Friday, July 31, 2009

Mind-Rain by Scott Westerfeld

Mind-rain is a great continuation and addition to the Uglies series, which helps to give a new perspective on the stories and the relationships between Tally, Shay, and their friends. This is a must-read for any and all fans of the Uglies series. This story is filled with thought-provoking essays on the main points of the series, which are written by other authors, and includes a neat short story that was the inspiration of the whole series. The essays' topics ranged anywhere from who should've been the real heroine of the series to who was the better boyfriend for Tally to the pretty-headedness that we see in our world today. Great to read before, during, or after you read the Uglies series, Mind-rain will certainly have you thinking deeper into the Uglies series than ever before.

The questions they used for the discussion topics were interesting and well chosen. Mind-rain was not only informative but was also really funny and had me laughing throughout the entire book. This book is definitely not one that you would want to read in one sitting. After reading a few essays my mind starting getting bogged down with all of the information, which caused me to get bored and lose focus. Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading Mind-rain and thought that it was a neat idea. It was a great addition to the series and I recommend it to everyone who has read, is reading, or is planning on reading the Uglies series.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, Pennsylvania United States

Rescuing Seneca Crane by Susan Runholt

Best friends Kari and Lucas are traveling with Kari's mom to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet and interview the world famous Seneca Crane, a 15 year old piano prodigy. At first they think she will be snooty and posh, but when they meet her, they realize she is just an average girl on the inside who has never had a true friend. The three girls become fast friends. Kari and Lucas even get to see Seneca play at her concert! Who would've thought she would disappear after her standing ovation? The two girls know they have to rescue her before it's too late... the problem is, where is she?

This 277 page book was very exiting! There's mystery, adventure, action, and comedy. The ending is well explained and you don't feel lost at all. Clues pop up all over the book, along with enough facts about Scotland to fill up a guidebook. It is said to be for ages 11 and up, and I totally agree with that. My younger sister, who is 12, loves a good mystery and I will definitely recommend this whole series to her!

Reviewer Age: 15

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Forest of Hands and Teeth

Mary's village is the last heartbeat of humanity. Her community, located in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, has endured droughts, disease and the Unconsecrated, flesh-eating zombies that are always trying to find a way into the village. After her parents die and her brother disowns her, Mary goes to live with the Sisterhood, a group of women who know everything about the village. As Mary gets accustomed to life in the Cathedral, she begins to discover things that she can't believe. But Mary's search for answers is cut short when a breach in the fence leads to an Unconsecrated attack. Will Mary and her friends be able to survive?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is set in the future, after our world collapses from a virus that causes people to turn into zombies, also known as the Unconsecrated. The people in Mary's village are the last humans alive, or so they believe. In a world without hope, Mary still has this gut feeling that there is more to the world than just her village. She is a resilient character who overcomes loss and despair and continues to move forward. Unlike everyone else, she is not content to live out her life in the village; she wants to leave and see if there really is an ocean, like in her mother's stories. These traits made Mary an interesting character. In addition to Mary's character, the plot, details and the rest of the cast were written so beautifully that I can't help but highly recommend this book to all teen readers.

Reviewer Age:17

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just Anothere Hero by Sharon M. Draper

Just Another Hero was about a group of teenagers who all go to the same high school. Each teen has a complicated set of problems, ranging between a new baby at home to a verbally abusive step-father to a pair of perpetually partying/gambling parents. My personal favorite character, Arielle, (the one with the verbally abusive step-father) definitely has the most complicated life, and learns lots about herself while dealing with her issues. If you are feeling sorry for yourself, reading this book will be a boost to your self esteem, if not to your mood.

This plotline was SO complicated I don't even know how to begin. There were 4 perspectives and TONS of characters. One of the reasons my above summary was so vague was that it is very hard to summarize a plot that is really 4 plots. And they don't really interact for οΎ½ the book. I had to read this book twice all the way through and some parts three times before I got a good grasp of the storyline. Once I finally understood what was happening, the book was actually OK. Arielles story especially, was very interesting. At the beginning, she was sort of stuck up but her character evolved nicely into a likable person. All in all, this was a decent book, if you are willing to sit down and read it more than once.

Some mature themes, suggestive content

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, NH USA

Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi

Luli has a secret, a terrible secret that threatens to harm a member of her family. Luli lives in the heart of Texas with her family and the one slave that her family owns, Ruth. Though Ruth is a slave, Luli's family accepts Ruth as one of their own.

News reaches Texas that the slaves have been freed because of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, Luli is not allowed to tell Ruth that she is free. Will Luli keep her family's secret, or tell her "almost sister" the truth? The novel becomes even more dramatic when Luli finds out that Ruth is pregnant with Luli's brother's baby. What will happen?

Overall, I thought the novel was alright. I thought that the topic that Ms. Ann Rinaldi chose was incredibly interesting. However, the ending was sudden. It was completely unexpected and I felt that the novel ended too quickly. I thought that the characters were people that I could relate to and I found myself wanting to know more about what hapened to the characters once the book ended.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Pottstown, PA United States

Dodger for President by Jordan Sonnenblick

"Dodger For President" by Jordan Sonnenblick is about a fifth grade boy and his British friend who run for class president and vice president. Propelled by their magical blue monkey, the children go up against the school's most popular boy and the scariest boy. A true tale of underdogs, the story shines light on the power of hard work and believing in oneself. Many magical potions and whimsical events are chronicled, mostly revolving around the blue monkey.

This book is second in a series. Although some details are confusing at first, the author clears them up. Readers learn that the monkey came from a magic lamp, and he is always around the main character since he wished for the monkey to be his best friend forever. The humor in the book can be a bit crude at times, but it is in no way inappropriate for youngsters. Silly to the utmost degree, this book is great for kids who want to read a story that won't put them to sleep.

Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Saturday, July 25, 2009

If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever? by M. E. Kerr

Alan Bennet is a very popular guy in Cayuta High. He's a star football player, has got the looks, and is going steady with one of the prettiest girls there, Leah. Duncan Stein, however, is going prematurely bald, wears huge glasses, lives in a rehabilitation center for alcoholics, and is nicknamed Doomed by everyone because he doesn' fit in. When Duncan invents a very strange newspaper called REMOTE, something happens. Somehow, the big geek has everyone's attention, and Alan doesn't. Duncan has got all the girls wearing dead anemone flowers on their shirts, and writing the most absurd wanted ads in his newspaper! And then Duncan starts going out with someone, when he doesn't even believe in going steady in the first place? Suddenly, Doomed is the most popular guy around. What happened? It seems like senior year for Alan is doomed, all because of Doomed.
If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever? was a great book. It surprised me a bit because when I read all the summaries and reviews, it seemed like the story would be told from Duncan's point of view, but it was actually from Alan's. It allowed you to see that even a seemingly perfect person has problems. I don't like how the author didn't describe some of the main characters; I couldn't picture how they looked. The only other thing for me was Sophies vocabulary; she used a lot of medical terms. Even though most of the words were defined, I had to use a dictionary a few times to understand them. I liked the story line and the way that as you read, Alan and Doomed subtly switch places. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little high school drama, and stories where the character changes for the better.
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Coatesville, PA USA

Riding The Universe, By: Gaby Triana

Chloe isn’t your typical high schooler. She is failing chemistry and has a 1200 Sportster Harley Davidson. And to add to that she was adopted.
She tries to pay attention in chemistry but her teacher is too boring, so she goes to tutoring. Her tutor ends up being Gordon, a super smart and good-looking guy. She starts to understand chemistry, but Gordon is a big distraction. Chloe and Gordon spend more and more time together.
Chloe finds out she was adopted. She had no clue who her parents would be but she doesn’t know anybody that is blood related to talk to. Her uncle, who helped her create her motorcycle, was the only one she knew but he had died when she was younger.
She later finds out two things that were a huge shock to her and she ends up passing chemistry.
Riding the universe was a good book. The author used details to make it seem like it was happening in real life. I would recommend it to young adults who like suspense, realistic fiction and a good book.
Content: 1 Rating: 9
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio USA

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody

Alyzon Whitestarr isn't at all musically or artistically gifted like her parents and siblings. In fact, she finds herself rather plain and overall boring. Then, she has an accident that leaves her unconscious for a month. Suddenly, her senses are extremely sharpened and she can smell people's feelings. Everyone smells pretty good except for her extremely handsome crush, Harlen. He smells rancid. Alyzon and her newfound friends, Gilly, Raoul, Sarry, and Harrison sense something wrong about not only Harlen, but also Alyzon's sister Serenity and Aaron Rayc, a strange man that seems to be mixed up in multiple odd happenings. That's just the beginning.

