Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three Clams and an Oyster by Randy Powell

While searching for a fourth member for their flag football team three friends learn something new about themselves and each other.

This book is entertaining, but nothing to write home about. Throughout the book the author focuses on three main characters, all part of a four man flag football team. The characters are faced with the decision to replace Cade, an unreliable member of their team, after he misses a couple of practices. The author mainly dawdles on events such as going to a hot dog stand or the the flee market rather the than more interesting stuff as in the actual football game. The author does scatter a fair amount of humor into the book but just enough to keep it interesting. In the end you feel as if the author rushed to meet a deadline. Overall this pearl is better left inside the oyster.

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

Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough

Sadie and her family have just moved across the country from her old home in California. Even the skies and the ocean are different, and Sadie isn't so sure that she'll be able to fit in here. While her worries about friends, boys, and school are normal enough, Sadie has one more tough thing to deal with. Her family is still healing from the death of her twin brother, Ollie, four years ago. The two were twelve years old then, and Ollie will be twelve forever. Sadie still sees him and talks to him, and tries to paint the ocean for him, her last promise to her brother.

Carolyn MacCullough has created great characters in this novel. These characters populate a powerful story that is very well written, one that will capture the attention of readers from the very first chapter. Sadie's worries about her new school will be familiar to any teen who has ever been the new kid (and to many who have not). Hopefully not many people will be able to relate to her struggles over the death of her brother, but that aspect of the book is very well done; the emotions and reactions of Sadie and her family are very realistic. This isn't a book that readers will want to miss, especially if they are fans of MacCullough's earlier work.

Content:Drug use. More mature readers, probably.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Fangs 4 Freaks by Serena Robar

In this sequel to Serena Robar's Braced 2 Bite, Colby has set up a sorority house that's rather exclusive. Psi Phi is just for half-blood vampires. Colby is one of these half-bloods, but she's more than that; she's their Protector, the one who got rid of the unfair laws persecuting them. Without her, they could all be executed! Of course, now that they're free to exist, that doesn't mean all of their troubles are over. The half-bloods are still being targeted, and it looks like there's a spy in the Psi Phi house. Aside from being a that, Colby's got some problems that aren't so particular to her status as half-blood Protector. Namely, guy problems--she and her boyfriend Thomas aren't taking things to the next level the way Colby would like! Despite the fact that Colby has freed her people, life is anything but cushy for the sisters at Psi Phi House.

Fangs 4 Freaks is a well written book and an original take on the vampire legend. Serena Robar's characters are original and fun to read about. These include a half-blood vampire who wants to be a vegan, one who is overly confrontational, and another who, as royalty, sees herself as above the rest of the sisters. This novel is a fun, suspenseful read with a real surprise twist at the end! It isn't necessary to have read Braced 2 Bite before picking this book up, but it would probably help to fill in some of the background information that I'm still a little fuzzy on after finishing the novel. Fans of vampire novels and even those who don't have a great love for vampire stories will love this book!

Content:Sexual situations, violence.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Don't Feed The Bully by Brad Tassell

Hannibal Greatneck III is a detective. Handy finds he has some work to do as a sixth grade transfer student in his new school, William B Travis elementary. His new school has a very different idea of what to do about bullies. Handy notices this soon after entering the school--it would be hard to miss. There is a cage, where the bully Ralphie is made to sit, in the middle of the classroom. The power to stop the bullies is given to wimpy Kurt, and that power can be used another become a bully. People in school are scared, and Handy has to figure out why and fix it.

Don't Feed The Bully is a quick read that kids will be able to relate to. Important lessons are taught, but the book still manages to be funny and entertaining! Even reluctant readers will enjoy this book, with its fun characters and the mystery that is the center of the story. To add to the fun, there are entertaining illustrations by Logan Sibrel that definitely add to the book. Most of thte pictures are a great addition to the story. Just because there are pictures doesn't make this a book for little kids, though; everyone will enjoy this story!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fugitive from Corinth by Caroline Lawrence

Flavia's father is severely injured one night, and the only suspect Flavia has in mind is her own tutor. Nubia, Jonathan, and Lupus (and later on, Megara) join her in her pursual of him, through unknown terrain, and various cities. An oracle tells Flavia's messanger with a rhyme, which none of them can figure out, and the group dismisses it after a little thought. Before that, though, they'd met a young beggar boy, who seems a little odd, but was otherwise a great help in some ways and a great bother in others. Later on, the boy revealed himself as a girl, Megara, who had more information on the tutor and his brother than any of them had imagined. It's finally in the cave of the Furies that they catch up with the tutor and his brother, who both have stories to tell. It turns out that no one had intended to hurt Flavia's father, and they all run back to Corinth and find him awake and live happily ever after.

