Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sylvia And Aki by Winifred Conkling

Sylvia and Aki is about two girls who fight their ways through their troubles. Aki's family was Japanese, so they had to go to a Japanese camp in Arizona when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Aki's brother was forced to take a test that asked him to either fight against his family in Japan or be a traitor of the U.S. Sylvia was with her family at Aki's family's farm in California. She found Aki's hidden doll and school picture as she looked through her room. Sylvia wasn't allowed to enroll in good school because she was Mexican. She had to walk a long way to Hoover School, which had used desks, old books, and tired teachers. Her dad got furious at the school district, so he filed a lawsuit stating Mexican students should be admitted to Westminster School. Which girl made it through their obstacles?

The book wasn't as fun as it could have been. It lacked suspense throughout the book. It was an unpleasant experience for both of them, but it wasn't presented as a huge crisis. It could have used more details. The story makes a good book, but it isn't very exciting. I would recommend it for 7-10 year-olds.

Rating: 6
Content: 1
Reviewer Age:11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leesburg, VA USA

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Midnight Gate

Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer LH1111_lcps

Belladonna Johnson is still very nervous on the whole idea of her being a Spellbinder. Her Paladin Steve, who is her assigned protector, goes to Belladonna's school with her. When they go on a field trip to a monastery, Steve meets the last Paladin. He gives Steve a riddle to find nine objects that need to be hidden again in order to stop the Empress of the Dark Spaces from coming back from the darkness to take over the world. Elise, a ghost that Spellbinder Belladonna can see, goes with them back to the monastery to find the nine objects. Only a ghost is capable of seeing them. They find eight out of the nine objects and discover that the objects are coins. The last coin is in the Land of the Dead in the palace which belongs to the Queen of the Dead. Once in the Land of the Dead, they reach the seven gates they have to go through in order to reach the Queen of the Dead. Dothey meet the Queen and if so, is she who they thought she would be? When the Empress of the Dark Spaces tries to escape, will Belladonna and Steve be able to save the world from entering a time of darkness, or will the Earth be plunged into darkness forever?

The Midnight Gate by Helen Stringer was a great read. This book had a lot of twists and surprises in it. I did not read the first book in the Spellbinder series so at times, I felt that this book went a little too quickly for me. A lot of time was spent explaining little details. Not enough time was spent on explaining the important events like Belladonna and Steve's encounter with the Queen of Death.Unfortunately, I didn't know that there was a first book in this series or I definitely would have read it first. This was a good book that had a cliff-hanger ending that left me wanting to read more. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in fantasy or mystery type books, but read the first book of the series beforehand.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Sterling, Virginia United States

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Amanda Project Shattered by Amanda Valentino and Laurie Faria Stolarz

This story is about a girl and her two friends who are trying to find their friend who disappeared, Amanda. Along the way, they discover that her vanishing is a bigger conspiracy than they thought. Also, Amanda leaves cryptic clues to help them understand her past and help track her down. They have all heard different stories about her past, and in order to find her, they must discover the truth. You learn about Amanda's dark past and get to explore the mystery of why it IS a mystery.

This book is absolutely fantastic! I could really relate to characters, and I could depict the setting. I pictured the old shack with overgrown grass, and I could see the dirt roads and cabins as they rode their bikes. I became apart of the story. One bad thing about the book was that at the very end I would liked more closure. I was left a little confused and had to re-read the last couple sentences again to understand what I think just happened. Other than that, it was a great book.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Joining Up by John Jack McGuire

Best friends Will and Bobby have always dreamed of escaping
from the orphanage to join the 14th Regiment. One day, the
opportunity presents itself and they take it. On their
adventure, they meet many people including Dinky Dolan, the
devious merchant, and Daniel, a young African American
teenager who is wise beyond his years. A story of survival,
war, and adventure, 'Joining Up' will keep you on the edge
of your seat!
I did not enjoy  reading 'Joining Up'. The
storyline was very sporadic and it was very hard to follow.
There were also many punctuation and grammatical errors that
were difficult to ignore. The author also had difficulty
bringing harmony into the story.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country:
Tatamy, PA USA

Grey by Rachel Karns

After being left alone in the family jewelry shop for her 18th birthday, Maggie becomes intertwined in a mystery she never saw coming. When she reads a newspaper article on the mysterious unnamed "John Doe", she becomes too curious to help herself. After many days, she's too far in to back out. Will her mistakes effect everyone? Who is this man? Is Maggie not ready for the challenges ahead? All of this is answered throughout the mystery of Gray, a novel by Rachel Karns.
I wouldn't put this book in the genre of mystery, but the suspense at times definitely keeps the pages turning. The problem was there are also some parts that were on the boring side. If you're into some mushy romance, this is partly that. But it is also an intense book on how a teenager goes through difficult decisions, and through this finds herself. In that aspect it is a good book, but this still doesn't make it one of my top choices. I did like the way that it was narrarated through the main characters point of view though. It gave a new prospect on the way she saw people and places instead of descriptions where you could interpret your own views. It was a fresh read and there were parts that I did enjoy.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hermantown, Minnesota USA

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Dead To You is the story of Ethan DeWilde. When he was 6 years old he got into a car with total strangers and was abducted, sending not only himself but also his family, into a total nightmarish whirlwind. 9 years later, after scouring the internet in search of his family, Ethan finally finds his way back home. Unfortunately for Ethan and his family, his return isn't quite the happy ending he was hoping for. Unable to remember anything that happened before he was abducted, Ethan is searching for answers to his many questions. Will he uncover something that he wished had stayed hidden?

The author did such an amazing job of weaving the story together along with the character development and all of the raw emotion of what these character's are feeling. I could feel his parents' heartbreak from the loss of their son, and the shock of his return as well as their struggle in how to best handle the situation while getting to know their son all over again without neglecting their other two children. I felt Blake's jealousy when suddenly his long lost brother returns and gains the attention of everyone around them. There was definitely some major middle sibling issues Blake was dealing with, and at times I wanted to reach my hand through the pages and slap some sense into him. I even felt for little Gracie as she struggles to get to know a brother she never met or even knew she had!

Mostly though, my heart ached for Ethan. I cried for the little boy who was taken from his family and far from home. I wanted to hug the young man who no one trusts, and who everyone blames for getting in that car in the first place. His struggles with adjusting to his new life and his family were compelling. I felt like I wanted to protect him from all of the anxiety plaguing him.

Dead To You is a masterfully written journey into the life of a young man who is simply trying to find his way home.

