Monday, June 30, 2008

I am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

In the book, I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos, Joey, a troubled boy tries to find his true identity. Joey lives with his mother because his father left the family. While Joey's father is away, he purchases a winning lottery ticket and receives a lot of money. His father thinks he is a new man when he receives the money. He goes back to his family and says he changed and wants to be part of the family again. The mom accepts him but Joey hates the idea. Joey's dad then changes the names of the family members. The mother's name becomes Maria Heinz and Joey's name becomes Freddy Heinz. The father thinks that changing the names will be a new start for the family and they will forget the past experiences. The genre of this book is realistic fiction.

The mood of the book is freewheeling, calm and always changing. The author makes Joey seem like a real character as he describes him vividly. I like the main character, Joey, because he cares about his mother; he also tries to be himself and keep his real identity. The author's voice is descriptive. The story is told in the first person view and it was appropriate. The writing is powerful and the vocabulary was age appropriate. I learned from the book that family is important and that everyone deserves a second chance in life. I would recommend this book to others becasue it tells a good story and is very realistic.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Thornwood , New York United States

Maiden of the Wolf by Tiffany Trent & Angelika Ranger

When Ilona is transported to a rath controlled by an evil countess where she is ordered to rescue the rathstone for Hallomere, she finds way more then what she bargained for. A countess who takes young girls from their families, tortures them, and bathes in their blood, a werewolf Ilona happens to be falling in love with, and being forced to be a part of the countess’s army, tops the list. And did I mention the army general is a werewolf? How will Ilona get the rathstone without the countess, the general, and the evil Madame Joo finding out who she really is? Read Maiden of the Wolf to find out.

Classic love stories can be boring. Maiden of the Wolf? Not so. This awesome book has every thing you want in a good novel. Romance? Check. Action? Check. Suspenseful plot? Check! This book may seem long at a glance, but once you read the first few pages you are so intrigued about Ilona and what will happen, you are pulled into the book and won’t be able to put it down until you have read the very last page. I loved reading this book and have probably read it twice since I finished it the first time. It will never be boring, and you won’t regret reading Maiden of the Wolf.

graphic and not for faint-hearted readers

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Casa Grande, Arizona United States

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Future Americas by Edited by John Helfers & Martin H. Greenberg

This collection of short stories about the future includes murder mysteries and descriptions of quaint and peaceful rural homes. But each story makes the reader realize it’s hard to peer into the future, no matter how many clues the present may hold. One of the authors provides a glimpse into the future with travelers who don’t travel into the future, but instead take a step back in time with each year. For instance, travelers step back into the medieval times with its fancy clothing, but the story still has a touch of the future with tour guides and hover cars. Another short story is “Family Photos” by Andrew Swann, which peers into the future where killers and abusers outnumber regular civilians. In “Jesus Runs,” by George Zebrowski, twelve men called “Jesus” run for presidential office; they are considered frauds, but can mysteriously bring the long dead back to life. Overall, most of the stories had one message: the future is not bright.

I thought most of the stories were great, but my favorite was, “Acirema the Rellik,” by Robert Jeschonek. It is a murder mystery. The story I least liked was “The Rotator,” by Pamela Sargent, because I didn’t really get the point of the story. It was kind of confusing. Overall, all of the stories had an important lesson about how we can change the future with the actions we take today.


Reviewer Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Ocala, Florida United States

My Feet Aren't Ugly by Debra Beck

Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in? Do you ever feel self conscious around other people? Have you ever been pressured to do something you don't want to do? In My Feet Aren't Ugly by Debra Beck, helps you with all the following:

-Loving Yourself
-Healing Yourself

The author achieved exactly what she was trying to. After I read this book, I went out to the real world and yelled "Sock it to me! I can do it!" It helped me overcome peer pressure, and I really found myself.

It talks about sex and drugs.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Seaside, Oregon United States

Rating: 8

Content Rating: 2

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

A theater might not be the most normal place to live, but for Cat the Theater Royal is home. She spends her days helping out actors and playing in the London streets, her evenings watching whatever newest production her "family" has put on, and her nights curled up on discarded costumes in the attic of the theater. Life is good, but when a mysterious diamond is hidden somewhere in the theater, everything changes. Suddenly gangs are fighting over Cat and lords and ladies are sneaking into the theater to snoop. Cat knows that she has to protect the diamond, but will her supposed friends, Pedro and Johnny, be helpful or simply doom her mission?

What with the intriguing plot, cover, and play-like way of storytelling, this book promised to be good from the get-go. The characters were fresh and lovable, the theater where most of the story took place was bustling with excitement, and it seemed that the direct, amusing tone that invited readers "brave enough to follow" into Cat's life would continue throughout the novel. Unfortunately, this was not to be. A few chapters into the book it became clear that Ms.Golding has forgotten an elementary rule of creative writing-- to "show" and not just "tell." Throughout her novel, things only happen when they are entirely necessary, and are told so matter-of-factly that this is blatantly clear. This results in a boring and predictable novel that, despite all that it had going for it to begin with, falls brutally flat. Sure, it might be worth a read, but don't expect anything miraculous-- in fact, as Cat herself says, "Be warned."

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: , Maryland United States

Rating: 6

Content Rating: 1

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Lycan Journal by Chad Long

Gordo Gates, a thirteen-year-old boy, gets into more than he bargained for when his father is scratched by a lyncan (or werewolf) and becomes fatally ill. Gordo learns that there is a cure for his father's sickness, but it is extremely rare and he must act quickly before his father dies. Along the way, he also gains knowlege of a closely guarded secret concerning the history of werewolves and their hidden treasure. Gordo sets off to find this treasure with help from Allie (a girl who is being hunted by the lyncans and holds the key to the treasure), Hank (a pilot who desperately needs cash to save his farm), Dusty (a half-lyncan-half-human boy who lives on the streets), and Vinnie (a shady club owner with less-than-honest intentions). With all the danger surrounding these secrets, will this odd group be able to recover the treasure and save Gordo's dad in time? You'll have to read the book to find out.

