Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

Lidie is a 12-year-old immigrant from Brazil who likes to ride horses and has to move to a ranch in New York. School and life are hard but she soon adjusts to her new circumstances as well as a new horse named Wild Girl. The two of them have something very special in common. Both Wild Girl and Lidie must live without their mothers. They also both have a bad case of homesickness, and they are heavyhearted because of it.

I loved this book because it was very well written and comprehensive. For example, this book has many interesting details about Wild Girl's life as a foal. This book is different from books like Black Beauty because Black Beauty is more of a horse's life story where as this was more about the girl than the horse. Young readers would like this book because it is both a challenge to read and a wonderful story. I recommend this book to all young readers who love anything and everything about horses.

Reviewer Age: 10

Reviewer City, State and Country: Mondovi, WI USA

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beating Heart by A. M. Jenkins

Evan has just moved into a Victorian Era house that his mother adores. The relationship with his girlfriend seems to be going downhill. Besides, in his dreams, Evan has been having intimate and passionate relations with an unknown girl. He finds papers that had been left in the house from decades past; one of the pictures in the pile is of the same girl that he sees every night in his sleep. Both Evan and the "ghost" of the house are discovering what they really want and need by their interactions. How do their "visits" help each other?

Beating Heart is a mixed book of prose and poetry. Evan's story is told in prose while the ghost's story is told in first-person poetry. The book was a very quick read because of the constant switch between the two characters. Sometimes I would reread the poetry for comprehension, but I would always look over the poetry again because of how beautiful it was. The way the words were laid out on the page matched the tone of the poems and kept me wanted to read more. I recommend this book to readers of poetry or books on teenage self-discovery.

The book is primarily of a sexual theme.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

Circle of Friends: Book III by L. Diane Wolfe

Circle of Friends: James is about, Surprise surprise, James, and his complicated life with his girlfriend, Maria. James is a tragic character, whose life has been pretty much all around awful up until the book starts. He has some loyal friends, and has had some girlfriends, but his father is abusive and his mom walked out on him when he was young. At the start of the book James is reuniting with an old flame. She has a history of cheating on him, and she does again. James is devastated, so his friend Lori sets him up with Maria, a sweet, pretty, and shy girl. Their relationship is serious and soon grows into love. When a serious bump in the road is met, what will happen to them? Find out by reading the book.

This was a mildly disappointing read. I felt that the characters were not real enough seeming. I think that if the book had been written in 1st rather than 3rd person, most, if not all of the barrier I felt between me and the story would have been minimized. The plot was fascinating, but jarring. I felt that there was a lot of unnecessary drama that took the focus away from the main story. I had trouble trying to find a connection between some of the authors deep points and the actual story. I would have much preferred that there were fewer characters with more insight about each one. As I said, some what disappointing.

some muted sexuality

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, NH USA

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

Aislinn and Seth are finally together, she's started to accept her immortality, she and Keenan are just friends and everything seems perfect. There's only one main problem: Seth's mortality and Aislinn's immortality don't add up. Time is running out and they don't know how long they have left together. In addition to this, summer is growing closer and with that so are Keenan and Aislinn. This conflict within the Summer Court has drawn the attention of all the faery courts. Discord pushes the faery courts to an outcome that won't be entirely peaceful.

Melissa Marr weaves a fantastic tale of faeries, courts, immortality and chaos throughout the newest installation of this series. This novel was captivating initially but the pace and plot twists do not hold my attention throughout the book. It is a perfect way to pass the time but I do not suggest it for someone who wants to read a thought-provoking book. Melissa Marr instills great character depth and development in this novel. A character who demonstrates these qualities is the main character Aislinn who is easy to relate to because she faces the indecision that an average teenager deals with. This book also relies heavily on the information given in the preceding books, Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. I would suggest this book to anyone looking for an interesting read who has read both of the previous novels.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Richmond, Virginia United States of America

Monday, September 28, 2009

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds is a riveting sci-fi novel about two clones called shatterlings, Purslane and Campion. Formed from a single human named Abigail Gentian, the pair explores and observes civilizations while returning every two hundred thousand years to a reunion with the nine hundred ninety-eight other male and female clones Abigail created. They dread going back for they are in love and have traveled together, a practice which is forbidden of shatterlings. They drag on the way to the reunion, fearful for what might happen to them. As a result, they miss the attack that nearly kills all of the Gentian line. Now they must search those who remain and try to find who or what is responsible for the massacre, before there no longer is a Gentian Line.

This book was incredible! I am hoping that there will be a sequel to this novel because although many questions were answered, a lot weren't, and I never have read a book with a more gripping cliffhanger. The descriptions of the setting were very detailed, right on the fine line between just right and a bit too much. However, the characters were shallow and I did not feel as if they were real. More character description would have been nice. This book is very captivating and nothing, nothing gives away the astonishing twist right when you think you know the ending. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes sci-fi. If you don't, stay away, but if you do, this one is a great find.

Some of the content in this novel may be to mature for younger readers.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Northport, New York United States

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino

This book is a fictional account of a refugee from Guatemala. Tomasa, a young girl, and her family live in a small village in Guatemala. Their peaceful lives changes when soldiers occupy their town, supposedly protecting them form raids by guerrilla soldiers. First, Tomasa's mother and brother, Carlos, must flee to prevent him from being conscripted into the army. Tomasa, her father, and her two younger siblings follow when their village is destroyed by the army. The story describes the hardships they face while trying to meet up with Tomasa's mother and brother in the United States. They must smuggle themselves into both Mexico and the United States and avoid Guatemalan, Mexican, and American authorities. Along the way, they meet many helpful people who guide them on their way. The best categorization of this book is historical fiction because it is based off real events and places.

This book was interesting because it was realistic. Many of the experiences of Tomasa's family seem like experiences any refugee could have. This realism is probably partially because the author has worked with immigrants before. However, in most chapters of the book, Tomasa describes her dreams. These are often confusing and hard to interpret. They do not detract from the story, but they do not add much either. All in all, the book was an short but worthwhile read. I recommend it for teenagers curious about the plight of refugees.

There is some violence and war that, while not explicit, is probably suitable only for high school students or mature middle school students.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Royersford, PA United States

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beyond the Shadows of Summer by Jonathan Zemsky

Beyond the Shadows of Summer a novel by Jonathan Zemsky, is a story told by protagonist James Sayer, of his quaint Midwest town, in America during the 1950's. A year before the summer of '55 James loses his younger brother, Brand, to a rare blood disease. This death emotionally tears the Sayer family apart and creates a distance between James and many of his closest friends. It also restrains James from doing the things that he loves; drawing and baseball. Beyond the Shadows of Summer is a coming of age novel, set for most of the story in a showground, in which the main character must learn to appreciate the difficulties of growing up in a racist society, the importance of friends both young and old and the extraordinary emotions that first love can bring. During the summer of '55, when James has only experienced 14 short years of life, he is able to discover what is really important to him. While defeating a bully, standing up for what he believes in and accepting new friends, James is able to retrieve his life back. Once James gains the perspective and the strength to accept his brothers death, he is capable of properly treasuring and celebrating Brands life, by journeying through his own and repairing all that was broken.