 There was some language in this book and readers should be cautioned that the f word is use several times in the book. Parents may want to take this into consideration when considering this book for their children.
Reviewer Age:26
Reviewer City, State and Country: West Columbia, Texas United States

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sharp Time by Mary O'Collell

Sandinista Jones isn’t like other girls; she has a punk rock name with a punk rock attitude. Oh, and a dead mom. Sandinista is now living on her own during her senior year with only a few months left till graduation. She’s doing well especially when she lands the job at the Pale Circus, her favorite local vintage clothing shop with a workaholic boss and Bradley, a mysterious boy who claims to be a dedicated Catholic. But one day in Algebra, everything changes. Sandinista turns bitter, buys a little pink gun, and stops going to school. Sandinista’s life isn’t the same anymore; too much has changed and things aren’t the way they used to be.
I enjoyed reading The Sharp Time. It was a little hard to follow at times, so I had to re-read a chapter or two, but once I got more into it, it got easier to understand and sympathize with Sandinista. That was another good thing about this book, the character development. I thought that the author gave everyone a very interesting background story that developed within each new chapter and made it easier to relate to. The plot was also very intriguing. I had predicted in my mind what would happen, but the end result was totally different. Overall, I really liked this book, and am looking forward to any new books that this author may write. 
Explicit language & themes, use of illegal drugs and alcohol. 
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hopkins, Michigan United States of America

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Once Upon A Toad by Heather Vogel Frederick

Catriona (Cat-reen-ah) Starr doesn't want to go to Portland, Oregon to live with her dad and literally evil stepsister while her mom is on the International Space Station.  She likes her stepmother and stepbrother Geoffrey, but Olivia (her stepsister) is horrible.  Eventually, she calls her mom, who sends Great-Aunt Abysinnia to the rescue!...or not.  Things go from bad to worse.  Toads start appearing when Cat speaks, while Olivia gets flowers and diamonds!  When the secret gets out, Geoffrey is kidnapped, and Olivia (a.k.a. Diamond Girl) is wanted for ransom.  Can Cat learn to work with her stepsister so they can save the one thing they both care about?

I have always been a fairy-tale fanatic, and love reading rewrites of the originals.  This new version of Toads and Diamonds wasn't only a rewritten fairy tale, it also touched upon the different aspects of middle school life.  I feel a little bit sorry that Cat's fairy godmother is a little mixed up, but any fairy godmother's better than none, right?  As I read this book, I could hardly stop laughing.  It was absolutely hilarious!  I especially liked the part where the toads came out of her bassoon!  This is my idea of a good teen fiction book.  I think anyone could read this book and love it.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake City, IA USA

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Have you ever wanted to enter a world where history and fact intertwine and intrigue lurks around every corner? Welcome to the world of Thacker s farm. Populated by the Thackers family of Devonshire, the ancestral family farm is also home to some unusual and unnoticed guests the family and servants that lived on the farm during the Elizabethan times. The older inhabitants of Thackers are avid supporters of the young princess Mary, known more commonly as Mary Queen of Scots, and will do anything to aide her in usurping England s throne. When a young girl named Penelope is transported from her present day to the Elizabethan era Thackers, she is immediately caught in a twisted web of plotting and deception. She has the knowledge that has the potential to doom or aide the original Thackers family, but will she be able to convince them of her origins in time to save them?
I liked A Traveler In Time by Alison Uttley because of its intricacy and incredible attention to detail. However, the book seems to ramble unnecessarily in places and is difficult to get into. Still, if you are a fan of historical fiction this book is a great read!!

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Virginia Beach, VA USA

Ice Shock by M.G. Harris

Ice Shock is about 14 year old Josh, an adventurous youth with both Mayan and European ancestry. In his quest to answer many questions about his father s mysterious death, Josh learns of a secret Mayan society called Ek Naab. Ek Naab is an underground Mayan city where Mayans are trying to discover the way to stop the feared 2012 prophecy. Josh soon discovers that his ancestry plays a major role in the future for both the Mayans and the entire planet. Ice Shock is packed with action, major discoveries, betrayals, and a surprise ending.
Harris first book, Invisible City, was given to me as a gift. I started reading it and was instantly intrigued. I knew that I wanted more when it was over and that was exactly how I felt at the end of the second book, Ice Shock. When I finished reading, I felt like I read a really good book, but not like I read something that makes me feel like I could be a part of it. When I read a book, I want to feel as though I can create another character to be me in the story. And as much as I liked this book, I didn t feel as though I could be a part of it. Other than that detail, the story is phenomenal. I also loved the cliff hanger at the end of the story, the suspense of wanting to know more will get M. G. Harris readers lapping at his feet for another release in the series. I would definitely recommend Ice Shock and The Joshua Files to any readers aging from preteen to an easy read for any adult.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charlotte, North Carlina United States of America

Unwelcome by Michael Griffo

Michael and Ronan are now living with each other in Archangel Academy. Michael finally faced the fact that he is gay. It was only the beginning of their problems when they find out someone near them is evil and wants to destroy their types of vampires, water type. That's not the only problem Ronan and Michael face. They both are dealing with jealousy and realize that they haven't been completely honest with each other. This is a thought- provoking novel that will leave you wanting more.
This is a very different novel than we may be used to. It's different, but it could be a good different. There may be some parts that may be confusing because the points view kept changing and the author didn't specify who the narrator was. Other than that the author has great descriptions of the protagonist's personality which makes it easy to relate to them.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Killington, Vermont United States

Private Cathay's Secret by Rebecca O. Hayes

The historical fiction book Private Cathay s Secret by Rebecca O. Hayes, is a
mind-blowing novel that you will love. In the novel, soldiers took a slave girl, Cathay, to be their cook. She traveled many places with her cousin, Jasper, who was also a slave, and the soldiers, and along the way, she learned how to cook better. When she was able to finally be free, and not a slave, she was lonely and didn t know what to do with herself. She then decided to join the army as a man. It was a hard task not being caught, but she pulled it off. In this novel, you will read of all the different places she went and what she went through on the way. Private Cathay s Secret is a fast, easy read that you will enjoy.

I thought the book was an amazing book because seriously, how would you be able to join an army as a man and not get caught. It also taught me that you can accomplish anything in life, even if it s from joining the army, to working at Walmart. I think Rebecca O. Hayes did a really nice job with writing this book, and getting the right idea of it. She stepped into Cathay s shoes and expressed what Cathay would feel, think, and even say. Private Cathay s Secret was a really good novel.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chittenden, Vermont United States

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Life is confusing for Wendy Everly. She doesn’t know why, but she feels as if she doesn’t belong --- not just at school, but at home, too. When her mother accuses her of being a monster, Wendy believes her to be insane. The police agree with her, and her mother is shipped off to an asylum. Ten years later, Wendy finds out a startling discovery: Her mother was right. Wendy isn’t human at all; she’s a monster.

A good author will make the reader feel something, ANYTHING, for the main character of the book. I felt nothing for Wendy. The only time I felt anything for her was in the Prologue! By the end of the book, I didn’t care if she ever saw the light of day again. Why? Because I couldn’t relate to Wendy. She would obsess over stupid things, blowing them way out of proportion. Her obsession with Finn was downright ridiculous. She complained about every little thing that happened to her. Overall, I found her to be very bland, obsessive, and depressing. She was a disappointing main character.

