Friday, September 28, 2012

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Mary used to live on Jar Head Island but left four years ago because of a bully.  That bully has been in the back of her mind since the day she left.  Now she's back and ready to prove that she's not the same scared little girl she used to be.

Lillia's always been popular in school...especially with the boys.  But when one goes too far and starts to mess with her younger sister, she will do anything to protect her.

Kat has been tormented by her ex-best friend for way too long.  The rumors and jokes never used to bother her too much before, but now they threaten her relationship with the one person that she thought she could count on.  It's time to make her old friend pay for the pain she's caused.

These three extremely different girls join forces for the one goal they have in common...revenge.  And they won't stop until each of their enemies is begging for mercy.

I really liked this book.  It was interesting reading the story through three different perspectives of three very different girls.  The idea of revenge was really appealing and interesting.  It was a very fast read despite being over 300 pages.  Once I started reading, I wasn't able to stop.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a hint of mystery in their books and wants to feed their inner evil side.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Brownsburg, Indiana United States of America

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Secrets by Margaret Willey

Nobody likes a bully.  Nate, Katie, and Renata are no different.  They just want to stop the bullying.  So they devise a plan.  A devastating, horrible plan.  A plan that will crush the bullies, but also crush their lives.  They don t care.  They re at the bottom of the social ladder as it is. They re already outcasts.  What have they got to lose?    When the plan is in full swing, they re certain that they' ve thought of everything.  They 've accounted for every minute detail.

Except getting caught and being thrown into Juvie.From page one you know something is awry.  Why are these kids in Juvie?  What have they done wrong?  DID they do something wrong, or is this just a big misunderstanding?  And the questions pile up from there.  But by the last page everything s resolved.  All your questions are answered.  Some answers are not what you want them to be.  They are anything but what you expected.

This book grabs you and pulls you into its dark story from page one.  You are sucked in, and you won t want to escape until you read the last page.  Suspenseful and intriguing, the plot is excellently crafted.  The style of writing differs with each chapter.  That in turn helps the plot become even more twisted and unpredictable than it already is.  Most of the characters are realistic and believable from the beginning.  Katie, Nate, and Renata - while having completely different personalities - are all such fantastic characters.  They compliment the plot nicely, and they seem as if they were created to fit the roles that they play.  As if they truly were real.  The author has succeeded in making her readers forget they are reading.  She has instead made us feel as if WE are the detectives.  We must find the answers to the questions we ask.  She makes us feel as if this is real life; as if we are right there with the characters, experiencing life alongside them.
I cannot express my delight in reading such a well-crafted novel.  I truly cannot put into words how amazing this story is.  All I can say is this:  Go out and read this book for yourself.  You will not be disappointed.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, CA USA

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Under My Hat by Johnathan Straham

Under My Hat is a collection of short stories written by notable fiction authors such as Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, and Jane Yolen. The stories have an equally notable subject - witches!  One of the greatest figures in fantasy and folklore, witches have come to life, spellbinding as never before, in the pages of this book.  A vengeful grandmother skeleton, a lovely cat-woman, and a certified wizard are a few examples of the variations of the classic witch that appear in the tome.  The magical qualities of these stories come not from a potion, spell, or familiar, but from the words the authors have written, collected into one bewitching book.

I was spellbound!  I swear, every time I closed the book, it took a moment for the world to come back into focus, as I had to shake of the magic woven in the words.  Every story was written so clearly, I could see it happening - and I still can!  I loved each tale, and am sure that when I read them next, they will captivate me just as much as the first time.  Nothing in this book seems as if it should be real, and yet it is, brought to life by the authors' pens.  Many of the witches were not traditional, as woodcarvers, men, or rock musicians!  Even those who don't believe in magic will find this book bewitching - and may change their views!  This book has as much magic as a boiling cauldron (probably more)!