After reading Beyond the Shadows of Summer I was quite pleased and impressed. Overall I really liked the book. I liked the depth of the plot and the entwined character relationships. I enjoyed the style of the writing as well as the intelligent and thorough description that the protagonist uses in speech and thought. I did think however, that this was slightly advanced vocabulary and sentence structure for 14 year old boys, even in the 1950s. I found this book slightly slow to start as I struggled to find a way to relate to the characters and their situation. But as I read on I became enthralled with the story line and found myself turning pages quickly to uncover the resolutions. I think that the author was able to evoke substantial emotion through his writing of especially scenes where James reflects on his brother's death. I found myself at times comparing aspects of this book to Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, I believe this would be due to the time both novels are set and the leading black male influences on the main characters. I liked the way that the show ground setting for this book was so much fun and so easily visualized. Zemsky made it easy for the reader to feel as if they were in the very same place as the characters. By large this was a book I really enjoyed. At times I felt that it was more inclined to males and for that reason I would recommend it to teenage boys from age 13, whom would relate and understand the more masculine emotions expressed by the characters. That said ,this was a very worthwhile read whose story truly intrigued me. I will look forward to any more of Zemsky's insightful and captivating work.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne, Victoria Australia

The Debs by Susan McBride

This book is about these girls who work hard to get what they want. Their names are Laura Bell, Mac Mackenzie, and Ginger Fore, who have dreamed of becoming a deb ever since they were little girls. Laura is a little overweight, but that doesn't stop her from attracting a hot jock named Avery, making her rivals fiery with jealously. Ginger falls in love with this older, college guy named Javier, which almost lands her in jail. Mac on the other hand, is the calmest out of the three. She doesn't really want to be a deb, but will do whatever it takes to make her friends happy. But the three girls have some competition on their hands, Jo-Lynn Bidwell and her posse, Camie and Trisha, who will do anything- I mean anything- to keep Laura and her friends out of the Class Slipper Club. Scandal, Lies, Secrets and much more lies ahead...

The book was very interesting and made me want to know what happened next. It gives great detail about the characters and makes me feel as if I knew them in person. One thing I had to get used to at first was that each chapter was about a different character and their actions, but it all blended well together. I would recommend this book to any girl in high school, because this book contains what most girls go through in high school, such as making the wrong friends, boys, backstabbing and heartache. I would definitely like to see a Part 2 of this book, and she what else Jo-Lynn has in store for the girls.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Cumming, Georgia United States

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Gods of Amyrantha by Jennifer Fallon

The Tide Lords, long time legends, have been thought of only as that. All of the world, their immortality and power have been brought up as myths and nothing more; but little do the humans know that the Lords have been secretly hiding out, waiting for the Tide to return so that they can rule once again. One Tide lord, Cayal, also known as the Immortal Prince, loathes his immortality and has been searching for millenniums of a way to end his life. The only thing standing in his way are his other fellow Tide Lords and Arkady Desean, the human Duchess of Lebec and expert on the Tide Lords, who has discovered his true nature and has captured his heart. In this tale of romance and suspense, one Lord must make a choice. Is Cayal's love for Arkady worth his continuing existence, or is his dismal immortality to much to bear and he's willing to give it all up even if it means destroying the world?

When I first picked up this book, I could not set it down. It hooked me from the very first page and never let go. The end had me begging for more. Fallon's characters were well-crafted and I felt like I was actually with them. I especially loved how each chapter was in someone elses' perspective. It really gave me an idea of how they were feeling and what they were witnessing through-out the story so I could actually follow everything that was happening. It was thrilling and romantic and i would definitely recommended it to any of my friends. It's a wonderful story and i can't wait for the next!

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Sacramento, California USA

Thursday, September 24, 2009

City of Screams by John Brindley

The book is a mystery, romance, and an adventure. There is a twist in this adventure as death is brought to their home by raving Raptors. The Air Angels and Ground Angels are limited in their abilities, but one special Ground Angel is able to change everything.

I think CITY OF SCREAMS was a very nice book. This book reminds me of one of my favorite author, James Patterson. I like CITY OF SCREAMS a lot, and I feel that anyone who enjoys a book with interesting characters should read it.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: mineola, texas mineola

Full Moon by Rachel Hawthorne

Lindsey is the main character of the second book in the Dark Guardian series. Her parents are among the most powerful of the Dark Guardians, which is an acient tribe of shape-shifters. They are able to change their shape into a wolf. Lindsey's parents laid out Lindsey's life for her before she was even born. Her 17th birthday has passed and she will change into a werewolf on the next full moon as her mate helps her through it. The question is, who is her mate? Her parents set her up with Connor and when the full Moon comes, their life together will be final. Her parents couldn't be happier, but why can't Lindsey stop thinking about Rafe? Rafe has never been so interesting to Lindsey. When a dangerous threat is pushed on the tribe, Lindsey must also deal with the fact that she can't stop thinking about Rafe, when she should be thinking about Connor. Rafe and Connor make it hard on Lindsey. She must deal with their threats on each other. When they fight for her, it isn't a human fight. It is a fight to death. Lindsey must find some way to stop them, but how? Who will she choose?

Full Moon is an amazing add-on to Moonlight, the first book in the Dark Guardian series. It is very creative and Rachel Hawthorne did a wonderful job. As I read it, the pictures in my mind were so vivid and detailed that it felt real. It was as if I was Lindsey and everything that happened was happening to me. I enjoy all books that have supernatural beings in them. Any young adult readers that enjoy them as well would fall deeply into the spell of this book. I recommend this book to those who do enjoy fiction novels.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio USA

Dirty Jersey (Kimani Tru) by Phillip Thomas Duck

Dirty Jersey by Philip Thomas Duck is a thrilling adventure about a high school boy named Eric Posey. Eric has no friends in high school and everyone makes fun of him. His sister, Kenya, is one of the popular girls in school. After Eric meets Fiasco, one of the coolest rappers, and becomes friends. Soon, he ends up joining Fiasco's crew and suddenly, he is the coolest kid in school and everyone wants to be his friend. But, Fiasco isn't exactly a good guy and what if he wants something in return for his friendship?

I really liked this book, it was both interesting and exciting. I had a really hard time putting it down to do my homework! But the book is not just about The story really made me think of my own life and how I treated other people and what the effects of that were. This book really gets you to think about your actions and choices and also the effects of peer pressure. Eric would never have gotten involved in Fiasco's group if the kids at school had been nice to him and he didn't have the pressure to fit in. Overall, I would say that this book is really well written and it makes you think about your life.

There are some themes of sexual abuse that might be hard for younger readers to read.

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

The Jewel Keepers by E. J. Bousfield

The Jewel Keepers Book One: Albion is set in two time periods, 2008 and in the first century A.D. In 2008 Katie is dealing with her judgemental and tough to live with mother, her move to Manchester and her mentally ill Nana. She also thinks she can talk to animals, making it hard to find friends and to get along with her mother, who fears Katie might be headed down the path of insanity like Nana. When they visit Nana and she reveals to Katie that she comes from a long line of spiritually gifted individuals and is a Keeper of a long-lost jewel, Katie is shocked. The Jewel has the power to open the gateway from her world to that of the supernatural. She is supposed to find it and protect it (which is easier said than done). In the first century A.D. Mortunda, a Celtic princess finds she can communicate with the gods. However, her father has chosen her to be his successor and refuses to accept that his daughter may have another calling. Joining a society called the Seronydd, an order of others who are supernaturally gifted, would mean surrendering her right to the throne and devastating her father. Also, the Romans are about to sail over the English Channel and conquer her tribe, the Brigante. Mortunda is torn between her duty and her destiny, also linked to the mysterious Jewel in Katie's world.