Though the back cover of this book promises excitement, magic, and new worlds; the only thing this book produces are long, boring, and drama-filled events with hardly any magic in them at all. There is no new world, it’s an exact replica of our world.

The only reason I rated this book so high was because of the amazing short story in the back of the book. I adored it. The characters were three-dimensional, believable, and realistic. In these 5 short chapters, the characters came to life. I was sucked into this short story, feeling compassion, heartbreak, and sorrow along with the characters. I was hoping and praying they’d survive to see another day. Too bad the main book wasn’t as enjoyable.

There are multiple scenes with cursing (including a couple f-bombs) and a bit of innuendo. There are quite a few scenes with sexual and suggestive elements as well.

Content: 2
Rating: 3
Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, California USA

The Mirror of N'de by L.K. Malone

Hadlay Mivana and her people, the Ramash, have lived their entire lives as slaves or beggars, unlike the haughty Oresed. Hadlay wants nothing more than to help her people. When Hadlay becomes an Initiate at 13, the long lost Emperor and his son return to the city of Turris. Hadlay is hired as a servant in the Tower, the residence of the Emperor. Things are looking up for Hadlay until she finds that the Emperor is not what he seems. Hadlay then finds herself in the middle of a plot to destroy her people. Fortunately for the Ramash, Hadlay isn't about to let that happen.

This book was a bit like a roller coaster ride. It kept changing the way it felt. It started out rather slow, not exactly boring, just slow. Then it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when Hadlay's living conditions improved. Awhile after that it got a little creepy when the danger increased. It certainly kept me enthralled, though. Hadlay is very easy to relate to, so you really feel the emotions of her character. The plot was complicated enough that you didn't see everything coming, but not so complicated that you got confused. If you look for them, you (at least I) can find some parallels to the Bible. I feel glad I got to review it, and recommend it to any teen fantasy reader.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Rockwell, IA USA

Butterflies (eBook)

Author: Susanne Gervay

Summary: Katherine has always wished to look normal. When she was very young she was severely burned. She wishes she could wear her hair up and be a competitive swimmer. While struggling to look normal, Katherine falls for William, a boy from her school, who she hopes will look past her scars and love her the way she is. With help from her mother, her best friend Jessie, and her sister Rachel, she might just get what she wants.
Opinion: I thought this was an excellent book about knowing who you are, and that people will always love you. I really felt the emotion in this book that Katherine felt. When she burned, I burned. When she cried, I cried. When she was happy, I was happy. Butterflies has taught me an amazing lesson about always staying true to who you are.


Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Enon, Ohio United States

The Sleepwalkers

Summary: The Sleepwalkers, by J. Gabriel Gates, is about rich, popular, Caleb Mason. Born in Hudsonville, Florida, he moved to Malibu at the age of 7 after his parent's divorce. On the night of his graduation, Caleb gets a strange letter in the mail. Christine, his childhood friend from Florida, had sent him a plea for help. Their old home town has been plagued by disappearances of children and the old insane asylum has been re-opened. Christine has been trapped in the building. Caleb and his best friend, Bean, set off to save her.
Opinion: Sleepwalkers was an overall captivating book and is a very quick read. The author uses choice language to instill a sense of horror into the whole book, making the pages seem to fly by. It was scary, but not in the usual sense. Instead of just continuous events, the author adds some mystery to the book by leaving you wondering about what is happening. The characters are believable, likable, and easy to relate to. I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to older teens because of some mature themes.

Mature themes

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tipp City, OH United States

Off Track

Book Title: Off Track
Author: Michael J. Hultquist
ISBN: 192691225X
Summary: Off Track By: Michael Hultquist The whole storyline for this book revolved around one child, one abused child with a drunken mess of a father and a mother who can’t stand up to her husband. The boy, Gary Sanderson, decides to stand up for her by taking him out permanently. He is then is quickly carted off to Radcliffe, a juvenile delinquent facility for boys. He had been there since he was twelve years old, now at age sixteen, he has a choice: to start over with foster parent, or to wait another two years in that horrid place and leave on his own. He chooses the easy way out. So now he is in Winsbury, Illinois, and for a while everything is starting to look better, he has his own job, has no problems with schoolwork, and only some minor setbacks with his foster dad. Most is well and when something bad happens, it always ends up getting better. But one day his world spins out of control when his love tells him something no one ever wants to hear and wants him to stop it, forever. All of this could have been avoided if he just stayed in Radcliffe but now he has gone and made the choice to come to Winsbury and he’s going to follow through with his choices whether good or bad, even if he goes Off Track.
Opinion: This story in particular may not look like the average read. But once you open it up, Off Track unleashes a world of excitement and fear. This book had me in a trance. When I put the book down to eat, or do something else for that matter, I found something in the back of my mind tugging at me to read more. This book is definitely worth a reread. It relates to the problems of a teenager with parties, friends, fights, and the worst of them all, romance.

I gave this book a content rating of three because of the sexual content and also because of the violence between the characters.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Enon, Ohio United States of America

Sunday, January 22, 2012

R My Name is Rachel

I read R Is For Rachel by Patricia Giff. The book is about a girl named Rachel who has lived in the city all her life . Because of the depression, her dad loses his job. Rachel's mom has died so when her dad finds out about a possible job in the country the whole family has to move so he can try to get the job. The family does not want to move away from their good friend Miss Mitzi . Miss Mitzi spends a lot of time with Rachel teaching her important things about life. The house they move to in the country has holes in the roof and needs repairs. Because of a snow storm Rachel's dad doesn't get the job he thought he would get. The family doesn't have much money and has no way to pay their rent. In order to make money Rachel's dad has to leave his children alone while he takes a job far away. The children have to make many decisions while their father is away. All during this time Rachel continues to write to Miss Mitzi.

R My Name is Rachel is a historical fiction book set during the Great Depression. My favorite part is when Rachel sneaks into the school house and takes some books. Miss Mitzi helps Rachel realize she should return the books and talk to the teacher about what she did. I like the characters because they are realistic. They act like a normal family with the kids fighting with each other but helping each other too. Another part I really liked was when Pop and Miss Mitzi decide to get married. I think anyone who reads this book will love it.

