Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Power of One by Bryce Courtney

In this book we are introduced to a little boy, who is sent to boarding school when his mother has a mental breakdown. On the first night of boarding school, the little boy is woken up in the middle of the night and urinated on by the Judge and the jury(this is how the little boy refers to them) because he is a Rooinek and all of the other students are Boers and hate Rooineks. In the morning, he wakens to find that he urinated in his bed, and when he washes off the Judge and jury discover his hatless "snake", and from that moment on the little boy's name becomes "Pisskop." Pisskop eventually overcomes his bed wetting, but with news of Hitler's doings, the Judge and jury decide they want to become Nazis, and their first prisoner is Pisskop. Pisskop undergoes many torture sessions, and discovers ways to lesson them by helping the Judge with school. When the end of the year comes, all is not well, the chickens on his grandpa's field are disease ridden and his grandpa has to sell the farm and move to a town. On Pisskop's journey to the new town he is given a new name, Peekay, and discovers his dream of becoming the welterweight champion. But when he gets to town, he learns of a drastic change in lifestyle, and he must learn to adapt.

This book's setting took place in South Africa when Hilter was in power in Germany. The book was really good because it showed you how all the different races and cultures were being treated. It showed you that people would hate someone because they were a kaffir(a black tribesperson), and even at times just kill them because of it. The book also was really good because it showed how people would work together during tough times, and harsh conditions, and put away their differences for a common goal. I liked the book because it had someone winning boxing matches against a person twice their size, showing that small can triumph over big, and also the fact that not everyone would only befriend someone from their own culture, race, and religion, but because they liked the person inside. This book showed that to win you couldn't rely on strength alone, you needed to fight first with the head then with the heart.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona, United States of America

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The world is an ugly place to Chloe, originally named Wanda Johnson. Chloe has seen and lived through painful events that she will not even tell Jordy, her best friend. Jordy can't decide what to make of Chloe. Jordy first meets Chloe when she was getting raped and he saved her from the rapist, and ever since he has taken care of her. Jordy has had a painful past, where he ended up abandoning his family, and trying to make it on his own. Money supply is bad for Jordy, for he can't work for fear Chloe may harm herself. When times get real tuff for Jordy and Chloe, Chloe brings up the idea of killing herself because there is no beauty in the world. Jordy, who doesn't want Chloe to kill herself, decides to try and convince her there is beaty in the world. So off they go to find the beautiful things in the world, but in the end will the beauty be enough to stop Chloe from killing herself?

The story is very heart moving when we learn of the bond of friendship, and how we will do anything to protect the things and people we love. In this book we learn that beauty isn't just the big things like Niagra Falls, but also the small things like rain and fire. But as Chloe points out there is beauty in the ugly things and ugliness in the beautiful things. I liked this book because of the way it not only showed the world as this beautiful place but because the book showed you the ugly things, like how people can beat you up for no reason at all. In this book we learn of how people will do nice things for no apparent, and also how the small things hurt us the most. This book was really awesome because it showed you how almost everyone is willing to do something to help each other, and because it was about never backing down from the things that happen to you, you just need to keep on trucking.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Cure for Crushes by Karen Rivers

In the continuation of the greatest year of Haley Harmony’s life, she suffers through a series of traumatic events, the first of which is when she encounters her long lost mom who has since converted to a nun. Her jobless father now has to find a job, and along the way meets Melody, the much younger girlfriend (MYG). Her best friend, Jules, is dating the boy she’s had a crush on since 9th grade and is also a contestant on the tv show, Who’s the Prettiest of the All? while her other friend, Kiki, is mysteriously absent. Also, Haley has a boyfriend, but she cannot stop herself from crushing on every unavailable guy she meets. To top things off, hypochondriac Haley seems to have every disease possible and no way to cure them.

Haley learns a lot about herself throughout the second half of her senior year. I thought that this book, while slightly unrealistic, was a fun read. Haley is a character that we can all relate to. Once I started reading The Cure for Crushes, I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who needs a laugh.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Talisman of Zandria by Christine Norris

The very first time Ivy Peterson disobeys her parents by going into the woods alone to search for what she thinks is a fairy, her life turns upside down. She is chased by bullies into the unknown part of the forest and gets lost. When Ivy wakes up from tripping, rolling down a hill, and hitting her head (which causes her to faint), she doesn’t know where she is. Ivy was in a whole other world named Zandria. Then this boy named Connor comes along and says he will help her find her way home, but when he asks where she lives he finds out she lives in the Otherside. They go to Arden’s house to get him to help, but the gate leading back to Otherside doesn’t open. Ivy, Conner (an apprentice), and Arden (a wizard) set out in search of finding the Talisman that opens the five gates leading to and from Zandria.

I think Talisman of Zandria is an awesome book that is filled with lots of adventure. I like that as soon as the characters think they have one problem solved the author throws in another one. The characters were kind of different compared to the ones in other books I have read. I enjoyed reading this book and I hope everyone who reads this book will enjoy it as much as I did. I recommend Talisman of Zandria to kids 9-12 years of age who enjoy reading fantasies and fairy tales, and I hope to be able to read the sequel when it comes out.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA US

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Exile by Grace Cavendish

The time is the Elizabethan age. The setting is the Queen’s Palace. The plot? A stolen ruby. Lady Grace Cavendish is one of Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honor. She is also, secretly, the Lady Pursuivant, or detective. The newcomer at the palace, Banoo Yasmine- a noble whose kingdom has been taken by a murderer, carries the Heart of Kings. This precious ruby marks the ruler of her kingdom, Sharakand, and the Banoo fled with it following her father’s death. When the Heart of Kings is stolen, it is recovered in a laundry maid’s basket and she is taken to the dungeon. However, the laundry maid is also Lady Grace’s best friend Ellie, and Grace is determined to prove her friend’s innocence. Can she find the true thief in time to save Ellie, or is Ellie not the innocent laundry-maid Grace thought her to be?