This book had a great main storyline and included some very good ideas, however I did not like the author's writing style. There was WAY too much description about insignificant things and not enough movement along the storyline. The author should have emphasized the danger and suspense involved in Gordo's mission to make the story more interesting and make the reader want to find out what happens next. The book was also written in third person which many people (including me) do not like. Third person is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the author has to work harder to connect the reader to the story. In this case, it detracted from the story instead of adding to it.

There's one more thing I would like to add. Everything seemed to play out perfectly for the main characters. In my opinion, it would make the conclusion more rewarding if the author included some trial and error in their actions.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad book. I just think it needs some more revising before being published. Many authors rewrite their entire novels several times before it is even ready to be edited.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Osseo, Wisconsin United States

Songs From A Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

Calle Smith knows all about first days of school. Whenever things don't work out with her current husband/boyfriend, Calle's Mom flips a coin on a map, and off they go for a new start. Calle finds a new start in the small town of Andreas Bay, California. While there, she becomes part of a group, learns about friendship, and of young love. But more importantly, Calle learns the secret of why her mother feels the need to move from place to place.

I found this book very entertaining. The thing that I loved about this book is that it shows the secret struggles of teens in all social groups. Kim Culbertson did a great job capturing the deeper emotions people hold. Because she showed that not only did Calle just move to a new town, she was starting as a Freshman having no knowledge of the people around her. I recommend this book to girls far and wide because everyone knows what it's like to feel alienated and disconnected to the people around them.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Seaside , OR USA

Friday, June 27, 2008

A World of His Own by Arlette Gaffrey

After escaping the French Revolution, Andre de Javon plans to start fresh in New Orleans. He is intrigued by plantation work and pursues his dream of becoming a successful and wealthy plantation owner. With the help of Jean-Claude Charlevoix and his young daughter Julie, he succeeds. The small Charlevoix family is so helpful but Andre has no idea how much Julie really loves him. This is why Julie is so heartbroken when Andre marries Gabrielle Ste. Claire, a spoiled woman who turns his life into a disaster. Gabrielle's actions are a disgrace and she goes as far as having another man's child. Andre soon realizes his true feelings for Julie and regrets his marriage to Gabrielle. Andre is given the chance to be with Julie when Gabrielle dies in a tragic accident. But will Julie still be interested in him?

A World of His Own is a great historical novel overflowing with emotions. The introduction was a bit slow but once I got into the story, it became impossible to put down. The author's detailed descriptions made the book come alive in my head. The read was somewhat difficult with the numerous characters and French vocabulary, but it is definitely worth reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and romance.

mild sex scenes, some profanity, and many alcohol references.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Richmond, Virginia USA

Forensics by Richard Platt

This information-packed book provides readers an inside look at the world of forensic science. Forensics is the branch of science that deals with crime. At every crime scene, some sort of evidence is left behind. It is up to crime-scene officers to secure the scene and preserve the evidence. Fingerprints are the most common evidence found at the crime scene, but there are many other types of evidence that investigators use to help them find the criminal. This book thoroughly goes through numerous types of evidence and how they help investigators catch the suspect. For example, the Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification Systems can search one million fingerprint records in less than a second, and the closest matches are presented for detectives to make the final comparison. It is also possible to test a suspect's hands to see if he/she has fired a gun recently. DNA analysis, special chemicals, autopsies, cyber crimes, poisons, weapons, and forgeries are just some of the things the book discusses. This book covers everything one needs to know about forensics, and nothing one don't.

When I first got the book, I didn't know much about forensics. Of course, that changed by the time I finished reading the book. Every page is filled with pictures which further helped me understand the topic. All aspects of forensic science are covered, from collecting evidence to finding the criminal. If you have a question about forensic, there is a great chance that that question will be answered after reading the book. I enjoyed this book because I learned the more about forensics than I initially thought. Each page is packed with information, and everything is very easy to understand. I recommend this book to people of all ages who are interested in learning how detectives and scientists work together in order to solve a crime.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Palo Alto, CA USA

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks

The book Devil May Care is a continuation of the various
dangerous adventures of the notable character James Bond.
Bond is summoned from his sabbatical in order to investigate
Dr. Julius Gorner, a powerful figure that seems to
have an interest in selling drugs, of both the legal and
illegal kind. He is helped on his adventures by Scarlett
Papava, who is, supposedly, a banker. James Bond struggles
to uncover Gorner's operations as strange things occur,
such as a missing British airliner and heroin addicts
on the rise in Britain. Bond travels to the Middle East
and has quite a few surprises. There is a twist at the end
concerning Scarlett Papava.

The book Devil May Care has
a few significant flaws. First of all, some scenes have way
too much detail. Some parts of the book are absolutely
gory. There did not have to be that much detail. Also, it
is a little boring in some places. It seems that Bond
is always eating, talking, traveling, or thinking about
Scarlett. The writing is not difficult to follow, but it
is not too easy either. I don't think I'll ever read this
book again; it was pretty disappointing. Even without the
disgusting scenes, this book is not at all
spectacular. However, Sebastian Faulks did make it seem realistic, just
too realistic in some places. The characters seemed real,
but I, for one, would not like to meet them.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country:
Charleston, SC USA

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

Casey McCloy is your average teen, from Normal, IL, but now she's decided to take advantage of her mother being away on business. She moves in with her grandmother, to the fabulous Bramford, right in the heart of NYC. Almost immediately, she runs into the most popular girl in her building, as well as in Casey's new school, Madison McAllister. After Madison and her friends give Casey a total makeover, Casey starts catching everyone's eye, including Madison's sometimes-boyfriend Drew. With everyone vying for the spotlight, will Madison ruin Casey's new image to deter Drew, or will she let Drew have Casey?