While the plot summary of this book sounded promising, the book was, overall, a letdown. My biggest problem was that the writing was very flat, simplistic and not engaging. There were also plenty of noticeable grammar mistakes that were very distracting. I didn't look forward to picking this up again nor did I fight to keep my eyes open so I could find out what happened. Katie is quite one-dimensional, as is her mother and most of the 2008 storyline. In the 2008 portion, much of the formal language used is not believable, as most teenage girls don't speak like Katie does. This makes her hard to relate to and I also found her just plain uninteresting. The Celtic portion of the story was somewhat more enjoyable to read, though still not great, and Mortunda is, while not always entirely believable, an appealing person to read about with complexities and a unique and exciting connection to the supernatural. Also, the spiritual leaders are unusual with a few skeletons in the closet, just waiting to be unearthed, and this adds uniqueness to the overall plot. A strong point of the book, in the midst of very weak points, is the historical connection between present day and ancient times. The description of the tribal way of life is realistic sounding and the overlap of the geographical location is a very cool tie-in. Unfortunately, these are the best things that can be said for The Jewel Keepers, as it was ultimately written with mediocrity and a plot with potential that wasn't recognized. I will probably not recommend this to others and I will not read the sequel.

The writing was very insubstantial and the story itself was mostly unexciting. It was at times difficult to read because I didn't care about the characters and didn't feel involved in the events of the story.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: San Diego, California United States
Marni Bates, an aspiring 19 year-old author, writes of her battle with trichotillomania in her autobiography, Marni. Trichotillomania, a disorder in which the person has urges to pull out their hair, plagues Marni throughout her entire high school experience. Marni begins her story in elementary school, describing herself as the favorite of her father in her dysfunctional family. As she grows older she begins to realize that the favoritism her father shows towards her is no more than him fulfilling his job as a father and nothing more. Though she is in good graces with her father, her relationship with her siblings falters. As Marni starts high school the pressures she mentally faces between her dysfunctional family, her lack of social skills, and starting at a new school finally catches up with her, and so begins that long and painful compulsion of trichotillomania. When people begin to notice her growing lack of hair, Marni knows that she has let her habit, go too far. As Marni struggles to overcome her disorder she learns that facing a beast is much easier with a friend by your side.

The subject of Marni, by Marni Bates, is very atypical compared to most young adult books. Despite its subject, the book fell flat and was very boring to read. The first page of the book is Marni's introduction to her readers, and as she states in the second sentence, "The general consensus was that I hadn't done enough, experienced enough, to be worthy of ink." In my opinion this statement is very true. While her life has its interesting moments, she is only 19 years old. Though her battle with trichotillomania is interesting it is not worth the topic of a book, particularly since when the book ends she still has yet to over come it. I would not recommend this book.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Potomac, Maryland United States of America

Leviathan by David L. Goldmon

A top-secret government organization know as the Event Group faces its biggest challenge yet as attacks on major oil drilling sites - including Texas City and a new facility in Cuba - continue. With advanced technology beyond anything before, the Group sets out to find the culprit. However, a strike on the Event Base in Nevada separates the Group, half kidnapped by the terrorists and half left to find the other half. Full of action, some character development, plenty of swear words and plot twists, Leviathan leaves me wishing I had read the first three books.

This is no book for kids, I'll say that. Leviathan reminds me of a James Patterson novel - the adult kind. It's full of unnecessary swear words (even the infamous F-Word) that drags it down a point for me. The dialogue doesn't fair much better, being rather bland, though Senator Lee is usually quite funny. There is little in the way of character development, Captain Heirthall and Colonel Collins being the exceptions. That aside, the book is rather well-written and quite powerful at certain points. The ending was rather suspenseful, as was the cliffhanger endings. The Leviathan is well-described and the background behind its captain and crew was interesting. However, the author seems to assume that everyone knows every little piece of a boat, and I most certainly didn't. "Uh, where's the stern again?" Most characters were rather bland to me, the aforementioned Collins and Heithall, as well as Virginia, Lee, and Farbeaux, being exceptions, as they had personalities. The use of names was rather confusing as Colonel Jack Collins could be Colonel one minute, Jack the next, and so on. I really enjoyed reading this book despite its many faults. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspenseful novels, fictional books about ships, or people who read the previous three books in the series.

Major adult language, minor violence

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Denton, Texas United States

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Swimmer by Nicola Keegan

Philomena Ash has been always known she would be a
swimmmer, even at a young age. Ever since her parents
brought her to an infant swim class, Pip has spent as much
time in the pool as she can. The hard work and long hours
in the water pay off when Pip begins attending state meets
and training with the best coaches in the country. But
even winning Olympic gold medals can't fix Pip's life.
With a completely dysfunctional family, Pip has been
trying to stay afloat in more ways than one. What seems to
be a story of success turns out to be a coming of age
story as Pip loses and finds herself in this debut novel
by Nicola Keegan.

I have been swimming competitively for almost ten
years, so reading a book about an Olympic swimmer is right
up my alley. Although I am nowhere as good as Pip, I could
definitely relate to her love of the water. I originally
picked up this book because I wanted to see how the author
would approach the topic of swimming. Everything I saw
seemed correct, but I actually wish there were more
references to swimming. The author probably wanted to make
this book accessible to people who have no knowledge of
swimming, but I would have liked to see this book be a
little more authentic. Even so, I enjoyed reading this
book and liked getting to know Pip, since she was an
interesting character. All in all, I thought the author
did a very good job for her first novel.

Reviewer
Age:17

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

Monday, September 21, 2009

Night Runner by Max Turner

At the age of fifteen, Zack lives in a special ward of an asylum not due to insanity but to allergies that make a normal existence impossible, originally misdiagnosed as psychosomatic trauma following the death of his parents. He is allergic to sunlight, and able to drink only a special mix that he believes to be a strawberry smoothie. Though he accepts this life, enjoying endless television access and the company of his troublemaking friend Charlie, a mysterious stranger in a motorcycle shatters his strange existence and catapults him into an even stranger one. Zach must flee, accompanied only by Charlie and a mysterious beauty named Luna. It is on this journey that Zach learns the truth: he's a vampire, being hunted by one far more powerful and sinister than himself.

The field of vampire stories for young adults is flooded, with almost every possible storyline used in one form or another. Coming up with a book that contains all the essential elements of a vampire story while steering clear of cliche is a daunting task, which Turner achieves admirably. From start to finish, Night Runner is rivetingly original, taking the expected components of vampire novels and turning them on their heads. Though much of the story is predictable, such as the revelation of Zach's past, there are enough twists to keep the reader interested. The major flaw of the story is pacing; it tries too hard to maintain momentum and ends up being jarringly fast, not stopping to develop characters or explore emotions. For example, Zach's easy acceptance that he is a vampire strikes as unrealistic, and his life prior to the beginning of the story is merely summarized. Scenes which should have been extended are merely skipped over, and character traits are often explained rather than demonstrated. Fans of character-driven novels will be dissappointed. However, for those seeking a thriller that will keep their attention, Night Runner serves its purpose.