Overall, I was not impressed with this book. The entire conspiracy involving Harlen, Alyzon's sister Serenity, and Aaron Rayc seemed to not be very well though out. There were a few interesting bits, such as Alyzon's ongoing romance with Harrison, but as a whole, the book was a little boring. It's good enough to finish the five hundred-page book, but not good enough to reread it. It seemed as if every chapter or so, the characters would talk about how to behave morally, which rather annoyed me. This is not a masterpiece but it does have a few bits that make it worthwhile to keep reading to the end.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston, SC US

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

Octavia and Tali don't have the typical grandmother. Their grandmother, Mare, refuses to be called Grandma, dresses like she is Octavia and Tali's age, and drives a sports car. Like any teenagers, Octavia and Tali are dreading the cross-country road-trip that Mare is taking them on. But Mare was once a strong headed teenager herself and she is determined to tell the girls her tales of adventures in the 6888th African American battalion in World War II. Slowly and surely, the trio bonds on their road-trip.

Mare's War tells the story of a little known group of fighters in the World Wars, African Americans. The book beautifully describes the conditions of small town Alabama and the hardships on African Americans who lived there. Many people don't know about the African American soldiers in the World Wars, and the prejudice they faced. The same prejudice that African Americans faced back home carried over into the war, even though blacks and whites were fighting in the same war. Mare's War teaches that not long ago life was segregated into groups and sometimes the strongest bonds are with your family.

Reviewer Age:14
Brownsburg, Indiana USA

Lady McBeth's Daughter

From the author of Ophelia comes a new twist on a Shakespearean classic: Lady Macbeth's Daughter. In Lisa Klein's take on Macbeth, Lady Macbeth bears a deformed child - a girl, nonetheless. When Macbeth casts away his child, Albia, his wife mourns, and a serving woman, Rhuven, along with her sisters (coincidentally the witches), takes the baby in, treating her like a daughter. Albia grows up with no knowledge of her rightful birth mother, while Lady Macbeth continues to grieve for the daughter she believes to be dead and for her failure to produce a healthy male heir to inherit the Macbeth name. When King Duncan is murdered, Albia is forced to leave her family to live with Banquo. There, Albia begins to feel an attachment to Banquo as the father she never had, as well as to Fleance as more than a brother. A curious and brave heroine amidst the war, Albia sets out to learn the truth of her birth and to set things right for new family.

Lisa Klein creates a new and engaging angle on Shakespeare's story of Macbeth in Lady Macbeth's Daughter. Albia is a fierce heroine for a novel based off of Shakespeare, courageous and witty, though a bit naive. Though the Macbeths are not supposed to have any children according to the play, Albia's story fits perfectly with the drama. This work even unravels the mysteries of the witches and prophecies. I also appreciate how Lisa Klein portrays Lady Macbeth as weak and pained as opposed to power-hungry and manipulative, rendering her sympathetic to the reader. The one disappointing aspect of this book was the timing of the ending. For me, Lady Macbeth's Daughter ended too early in Albias story.

Reviewer Age:20

Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa

Traveling through space to save humanity, on a ship called Galahad, is not where Trina Marshall pictured herself at age 15. Especially not the leader of 250 other 15 year olds on the ship. Then when there is an unexpected enemy on board, can she handle it all, or will the ship wreck? Will they be able to get away from the disease, rapidly spreading that the comet Bhaktul is causing?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it hard to put down at times. It is filled with mystery, and a bit of romance. What I liked the most is the unique way he told what happened in the past while still telling the future. I also enjoyed the readers guide in the back. I found that, by doing some of the things suggested, I had a much better understanding of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quick, suspenseful mystery.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio USA

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Morgan and Cam are the perfect couple. That is, until Cam
begins to behave differently, to transform into a fairy.
In one week, the two will be celebrating their 16th
birthdays together. However, Morgan does not know is that
on their birthday that Cam will be taken away to
Otherworld: the world of fairies. A strange, awkward boy
named Pip comes to live at Cam's house. According to the
fairies, he will be replacing Cam in every single aspect
of his life when he leaves; he is even meant to replace
Cam as Morgan's boyfriend. The three work together to plot
a way for Cam to stay on Earth, but Morgan's emotions are
being twisted more than ever. What does she really want?

The writing in Fairy Tale is rather simple. Neither the
vocabulary nor the plotline is difficult to understand. I
felt like this book was meant for someone of a younger age
than I am. It is a pretty conventional teen
romance/fantasy story. Therefore, none of the events are
all that thrilling or unique. The ending, however, is very
well put together and creative. I love how Cyn Balog chose
to end the novel. A strength of this book is that Morgan's
emotions are reflected in her actions and help foreshadow
upcoming events. I would not recommend this book to teens
who like to read very advanced novels, but this book would
be great for other teens who like easy, fun

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and
Country: Carlisle, Pennsylvania United States of America

Fed Up by Sarah Conant and Jessica Conant-Parker

In 'Fed Up' by Sarah Conant and Jessica Conant-Parker, Chloe Carter's boyfriend, Josh Driscoll, competes against two chefs for his own television show. The chefs visit grocery stores and pick up random customers and prepare them home cook meals. During Josh's meals, one of the customers dies and investigators are left to search and find out "who dunnit." Josh is innocent, because the camera was on him the entire time as proof that he didn't commit the crime. However, investigators are unaware of who did. Chloe makes time in between planning her best friend's wedding and work, to help solve this murder mystery.

The Conants do a wonderful job in describing the setting of the book. The descriptions throughout the story give the reader enough information to get the gist of the story and room to imagine the rest. The writers also do a great job in making the main character come to life. They allow the audience to enter into her mind on a personal level, as if she were a real human being. For example, during some of Chloe's thoughts, she will talk about multiple topics sometimes one cutting off another. Or she'll mention an insignificant fact that helps the reader to remember that she is human, and sometimes she too can get sidetracked. Although the book is very intriguing, at times certain aspects of the story were too conspicuous. I'd recommend this book to someone who has just began to explore the world of mystery books such as Nancy Drew or simple children's mysteries.

Reviewer Age:16
Raleigh, NC United States

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Magic Can Be Murder by Vivian Vande Velde

Two witches, Nola and her mother, are living a tough life. They are constantly on the run, fleeing from towns people who suspect their secret. When Nola casts a spell, and leaves it unattended, everything goes wrong. She finds herself wrapped up in murder story. Will she be able to reveal the murderer, or will she be accused, herself, by the man she's falling for?

This story I found, was hard to put down, especially near the end. It has an ending I never expected. I was surprised by how well she put together the plot, with it being a mystery, and a romance. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a funny, mystery, and a little bit of romance.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield, Ohio USA

Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie

Oracles of Delphi Keep is a book about two inseparable children named Theo and Ian. They are like any normal children who like to go and explore caves around their orphanage until one day they find something that will change their lives forever. They stumble into a great mystery of a silver box and a dark, evil monster that is out to get them. They find themselves trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, present, and future in a race to fulfill their destiny and to discover the meaning of a very old prophesy just for them.

Oracles of Delphi Keep was one of the best books I have ever read. It has adventure, mystery, and a great storyline you are sure to never forget. One of the main characters, Ian Wigby, is very protective of his sister and is a very good brother to her. He is very brave and doesn't want to let anyone down. The author makes you feel like you are really in the book and you can see exactly what is going on. I could come up with a perfect picture in my mind of the characters and their surroundings and didn't have to guess what anyone looked like. Oracles of Delphi Keep is really great and anyone who likes adventure and mystery should definitely read this book.

