother on New Year's Eve. They save everyone but something happens to Mallory and Meredith; they can no longer know how the other is or feel what the other feels. This scares the sisters and alters their relationship.

This book was very interesting and easy to read. The chapters may be a little long and I find it takes longer to read a book with long chapters, but I enjoyed finding out how the sisters dealt with their problems. They were a great support team and I was reminded of the one I have with my youngest sister. We may not be able to read each other's minds like Mallory and Meredith, but we do support and help each other.

Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Newville, Pennsylvania U.S.A

Abomination by Robert Swindells

Abomination is Martha's sister Mary's child, and so named because of the shame he inflicted upon the family being born out of wedlock. This is what Martha and Mary's parents firmly believe, that the child is something to be ashamed and embarrassed of. Mary was exiled and now Abomination is a six year old boy who has been brought up in a cage in his grandparent's basement. Martha too is a prisoner trapped by her parent's religious fanaticism into caring for her sister's so-called "abomination". With the aid of Scott, the new kid at school and the only friend of Mary's, Mary searches for her sister, hoping to reunite Abomination with his mother and perhaps escape the confines of her own strict life.

The book had a lot of potential it did not live up to. The plot was complex, but the resolution too simplistic. Everything tended to fall in place too easily. For example, Martha's willingness to share all her dark secrets with Scott seemed unrealistic as she had for years been a loner. The characters needed further developing, and the book needed lengthening to make the plot more plausible.

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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion by Alice Kimberly

This book is a riveting, haunted mystery. It has the thrill of the chase and the thrill of the ghost. Two different genres beautifully blended into one book. Pen and Jack have such amazing minds, and then combined, they have the capacity to figure out any mystery they are confronted with, including figuring out who killed Miss Todd and why. While trying to catch the murderer, Jack shows Pen parts of his own case that tie into Miss Todd's murder. These two cases together make up The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion.

I really liked the book. It was suspenseful and haunting, a very good mystery and paranormal book. The writing was nicely done. This book kept me on my toes and guessing throughout the whole book. Jack has a good personality, and it balances out with Pen's more conservative personality. I also liked the stereotypical view of small town police officers. The mean and biased police chief, with his not-so-bright relative as a deputy, Bull and Chief Ciders add some humor to the story.

Reviewer Age: 15

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

Killer Creatures by Claire Liewellyn

Killer Creatures is about animals in the wild and how they survive life: they kill. There is a variety of animals that survive solely on their strengths. Another aspect to how they survive is that they're scary. They intimidate their prey or use camouflage to trap them. This book also shows different and interesting facts about certain animals. Some of the facts are how they track down their prey and also how they capture them when they least expect it.

Killer Creatures is a very good way to understand wildlife and their means to survive. It's a world were survival of the fittest is always the golden rule. This book is an eye opener to how ruthless the animal kingdom can be. The pictures are a little graphic but yet it's all true. This book was also very easy to read. The text is pretty big and understandable.

This book may be a little too graphic for smaller or younger children.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Newville, Pennsylvana U.S.A.

Heartbeat for Horses by Laura Chester and Donna Demari

"Heartbeat for Horses" is a collection of writings about girls and their horses. There are stories, poems, and excerpts from famous horse books. Parts from "The Silver Brumby", "Misty of Chincoteague", and "Black Beauty" are included. Some of the authors showcased in this book are E. E. Cummings, Charles Dickens, Marguerite Henry, and Laura Chester. Each piece of writing is also accompanied by a picture or two that capture the true beauty of horses.

"Heartbeat for Horses" reflects on the unique bond between human and horse. The pictures are breathtaking, and fit very nicely with the writings. All of the stories flowed, and held my attention. The grace and esscence of horses is beautifully portrayed in "Heartbeat for Horses". Women of all ages will enjoy this book. Those who, like me, are passionate about everything horses must read this book.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Renton, WA USA

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Veiled Deception

Annette Blair's A Veiled Deception introduces Madeira Cutler, better known as Maddie. Maddie is a young woman with a taste for fashion, especially anything vintage. While home in Mystick Falls, Connecticut, to help her sister, Sherry, with wedding plans, Maggie realizes that these vintage pieces magically speak their histories to her. Not long after arriving in New England, Maddie finds Sherry's fiance's former girlfriend strangled to death with Sherry's veil around her neck. Determined to prove her sister's innocence, Maddie conducts her own investigation. Along the way, Maddie enlists the help of a certain FBI agent who happens to be her on-again-off-again boyfriend and a resentful local police detective who she nicknamed Wiener as a child.

A Veiled Deception is one of the best mysteries I've read in a while. This novel is a quick read, filled with romance, history, magic, and cute fashion references. I especially appreciated the way Blair gave her characters depth, especially Maddie and Mr. Vancortland, by including meaningful family history plots to support the main mystery. Blair's new series incorporates magic wonderfully, blending Maddie's newfound psychic powers into the mystery through ghosts and visions that add an element of supernatural to the story without taking away from A Veiled Deception's clear storyline. This book is a sure hit for any fan of Blair's Accidental Witch Trilogy, Laurie's Psychic Eye Series, or Alt's Bewitching Mysteries.

Reviewer Age:19

Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA

The Scary States of America by Michael Teitelbaum

Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart. Some of these stories are scary, but some are just plain weird. Yet they're all true. For example, the bleeding house in Georgia was at one time the home of a serial killer. There are also some tales that aren't scary, they just have to do with the paranormal, like the statue of a little girl that comes to life and hides during thunderstorms. This book is for people who are ready to face the paranormal in their home state.

This book did scare me, but it was also fascinating to see what unusual things happen in each state. I didn't love the stories about the creatures such as the lizardman or the real-life werewolf, but the others were good. A story of the girls who got lost in the lighthouse made me feel really sad and scared because anyone could follow after and die. I would recommend this book to people who laugh at the paranormal. However, I would advise people to proceed with caution.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, NH US

Kendra is the daughter of a young mother, so she lives with her nana. When her mom, Renee, comes and stays with them for a night or two, Kendra realizes she wants to live with her. Even after Renee is out of college, she won't take Kendra. While Kendra designs sets for their school play, she gets into a lot of trouble. She and her aunt, also her best friend, Adonna, get in a big fight over a boy. Her nana can't take it anymore and sends her out to live with Renee. Kendra and Adonna stay mad at each other, but not for too long.

I really enjoyed reading the book, Kendra. It started off kind of slow, but after that I became hooked. Coe Booth really made me believe that the characters were alive. It was like there was a movie playing in my head. I have never read any story like it. I would probably suggest this book to a mid teen.

