Friday, June 23, 2006

Pucker by Melanie Gideon

His mother is dying; his father is dead. His face was disfigured in a fire. Not much else can go wrong for Thomas Quicksilver a.k.a. Pucker. Alas, the worst is yet to come. His mother tells him that the only way he can save her is to return to Isaura, the world they were banished from on the day of the fire and his father’s death. When he returns to the world of his birth, his scars are removed, and he becomes the handsome boy he would have been if the fire hadn’t occurred. He falls in love. Things are definitely looking up. Unfortunately, his mother will die without her seer skin, a special second skin that many people in Isaura develop when they reach their teens that allows them to see into the future, and he still has to recover it before time runs out. If Thomas is to save his mother, he must find what he came for and return to her on Earth, losing his new face and breaking his heart in the process. What will he decide?

Pucker is the story of a boy who is judged by his blemished cover. In this brilliantly written novel, readers will discover the pain that people go through when they are ridiculed because of their appearance, and the joy they feel when they finally realize that somebody really does care about them. Melanie Gideon has created a novel that will teach readers to look beyond the skin to the heart beneath. Pucker’s story is truly one that teens and adults can learn from and enjoy.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA USA

Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love by Maryrose Wood

A racy title may suggest a racy story normally, but Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love is anything but. Felicia, Jess, and Kat are fourteen-year-olds at the Manhattan Free Children’s School, an alternative environment for the story that allows them midday chais at diners and virtually no bothersome studies. The three call themselves the Sex Kittens, so the boys are dubbed Dawgs. In the science competition of the century, Felicia decide to enlist the aide of science guru Matthew—her crush—who breeds genius bunnies, to find the secret of love. While no easy task for a group of girls, their adventures and experiments while searching for “X” create a knot of boyfriends, pretend boyfriends, secret crushes, unrequited love, and a really good story.

If you can manage it past the SOMEWHAT EXCESSIVE capitalization and LOTS of puns on kittens, this book is REALLY good. Although the Kittens are all a little crazy—I personally don’t know any teens who would volunteer their deepest emotions for a science fair project—the Dawgs, who are more grounded, tie the book together. The end, definitely a happy ending of the usual sort, was not at all what I had expected, due to the many twists romances. While not for the Gossip Girl set, this is a fun read for preteens and younger teens looking for romance and adventure without the more mature issues dealt with in other novels of this sort. smiley face

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Edina , MN USA

The Far Side of the Moon by Jonathan Pearce

The story begins in the hills of California in 1871 where a small colony of Japanese people hopes to grow mulberry trees, cultivate tea bushes and develop rice paddies to bring ancient industries to the new world. The tale winds coming of age tenderness with economic, ethnic and class struggles into a whole that shows a meeting of cultures. Julius Ceasar Kuhl, son of a local farmer, and Kei, a Japanese servant to the German family entrepreneur, alternate telling their stories. This may be the only story with a comparison between Japanese and hillbilly music. The story shows how friendship can survive age and culture differences and even death.

California in 1871 comes to life in Jonathan Pearce's "Far side of the Moon." His ear for dialogue is clear, making each character have a distinct and believeable voice. This book would be an insightful addition to western history courses and could serve as an introduction to Japanses history and culture. I recommend this book for school and home libraries. Read it!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 59
Reviewer City, State and Country: Timonium, Maryland US

Gossip Girl: Only In Your Dreams by Cecily Von Ziegesar

As Only in Your Dreams opens, Blair is in London, unsuccessfully trying to get the attention of he boyfriend, Lord Marcus. When she fails to get him to notice her, she immediately leaves London, taking back with her a large bill. When her mother finds out, she is angry and makes Blair get a job. As Bailey Winter’s new assistant, she gets to work onset of the new movie Breakfast at Fred’s, where she comes across Serena. Serena is trying to make it as an actress, but soon finds that it is not her calling. But she comes through in the end. All the while, she was crushing on her hot co-star, Thad, until she finds out something about him that comes as a shock. Bailey Winter wants to keep Serena and Blair on to work for him over the summer at his house in the Hamptons, where his estate just happens to be next door to the Archibals. Nate, meanwhile, is in the Hamptons working for his coach after pulling a prank. Also, Dan and Vanessa are living together, and Dan hopes that this will bring the two closer together. When Dan meets Bree, everything changes.