Reviewer Age:8

Reviewer City, State and Country: Jackson, Missouri USA

Hattori Hachi: The Revenge of the Praying Mantis

Hattori Hachi: The Revenge of the Praying Mantis
     Recently, I ve read the action-packed novel,
Hattori Hachi: The Revenge of the Praying Mantis, the
first installment of the Hattori Hachi trilogy and first
novel of its author, Jane Prowse.  Hattie Jackson (also
known as Hattori Hachi) is just a normal fifteen year old
adolescent with a slightly jumpy, cautious mother who
spends her spare time training Hattie to defend herself
against others.  The training?  A secret signal, mock
sparring, and submerging herself under their apartment
complex s lake, for instance.  Hattie, having grown up with
this odd ritual that always unexplainably is kept hidden
from her dad, believes this practice to just be of her
mother s insecurities from her troubled childhood-- until
her mother mysteriously disappears.  Traces of blood and
signs of struggle are found in the area where her mother
was reported to have been last seen.  Grieving and
troubled, Hattie is determined to get to the bottom of her
mother s disappearance.  That is, until her apartment s old
washerwoman (who turns out not to be so old after all)
reveals to Hattie her mother s true story; her role as the
last surviving descendant of the most powerful Ninjustu
family of all Japan that has dated back for thousands of
years.  Quite enough for a fifteen years old s mind to
consume, right?  Not yet.  There s more.  The quiet
laundress, Yazuchi, also informs Hattie that she is the
Golden Child, the heir to all the Hattori Ninjustu pride,
and that the Kataki, (an evil band of Ninjustu warriors
who also abducted her mother) are determined to kill her.
  You must.  You are last in line.  You are Hattori
Hachi: Golden Child.
 With this dreadful responsibility now keeping her
grounded, Hattie and her friend, the notorious juvenile
delinquent, Mad Dog, start training excessively with their
mentor, the washerwoman Yuzuchi.  Learning how to control
their emotions, empty their mind, build their strength,
and break through their invisible barriers are constantly
demanding their attention while time is slowly ticking
away to the time to test their true Ninjustu
instincts&&&..the time where they have to face the Praying
Mantis, the most deadly assassin in the world&..
  You think you can fight the Praying Mantis and win?
He laughed.  It was chilling.

Jane Prowse has completely nailed this novel.  I loved
the descriptions, the action, the heart-stopping moments
where deceit lurks just around the corner.  The story plot
is fabulous, smoothly transitioning from one thing to
another, while almost a hidden profoundness is scattered
in every chapter, from the age-old ways of the ninja, to
the tiny little clues Hattie s mother leaves to aid Hattie
on her mission to save the common good of all people.
A ninja s sprit is as sharp as the edge of a blade&.
 Considering this is Jane Prowse s first book, I
believe the fruits of her efforts definitely turned into
something phenomenal.  I could honestly barely tear myself
away from the novel, from beginning to end!  The only
thing I disliked about this book was the sometimes the
sentences were slightly awkward, kind of distorted.
 I would recommend this book for ages eight and up,
for some of the violence mentioned in this novel.
 Will Hattie Jackson have the courage and the
spirit to become the true Ninjustu princess she was born
to be?  Read this intriguing novel to find out!

Note:  If you are interested, there is a sequel to this
book, which is Hattori Hachi: Stalking the Enemy, and
there is also the last installment in this trilogy coming
up,entitled Hattori Hachi: The Curse of the Diamond Dagger.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country:
Leopold, Missouri U.S.A.

Paradise Lost by Steven L. Layne

     The Barrett family is running from an ugly past with memories of a lost mother and a dead father. Life with their eccentric grandmother seems relatively safe in comparison, until Chase, a former geek shows up with a miraculous transformation and secrets beyond comprehension. A series of mysterious events and dangerous close calls leaves Jack, the eldest boy, struggling to protect his family and friends. The reappearance of droids that resemble humans leads to even more danger and desperation. Can Jack overcome his insecurities to save his family and friends, or will he die trying?
     Layne creates a twisted, but disturbingly relatable world in Paradise Lost , the sequel to This Side of Paradise . The advanced technology is disturbing, but human motivations are clearly defined throughout the whole book. One of the things that sets this book apart from many of the others in this genre is the fusion of the main character s flaw with the plot. This makes the book so much more realistic and relatable. The plot line was engaging, and the characters even more so. This was by far one of my favorite sci-fi books in the fact that it combines mystery and romance as well, therefore, I would recommend Paradise Lost to any avid reader who loves mysteries.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas USA

Second World by R.M.Wagoner

Clare's world is pretty messed up.  Her dad smokes, her grandparents are dead, and the pastor's wife is deathly ill.  A talking dog named Horus, whom she has always considered a friend, is showing an evil side.  Then the pastor's wife, Millie, dies, and Judy - Clare's sister - gets sick!  It's not a great life.  However, at Millie's funeral, Clare meets a man named Change.  After that her life starts to...well, change!  She learns that she is a supernatural link, a person who still has enough imagination to see spirits.  Together, she and Change get rid of Horus and heal Judy, but can they save the pastor too?

I was not expecting this to be a religious book.  It starts kind of slow, but then it gets better.  I like the idea of Change being another name for the Holy Spirit because that's what he does - changes things!  I thought it was funny that Horus the dog shared some characteristics with the Egyptian god Horus from Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles.  Arrogance, greed, selfishness - all shared traits.  This was a really good book.  I think that if an Atheist read this, they would start believing in God.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake City, IA USA

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning Instinct is about the way a girl named Jenna gets in over her head and is also helped out of the water. Jenna's life is awful; her parents are borderline abusive, her mother is a drunk and her father is a private monster. Her teacher, Mr. Anderson, helps her and makes her feel loved. And oh, how he loves her. He loves her more than anyone else ever has. As her family dissolves farther, Jenna relies more and more heavily on his love, but does she know everything? Is she a victim of a teacher, or a star crossed lover?  This novel forces you to look deeper into what constitutes true love, and who is a monster.

This book is all about the way that relationships are not black and white. The relationship between Mr. Anderson (Mitch) and Jenna is confusingly beautiful, but the love between them shines through every secret she finds out about him. Although he is her teacher, and kind of creepy even aside from that, he is not a classic predator and she is most definitely not a victim. Told in the format of a monologue on a police officer's tape recorder, the prose is impeccable and deliberate. The pain leaks from the book and is something palpable that does not only live on the pages. It will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Student-teacher relationships and sexual content play a large role in the plot line
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, NH USA

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nightingale (eBook) by David Farland

Nightingale, by David Farland is an exceptionally well written book that is sure to have readers swept away in a world of action, fantasy, romance and of course adventure.  Bron Jones is a foster child. He has taught himself not to get close with any of his foster parents or siblings. Bron must transfer parents after being accused of stealing. He is being sent to a woman who can't have any children of her own. Right off the bat she offers him much; however, Bron believes that she is in a sweet phase and that he will probably only receive one or two of the things she has promised. His new foster mother is different; in addition to upholding her word, she tells him he is a breed of human called Masaak. He doesn't believe her, of course. But who would? Right?

    Farland uses a perfect blend of imagery and mystery to keep his audience turning pages. Teens as well as adults will enjoy Nightingale and want to take part in this thrilling adventure book. I love the story and the detailed plot the author uses for this novel and can't wait until his next book come out. 