I think that the book was a little childish and mainstream. The murder mysteries that end up with everyone living happily ever after, when it shouldn't happen are a little annoying. Other than that, Lawrence delivers the tale in a slightly more interesting way- this takes place in ancient times. With a change of character, setting, and behavior, an otherwise boring tale is made slightly more interesting. Some parts are a little bit strange- like, they just happen to meet a little beggar boy who just happens to be a girl who just happens to know a hell of a lot of stuff about Aristo. But otherwise, it's not that bad.

Content:They give a brief mention to various female parts, but I wouldn't worry.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 6
Reviewer Age: 12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mahomet, Illinois The United States of America

Adventures in Unhistory by Avram Davidson

Adventures in Unhistory is a collection of mini-lectures that deal with the fantastic: from dragons to mermaids to the travels of Sinbad. Davidson takes on the task of providing the facts of popular myths. As he presents the details that make each legend plausible, he interjects little quips and anecdotes that liven the narration and makes each scholarly essay enjoyable and easy to process. The essays teach a significant amount of history to the reader, but present it in such a way that the knowledge is transferred painlessly, unlike reading a history textbook. It seems almost as though Davidson were speaking directly and personally to the reader. When the reader finishes this book, he/she will be able to fully comprehend the history behind the fantasy in novels that deal heavily with these legends.

This book was immensely exciting to read. The essays, at first, seemed a little dry, but as I adjusted to the witty comments and seemingly random points (that were always tied up at the end), the essays came to life and almost read like a novel. There were times when I was at a loss to some of the humor, mainly because I was not familiar with the background, such as the Latin words Ars longa, vita breva. But it took little away from the narration, and was not hard to research and figure out. And since the stories covered a broad variety of topics, the knowledge gained was well rounded, and applicable to other areas not pertaining to fantasy. I think this book is essential to the fantasy fanatic’s library, and even those with no interest in werewolves or phoenixes will still be captivated by the wealth of information tucked inside this little book.

Content:Though this book contains no violence, sexual situations, or profanity, the language of the book assumes that the reader has significant understanding of classical works and a fairly detailed comprehension of history. Thus, while the content is appropriate for younger children, much of the humor and subtext would not be conveyed. So, the recommendation would be for a mature, intellectual reader.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Overland Park, Kansas United States

Monday, November 27, 2006

Firestorm by Daniel Kass

Have you ever been broken the school rushing record, been turned down by your girlfriend, found out your parents aren’t your parents, and been chased off into the night by strangers, all in one evening? Well, Jack Danielson has, and he wasn’t too happy about the latter three. First he breaks the school rushing record by 200 yards (the rushing record is how far you can run with the ball in football before you are tackled, drop the ball, or make a touchdown,) tries to get his girlfriend to go all the way with him, and gets turned down. He then drives home and his dad tells him to get in the car. He tells Jack that he is not his dad and his mom is not his mom. His dad does these radical tricks with his car to get away from these creatures that are now chasing them. His “dad” tells him to run down to the dock where he will find a boat. Jack rides that boat down to Manhattan. Jack looks around the boat and finds, locked in a safe, the papers to the boat, which have his name on them, and a crazy watch which he puts on. Once in Manhattan, he sells his boat and goes to the park and falls asleep. He is picked up by this girl who offers to take him back to her apartment. She seduces him and then turns into one of those creatures who were looking for him. He quickly gets away, and finds a talking dog named Gisco. The dog leads him away to a train station and they get onboard as a blind man and his seeing eye dog. Quickly they iscover a plot to get them and they jump off of the train. A group of bikers finds them and sells Javk a bike and fresh clothes. Jack and Gisco ride off into the night. Gisco leads Jack to a barn and locks him inside. Jack is furious. He sleeps through the night. When he wakes up he finds a ninja standing there. The ninja beats him up for three days until Jack can beat him. Once Jack finally beats the ninja, he unmasks it and finds it’s a girl. They drive to the beach and train Jack to fight. He is chased away from the islad, with Gisco, by the creatures. To find out more, pick this book up at your local library or bookstore!

This was one of the greatest books I have ever read. This will definitely be the next Harry Potter. Out of all my likes, I had only one dislike, and it was the fact that he, David Klass, used a lot of fragments instead of actual sentences. That got a little annoying. I did like the fact that it was a little fantasy, adventure, romance, and science fiction all wrapped up into one story.