Some violent content, but no more than would be expected for the genre.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Bellevue, WA 98006

The Trouble with Demons by Lisa Shearin

The Trouble with Demons is about Raine Benares whose family is known for stealing, black mailing, double crossing, etc... and she is connected to the most powerful source on the face of the Earth, the Saghred. After Raine spends a year or two with the Saghred, she experiences power that boosts her magic levels. She goes to the Island of Mid, a very wrong choice, since all of the dark mages, or the bad guys, dwell there. One in particular wants the Saghred so much that he will do anything to get it, including opening a Hellgate. A Hellgate is a gate that leads to Hell, and when opened, all sorts of demons come spurting out. When the Hellgate is formed, Rudra, the most evil and powerful dark mage, wants the Saghred. The Queen of Demons also wants it to to save her husband from the rock's depths. As Raine fights her way through this mess, she encounters new friends and a weird relationship.

The Trouble with Demons is an excrutiating book with a ton of details. One of the details that suprised me was Raine's relationship with a male character in the book. There are two pages about them making out in his bedroom! Other than that detail, it was a superb book. The author got her point across and the direction of the story right out. Even though the book is sort of predictable, I enjoyed it!

It is not recommended for kids 11 and younger.

Reviewer Age:13
Brownsburg, Indiana US

Saturday, September 19, 2009

City of Fire by Laurence Yep

The book, the City of Fire is an action-packed tale of magic and adventure. It is based in the year 1941, except it's changed. For this book, earth is a place where fantasy is reality. However, when Mr. Roland, a rich businessman, decides he wants to find 5 magical objects that give him unimaginable power, it up to an unusual band to stop him. For if they don't, the universe itself could be under Mr. Roland's control. The City of Fire will take you on a winding path that keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times.

In my opinion, the City of Fire was an exciting book that created enormous amounts of suspense in between chapters. One negative to this, is that it was confusing at many times. In many instances, I found myself lost in the story, and I had to read it over again to fully understand it. This book contains many qualities of a great book, but its writing is a little rough, and it's hard to get absorbed into the book. I do like the main plot of the book, though. I enjoyed the changes of 1941, and the adventure the band goes on. I would recommend this book to most kids who are good at reading, but to a beginner I would definitely not.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Towson, MD USA

Rosie and Skate by Beth Ann Bauman

Rosie and Skate are two sisters with not much in common but enough to be their when they know something is wrong. With an alcoholic jailbird father, and no mother in the picture, these sisters must learn to cope with the problems and the feelings they're having on their own. Growing up fast had never been an option for these girls, it had to be done. Rosie just wants a normal father and won't give up hope on him, but Skate already has and ignores the troubles they have with him.

Heartbreak, first loves, and sex are happening way to fast for these girls to even keep up anymore. Skate's love life will take a turn when she's at home alone, and Perry, her boyfriend, is leaving for college. All these girls have is each other and that's all they're going to know if things in their lives don't start to change.

As I was reading the book, Rosie and Skate did keep their character the whole time. Rosie always seemed like the innocent one who wanted a father. Until almost the end when she decides to give up, that was a good twist that I enjoyed. The mood of the book is usually a sad one, which anyone can understand. The mood seemed to fit in well with the settings, plots, events, and the characters. I think writing this story in first person was the best choice. It feels more real to me when it's written in this way because I feel like the person is talking to me.

The vocabulary was age appropriate for the level of book, but for me, it might have been to easy. This could simply be because I am older and have read a lot of different books. I would recommend this book for other people or even for my school to carry it in the library. It's a very good book for young girls to read or girls with the same problems as Rosie and Skate. I did find the book interesting, but at some points, it did seem a little boring. However, everyone has a different opinion and not everyone likes the same kind of book.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mantua, New Jersey United States

Friday, September 18, 2009

Treason's Shore by Sherwood Smith

Inda has just returned from an extremely difficult battle against the Venn, his people's enemy. He fought beside King Evred and protected him. However, no one seems to know exactly how, or if, the Venn were defeated. True, they left, but did they leave for good? Things are not spectacular even off the battlefield. Inda married Tdor, an aristocrat that loves him deeply, but sadly loves another, Dag Signi, who is being hunted because she's a Venn and has magical abilities. There are also a few political problems. It's all quite complicated.

Treason's Shore was a very enjoyable read. The characters were captivating and seemed real, with real issues to deal with. I liked Nugget, a one-armed member of the Fox's crew quite a bit. I was fond her character and her dialogue with others. It is not at all suggested to read this book before the three others in this series because it gets quite confusing. There are several characters whose stories are told and it does get a little difficult to keep everyone in order. I enjoyed Crown Duel by the same author, Sherwood Smith, a slight amount more, but still had a pleasant time reading Treason's Shore.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston, SC USA

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Flood by Stephen Baxter

Flood, by Stephen Baxter, is a scary wake-up call to what might happen (though not in the near future) to the world, as global climate change worsens. With scientific research and a touch of science fiction, Baxter combines the two into a fascinating whirlwind of information that all leads to the complete flooding of the world. As this catastrophe occurs, Baxter selects a group of ex-hostages and their families to follow. The different stories of at least eight different people all morph as the book documents the flooding. This interesting documentation and science fiction novel provokes critical thinking about the future of the world's generations.

Baxter's novel was astounding to read, and I was fascinated by the very first chapter -- although it took some time to fully understand the depth of the book I was about to read. The sheer amount of research upon global climate change Baxter must have done was humbling. This was a well thought out notion artistically put into book form.Along with research and science fiction content, Baxter was also able to weave human emotion and drama into the flooding world his characters were thrown into. Because Baxter chose both the everyday people (the families of the ex-hostages) and those who have unusual circumstances (the ex-hostages), he covers all the human emotions that could possibly arise.Baxter did an amazing job of fitting science and realistic fiction, drama, romance, humor, horror, and non-fiction all into one intriguing book: Flood.

The vocabulary and scientific references are hard to understand if you don't follow updated research on global climate change, and parts are too graphic for younger readers.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eagle Creek, Oregon USA

Emily by Emily Smucker

Emily was just your pretty much everyday teenager. She had a great family, everyone in it was very close, they always went on trips together and camped at different places but there is one problem, Emily is constantly sick. She was almost never at school, and she never felt up to doing anything, all because of being sick. Emily thinks that she is sick with what she calls the "Emily Flu" so much because of where she lives, Oregon, but her doctor thinks she has Mono or West Nile. In this book, Emily faces many challenges just trying to do everyday things, like walking without having to use a cane or just going to school, but she has such trouble trying to do those things if she's not feeling up to it. Emily believes that she is allergic to Oregon or something in it and if she were to move she would no longer be sick. Her doctor and her parents think otherwise but Emily is soon to find out if her ideas are correct.

I liked this book, but to be honest, it wasn't one of my favorites. I do love the format of the book and how it is written as if it is a journal, though. I do like the story line of the book, but she seems kind of repetative and says the same things over and over again when she talks about how she feels when she is sick. I also do like the way she describes every little detail that happens in the story, such as the taste of her Snapple after she takes the first drink and the way she described how she felt when she was sick, even though she does tend to repeat herself. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys just reading books about people being sick and the way their lives change throughout the book.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio USA

Hamlet by John Marsden

Hamlet is a story about the trials and tribulations of a troubled boy after seeing the ghost of his dead father. The story follows Hamlet through his life and how one supernatural sighting drives him almost mad. This story takes place in the time of castles and kings and queens in the country of Denmark. This book fits into the genre of mystery.