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Austin, Texas U.S.A

Friday, January 20, 2012

Break and Enter by Norah McClintock

When Chloe is falsely accused of cheating and vandalism, she has to find out who would hate her so much as to frame her. When she thinks she finally has figured out who is framing her, she finds that that person is doing more then just framing people.
This book was AWESOME! I loved it so much that I want the whole series now! It kept me at the edge of my seat, and I kept on reading and reading! The only downside was this; in Chapter 13, I had already figured out who had broke into the cottages, and in Chapter 9, I had already figured out who had framed Chloe. But besides that, it was a really good book! It also had mild violence which might be too much for the younger age to handle. But besides that, it was epic.
I rated it two because there is some mild violance which might be too much for the younger age.
Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, CA USA

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan

Young Hal is a young teen competing in the Brotherband training. The Brotherband training is to prepare them to be Skandian warriors. His team is called The Herons, after a new type of sail he invented. Their rivals are the team called The Wolfs. The Herons steadily do better in the challenges, but then something happens in the end of the training and his world falls apart.
The book was amazing! It kept me turning the pages from start to finish and contained tons of action and suspense.  An example of this is He came at Hal like a raging bull . The main character, Hal, was one of the best characters I read about in a while because he was very brave and kind. The author is very descriptive. His writing makes you feel like you re there with Hal on his ship sailing. An example of this is the sun was shining. The sea was calm. There was a steady wind and Ulf and Wolf were bickering, All in all, he couldn t ask for more . If you read this and like it then I would recommend John Flanagan s other series Rangers Apprentice. I recommend this book to anyone 12 years and up.  

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Uxbridge, Ma USA

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey seems like a normal kid.  But is he?  He has a super powers; the power of electricity. He is sort of like an eel. No one knows this besides his best friend Ostin, but recently a girl named Taylor told him she has powers--the power to reboot people, which makes people black out for a second or two. Together Mike, Ostin, and Taylor form a club called The Electoclan . Then Mike s mom and Taylor get kidnapped, and Mike has to go on a quest to save them. On the quest Mike finds out a horrible secret that his Mom has kept hidden from him for many years.
I thought this book was excellent. It has everything a book should have action and humor. An example of this is on page 311, Wade hit first, wrapping his arms around the guards legs, while Jack knocked him over . The main character is a great role model. He is brave, strong, and willing to risk his life to save his family and friends. I think that this would be a great addition to your bookshelf. This reminds me of the book Hero written by Mike Lupica. It is also about a boy that has superpowers. I recommend this book to anyone 12 years  and up.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Uxbridge, Ma USA

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Try Not To Breathe is a psychological-thriller-love story.  Sixteen-year-old Ryan has just graduated from a mental hospital when he meets Nicki, a girl with a bubbling personality who appreciates Ryan for what he really is.  But Nicki has a dreadful past.  Is Ryan getting into more than he bargained for?  And what's up with Val?  But underlying the entire story is a...waterfall.
Try Not To Breathe is an extraordinary story.  It's one of those stories that really speaks to your soul.  It is one of those books where you don't go to sleep, you just lie there thinking about it even after you finished reading it.  The characters are very well developed, as was the plot and setting. A masterfully crafted book.  This is a book that every well-read teen will enjoy.
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Silver Spring, Maryland USA

The Taste of Snow by Stephen V. Masse

When a young girl named Nicole is sold a magic candy cane, everything changes. Whether good or bad, magic is in the air. When bad things overtake good things, Nicole finds herself depressed. Before she can return the candy cane, she finds what is really important and learns an important lesson. Nicole learns that things could have been worse. Much worse. She also learns that magic is everywhere, even if it doesn' t seem like it.
This book was amazing. I felt like I was drawn into the story. The main character, Nicole, was so strongly developed that I felt like I really got to know her. The descriptions of the events and scenes were powerful and detailed making me feel like I was a part of the experience. I couldn' t stop reading. Anyone who enjoys magic, mystery, action, adventure, and culture should read this book. This author definitely deserves a round of applause.

Reviewer Age:9
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charlotte, North Carlina United States

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

It all began years ago, when Eragon, a young farmer, stumbled across a polished blue stone in the Spine. Upon returning to his house, he realize that the stone was in fact an egg; inside was a baby dragon. Now, many adventures and 3 books later, Eragon has evolved into an accomplished dragon rider who is pledged to the cause of the Varden, and organization dedicated to the overthrow of the tyrannical ruler Galbatorix. Yet, as strong, focused, and determined Eragon has become, he readily acknowledges the monumental task ahead of him is almost impossible. With his hope waning, and his army in shambles, Eragon will have to find the motivation to step out of his comfort zone, and to readily accept everything that the god-like Galbatorix has to throw at him. But will Eragon prevail, or will his whole existence and purpose be squashed under the immense power of his enemies?

Christopher Paolini's powerful conclusion his "Eragon" series dynamically displayed the inner struggles of Eragon as a character, and helped to solidify Eragon as a realistic identity. Eragon's personal battle with love, heartbreak, and hopelessness enables me to understand why he acts and feels like he does, and also gives insight into the author's effectiveness as a writer. Eragon, with his profound love for the character Arya, battles to suppress his feelings of love which, contrary to what Eragon believes, need to be shared. Such inner conflict brings Eragon to life and helps the reader appreciate him as a person, and not as a fictional character. In addition, the feelings of helplessness that Eragon feels concerning the impossibility of his lofty goals and expectations humbles him, and makes him more human than not.

The country of Alagaesia, which serves as the setting for "Inheritance", is perhaps the most elaborate and convincing I have ever encountered. The intricate complexities woven into the background of the many scenes help to not only give the reader an idea of the context of the story, but also help to firmly place the reader inside the book itself. Such an authentic setting only serves to augment the characters and ideas so thoughtfully exhibited in "Inheritance," and enables the reader to examine the deeper themes without having to pause to collect his or her bearings.

Christopher Paolini, author of "Inheritance," successfully conceived a gripping novel that very well can be considered the best of the series. While reading the novel, I was fascinated by the unexpected twists and turns of the plot, and I found myself constantly wondering what would happen next. It is this intense anticipation that leads me to believe that this is, so far, Christopher Paolini's greatest work. The prose of the novel was dynamic, thoroughly explaining many aspects of the story, while also leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions for some of the more mysterious ones. Perhaps the only weakness of the book was the numerous loose ends left untied; after the conclusion of the novel I was left wondering about many issues that were not completely addressed and resolved. However, in his acknowledgments, Paolini hints this will not be the last we will hear of Alagaesia, and that hopefully some of the mysteries left unsolved by "Inheritance" will be resolved. On account of the formidable characters and settings in the book, I would most definitely recommend "Inheritance" to others, and found the novel to be very memorable and distinct.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Baltimore, Maryland United States

Monday, January 09, 2012

Element Keepers

Rhet, a dockworker in the land of Seatra, and his friend Peteal are mysteriously taken away from their home one day by nine magical strangers called Y'dah with the ability to weave and control the wind. According to prophecy, Rhet possesses an unimaginable power strong enough to destroy the world. Locked up and treated as a prisoner, he does not understand where he is or why he was taken from Seatra.  When one young Y'dah named Soralin discovers a hidden passage of the prophecy that explained Rhet's capture, she learns that his powers will save the world, not destroy it.  Using her wind-weaving abilities, the two flee and travel across the land and discover Rhet's true talents, while meeting some familiar faces along the way.  Will Rhet and his friends be able to stand up against true evil?