Reviewer Age:12

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

All Meg has ever wanted to do was get away. Get away from everything that makes her life the insane thing it is: her high school, her overprotective parents, and her annoying in-the-middle-of-nowhere town. To show her feeling for this, she does everything a teen in her town isn't expected to do: dye her hair blue, ride a motorcycle, do drugs, and hook up with random guys. Though, one day she just goes way too far. She is caught hooking up with her boyfriend on a train track where two teenagers were killed 8 years ago, while her friends, Tiffany and Brian, were a few steps away. The police officer, John, decides to teach her a lesson. So, now on her spring break she is stuck riding around with a hot but totally frustrating guy named John (the cop who arrested her) during the middle of the night busting up random things. As her week continues, secrets come out about the two of them but will they end up falling for one another because of this or will it push them further apart?

Going Too Far was an amazing book that either had me laughing out loud or sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. I absolutely loved Meg. She was a funny and honest character who had a great back story to why she was the way she was. Also, John's personality was cute and a great addition to the story. Though, the thing that had me mainly hooked was Jennifer Echols' writing. It was fast paced, detailed, and addicting. Basically, it was everything a good book should be. Overall, Going Too Far is a book you will still be thinking about days after you have read it. I suggest this to fans of Courtney Summer's Cracked Up To Be and Brooke Taylor's Undone.

Reviewer Age:13

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Black Ship by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Sylbrac, otherwise known as Thorn, is a member of the Pilot's Guild. This group contains members who have the capability to navigate and travel Crosspointe's deadly seas. The cruel leader of the guild bans Thorn from sailing only because of his hatred for him. Thorn, however, lives for sailing and is devastated. While he is on his way to relax and grieve, he is kidnapped by sailors of an unregistered ship. On board, he is forced to work and battle with the wicked captain and crew. If the ship ever makes it back to port, will he still be alive?

The Black Ship is a book that can be read by adventure and action lovers alike. The vocabulary used is of a high quality and highlights the skill of Diana Pharaoh Francis. In the beginning, there are many events and pieces of the storyline that capture your attention and hold it throughout. Thorn is grieving over his brother's death, and many people can relate to his life in different ways. The land of Crosspointe has the ability to catch the reader's attention with its intricate environment and characters. I recommend this book to readers who love sailing, action, or adventure stories.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Rating: 6

Content Rating: 1

The Octopus Effect by Michael Reisman

The Octopus Effect, written by Michael Reisman, was a good and adventurous book. I really enjoyed the action and excitement as Simon Bloom, the main character, discovered new abilities, while also finding new challenges. The book is based around the fictional Knowledge Union, a group that rules and controls the universe. However, lately, things have gotten out of hand. After defeating Sirabetta, an evil woman who wants to take over the Knowledge Union, they must defeat her again, against an even more powerful Sirabetta. To find out what happens, you should read this action-packed book.

In my opinion, this was a great book that you should almost definitely read. The Octopus Effect was a great book filled with excitement and suspense. It always kept you turning page after page to find out what happens in the next part of the book. The main characters were always in some adventure or another. Also, in some parts it was told in first person, while in others, it was told in third person, which mixed things up. However, the only drawback to this book is that it is confusing at times. It is sometimes hard to follow all the different things happening. Otherwise, this is a very good book that I suggest you read.

Reviewer Age:13

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

The Substitute Kid by Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's "The Substitute Kid" is a short children's book. It follows the month of a fourth grade girl yearning for summer vacation

with her best friend. Cute little shenanigans are sprinkled across the pages as sibling rivalry comes into play. Also, the main girl

discovers that her father--who is a science professor--has made a life-like robotic replica of her. The girl then uses this robot to act as

herself and literally as a substitute for her. The robot takes a history test for the girl and earns an A. Suspicion arises as the father

looks over surveillance tapes and the girl's arch nemesis realizes this "substitution" is suddenly very nice towards her. The book ends

with a discovery for all that is quite pleasant and touching.

This book is fabulous for young readers. The author gives the main action away on the back (the girl using a robot) but does not fully

divulge into that scene until at least halfway through the book. This gives youngsters extra incentive to read. Additionally, since the

chapters are only a couple of pages each, little ones will not find the book too hard / difficult to read at once. Great messages are in this

book. When the girl uses a robot to take her test, it is a history one. The girl does not need help in math or science. Hence, that

stereotype about girls is not played into. The girl even wears glasses and is an athletic captain. Also, her best friend is a girl with blond

hair and blue eyes. The main character stays very true to her self and does not envy other characters or girls' features. The book subtly

gives girls confidence while making reading fun and cool.

Reviewer Age:17

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

Rating: 8
Content rating: 1

The Rule of Claw

This novel is a dystopian science fiction story set in the near future. Thirty-one teenage humans live in a seaside camp, trapped in their camp by a forest that maliciously attacks them. Ash, the best surfer, is their leader until she loses a surfing contest due to a seagull. The new leader, Jon, is the first to kill and eat an animal, driving others to savagery as well. That night, Ash is captured by a species she did not even know existed, the Raptors, and is saved from death by the Raptor king, who is the most peaceful member of his species. She also befriends a Rodent, another species and an enemy of the Raptors. The situation becomes chaotic when the Raptor king dies and Ash must flee for her life. Luckily, she is taken in by the Rodents. She learns that all these different species are a result of her father's work of designing plants and animals to rapidly evolve to better suit humans. Unfortunately, most humans died off as a result of his work. Soon after she learns this, the Raptors attack all the humans. They are saved by a militant religious society that decides to help the human teenagers by killing off inferior races. Both groups plan an attack on the Raptors.

I enjoyed the setting of the book and the variety of characters. The different species were imaginative and interesting, as were the different humans. However, the book had too many messages. It seemed that the book’s purpose was to warn humans to respect each other and the environment. However, for long stretches of time, all the book did was express different morals. The major morals were: do not be racist, understand science instead of blindly following religion, all killing of animals is bad, and do not tamper with the environment. These messages did not always fit together well and interfered greatly with my appreciation of the story. In my opinion, the book would have been much better with more plot and less preaching. In addition, this book has some violence and anti-religion messages.