To be or not to be? That is a phrase that everyone has heard of at least once, yet it probably had nothing to do with Hamlet.

This newly written version of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is wonderfully written so that anybody could pick the book up and read it without being confused by old English words. The plot follows the original play so anyone who loved the play by Shakespeare will love this. I had not read the original and it still held my interest through the entire book.



Hamlet had a few sexual references, so I would recommend that the parents check it out first.


Reviewer Age:17



Reviewer City, State and Country: Mantua, NJ USA

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three by Megan McDonald

"The Sisters Club: Rule of Three" by Megan McDonald is an uproarious book for girls. The middle child Steven does the narration, discussing her intereactions with her yougner sister Joey and her older sister Alex. Alex is the breathtaknig actress, Joey is the "Little Women"-obsessed writer, and Steven is the singing cupcake maker. Tempers flare when Steven wants to try out for the lead role in the school's musical--in direct competition with her sister, who is also auditioning. The ending is happy but anything but predictable.

This book has everything. The cover is eye-catching with glitter, doodles, and cake (judging books by their cover is discouraged, but this one doesn't help the arguement!). The characters are three-dimensional with emotions and feelings that seem plausible. Issues like boys and beauty are confronted while still being age-appropriate and kid-friendly. Also, in between chapters, McDonald inserts lists/drawings by Joey and scripted dialog from Alex (often including her stuffed monkey). This book is a winner.

Reviewer Age:18

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham

Two boys, Sam and PJ, meet guardians of the underground while they are tracking escaped goblins. Their curiosity leads them to follow the guardians back underground. Soon Sam and PJ find themselves in an underground world full of strange creatures. On their adventure they meet good goblins, try to escape from bad goblins, and are part of an all out war between good and evil. Sam and PJ are in a lot of trouble as they try to escape from the underworld and make their way back to civilization.

Goblins! was an excellent book. Royce Buckingham wrote the book with a strong plot and it was fun to read. He really made the characters stand out, and the scenes and settings were unlike any other book. It was cool to try and picture the scenes in your mind. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Reviewer Age:11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Randolph, NJ United States

Monday, September 14, 2009

Girl on the Other Side by Deborah Kerbal

Lora Froggett has many problems at home on top of those she faces at school. Everyone bullies her despite the fact that she is the most intelligent student in their grade. Tabby Freeman, the most popular girl in school, is beginning to realize that she also has problems. Her father's business is being investigated by the police, and she feels like her parents are never there for her. Both girls are holding more pain than either one can handle, but when they come together--perhaps by fate--they seem to be able to hold on for just a little longer. They come from completely different families, so why are they exactly the same?
It is unusual to find a high school student who is not in a clique or some sort of social group. Something even more unusual is to find the groups connecting together. This book tells a story that sets a perfect example of why teenagers should not judge each other and try to be friends with those who are different than themselves. Girl on the Other Side was highly emotional and therefore a great motivator for humans to try to understand each other. The vocabulary was accurate with what teenagers would actually say, and the way that the chapters were organized (going back and forth between the two girls) helped the flow of the book. Also, readers would be able to get inside both of the heads of the characters and make connections.
I recommend this book to high school females.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Twilight Companion by: Lois H. Gresh

The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series by Lois H. Gresh is an assortment of all things related to the Twilight series. From tips on what to expect if you fall in love with a mythical creature like the vampires and werewolves of the saga, to interesting legend and facts about their history, it has a large variety of materials. This book also includes many quizzes ranging in various vampire related subjects such as whether you would be compatible with some of Twilight’s characters, or what type of vampire you would be. You can also read the true story of the real life Vlad “the impaler” Dracula who the Dracula legends are based off. Another feature is the comparison of the twilight vampires and werewolves to those in other stories. This book is, as it title states, a guide to all things Twilight.

However, though I would consider this book to be a good read for all the Twilight obsessed teens out there, it repeatedly strays from the basics of the series. From statements such as how werewolves are man-eating beasts to suggesting that characters could make themselves less appealing to vampires by simply wearing gothic makeup it is filled with inaccurate accounts of the saga’s details. It does have some redeeming qualities, though. Some of the quizzes- though very biased- are entertaining and some of the legends included in it are interesting to compare to those of the chronicles. Though I personally wouldn’t likely read it again, others may enjoy this unofficial companion to the Twilight series.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Marble Hill, MO USA

Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein

"Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series" is the story of Stevie Thomas, a freshmen in high school who also happens to be a world-class reporter. He and his girlfriend, Susan Carol Anderson, are asked to cover the World Series for the Washington Post and Washington Herald. When they get there, they learn the story of Norbert Doyle: a 30-something rookie pitcher who's wife died in a fatal car accident years earlier. He pitches well in his first Major League start and he's suddenly the story of the series. But Stevie and Susan Carol find out there's more to Doyle's story than he's letting on. What could it be?

This book was not as good as I hoped it would be. I had read the three books preceding this one (Last Shot, Vanishing Act, and Cover-Up) and they were all fantastic! This one, however, was disappointing. Several choices the author made concerning the story and the characters were unpleasant and unnecessary. Eventually, everything worked out, but it seemed as if the author was attempting to make a secondary conflict carry the entire story, which made it fairly boring and tedious. I would still recommend this, but it is important to know that the first 100 pages are extremely unpleasant to read.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ravenheart by Kendra A. Thomas

Ayla is just a normal 17-year-old girl... that grew up in a dwarf community. Although she knows that she is a human, her knowledge of the human world is severely lacking. She is ugly by dwarf standards; too tall and too slender with black, unruly hair, and nearing the end of her years of eligibility. It seems that all hopes for her future are lost, until one night she runs away, distraught from the other young dwarves mocking her. She falls into the river and is carried down to the human world. There she is found by an arrogant prince named Noland and his solemn captain, Roderick. Noland is determined to make Ayla his bride because of her beauty, yet he thinks she is simple minded and making up where she comes from. Roderick on the other hand, will not tell her who he thinks she is. A captivating story ensues, and Ayla embarks upon a journey of self-discovery, romance, faith, friendship and adventure.

I really enjoyed reading this book! It hooked me in and I couldn't stop reading it, in fact, I printed pages of it and took it with me overseas! It is slightly similar to the worlds of Eragon, The Book of Lies and Rangers Apprentice, however some themes will appeal to girls moreso. Readers can immediately relate to Ayla and the common situations and insecurities involved in becoming a young woman. The other characters are also very believable and easy to love or hate. Kendra Thomas is really descriptive, especially when it comes to emotions and the awkward situations and small details that girls love. It is really refreshing to finally read a good fantasy novel with a girl as the main character and heroine! I would highly recommend this book to all girls who enjoy the fantasy genre and those who enjoy stories about romance, friendship and adventure.

Quite a few parts of the book deal with religion and belief systems, and whilst it is fantasy, it can be related back to the real world in some ways.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Sylvie and the Songman

All of London is growing quiet, animals are losing their voices. Then Sylvie's dad, a songwriter, mysteriously disappears. Sylvie, her best friend, George, and her dog, Mr. Jackson set out on an adventure to solve the mystery. Along the way they encounter animals of all shapes and sizes, who help them in their search. All the while running from the mysterious songman and the woodpecker man. Together they attempt to save the world from silence.