This book was very enjoyable to read.  I was hooked from the very first page.  The storyline is suspenseful and easy to follow while being told from different perspectives.  The characters are interesting and relatable.  I found myself liking Peteal the most and his struggle from slave to ruler.  The relationship between Rhet and Soralin is sweet and also a focal point in the book that I loved.  The only thing I disliked about the book was the ending, which was abrupt and left me hanging.  I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes romance, suspense, or fantasy.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Torrington, CT United States

Borrowing Abby Grace (eBook) by Kelly Green

Borrowing Abby Grace by Kelly Green. When Abby Grace wakes up, she is in the back of a moving van driven by two men wearing ski masks. She can’t remember anything, including her own name. After escaping from the kidnappers, she is returned to a home she doesn’t remember full of things and a father she doesn’t know. While standing in her unfamiliar room, she is approached by a boy named Will. He tells her she is a Shadow. She is inhabiting the body of a girl named Brooke and she has some sort of mission. If Abby doesn’t figure out what her mission is and complete it in time, she will be stuck in Brooke’s body forever.
This novella is not even fifty pages. The writing is mediocre. It falls under the heading of most teenage girl fluff novels. It’s not something I would recommend to a friend simply because it has no substance to it. It is too short to become attached to any of the characters or the story, and the writing is neither compelling nor exciting. The story line is average and not that interesting.

Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: New York, NY United States

Blood Sacrifice

Blood Sacrifice is a fantasy about vampires, fae, and shape shifters.  Kiera Kelly has accepted Challenge from her former lover Gideon and may lose her land because of it. Everybody involved in Challenge has to leave the land, but while they’re gone strange things are happening. The land is being vandalized, and Minerva Kelly, the clan’s leader has gone missing. Will they find her, and save their land or will Gideon take over?
This book is definitely for mature fantasy readers. I loved Kiera Kelly, she was funny and it was really easy to get into her character. Although I enjoyed reading this book, I didn’t like the ending. I was left confused and wondering what happened. I thought there could have been more of a clear explanation. It still is a book that I would recommend.
language and sexual content
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio US

Night Mare in the Hamptons

Summary: Night Mare in the Hamptons is the second installment of the Willow Tate series written by Celia Jerome. After first dealing with a ten-foot-tall red troll, Willow has another problem on her hands. Not only does the whole town expect her to take care of three enchanted mares that are running amuck, but she also has to work with a cocky horse-whisperer along the way. At least she'll have the help of the uniquely talented locals, or more accurately, psychic, talented locals. It looks like graphic novelist Willow Tate has a lot on her hands.
Opinion: This is a book that I would read once, but it isn't really one that I would reread. The writing style isn’t one that I enjoy, but the idea of the story was what kept me reading. The subject of the book was interesting and very creative. I felt like Willow and Ty contradicted themselves a lot, so you can't get a very good read on what their personalities were. All the other characters had solid personalities, and they didn't waver on who they were. The writer gave great detail about everything, but I don’t enjoy this; I don't need to know what every surrounding town is like and where everything is.  Some people may like the book more because of this, but it was the part I had the most problem with.   I did like the humorous writing style of the author, it had me laughing out load at times, and made me smile.

Content:3  The reason I gave this book a 3 on the age content, is that during some parts of the book there were sexual themes. Anyone that reads this book should be on a mature level, if they aren't, they should put this book back.
Katie Campbell_IVMS
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio USA

The Girl in the Mirror

The Girl in the Mirror is about a girl named Lizzie. She is adopted and is searching for her birth parents. Something dramatic happens near the time she graduates; her adoptive father dies. She goes through a tough time, and she does not handle it well. She ends up hanging out with the wrong crowd and starts drinking.

The book was good, but it was not as dramatic or suspenseful as I had expected it to be.  Lizzie doesn’t get seem to experience a real crisis. There was an issue, but it wasn’t a huge problem, so it didn’t always hold my attention.  A lot of the time I had to reread the last page because it jumped and didn’t really flow as to what was happening on the page before. It was an okay read and  I liked the story behind it. I just thought it could have been a little more interesting and suspenseful.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio North America

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Girl Behind The Glass by Jane Kelley

Twins, Hannah and Anna were best friends, until they moved to the house on Hemlock Road, which tears their whole family apart. Is the house they’re living in temporarily haunted, or is Hannah just going crazy? Is there really a ghost haunting their house, or is it just former resident Ruth who died as a little girl in their attic? Whoever....or whatever it is seems to be talking to Hannah. Do her parents really think she’s crazy? Or do they believe her? Find out in this haunted story, The Girl Behind the Glass.
Throughout the whole book, I actually felt like I was there experiencing everything the characters were. I think the author did a great job describing everything, and getting the reader more sucked into the book, I know I was, waiting to read the next page and get more and more into the book. I thought she did a really good job with that part. It wasn’t a horror book, but it was the sort of book that had mystery and horror in a perfect combination. The author did a really nice job with the book.
Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Skokie , Illinois USA

A Million Suns by Beth Revins

It's been three months since Amy was awoken from her cryogenically frozen chamber and found herself on the spaceship Godspeed traveling to a new planet. It was tough transitioning to a world where there are always four walls surrounding her, but she had Elder to help her. However, now that Eldest is dead, Elder has become the leader of Godspeed. While he is dealing with imminent rebellion of the crew, Amy is sent on a hunt to unlock the secrets of Godspeed....before it's too late.

I haven't read much science fiction but I really enjoyed Across the Universe, the predecessor to A Million Suns, when I first read it. I was very excited to get my hands on the sequel, and I'm happy to say that A Million Suns did not disappoint. The story picks up right where Across the Universe left off, and even though many things were revealed at the end of that novel, there are still more secrets to be uncovered in A Million Suns. I liked watching Amy hunt for clues and thought it was a very interesting way for Amy to discover new information about Godspeed. On Elder's side, he is dealing with mutiny from the crew, who want a more equal form of government. While I understood the complaints of the crew, when reading from Elder's point-of-view, it's easy to sympathize with him. Even though he was not voted to be the leader, he still has the citizens' best interests at heart. A Million Suns was a great continuation of this trilogy, and I can't wait to read the conclusion because this book left off with a huge cliffhanger.