I thought the newest edition of Gossip Girl was good. It started off a little slow for me in the beginning, but once I got further into the story, I couldn’t put it down. With the ending, I can’t wait till the next one comes out. I have a feeling that there will be another juicy storyline with Blair and Nate, who are my favorite characters. All the other storylines were pretty interesting as well. Gossip Girl does not fail to meet expectations once again. I really can’t imagine this series ending.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

The Ranger's Apprentice Book Two: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

In the book Ranger's Apprentice Book Two: The Burning Bridge the main character, Will, is an apprentice to a legendary ranger named Halt. Will is sent on a mission to the King Swyddned of the Celts to ask for men in the battle against Morgarath the evil Lord of Rain and Night. Will is accompanied by another ranger, Gilan, who was a former apprentice to Halt and not too much older than Will. He is also accompanied by a trainee to the battleschool, Horace, who is around Will's age and an old friend. When they get into the Kingdom of the Celts it is strangely abandoned, and they soon find themselves on an adventure that could change the whole fate of the Empire.

I think that Ranger's Apprentice Book Two: The Burning Bridge is an excellent book. It is very fast-paced with lots of adventure. It also has some witty humor that will bring a chuckle out of you several times in the book. I had to go and get the first book to the series after I read this one because I enjoyed it so much. If you are in to fantasies set in the middle ages with lots of sword fighting and bowing then you need to get this book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Barry, Boyhound by Andy Spearman

Barry is your typical, average kid. He has friends, his parents, and an annoying sister to live with. What most people don't know is that one night, two fleas jumped on Barry's head turning him into a boyhound. Now, he has all the advantages of being a dog, but all the disadvantages, also. When his boyhound brain completely takes over, he does things without thinking. Mainly attacking his friends, eating worms, and running in front of moving cars. Can Barry survive being part human, part dog?

When I first saw the cover of Barry, Boyhound, by Andy Spearman, I didn't know what to expect. What I found out was not to judge a book by its cover. Reading through this book, I noticed many links to the real world. For instance, when the book mentions papaya, it explains what papaya is and who it is helpful to. The book has many strong points but many weak points also. Sometimes the book stretches out small details that didn't need to be emphasized in any way. The story line doesn't have much of a climax. This means there is no incredibly interesting point in the book. Many ideas in the book were witty and enjoyable to learn about. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book but many other kids my age and older may be disappointed by it. I recommend this book to children between the ages of 8-13.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania United States

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Clair-de-Lune by Cassandra Golds

Clair-de-Lune lives for dancing, and that’s all she has lived for her whole life. She has mastered the art of it; what more could she want? Her heart is still not content though, for she longs to speak the words of her heart just like everyone else, but she cannot because she is mute. One day she meets a mouse named Bonaventure while weeping in the dance room and surprisingly, he could talk. Bonaventure takes Clair-de-Lune to the monastery where she meets a man named Brother Inchmahome, who tells her that he can teach her how to speak. Clair-de-Lune has second thoughts about learning how to do the thing she's been wanting to do all her life, but why is that? One day she gets a job offer to perform in the same play that her mother had died performing in and she accepts. One night she goes down to the stage while wearing her mother’s swan tutu and after practicing she leaves without realizing that the locket her mother had sewn onto the tutu has fallen off onto the stage. What will happen if she never finds the locket that she has lost?

I think Clair-de-Lune is a great story that I enjoyed reading. I thought it was neat how the author threw in a couple different events that you would have never guessed would have happened. Although I enjoyed reading this book I don’t think I would ever want to read it again. The reasons are because this book was kind of boring because the same stuff mostly happened and all she practically did was go to dancing class and visit Brother Inchmahome. I think the author should have had a couple more things going on in this book and she should’ve had a few more events happen but overall this book was still pretty good.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA United States

Quag Keep by Andre Norton

Quag Keep is a book by Andre Norton about a group of adventures tied together by a mysterious bracelet attached to their arm. The adventures throughout the book look for information containing to the bracelet. While on their adventure they come in contact with a wizard claiming to know about the bracelet. The wizard says the bracelets are linked to the recent gathering of dark chaos energy in the world. What is the link between the bracelets and the gathering of dark energy? Is the wizards information true? Do the adventures find and new information pertaining to the bracelets? Find out in Quag Keep.