Sylvie and the Songman took a while to get into, the beginning of the plot was slow. But once the adventure got underway I couldn't stop reading. Overall the book was interesting, it makes you think and ponder the ideas of animal-human interaction and the power of voice. I think this book is like "indie" music, it's unique and interesting but it most likely will not be a mainstream hit. The text of the book was inter-woven with illustrations. These illustrations showed the setting but still let me imagine. The illustrations are in black and white, and beautifully add another element to the book. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. I felt like I was on the adventure with them. The ending wrapped up the story well, except it didn't fully explain the teachers whereabouts. Reading this book makes you think, it is beautifully powerful and exciting at the same time. I would recommend this book to people who like to wonder, but I would tell them it takes time to get into.

I would recommend adult guidance for this book because it can be scary at times. There was some graphic descriptions that are slightly disturbing but very important to the plot.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Amherst, MA USA

Buggy Crenshaw and the Deadwood Principle: Evolution

Buggy Crenshaw and the Deadwood Principle: Evolution begins exactly where Buggy Crenshaw and the Bungler’s Paradox ended. In The Bungler’s Paradox, Buggy defeats the first of five Dark Lords of the Underworld. In this next installment, Buggy is exhausted after fighting off Evil. When she goes into her room, she is met by an unexpected visitor, the Rebel Phoenix Alabaster. He guards one of the doors to the Nexus, (a place where good and evil meet). The Deadwood brothers, Cypress and Cedar, have a theory that if one of the doors to the Nexus is destroyed, like in The Bungler’s Paradox, the world would become unbalanced and fall into cosmic chaos. Guided by a mysterious message given to her by the Rebel Phoenix, Buggy and her friends find themselves thrown into another adventure. Will they be able to save the world?

To understand Buggy Crenshaw and the Deadwood Principle: Evolution, you really have to read the first book Buggy Crenshaw and the Bunglers Paradox. I thought there were still a few confusing parts, but I think if you keep reading, you’ll figure them out. Buggy Crenshaw and the Deadwood Principle: Evolution was interesting and action-packed from beginning to end. It was a fun book to read and there were a lot of twists in the plot. I thought it was even better than the first book! I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, but read The Bungler’s Paradox first. Just watch out because Buggy has an addiction to adventure. Happy reading!

Content: 1
Rating: 9
Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Harleysville, PA USA

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Elissa's Quest by Erica Verrillo

Thirteen-year-old Elissa has a very special gift: she can speak with animals. She doesn't think much of her unique ability but keeps it a secret as her nana advised. Not knowing who her real parents are, she stays with an all-knowing healer in the quietly pleasant valley of High Crossing. News arrives of a royal guest coming and Elissa is invited to the royal banquet. There she meets a mysterious nobleman named Lord Falk who says that he has come for her. Having no choice but to go with him, Elissa leaves her beloved home to travel across the desert to the Citadel many miles away. After learning that she is a bargaining tool for Lord Falk's kingdom, she is held captive by a devious Khan who wants her hand in marriage. She meets and makes friends with a very unusual servant girl and together they run away to try to find their way home. Along the way Elissa learns of her fate from the wise Blue People and the Healers. Will Elissa be able to take on her destined duty or will she choose to go home while the chance still exists?

Elissa's Quest is a unique fantasy full of talking animals and rivalry that will surely appeal to young readers. I think that the author did a very good job at being descriptive and unfolding the scenes. It was hard for me to get into the story at first and I found it somewhat boring and slow-paced since I am of an older age. I thought that a lot had occurred throughout the story but it felt like not much had really happened because the events only lasted a few pages at most and there wasn't a lot involved with each event. I think that the idea for this trilogy was pretty very different and Elissa being able to talk to animals made it more interesting. There wasn't enough action during each scene and the setbacks were solved too quickly and simply but she did add some very silly parts, which added a good laugh to the read. The wording was well-chosen for the reading age suggested, which was 9-12. Overall, I recommend this story to younger children who are looking for a fun and amusing read.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, Pennsylvania United States

Alein Feast by Michael Simmons

In this science fiction, William comes home one day to find his parents eaten by aliens. All that is left of his parents are their feet. Planet Earth has been invaded and the aliens are destroying the human race. Sophie, one of Williams's friends, is also shocked to find her parents gone. They were not eaten though; Sophie's parents were kidnapped by the aliens. William and Sophie, with the help of Uncle Maynard, worked together to find Sophie's parents and save the world from disaster.

I found the storyline to be a little slow. This book is definitely for basic readers. A young reader might be okay with the plot. However, I think anyone over nine will find the book boring. I felt the writing to be unimaginative and lacking detailed descriptions.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Lemoore, CA 93245

Falling in the Garden by Walter G. Klimczak

Meet Michael Sullivan and Ashley Haddow. Just two average American teenagers that meet on a summer break. There's just one thing separating them: 53 years. The book begins with Michael's best friend Joe moving away. He lives in a fairly secluded area surrounded by a forest with his mother. Carrying on with the explorations and adventures he and his best friend had in the forests, Michael discovers that he when he is in a certain place, he can speak to Ashley Haddow. They are the same age, but the year is 1946 according to Ashley, not 1999. Because they can only speak, Michael tries to find out more about who Ashley is. Ashley can't help him much, because her father has sworn her to secrecy regarding their location. The story continues and as their friendship grows, so too does the mystery of how and why they can communicate with each other.

The novel is a romance with a twist that makes their relationship very unique and interesting. Although the book starts off a bit slowly, it provides a good look at Michael's life before the events and definitely sets the scene for the story. Once the two main characters meet, the book picks up pace and I couldn't stop reading. I really loved how Walter Klimczak used such brilliant descriptive language throughout the whole book, allowing readers to imagine a very beautiful, detailed setting. Also, the characters were easily likable and are very believable. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it especially to anybody who enjoys a nice, descriptive, romantic novel with a bit of mystery added to it.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Episodes: My Life in Syndication by Blaze Ginsberg

Blaze Ginsberg is a high functioning autistic teenager. In his book, Episodes: My Life in Syndication, he lets you into his world of celebrity crushes, Thanksgiving dinners, freshman through senior year of high school and his many trios of friends. The book is set up like T.V. episodes, giving you the cast, a summary of the "episode", air date, soundtrack listings and much more. Episodes starts off at Blazes freshman year at a new school for autistic kids. Throughout the book, Blaze travels to games with the schools sports teams, crushes on Hilary Duff and Sara Paxton, attends Vista View College, works at a grocery store and much more.

I thought the book was a little boring. The idea of it is interesting, but the plot does not have a hook that brings you in and makes you wonder what will happen next. While I was reading this, I thought it needed more to keep the readers attention. Through each "series" (chapter) Blaze tells you about his days and what happens. I found that it was dull and boring. I wouldn't recommend this to others if they want a book with action or an exciting plot.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Finksburg, MD USA

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim

This story takes place in Korea in the twentieth century. Najin Kan is a spirited young woman with great potential in education. Her mother thrives to see her succeed, but her father, being a traditional Korean, is reluctant about the idea of a young girl going to school. Then he decides her education is well, he wants to marry her to an aristocratic family. Her mother is so against it, she sends Najin away to be an companion to a young princess. But shortly after, the king is murdered, and the princess has to leave. When she returns home she pursues her education, and does something she never expected, finds love, but after just one day after her marriage, a declined passport separates them for years. Will Najin ever be able to find her love again?