Content: 2
Rating: 5
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Royersford, PA United States

Sass Girls

If you like to read books about alien babes and dumb dudes, then you will love Sass Girls. One day while Sho and Steve are guarding the museum, Sho accidentally knocks over one of the sculptures on display. Steve decides that they should try to put it back together with glue. Sho goes to look for the glue in the janitor’s closet which is on the floor below. However, after retrieving the glue instead of going back upstairs, he accidentally pushes the down button which leads to the basement. When he arrives, he sees a hole in the wall ahead of him. He approaches the hole and discovers a capsule that has “Her” in it. “Her” is an alien – and one of the hottest babes ever- alien or not!

In Sass Girls, Passiona or “Her” is the daughter of the supreme leader of her planet, who has invasion plans for planet Earth. She and her two sisters are sent to Earth as spies to learn more about the “weaklings” that their father plans on subjugating. After Passiona meets Sho her attitude towards the weaklings changes; and she joins with Sho and Steve to prevent her father’s invasion of Earth.

Sass Girls is a great book. As you get started, it may seem boring. However, once you get past the first seven pages, I promise you that you will not want to put it down! It is full of action and alien romance. It’s a great book all and all. I would personally recommend it to readers over the age of fourteen due to language.

Due to adult language.
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Casa Grande, AZ USA

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Girls by Tucker Shaw

The main characters in The Girls are five very different
girls: Mary, Crystal, Sylvia, Amber, and Peggy. Peggy is
Mary's best friend that is obsessed with becoming a chef.
Mary is the "perfect one." She's nice to everyone, is
rich, beautiful, and her boyfriend is cheating on her.
Sylvia is rich as well and likes to cause trouble,
especially when she finds out who's cheating with Mary's
boyfriend. Crystal is the one cheating with Mary's
boyfriend. Amber works in a coffee shop and knows
everything there is to know about everyone.

This retelling of the play The Women is filled with twists and
turns, and the last pages are filled with surprising
secrets that are revealed and the lies told are brought to

The Girls was a decent book that had a pretty
interesting plot and characters that seemed real due to
their thoughts, dialogue, and actions. I found it
surprising how there were only girls in the book. Sure,
Mary's boyfriend was cheating on her with Amber, but he
never actually appeared in the story. The ending was
decisively the best part. I also liked how Peggy always
thought of recipes when she was stressed, and overall,
this was an acceptable book. It was attention-grabbing
enough to read once, but perhaps not good enough to read
again and again. At first, it was difficult to distinguish
the characters since there were so many. It was a pretty
good book, but definitely not on the same level as
Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, Cassandra Clare's City of
Bones, or Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries. It's a worthwhile
quick, easy read, but not an outstanding book, nor will it
be a bestseller.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City,
State and Country: Charleston, SC USA

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli

The main character of The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli is Elisabetta, who is the daughter of a silk merchant outside Florence, Italy during the Renaissance. There is a subplot where Elisabetta is friends with a young servant named Silvia. Elisabetta's parents keep pressing her to end her friendship with the servant. Later on in the story, Silvia becomes important to the plot. Once when Elisabetta's family attends the funeral of the ruler and banker of Florence, Lorenzo de'Medici Il Magnifico, Elisabetta tours the city with her father's friend, Leonardo da Vinci. He promises to paint her portrait when she is older. Elisabetta meets Lorenzo's youngest son, Giuliano. They fall in love. Then the French army masses outside the gates of Florence because the city is an ally of France's enemy, Naples. The citizens support France, because Florence is one of the financial capitals of Europe, and the French were financially powerful at that time. The Florentines accuse the ruling Medici, Piero of being a tyrant and banish the family from the city. Will the love between Elisabetta and Giuliano survive the political turmoil? Will Elisabetta's friendship with Silvia survive? Finally, what does this have to do with the portrait da Vinci is going to paint of Elisabetta?

I will give this novel a 7. First I will give a disclaimer. I did not realize that this book was a romantic historical fiction. Anyone who enjoys romantic fiction would probably rate this novel higher. The author knew a great deal about the Italian Renaissance. The novel contains many historical events. I through transitions as Elisabetta gets older could have been smoother. I have noticed that young adult historical novels often interject modern thoughts and ideas into the story, especially about the role of women and class structure. I through that part three was realistic for the role of women at that time. If you enjoy romantic historical fiction, you will enjoy The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois U.S.A.

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli

The main character of The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli is Elisabetta, who is the daughter of a silk merchant outside Florence, Italy during the Renaissance. There is a subplot where Elisabetta is friends with a young servant named Silvia. Elisabetta's parents keep pressing her to end her friendship with the servant. Later on in the story, Silvia becomes important to the plot. Once when Elisabetta's family attends the funeral of the ruler and banker of Florence, Lorenzo de'Medici Il Magnifico, Elisabetta tours the city with her father's friend, Leonardo da Vinci. He promises to paint her portrait when she is older. Elisabetta meets Lorenzo's youngest son, Giuliano. They fall in love. Then the French army masses outside the gates of Florence because the city is an ally of France's enemy, Naples. The citizens support France, because Florence is one of the financial capitals of Europe, and the French were financially powerful at that time. The Florentines accuse the ruling Medici, Piero of being a tyrant and banish the family from the city. Will the love between Elisabetta and Giuliano survive the political turmoil? Will Elisabetta's friendship with Silvia survive? Finally, what does this have to do with the portrait da Vinci is going to paint of Elisabetta?

I will give this novel a 7. First I will give a disclaimer. I did not realize that this book was a romantic historical fiction. Anyone who enjoys romantic fiction would probably rate this novel higher. The author knew a great deal about the Italian Renaissance. The novel contains many historical events. I through transitions as Elisabetta gets older could have been smoother. I have noticed that young adult historical novels often interject modern thoughts and ideas into the story, especially about the role of women and class structure. I through that part three was realistic for the role of women at that time. If you enjoy romantic historical fiction, you will enjoy The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois U.S.A.

Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

For Erin Misrahe, going to public school is something to celebrate. Ever since her diagnosis she's been in hospital after hospital, and had to take a rainbow of pills. And up until recently those pills have done the trick. Erin is surprised one day when her alter ego Shevaun shows up on an average day. But what if Shevaun isn't an alter ego at all, but a real person? What if Erin hasn't been crazy all these years after all?