Quag Keep is a book of action, adventure, and mystery. It is about a group of adventures tied together by a mysterious bracelet. In the beginning the story is a bit confusing but by the end of the book the author straightens out some of the mystery. Throughout the book the main characters are searching for information pertaining to the bracelet. This causes many trivial problems for them, such as which horse they buy or where the watering hole is. These problems make the book slow going and boring. Thankfully there are some occasions of terrific actions scenes, where the author really shines, but don't expect to find many, as there are but a few. Overall I think this is an average book deserving of an average rating, but with the abundance of bestseller adventure books there is no room on the shelf for an average book. In all fairness this isn't the author's best book. I would recommend Mark of the Cat: Year of the Rat, or Silver May Tarnish.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Starkville, MS United States

The Wizard, the Witch & Two Girls From Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou

One second Veronica and Heather were in a bookstore. Next second they had been transported into the fantasy world of "Queen of Twilight" Things go wrong right off the back. First, Heather shatters the heroine of the book: Princess Arabelle. Then, Heather is mistaken for Princess Arabelle. Veronica has read "Queen of Twilight" before and will do all she can to make sure the story goes and should while Heather follows nothing but her heart. With a wizard, a servant elf, and a talking squirrel's help, these two girls must face a great evil. Will this motely band manage to defeat the evil and survive?

When you pick this book up and look at it, you may think: "Oh, just another story about an unlikely group of heros who defeat a great evil. Been there, done that." However, this book is different. Things don't always work out the way they wanted. Also, the whole trip is inlaid with humor and lessons. The characters are all intiguing and lovable. An abosolute page turner, I would say this book is the funniest and most lovable unlikely hero story. Content is appropriate for all ages.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Tucson, Arizona Pima

The Adventures of Vin Fiz by Clive Cussler

This bool is about twin 11 year-olds who live in Castroville, California, that survives on artichokes. While Lacey and Casey were working on their plantation, a mysterious stranger, named Sucoh Sucop, agrees to work with their parents in exchange for food and shelter. When Sucoh Sucop leaves, he leaves the twins a gift. The gift turns out to be a box that changes toys into usable objects. Soon the twins are traveling, with their dog Floopy, cross country. They travel on an old fashioned, Wright Brothers air plane.

I was not impressed by this book. It had too much adventure and it was hard to follow. Plus the scenes were very similar and it was too predictible. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy adventure but it was too predictible. I like the auther's adult books. I do although recommend it to readers who REALLY enjoy constent adventure.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Minooka, IL

David Crockett: Hero of the Common Man by William Groneman III

Another book in the "American Heroes" series, this one by William Groneman III, the narration walks the reader through the exploits of Davy Crockett, a man most Americans think of as the man in the ‘coon-skin cap. The novel covers his lifespan in its entirety, additionally debunking popular myths about the man along the way. In sort of a “subtheme,” Groneman also examines the number of times that Crockett almost died, implying a sort of luck and ‘invincibility’ of this “American hero.”