I enjoyed this book, and although I thought at first that it was going to be one of those fake, all the populars get their way kind of book, it really wasn't. I liked that the author had several chapters from each of the main characters’ points of view, which gave me a well-rounded opinion of each character in the story. The author was very descriptive, although I honestly felt that I did not need to know every single brand of clothing/shoes/accessories each character wore. One slightly annoying thing was the amount of sub-plots, the majority of which were never finished. For example, Madison and Drew's relationship sometimes overpowered the main plot. But the good thing about sub-plots is that they give each character a story behind them, so I felt as if I knew them better. Although this book was fun to read, the amount of cursing was appalling. For this reason, I would only recommend this book to all young adults 13 and up.

On the first page alone, the main character curses 3 times. The language is very strong, including several uses of the f-word. There is also an enormous amount of sexual content, including very sexually intimate scenes with several details. There is also underage drinking, and one of the main characters gets drunk.


Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Boothwyn, PA USA

The Guy Next Door by Carol Culver

After her parents get divorced, Maggie moves away from the guy next door, her love, Ethan. Maggie misses the days when she and Ethan used to ride bikes and play tag because now with her metal braces and glasses he barely notices her. After her invisible braces replace her metal ones and contacts replace her glasses, Maggie finally gets the chance to talk to him at a dance, and when she gives him a fencing lesson. Now, that they're taking a chorus trip to Hawaii, Maggie will get to show off the bikini that her friend, Victoria, made her. But is that enough to get Ethan to notice her?

The Guy Next Door is an amazing book. Carol Culver always added a different twist, that you would never see coming. When Culver wrote about the class in Hawaii, I felt like I was there experiencing the surfing, sand and sun right along with the characters. This was a great read because I felt like I knew the characters. I would recommend it to any girl because overall I LOVED it.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Oakmont, Pennsylvania United States

Rating: 9

Content Rating: 1

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wish You Were Here by Catherine Clark

Ariel (no, not the little mermaid) Flack is obsessed with
exactly two things; skittles (who wouldn't?) and sending
postcards home to Gloves, Ariel's cat, and her almost-sort
of-kinda boyfriend, Dylan. After her dad gambles the
family's life savings away (not to mention Ariel and her
little sister's college money) and embezzles from his
company, Ariel's family is splashed across the cover of
newspapers everywhere. Not to mention, Ariel's mom
divorces her gambling husband and like only a self-help
author can, drags her reluctant two daughters, Ariel and
Zena, into a weeklong bus tour called Leisure Lee's. Sound
bad? You haven't heard the worst of it. In attempt to give
her daughters a responsible male figure in their lives,
their eccentric uncle, who has a bizarre phobia of
squirrels, is along for the ride as well with their
grandparents, too. Just when everything seems to be awful
(who wants to spend a week in a small space with a
gazillion senior citizens?), Ariel discovers the other
reluctant teen on board - Andre. Together, they plot to
escape their prison and Ariel decides that maybe, just
maybe mind you, things aren't so bad after all. In this
wonderful bit of realistic fiction, the characters come
alive and well, this is as "fantasterrific" as it gets,

Told from the view of a sixteen-year old girl,
Ariel Flack, the tone is cheerful but sometimes angry.
Her voice is slightly bitter, but Ariel has a positive
outlook on things and can be funny. It wasn't my favorite
book - it left me kind of bored and I think some of the
characters were a bit stereotyped. There was a little less
detail than I would have liked. Catherine Clark's meaning
in the story seems to be that you can always find hope no
matter what situation you are in, and she addressed that
fairly well. I would recommend it to other people because,
even though it wasn't my favorite sort of book, it is a
decent read. However, it pales in comparison to Clark's
other books, such as Better Latte Than Never and The
Alison Rules. Altogether, Wish You Were Here is a
quick, nice read.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Canton, Michigan United States of

Behind the Wheel by Janet S. Wong

This book talks about peoples’ journeys while they are driving. It covers a range of situations, from car accidents to driving in a hoopty, and about what could happen. The poems also tell you about what's going on in each character's head. The author makes it clear that driving can be a good thing, like when hanging out with friends, or bad when you kill someone in a car accident. So that has lead me to believe the author's purpose was to show the readers the ups and downs of driving.

I think this book was very interesting. I heard about people's experiences with driving. I really liked the way the author explained things so I could get a visual picture from each poem. I also liked this book because it was a page-turner. I always wanted to know what was going to happen to the next person, or character. A question I had was why does the author choose to use poetry for this book? I would recommend this book for people who like realistic fiction about teens or for people who like short books. Or even for people who are interested in driving sooner or later on in life.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: St. Paul, Minnesota USA

Monday, June 23, 2008

Riding High by Donna King

Billie Mason has always loved riding and competing with her wonderful horse, Valentine's Kiss. She has always been told that she is a great rider. But Billie soon loses all of her confidence and stops competing when she witnesses a frightening mishap with another horse during one of her events. Billie knows that she might have to face her fears when she hears even her closest friends talking about her losing her nerve, her dad is complaining to her about how much money they are wasting by not competing, and the thought of maybe having to sell her extremely loved horse scares her the most. On the other hand, Billie loves her new trainer, Sarah, who understands her perfectly and is trying to help her overcome her fears in the show ring and on the cross-country course. Now she is torn between two choices. Will she choose to start competing again to keep her talented horse or will she be too scared about putting her horse in danger after what she saw and have to sell Val?

