Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Demon Inside by Stacia Kane

Ever hear a voice whispering in your ear, telling you to do something that you know is wrong? The little voice is a demon, something that everyone has; everyone but psychologist Megan Chase: she killed hers when she was 16. Years later, Megan is now in charge of her own group of demons, though things start becoming horribly wrong when her demons start to explode, along with demons from other families. Megan also discovers a horrifying secret that links her present to a problem in the past. To top it all off, Megan's demon boyfriend, Greyson Dante, is driving her wild, but will not share what he knows about the issue with Megan's past. Can Megan sort everything out and still emerge from the ordeal unscathed?

I thought the novel was enjoyable. Even though most of the main characters were demons, they were still easy to relate with. Also, the author describes the settings as scenarios throughout the novel in great detail, which makes it easier for the reader to understand what is going on and to "see" what is going on in their head. The main plot line is original, and the added touch of romance between Megan and Greyson adds depth to the novel. The story was somewhat confusing at the beginning because it is a sequel; however, within the first 1 or 2 chapters, the author explains what happened in the first novel, which makes the novel much easier to understand and to follow.

Violent scenes and sexual situations.

Reviewer Age: 16

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Digital Revolutionaries by Steve Lohr

"Digital Revolutionaries: The Men and Women who Brought
Computing To Life" by Steve Lohr is an informative book
about computers for children. It chronicles the history
of computers, from the very large to the very small. Many
facts are given; timelines and newspaper articles are
pasted into the book, too. Biographies of the so-called
revolutionaries are given briefly. Most of the
information is on well-known computer companies and
devices that readers should be somewhat familiar with.

This book reads like a documentary narration, and it is
very simple. Young readers may get excited by it, but
older readers will feel the book is a bit too slow-paced.
Some science behind computers is given, but it is watered-
down to some degree. Overall, this New York Times book
does its job of giving an introduction to the faces behind
the computer revolution. This book would be best suited
for youngsters with no knowledge of computers

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Amelia Earhart by Lori Van Pelt

"Amelia Earhart: The Sky's No Limit" by Lori Van Pelt is a
biography in the American Heroes series. It chronicles
about ten years of Amelia Earhart's life; other facts
about her life are there, but the majority focuses on her
flying years. The book expounds on Earhart's journey into
the world of flight, her obstacles, her family, her drama,
and, ultimately, her fame. It sheds light on the woman
behind the cockpit that many are so familiar with, and
offers a glimpse into her world. Many quotations are
given directly from primary sources, as well as strikingly
accurate descriptions.

Apart from most biographies, this
book is written in a novel form, reading like a story.
There isn't any dialog or twisting of information to make
it historical fiction. There are just the facts on the
pages that flow with an ease one would not expect.
Additionally, every now and then, there are timelines
inserted to recap flight history. As for the descriptions
of the planes and flight mechanics, Pelt writes these in a
very perfunctory manner without boring the reader, which
is a feat in itself. This historical book will make
readers get lost in the pages, especially those partial to

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Kitchen Princess: Search for the Angel Cake by Miyuki Kobayashi

Najika is a teenage girl with an extraordinary talent for baking. While catering for a party for a fellow classmate, she discovers her friend's grandmother was a friend of her deceased parents. Najika's parents, before their tragic accident, promised the grandmother that they would recreate a cake that the woman had tasted in her childhood in another country. Now that Najika's parents are gone, she is determined to find the mysterious cake recipe for the old woman. The only problem is she is left with so little clues.
Kitchen Princess: Search for the Angel Cake is a companion novel to the Manga, Kitchen Princess, so therefore if a person has not read the series, it could be quite hard to understand the story plot. The story is also Japanese, so readers must keep in mind the cultural differences that differ between the East and the West. Getting past that, this was a lighthearted, absorbing read that made me want to jump up onto my feet and start baking. In between chapters, there were easy instructional visual directions on how to make desserts that were prepared in the book, including a scrumptious Angel Food Cake that I made myself! This book would be for a younger age group (9-11) and does not have complicated vocabulary, but it kept me thoroughly interested.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake Bluff, Il The United States of America

Timelock by David Klass

Timelock by David Klass, is a book that fuses both the future and the past together. A boy named Jack is the Prince of Dann in a future world. His parents sent him back in time to our present-day with a set of legal guardians, in hopes that he will save the future world. There are many sacrifices that the royal family made to save the grim future. But will they be enough?

Timelock is the third book of the Caretaker Trilogy. If you ask me it was fairly easy to follow, but they did refer to the previous written books on numerous occasions. If you plan on reading this book, I'd suggest reading the first two books to get the full emotional impact.

Since the book was written in past and present tense the author did divide the book into different parts. Personally I found the reading too choppy in the present tense, which was how the majority of the book was written. Also, certain parts were a little too cheesy for me. It was definitely not my favorite book. That being said I have to commend the author for the wonderful fight scenes. These scenes were the only ones that I liked in present tense. The fights had a perfect balance--weren't too bloody-gory, and yet I felt involved. The scenes were also vividly captured and to the point.