I was more pleased with this book than the last “American Heroes” book I read (George Washington: First in War, First in Peace). In general, while the narrative was just as straightforward and spartan, it was enjoyable to read what “actually” (“actually” is in quotations for a reason—you’ll see in the next paragraph) happened to Mr. Crockett, as opposed to popular opinion. The book moved at a decent pace, and I found my mind wandering only during the description of then-Congressman Crockett’s tour of the East Coast. You pretty much get a day-by-day breakdown of a month-long trip, and, sorry, but 19th-century political-inspired travel with a “boys will be boys” mentality just doesn’t hold my interest. Some of the hunting trips also made me zone out, but surprisingly the author kept those descriptions to a minimum, only retelling important or pivotal trips that had either unintended events or consequences. Of course, I do have two complaints about the book, but neither are something to hold the presses about. As in the previous “AH” book, there is a distinct lack of maps and diagrams. While I understand the importance of the written word and how it’s written, most high school kids are not going to be able to recall the exact composition of the US in the early 19th century at the drop of a hat. Any sort of map would make the tale easier to follow, since less time would be spent dusting off the US history and figuring out who was doing what where and why. The second one pertains directly to this book: the author keeps his passion for the topic under wraps for most of the book, expressing it through his writing, but the last two chapters he lets the bear out of the cellar. This in itself isn’t reprehensible, but it breaks out during a chapter discussing the false descriptions and legends of Mr. Crockett. During this section, Groneman discusses with voracity the inaccuracies of most Crockett biographies, and how many throughout the years have portrayed throughout the years what they believe to be “correct.” He’s perfectly within his right saying this, obviously, since he is somewhat of an authority on the subject, but that leaves an ominous question in the air: What’s to say that this book is accurate? While I have no real reason to doubt Groneman, since this is his area of expertise, not mine, professed ‘authorities’ in years past have also made the same claim. His tale may be backed up by tangible, authentic evidence, but I’m a doubting Thomas on this one—show me, and then I’ll accept without question that this is a true portrayal of how things were. In terms of rating, I’d have to say a 7.5 out of 10. While I’d be much more likely to reread this over GW: FiW, FiP; I still wouldn’t leap for it. The prose is very dry and informational, and while the book was very readable, the tone works best for scholarly writing, not for an intended high school audience. However, if someone approached me asking about a short read dealing with Texas, Crockett, or the West in general, I’d at least mention this book in the course of discussion. The points the text raises certainly provides enough for contemplation and comparing to popular legend…and also enough to fuel any book group discussion about comparing/contrasting man vs. myth.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Rochester, New York United States

Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox by Bennett Madison

In the sequel to Lulu Dark can see through walls. Lulu finds herself in the midst of another adventure. Lulu's mom a B-list actress has disappeared, and Lulu sets out to find her. Along the way Lulu meets an egotistical up and coming actress, a kung-fu fighting bodygaurd, and a pudgy mommas boy director. only the worst is yet to come a crazy middle aged actress is out in the Hollywood world pulling horrible pranks on unsuspecting actresses, and Lulu knows she is the only one who can stop it.

I absolutely loved this book. Lulu is such a funny protagonist along with her best friends Daisy and Charlie. I could not even put the book down. Even though I would recommend that you read the first book, or you won't understand Lulu. It is completely hilarious and worth reading, if you want a good laugh read Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 17
Reviewer City, State and Country: , Oregon USA

Monday, June 05, 2006

Under the Baseball Moon by John H. Ritter

Under The Baseball Moon by John H. Ritter is a book about a teenage boy named Andy. Andy has dreams of using his unique style of trumpet playing to become famous. Things become complicated when Andy crosses path with his childhood friend, Glory Martinez. Glory has a dream of her own of becoming an Olympic softball pitcher. Things are further complicated when Andy meets a mysterious man in black who offers Andy fame in fortune for free. But what's the cost of free?

There are a lot of books out there on the market. There are good books, there are bad books. Sometimes there are books that stand out as great. Under the Baseball Moon by. John H. Ritter is one of those stand out books. Under the Baseball Moon is a book about a teenage boy named Andy. Andy has dreams of using his unique style of trumpet playing to become famous. Everything is going great until a mysterious man in black comes to town offering Andy fame and fortune. This book is exceptionally well written and easy to follow. There are many dynamic characters with their own personality. This combined with the authors witty remarks makes an awesome duo. What I liked most about this book is captivating. In many sports books you lose interest due to predictability and cliche endings. Although the overall book was fantastic, I felt that the ending was rushed and not really complete. I would suggest the author expound more on the ending to make it feel more complete. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read.

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

Girl in Development by Jordan Roter

Girl in Development is a fun novel about Samantha Rose, a bookish brunette who gets sent to LA for an internship with the famous Authentic Pictures production company. Staying with her snobby, stylish cousin Kate doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun for Sam, who would rather stay at home safely on the east coast, reading classic novels and waiting for her dream guy to stumble across her path. But things are done differently in sunny LA and she is soon thrown into a whirlwind of trying to please her new boss, decide which boys are lying and which are sincere, and match her old black vintage clothes with the hottest new looks borrowed from Kate’s closet. Even with her killer schedule, she still manages to have a social life, and at times even bumps into—or befriends—a celebrity or two. Along the way, her true character is tested and she discovers that sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone to realize who you really are.