When I read Riding High I thought it was an okay or pretty good book. I liked the connection that Sarah and Billie shared and how Sarah understood and could help with what Billie was feeling. I was surprised by some of the negative attitude her family and friends gave her. I thought it was weird that they were not supporting her no matter what she did. I felt that some parts of the book went by too fast and more detail would have been nice. But I also found this book interesting, especially to me, because I am also a horseback rider and have experienced some of the things she has, so it was easy for me to understand what Billie was thinking and feeling. This story, overall, was a fun story to read. I didn't think that it was very powerful, with a lot of deep meaning, but still a good pleasure book.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Midlothian, VA USA

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cruel Summer by Alyson Noel

Seventeen-year-old Colby cant believe what she's hearing when her parents announce that she's spending the summer in Greece with her crazy Aunt Tally. At least that's what her parents call her aunt. Her world suddenly comes crashing down the minute she hears the news of her three-month-long departure to the Greek civilization because everything was going so good. She'd finally ditched her geeky past, along with her ex-best friend for the popular life of gossip, fame, and parties. Besides the fact that her parents were getting a divorce, she was totally looking forward to the summer. When first arriving in Greece, she is full of everything but tranquility. So she starts a blog to update all of her friends on her unwanted getaway to the Greek paradise. She decides that instead of making the most of her time in Greece and this new experience, that she's going to try and stay connected with the former life she just left and dearly wishes to return to, via the internet. Well, that is until she attends her aunt's huge Fourth of July party and meets Yannis, the cute guy from the ship she sailed on to get to the tiny island of Tinos. Maybe life on the island wont be as bad as she expected after all.

I really enjoyed reading Cruel Summer by Alyson Noel. It was a very unique book filled with love, hate, adventure, and many unforgettable opportunities and experiences. I thought it was cool how the author wrote the book like it was partly a blog, a regular story, and a diary. Also, it was neat how she included emails and letters that were written between the girl and her family and friends. However, I think the author overdid it on the use of the blogs and diary entries and that the story would have been better if she would have just written about the girl's experiences first hand as they took place. Overall, Cruel Summer was a great novel that I definitely recommend to teenage girls looking for a little summer romance.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA USA

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bronze Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

Tatelyn had more than one reason to hate dragons. A possessed one had killed her brother, while another had destroyed her friend's town. Thus, Tatelyn had been spreading the word that dragons must be banished. On the other side of the ordeal, a dragon, named Simle, hates humans because they maliciously stole her siblings. Her siblings were eggs, at the time, and the eggs had suddenly disappeared. And when Tatelyn and Simle met, although they felt an intense hatred for each other, their fates were intertwined in unimaginable ways.

Bronze Dragon Codex was an exceptional book, with only a few flaws. First, the setting seemed vague and almost non-existent in some parts. However, there were also some dramatic scenes in which the setting was a powerful factor in the layout of the book. At the very ending, or climax, there was definite frustration and anger between one of the main characters, Tatelyn, and her friend, Rogan. There were two very distinct, and different, main characters, Tatelyn and Simle. Tatelyn was a dragon-hating human, while Simle was a human-hating dragon. This resulted in much of the book's conflict. I like the way the writer let the dialogue set up the story, rather than narration. Having the story change views was completely appropriate, because there were two main characters. The author did a great job of closing up the story and finishing all subplots.

The writer succeeded in showing that Tatelyn and Simle, while very different, had more in common than they realized. The writing was effective, showing how two very different characters dealt with the same conflict. Bronze Dragon Codex had strong dialogue, but, as I said earlier, had a weak setting in many parts. This novel was well written, with an interesting plot and an unusual, but happy, ending. The author could have allowed us to know the characters better, just to give this book that final touch. I would highly recommend Bronze Dragon Codex, as an excellent book. Once you start reading, you can't put it down.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Baltimore, Maryland USA

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer

Alee Rosen is a lot of things: High school senior, overachiever, feminist, brainiac. The one thing she's not is super model material--she leaves that to pretty people like her little sister (a.k.a. "The Fluff"). That's why it's a complete shock when Allee, not her sister, is the one spotted by modeling scouts at the mall and signed by a major modeling agency in Miami. It's classic geek-to-chic--but it's not like it's going to change her, right? She's doing it for the money that will pay her way through college. Very soon, however, Allee is swept up in the whirlwind of go-sees, designer labels, and photo shoots. She's hot, and that has her backstabbing model roommates steaming and scheming. Will her sudden rise to elusive It Girl status lead Allee to drop her dreams and forget who she really is?

Braless in Wonderland was a wonderful book. Right from the start I was hooked. This page-turner had an interesting plot, relatable characters, and a hilarious narrator. It was a very well-written book, with vivid descriptions and dialogue. Debbie Reed Fischer made it easy to feel as if you were really there. It was very interesting to get an inside look at how the modeling world works. I especially liked that Fisher related Allee's transformation to Alice's transformation in Alice in Wonderland, which I thought really made the story.

This book contained underage drinking and the use of illegal drugs.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Leopold, MO USA

Rating: 10

Content Rating: 3

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Religion

In the 1500's Mattias Tannhauser, of the German language, is asked to help a noble woman, Lady Carla, find her lost son on the island of Malta. Tannhauser agrees to take her to the island if she agrees to marry him after her son is found. Yet, a steamy romance also develops between Lady Carla's friend, Amparo, and Tannhauser. The Religion, Christianity, is in control of Malta but the invading Turks threaten a hostile takeover. The Religion's soldiers are extremely far fewer in number than the Turks, and Tannhauser finds himself, his friend, Bors, and many more involved in the battles to help. Tannhauser must deal with death, Amparo's love for him, finding Lady Carla's son, a traitor or two, and the fight. Can he figure out who he loves, find the lost boy, and help Malta prevail?