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck

Racial conflicts have torn families apart for centuries, whether it is as far back as the Civil War or Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement. Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck demonstrates the effects of prejudice in the Steele family, a problem in fifteen-year-old Renee Steele’s life to a problem color once caused for her grandmother. Renee loves her two older cousins, but as they grow older, they seem to bicker more and more. Pat, proud of her African heritage, is fed up with Cherie’s light-skinned friends and near abandonment of their culture, accusing her of thinking white people were better than they are. Cherie thinks Pat simply refuses to apply herself to her full potential. Poor Renee is caught in the middle, and she turns to their grandmother for help.

Grandma Bell is one of a kind. She is brave and loving and kind and firm. However, she didn’t get that way by accident. She had a hard time in the beginning of her marriage, the effect of her dark skin among prejudiced in-laws. Throughout the book, she tells Pat, Renee, and Cherie all about how she met their grandfather, and how she came to live with him and his parents, who hadn’t exactly taken a liking to her. In fact, they went out of their way to make things difficult. Yet Bell persevered, raising several fine children and even reaching a surprising status with her husband’s troublesome in-laws.

Color Struck was definitely an enjoyable read. Grandma Bell’s old-fashioned pluckiness makes her the most likeable character in the book, and her courage in the face of bigotry sets an example for people in a tight spot everywhere. The reader will feel like they have sat down next to their own grandmother as she recounts her younger years, instilling an almost nostalgic feeling in them, longing for their own story times with loved ones. Renee, on the other hand, felt like a bit of a weak character. She didn’t have anything to contribute to the stories and couldn’t help her cousins, nor did she have an opinion in their fight, altogether coming off wishy-washy. The other characters were also decent, though I must admit that I developed a certain fondness for Pat as well as Bell’s sister Hattie, both young girls set in their ways and daring enough to carry out elaborate plans.

The writing of the book was pleasant, although the dialect spoken by the characters was hard to follow at first. The modern day chapters seemed a lackluster, but the twists and turns of the story told by Grandma Bell made up for them in the long run. Grandma Bell’s descriptions of her life with her sisters in her younger years and of how she dealt with her thorny in-laws were particular bright spots. The in-laws were also formidable antagonists, not people one wants to meet, making it all the more impressive for Bell to deal with them so patiently. Over all, it was a nice read, nothing to rant about, but definitely a book that someone interested in historical fiction, or even just the simple triumphs of a human being, should pick up.

Content Rating: 1

Rating: 7

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Locust Valley, New York The United States of America

Out of Breath by Blair Richmond

Out of Breath is a thrilling mystery book about a young woman named Katherine. She is a very talented competitive runner but had her foot crushed in a car accident in her senior year of high school. She recovered but lost her chance of scholarships. She runs away to her hometown of Lithia, a picturesque small town. She meets a caring couple that allows her to stay with them and as her stay goes on, she meets new people and starts learning about the darker side of this sunny town. Richmond has blended elements of adventure, romance, mystery, and horror beautifully through her vivid descriptions and realistic dialogue. I believe that Richmond definitely achieved her purpose because the writing was very realistic and descriptive. I was snatched out of my bedroom and into the story. Her writing is effective because it flows very naturally. The vocabulary was age-appropriate; I never had to stop and figure out what a word meant, nor did I feel like I had to turn my brain off in order to get through it.

This book's advantage is in the delicacy and clarity of its writing. One weakness I did find was that the plot seemed a bit predictable. I don't think this book could be the next Harry Potter because there's no real surprise. The major plot twists and climaxes in the story are heavily hinted at beforehand, which I felt was unnecessary for a teenage audience; surely we can figure it out ourselves. Other than this unfortunate detail, the book was very strong overall. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun read; perhaps a stress-reliever or a comfortable, curl-up-by-the-fire and read book. This is because it is very smooth as far as flow goes, and the predictability of the plot may annoy those readers who are looking for something deeper or more mentally challenging, those who want to think hard to solve the mystery.

Rating: 8
Content Rating: 1
Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Columbus, Indiana United States

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Sister Mischief, by Laura Goode, tells the tale of a quirky all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities. The four girls are each struggling to find their own identities; Esme's the lesbian lyricist, Marcy's the violent drum-line captain, Tess is the power vocalist and former church enthusiast, and Rowie is the beautiful, brilliant chorus-writer, but who are they really? The girls stick together as they discover their places in the chaos that is high school life. When the school makes an outrageous new rule that goes against what they believe in, the crew steps up to cause a scene in the school and show the world how educational hip-hop can be. Before long, their crew, Sister Mischief, is causing a stir in Holyhill High School in a way that only they could ever do.Though at first I was hesitant to read this book, I ended up really liking it. Each of the four main characters seems very realistic and is faced by real-life situations that high-schoolers face. The narrator, Esme, is amusing and engaging. The book was definitely a page-turner: it's not a challenging read, and I found myself finishing the 367-page novel in 2 days. Some mature themes are involved in the storyline, including sex, relationships, partying, swearing, and the uncertainty of sexual orientation. Teens who are uncomfortable reading such themes should avoid this book, but mature readers should find it a very entertaining read.
The book includes some mature themes such as sex, swearing, partying, drinking, and sexual orientation.
Rating: 8
Content: 3
Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Columbus, IN USA

Destined by P.C. Cast

Zoey Redbird has just gotten home to Tulsa with her Warrior, Stark, by her side.  Rephaim and Stevie Rae can finally be together now that Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim and he has agreed to walk the path of the Goddess, Nyx. Everything seems perfect, right? Zoey soon learns that things are worse than she thought as Darkness begins to threaten their beloved school, House of Night. Soon Light and Dark collide in an epic battle, and Zoey must prepare to fight Neferet once again. Kalona, Rephaim s father, is relentless to stop him from following the path of Light. Is Zoey prepared to fight Neferet again? Will Rephaim be able to stay on the path of Light? And can true love find the Light when challenged by Darkness? Find out in the breath-taking next novel of the House of Night.

This book is the ninth book in the House of Night series, I would recommend reading the eight books that came before this book because there is not a lot of explanation about the past events. This book was well written and was very interesting to read because there weren't any dull moments.  This book was told through different characters' points of view which made the book interesting and action packed, but could be confusing to some readers. I would recommend this series for anyone who likes fantasy novels.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chittenden, Vermont United States of America

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall

Lupita is a teenage girl who moved to the U.S. from Mexico.  She is certain she can handle anything, but when she leans her mother has cancer, she is devastated.  Her only consolation is writing poetry under a mesquite tree which has sprung up in her mother's rose garden.  She also tries to battle her feelings by joining the school's drama club.  Finally, Lupita's mother and father go to Texas so her mother can get chemo treatments, leaving Lupita behind to care for her siblings.  Eventually, they are forced to live off the charity of their neighbors.  Lupita struggles on, but her determination may not be enough...