I found the characters in this book to be quite amusing, especially how the father acted toward Najin. I also found the ending very interesting, I never would have guessed that it would have taken Calvin and Najin so long to find each other. I was also surprised that she told Calvin all her secrets. Although the ending was well-written I didnt like the beginning, because a lot of times I found myself day dreaming. I also felt that some parts just dragged on. I would recommend this bookᅠ to anyone who likes realistic-fiction about Chinese life, and history in the twentieth-century.ᅠ

sexual situations

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio USA

Monday, September 07, 2009

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too, is a story about two men who make their way living as artists. Their story is told in a book of poems and paintings. Each poem and painting symbolize a different chapter in their lives. As artists, friends and practically brothers, both Jasons decide to write a book together. This book shows the struggle of how they had to live on their own in a fun, interesting way.

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too, is a great book. I was disappointed when I finished because I wanted there to be more. While reading this book I don't think I put it down once. Every page was different. They were creative, interesting and they were all unique. This book does not compare to any books I have read lately. The books I have read have not been based on art, while this is filled with different types of poetry and paintings. I think the only weakness I found was in one of the poems I didn't understand its concept. Other then that I thought it was interesting and might be one of the only books I have liked all the way up to the end.

Reviewer Age:15

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

The Uninvited by Tim Wynee-Jones

Mimi Shapiro is running. Running away from a disturbing first year at NYU to a small and creepy town in Nowhere, Canada. She hopes that while there for the summer, she can get her first screen play written, while coming to turns with what happened to her in the previous year.

Though nothing can stay perfect for long. When arriving at her father's deserted old summer house she finds that someone else is living there too. Her long lost half brother, a half brother that has been having his own problems, as of lately. Problems that involve a mysterious stalker who has been leaving him presents of dead birds and snake skin.

Can the two of them make it through the summer? Will they get to know each other the way only siblings can? Will they catch the stalker before their lives come to a crashing halt? Well, I guess you'll have to find out for yourself, in The Uninvited by Tim Wayne- Jones.

Only one adjective comes to mind after reading this page turning thriller: Wow! The Uninvited is a book that mixes mystery and getting to know long lost siblings in a fresh and fantastic new way. I was constantly trying to figure out how everything tied together. The characters were my favorite part of this story. They were well developed, likable, and funny. Plus, Tim Wayne-Jones' writing was pretty darn good. I loved how he slowly told the past of the characters and the stalker by reveling their secrets one at a time. Overall, The Uninvited is a definite must read for all teens and adults.

Reviewer Age:13

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

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame by Ben Bova

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 2A contains a plethora of novellas establishing the foundation of the science fiction genre, circulating from topics as diverse as the civilization of Jupiter to interpretations of physiological and psychological phenomena. Although the prominence of certain inclusions is incongruent, all of the insertions feature storylines acutely parallel to those found more recently, and all retain a dramatic bearing on the molding of the paranormal artificial genus. Authors including John W. Campbell, Lester del Rey, Henry Kuttner, and H. G. Wells contribute such eminent and illustrious offerings as Call Me Joe, Who Goes There?, Universe, and The Time Machine. Indeed, the quality of the novellas in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 2A may only be met by the sheer quantity and breadth of them.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 2A consists, in the words of the dust jacket, of the greatest science fiction novellas of all time, [as] chosen by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Although similar claims are often featured on a multiplicity of novels and compilations, on this particular anthology the veracity of that statement proves staunch. The sheer quality and the variety of latitude in the insertions proves most impressive. An array of distinct tones, moods, and writing styles are present, proving to allow appeal to all readers, while the wealth of details, settings, and stratagems allows for a diversified and refined experience. The preponderance of the anthology proves profoundly satisfying and rewarding, sure to gratify science-fiction discriminatories and tyros homogeneously. Overall, a pleasure to experience, and a necessity to those whose bookshelf space remains contested.

Contains some violent, frightening, and mature themes.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Shrewsbury, MA USA

Simply Irresistible by Jennifer Bash

In the world, little girl dream about growing up to be rich, popular, and being on television. In those dreams, the girls they want to be may not have the best lives. The girls they want to be might want to have your lives. Why would that be? The answer lies within Simply Irresistible. Casey McCloy is new kid to the Upper East Side of New York City, and when her and the popular Madison Macallister sign up for a reality TV show, Casey becomes the new IT girl of reality TV. Madison, on the other hand, is not so happy about Casey as she steals her predicted spotlight, and imediatly makes Casey an enemy. When Casey moves in, she steals away Madison's love interest, Drew. As both girls compete for Drew's love, dirty things come up, as they realize what Drew is thinking. Both Phoebe, Casey and Madison's friend, and Drew are thinking about the same thing, their parents affair. When the ties of friendship between Sophie and Phoebe are tested, when Sophie catches Phoebe making out with her brother at her birthday party. As the book switches views between all the friends, can all the obstacles be avoided, or will they trip over them all.

This book written by the view of a teenager that grew up in the Upper East Side, and has seen the ups and downs of the rich and popular. Jennifer Banash has a great background knowledge to write the book. I believe that the book's age to aim for is between thirteen and eighteen year old girls. Girls younger then the aimed age might not understand all the big words and would get easily confused. This book rated from one to ten would be a 6. My reason for a middle rating is that the book does not have one main problem, it has many, and that is way to much. Also, I feel that all the problems aren't solved and the problems just get worse. The ending of the book ends with a brand new problem. If the book does not have a sequel, then the book has a unfinished story. Over all it was an okay book.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake Bluff, Illinois United States

The Charioteer of Delphi by Caroline Lawrence

Nubia, Flavia, Lupus, and Jonathon have returned to Rome to visit Flavia's uncle, Senator Cornix, and to watch the racing at the celebration of the Festival of Jupiter. Just days before leaving for Rome they meet a strange young boy named Scopus. Scopus becomes a stable hand in the stable of the Greens and invites his new friends to Rome. A famous racehorse has suddenly gone missing just days before the races begin and the four friends set out to find him. No sooner have they found the first horse than another one goes missing. Superstitions and other accidents take their tole on the racers and the horses. One disaster follows another and one of the four friends must make a life changing decision.

THE CHARIOTEER OF DELPHI is the twelve story in THE ROMAN MYSTERIES series by CAROLINE LAWRENCE. I really enjoyed reading this book and it has piked my interest in the rest of the series. The plot line is relatively simple in my opinion, but there are some unique twists that you would not have expected. The characters are well-described and easy to relate to. I find Nubia to be my favorite. She's honest, hard-working, brave, and does what's best for those she loves. I think that this story is more suitable to 9-12 year old children, but that's just me. It just seemed a little too simple and straightforward for my taste.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Braintree, Massachusetts United States

Wireless by Charles Stross

This book is a collection of science fiction short stories written by Charles Stross. Some of the stories are only a few pages long, but others are novellas, a category of writing between the lengths of a short story and a novel. Several stories deal with the future of Earth. Others use the Soviet Union as the enemy, even though all the stories were written after the collapse of the USSR. One of the stories uses a character from some of his novels, a demonology and computer expert. Some of the stories are funny or ironic, while others are more serious. All take place on worlds very different from our own. There are a total of nine stories, and many of them are followed by short afterwords by the author.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love science fiction, so many of the stories and odd settings I found enjoyable, interesting, or even comical. Some of the others were too confusing. The plot twists in these are never adequately explained, and the endings are sometimes unsatisfying. However, overall I enjoyed reading this book. I recommend it to serious science fiction fans only, because the plots and settings would be too confusing and frustrating to anyone who does not genuinely enjoy science fiction.