Age 13
Brownsburg, Indiana United States

Monday, July 20, 2009

Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches and when she was born her grandmother said she was going to be the most talented among them. Now 17, Tamsin's magic never showed up. Feeling like an outsider she goes to boarding school to at least act normal. During the summer she is forced to work at the family magic/book shop. One day a professor from NYU comes in and mistakes Tamsin for her very talented sister. Finally being looked at with awe she couldn't help but agree to help him find a missing family heirloom. This treasure hunt will ultimately send Tamsin to discover her true identity with some humor on the This was a very good book but the beginning was a little slow. Once the action starts to set in then the book sails away making you want more. The main character had a good sense of humor which made me laugh throughout the book. I loved the action and the adventure of the book added to the overall fantasy made the book excellent. Another great thing about this book was the strong characters. The author spent a lot of time on the characters and made sure you knew all about them but you never new if they were going to make a different choice then you expected. All in all a good book that I recommend to any fantasy lover or someone who wants to find what fantasy is all about.

some alcohol use

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Northport, NY USA

The Debs: Love, Lies, and Texas Dips by Susan McBride

Laura's dream of becoming a deb is finally coming true. With her confidence at an all-time high, she dares to mess with Jo Lynn's boyfriend, Dillon. But then, Laura finds herself in the middle of some horrifying gossip that could get her kicked out of the Glass Slipper Club by her second curtsy lesson.

Mac discovers that becoming a deb is something she can barely stand. Then things go from bad to worse when a new girl starts flirting with her best friend, Alex. She doesn't want to be jealous, but she can't help it. Does that mean she wants Alex to be more than a friend?

With her atrocious college-boy fling behind her, Ginger wants to focus on more important things: fine arts, white ball gowns, and social activism. When her grandmother ask her to sit for a formal portrait with the son of a local prodigy, she finds out she already knows him, but what she knows isn't good.

Jo Lynn plans on taking down Laura not matter what. When she finds Laura's phone number in Dillon's cell, the stakes are higher than ever. Is her boyfriend cheating on her with Laura? Jo Lynn will do almost anything to find out.

In this book, you could feel the tension between the characters as you read. When I read The Debs: Love, Lies, and Texas Dips, I saw each girl's view of a situation, which made the book more unique. The only thing that could've been improved was the book's pace: at the beginning it was slow, and I became distracted while I was reading. I became more engrossed in the book toward the middle when more events took place. Other than that, the book was enjoyable and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio United States

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

According to Micah Wilkins, lying is not an easy business. There is keeping up the different stories you have told everybody and then backing it up; oh, and making sure that you don't get caught is another biggie. Although she claims it is so difficult, Micah has become a fluent liar, even to the point where she has started to believe her own lies. Her lies get her into quite some trouble though when her boyfriend Zach shows up dead. While she has the reputation of liar, this time she swears that she had no involvement in Zach's death, but many people find it hard to believe. Will Micah finally learn to tell the truth for once, or will she just create more lies to cover up what really happened?

Throughout the ups and downs of high school and many unexpected twists, Justine Larbalestier creates a fantastic novel that is hard to forget and even tougher to put down.

This book was absolutely wonderful. I truly enjoyed the entire story and thought the way it was written was extremely intriguing. This was the first time I had read anything by Justine Larbalestier, but I know how she writes fantasy novels and such. Therefore I was a bit shocked with the realism this book contained, but then I soon came to find out that Ms. Larbalestier weaved her signature style into the story flawlessly and intensely.

The plotline of the book was incredibly interesting and jaw-dropping. There was grief and sorrow as well as many laughs and giggles throughout the entire story. Although there were points where I was pretty sure I had the rest of the story figured out, there was always a twist to what I was thinking. As the book progressed, the plot became more and more intricate, but the author still managed to keep things very clear to the reader with no confusion. The ending was also absolutely perfect for the book.

As for the characters, I thought they were all really well developed. Even the characters that were only mentioned once or twice were described well and came alive off of the pages. For example, there was this one character, BRANDON, who we only met perhaps three times, and you could just tell that he was one of the biggest perverts in the world. To me, this really made me enjoy the story even more because it got me involved in the world that the author created. I also loved the development of Micah. She is definitely not your average young adult girl character. For one she kind of resembles a boy and two she doesn't really care what other people think. She was a great character though, as many of her lies were comical and she always left this lingering thought in your head as if she was really telling the truth. Throughout the entire story it felt like she was whispering her secrets into your ear.

Another very strong aspect of this book was the point of view the author created. Micah told the entire story and the reader learned all about her family history and the days leading up and proceeding Zach's death. Micah also talked to the reader, asking if he / she really believed her and again making the reader feel that he / she were sitting there on the couch beside Micah, listening to her life story. The author also created such a feeling of suspense throughout the whole book that it was near impossible to set the book down even for a minute. She also set the book up really nicely, making a very logical progression of events that made the story that much more intriguing.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought it was just wonderful! I will definitely be reading more by Justine Larbalestier in the future, as she is a fabulous author. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting and riveting read.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Currituck, NC United States

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stonecutter by Jon J. Muth

"Stonecutter" by Jon J. Muth is about a man that cuts stones for a living. Suddenly feeling despondent, he changes his occupation around. He becomes a merchant, an official, the sun, the wind, and more. Trying out each situation, he learns that he is still not good enough. In the end, the stonecutter does not settle on a final occupation, but he does find closure.

This is an ideal coffee-table book. It's short, full of pictures, and offers a unique message. Very philosophical at times, the book shines light on feelings of nonfulfillment, disappointment, and comparisons. The illustrations are beautiful in a simple sort of way, reminiscent of charcoal. Since there is really only one main character, this book is also great for young readers.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Ivy June Mosley lives in Thunder Creek, Kentucky. She lives with her grandparents, who live up the hill from Ivy June's parents and siblings. Catherine Combs lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her parents and siblings. Ivy June and Catherine have been chosen from their school to be in an exchange program. In the exchange program they live with each others families for two weeks, write in their journal what things are different, and then they have to tell their class about.It seems that they are getting along well until disaster strikes in both families. Will they be able to keep themselves together or will they fall apart?

I thought this was a great book. I liked the style it was written in and how the author put in so much detail in to the story. I almost felt like I was there. I also enjoyed reading what the girls had written in their journals. I would recommend this book to girls who love to read about growing friendships.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Enon, OH USA

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The adolescent, whimsical girl who renamed herself
Stargirl, and was the main character in the novel
Stargirl, appears again in this sequel Love, Stargirl,
also by Jerry Spinelli. In the first book, Stargirl had
been home-schooled her whole life before moving to
Arizona, where her first public school experience is
difficult, as she becomes a target for ridicule, when she
is not being completely ignored or excluded. Although she
is made fun of for being different, she remains a unique,
warm-hearted person. She develops a crush on a boy named
Leo who returns her feelings but is too embarrassed to act
on them. By the end of that book, Stargirl is so hurt and
bewildered that she and her family decide to move to
Pennsylvania, which is where the sequel Love, Stargirl
begins. This was definitely easier to read than Stargirl.
I really like the form of the book, a series of letters
written to her old boyfriend Leo, as well as a few other
characters. Also, it's not just a stream of consciousness,
with little plot or climax like the first book. This whole
book builds up to the winter solstice when several plot
lines are resolved, especially whether Stargirl will
choose Leo or Perry, her two main love interests.
Archie, the scientist who taught her so much in Stargirl,
doesnt physically appear until the end of this book,
though several of Stargirl's letters are addressed to him.