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

Avalonia: The Three Realms by Ashley Kate Simmons

Book Title: Avalonia: The Three Realms
Author: Ashley Kate Simmons
ISBN: 9781843868323
Summary: "Avalonia The Three Realms" by Ashley Kate Simmons is an enticing fantasy story with love, adventure, and self-discovery. Lily is just a normal teenage girl until one day she finds herself in a world where faeries, werewolves, and vampires all exist and are trying to live peacefully, but that is all about to change. Artemis, the vampire queen, is awaiting Lily so that she may fulfill an ancient prophecy that will bring true peace to all the realms. She learns that the vampire princess is faced with killing her father and becoming queen of the vampires with her beautiful lover, Marcus, or returning home and forgetting everything. To learn what destiny she chooses read Ashley Kate Simmons "Avalonia The Three Realms."
Opinion: This book is very well written with a great plot and unique characters who keep you enthralled until the last page. This book is fairly easy to follow considering it changes point of view very often, which I didn't expect. Ashley Kate Simmons did a good job developing the characters.  It feels like they are real and draw out certain emotions from the reader. The story takes place in a magical land called Avalonian that is broken up into three magical realms, each more fanciful than the next.  They draw even the most picky reader into a state of awe. I would recommend this book to any teenage girl who is looking for a good read.

Content: 2
There is some sexual content and gore.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Makanda, IL USA

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Elisa is the first ever ruler to also be a bearer.  She takes the throne in the aftermath of the war against the Invierne and her husband's death.  One day, as she is praying in the catacombs beneath Brisadulce (her capital city), an attempt is made on her life.  During a thorough investigation of the cavern where it happened, a secret passage leading to a hidden village beneath the city is discovered.  Their leader speaks of a secret power, zafira, that is mysteriously linked to the Godstones.  Elisa feels called to find the zafira, and decides to set out for a place where it is said to be found, in the south, at the gate of life.  She sets out on a journey that quickly begins to seem impossible.  Elisa must make sacrifices, trust people she's certain about, brave terrible storms, and hold true to her mission, all while battling something improbable and slightly improper - love.

Wow! I totally loved this book!  I'm definitely going to read it many times in the future.  Elisa is an astounding protagonist because she continually gets into sticky situations and always works her way free from them.  This book was impressively easy to get into - it practically absorbed me!  The descriptions were so vivid and clear, it was like I was there; and the book was so captivating, I finished it by 7:00 PM of the day I found it in the mailbox after school!  My favorite part was Elisa's revelation about the zafira, and how she chose to save the life of an Invierne, rather than leave him to living death.  Elisa was brave and loyal, standing true to her beliefs no matter the circumstances.  As for the romance, let's just say I saw it coming in the first book.  The Crown of Embers is another truly magnificent novel to add to anyone's list of favorites (It's on mine! :).

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

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Lark has always known she was different from the rest of her people, and her people always knew Lark was different from them. Every year, Lark wishes her Resource will finally be harvested, and finally, her wish is coming true. However, upon entering the city and learning what being harvested really entails, Lark finds that all she wants to do is get away. Will she be able to flee and survive outside the Wall, or will she find where she truly belongs?

Skylark by Meagan Spooner is a tale full of romance, lies, and betrayals. Once I started the book, it was hard for me to put it down. The whole story was very serious. From the minute I started reading, I could tell that something big was going to happen and that there was going to be an adventure for Lark. The storyline was amazing, but I was upset at the end. I hope Ms. Spooner writes a sequel to this thrilling novel. I would recommend this book to girls age thirteen and up.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fresno, California USA

Diary Of A Parent Trainer by Jenny Smith

Katie Sutton is an expert in parent training. She is excellent at getting the exact results she wants from every adult in her life. And by reading her guide on the operation of grown-ups, you 'll be able to control your parents too! But as Katie discovers throughout the story, grown-ups are complicated, and at times, very unpredictable. Katie has had to endure the loss of her father, and now that she and her family are finally recovering, new problems are popping up around Katie. This journal-style book evolves from a manual-like guide into a funny, sweet story about Katie' s struggles to stay in command when her life spirals out of control.