Content:mature reader due to sexual situations and and some violence

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13

The End by Lemony Snicket

In The End, Clause and Sunny and Violet, all get shipwrecked on a coastal shelf, along with Count Olaf that is. They meet a girl named Friday, who takes them back to her village to meet Ishmael, who likes to be called Ish. She leaves Count Olaf behind because he is a wicked man. The Baudelaires are made get rid of all their possessions, including Clause’s commonplace book, Violet’s hair ribbon, and Sunny’s whisk. They are put into white robes (that is what the whole village is made to wear) and must drink coconut cordial, the only drink found on the island except salt water. The Baudelaires are fine until they are whisked into an evil plot to overthrow Ishmael and force him off the island. Later they find that there are secrets on the island their parents had kept from them. They find these secrets just as Count Olaf comes with his own deadly plot to make the island his own. He fails and all the inhabitants of the village are forced off the island in a boat. The Baudelaires live on the island a whole other year until they completed a boat to get off the island.

I liked this book a lot. It had adventure and many plots and subplots. One thing I liked was that there was a surprise little extra chapter at the back of the book. One thing I disliked was the fact it told none of the secrets Lemony always wrote about in his books. Overall the final book was not the best in his series, but it was good.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Don't Feed The Bully by Brad Tassell

Hannibal "Handy" Greatneck III, a boy detective, moves to a new school. There he discovers an unusual sight. There is a cage in the classroom, and all the students seem to be afraid of a puny Kurt Pesterman. When Handy tries to expose Kurt's misuse of power to the teachers, Kurt frames Handy in an attempt to get Handy in deep trouble. Don't Feed the Bully is a humorous story with a very good moral.

To be frank, I was skeptical about this book when I recieved it. It was thin, had drawings, and sounded...well like something a child would read. I was somewhat wrong. While the plot is geared more towards ages 10-12, there was a surprising amount of extensive vocabulary. The analogies Brad Tassel writes made me chuckle every time. The plot had great lessons on how to stop or deter bullying, and that was amplified by the appendix giving step-by-step explanations about how to overpower bullies. The book has great potential, and I think Brad Tassell could make this into a series. Handy Greatneck might just be the next Encyclopedia Brown.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Quincy, Pennsylvania United States of America

Being AGirl That Leads by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio

Primicerio develops Being a Girl Who Leads as a thought provoking and guiding Christian work aimed at teenage girls. She covers everyday topics such as clothing, friends, profanity, boundaries and limits vs. freedom, lying and gossiping, intimate relationships, and parents in a way that explores the Christian point of view but allows people of all faiths and backgrounds to reflect on their actions. Each chapter discusses a relevant topic by explaining how what is often expected of girls, or what they expect of themselves, contradicts Christian teachings and sometimes even common sense. The author provides great examples, some from her life and experience, to illustrate her points. She provides ideas for further thought at the end of each chapter, as well as what should be expected from a good leader.

Being A Girl Who Leads is a great guide for girls to refocus their lives to look at what is important in life. Primicerio takes a very simple and understandable approach to topics that most girls think are out of their control, such as clothing fashions that may be inappropriate. I really think this book would be excellent for youth groups or groups of girls to discuss after reading or topic by topic. My only drawback, for non-Christians, is that the author focuses a lot on the Christian point of view. However, I still reflected on myself and my decisions while reading this book. It's an easy and quick read and worthwhile.

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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Horse from the Sea by Victoria Holmes

On a dark and stormy night, Spanish ships started crashing on the shore located near Nora Donovan’s home. The next morning her family and their close neighbors help gather up the remains that have drifted ashore from the ship. What Nora finds will change her life forever—a Spanish boy gasping for help. Nora decides to deliver him from the sea, from the English armies who are searching for the Spanish survivors to kill, and also from the evil wrath of Manannan mac Lir (the god of the sea). She also finds a beautiful stallion as white as sea foam which has a wounded shoulder. She decides to call the horse Lir, and takes him to a cave close by to help him recover his health, but inside lurking in the shadows is the injured shipwrecked Spanish sailor. He asks Nora if she will take him to a ship that will take him back to Spain and after pondering the idea for a while, she agrees. She will have to disobey her parents, leave without a trace, escape English soldiers, give up her beloved horse, and risk her life to save a boy she hardly even knows.