Love, Stargirl, in my opinion, is a wonderfully written
novel which captivates the reader and draws them into
Stargirl's unique life. It focuses on some neat issues,
like the fact that Stargirl's best friend, Dootsie is only
six, and very outgoing, while her other close friend,
Betty Lou, is an old, single woman, who is too scared to
leave her house. Also, it focuses on the long term
relationship between Stargirl and Leo, illustrating that
although people might not always be physically faithful
they can be emotionally faithful no matter how large a
distance separates them. Love, Stargirl seems to be
written for a middle to high school audience, and I would
recommend it to anyone within that age range..
The main character is a quirky, naive, creative character,
whose view of the world may help readers become more open-
minded. Even though the narrator is female, I think that
boys would enjoy both of these novels.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country:
Hingham, MA USA

Terra Insegura by Edward Willett

Terra Insegura by Edward Willet is a science fiction novel with a highly original plot. The storyline centres around the adventures of the Selkie (a modified human meant to live under water) Emily Wood and her mother along with those of Victor Hansen (a clone of the Selkie's creator) and his crew. Marseguro is a water world far away from earth. The people and Selkies of Marseguro have long been victimized by the radical religious group that has taken over Earth, The Body Purified. The Body believe that their duty is to fulfil the wishes of their God and eradicate all the modified humans in existence. Emily's mother had developed a horrific plague that destroyed many of the Body Purified and devastated Earth.
Now, Victor has come to Earth in order to rescue the survivors. However, the surviving Body Purified are trying harder than ever to destroy the mods. Avartar, the Body leader, Karl the first is convinced that the plague is a sign from God that the Body haven't been taking their duty seriously. Now, as all their lives intertwine Earth becomes a battlefield for the survival of all.

This is an engrossing novel that has many unexpected twists and turns. In the beginning it is a little hard to follow, if you haven't read the preceding books, but as the story progresses it all falls into place and becomes a fantastic, entertaining and at times nail-biting read that readers will thoroughly enjoy. Although the end is satisfying it does come abruptly. Fans of Ender's Game will find a good read here although this novel is not quite up to that standard. The characters are quite believeable and the reader is really able to care about them and become drawn into their world. Willet's use of description is great and involved, making the reader really interested in the events of the story and is definitely the novel's biggest strength. The vocabulary sometimes is a little science focused but the context helps to give the reader its definition. The lack of explanation is slightly frustrating but didn't really hinder my overall reading experience. I would recommend Terra Insegura to all fans of science fiction and even to those who want to try reading the genre for the first time.

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: San Diego, California United States

Girl to the Core

When fifteen-year-old Molly refuses her new boyfriend's sexual advances, she soon finds that he has not been as faithful as she thought. After a huge internal struggle, Molly decides that her time would be better spent with another person: her six year old neighbor. Although breaking up with her boyfriend was in her best interest, Molly is still depressed and looks to the Girl Scout-like group "Girl Core" for guidance. However, the group's leader Rhondi seems to think that Molly is a bad influence on the girls. Throughout her fight to retain her membership, Molly learns more about herself and where she stands on her friendships.

Although I loved the Irish ambience of this novel, I can not say that it is one of my favorites. The word choice was limited, and I felt as if the book was written for much younger children. However, certain parts of the storyline were rather intriguing, such as Molly's trip to a wild bar. Through it all, I believe that this book, though not a complex read, would be a good book for girls in the 10-12 age group, due to the fact that the language is mild and there are very few sexual references. This book was not the right choice for me, but I would recommend giving it a try.

Content: 1
Rating: 7
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston, WV United States

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Fire Thief Fights Back by Terry Deary

The Fire Thief Fights Back is a fantasy/adventure fiction about Prometheus, a demigod (half-god) who must find a hero to save himself from being destroyed and fight the monsters of Ancient Greece. Along the way, he meets Sam, a smart kid being chased by an angry mob for selling fake medicine, and asks him to help find the hero. Also, back in Ancient Greece, Zeus is captured by the Typhon, a monster with 100 snakeheads, who cuts out his tendons so he can't leave, and Hera (Zeus's wife), sends Hermes to rescue him. After his rescue, Zeus goes to help Prometheus fight the monsters that attack Eden City.

The writing was okay, but not very descriptive. This book is good at giving you a general idea of the scene and letting you imagine the rest. I thought this book moved from interesting to dull at some points. There was a lot of extra stuff in the text.

Reviewer Age: 12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Chippewa Falls, WI USA

Portia's Exclusive and Confidential Rules by Anna Hays

Portia Avatar, a girl detective is on the case to find her father, Patch. When Misty, a new student arrives, she brings a case along with her. She tells Portia her case is top secret, and somebody's life is at steak. Portia spends time with Misty in school and out of school. Portia's best friend, Amy, starts to become jealous. Portia has to juggle her two cases and keeping her old friend.

Portia's Exclusive and Confidential Rules on True Friendship was written in vivid detail. The characters were unique and interesting. The author used fantastic comparisons and used magnificent describing words. I could not always connect to the characters because it seemed they acted younger. I believe younger kids would enjoy it more. As the book progressed, Portia learned about the meaning of true friendship, which is a great lesson to teach through a book.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake Bluff, IL
United States

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Skinwalker is a story about love, action, and magic.
Jane Yellowrock is a young woman that is a vampire hunter. She is hired by one vampire to hunt down another vampire who is killing other vampires. Jane must figure out who this rogue vamp is while keeping the secret that she is a skinwalker-a Cherokee that can change into any animal she wants. Throughout the book, Jane must look into her own past to solve the mystery of the rogue and why she shares her body with another soul that she calls Beast.

In this novel, the author details much of the story. Many of the characters were well developed and thought out. Sometimes, I had difficulty keeping up with the story because it switches the point of view between two character (Jane and Beast). The author put in lots of description and irony that keeps you reading until the end. In my opinion, I think that the author should have added more detail to the ending, but overall, it was a really interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes books similar to the Cirque Du Freak or Harry Potter series. Readers can expect a large mix of mystery, action, and fantasy.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: McDonough, Georgia United States

Racle of the Morrigan by Tiffany Trent and Paul Crilley

After reluctantly agreeing to help with the council's mission of finding the rathstones, Siobhan is thrust into a portal and wakes up to find herself still in Scotland, just a scarier, more medieval Scotland. She takes a liking to her mortal rescuer named Conal who takes her to an annual festival located in the actual Fey kingdom itself. There she realizes that Fey and mortal live side-by-side in peace and harmony, but she knows that that can't be for much longer since she came from the future. Already knowing what is yet to come, Siobhan decides that maybe her mission isn't to find the rathstone after all, but maybe it's to prevent the future events that cause the Fey and mortal warfare from happening. But is a war so large preventable and if so, can she do it all alone when she is scared of the very thought of her daunting mission? She'll have to set aside her cowardly fear and look inside herself and maybe to a few others for help as well if she wants to succeed.

This was one of the best books so far in the Hallowmere series and I couldn't put it down. Oracle of the Morrigan was very suspenseful, exciting, and captivating, and it definitely kept my interest. I found myself fully engrossed this story and it felt like I was actually living Siobhan's life. It was a very sad story that was also full of adventure and intrigue and had a slight pinch of love thrown in, but it was such a small dose it was almost unrecognizable. The words were fairly large and I found myself constantly reaching for the dictionary. I feel that the storyline definitely could've continued into further books because there were still many questions that were left unanswered such as whether or not Siobhan even made it home and if she does how. I think that it was kind of a bad place to stop the story. I really admired Conal and his bravery and every girl should wish for a great guy like him because he was always there for Siobhan, definitely in the direst times of peril. I greatly enjoyed this amazing and very well-written story and highly recommend it to teens that are into fantasy genres.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Crouching Vampire Hidden Fang by Kate MacAlister

Pia Thomas is the Beloved of a Dark One named Kristoff, meaning that Kristoff can no longer live without her. She hasn't seen him since Iceland two months ago and is surprised when the messenger from the vampire council comes to her doorstep. She drags her best friend and her fiance, Magda and Ray, to Venice to go before the court. There, she once again meets Kristoff. Together, they are charged with crimes they did not commit and set off to clear their names and possibly learn to love each other.

Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang was a well written book. It was interesting and made me want to keep reading. However, the book was a little confusing in the beginning. This book has another before it called Zen and the Art of Vampires which probably would have helped my understanding of some of the terms used and how Pia became a Beloved. There were also some adult moments in the book, especially when Kristoff and Pia were together, that some parents might not want their children to be reading. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy romance and vampire books.
There are four major sex scenes in the book along with a lot of sexual thinking on Pia and Kristoff's part that some teens and young adults should not be reading.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Brownsburg, Indiana United States of America

Monday, July 13, 2009

Soldier Mom

Jas is a 12 year old girl who has everything she needs: a mom who works for the Army at an office close to home, (She orders supplies and ships them to soldiers.), a cute 10-month old baby brother who is good to cheer you up, and a game that she is good at, basketball. But she also has a nuisance, her mom's boyfriend and her little brother's dad,
Jake. He is so irresponsible! Jas just goes on with life, even though Jake is SO annoying, and makes team captain for her b-ball team. Everything is fine and dandy until Paula, Jas's mom, gets a phone call. Paula is to leave in a day to
go to a country near Saudi Arabia called Kuwait, no excuse to leaving the mission, she has to go. Jas is destroyed. How can her mom leave her? Leave her with Jake? The one person who is always late, and Jake's work hours mean that Jas has to pick up Andrew, her baby brother, from daycare, at 5:00 o'clock sharp, exactly when basketball practice ends! She'll have no time, and coach won't let her be captain if she has to leave practice! And Jake refuses to get up earlier and take the early shift. What will Jas do? When will her mom get back? Is her mom even okay?

This book, "Soldier Mom," is a wonderful book that really opened my eyes and let me know what kids sometimes go
through when one of their parents gets called to war. It has a fantastic writing style, which gets you all wrapped up in the story. This book is a very quick and easy read, yet the two days I read the book, I was captivated by the
even made me shed a few tears once. The main character, Jas, really got through to me, and let me know how she felt, and how she thought; it was amazing. Also the plot was something most people never think will happen, but sometimes it does, so it really informed me about those situations.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Winslow, Arkansas, United States

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Death's Daughter by Amber Benson

Death's Daughter is a science-fiction book about the family of Death himself. One of his three daughters doesn't like the family business and enchanted herself to think she was a human when she was in college. For the past few years, she has been living a completely normal life. That is, up until now. When her father and older sister are kidnapped, she may have to not only return to her family but take over the family business as well. Too bad the person competing for the job happens to be very, very hot...

I thought this book was very confusing. The scenes changed very quickly and I had a hard time keeping up with everything because the main character was the narrator of the story, so she often added unneeded details and not enough to explain the story. Because the story was science fiction, there was also lots of new terms and words. They were not well-explained or described, and I felt very lost. Overall, it was not well-explained, but I liked the main idea.

This book contained many thoughts of sex and other adult content because of it's first-person narration.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Braintree, MA United States of America

Friday, July 10, 2009

Radient Darkness by Emily White

Tired of being treated like a child, Persephone runs away from home and elopes with the ever-charming Hades, Lord of the Underworld. However she finds it difficult to settle into her new role as Queen and is troubled when she learns her mother, Demeter, is so distraught with worry she has stopped the earth from producing food, causing a major famine among the mortals. Persephone convinces Hades to let her visit her mother. However Demeter learns Persephone cannot stay with her because Persephone had eaten food from the underworld. In order to satisfy both Demeter and Hades, Zeus rules that Persephone will stay with her mother six months out of the year and the return to Hades for the remaining months.
It was refreshing to read the story from Persephone's point of view since the story is usually centered on Demeter. However, I feel the only reason it is a young adult novel is because of the elopement between Persephone and Hades and a few cuss words. My suggestion would be not to romanticize the myth. The original tale is not a story about an adolescent finding love but one about a mother trying to find her kidnapped daughter. It would have been better if the author would have stuck to the original version of the myth.
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Holly Springs, North Carolina , United States of America

The Problem with the Puddles, by Kate Feiffer

Mr. and Mrs. Puddle can’t agree on anything. They couldn’t even agree on what to name their daughter. They each have their own name for her, but everyone else calls her Baby. They wanted a dog named Sally, but couldn’t agree which one to get, so they got both. One day, when the family is moving from their country house to their city house, the Sallies get left behind in all the commotion. When they realized they forgot their dogs, they turn around and their car breaks down. They get the attention of Frankolin, a man who thinks they are a dancing family. He brings them to his messy house that he shares with his wife, Felicia, and their dog, King. Meanwhile, the Sallies are making their way to the city to find the Puddles. Will the Puddles and the Sallies meet up?

I really enjoyed The Problem with the Puddles. Kate Feiffer shows a great sense of humor that kept me reading. The characters came to life with her wonderful writing style and the help of Tricia Tusa’s illustrations. She sprinkles pictures here and there that top off this great book. My favorite part of the book was the end. There was a great twist that tied the whole story together. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a fun, easy read.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Oakmont, Pennsylvania United States

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

When her mother passed away, Katie started to feel alone in her huge home. She lives with her dad, who restores old paintings for a living, but still always feels like she is living by herself. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate where she meets two brothers. With the help of them and the town librarian, she becomes immersed in deciphering a mystery. Katie, the brothers, and the librarian work together to solve the mystery. There are many secrets throughout the mystery; symbols hidden in a darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked door. While decoding the mystery, Katie learns about love and learns to live with her own ghosts.

Nothing but Ghosts was the greatest mystery, yet, love story I have read in ages. It was interesting and really detailed. I absolutely loved how the author would take breaks from the main idea to express smaller points in the plot. As the main characters learned certain things, I learned right along with them. The author, Beth Kephart, did an amazing job from the beginning to the end. I recommend Nothing but Ghosts to all young-adult readers who enjoy love stories or mysteries.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairborn, Ohio USA

Keeper by Mal Peet

World soccer superstar El Gato has just won the World Cup;
he is at the peak of his career and has been named the
world's greatest goalkeeper. Paul Faustino, South
America's top football journalist expected a reasonably
normal post World Cup interview, but what he got was more
than he ever imagined. During the hours of the interview
between El Gato and Faustino, the football legend gives an
exclusive into his intriguing past. He tells Faustino how
the lingering spirit of mysterious Keeper changed his life
and how he went from being the struggling son of a poor
logger to being thrown into the thrilling world of major
league football. The strange life that El Gato lived was
not at all what anyone expected and his unusual past was
not the only shock he was ready to unleash on the world.

Keeper by Mal Peet is a truly interesting and
extraordinary journey through the roller coaster life of a
disadvantaged teenager who makes it big. I'm not
interested in football at all and when told about this
book, I was dubious. By the end of the story, however, I
was caught by its reveling excitement and spine tingling
mystery. There was definitely no need to be a football fan
to enjoy the absorbing story line and enthralling
characters. This book was all told by El Gato in first
person, in the context of Gato telling his life story to
Faustino. There was a bit of football lingo, which was not
always clear and entirely understood, but that was made up
for by the amount of time that went into telling the story
of spirits and ghosts. I am looking forward to the next
Paul Faustino installment and continuation of El Gato's

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and
Country: Melbourne , Victoria Australia

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ignatius Macfarland by Paul Fieg

"Ignatius Macfarland" by Paul Feig is a fast-paced, fantastical novel. Ignatius (AKA Iggy) is picked on at school and builds a makeshift rocket in a vain attempt to go into outer space and befriend aliens that won't make fun of him. When his rocket explodes, he wakes up in a parallel universe with wild creatures and peculiar surroundings. Iggy finds his old English teacher also blew himself up and landed in the same exact place. This teacher is the president of the land, and he has been enforcing the creatures, forcing them to bend to his will, and making them believe he came up with inventions that were really made back on Earth.

The suspense and action are phenomenal as Iggy and his friends are hunted down by the English teacher's army; he fears that Iggy and his friends will undermine / usurp him. A shocking twist is at the end, both with regards to the English teacher's motives for tyranny and with whether or not Iggy returns home. There is some romance in the novel as Iggy is infatuated with a girl from the parallel universe. However, it is not at all vulgar or perverse (Iggy is twelve, and the audience is meant to be preteen). The way in which Feig writes is simple yet unusually unique. "'K-kill her?' Mr. Arthur said, the words sticking in his throat like saltine crackers when you try to swallow a bunch of them without any water" (Feig, 320).

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Brand-New Emily by Ginger Rue

"Brand-New Emily" by Ginger Rue is a dramatic girl's book. In eighth grade, Emily is picked on by the popular Daisy clique. One day, she simply can not take it anymore, and she hires a publicist to make her popular. That same publicist works for a teenage heartthrob. When Emily reveals she knows a secret that could destroy the star, the publicist agrees to work for Emily. As Emily transforms, she becomes a whole new person. Drama ensues when the teenage heartthrob becomes entwined in the publicist's plan. Matters get worse when Emily does not like the person she has become.