I thought The Religion would be kind of boring. However, it was quite the opposite. Right from the beginning you get carried off into the world of Tannhauser. Dramatic irony builds up because you know everything about every character, but the other characters do not. The plot is simple at first, but then it gets extremely in depth and complex. You really have to pay attention to what is happening or you will get lost. Along with that, the vocabulary is very advanced; I found myself not knowing many of the words. The imagery is amazing because it describes things that you don't even expect to be described. Overall, The Religion was an amazing book that I recommend war-lovers or heroic-romance fans read.

There is extreme violence, sexual scenes, bad language, and also reference to Christianity and Islamic religions throughout the entire book.

Reviewer Age:14
p>Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

Pirates of the Retail Wasteland by Adam Selzer

The whole downtown of Cornersville Trace is becoming a retail wasteland, full of heartless stores and indistinguishable fast food chains. The last decent place left in Old Downtown is "Sip," a flavorful coffee shop/teen hangout. As part of the school's "gifted pool," Leon and his friends take on a self-initiated mission: to take down the new (and all too office-like) coffee shop, "Wackfords," which endangers their favorite retreat, "Sip." Along the way, the dynamic quartet faces various misadventures. AMong these are an unsolicited crush, a quest to depress the gym teacher, and groping through the gray between friendship (with benefits) and full girlfriend/boyfriend status. 

Selzer's writing style is fast-paced and unpredictable, making the story a truly enjoyable read. Quirky characters and hilarious situations keep the reader hooked. The story is from Leon's perspective, and is definitely appropriate for guys or girls. Overall, I give Pirates of the Retail Wasteland three thumbs-up and recommend it to any high schooler who has ever felt a bit idiosyncratic.

Do note that the narrative is brimming with upper-level vocabulary, and is thus more suited for advanced readers.

Some explicit language, mature situations


Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Tipp City, OH USA

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Marcus Yallow is able to outsmart any security device in his school; whether he is putting rocks in his shoes to trick the Gait-meter, a device that uses the way you walk to identify you, or putting hidden programs on his SchoolBook, a school loaned laptop used by the students, to override the administrations sneak programs. One day, he and three friends sneak out of school to go play a game. Little did they know that they would be in one of the biggest terrorist attacks since 9/11. They were close to the site of a bombing and were taken in as suspects by the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS. After days of torture and questioning, three of them are released. Marcus's best friend, Darryl, is still in the clutches of the DHS. Now, their once beloved city has turned into a place of terror. Everyone is watched for suspicious activity and they are all having their privacy and freedom snatched away from them. Marcus decides he must put a stop to this, and declares a secret war on the DHS.

Little Brother describes the hardships of what happens when a government takes over and nullifies people's freedom. It talks a lot about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the freedom of the people of the United States of America. It is a very opinionated book, and has a lot of fact and history behind it. I learned things that I never knew existed. One such thing was the existence of the Yippies in the 1960's-70's. Little Brother is full of reasons why we should not let our government get out of control and take away our freedom. This book was excellently written with a little of everything: action, adventure, intelligence, spying, romance, and tragedy. However, the ending didn't satisfy me, it wasn't good enough. The story never really completely resolved. I would recommend this book to every single person; it may just make them reassess their outlook on life.

sex, swearing, and intense situations

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, PA USA

Writing On The Wall by Christopher Cleary

The main characters in Christopher Cleary's novel, Writing on the Wall, are Donnie, a quiet, lonely boy who is still recovering from a family tragedy, and Megan, the pretty new girl, who has reinvented herself by means of a drastic physical makeover. Though they become friends, they keep vital secrets from each other. Their home lives are hectic and neither feels accepted by their families, so they rent a storage unit which becomes a refuge where they hang out. Gradually, the storage unit becomes the home for which both of them have been longing. As Megan's trust of Donnie grows, she reveals her own past as an unattractive girl, and their relationship progresses from being friends to being lovers. However when she accidentally discovers Donnie's secret and confronts him about it, it causes a crisis. Thanks to the strength of their bond, Donnie finally begins to open up to Megan after closing himself off from everyone for so long.

Throughout this novel both protagonists grow and develop, resulting in a wonderfully written realistic fiction novel. It is a great book, gripping until the very last page. It makes the reader very emotional, I cried at parts. The style of the writing makes it a very easy and enjoyable read. Overall I loved this book and would recommend it to middle schoolers and above.

There is mention of suicide and and some sex, so this book may be vetoed by parents until their children are old enough to handle these issues.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Hingham, MA USA

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thrown A Curve by Sara Griffiths

She's got only one friend and a father who seems to hate her. Fourteen-year-old Taylor Dresden's life is neither normal nor easy. She is an average student, but her ball playing is anything but average. After giving up baseball for nearly six years, Taylor is forced to begin playing again or get turned over to the police for an act of vandalism committed on her school. No one seems to cheer for her at home or on the field, not even her baseball playing brothers. However, her self-confidence grows throughout the book as she begins to open up and solve the many complicated problems in her chaotic life, such as an ongoing relationship with her best friend and the real reason her mother left. Taylor struggles to fit in somewhere and attempt to let her true self shine through. This is a good solid book that any adolescent can easily relate to.

This book was a pretty average book about a struggling adolescent. Told in the first person narrative, I could really connect with the 14-year-old and empathize with her situation. The author's language was simple and to the point, although I would have liked a little more detail in some scenes. Most of the story was sad but it had some good moments and concluded well at the end. I don't think this book is quite good enough to recommend to someone but it was a mediocre book that all adolescents could relate to.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Richmond, Virginia USA

Rating: 7

Content Rating: 1

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hot Mess by Julie Kraust & Shallon Lester

Emma Freeman is 18 and spending her summer with her best friend in New York City. All Emma wants is to be independent and to meet the perfect guy. She goes to New York to spend the summer doing an internship for an amazing company, but she finds out that the company isn't as cool as she thought it would be and her boss is definitly below loser status. So Emma tells herself that she just has to endure the horrible job even if she isn't getting paid for the whole summer. This book is a girly book, but it holds its own in entertainment.