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has a very unique style of writing. I felt the book was very original and had a good creative twist. But towards the middle of the book it started getting rushed. It was like the author was trying to fit as much in before the end of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a good book. Or to anyone who enjoys predicting what the end of the book will be.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Seaside , OR USA

Fabulous and Monstrous Beasts by Belinda Weber

Fabulous and Monstrous Beasts is a fictional field guide, rather than an actual story. The book is very well organized, dividing the monsters into three different sections: air, land, and water beasts. The major and minor sections are arranged clearly and according to the table of contents. Large, colorful, detailed pictures help the reader visualize the monsters and connect to the informative paragraphs about the different creatures. The guide hits the basic points about the monster such as its lore from the area it originated but doesn't go into complicated details. The author only gives small examples of the variations of the creatures, and doesn't list all of them. When you reach the end of the book, there is a reference that contains the following sections: Folklore of today, Real-life monsters, a Glossary, an Index, and Further reading. The Folklore of today lists common animals and their place in folklore. The Real-life monster section describes animals from our natural world with amazing traits or abilities some of which were the basis for the mythological creatures list in the book. The Glossary gives a brief definition of the monsters or creatures along with places and other terms used in the book. The index is straightforward; it lists the term and the page number(s) it is located on. The Further reading section contains a list of books and websites with more information about monsters and creatures.

Now, you may be thinking, If it's a book about monsters that could tear you apart, won't there be blood and such in it? The answer to that question is a simple no. The only parts of the book that weren't too gentle weren't as bad as you may think. There was only three pictures, one with MINOR blood, another was a bunch of stuff that could have been an extremely large lump of seaweed that kind of resembled a sea-monster carcass, and the last one was a beheaded Hydra head. I really enjoyed how the pictures were painted with intricate details, so that you can see every separate strand of fur and scale. I would recommend this book to anyone who is 7 and up, and who enjoys fantasy beasts.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Round Rock, TX USA

Friday, January 16, 2009

Barnaby Grimes and the Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Barnaby Grimes and the Curse of the Night Wolf is about a boy, Barnaby Grimes, who is a tick-tock lad, delivering messages to people all over the city of London. He is also a highstacker, meaning he gets around by climbing up houses, chimneys, and things like that. One night, while climbing above the rooftops, Barnaby runs into a wolf! That same night, his good friend Old Benjamin mysteriously disappears. Barnaby knows there must be some link between these odd events, and he is determined to find out what. Then Barnaby meets the suspicious Doctor Cadwallader after receiving a letter that was meant for Old Benjamin from the Doctor.

This book was a good light read. The plot was a little boring because I got the main idea of what was going to happen within the first third of the book. It is a good read for anyone who is looking for an easy book to read in one afternoon. The vocabulary was a little difficult, but not hard enough to ruin the story. Barnaby Grimes was a little scary, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't like to be a little freaked out. Overall, I enjoyed reading Barnaby Grimes and the Curse of the Night Wolf.

Reviewer Age: 12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Harleysville, PA USA

Rating: 8
Content Rating: 1

Lay-ups and Longshots by Joseph Bruchac

This book is about different people's experiences with sports. The stories range from having difficulties playing the sport to how they got treated on the team. There were also stories about how they found confidence in themselves. The author’s purpose was to entertain the reader with stories of other peoples’ experiences. The author did this by having different stories about various sports to keep us hooked and excited for a new story.

This book was interesting because the writers have all kinds of stories. I liked how the author used detail to give me a picture in my head. My favorite story was when a guy could never make two baskets in a row. But when he asked if his grandpa was going to live he made a couple shots in a row. I would recommend this book to people who like realistic fiction and sports. If you like short stories, read this book.

Flamingnet student reviewer
age: 15 St. Paul, MN.

Heir to Sevenwaters

Clodagh and her five sisters are the daughters of a great chief. Their cousin Johnny is next in line to be Heir to Sevenwaters. Then Clodagh's mother has a son, and he is next in line. Then trouble starts to stir. Johnny's men are acting suspicious, and Clodagh's mother,with no strength to get out of bed, leaves the baby in her hands. That is when the baby goes missing, and a changeling is in his place. Now no one trusts Clodagh, and they all think that she is insane because she is the only one that actually realizes that "Finbar" is actually a way to find her brother. Finbar is a baby made of sticks and stones, but he cries, eats, and sleeps just like a normal child. Clodagh sets out on a journey to find the Heir to Sevenwaters.

Overall, I thought that the book was really boring. It would talk about one thing in the whole chapter. She described the changeling in one chapter and described how the sticks looked. I liked the characters and their personalities, but there wasn't very much action. I would recomend this book for older people because some of the words didn't even make since to me!

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, Missouri, United States

Magic to the Bone

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk tells the tale of 25-year-old Allison Beckstrom, daughter of the prominent businessman responsible for the discovery and distribution of magic. Though Allie could be living a luxurious life as part of her father's company, she avoids her father entirely along with his magical influence. Instead, she works as a hound, someone who tracks magical "offloads" (placing the consequences of magic on another person), and lives in the one of the worst neighborhoods in Portland. When she is called to hound an offload on a five-year-old boy, Allie finds that the hit has her father's signature. After speaking to her father for the first time in several years, Allie is forced to fight for not only her life, but to prove her innocence in her dad's murder. Along with the help of her few existing friends, Nola and Zavion, Allie runs from the law and tries to protect a man claiming he knows who the real murderer is. She endures many surprises including learning things about herself and magic that she never knew to be possible. The story then ends with a completely unpredictable finale.

I thought this book was very entertaining and exciting. Though some of the language and actions used are geared for more mature readers, it can still be pleasant to read for younger teens. The author's vivid details make you feel like you're part of the story. I found the book's unusual form of magic to be very interesting because of its great contrast to the traditional type in witch and wizard stories. I think Magic to the Bone would be a good read for most teenage science fiction fans.

This story contains some vulgar actions and language.The flamingnet underwriter was Mrs.Bellis.

Reviewer Age:14Reviewer City, State and Country: Marble Hill, Missouri US

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inca Gold is a story where the reader and a girl named Sally both go to an airport in Cuzco, Peru to find the Lost City of the Incas. In this book from the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, the reader gets to make decisions that will determine what happens to them throughout the book as they search for The Lost City of Gold. The book will take the reader through many adventures including through jungles and many other treacherous paths. Be careful because others are out there looking for it too. The decisions you make in this quest could be good or bad. The wrong decisions could end your journey, but you can always go and reroute your path.

