Sunday, September 25, 2005

Lowji Discovers America by Candace Fleming

Lowji, main character in Candace Fleming’s book “Lowji Discovers America”, is a young Indian boy who moves from the big cities of India to a small town in America. The first thing Lowji wants in America is a pet, whether it be a cat, dog, or goat. Unfortunately for Lowji, his family moves into a ‘no pets allowed’ building, where he is supposed to resign himself to not having a pet for a while, at least. But Lowji doesn’t resign himself to life without pets, but instead amusingly maneuvers things so that he can have some, leading to adventures with all sorts of people.

While “Lowji Discovers America” is not a brilliant book, it is a charming one, perfectly suited to young children. I could find nothing seriously objectionable in it, either in style or morality, and enjoyed the read. “Lowji” would be labeled a ‘kiddy’ book by some tweens and all teens, but that is because it is meant for children, not excitement obsessed teenagers (a group of which I readily admit kinship with). This simple tale of an English-speaking Indian boy without pets was a delightful one, and would definitely find some fans among the ten and under set.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Isabella Swan moves to the town of Forks to live with her father. Coming from the city of Phoenix, Bella finds Forks to be a dull town. That is until she meets Edward Cullen, in sixth hour Biology. From the beginning there is a mysterious air about Edward that fascinates Bella. But Edward is not interested in Bella finding out anything about him, instead he keeps a wary distance from her. At the same time he has an uncanny ability of showing up wherever Bella is. Bella asks around about the Cullen’s, and soon hears a legend from a boy from the close by Indian reservation. She becomes obsessed with discovering why Edward and his family are so different from everyone else. What she discovers is so farfetched, yet believable to her. Edward is a vampire. To convince her to keep quiet about her finding, Edward agrees to answer her questions. Through these get-togethers, Edward and Bella form a close relationship. The intrusion of another vampire, a hunter puts Bella in grave danger. Edward goes to extreme lengths in order to keep Bella safe. The hunter makes Bella think that he has kidnapped her mother, so Bella runs away following his instructions. The ordeal she goes through convinces Bella that she also wants to become a vampire so that she can live the rest of her life with Edward. But he refuses to do so. He knows the difficulties of being a vampire and never wants Bella to have to go through it.

Twilight was an enchanting novel. Although it is about 500 pages, the prose is alluring and the book is hard to put down. The novel constantly had me guessing to what might happen next, and surprisingly presented a completely different occurrence. Though I enjoyed the novel immensely, I was rather disappointed by the ending. For such a good piece of work, I expected a more concrete conclusion. However, it does leave an opening for a possible sequel…

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, Missouri United States

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odom

Dwellers are librarians. They don’t fight; they protect books. They are quick on their feet and their intelligent minds tell them to hide at the first sign of danger. Jug is a dweller. He is also a First-level Librarian at the Vault-of-all-Known-Knowledge. When the grandmagister is kidnapped while rescuing Jug after a trap is set off in the Vault-of-all-Known-Knowledge, Jug is heart-broken. He goes in pursuit on the ship One-eyed Peggie. However, when the goblinkin ship holding the grandmagister hostage continues past Imarish, the city of the docks, where the grandmagister told Jug to go to find something that was hidden there, Jug has no choice but to stay in Imarish and let One-Eyed Peggie pursue the goblinkin ship without him. Jug sets out on an adventure that is filled with danger, an adventure that no normal dweller would even consider undertaking. But Jug is determined to save the grandmagister, and this quest is the only way. Can Jug conquer his fears of the adventure, his distrust of Craugh, the wizard who revealed his horrible past to Jug, and above all, rescue the grandmagister?

Mel Odom’s Lord of the Libraries is a great read. You are never sure whom you can trust, which leaves readers in suspense throughout the entire book. There are twists and turns from beginning to end, and even when you’re sure you finally know the outcome of one thing or another, something happens that you never expected. Readers who love fantasy and adventure will enjoy this book immensely, as this sequel to Destruction of the Books is an outstanding novel.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA USA

The Cloud Chamber

Nate Chance's life was fine. He has a best friend that did almost everything with him. His father taught him everything he knows (which was quite a lot), but after a freak hailstorm killed off the hay crop that would take the family out of debt, everything changed. Nate's mother became a walking vegetable and Nate's best friend doesn't even act like Nate ever existed. Only sister Junie believes that everything will be better. Nate somehow sees a ray of light in his klutzy science partner, Naomi. If they could win 1st Place, they could see their father in a mental hospital on the way to the state finals. Of course, this would never have happened if his father wouldn't have shot himself. But what if this family falls apart before then? Only time will tell.