There are several fairly explicit sexual references, but nothing too graphic or violent occurs. It is for a teenage or adult audience.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Natasha Lands Down Under by Katherine McCaughan

Natasha can no longer live in China because of the communist takeover. Her family decides to move to Australia where a family member is willing to sponsor them. There is one major problem with that: only Natasha's mother can speak English. Natasha, her father, Babushka, and sisters speak Russian. When they move to Australia they are treated harshly by the others. Even in school, Natasha is thought of as an outcast. While learning English and adjusting to their new surroundings, Natasha and her family become integrated with the people and liked by those who accept them. If only that were the end to their problems...

I enjoy learning languages and reading about different cultures. This book was a wonderful example to me of two--if not three--different cultures. Natasha was Russian at home, Australian at school, and missed her Chinese home. The vocabulary was decent and portrayed the character's emotions well. The only slight problem that I found with the book is that Natasha is very young in the story, and she is very mature. Realistically speaking, I think that she was too mature for her age. With her experiences, however, Natasha would be more mature than most children. I recommend this book to people who enjoy cultures or stories of fitting in.

Reviewer Age:16

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

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Phantom Island by Krissi Dallas

Whitnee's father disappeared when she was eleven. So when Whitnee spots him on a forbidden island while mentoring at a camp, she simply has to go and find him. She sets off with her best friends, Morgan and Caleb, and two uninvited campers and they stumble upon another world. They are caught in the middle of a prophecy and suddenly Whitnee is the island's hero. She must learn all she can about the island in order to bring peace to all of its tribes.

I really liked this book, partially because it has another world in it. The description was also really good. I would definitely recommend this book to others, especially people who like fantasy. The only thing I didn't like was that Whitnee's love life became rather complicated. Overall, it is a great debut novel for Krissi Dallas. I am waiting for the sequel to come out in 2010.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, New Hampshire USA

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

Ehwa is a young girl who lives in a village in rural Korea with her widowed mother. As each year passes, Ehwa blossoms in to a young woman as the spring rains bring a new glow to the landscape. When a new monk comes, he stirs Ehwa's emotions. Love comes to Ehwa's mom too. A mysterious artist becomes the first man to catch her mother's eye since her father died. Will love stay in their lives?

This book was not my kind of book. It was like a comic book. The characters were beleiveable. Some of the elements of the story weren't as believable as others. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy stories of first loves and second chances.

This book had a few things that might not be appropriate for all readers.
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Enon, OH USA

Friday, September 04, 2009

Recycler

Jill McTeague is very different from other teenage girls. It's not her fault though. She happens to be a scientific anomaly. Each and every month, she turns into a guy named Jack with all the guy parts. She was able to get through high school, but she had to claim she was getting blood transfusions. Now she doesn't know what to do. Everyone in her hometown is suspicious of her and there is only one thing to do, get out of town. She decides to travel with her best friend to New York where her and Jack will have to figure out relationship problems, career options, and much more. Go along for the ride as Jill and Jack have to deal with everyday problems that each teenager must deal with. For them, it just happens to be a tad more difficult.

Re-cycler is a very different book, but in a good way. I enjoyed every last word that I read. It was very interesting compared to other books. Lauren McLaughlin does an amazing job on all parts of the book. She is very creative and an amazing author. Even though I knew that this plot could never truly happen, it felt real. This book is very entertaining and I recommend it to every young adult reader out there.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio USA

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Winter Song by Jean-Claude Mourlevat

Winter Song by Jean-Claude Mourlevat is a fast pace novel of loss, courage and strength. Four orphaned teenagers become outlaws after fleeing the hellish boarding school that had detained them for fifteen years, but only three make it safely out. After their friend fails to escape, it becomes the three teen’s plight to rise up against the oppressing Phalage government; trying to save their friend and avenge the death of their parents. Escaping vicious hunting dog-men set out to kill them, the trio joins a secret resistance group. Throughout their suspenseful journey they learn whom it is wise to trust and that the strength of friendship and that of a single voice in a crowd can withstand masses.

This was a very well written but unusual book as it would fit into many genres. It was a mixture of pumping adventure, startling action, subtle fantasy and budding romance that made Winter Song interesting. It was an enthralling read, with action and adventure themes and scenes similar to those that Australia’s John Marsden portrays. Jean-Claude Mourlevat weaves a thick web of questions that are gradually answered throughout the book. He also creates a world that has such realism you are left questioning our own humanity. This was definitely a book that teenage readers would relish because they are able to closely relate to the characters, but I wouldn’t restrict Winter Song for any age group to enjoy.

Violent Scenes

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne , Victoria Australia

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley

Kat was never satisfied with her life. She couldn't see herself staying with her guardian, Grace and Grace's daughter, Anna. She couldn't see herself spending day after day embroidering for the beautiful London ladies she would never see. And she couldn't see herself settling down with the local pear farmer no matter how handsome and sweet. She wanted something grander and most importantly, she needed to find answers to her true identity.

When a strange guest arrives at her small cottage, Kat learns some clues into the mystery of her past and decides to run away to London to uncover her true identity. But London is a wild place full of dangers and luxury, romance and drama. Kat will definitely cause some commotion; what will happen when she catches the eye of the queen? How will she find her true identity and all the secrets to her past in all the glamour and lies of the London court? What is it Kat really wants to gain from her journey? This Elizabethan tale of self-identity, adventure and romance is sure to capture audiences from beginning to end.

I am a huge fan of Tudor and Elizabethan era novels. Suzanne Crowley's novel, The Stolen One, is one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in a long time. I have such great respect for Crowley's story-telling ability. Her novel is beautifully written, engaging and has such a creative and imaginative story line. She takes the genre "historical fiction" to a new level. It was honestly a wonderful read that was enjoyable from the very beginning. The characters came to life on the pages, and the plot was original and captivating. I anticipated every page turn, and enjoyed every bit from the adventure and journey to find one's identity, to the romance and glamour of the Elizabethan court. Crowley has a genius imagination and I can't wait to read more of her novels!

Reviewer Age: 18

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

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Night Hoops by Carl Deuker

Nick Abbott loves basketball. Anytime he can play, he does. Nick is starting tenth grade and high school. His older brother Scott had played on the school's varsity basketball team the year before and dominated their dad's attention. Nick wants to play basketball on the varsity team so he can gain his dad's attention, too. But that summer Nick's dad rips up his mom's roses to put in a basketball court in the backyard and Nick's family life begins to fall apart. Everyone in Nick's family is fighting when Nick's dad finally moves out of the house. Scott decides to give up basketball for music, angering their dad, who begins to pay more attention to Nick. Then Nick begins hanging out with the kid across the street who isn't a great influence. Trent Dawson and Nick have nothing in common until Trent's mom's boyfriend asks if they can play on Nick's court at night. At night, Nick and Trent begin to play with each other and become an intimidating duo on and off the court. But choices have to be made about school, friends and the center of Nick's life: basketball.

I really enjoyed this book. I play basketball and found it very easy to follow and exciting. Even if you don't play or understand basketball you would understand what is happening in this book. Nick and Trent become believable, like they live next door. Once I started reading this I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this to anyone to read. It is a fast-paced, exciting page turner that makes you want to find out what will happen to Nick and Trent.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Finksburg, MD USA