I like this book because it feels like you are in the book. You can decide what you want to happen. The author included details that helped me as a reader imagine the sounds and sights of each setting in the book. I like it because it's adventurous. It's the first book I've ever read that you can choose your own path and I really like that. My least favorite path is when I decided to go jump out of an airplane and my parachute would not open. I jerked it roughly and my chute opened, but the jungle was coming too fast and I crashed into what first looked like a soft blanket of green. The closer I got it seemed like an angry porcupine. The book let me know that this wasn't the way I was supposed to go. I had a hard time picking my favorite way to go. There were a lot of great ways.
Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Navigators: Stars & Planets" by Dr. Mike Goldsmith

Dr. Mike Goldsmith's "Stars and Planets" is a discovery all in its own. It discusses exactly what its eponymous title implies. The book starts out with the simple notions of the solar system and light, and cascades later into the more complex ideas of supernovas and space exploration. Each topic covers two pages and is akin to a poster that spans the left and right side of the book middle. Each section has a fun fact on the bottom of the page, a definition on the left side of the page, and a website to visit on the right side of the page. The middle of the pages are full of glossy, colorful pictures and short explanatory paragraphs. The contents of the book are what anyone could find online, but they are laid out in such a way that they do not seem at all intimidating to the non-PhD-holding reader.

This book is a great, quick read for kids of all ages. The holographic cover excites readers and makes them expectant for what lies on the inside of the book. The pages have plenty of pictures that make concepts understandable, but there are not so many pictures as to make the book seem too rudimentary. The scientific principles are all laid out, but there are only enough facts there for the reader to comprehend what lies within the book. The additional websites provided serve to guide readers to sites that hold more advanced science. Overall, the book is quite informative. In about an hour, it can transform any reader into a novice space connoisseur. From the enigmas of gravity to the wonders of ageless astronauts in hibernating capsules, this book will make you think and leave you with a sense of self-satisfaction when you are done.

Reviewer Age:17

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

I Am Apache by Tanya Landman

I am Apache by Tanya Landman tells the story of Siki, a fourteen year old Apache girl who chooses the path of a warrior to avenge the death of her brother, Tazhi. During her journey, Siki is pushed to her limits and discovers the truth about her father's dishonorable death. Little did she know, much more awaited her.

Tanya Landman vividly describes the Apache society, using terms such as moons and summers instead of years. Although the story didn't involve many cliffhangers, it was quite motivational and very empowering. She did a superb job in covering the three basics of any good story about a culture: war, society, and religion. The formal, and somewhat informal, language makes it seem as though the reader is merely a stranger being told Siki's life story. Landman excellently describes Siki's mental development after her brother's death and the manner in which she chose to deal with his death. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading about Native American or tribal cultures, subtle action stories, and anyone who likes to read about inner struggles.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Raleigh, North Carolina United States

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne

Celeste Harris was like any other chubby 13 year old girl. She had a best friend, Sandra, who defends her against the perfectly popular Lively Carson. Celeste is happy in here life, besides the daily beat-down of Lively's words, she's happy. But being a bridesmaid at her cousins wedding isn't all its cracked up to be. With a fitting for the ugly peach dress, the peach monstrosity, Celeste's Aunt Doreen finds a modeling flyer for PeachWear Industries and automatically forces Celeste into it. When the acceptance letter comes, her mom drags out the P-word; repeating exactly how proud she is. Suddenly the not-so-nice Lively is stealing her best friend, the daily calls and lunchroom talks come to a screeching halt. And the only way Celeste won't be the new face of PeachWear Industries is to lose, or so she thinks. Soon her afternoon stack of chocolate cookies comes to an end, and Sandra is even more distant. How is she supposed to get back to the way things were.
I think that the book is well written and the story is something most teens can relate to. The way the author describes Celestes' troubles make you feel for her and want to help. It was good how the author describes Celeste, because it makes her easier to relate to. The plot was something that was easily kept up with. It wasn't confusing and most people can relate to how Celeste is dealing with things.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania USA

Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega

Kat, 16, is in high school and is known as an outsider. She works at her mom's midwifery, is an artist, and trains for a women's triathlon. Her classmates call her Yoga Girl because she sometimes does yoga in the hallway. She hangs out with her friend Christy known as Hat Girl because of her insane hat collection. She has a secret crush on a popular guy named Manny Cruz since the seventh grade. Her mother, Abra, called her to assist her with a birth (Kat had always wanted to witness a birth; none of the people who were actually supposed to do it were at hand.) Kat didn't do very well with assisting, so she leaves her job at the midwifery. Shortly after telling her mom she quit, Abra gave her two notebooks. One was her mother's old notebook and one was blank and Kat turned it into a book of facts of her life. These Facts of Life helped her keep her morals and traditional values straight.

I really liked this book because of its different twist with a normal theme. It has a constant theme that most books have: girl likes boy, boy and girl have a secret relationship, girl gets hurt, girl organizes her life and is better with out him. Some things that were different about the book though was Christy's hat collection and the wisdom on natural born child birth. These small aspects made the book more fun to read and it got harder and harder to put down.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Norristown, Pennsylvania USA

Rating: 9
Content rating: 1

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

Intergalactic drama meets juvenile angst in Orson Scott Card's "Ender in Exile." A boy named Ender ensconces the plot. In the future, this boy is conscripted into the military at the age of six. In his preteen years, he capriciously hits a button and fires a missile at the enemy; he is afterward deemed a war hero. One side of the galaxy sees him as this ominously powerful man, while the other side of the galaxy views him as a boy-puppet with an insatiable appetite for blood. Melancholy spelunks deep within the cave of the reader when they realize that a boy has been robbed of his innocence very early in life, catapulted into a world of violence and despair that he does not [and may never quite] fully understand. Further thrills ensue when the boy's parent yearn for his return home and his siblings follow in Ender's footsteps by anonymously documenting his history. Science fiction is in the book, with mystical creatures and the notion of time with regards to relativity. Also, most mentions of war relate to Russia, although no notion of World War II or the Cold War are redundantly regurgitated. The story centers around the boy's internal struggle and is mostly respectful when it comes to discussing present nations in the future.
Young adults will grow from reading this book. There is just enough vocabulary to make readers little semanticists, but there is not so much that they get frustrated and want to put the book down. The narration sticks mostly to first person, although it intermittently changes perspective every couple of chapters. The emails at the start of the chapters make the scenes modern and dependent on computers (as most young readers tend to naturally depict the future). Additionally, there is some romance spun into the plot when Ender meets a girl named Alex. Alex's mother cajoles her into chasing after Ender in hopes of matrimony. Ender toys with Alex's emotions, too young to truly know what love is. There is much drama when Alex confronts her mother, as well as when Ender finally communicates his woes with his abandoned family. The book can best be summed up by one quote towards the end of the novel. "Surround a child with lies, and he clings to them like a teddy bear, like his mother's hand. And the worse, the darker the lie, the more deeply he has to draw it inside himself in order to bear the lie at all" (Card, 360).
Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Bee or Not to Bee by John Penberthy