The Cloud Chamber was one of the saddest books I've ever read! If you read this book because it sounds like a book full of hopes and dreams-- don't. It is sad in a very layered way. You get sad when the father shoots himself and even sadder when Nate's mother stops caring about life. There's a lot more layers that that. The descriptions and imagery in this book were amazing. I had an internal picture in my mind word for word through the entire book. You find yourself relating to all of the characters through your emotional journey. Towards the middle of the book, I hoped and prayed that the character's lives would turn back to normal. Overall I don't really count this as a book, but a life in itself - it was THAT extraordinary.

The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade by Doreen Lewis

In The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade, there are four twelve-year-old girls named Meg, Sara, Emily, and Kelly who are best friends and have sleepovers every weekend. The four friends start sixth grade and only see each other during lunchtime. This book tells about how they survive sixth grade together and how they are always there for each other during the best and worst of times. Each of them have different problems which they all help each other get through. After sixth grade ends, Emily will have to move to South Carolina with her grandma for the summer because her parents got divorced. Will this mess up their friendship and if so, what will happen to the Bubblegum Babes group with Emily's leaving? Find out in this wonderful book called The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade.

I think this book had a good plot. I enjoyed reading The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade by Doreen Lewis because I'm in the sixth grade too, just like the girls in this book. I recommend this book to girls around the same age as the Bubblegum Babes, which is twelve. The characters were fun to read about because they all had different personalities and were the same age as me. I hope you enjoy reading The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade because I know I did. This is the first book in a series of books about growing up and friendship, according to the back cover.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upperstrasburg, PA US

Montmorency On The Rocks by Eleanor Updale

In the sequel to the first book Montmorency, Montmorency now works with Sir Fox-de-Sewlyn as spies for England. Unfortunately, Montmorency must battle his addiction to a foreign drug and meet the man who saved his life in the first book: Doctor Farcett. In getting the doctor and fellow spy to meet, de-Sewlyn arranges for the three of them separately to go to his brother's estate in Scotland where the doctor eventually helps Montmorency get off his addiction, and then he and Montmorency must help a servants' village escape a massive death of dead babies.

Overall , this book was written well, the characters were full of life and the plot was suspensful. I felt that while I was reading it, I was actually in the story. The characters were not bland but were vivid and full of life. The book contains intellegent language but not too hard for any one. I recommend this book to people who wish to read a historical fiction or are interested in spies.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

Sassafras Springs is just a boring farming town, assumes plucky young Eben McAllister. Until one day, when his pa challenges him to find the Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs — in seven days. If he succeeds, Eben’s pa will let him take the trip to Colorado that he has been dreaming of. Aunt Pretty thinks it is a bad idea at first, that Eben should stay home and mind the farm with his pa, but then she agrees because she knows how restless he is. Eben is excited to have found six wonders already — which, by the way, include a life-saving apple ead doll and a real ship in a bottle — when he finds out that a sickness is going through the Colorado town of his destination, and the trip is off. He is very disappointed until Aunt Pretty makes arrangements for him to visit St. Louis instead. Eben is back on track pursuing his goal . . . one more wonder, and he is off to the train station.

Overall, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs is a delightful, energetic story with likable characters. The book has a well-thought-out plot. I usually like science fiction and fantasy books, so I was not sure if I would enjoy this, but The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs really surprised me. I enjoyed reading it very much. It was heart-warming in some places, and sad in others, and it was interesting to see how Eben comes to realize that even a small town like Sassafras Springs can have wonders of its own. I would recommend this book to anyone, and readers who enjoyed Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder will love this.

Lost Bullet by Malcolm Rose

In book two of the Traces series, we re-join Luke Harding, a forensic investigator, and his robotic sidekick in London. The city has fallen into disrepair and roaming wild animals are reclaiming the city. Amid all this chaos, a war between brown and white people rages. A white boy named Owen is shot and is aided at a hospital. His doctor ends up shot soon after treating him. Is this a brown vs. white crime? Is she killed because she’s a doctor? Is this one of the random crimes that plagues London so often? With the bullet washed away in the rain, Luke must infiltrate one of the most secretive organizations in London to find out the truth.