The Horse from the Sea is a wonderful book that I enjoyed reading. It is full of adventure and edge of your seat suspense. Victoria Holmes has two other horse novels called Rider in the Dark and Heart of Fire, which I can’t wait to read. The plot was well chosen, the title fit very well, and the cover was gorgeous. Even though this book was a good read, I think that the story was continued for too long and should have ended much sooner. I recommend this book mostly to girls ages 9-14.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA US

Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Pasquala, a.k.a Paski, was known as one of the populars in Taos, New Mexico. Her mother left Paski and her trying-too-hard-to-be-a-role-model father when Paski was only a little girl. The only "women" figures she has now is her weird, physic grandmother and her expreienced best friends, Emily and Janet. When Paski's life seemed to be going well, it came to a halt. Her dad got a promotion in Los Angeles. It may sound cool leaving the snow and heading for sunshine but when her grandmother warns her of bad times to come, she's not so sure about it anymore. Now she has to deal with a whole new school and a whole new group called the Haters. When Paski sees trouble ahead for one of the Haters she has to decide whether to tell her and be compoletely humiliated or let it take its course...literally.

I have to say this is probally one of the best books I have read coming out of Flamingnet. I was kind of iffy about it because I am used to reading books that can be realistic somewhat. Paski, the main character, has the ability to see in the future and that turned me off at first. But then I realized, without it, the book would be one of those popular, sterotypical books that get old after a while. Haters has substance and didn't drag on like other 350 page books do. I would love to see Rodriguez create a sequel or another young adult novel that had as much interest and integrity as Haters did.

Content:The majority of the book was fine. However, there was a paragraph or two towards the end of the book that I strongly suggest should only be for a mature audience due to sexual content.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
eviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Villa Hills, Kentucky United States

More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas

Just when Morgan Carter was beginning to love the simple life she had built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, her true identity as an infamous Hollywood starlet was exposed. This book is a sequel to “Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet” and features the same characters. Morgan is now 17 and trying to live the simple life in Fort Wayne when her archenemy: Debbie Ackerman revealed her identity as a Hollywood starlet. Now she is trying to deal with her new life being followed by paparazzi after she left rehab. Morgan has a choice to make: return to her glamorous movie star existence—or stick with the wholesome life, and love, she's found in the Midwest. In this journal by Morgan, she tells gossips and rumors. Her mom, Bianca, wants her back in LA for Thanksgiving with Sam, her stepfather. But Morgan wants to stay with her new “boyfriend” Eli and the rest of her new friends. She goes through countless mood swings, and encounters many obstacles on her way to become sober from drugs and alcohol. This is definitely a good story for teenage girls, for it has a lot of elements that will be especially interesting for them.

I'm not such a big fan for journals, especially ones with gossip and other things that are mostly intended to entertain girls. The author did a good job of putting all of the elements together and made it look like a book, but I'm not really interested in reading it. Like I said before, this book really isn't for boys, but Lola Douglas did not really intend to write it just for girls. Overall, it's not a bad book, but I'm just not interested when reading More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. The book might be a little more interesting if I've read the previous book: "Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet".

Content:The book is mostly intended for teenage girls, but boys are not restricted to reading it. There is some profanity and sexual situations, so I'm recommending that you have to be at least 12 and up to read this.
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, IL USA

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss Princess of Wonderland is set to recieve the throne of wonderland once her dear mother passed away many years in the future, that is until her evil Aunt Redd assasinates her parents in an evil plan to control the world. ALyss escapes through a magical pool to Earth and is taken in by a nice London family. She procedes to grow up teaching herself to believe wonderland was a figment of her imagination. Her perfect life is shattered on her wedding day when her childhood playmate Dodge. She is swept back into wonderland and all of its politics as she is forced to battle Redd for the Queendom.

The book is a very nicely done spin-off of Lewis Carrol's Classic. This book will most likely overcome the shadow of Carrol's book. The card soldier invention was great. I would enjoy to read any sequal by Beddor, and he should write a sequal. The adding of imagination powers is a nice addition.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Raymond, illinois United States of America

Queen B by Laura Peyton Roberts

Cassie Howard, always the runner up in school, has somehow managed to take the hottest guy, Kevin, from Sterling, the most popular girl in school. As her popularity starts to rise in the school, so does her rivalry with Sterling. Add on to the situation a little brother who manages to get her into sticky situations, Cassie seems to be losing her touch. Then, she is given a role of stage director in the talent school her school is holding, and more and more people are not taking Cassie seriously. She has to find some way to hold on to her new boyfriend and solve problems in school before it's too late.