Buzz Bee is just like any other bee; he pollinates flowers and helps build the hive where he lives. But unlike the other bees, Buzz questions his life and existence. Buzz gets fed up with aimlessly working all the time and decides to go out to clear his head. While he is out pondering he meets an older bee named Bert. Through the help of Bert, Buzz sorts through his confusions about God and religion and learns about his place in the larger world. While Buzz is learning from Bert he also becomes interested in a mountain pass close to his hive. The pass is 3000 feet high, with unpredictable weather, yet Buzz has a feeling that going up the pass is do-able. After the passing of Bert, Buzz decides to climb the mountain pass. It starts out easy but as Buzz gets higher and higher the wind gets stronger. He pushes through the pain and gets to the top. After getting to the top, his gut tells him that he has learned what needed to be learned from the journey and heads home. The next morning the hive is attacked by a bear, and gets dismantled. All the bees worry about where to rebuild it when Buzz suggests the cliffs. At first they think he is crazy, but when he takes them closer they agree with him. Like everybody else, Buzz finds himself collecting pollen and building on the new hive. Buzz comes to understand that his role in life is right where he started, all through his crazy adventure.

One of the best things about To Bee or Not to Bee are the illustrations included in the book. Half the book is words and the other half is illustrations of places Buzz visits and things Buzz does. The book's serious topic about finding yourself is considerably lightened through the illustrations. Author John Penberthy does a wonderful job of writing through Buzz's eyes. Buzz is a confused bee going through problems that people go through every day. But by writing about bees instead of humans it makes it more amusing and interesting to read, since you don't really think about bees going through problems like humans do. Overall, I found this book to be a fun yet moving story about a bee looking for his purpose in life that many people will be able to relate to. I would recommend it to people who are looking for books with serious topics but who would enjoy pondering those topics in a relaxed and fun way.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Champaign, IL USA

Rating: 8

Content Rating: 1

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

"The Amaranth Enchantment", by Julie Berry, is a Cinderella type fairy tale. This magical tale is about a girl named Lucinda who once had a perfect life before she lost her parents. After her parents died, she was sent to her aunt and uncles to work in their jewelry store. She is treated poorly by her aunt and misses her previous wealthy lifestyle. One day when a mysterious lady brings an amazing rare piece of jewelry, Lucindas life is changed forever. This unusual jewel causes Lucinda to be entwined with the troubles of a thief, a witch, and even the King. She must get through all of these obstacles in order to find her “happily ever after” again.

This exciting fairy tale had me interested from the beginning. It begins with the discovery of the jewel, takes you through an adventure, and on to the shocking conclusion. I was entranced throughout this excellent tale. I thought the story was well written in plot and dialogue. The characters were intriguing, each with a colorful personality. My favorite character was "Dog", her eccentric goat sidekick, that always had you laughing.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Lemoore, CA US

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Second Virginity of Suzy Green by Sara Hantz

Suzy Green is not your typical good girl. Suzy and her friends get up to a lot of mischief, drinking, playing tricks and having full blown relationships with the guys. They are on the fringe of Goth and love it. But when Suzy's sister Rosie dies and the family move across the county, Suzy must clean up her act. She finds herself at a new and very posh school. Here she wants to make a good impression and become a member of the in crowd. The only way to make it in, is to join the Virginity Club. It's just that, well, Suzy doesn't really fit the virgin criteria but who cares, right?
The Second Virginity of Suzy Green was a light-hearted and funny teen read. It was written using a little too much teenage slang but was a very enjoyable novel. Suzy was a great narrator to the book. She was written to be a jovial and witty character but she was able to be deep and emotional. This book was set in Australia, so I was able to understand fully how and why things were being done. I really liked the unique idea of this book. It was not quite as good as the Gossip Girl type teenage drama novels, but much better than a lot of the girly high school books going around. I would definitely recommend it to friends of mine as an easy going read.
Mild Sexual References. Infrequent Swearing
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne , Victoria Australia

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why Don't Your Eyelashes Grow, by Beth Ann Ditkoff, M.D.

Have you ever wondered why pee is yellow? What are bedbugs? Why do we have nightmares? Or can chicken noodle soup really cure a cold? This book is written by Dr. Beth Ann Ditkoff and answers all of your gross, weird, embarrassing, and even funny questions about the human anatomy! This book has everything from questions children might ask to questions adults still may ponder. Why don't you eyelashes grow? This book will tell you!

I enjoyed reading through this cute and short reference book. It's very entertaining and has lots of fun factoids. It is also very informative! Everything is easy to find and is organized just right. It gives you just enough information so you're not looking for more and or you don't become bored on an individual subject. There were certain categories that sparked my attention which were "Urban Myth and What if?" and "The Weird, The Ugly, and the Downright Gross! I would suggest buying this book just to have on hand in case you have some baffling body questions!

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

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Phoenix Wright by Capcom

There is one name that criminals and lawyers alike fear: Phoenix Wright. This lawyer always finds the truth and the evidence to back it up. Phoenix Wright defends his clients with ease, with the help of his cute assistant, Maya, and many others. In this book they investigate twenty different cases, with everything from ghosts to ramen noodles.

This was one of my least favorite mangas. It was based off of a video game I have never played; therefore, I didn't understand a lot of what was going on or what the characters did. Also, because it was drawn and written by twenty different people, the characters all looked slightly different in all the stories and I sometimes had difficulty identifying them. Some of the stories were cheesy and overdone, but some of them were enjoyable.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania USA

Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life by Anna Hays

This book is about Portia Avatar who is a twelve year old girl living in Palmville, California. When a sudden earthquake hits her town at 3:47 AM, she finds a mysterious picture of her missing father. From the picture, Portia decides her father is a detective. Portia decides that she will solve the case of her missing father, but can she keep it a secret from her vegetarian mother, Indigo? In the middle of her case, Portia discovers a ring which she believes is her mother's wedding ring. Will Portia be able to find out anything about her father from Indigo? Will she find her missing father?

This book is one of the best books I have ever read. Once I started reading, I just couldn't stop! The book was written really well; reading it was easy, and I could relate to Portia's determination to reach her goal once she set her mind to it. I would definitely recommend this book to girls my age. This book was a cliff-hanger that kept me guessing to the very last page.