This book fully captures the world of school for young teenagers. The taunting and humiliation that Emily faces in the beginning of the book are horrifyingly plausible. Also, the publicist part is fun, especially when public relations lingo is interspersed. While teens may not be able to hire / blackmail others into giving them Hollywood-style help, they learn what a good makeover can do. Also, by the end of the book, teen girls realize that popularity comes at a price--oneself.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Nebula Awards Showcase 2009 by Ellen Datlow

This book is a grand overview of 2008's best work in Science Fiction and Fantasy. It encompasses both writing and screen work. The winners and nominees featured vary in length and topic. Also included are short essays predicting the future of both the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. The greater majority of the award-winning selections were a good representation of the genres of SF and Fantasy. The stories widely varied in their structures as well as topics including poetry, excerpts from novels, novelettes, and short stories.Because the entire book was a collection of short stories, excerpts, and essays, I often found myself having to go back to the beginning of a section and rereading it, paying close attention to what I was reading. I would recommend this book for readers that enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy and are comfortable with different and possibly controversial topics.Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It's a good book to read to pass the time or over a break.

This book had both controversial and profane topics and language.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Brownsburg, Indiana United States

Creature of the Night, by Kate Thompsen

Bobby isn't your typical teenager from Dublin. He's part of a gang that steals cars, money, phones, iPods, and anything they can get their hands on. It's hard-wired into his brain. So, when his ma makes him move to the middle-of-nowhere to keep him out of trouble, naturally, Bobby isn't happy. He tries to find a way back to Dublin, but instead ends up having to work on a farm for his landlord. From them, Bobby hears about the child who got murdered in the house he's living in, and the previous tenant who disappeared. Then, his little brother starts obsessing over a little fairy woman who comes to visit in the night, and somehow, his house just doesn't seem that safe anymore. Join Bobby as he lives on the edge, dealing with his crazy brother and money-challenged ma, just trying to figure it all out before something horrific happens to someone else.

Creature of the Night is a fictional story with a little bit of horror and suspense stuffed in. It's got a very raw feeling, as if you're there with the people, and they don't care whether you're there or not. Everyone in the story has some type of attitude, which adds to the tension you feel. As you read, you can feel the main character, Bobby, changing in the way he thinks and feels toward others. The setting is described in a way where there's not too much detail, but just enough to let your imagination fill in the blanks. I really liked this book because it seemed so real, aside from the fairy part. I would recommend Creature of the Night to anyone who likes suspenseful, rough-around-the-edges books. This book is best for older teens, since bad language is used a lot. It was very exhilarating book!

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: coatesville, pa usa

The Spy Who Haunted Me, by Simon Green

In 'The Spy Who Haunted Me' Simon Green creates a wonderful world that teaches us value. Edwin Drood is part of a very highly regarded family, who help protect humanity. He works for his family as a field agent. His undercover name is Shaman Bond. He is sent off on a mission to stop what is going to happen to the London Tower. He sets off with a group that is planning to kill all the famous London Ravens. Drood starts off going along with it, but at the end he stops Big Aus (the Leader) from stealing the Crown Jewels.
Later on Drood is sent off again, but this time it is to win a game.
The famous Independent Agent sets up a game for 6 chosen spies and field agents. They are all competing for all the knowledge and treasures of the Independent Agent. During the competition 2 agents die and 1 goes missing. Drood and Walker, a fellow competitor, return to the Independent Agent's house to discover that Independent Agent has been competing all along as his grandson, Peter King. He will never give up his secrets. In the end, Walker and Drood blow up the Independent Agent's house, with him in it.

The author does a good job describing things and it is fairly easy to put your mind into the places the main characters go. You can get the feel of suspense as you read. I like Edwin Drood and his undercover identity, Shaman Bond. The author's voice was very distinct and was very British (colour, favourite). The vocabulary met the standards of the age group. Green does a good job with description and dialogue. He fails at little things. This book makes it to the top of my sci-fi list. I found it very interesting and it was hard to put down. The ending was very surprising. I would definitely recommend it to others.

I gave it a 3 because it was in the adult section of the bookstore and it had more adult-rated descriptions.
Reviewer Age:12, Mt. Pleasant, SC USA

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

Music-loving Quinn is going to be an intern at Amalgam Records in Austin, the company that signed her favorite band, the Walters. So she's off to Texas to stay with her cousin Penny, a girl who is president of her sorority and is nothing like Quinn, whose wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts of her favorite bands. Nevertheless, Quinn is all ready to hit the Austin music scene and snag the perfect indie boyfriend. That is, until she meets frat boy Russ, who happens to be Penny's neighbor. He's annoying, likes country music and has the nerve to call Quinn by her real first name, Priscilla. Even though Russ is completely irritating, there's something about him that Quinn likes. Could he end up being the guy for her?

I was really surprised by Lovestruck Summer. I knew it was a romantic comedy, so I was expecting it to be shallow and a little corny. Instead, I was hooked after the first page. I am not like Quinn or her cousin Penny or any of the other characters, but I was able to relate to and become fond of all of them. The romance aspect was a little predictable, but the ending turned out a bit different than how I thought it would. There were a ton of funny moments and quirky things that made this book enjoyable. For example, Quinn's cousin has a cross-dressing dog, which is definitely unique. Things like that made this book stand out from other romantic comedies. I thought Lovestruck Summer was adorable and I can't wait to read Melissa Walker's other books.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis

Caterina de Medici, the Italian duchess of Florence, has witnessed betrayal and hardship at a young age. As a prisoner of the rebels who wanted to take over Florence, she has suffered through hunger, cold, and the plague. With the help from a horoscopist and prophet, Cosimo Ruggieri, Caterina was able to escape from her captors and be placed in the favor of her uncle, Pope Clement VII. In a political power play, Clement married her to a French prince, where she was forced learn a new language, customs, and name: Catherine, queen of France. But to get what she most desires, first, children, and later, for her children to remain on the throne, Catherine must delve into the black arts and do everything in her power, short of selling her soul.

I learned about Catherine de Medici briefly in history class, when we were discussing the evolution of Protestantism in France, and I decided to read this book to see what else I could learn about her. Jeanne Kalogridis does a great job of using a lot of detail and information to describe Catherine's life. The book is really long, and I felt like I was living Catherine's life along with her as I turned the pages. Upon completion of the novel, I did some research on Catherine, and not everything in the book is accepted fact. A lot of what the author wrote, mostly regarding the black arts Catherine is involved in, are rumors, so they could be true or untrue. Even though the book wasn't completely historically accurate, I liked that I could get a different view on Catherine than what is normally written about her, since Catherine is considered to be a ruthless monarch. Putting aside the disputed authenticity of the book, I can definitely say that The Devil's Queen was entertaining, and any fans of historical fiction will enjoy it.

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States
Tommy Latrella is expected by everyone to be exactly like his older brother, Jimmy. People just don't seem to realize that Tommy and Jimmy are different. Jimmy died a hero 9/11 and Tommy lives in his shadow. Tommy, who goes by Latrella, decides to run away to Las Vegas to play poker. But first, he wants to make himself look like a hero. When Latrella's prank in a New York City subway station goes horribly wrong, the subway system decides to bring him back in time to 1918. Over the course of the story Latrella visits several different time periods. Will he survive 1918, 1932, and 1942? Will he discover what it means to be a true hero? Read Backtracked by Pedro de Alcantara to find out!

Backtracked was an interesting read for me. I enjoyed the mix of past and present times. There were a few boring parts, though. There also were a few paragraphs that got a little too religious for me. I could relate to some parts of the story because it took place in time periods that I learned about and Latrella visited some historical sites. People who are interested in history, like me, would most likely enjoy Backtracked. Backtracked is a good book.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Harleysville, PA USA

Cool Jewels by Naomi Fujimoto

Cool Jewels is an arts and craft type of book. It is filled with almost a hundred pages split up into groups of beautiful bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and even a small section of other items that can be made with beads. The beginning of the book gives generic instructions about different tools, beads, and teaches you some of the basics of making jewelry. The jewelry featured in this book are extremely fun and colorful. The pages are filled with diverse and unique pictures. Cool Jewels has many different jewelry project ideas.