The book was really good. It requires you to examine your own morals and choose someone with whom to agree. It’s a wonderful mystery story almost impossible to anticipate with every new twist set against a haunting and ominous London. There is a point in the book where I guarantee your palms will sweat and you will block everything else out. A fast-paced story coupled with true forensic techniques makes this a must-read for anyone who favors a good adventure that is feasible.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9

Reviewer Age: 12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Greencastle, PA USA

Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo by Laban Carrick Hill

The simultaneous stories of Frida Kahlo following her divorce to Diego Rivera, Maria and Victor Ortiz in their search of their mother in Mexico City, and the wresting match between El Corazon and El Diablo are told by Laban Carrick Hill in Casa Azul. Fourteen year-old Maria and her nine year-old brother Victor board a bus from their small village to go to Mexico City after the death of their grandmother. Maria seeks not only her mother but also the independance she was denied in her village. They meet Oswaldo, the accomplice of the wanted thief Oscar soon after arriving in Mexico City. Although Maria does not trust him, Maria and Victor enjoy adventures together and view Mexico City froma vantage point that few visitors ever see. Maria tells Victor of the matches of El Corazon and El Diablo, famed in Mexico when they are feeling down to keep him excited and entertained. However, this simple story turns out to dictate a lot to each of the characters in Casa Azul. Frida Kahlo's childhood home of Casa Azul is not only magical with her paintings talking and giving advice, but also caring with Fuland and Chico, her monkey and cat. Their animated conversations keep the reader entertained. This episode of art history gives the reader, whether an art lover or not, an intimate look at a famous artist often put in the backgound because of her famous husband Diago Rivera. The satisfying ending makes the novel well worth reading.

Laban Carrick Hill does an excellent job of personifying the name, Frida Kahlo, that students often read in textbooks. The parallel stories especially add to the drama because the reader is constantly wondering about what is happening to the other characters until they finally all meet each other. Casa Azul is a page turner not only because of the depth into which each story is told but more so because of the switching view points. Similar to historical fiction telling the stories of figures of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Hill's art fiction draws the reader into the history a lot more than a textbook would and definitely gives a more personable account of a famous person. I doubt that Casa Azul will become a best seller but it is definitely worth reading whether one knows anything about Frida Kahlo or not. I wish the author would have included more historical facts about the Mexican Revolution istead of just hinting at it.

Flamingnet Reviewer Age: 17

Flamingnet Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO USA

Monday, September 05, 2005

Framed! by Malcom Rose

In a futuristic Britain, Luke Harding is the youngest Forensic Investigator ever. On the day he is certified, Luke is assigned to a case that is too close to home. A student at the school he attends is murdered with an arrow, and the only fingerprints on the arrow are Luke’s! With his robotic sidekick, Malc, Luke is equipped with everything he needs to deal with a world where people are ‘paired’, cats and dogs are all but extinct, and people with white skin are jeered and teased. Luke must prove himself innocent of the series of murders that all point to him.

I enjoyed the book. Malcom Rose is clearly qualified to write the book, as he is a forensic teacher. The scientific facts are laced masterfully with an entertaining story. The only thing that the story lacks is character emotions. Though the development is fine, and we know exactly the disposition of each character, the feelings of the character leave a bit to be desired. All in all, the book is very good and certainly worth reading.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Flamingnet Reviewer Age: 12
Flamignet Reviewer City, State and Country: Greencastle, PA USA

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Equality 7-2521 is not like the other brothers. For one thing, he has a head quicker than most. He desires to become a Scholar and question all things. In the society of Equality 7-2521, the worst transgression is to prefer. Nothing is superior. Everything is all the same. Equality 7-2521 makes a huge discovery, but keeps it to him, for it is Uncharted. If the Council found out, he would be severely punished for breaking the law. There he discovers the secrets of the Unthinkable Times and satisfies some of his hunger for knowledge. He meets Liberty 5-3000, a girl, and falls in love without the Council of Eugenics assigning them together. Both of them escape to the Uncharted Forest and realize the power of the one Unspeakable Word.