Wow.  I don't know what else to say.  This book was...beautiful.  Lupita's life was a nightmare, but she was persistent, ever hopeful.  I don't know how.  This book conveyed such strong emotions.  Parts of it were so sad, I almost cried.  I can hardly describe this book because it had such strong feelings in the writing.  It had too much feeling to put into words.  Under the Mesquite is definitely one of the best book's I've ever read.  This book is a gift to the world of literature. 

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake City, IA USA

Dragon's Oath by PC Cast and Kristin Cast

Dragon's Oath is the beginning of the doomed fates of the star-crossed lovers Anastasia and Dragon.  Dragon grew up in nineteenth century England as a rebellious, troublesome teen.  When his father is fed up with his son's embarrassing actions, he banishes Dragon to America.  Upon Dragon's departure, he is marked by a vampyre, a mystical being, to study at the Tower Grove House of Night, a school to learn the magical ways of the vampyre.  At the House of Night, Dragon becomes a skilled swordsman and warrior.  He also meets Anastasia, Professor of Spells and Rituals.  These two vampyres, from completely different backgrounds, come together to face a rising evil, but what will this threat do to their relationship?

As an installment in the House of Night series, the book added a decent amount of value to the continuing story arc, and I am interested to see what happens next.  However, as a standalone book for the casual reader, there definitely isn't enough substance despite its easy accessibility.  I was intrigued by the combination of the vampyre myth and magical realms.  This world isn't often created nor explored.  Another unique set piece was the fact that the Houses of Night are in U.S. cities with humans living nearby.  The clash between vampyres and humans will be an interesting plot point as the series continues.  Unfortunately, the story and dialogue doesn't grip you like other notable sci-fi/fantasy series, but Dragon's Oath may provide some value for those who enjoy the series.

Reviewer Age:21
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

Alex was Lucy's first boyfriend, her first love, her first everything. After spending the summer apart Lucy couldn't wait to see Alex on the first day of school, and share her special surprise with him. Only instead of reacting the way she thought he would, Alex breaks up with her!

Lucy is completely devastated, and utterly heartbroken. Then she meets Olivia, a striking but mysterious girl, who gives Lucy the opportunity of a lifetime! Olivia is part of a secret sisterhood of heartbreakers, a group of girls who are immune to ever having their hearts broken. If Lucy joins the secret sisterhood, not only will her own heart be healed, it will never be broken again! The rules are simple, make someone love you in the next seven days, and then break their heart. But Lucy has another plan in mind! What if instead of using the secret sisterhood of hreatbreakers to win a heart and break it, she used it to win a heart and keep it? With the clock ticking away will Lucy be able to win Alex back, or is she destined to be heartbroken forever?

Lynn Weingarten made this book come to life! She set the story up beautifully and it captivated me from the very first page. I found myself reading this book as fast as I could so that I could find out what happened next. Before I knew it, I devoured the entire book in one sitting!

Lucy is the main character in this book and my heart literally broke for her. She was completely devastated by her breakup with Alex. What girl hasn't been down that road at least once? So could I blame her when she decides to use the Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers to win a heart and keep it forever? Well, this girl couldn't!

I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to others. I think a broken heart is something everyone can identify with. It really makes you wonder, if you were given the same opportunity, what would you do?
I haven't read any other books by this author, but now I want to read every book she's ever written! I can't wait to read the sequel to this amazing novel!

Content: 1
Rating: 10
Reviewer Age:26
Reviewer City, State and Country: West Columbia, TX United States

Lighthouse Nights

Trevor enlists Jules in his plan to make a profit from the
suicides of frequent visitors of a depression chat room.
Jules makes a pact with each victim to commit the act
together. Jules fakes it, and Trevor swoops in to make off
with the valuables. Everything goes as planned until she
begins to fall in love with Gabe, their seventh potential
victim. Now, Jules faces the most important decision she has

Vander Ark' s novel is filled with dark romance and
twists and turns that keep the reader turning the pages.
Unlike most young adult novels with mature content that can
be overlooked to enjoy the book, the content of Lighthouse
Nights cannot. It is as much a part of the book as the
setting and characters. I would definitely recommend this
book to others who enjoy realistic novels, but I advise
caution because it may be triggering to some.

Language, graphic descriptions
Reviewer Age:22
Reviewer City, State and Country: Bay City, Texas USA

The Silent by Rebecca Kenney

The Silent by Rebecca Kenney

At Mourning High, everything seemed normal. Normal kids, normal teachers, normal school, normal day. But as Nikki Altemann arrives at school one day she learns everything is no longer normal. The head faculty and staff received threatening, and frightening emails. Detectives and police are called in.  The problem is, the emails are untraceable. So a head detective "hires" Nikki to be the ears and eyes of the school.  Only her faith can give her the courage she needs to face what's coming in the months to come.
I think the book was very well written. The author was very specific about the events that occurred. Every page had me on the edge of my seat down to the end of every sentence. In almost every scene I pictured myself in the background. I also found it easy to relate to several of the events. If I could have changed anything about the book, it would have been to make the final chapter longer and more vivid so the reader could've had a more vivid idea of what was going on. I learned to never take life and what you have for granted, because you never know when everything can change.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Jackson, Missouri USA

Monday, January 02, 2012

Artemis Rising by Cheri Lasota

The book Artemis Rising is centered around a young pagan girl. The story takes place between 1600 and 1800 AD. Then most people were Catholic and those who weren't were considered wrong and a disgrace, never to be associated with. In the new land, Arethusa and her mother were suspected pagans who believed in the Greek god Artemis. Arethusa's father was Catholic and constantly beat up on his wife. When he discovered proof of their beliefs, he decided to take his wife and Arethusa back to their homeland. On the way there Arethusa and her mother completed a ritual bonding Arethusa to the evil Diogo, the ship captain’s son. She is washed ashore, unable to physically utter a word or remember anything after the ritual, and meets a handsome young man. She is quickly torn between two evils, turning her back on her beliefs for the one she loves, or living unhappily for rest of her life with the one chosen for her by unseen forces. In this book by Cheri Lasota, two worlds, beliefs and stories combine causing chaos in one girl’s life. Who will she choose?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book Artemis Rising. It was well written and entertaining. I couldn't put my laptop down or read it fast enough. I felt the despair, hope and longing that was described so vividly right along with the main character. I could close my eyes and picture the landscape and the people without even trying. It had a sense of seriousness and heart throughout showing Arethusa's determination to stick to her beliefs no matter what anyone said. It was a great book that didn't feel like it was written specifically for one gender. I think men and boys will enjoy it just as much as woman and girls! I have and will continue to recommend this book and look forward to reading more by Cheri Lasota.

There are a few references to religion, violence, and culture. Parents may want to approve first.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Glendale, AZ United States