Reviewer Age: 12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Enon, OH USA

The Pact by Monica McKayhan

The book The Pact by Monica McKayhan is about a teenage couple who are going their separate ways during their summer vacation. They decide to make a pact to have fun during the summer and to meet new people. If they found someone they liked more than each other then they would split up and if they didn't they would get back together upon returning. During his summer break Marcus Carter was faced with the decision on whether he wanted to stay with his mother in Texas or go home to Indigo back in Atlanta. Marcus also gets blamed for some things that he wasn't responsible for and he has to pay the price. Indigo Summer's grandma is hospitalized while Indigo is staying with her and she has to go stay with her cousin untill her grandma gets better. While staying with her cousin she is pressured to do some things she wouldn't normally do and her cousin's boyfriend tries to take advantage of her.

I enjoyed this book because it was very personal and I could relate to it in more than one way. This book is very detailed and it has a lot of issues that everyday teenager sometimes face. It explains the difficulties of young love and how if you truely love someone you will do anything for them. This book will prepare young teenagers for life and love.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA

J. K. Rowling by Joan Vos MacDonald

This book tells you how people protest J.K. Rowling's books. It gives you information and pictures of what some people do to books when they don't like them. This book touches on a lot of people's opinions and beliefs of her work. It explains some of the Harry Potter books then tells why people do or don't like them. Then when people don't like the books, they destroy them. Overall, it is a lot of opinions and how far people will go to prove their points.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I was expecting some more information on J.K. Rowlings life. I wasn't expecting a lot of information about how people protest against her books. I like her books and I wasn't interested in hearing about how people destroy her books. I think that a book is a book, and if you don't like the book then don't read it.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA

Monday, January 05, 2009

War Is

War Is... by Marc Aronson & Patty Campbell

For many people, war is an experience that is far away from their daily living, yet it plays an intrinsic role in the lives of all humans. The book War Is... seeks to bring the issues surrounding war to the reader. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is short piece that deal with people’s opinions on war, including newspaper articles, song lyrics, and interviews. The second part deals with different soldiers’ experiences, ranging from soldiers in World War I to the Iraq War. The third part examines soldiers’ experiences when they return from a war. The different pieces are all short, are written in many different forms (blog, short story, play, interview) and are by many different authors.

Anyone who wants to know more about war, or people’s experiences in war, should read this book. It is geared to young adults who, I think, would benefit the most from the book’s selections, but the book is accessible to anyone.
It is very difficult to find an unbiased view on the subject of war. However, this book did a wonderful job of balancing diverse opinions on matters, especially since the editors of the book held very different personal views on war.

Most of the pieces in the book were very well combined. Overall, they were very interesting, and spoke about many different issues. Mostly the book focused on the Iraq War, which made it very relevant to the current times. I did feel that the letters from the soldier in World War I was out of place. This selection was a collection of personal letters from the editor’s father, and I did not feel it was an appropriate choice. However, I felt all of the other selections were wonderful.

I would definitely recommend this book to any young
adults who wish to understand more about the world around

There is some bad language in the book; however,
the book does NOT have graphic violence.

Rating 9
Content 3

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois USA

Ranger's Apprentice - The Sorcerer of the North

In Ranger's Apprentice- Book 5: Sorcerer of the North, a young ranger named Will is given a special task by the Ranger Corp. He and his life-long friend Alyss are sent to the north of the kingdom where they must discover what is behind the mysterious illness of Lord Byron, master of the castle. What they find is a tangled web of deceit, dark magic, and hysteria. Will and Alyss must learn to quickly tell their allies from their enemies as they battle against time. The mission becomes deadly when Alyss is held hostage and Will must decide whether his loyalty lies with his mission or whether he will risk it all to follow his heart. The book is full of surprising twists and turns, and it leaves you wanting the next book. With plenty of fantasy creatures and magical mystery, it fits right into the Ranger's Apprentice series.

John Flanagan is a talented writer and he weaves a suspenseful tale throughout the Ranger's Apprentice series. This book is no exception and from the beginning you get vivid detail and thorough descriptions. This installment in the Ranger’s Apprentice series has a dark tone, much like the past books. The main character in this novel is Will, a young ranger, but he is joined by his good friend and love interest, Alyss. The book is centered around their trials and tribulations, but they often receive help from past characters like Will’s former teacher Halt, and Alyss’ and Will’s good friend Horace. Will is a well known character in the series and his good nature, quick wit, and knack for always saving the day makes him a very lovable character. Alyss is a poised, beautiful, and caring individual and her hidden strength and selflessness makes her a powerful female presence. The book often alternates from different focal points, one chapter focusing on Will, another focusing on the villain, and the next showing Alyss. These changes help to give the reader a view of everything that is going on, so that you get a sense of what all the characters are doing and how one character’s actions will affect the other. In this novel, conflict draws ever closer until you reach the final climax where battle is about to break loose. It is at this point that the book ends and you wind up feeling like the entire novel merely set up the next book. There is no heavy action, no final confrontation, and the ending felt severely lackluster. Everything in the brilliant tale Flanagan has woven thus far simply seems cut off. This book was a tremendous read up until the end. If you wish for a full novel with a beginning, climax, and ending you will be a bit disappointed. Although the plot crumbles at the end, all the way through the writing is vivid, effective, beautiful, and interesting. The book is part of a very action-packed fantasy series and although it holds very little action itself, it does continue to build on Flanagan’s elaborate fictional world. I would have to say that is the weakest Ranger’s Apprentice book so far due to the lack of conclusion, and the fact that on its own it does not stand a very complete book. As mentioned before, this book is best for those who are already avid readers of the Ranger's Apprentice series, as it contains many old characters, but it is not an entirely lost cause for those who have not read the series before. I would recommend having the next book ready to read immediately after finishing this one, so that all of the brilliant reading you have just done does not feel entirely wasted.

Content: 1
Rating: 7
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: South Pasadena, California USA

Encyclopedia of the End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes

The Encyclopedia of The End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes, deals mainly with different funeral customs around the world. It also deals with the science, theology, and folklore of death. This book alphabetically covers everything from an amulet of good luck for the dead to wreaths for funerals. The book contains pictures and sub-notes. You will find out about the origins of modern Goth culture, where the tradition of the hearse at funerals started, what necromancy is, how a body decays, and more in The Encyclopedia of The End by Deborah Noyes.

I give the Encyclopedia of The End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes a ten. It is a great introduction to the topic of death. This is a topic that is not discussed in today's world as much as it was in the past. This Encyclopedia brings death, an essential part of life, to light in a gentle way. If the reader has basic questions about the culture or science of death, this book will answer these questions. Even if a reader is scared of death, nothing in this book will scare them. I enjoyed the part on holidays about death, such as Bon, Day of the Dead, and Halloween. I found the Japanese holiday of Bon especially interesting. Bon is a holiday where the dead family members come back to earth. The Encyclopedia of the End by Deborah Noyes will make you find out more about death, whether by interviewing a funeral home director, reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe, or visiting Nagasaki, Japan during Bon.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois U.S.A.