It was a book that definitely made me think. However, the plot is very similar to that of The Giver. It also contains some elements from The White Mountains. Ayn Rand gives many of the modern-day concepts and items obscure and unclear names.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 12

Alice On Her Way by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Alice, a fifteen year old living in Maryland, only has a couple of goals in mind for her near future: getting a date to the Jack of Hearts dance because she and Patrick broke up; going to New York with her friends on their school trip; and getting her driver's license when she turns sixteen. When Sam Mayer, a photographer on the school newspaper with her, asks Alice out, she finds him perfect. Everything goes well with her and her best friends Elizabeth, Pamela, and Gwen until their trip to New York. More of their problems surface and changes are realized. All this takes place in front of a backdrop of her church class "Our Whole Lives" that her Dad signed her up for. Although she dreads going to it in the beginning, she looks forward to it and realizes its importance towards the end.

Like many books written for teenagers today, Phyllis Naylor's Alice on Her Way portrays a teenage girl trying to get along in the world. Naylor's laid back style of writing makes the book relatively quick read. Although this book is not really original in its plot and approach to teen-agers, there is a lot of positive in it. I doubt Alice will make it to the top of the best-seller lists but it is a fun read. Alice can be compared to Meg Cabot's Mia but it is a lot faster paced and Naylor takes a totally different approach to presenting her plot. Overall, Alice on Her Way is worth reading in some spare time.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, Missouri USA

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Chopstick is the story of Paige Winsome and Kate Kennedy, who both love music. Paige needed a guitar and Kate emailed her back about one she would sell her. When they met up at their dads' same work place, Rainmaker, one of the the largest employers in Snake River Valley, Paige buys the guitar from Kate and invites her to Two Trees, a Chinese resturant and she accepts. When they are done with their meal, they decide that they should have something that symbolizes their love of music. Kate looked around a minute and discovered they could each wear a chopstick in their hair as the symbol and that's how their friendship began. Each girl is in the same singer-songwriter contest to compete for the four dollar prize so that they can give it to charity, as they find out later. Will this contest ruin their friendship or make it better? Find out in this awesome book called Chopstick, the second book of the Friends For A Season series. There are four books in this series and there's a website too at

This book is on fire! You will think so too as soon as you start reading Chopstick. I will admit at first it was a little hard to understand until I figured out that Chopstick alternates from Paige's to Kate's perspective the whole way through this book. Each girl is telling the story of their own life and how they meet up with one another and become the greatest friends anyone could ever have. Now if you ask me I think this book sounds awesome and it really is. I think you definitely should buy this book if you like books about competition.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Flamingnet Reviewer Age: 11
Flamingnet Reviewer City, State and Country: Upperstrasburg, PA US

Princess in Training: Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

This book is the sequel to Princess in Pink. In this book, Mia has more important things her mind. By important we mean, running for student council against Lana, dumping snails in the Bay of Genovia, and the most important thing of all, doing IT with Michael. With a fantastic show of understanding and smarts, Mia blows the student body away. Michael is an understanding boyfriend and they work it out. Now you may ask, well, what about the snails? Well, you'll just have to find out in Princess in Training.

I think that Meg Cabot has done a good job in portraying Mia's life again. Mia is like a typical high schooler even though she is a princess and faces problems we could face someday and that makes it easier for readers to relate to her. All the song titles and movies are also modern enough that we know them.Each chapter relates to the next and some are even just 5 words long! Also, Meg puts some fun little activities that Mia did into her diaries and you can do it too. As the books progress, Cabot starts putting more adult material in it. I recommend this book for older kids. A very well written book.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Flamingnet Reviewer Age: 12
Flamingnet Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Liz had an okay life. She was going to get her learner's permit in about a year, she had a prom coming up, and she had a pretty nice family. Then, one morning she wakes up to find herself on a boat! She meets all sorts of strange characters on the boat. Such as Curtis Jest, a member of her favorite band, Machine, and Thandi, a girl who claims to have been shot in the head. Liz is positive she's dreaming. Liz gets a letter, telling her to visit the Observation Deck. When she gets there, she gazes upon her own funeral. Then she gets it. This isn't a dream. She's dead. Liz struggles in her first year in Elswhere. But, she makes friends, gets a job, and makes peace with her death.

I loved this book! To me, it represented that every cloud has a silver lining. Liz was a great character, sometimes bratty, but nevertheless, she was very sweet. I also loved this book because I love dogs. It would be cool to be able to talk to dogs for a job. After reading this book, I decided that when I die, I would like to go to Elsewhere.