I think this book is right by being targeted towards teenagers. For younger children it would be more difficult and not be considered beginner. The book has (for the most part) simple and easy directions. The directions are not too wordy and above are pictures showing what to do, but pictures are not always easy to follow. Most of the jewelry in this book take a decent amount of time to make. A piece of jewelry that is easy for one to make, may be difficult for another to, depending on artistic talent. When making your jewelry, you have to know that yours will not turn out exactly the same. The technique, skill, and the beads are going to be different. Although, the author does include many store names where you can buy similar beads and tools. Cool Jewels provides fun time to spend with friends on a rainy day.

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Gochland, VA USA

Why Do Horses Have Manes?

"Why Do Horses Have Manes?" by Elizabeth Macleod is an
informative non-fiction book. The format of the book has a
paragraph per page. The writing answers questions about
horses. Also, many colorful pictures of horses are
included. There are even some quizzes and match-up games
about horses. Science about horses, as well a popular
culture horses and horse myths, are covered.

With only
four chapters and sixty-four pages, this book is not too
daunting for younger readers. There are some terms that
little ones may be unfamiliar with. However, Macleod
defines words in a comprehensible manner. After reading
this book, kids will have a better understanding about
horses. They'll even learn some unusual facts and horse

Evolution is discussed


Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island,

Blue Blood: The Immortals

In the second novel of the Immortals series, Ever lets Damen guide her through the ways of an immortal, showing her the extent of her powers. However, when her powers broaden, Damen's seem to dwindle. She goes to a magical place called Summerland to try to save her love, gaining knowledge of Damen's past and the ways to control time. She is then stuck with the decision between returning to her past life, or saving her beloved Damen.

I read the first book in the series and was left wanting more; this left me with the same feeling. This book gave an interesting turn of events, while adding new elements altogether. It is a little slow paced at the start of the book, but the rest is a page turner, leaving a big bang in its ending. If you enjoyed the first book of the series, you will like this book as well.

Content: 1
Rating: 6
Reviewer Age:16Reviewer City, State and Country: Carlisle, PA United States

The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow by Riford McKenzie

Elijah worries constantly and is known for his less than courageous nature. He suspects that his family's ancient farm, Dredmoore Hollow, is haunted, and lives in a state of constant fear. His worst fears are realized when his two creepy aunts appear at the Dredmore farm for a family visit. His mother and father mysteriously disappear the following day. Elijah has no choice but to accompany his aunts to their home in Moaning Marsh. While there, he can't help but notice that the only customers at his aunt's salon, Magic Snippers, seem almost bewitched and that the hired man has a werewolf as a pet. He comes to the realization that his aunts must be witches, and evil ones at that. But what do they want with Elijah?

Overall, the Witches of Dredmoore Hollow was a fun book to read, although it wasn't exactly a page-turner. Despite the fact that Elijah's aunts were supposed to be frightening, I didn't feel worried for Elijah's fate. I did like the characters of the always-worried Elijah and brave Dez, but they simply weren't enough to keep me interested. I wish the plot had been more complicated and faster-moving. On the positive side, I thought the book was well-written. I would recommend it to readers who are interested in witches or in the time frame of the early 1900's.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Chula Vista, CA USA
Promise of the Wolves takes place approximately 14,000 years ago, in a place called WideValley, back when humans were still sort of evolving. The story is told from the point of view of a wolf called Kaala, the main character of the book.

The lives of the wolves revolve around a promise made by Indru, one of the first wolves. The rules were: never consort with humans, never kill a human, and kill any wolf that has mixed blood. Kaala was born with the power to either help or destroy her pack and all of wolf kind. When she was born, Ruuqo, the leader of the Swift River pack, attempted to kill her because he was afraid of her powers and because she had outsider blood. However, Ruuqo was stopped by two Great Wolves, who had great power over the other wolves. They allowed Kaala to live because of the white crescent-shaped marking on her chest; it was a symbol of her great power. Ruuqo grudgingly let Kaala stay in the pack, but made survival very difficult for her. Kaala soon befriended two pups of Rissa's (Ruuqo's mate) litter. They were both runts and they respected her. One was named Azzuen, and the other, Marra. Two others of Rissa's pups, Borlla and Unnan, also made Kaala's life difficult for her. One day, Kaala found a girl stuck in the river, and saved her. Kaala was fascinated by humans, so she followed the girl to her camp and repeatedly came back. Some time later, the girl, TaLi, brought Kaala to her grandmother's house. TaLi's grandmother was a shaman, and still had the ability to speak to animals. She told Kaala that the wolf legends weren't entirely true, and that the Great Wolves were hiding something from both the humans and wolves. A few months later, Kaala, Azzuen, and Marra overheard some Stone Peak wolves in their territory planning an attack. At first, they thought they planned to attack Swift River, so they told Ruuqo. Torell, the leader of the Stone Peaks, explained that they weren't going to attack Swift River, but the humans instead. Earlier that day, the same Great Wolves that saved Kaala tried to take her away from Wide Valley because they were going to kill every wolf and human if they started to fight. Kaala refused and ran back to tell Azzuen and Marra. Now, Kaala had to find a way to stop the wolves and humans from fighting.

Promise of the Wolves was a great book. It reminded me of Children of the Dawnland with the connections humans had with nature. I really like stories that take the point of view of an animal, so that the reader can experience the kind of lifestyle the animal has. I didn't like the fact that the grown up wolves would yell at the pups a lot; they just seemed really mean sometimes. I thought it was really cool how the ravens would talk in haiku (a Japanese poem of three lines, five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second, and five syllables in the third line).

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Round Rock, TX United States

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Queen of the Masquerade by Tiffany Trent

Is anyone or anything to be trusted in a rath so full of evil, lies, mystery, glamour, and deceit that you cant tell what is real, true, or what is actually there in your presence? Christina wakes up to find herself lying in a bed with no understanding of where she is, how she got there, or anything else for that matter. Lost in a rath she learns to be as Lamasque with no memories of who she is, she looks to her rescuer Duke Deglisse, the ruler of Lamasque, for help and learns that she is actually the one who will be of the greater help (she is supposed to be the God-sent savior of Deglisse, his people, and his rath). Knowing no one, Christina befriends the Duke and agrees to do his bidding and go on daily searches through the forest to search for the rathstone. Deglisse tells her of a riddle that is to unlock the rathstone and that she is the answer to it. Understanding her fate, which is that she will be a sacrifice to the stone, she realizes that she must find a way to stay alive and leave the rath before it's too late. To do that she decides that she can't trust anyone, but when a mysterious creature and a handsome boy show up to help her, will she be able to put aside her fears and trust them if it means a chance at saving her life?

I enjoyed Queen of the Masquerade but I thought that the story moved along quite slowly and that there wasn't a lot of adventure or depth to the plot. I admired Christina's character, which was fun, upbeat, flirty, strong, and loyal. A lot of the story seemed to take place in the forest or in Christina's bedroom, which got somewhat boring after a while because of the repetitious actions that took place. The little action that did happen occurred so quickly that I barely got a feel for what was going on. The author used foreshadowing very well and didn't give away too much information for what was yet to come. As the story went on, I became more and more anxious and excited for the conclusion to come to find out the outcome and how all of the events would fall into place. The conclusion came as quite a surprise to me though because the tricky foreshadowing led me to expect a very different ending than what actually occurred. The ending was well written and fell into place nicely, but left me with a few questions such as the fate of Maurus. The characters and scenes for the most part were well described, which made them easy to picture in my mind. Overall, I did greatly enjoy this novel and this series still remains as my favorite. This was another great book by Tiffany Trent (and Amanda M. Jenkins) and I recommend it to teenage girls who enjoy fantasies with a hint of romance.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA USA
Coraline was adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell. In this comic book, Coraline finds a door in her new house that takes her to another world. This new world seems better; great food, more toys, nicer parents. These parents call themselves her other mother and father. They seem kind, but Coraline soon discovers that they plan to sew buttons on her eyes and keep her soul locked away. When she tries to return to her original parents they are gone. Coraline must play a game against her other mother in a race to find her parents and save the souls of the other children.