Katie' s narrative is witty and insightful, but at times, heart wrenching. Katie and her family members are so realistic; I feel like I know them! Most of Katie 's problems seem like those of any teen, while some of her deeper troubles will bring a tear to your eye. Comedic relief keeps things from getting too heavy, though. I loved the ending, which was very bittersweet. It was realistic, which I like. All in all, a great read!

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tigard, OR USA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

The Grass King's Concubine is a descriptive fantasy following the journey of wealthy Aude Pelerin des Puiz as she struggles to understand why some people in her nation are rich while others are poor.  As a young woman, she takes to wandering the streets of the dirty, dangerous Brass City, where she encounters and falls in love with Jehan Favre, a soldier who likewise questions the wealth inequities of their nation.  Together, they travel to the original lands of Aude's family in order to discover the origins of her family's wealth.  When Aude is kidnapped and taken by the Grass King's protectors, the Cadre, to the realm in the WorldBelow, Jehan must journey to save her while Aude fights to learn the reason for her captivity, and she must find a way to save her own life.

Although a slow plot makes the story difficult to enjoy in the beginning, the story quickly picks up pace and becomes an exciting read.  Its Indian-like atmosphere and exquisitely detailed land create an unusual and enthralling world that traps the reader - especially when the puzzling palace of the Grass King is introduced.  Each character: human, superhuman, and ferret alike are presented as uniquely flawed individuals, adding to the story's overall conviction.  Even the twin shapeshifters, whose friends and enemies struggle to tell apart, are each shown to posses their own personalities by which the reader can distinguish them.  The Cadre and their powers are especially captivating - for each defines himself by his power, yet uses it for a different reason than his fellows.  The story itself is told through the eyes of four characters: Aude, Jehan, and the twin ferrets.  Though the author's choice to switch between personages every chapter does foster suspense, it also creates easy confusion.  However, the description of both characters and setting is fantastic, and the overall story is fascinating.  Although the book takes time and concentration to read, I would recommend it to any fantasy-lover.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Middlebury, CT USA

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One (ebook)

Aine (pronounced Ah-nee) has always thought of herself as a normal teenager in Depression-Era Alabama. With her blind brother Spenser, she lives in her grandmother's farmhouse, playing in the woods, reading books, and going to school--but never going outside the farmhouse other than school. But on the one day that their grandmother lets them go to town, Aine and Spenser return only to find that the person they call grandmother isn't actually their grandmother at all, and that she's been murdered. Not to mention that they've actually been living in a book all along. Soon Aine and Spenser are on the run from their grandma's killer, Biblos, with the legendary Gilgamesh. The two siblings hop from novel to novel as they embark on a quest to find three objects to save their world.

There were a number of things that hindered me from enjoying The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One. First of all, the narrative was told in the present tense and in the third person. This is not automatically a bad thing for a book, but the style of the prose constructed really awkward sentences at times, e.g. "The size of her failure feels epic." The premise for the book felt incredibly uninspired at times; I truly had a lot of trouble getting into and finishing the book. We also never find out what book Aine and Spenser were living in. Speaking of Aine and Spenser, I thought that their characters could be developed a bit better. However, Jess Lourey did do a wonderful job creating Gilgamesh s character and using her vivid imagery. The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One is not a bad book, but I wouldn' t recommend it to my friends.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Great Neck, New York United States
Rating:  5
Content Rating:  1

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spark: A Sky Chasers Novel by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Waverly has finally gotten the girls back on their home spaceship of the Empyrean, but the parents are still stuck on the New Horizon, and everyone thinks Waverly should have tried harder to save them. Meanwhile, she thought she would be happy to be reunited with her fiance, Kieran, but he has turned into a power-hungry leader who uses the pulpit to control the children on the Empyrean. Waverly knows that they somehow have to catch up to the New Horizon and rescue their parents, but that's hard when her friend Seth is locked in the brig by Kieran. Matters become even worse when they think there might be a stowaway on board from the enemy ship. How will Waverly, Kieran, and Seth protect the Empryean when they are hurtling through deep space?