Exile is a marvelous blend of history and mystery. The reader is constantly trying to figure out who the true thief is, first one person, then another is considered and rejected. Lady Grace’s diary reveals clues throughout the novel, and the reader is always trying to piece them together. Page after page, Grace Cavendish’s spellbinding story allows the reader to enjoy a fictional, but slightly historical lesson as they try to unravel the mystery. Upper-elementary students will especially love Exile; the fifth book in the Lady Grace Mysteries.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA USA

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong): A Novel by Carrie Rosten

Chloe Says: DO: Read this book if you, like me, love any and all things related to clothing, shopping, designing, and accessorizing, and believe that everything should always go together but never be too matchy-matchy. DON'T: Spend all your money on clothes! Leave some for my book! Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong), A Novel by Carrie Rosten, is full of fun and quirky do's and don'ts like the one above, and has an hilarious fashion-obsessed-enhanced air to it. Chloe (self-described as “Chinese-Jewish WASP with tons of style) is in the middle of her senior year with no post-grad plan. She lied to her parents about applying to academic colleges and taking the SATs, something that is a no-no in the Wong-Leiberman household. She has a dream of going to Central Saint Martin's, a designing school in London, but her dreams stop short because, not only is her self-esteem low, her parents do not agree at all with Chloe that fashion is a reasonable and respectable career. So when Chloe drops the bomb to her parents about not applying to any colleges and not taking the SATs and such, she decides that it's for the better right not to keep her fashion dreams to herself. So, on through the book, Chloe takes us along with her on her journey (her very, uh, let's say, unique journey) to finding herself and to fulfill her dream.

Although it was written in third-person narrative, it felt as if Chloe herself was talking, because the dialogue was so funny! I thought the beginning was kind of slow, because it takes you a little while to get used to Chloe's hyper fashion-obsessed behavior. If you are looking for a different type of book than the usual, this is for you! Don't read this, though, if you aren't into fashion, 'cause that's what the book's all about!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Celestine, Indiana USA

Friday, November 04, 2005

Up And Running: The Inspiring True Story of a Boy's Struggle to Survive and Triumph by Mark Patinkin

There's nothing more refreshing than reading a true story told well.

That's exactly what you get when you read "Up and Running."
Andrew was only six years old when he came down with the disease - setting in within twelve hours, shutting down his vital organs, covering him with purple and black boils and sores, and eventually causing both of his legs to be amputated. The astounding part is not just that he survived, but that he never stopped fighting.

I never thought I could imagine a fraction of what it would be like to see someone you love suddenly fall ill with a life-threatening disease like bacterial meningitis, and fight to recover and begin a new life. But after reading Mark Patinkin's telling of that very story, I feel like I was there every step of the way: standing over young Andrew's hospital bed with the doctors, worrying and fretting next to his parents Rebecca and Scott, praying alongside his family members and friends.

The book is told simply and honestly. It doesn't heroify Andrew - more than he deserves - or his family: at times they do lose faith, get angry, and want to quit. And the book doesn't sugar-coat the seriousness of the illness. At times I was more than disgusted to be reading some of the descriptions of his condition, surguries, or painful physical therapy sessions. And many times I laughed out loud at the pure kid-ness of Andrew's personality and some of the things he said. This was the truth of the situation. This was real, and it feels like it happened not to a distant person in a far-off place, but to your neighbor, your playmate, your friend.

I would recommend this book even if you think you're not the biggest fan of non-fiction. "Up and Running" reads like a story; but it's even more powerful because it's a true one.

Reviewed by Beckie Sheffield for Flamingnet Book Reviews

Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe by James M. Ward

In Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, Halcyon, is a tall, white-haired Arcanian midshipwizard on his marine tour of duty. Before he enters his touring sea dragon ship, the Sanguine, Halcyon Blithe places a good-weather spell on himself to ensure that good weather will smile upon him on his first tour. As expected, the weather is beautiful and the seas are calm. But Halcyon can’t hold the bad weather off forever. It seems that a storm has been building up behind Halcyon’s spell. When it finally breaks through the spell, the seas and the weather rage. Halcyon’s living sea dragon ship is tossed and thrown about on the rough waves. Captain Olden asks Halcyon to check the dragon’s heart chamber, to make sure no seawater has touched the heart. Just as Halcyon enters the heart chamber, he sees an officer run out of the other entrance. Halcyon studies the dragon’s heart and finds that blast-gel—a gel that is used as gunpowder—has been rubbed all over the dragon’s hot, beating heart. He knows that the heart could explode in seconds, killing the dragon that keeps the ship afloat! What should Halcyon do? Who is the saboteur of the ship? Will Halcyon be punished for his well-meaning fair-weather spell that has brought such woe and pain to the sea dragon and its crew? Read Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe to find out!

I really liked Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe. I think that it could have used less profane language, but then again, it is a story with sailors in it! The best part of the book was when Halcyon learned that he could talk to sea dragons, which helps him form a bond with his ship. Since this is a sea-adventure book, I would recommend it to anyone who liked Treasure Island or who enjoys stories of adventure and peril in general and at sea.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, NY USA