Compared to other books of this genre I’ve read, this one was very good. I liked the main characters and the author was very knowledgeable. It seems like Jordan Roter has had a lot of experience in “the Industry” and it shows through her writing; she knows how companies like Authentic Pictures run and everything seems very believable, unlike some teen books. I really enjoyed reading about Sam’s experiences and the love story (stories!) were fun and never dull. I would recommend this book to girls 14-17 as an easy, amusing read. Put on your designer shades, relax, and read Girl in Development by Jordan Roter.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Edina, Minnesota USA

Monterey Shorts

This collection of wacky stories is written by authors from the Monterey area, and take place in Monterey, although in varying time periods, from ghostly tales of years past to imaginations of the Jetsons-like future. My favorite was the The Lizard Catcher, by Lele Dahle. It was a suspenseful story about what happens to a group of children living in a farming community when Juanita, the daughter of a migrant worker, joins their group of friends. You won’t know what is going to happen until the surprising and sad ending. Monte-Ray Gunn, by Byron Merrit, (grandson of Frank Herbert, who wrote the famous science-fiction novel entitled Dune) was also interesting. It is a futuristic crime story that captured my attention with its odd set of characters. If you like science fiction, this short story is funny and clever.

Most of the stories were pretty good, but I found some to be a little dull and hard to get through. If you have ever visited or lived on the Monterey Peninsula, you might connect more with these stories than I did. However, for someone who has never been there, these stories will give you an idea of the place. The idea of collecting a book of shorts around the idea of a place is interesting, and it works well with this novel. Compared to other collections of short stories I’ve read, this one is not my favorite, but is worth a read even if only for a few of the stories.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Edina, Minnesota USA

Out of Order by Betty Hicks

The book is about a family that is slowly falling apart and changing. The parents have divorced leaving the children "In the Pits." Now their mother has remarried to a man who her children don't like. If there is any up-side they love their new step-brother. He's funny, and likes doing anything and everything they like. Though, everywhere they go something goes wrong. Everything really is "Out of Order."

The book is enjoyable. Though, it is very difficult to follow. The storyline is constantly jumping from one character to the next. Also, from format to format. First it's Vy in story format, then it's "Mudboy" in Diary format. So if you want to read this book be prepared for a "shake-up"

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania United States

My Childhood Under Fire by Nadja Halilbegovic

My Childhood Under Fire is the actual diary of Nadja Halilbegovic. It chronicles her life from the age of
12 until the age of 16. The diary begins shortly before her thirteenth birthday - and shortly after the war in Sarajevo began.
As she and her family tried to live one day at a time, Nadja turned to her diary for comfort. Some days were better than others, and these she details happily. The sad days are here as well, as she dealt with the loss of loved ones and strangers alike.
Nadja, of course, hoped that her family would be safe for the duration of the war. She began speaking on radio programs, reading her poetry and talking about peace. With occasional poignant paragraphs, Nadja considers ways to fix the political situation. Even after she is hit with schrapnel and has to endure a long healing process, she never loses hope.
Eventually, at the age of 16, she is allowed a permit to leave the country. That in itself is another perilous journey. Her mother accompanied her but had to stay behind. Nadja came to America, where she now has a new life and new opportunities. Still speaking and writing about peace, it is obvious that she never will forget where she came from nor what she went through.

Review: The writing is very honest and straightforward. The text of the diary is presented as originally written, simply translated into English. Sometimes, portions of entries are reproduced so readers can see her handwriting - plus a doodle here and there.
Interjected throughout the book are paragraphs entitled "Looking Back," with the now-adult Nadja remarking on what she had written and what she had experienced.

Rating on a scale of 1 - 10: 7

Reviewer: Little Willow

From: California

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Wizards of Hastin by P. Ashar

This is a collection of folk tales and fables from the Indus Valley. It follows the rivalry of two sides of a warring family. Five of the warriors are known as the Prols, and they posess great talents that help them in the fight against the Telhoths. The Telhoths are the cousins of the Prols, and are made up of the 100 sons of Wardoria, the King, Lohas, and his foster child, Karna. The story goes like this. The Prols are the masters of half the kingdom. Then, the powerhungery Telhoths trick the Prols into a fixed game of dice which causes the Prols to go into hidding for many years. When the Prols finally come back, they find that the Telhoths have gone mad with power, and refuse to relinquish the kingdom! A great war ensues, and the fate of the kingdom is in the great warriors and their "Weapons" of great power. The Prols are outnumbered by the Telhoths, but have gathered many allies for the great battle. Who will win this clash of great powers in the Indus Valley? Read this book and find out!