I enjoyed this book. It was a typical girly book with a predictable plot, and while reading it, I knew what was going to happen to Emma. There are better books in the girl category, but Hot Mess has good characters and, for a teenage girl, Emma comes off as being smart and having morals. I would only recommend this book to teenage girls, because, as explained before, it's a chick book.

Reviewer Age:19

Reviewer City, State and Country: Ward, Oregon USA

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin

When the world falls victim to a deadly virus what happens? In Bonnie Dobkin's novel Neptune's Children, when this virus strikes an amusement park only the children survive. Feeling lost and hopeless the children struggle with the loss of their parents, and wander aimlessly on the islands that make up the park, until one boy takes charge. The children accept the islands as their home, and appoint leaders to keep them organized. What happens to the outside world remains a mystery until Zoe, one of the survivors, spots a glow in the distance. As secrets are revealed, a war rages, and few will believe the truth.

Neptune's Children is a fast paced book, full of mysteries waiting to be discovered. The main characters Josh, Zoe, and Milo, all have a strong voice and a well developed personality. No two characters are alike, and all of them change over time. Josh and Zoe, the two main characters, are easy to relate to and understand. As Zoe becomes more suspicious, the reader does too, and when Josh feels betrayed by those he trusts, the reader can easily sympathize. The author's vocabulary and writing style works well for the intended age group, and manages to create appropriate moods throughout the book. The conclusion ties up most of the ends neatly, but leaves some questions for the reader to ponder. Neptune's Children is a great book for anyone who likes sci-fi and mystery books. I enjoyed reading this book very much, and will look forward to this author's future works.

Mild language, and mild violence, as well as some suggestive themes.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas United States

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Copper Indian by J.P. Morgan, D.Min.

Jim Utze grew up in New York listening to the radio show: The Lone Ranger, and to stories about his Native American ancestors. Always wanting to be just like his hero The Lone Ranger, Jim started a career in law enforcement. He started working for the NYPD in the 1950's. In this book you will learn what it's like living in the footsteps of Jim Utze. You will learn about his crazy arrests, and his life on and off the job. I recommend this book for anyone who loves mystery and crimes.

I thought The Copper Indian was an interesting book. It is not like any book I have read lately. It made me feel as if I were actually there in Manhattan, New York (where the book takes place). The Copper Indian had many strengths, but one that stood out the most was the sentence fluency. The sentences flew in an organized rhythm, making the book a page-turner. The only downside to this novel was I found myself day dreaming and wondering if the next page would be better. Most of the time the book got better and more exciting as it went on and it was hard to put down because I wanted to know what happens next. This book is one of the best books I have read lately. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Sandy, Oregon United States

Circle the Truth by Pat Schmatz

Circle the Truth is the story of Rith, a somewhat unique young boy, and his supernatural staircase. On certain occasions, Rith's staircase changes and leads him into a completely different living room than that of his typical home. In this new living room, he meets Bible Man, an old man who only speaks by quoting the Bible. The excerpts from scripture that Rith, actually named Orithian, hears parallel the triumphs and setbacks in his life, and they also help him find the truth about his biological father and Rith's unique name. This divine intervention also brings Rith closer to his faith. Whether Rith accepts it or not, Bible Man brings him face to face with what his religion is really all about.

I really connected with the theme of truth. In today's media it is extremely difficult to find where the truth lies. And I really liked in the end how the author takes the two worlds we are presented with and combines them. It reflects the idea that truth is almost something that we have to determine on an individual basis. That is, we must decide what is true and false. While this novel presents some strong universal questions about the role of religion in our society today, it may not make up for an average plot. The dialogue between characters seemed a bit off in the sense that the word choice didn't seem to fit the characters' personalities. I also had a feeling of emptiness as the story didn't seem to come together in the end; a feeling that it was incomplete. Nevertheless, Circle the Truth is a solid tale that provides substantial value to those in search of food for thought.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

This Life, This Death by Michael P. Graham

This novel is set in the fictional South American country of Asturia. David Bridgeman is a former United States fighter pilot ace from World War II. He lives a peaceful life with his girlfriend and her daughter until his friend at the mail company he flies for gets shot down. This incident is the first evidence of the threat that is to arise, an overthrow of Asturia's new democracy by one of the former brutal rulers. David Bridgeman is chosen to train new fighter pilots in preparation for the attack and lead them when the time comes. However, he is distrusted for being from the United States. He must gain the other pilots' trust before he can teach them. The story focuses on the aspects of flying a fighter plane and the tactics involved.

I did not care for the book. It was too focused on the fighting scenes and different planes, at the expense of character development and relationships. The fight scenes were long, drawn out, and confusing to follow. Also, the story often jumped between different characters' viewpoints. This made it hard to really get to know and like any character. I personally had trouble keeping the different characters, sides of the war, and airplanes straight due to the confusing manner in which the chapters jumped from one area and perspective to another. It was a dull read because of the confusion, and I would only recommend it to someone interested in fighter planes and aerial warfare.

The story contained sex, violence, and death.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Royersford, PA United States

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blood Bank by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff weaves an interesting world full of action, mystery, and a slight bit of adventure. Meet Vicki Nelson, Mike Celluci, and Henry Fitzroy. Vicki is a recently-turned vampire cop who has a streak of bad luck a mile long. Mike belongs to the same police force as Vicki. Henry is the illegitimate son of Henry the 8th and a writer of romances. Together, these three are a crime-fighting, evil-doer-catching unstoppable team. Follow the three as they solve crimes and eventually catch murderers.
Along with nine spine-numbing stories, Tanya also includes the screenplay of her television show based off of her novels. Near the end of the novel, Ms. Huff also includes a short passage about her writing of the screenplay and her feelings and thoughts during the writing process.