I really enjoyed the first novel in this trilogy, Glow, so I was super excited to receive the sequel. Luckily for me, Spark was just as good as its predecessor. The novel follows the points-of-view of Waverly, Kieran, and Seth, so the reader is able to get into each character's mind and see the motivations behind their actions. All of the characters are incredibly complex, and you are able to have sympathy for all of them. Since all the adults are trapped on the New Horizon, it's a bunch of teenagers running the ship. It was a little like Lord of the Flies, and it was interesting to see what happens when kids are in charge. The plot was always exciting and a little mysterious, especially when there's a stowaway on board. The ending was a cliffhanger, so I definitely cannot wait to see how the series ends!

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pa USA

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Toppling by Sally Murphy

Toppling is about a boy named John who loves making domino topples with his friends. John has four friends: Christian, Joseph, Tran, and Dominic. Dominic, who is his best friend, gets sick at school and is taken back home. When he doesn't come back the next few days, he and his friends get worried. One day their teacher, Mrs. Timms, says that Dominic is in the hospital and won't come back to school for a few months. The pressure is on as John copes with Ky, the school bully, the Domino Topples paper that is due and the fact that his best friend may be dying.

I like this book because of the plot. It shows what people have to face when someone they know is sick or hurt. Even the bully was kind and really sad about Dominic in the end. The book was very touching as the friends go through their tragedy together. I recommend it for anyone.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Leesburg, Virginia USA

Me and Jack

Me and Jack

Me and Jack by Danette Haworth is a story about a boy named Joshua, whose dad is in the Air Force. Josh thought things were going to be same as usual, move to a new place, make new friends, and then move again and have to leave them behind, until his dad surprised him with something great, a dog, which he later named Jack. Just when things were going good, things take a turn for the worst, involving missing chickens, a shredded cat, and a dead horse. Everybody blames Jack for all the problems, but Josh knows the real culprit, a coyote. One night, Josh set a trap and as he had planned, the coyote came, but before Josh knew it, Jack had squeezed past Josh, who was standing in the doorway, and chased it up the mountain, with Josh and his dad right behind him. Eventually, Jack chased the coyote into a bully's yard, who blames Jack for the death of his beloved horse, and comes running after Jack and Josh with a loaded gun, but when they come to a clearing, the bully, whose name is Alan, is shocked to see Jack, Josh, and a coyote in a death triangle, and drops the gun. When Josh turns around to get the gun, the coyote lunges toward him, but when Josh turns around and shoots, Jack had stepped in to defend his boy. With a dead coyote and a dog laying on the ground in front of him, Alan is still petrified, but Josh finally got his attention and they carried Jack to Alan's house where Alan's dad called the vet, and because of Josh's rush to save his best friend, Jack survived with only a scar where the bullet had passed through his neck.

I really liked this book because one of the main characters was a dog. I love animals and loved the story because the dog became a hero. He was very protective of Josh. I would love to have a dog like that. I liked that I didn't know what was going to happen until the very end of the book. I would recommend this book to boys or girls 10-13 years old.

Reviewer Age:11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, Mo Bollinger

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Callie LeRoux is living in Kansas during the Dust Bowl. All the farmers have moved away, intense dust storms make it hard to breathe, and the hotel Callie's mother owns has long been empty. But when one day her mother disappears in a storm, Callie decides to head to California to search for her. She meets a young hobo named Jack, and together they set off. Little does she know, Callie is about to learn about her supernatural background and the prophecy that she is the center of.

I really enjoyed Dust Girl. When I read the synopsis, it compared it to The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, which is one of my favorite book series, so I was looking forward to reading this novel, and I'm glad it met my expectations. Callie was a very interesting character, especially once we learn more about her paranormal background. I also liked her relationship with Jack. They meet up and decide to stick together as they travel around the Midwest. He was such an asset to Callie on her journey, and I'm looking forward to some prospective romance between them. Dust Girl ended on a cliffhanger, and now I can't wait to read the sequel! I hope the author writes it quickly.