I really liked this book, but I'm not sure it would be for everybody. I have a great love for Greek and Roman mythology, and this book mirrors these myths, so I found the paragraph long "stories" very entertaining. I say "stories" because each paragraph is like an individual, drawn out "fact" about the bigger story of the battle between the Prols and Telhoths. The storyline gets kind of confusing in the beginning because it introduces a new character almost every paragraph, some of which never show up again. Sometimes the vagueness of this book is also a problem, as in, and I quote, "So he discharged the Serpent weapon at Trilock. He aimed the weapon at the head of Trilock. If successful it would cut off Trilock's head." It does not go into any more detail about the "Serpent Weapon". It has about 10 "most powerful weapons" in the book. I think the Indus people had a problem with adjectives, because not all of those weapons can be the most powerful, or the best, or the most almighty. Overall this is a great collection of myths from the Indus Valley with a few minor problems. Otherwise I found that this book was extremely well written(retold) and there is, in fact, a chart at the beggining of the book that highlights most of the main characters.

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

The Girls by Lori Lansens

"The Girls," is a collection of stories about the lives and times of two conjoined twins. These stories are not in chronological order. They are memories of their relationships, their travels, their birth, and many other significant and not-so-significant moments of their lives. At many points in the story, the book is treated like a diary in which the sisters explain what is going on in their lives at the time the book being written. "The Girls," as they are known in their small Canadian town have been looked after by Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash for most of their lives. They are soon to be the oldest surviving craniopagus (conjoined at the head) twins, and Rose is planning on writing a book of their memoirs. Ruby, her sister, is writing several chapters herself, as it is her life too. The point of view switches from one twin to the other, and the blanks that each sister leaves out is, in most cases, explained by the other.

Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable book. I chose it because it seemed like an interesting idea- I had never before read anything in the perspective of conjoined twins. While this wasn't what I would call a "pageturner" (it took me about two weeks to read, as I had exams at the same time), it is extremely well-written. Lansens has the unique ability to create two completely different characters and weave their stories so well that it is not difficult to believe that these two individual women have spent every waking moment of their lives connected. During some points in Rose's recollections, she tends to go a bit too deep into detail and description at the cost of plot stability, but I interpreted this more as a reflection of Rose and her writing style. I was also able to relate very well to Rose and somewhat to Ruby, despite the extreme differences in our situations. It was a fascinating experience to be able to "meet" these to characters and get to know them, and then to read about what they thought of each other and what happened in their everyday lives that they chose to relate to the reader (or not). "The Girls," is a very educational book- I learned a lot about life and relationships, not to mention the world and customs of other people. After the collection of stories, the ending is very satifying. I felt that in the ending, Lansens captured a true moment of real lives.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Des Plaines, IL USA

Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

Ivy was born with the only kind of love she ever wanted, a mother's love. She doesn't know who her father is and has no desire to find out (though Ivy's mother reveals the truth on her sixteenth birthday). But Ivy's mother does let slip that Ivy has inherited the love curse. The curse entails obsessive love of a mother accompanied by constant worry that she will die. Ivy also develops an unusual hobby: taxidermy. She is aided with this pastime by her quirky neighbors, the Rumbaugh twins, who run the pharmacy across the street. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs chronicles Ivy's battle between overcoming the curse and letting it consume her, and uncovering the secrets of the Rumbaugh twins.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs was a bizarre and unusual book. The novel presented different viewpoints on free will, love, and the concept of "superior genetics" which I found interesting. But the book took the taxidermy hobby and obsessive love of a mother a bit too far. Also, the time skipped around, which I found confusing. Overall the book peaked my curiosity but was somewhat morbid; it was interesting but not an attention grabber for me. I would recommend this book be read only by young adults or older due to some of the content.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 5
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky USA