As this book is the sixth in a series, the characters and language during the beginning of the novel is slightly confusing. I like how Tanya includes a story from each of the three characters; it's refreshing to read about more than one person. The action scenes are a little short, but the level of mystery and the agonizing thought of danger make up for its loss. Her characters act and say things that make them come to life. Some parts in the book were a little slow, especially the beginning, but the book eventually picks up.

This book contains slight romance and action scenes that contain blood and gore.


Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Pottstown, PA United States

The Best Dance Moves in the World... Ever! by Matt Pagett

The Best Dance Moves in the World... Ever, by Matt Pagett, is a pretty funny book. You learn 100 new and classic moves and how to bust them. The step by step instructions teach you everything from "Saturday Night Fever" to the "Bay Watch." With illustrations on every page, inspiration, and advice on music and props; you too can get down tonight!
Are you tired of people staring and getting embarrassed because of you dancing? Are you the type of guy who tries to bust a move, but instead busts a hip? Then this book is for you!

When I read this book I was shocked! I never knew that there was a dance called the Q-Tip, or the lawn mower! I was laughing and having a great time reading. Within a couple of days I was dancing like Elvis Presley and Napoleon Dynamite! I brought this book with me to a school dance and I was able to do the worm, the belly-roll and the ass-shaker! I think anyone from age 9 to 99 would have a great time dancing with their friends.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Renton, WA USA

Rating: 9

Content Rating: 1

Friday, June 06, 2008

Miranda is a math genius at Geek High who is so smart that she is known as the human calculator. In the first book in the series, Geek High, she finally has found her first almost-quasi-boyfriend, a guy named Dex who is an all-star lacrosse star at Orange Cove High. The second book, Geek Abroad, begins with the start of holiday break. Miranda visits her mother in London, hoping that Dex will try to stay in touch. When a few days go by and still no word from Dex, Miranda begins to wonder if Dex lost interest in her. While in London, Miranda meets Henry, the British guy who makes it clear that he is interested in her. As Miranda spends more time with Henry, and still receives no word from Dex, she begins to wonder if she should move on. When holiday break ends and Miranda returns back home, life gets even more complicated when faced with the awkward silences between her and Dex. Miranda has to decide what should she do with her love life.

After reading the first book, Geek High, I was hooked. When I learned that a sequel was in the making I couldn't wait for its release. Now that I have read the sequel, Geek Abroad, I realized that it lived up to my expectations. When Geek Abroad showed up in my mailbox, I read the whole book front to back in less than 24 hours. While Geek Abroad answered all of the questions that I had about Miranda and Dex's relationship after reading the first book, it still left me wondering what would happen next in their relationship. Though I read Geek High first, I feel that you don't need to read it to understand Geek Abroad.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Potomac, Maryland United States

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Great Race by Gary Blackwood

The Great Race is a distinct book about a miraculous journey, in 1908, from New York City to Paris by automobile. Not only is this a miraculous feat by itself, but also the automobile was very unreliable, as well as very mysterious to the general public. This would be a test of courage and mettle, one that isn't for the uncourageous. The media and the public just loved this event, and as the racers started off, the streets of New York City packed. Many police escorts were needed in order to keep the onlookers away, as even the passengers and drivers were harassed. These would be long months for the entrants, and only one team will emerge victorious.

Overall, I enjoyed The Great Race, despite its few flaws. First off, the author made the setting a mellow part of the book. I felt as if the author flat out "told" me the setting instead of showing it to me in a colorful way. Despite this however, I think the author succeeded in conveying the thought that weather was the single most important obstruction in the way of the drivers. The book gave a feeling that almost everything was going wrong for some drivers. The author succeeded in displaying the main characters with their own personalities. I think the characteristics possessed by the main characters of the novel seemed very real and human-like. The narrator's voice was more matter-of-fact, making the book both interesting and dull in different ways. The book had a fairly slow start, but picked up fairly fast as the story progressed.

The author effectively informed me of this historical event in an interesting, as well as innovative, way. The vocabulary was easily understood, not cryptic. A vital strength of the book was that when all was going well, disaster struck. This sparked my interest and kept me reading the book. However, before the race started, there seemed to be a monotonous drag. Regardless, this was a good book. It had a simple, but interesting, plot that carried through the entire book. This book taught me in depth about this intriguing race. I would definitely recommend this book to people who would like to know about historical events, in addition to people who like mild adventure.

Reviewer Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Baltimore, Maryland USA

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How To Build A House by Dana Reinhardt

Harper's life is wonderful. She has two stepsisters and a half brother, all of whom she loves, and her family is happy and whole. And then her father and stepmother decide to get a divorce, and, seeking to escape her life briefly, Harper joins a community service program to rebuild the house of a family in Tennessee who lost it to a tornado. Following this, the story switches between Harper's experiences in Tennessee and what happened at her home before she left. In Tennessee, she learns how anything must be built; it involves a precise order of events and a determined patience. Corresponding to each step in building the house is a segment that refers back to her home. The reader learns about Harper's tortured love life and the events leading up to her departure as Harper learns how to build a house.

How to Build a House uses a simple and elegant metaphor to portray a young woman's discovery of the mistakes that she made in her life, why she made them, and what she should have done. The beautifully written book has a voice that is truthful and pure. Readers will shake their heads at Harper's mistakes, rejoice in her accomplishments, and wait anxiously for each twist and turn of the book. This book depicts the tender side of a family suffering a divorce and how distorted a girl's view of the world can become due to past events. Harper's narrative style is refreshing and unique, and the author (Dana Reinhardt) shows her deep understanding of a teenage girl's mind. Girls will enjoy the story line and the accurate depiction of teenage life. Though there is no inappropriate content, some references may be inadvisable for readers under age 11 or 12. Overall, this book was wonderful and did not follow a predictable pattern for its genre, creating a new and pleasant experience for any reader.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Melrose, MA United States

Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang

Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang is a fantastic book about a young girl named Anna who betrays her country, Germany, by hiding a Russian soldier during World War II. The book is about the trouble she goes through to keep the soldier safe. Her younger brother, Felix, is her worst nightmare because he is a Nazi fanatic and would have no second thoughts on turning her in. The book is very tense and never lets go of the reader's attention. It is definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who takes the time.