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, PA USA

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Mallory McDonald, Super Snoop

Who is super sneaky, but always gets caught when trying to spy on her older brother and his girlfriend? Mallory! Mallory McDonald in the book Super Snoop by Laurie Friedman is the super snoop who is always getting caught. In this book Mallory is trying to see what her older brother and
his girlfriend, Winnie, are doing. They say they are working on a science project but Mallory doesn't believe a word they say. Who would spend ALL their free time working on a science project... there must be something more going on with them. In the end Mallory finds out the truth.

I have read many Mallory books and I think this one is the best of all I have read. Once I started reading I had a hard time putting the book down to do other things. If you like a realistic fiction book with just a bit of mystery you will like all the Mallory books. I think girls between 8-12 will like this book.

Reviewer Age:9

Jackson, MO USA

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Queen's Lady (The Lacey Chronicles Book II) by Eve Edwards

Jane s life is full of hardships and complications. Born into a controlling family who wishes to use her as a pawn for their own gains, having the man she thinks she might love practically despise her, having one of her few friends, the wise and elderly Jonas Marquess of Rievaulx, breathe his last breath before her, and much more. In The Queen s Lady , Jane begins her trip to court to join those serving the Queen, as was the dying wish of Jonas. While there, she meets once again, James, the man who had stolen her heart. She tries to clear the confusion on her real reasons for rejecting his brother. Jane becomes re-entangled with her family, who still views her as a way to gain power. Along with a gaggle of conniving stepsons, a needle woman with a difficult romance, not to mention trying to reconnect with James, Jane s life is as busy and confusing as before. Tangled up in more than she can handle, she looks to her closest friends to assist her as she tries to stumble through the problems she faces, and, hopefully, end up alive and married to the man she loves.       I began reading The Queen s Lady with high hopes for the story, and was thrilled to see that the book definitely did not disappoint. Set in a time and place where a Queen ruled, a dowry came with every marriage, and even the most common speech had a wisp of poetic nature, the book remained true to the wonderful history and culture of the United Kingdom. It told the marvelously intriguing story of Lady Jane. The characters too were wonderful, each having extremely distinctive personalities, speech, and habits. The storyline was unique, the twists fascinating, and the writing style captivating. Though there were times when I wished the author would have delved into more detail, the book itself was magnificent and I will be waiting anxiously for Eve Edward s next book.   Reviewer Age:13Reviewer City, State and Country: Phillipsburg, New Jersey USA

Out of Control by Rick Jasper

In the book, Out of Control, by Rick Jasper, Carlos 'Trip' Costas is a key player in his all-star team, the Roadrunners. But when baseball starts becoming more of a chore than a sport to Trip, he asks for a break. When his father, the international superstar Juilo Costa, hears that Trip will be sitting out for a few weeks he threatens the whole team into financial devastation. Trip must decide to live out his father's dream or his own, music. With the help of his best friend, Lisa, the coaches and an unexpected injury, Trip finds a way to continue his music and baseball.The book "Out of Control" by Rick Jasper was a book about Trip trying to break away from his father's expectations and follow his own dreams. This book was a quick read with an easy to follow plotline and an insight on the sport of baseball. The characters and situations were all well developed by the end of the story and were easy to relate to. The story was also fast paced and never settled at one point for too long. I would recommend this book to whoever is looking for a quick read or any sport/baseball fans.Reviewer Age:14