The Truth about Horses, Friends, and My Life as a Coward

The Truth about Horses, Friends, and My Life as a Coward by Sarah P. Gibson is about Sophie, a girl who has had some interesting experiences with horses -- to say the least. The book is in first person with Sophie as the Narrator. She has been forced into a life with horses because of her mom's love for the animals. Each chapter describes a mishap Sophie has had with one of the horses her family owns. For instance, when she is little her mom buys her and her sister a pony named Really. Sophie never asked for a horse, but her mom is convinced this will make her happy. One of her mishaps occurs when Sophie has a friend over and her mom decides they should go on a cart ride with Really. During the cart ride, Really decides to take over and soon he is running full speed, pulling the cart behind him, with Sophie and her friend hanging on for dear life. This is one of many cases that has caused Sophie's aversion to horses. However, throughout the book Sophie grows fonder of them and learns they are not as frightening or as demonic as she initially thinks. Along the way she makes friends who love her horses, but best of all, love her for who she is.

I read this book in one sitting, cover to cover, because I could not put it down. It is the perfect blend of comedy and drama, chronicling Sophie's life with horses. Sophie is a likeable character that the readers will fall in love with as soon as they read page one. The author does a good job with imagery and all the passages were funny because they seemed like they could happen in real life. I found this book appealing because it takes a different view on life with horses. It is not the typical "girl loves horse" story. I did, however, like that the author ended the book with Sophie's obvious growing compassion for the horses she cares for. This book is good for children of any age who already love horses, or those who are curious about what occurs behind the scenes while taking care of them.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Westerville, OH United States

Charles Darwin by Alan Gibbons

Charles Darwin takes an epic adventure in which today is said to be one of the greatest scientific discoveries ever. The book is facts mixed in with a little bit of fiction. Throughout the period of a four year ship ride on the HMS Beagle, the main character, James Kincaid, writes a dairy entry every now and then telling about the finds of Charles Darwin and the fun that was held on the islands they traveled to and from. It is a great short read for young adults and a good book for young readers that have not yet mastered chapter books. The book is full of cool creatures and amazing illustrations from the start of the first page.

Charles Darwin by Alan Gibbons is a book with an exclusive setting of the island of South America. The writer makes the characters pop out of the book so you get the idea of who they were and what they were like. The characters are very likable and are fun to read about what they did and what their life was made up of. It was written in the appropriate manner of first person. I read as though the main character was reading his dairy entries right to me. The book had many strengths, but one of its greatest was its illustrations. They were colorful and vibrant, making it seam as though you were there in that animated world. I really have never read a book like it so I couldnt compare it to anything. I learned a lot while reading Charles Darwin, it is filled with facts. As a chapter book reader, it was more of a burden to read the book. There wasn't a part that really pulled me in because it was so short. If I had to choose whether to recommend it or not I would have to say it matters who you are, a chapter book reader like me, or a short book reader. It would also depend on your preference in general.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Merino, Colorado (CO) United States of America

My One Hundred Adventures

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 a 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

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Night of the Living Dead by Casey Daniels

The Night of the Living Dead is a thrilling science fiction book. You follow along with Pepper Martin, a trendy and beautiful, cemetery tour guide. Who, by the way, can talk to the dead. While on a trip to a cemetery convention, which she only went to because her boss was sick, she runs into a ghost. Madeline is her name, and she has been dead for 3 years. She tells Pepper about a study that Dr. Gerard is holding. Madeline tips Pepper off that maybe this study isn't as legal as it may seem. But when she tells Pepper, Dan, a guy Pepper is falling for, may be involved, the whole case changes. And what happens when more than just dirty secrets are revealed?

This book was a great science fiction book. This is a great mystery book for teens. This book was well-written, a good mystery, and wonderful science fiction. I would definitely recommend this book to mystery freaks. I have to say the ending was pretty good and I hope there is a sequel, because I feel like I was left hanging on a thread.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Germantown, TN United States

Swimming with the Sharks by Debbie Reed Fischer

Five-foot eleven. Freckled. Flat as a surfboard. Peyton
Grady sees her role on the varsity cheer squad as the only
thing keeping her off the social sidelines at wealthy
Beachwood Preparatory Academy. It's her umbilical cord to
cool-and it's constantly in danger of getting cut. As a
base, it's Peyton's duty to be stepped on-literally-by
cheer queen Lexie Court. So when Lexie hatches a fierce
hazing campaign against the frumpy new girl, Peyton has no
choice but to support her flier. Soon the pranks become
sadistically cruel, even criminal. Suddenly, Peyton has
more to lose than her new-found Alpha celebrity. Will she
gamble her entire future for "the good of the squad"?

Debbie Reed Fischer's second novel, Swimming with the
Sharks, is an easy-to-read page turner filled with many
laugh-out-loud moments. Right from the beginning, I was
hooked. I loved how easy it was to connect with the
narrator, Peyton, and how I could feel every emotion she
experienced. Fischer did an amazing job describing
everything that was going on, making it feel as if you
were really there. Swimming with the Sharks taught a very
important lesson in friendship and relationships. This
book was a good way to teach readers that hazing is wrong
and that you should always do the right thing.
This book contained hazing and bullying.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA

Friday, January 02, 2009

Triple Shot Bettys in Love by Jody Gehrman

Triple Shot Bettys in love was a book about two girls who work in a coffee shop (neither one of them is named Betty. Their names are Geena and Amber actually.) Geena is a very smart girl with a perfect boyfriend named Ben, whom she has been going out with for 5 months. Amber is completely head over heels with Geena's English teacher, Mr. Sands. Geena just may have a crush on him to, but she doesn't know what to do about it because of Ben. When a crazed, mean model makes a play for Ben, Geena sees her chance to do something about her crush, but will she? Find out in Triple Shot Bettys in love.

This was a fairly good read. The plot line was very complicated and some of the characters were weak and hard to identify with, but the core story was funny and touching. It is a story we have all heard (or seen for ourselves) 1000 times, I mean, everyone has had a crush on a teacher before, right? But these two girls take it one step further and actually date the teacher, so I think some parents would be opposed to having their child read this book. This is a must read for girls my age. This is the sequel to Confessions from a Triple Shot Betty.

mild language, and sexual content

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: exeter , NH USA