In my opinion Traitor is an extremely well written book, that does a fantastic job of entertaining and holding onto the reader's attention. The writing was very effective in portraying the tension of the situation Anna is in. The author did a good job in making the reader feel as if they are in the book too. Overall, I thought the book was very interesting. The ending was surprising and sad but I thought it fit the book very well. I would definitely recommend this book to others because although it's depressing, it's a very good book.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Champaign, Illinois USA

Monday, June 02, 2008

There's a Spaceship in My Tree by Robert West

This book is about Beamer, who moves from California to middle-America and feels like an alien. His new house does not do anything to help him feel at home, because it is completely filled with odd, voice-activated contraptions. He meets up with two other strange kids named Scilla and Ghoulie, who become his new best friends. One day they are being chased by the school bully, Jared, when the three of them decide to hide in Beamers weird, rocket ship shaped, tree house. That’s when things begin to get really interesting. When Jared attempts to follow them he runs out screaming, and the tree house rockets them out on a Star Trek-like adventure.

Even though this book was a bit far fetched, it was quite good. The characters were so believable that I wanted to call up Scilla and talk to her. Another strength of this book was that its descriptions were so vivid that I could see the action happening next to me. This book is a quick read with a fast moving plot that I would recommend to people between 8 and 10. It would be a good book to read in the car when going someplace you don’t particularly want to go because it really draws you in and makes you forget what you are doing. The author made a large amount of references from Star Trek, so be up to date on trekkie trivia.

Reviewer Age:11

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, New Hampshire USA

The Fan's Guide to The Spiderwick Chronicles by Lois H. Gresh

The Fan's Guide to the Spiderwick Chronicles by Lois H. Gresh is a guide to the popular fantasy series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. The first chapters of the book summarize all of the Spiderwick Chronicle novels. The book also gives a useful explanation of all the characters and creatures found in the novels. Gresh shares her opinion on the books and situations that happen in them. She goes into a brief, but detailed description of the three main characters: Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace. Since the Spiderwick novels are about fairies, Gresh also shares some other fairy legends, which she ties into her explanations. For instance, she mentions a lot of Irish myths that were not even remotely mentioned in the Spiderwick novels, and I thought that these legends were interesting and provided a deeper layer of context. A particular feature that I enjoyed in the book was the "fast fact" questions at the end of each chapter. Each question deals with something in the chapter, and it was cool to read the questions (even though the answers are quite simple).

I enjoyed reading The Fan's Guide to the Spiderwick Chronicles by Lois H. Gresh, although at times it could be a bit dry. However, I think that fans of the Spiderwick Chronicles will enjoy this book very much. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the "fast fact" questions especially, as well as the various mythical legends presented within the book. I think that readers who really enjoy the Spiderwick universe and want to immerse themselves more deeply in it will really like this book. Also, readers who are fans of fairy lore oth inside and outside of the Spiderwick novelsw ill find this book an interesting read.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, New York USA

Flying Boats and Spies by Jamie Dodson

Nick Grant is a 16 year old boy struggling to keep his family out of debt during the time of the Great Depression. When Anne Lindberg offers him a months wages just to deliver a map case to Bill Grooch, he finds himself accepted as a Pan American employee! But he must keep his identity a secret - no one under 18 can be an employee! And then there is always the problem of a Japanese Ninja on his tail wanting to kill him!

I loved this book because I have a very high reading level. Some parts were a little too hard for me though, because it had a lot of boat terms - something I don't understand. But it had a very exiting story line and I will definetly be trying to locate more books by this author!

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Gearhart, Oregon United States

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Season of Ice by Diane Les Becquets

The novel, Season of Ice by Diane Les Becquets, is about the emotional struggles that the main character (Genesis) goes through after her father goes missing. Because her father's body is nowhere to be found Genesis and her family face many financial issues and cope with many other changes that affect them in greater ways. As a way of dealing with this stress Genesis decides to do her own search for her father. During this emotional and lonely season, Genesis manages to find comfort, kindness, and possibly the love of companionship from a complete stranger. Genesis soon finds that she is transforming into a whole new person.

Season of Ice started out a bit rocky. Due to the excessive amount of detail the novel was quite difficult to get into. The tone of the story is very mellow, which added a sense of realism to the story. The first couple of chapters had me a bit antsy and, at first, seemed to drag on; but as the story continued I began to understand Genesis and was able to relate to her situation emotionally. Diane Les Becquets did a great job of capturing the emotions and innocence of each character and the idealistic thoughts of most young adults, making it easier to realize how age and time affected the behavior of each character. She managed to maintain the realism all throughout the story while using a subtle and somewhat original plot. The novel was very well written and organized. The story glided along with the turn of each page, making it hard not to enjoy the book. The ending was perfect and fairly peaceful, I found it to be extremely satisfying. The greatest hidden message I have received from this book is that life is only as appealing as you make it, so don't dwell on the bad times and enjoy the good ones; live each day with a smile and look forward to the next. I would recommend this book to any young adult who wants to read a simple and enjoyable story, someone who doesn't know how to cope with the loss of a parent, or someone dealing with a lot of emotional stress, because I feel this book could be a bit of an eye opener.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Raleigh, North Carolina United States

Rating: 8Content Rating: 1