This comic book is based off the original book Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. The comic book takes you visually through Coraline's adventures in her house. I have read the original book as well and I found the comic to portray the story wonderfully. I really enjoyed the book and found the comic version of the story to be just as good. I would highly recommend reading the comic; and if you enjoy it you might even want to pick up the original book or watch the movie. I found all three enjoyable.

Reviewer Age:16

Reviewer City, State and Country: Lemoore, CA US

Pulse by Jeremy Robinson

This story is an action novel with some elements of Greek mythology. Dr. George Pierce, an archaeologist who specializes in Greek history, identifies an ancient artifact found in the Peruvian desert as the immortal head of the mythological hydra. He calls his friend, Jack Sigler, and asks him to come to Peru to guard the find. Jack is the King of the Chess Team, a part of United States Special Forces Delta. In other words, he and his team are extremely elite U.S. soldiers. As Jack is arriving in Peru, he is ambushed, George is kidnapped, the hydra head is stolen, and the rest of the archaeologists are killed. The culprits are working for Richard Ridley, founder of Manifold Genetics, who wants to discover the key to eternal life. Jack manages to survive the ambush; he then takes off in pursuit of his captured friend, but not before calling for backup in the form of his team. This begins a action-packed chase that lasts until near the end of the book.

This book was very exciting and enjoyable to read. I had a hard time putting it down to eat. I like mythology and am familiar with the story of the hydra and Hercules, so the historical elements were really fascinating. However, no prior knowledge of Greek mythology is required to understand the book because each myth is well explained. The book is fast-paced and filled with action and new plot developments. Some of the plot developments were revealed kind of slowly because I knew what was going to happen long before all of the characters. There was also lots of interesting information on military technology and weapons. This book has very little romance and only a moderate level of character development; it is more about the plot than the characters. I recommend this book to people who enjoy action novels, especially military novels, but do not mind some mythological elements thrown in.

This book has lots of gore and violence.

Reviewer Age:15

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

My Father's Son by Terri Fields

Kevin Windor has a great life. His dad is loaded with money, he's finally got the girl of his dreams - but what he doesn't know is that his life is about to be turned upside down. On a peaceful Sunday, Kevin turns on his television and sees a face identical to his staring back at him - it's his father, accused of being the infamous DB25 serial killer. Suddenly, Kevin becomes the school pariah: dream girl Emily will no longer date him, everyone at school treats him differently, even complete strangers recognize his face as that of the alleged serial killer. In this thriller/mystery, Terri Fields puts the reader into the shoes of a boy whose world is spinning out of control, and whose only way out is through answers he'll have to find on his own.

My Father's Son was hard to get into, but once I got past the first couple chapters, I was enthralled. The characters were real and the plot was full of twists and turns that could keep any reader on his/her toes. I especially liked that the book, which could've easily been predictable, wasn't! In this fast-paced, suspenseful book, Terri Fields inspects one of the most steadfast bonds that exists: the attachment between a father and a son.

Reviewer Age:16

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

Slept Away by Julie Kraut

At the beginning of her 15th summer, Laney believes that she has everything going for her. However, her mother's decision to shake up her entire summer experience by sending her to Camp Timber Trails is enough to put a huge damper on her spirits. After much protest, Laney boards the bus to a camp full of peeing seven-year-olds and teenagers with too-tight shorts. Shortly after arriving at camp, Laney befriends the semi-nerdy Sylvie, and they soon concoct a masterplan to earn Sylvie her first boyfriend. However, along the way, Laney comes across an unexpected romance of her own.

I really enjoyed Slept Away. With its witty sarcasm and fun storyline, I simply couldn't put it down! I particularly enjoyed Laney's transformation from city-girl to camper. This is because many of Laney's kind traits were hidden beneath a rather unkind facade, and were unmasked as she began to think more about Sylvie's relationshionship status. I would recommend this book for any teenager who wishes to explore the relationships and bonds created over a summer of off-the-wall fun. Overall, I think this novel could become the next Sarah Dessen novel in the world of teen lit, and can be expected to entertain many.
Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Elkview, West Virginia United States

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Shadowplay by Tad Williams

The March Kingdom is in the evil hands of Hendon Tolly who has kicked Princess Briony and Prince Barrick Eddon out of their own castle. They are now separated and wandering; tring to get back to their home. Briony finds both allies and deadly enemies in the mose unexpected places, and Barrick is lost and under a spell behind the shadowline. They must somehow overtake the Tollys and rule once more, but there is always the problem of getting past traitors, god-kings, and even the angry gods themselves. Will they ever make it?

Will they ever make it? That is a very good question. One that I didn't find out because the book ended before the story did! Now you have to buy the next book to know. And I definitely wouldn't recommend that! This book is the sequel to Shadowmarch, so the story was confusing to begin with. I originally ordered the book because it has 737 pages, but then I found out why. I love description, but have you ever read a book where there is was too MUCH description? This book seemed to go on and on. I am a fast reader and it took me 3 weeks! It is also very bloody and gruesome (I would not want a movie out of it) and it describes bloody bodies with their heads cut off and blood spurting out. I almost stopped reading the book there and sending it back. The plot and storyline was well thought out and exiting, and it would be the kind of book I greatly enjoy, if it wasn't for the things I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. Basically, I would not recommend this book to anybody.

It describes lots of dead and dying people (who mostly die at the hands of an assassin and sword)in full detail and would not be a wise choice for sensitive readers.

Reviewer Age:15

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

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Wheel of Nuldoid by Russ Woody

Three humans who live in San Francisco led normal lives until the earthquake of 1989. Warren, Leo, and Lily get shaken into a journey through the Region of Neither Norr. They learn of a society of short abnormal creatures in the middle of the earth. While there, they experience odd habits the community has towards death, religion, and politics. They go on an intense journey facing their fears and gaining some new ones.

This book is a mixture between fantasy and comedy. It is brilliantly woven in with differences between two worlds, with a surprising twist in the story. The drawings entertained me throughout the book, they were wonderful to look at. Although the descriptions let my imagination run wild with my own imagery as well. The Nuldoids dialect made for creative enjoyment.

Reviewer Age:16

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

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Most Unusual Adventures of Black Shadow Smokey and the Blue Streak by Suzan Tanner

"The Most Unusual Adventures of Black Shadow Smokey and
the Blue Streak" by Suzan Tanner is a children's book.
The story revolves around a cat and a dog who happen to
live with the same family. Tempers clash as they both vie
for their humans' attention. Later, they meet up with a
common friend and rescue her from kleptomaniacs. Dubbed
heroes, the cat and dog become friends and vow to be
superheroes together.

There are many friendship themes
in this book. Also, animals are discussed as intelligent
and considerate. There is not too much action in the
book, but there is just enough to entertain the target
audience of six to ten year olds. There are also some sci-
fi parts where scientists realize the animals can talk.

Overall, this book is easy to follow and pleasant for
younger ones.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Camp Alien by Pamela F. Service

Zackary Gaither is a boy who knows he is not human. He is an alien who is trying to get Earth into the Galactic Union. Zack has lived on Earth for all of his life. The other aliens planted him on Earth so he would grow up and know how the people on Earth live. When Zack got home from his friend Ken's house he found that the camp he wanted to go to was full. He was mad when he found out the he needed to go to Camp Takhamasak instead. Zack went to a carnival to cheer himself up, and at the carnival another alien agent named Agent Sorn briefed Zack on his next mission - he had to find 100 Duthwi eggs. Zack set off on an adventure, along the way meeting a number of interesting aliens and humans. Zack had to keep his identity secret while accomplishing his mission.
Camp Alien has a strong plot with lots of twists and turns. The characters range from evil aliens to best friends. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and quick reads. This book is easy to pick up but hard to put down. This book is the second in the Agent Alien series, but you don't need to read the first book, "My Cousin, the Alien" in order to enjoy it.
Reviewer Age:10
Reviewer City, State and Country: Randolph, NJ United States