I thought that this book was really cute. As soon as I picked it up, I couldn't stop reading this. Cassie was such a cute character to read about. The situations she got into were so funny. I can't wait to read the prequel to Queen B! I think this is the perfect book to pick up. I hope that Laura Peyton Roberts continues to write about Cassie's adventures.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA USA

Thursday, November 16, 2006

London Calling by Edward Bloor

Martin Conway is in serious depression. At his school, he gets slapped in the face by a boy living up to a legacy, his father is an alcholic, and his grandmother recently died. When Martin visits his Aunt's house where his grandmother lived, he inheirits an old radio. Every night, instead of the TV, he tunes the radio between stations and falls asleep to the soft glow of the dial. But this is not without consequence. Every time he falls asleep to the radio, he is transported back in time to 1940s London during the Blitz. There he meets a boy who needs Martin's help. Martin's time-travling adventures lead to a trip to present-day London, in order to help the boy.

Edward Bloor wrote one of my favorite books of all time, Tangerine. London Calling is every bit as captivating. Martin portrays a common figure, in a not-so-common circumstance. The things that happen to Martin (other than his time-traveling) could easily happen to anyone. His struggle through life, then the uplifting of his spirits makes this novel an emotional adventure too. The book was consistently well-paced, and kept me reading the whole time. The ending is capable of warming even the coldest heart. Bloor writes yet another tale that makes you question what could happen, or what we believe in. London Calling has great potential win awards, or simply capture young minds to the enthralling adventure that is life.

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

Underland by Mary Patterson Thornburg

After giving her a mysterious gift, Alyssha Dodson's older brother Billy vanished without a trace. Now, four years later, Alyssha is twelve, and being chased by frightening strange men who are searching for something, Alyssha runs to a room under a bridge, the refuge shown to her by her brother soon before his disappearance. When she leaves that room, she is in another universe. It is much like the one she left, but also very different, and she is not as safe there as she might have hoped; she is still being pursued, this time by the powerful Lord Raf Var Ne, whose stepson, Kardl, aids Alyssha in her escape from the Rydor Lord and her search for her brother; Billy, apparently, also traveled to this parallel world. The following adventure includes a revolution, a hint of romance, and more!

Upon opening this book, I had no expectations as to the quality of it, but if I had they would certainly have been surpassed! The characters and plot were well-thought out, and the writing pulled me right in! I couldn't put down Underland; I found myself turning page after page until I'd read the entire book in one sitting! Though the characters are realistic, they also seem a bit too mature for their supposed ages a lot of the time (Alyssha and Kardl in particular); but then, I suppose they've been through a lot. Still, it might have been a bit more believable had their ages been stated as a few years older than those given. I also had a few unanswered questions upon finishing the book, but hopefully that just means there is a sequel in the works!

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn

This story describes the hardships of two young boys in Vienna, Austria during World War II. One of the boys, Karl, is forced to leave his home after his mother is taken away by soldiers. He goes to his best friend Emil’s house. Emil is Jewish, but Karl is not. Emil’s father has been killed, and his mother has lost her mind. Together, Emil and Karl go into the city, meeting some kind people, others not, while searching for a safe place to stay.

I really enjoyed this book. The book showed the power of friendship. I liked the many different characters, and how they each resembled different people’s reactions to what was going on around them. Some people were too afraid to speak out against hate, others were taken in by hate, while other people tried to fight back against hatred. The book also showed that in the midst of hatred, there are still kind people. I thought the translator’s introduction was touching, giving the reader a picture of who was reading this book when it was released in Yiddish in 1940. It reminded the reader that this story cannot just tell about the past, but also reminds the reader to remember the challenges faced by children around the world.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana , Illinois United States of America

The Black Tatoo by Sam Enthoven

It all begins with two normal teenage boys, Charlie and Jack, walking down the street leading seemingly normal lives. That is, until they are stopped by a mysterious, dark stranger named Nick. Nick soon pulls Charlie and Jack into the Brotherhood, a secret society charged with keeping the Scourge, a liquid black Demon, imprisoned. The boys team up with Esme, another teenage girl who has trained all her life to fight the Scourge. During a fight for leadership of the Brotherhood, Charlie accidentally becomes the host body of the Scourge, which has escaped. Through Charlie the Scourge opens and enters the Fracture, or gateway to Hell. Jack and Esme follow and are confronted by the Emperor who only grants requests by winning a match in the bloody gladiator pits. The book continues as Jack tries to stay alive, Esme braces herself to fulfill her destiny, and Charlie fights to save his friends and himself.

I really liked this book. When I first got it and saw how many pages there were I thought it would be long and boring. But it was packed with adventure, suspense and mystery. Sam Enthoven did a great job of the keeping the novel moving. I could really connect with the characters and their emotions. It also presents unconventional, interesting viewpoints about demons, etc. Overall, I thought it was a great book.

Content:adult guidance
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Erlanger, Kentucky United States