Chasing the Falls (eBook) by C. Leigh Purtill

Lila is a relatively normal girl living in Ladder Falls, Massachusetts, who cares lovingly for her sick, single mother. When her mother s cancer becomes too powerful, Lila is left with a funeral and an uncaring father who lives on the opposite coast. Lila is quickly sent to live with her father, Lionel, as much as she despises him. At first, Lila can t understand why he would use his talent of photography to capture pictures of movie stars and sell them to the media. Lila and her mother had always shared the obsession of photography but had always disapproved of her father s decision to photograph only for money.  When Lila begins to accompany her father on some of his frequent outings to capture shots for the media, however, she starts to comprehend why he still engages in his unsuccessful, perilous, and widely detested career.  Before long, Lila has begun to weave her way into a life with her father, but not before she faces some serious questions about what she wants, what is right, and who she is.When I first starting reading Chasing The Falls , I expected to be disappointed. The main character seemed grossly undeveloped, and the plot seemed dreary and undefined. But it didn t take C. Leigh Purtill long to get the book moving. By the end of the book, I was thoroughly pleased with both the characters and the plot. The writing was so strong that I frequently felt frustrated when Lila made terrible decisions, and delighted when she made the correct ones. At the beginning of the book, Lila is understandably upset and disoriented. More important, however, are her lack of friends and lack of confidence.  With time, the character grows; she gathers friends and  courage, and finally, at the end of the book, Lila has blossomed into a intricate, unwavering, character.  Surprisingly, my favorite character is Erika. Girlfriend of the Hollywood paparazzi, I expected her to be a vicious, lip-sticked tyrant. But she turns out to be a kind, funny and empathetic woman. Throughout the book, Lila questions her father s choices and his character. But I felt that Erika s compassion and devotion to Lionel forshadowed the fact that in the end, Lila s father means well, despite his career. This book was interesting and fun to read, and I think I will definitely read it again sometime.Reviewer Age:13Reviewer City, State and Country: Eagle River, Alaska United States

Chance Falls (eBook) by James Unger

This book, Chance Falls, by James Unger was about a student who is given a full scholarship to an elite high school in Baltimore. There he meets Elaine, a girl he quickly falls in love with. During the fall break, he travels to Chance Falls, to meet Elaine's parents. Soon unexplainable things begin to happen, and nobody will give Ryan answers. When Ryan begins to suspect Elaine is plotting against him, in his frenzy for answers he is watched and followed. When everything leads back to a familiar place, Ryan is forced with the decision that could change the lives of more than just the occupants of Chance Falls.The book Chance Falls, by James Unger, is a fast paced mystery that is full of suspense. It will keep any reader wondering what Ryan will do next throughout the whole book. With a riveting plot and shady characters, this book has a unique tension and written in a new and upbeat fashion. The emotions described in the book were realistic and descriptive and Ryan, the main character, was easy to relate to. I would recommend this book to people who like a fast paced book that has a more in depth, complicated plot line.Reviewer Age:14Reviewer City, State and Country: ,

Escape from Texas by James W. Russell

James, a slave, thinks like no other slave. He wonders about things and thinks a lot. When he is told that slavery is over, he runs away from his Master. But when slavery starts back up again, he is taken back to his Master. He has to decide whether he should run away again, or stay a slave.I found this book rather boring. I was expecting it to be better, since I love Historical Fiction, but.... it was just bad. I actually had to skip over some parts because there was just so much description and no action or dialog at all. There were very long words, and at times there were parts that were confusing. All in all, a very boring book which I am unhappy with.Reviewer Age:13Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, CA USA

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Seemingly derived from the typical Jersey Shore character, Angel is a teen girl having fun and partying constantly during the summer before her senior year of high school. At the beginning of the novel, she is shocked when her on-off boyfriend, Joey, does not want to mess around anymore. He wants a relationship, and Angel refuses. Instead, she ends up having romantic encounters with her best friend s long-time boyfriend, Cork, and two other guys as well. As the book progresses, Angel makes decisions impacting her family, friends, and lovers.The main conflict in Jersey Angel is that Angel does not want to be in a relationship with Joey, but still wants the romantic benefits. She finds herself attracted to several other guys, like Cork and the more-or-less social outcast, Kipper. Personally, I find reading a novel where the majority of the story is about a girl sleeping around a bit pointless. I would describe the plot as an indecisive teen girl who is looking for love, and the boys who fall for her. The book itself is not bad per se, but it is not your typical romance book.This book contains multiple sexual encounters between the main character and other characters. Reviewer Age:14Reviewer City, State and Country: Leawood, Kansas United States