This book took me over three weeks to read, because I kept putting it down and didn't want to pick it up again. It needed suspense to propel the book forward.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Libertyville, IL United States

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Growing Wings by Laurel Winter

"Growing Wings" by Laurel Winter follows an eleven-year-old girl called Linnet on her journey one summer. Her mother refuses to cut Linnet's hair, and Linnet's back is always itchy. Facts fall into place when Linnet finally has wings growing out of her back. Drama ensues with Linnet and her mother as family history is divulged. Then, through a series of events, the setting changes and more characters with wings are introduced. Mysteries still linger all throughout the book, but readers will relish the interactions amongst the winged characters, especially when a dangerous act of suspense threatens their lives.

This book is a classic page-turner. Children will get lost in the pages as they walk alongside the characters. They will identify most with Linnet and feel connected to her. Descriptions of the winged characters are most breathtaking, not methodical like most fantasy books. At parts in the book--just when the reader thinks it will get boring because some situations can't last for another 70 pages or so--the author inserts something new to make the reader lean even further forward over the book in enthrallment.

Reviewer Age:18

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Akira by Katsuhiro Otoma

This book is a science fiction manga. Manga is a type of Japanese graphic novel that is typically black and white. In the story, Tokyo was destroyed in 1992 by a mysterious explosion that triggered World War III. It was rebuilt as Neo-Tokyo, a dystopian city with military police and teenage gangs. The year is now 2030, and Tetsuo and Kaneda are two of these gang members who attend a school filled with violent teachers and students. Tetsuo is injured in a motorcycle crash when a man appears in the middle of the road. However, the man disappears before Kaneda can confront him. During another encounter with the man, Kaneda meets Kei and Ryu, who have a relationship resembling younger sister and older brother. They tell Kaneda that the mysterious man has escaped from a shady government organization. This organization is finding people with paranormal abilities and harnessing their power. Kei and Ryu are fighters for a group that is resisting this organization. All three of them try to find the old man and help him escape but are foiled by the government. Before escaping, Kaneda steals a mysterious pill from the government. Kei and Ryu escape separately from Kaneda. Kaneda then returns to school to find that Testsuo has been released from the hospital. However, Tetsuo's personality is unbalanced and his strength has drastically increased. The head of the government organization shows up at the school and takes Tetsuo to the group's headquaters. Kaneda soon meets up with Kei again, and they wind up on the run and living together, which Kei is not pleased with. By the end of the story, Kaneda and Tetsuo are both involved in the world of the paranormal.

This book was very interesting. It is the first in a series, and I am definitely going to read the others. The story is unique, with conflict between a shady government organization seeking people with paranormal talents and a fairly suspicious rebel group. There is a backdrop of impending doom and fear of a creature called Akira. One weakness is that the characters are not outstanding or particularly likable, but the plot is good enough to make up for this. The drawings are detailed and intriguing, even though they are mainly in black and white. The ending is not very conclusive, but that is because it is in series. Despite its many good points, this book may not be for everyone. I personally love action, science fiction, and manga. This book is probably best for people who enjoy action stories and are open to reading a graphic novel instead of a traditional book.

This book has very graphic violence, due to the fact that it is illustrated, and some fairly mild sexual references. It is probably best suited for high school students and adults.

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

Boys Without Names by Kashira Sheth

Running away from the law seemed difficult for Gopal and his family. Money in their meager Indian village was tight, and when his family couldn't pay off their debt, they had to escape to Mumbai. After Gopal's father disappears, Gopal is offered a job in a factory, and he takes the chance to earn some spare change. However, he ends up being drugged and whisked away with four other boys. All of them are forced to make beaded frames for no pay and little food. The only way they can survive and keep themselves sane is to tell stories. Their boss becomes more violent each day, and their need to escape is dire. Can Gopal save himself and his newfound friends before time runs out?

Boys Without Names is a superb book. The characters are so real, and the material is raw. The realistic fiction novel Boys without Names details the situations some homeless children in India are forced to endure: harsh conditions, slavery, and working with toxic chemicals. The message is so powerful it teaches readers to never look at the world the same way again. I recommend this book to anyone ages 12 and up. Once I read the first fifteen pages I was hooked, and couldn't put it down. It seemed like I was one of the boys as their emotions poured out onto the page.

some harsh and graphic situations

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Osseo, Wisconsin United States

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger

Beth Michaels is a straight A high school student taking classes at the local community college. Living with her single mother and hanging out with her best friend, Shirl, is a normal day in Beth's life. Until Beth receives a message saying "You Are More Than You Think You Are" and Beth's life starts to spin out of control. She discovers gold envelopes addressed to someone named Aleph Beth Ray, starts seeing strange images and can read minds. Her mother is definitely keeping something from her and soon Beth begins to think there might be more to the message than she ever thought.

The Seven Rays was an amazing whirlwind of mystery and romance. I never knew what was going to happen next and I was swiftly turning the pages anxious to read more. The author did a terrific job of creating an original plot that kept the reader at the edge of their seat. The characters were excellent as well. They were well developed and original, I enjoyed the alternating chapters about different characters. By the end I couldn't put the book down and the ending was fantastic. I never would have guessed the ending and I really liked how Beth learned a lot about both herself and others by the end of the novel. I also loved how everything tied together in the end, all the characters and the little twists in the plot came together perfectly. I would highly recommend this to anyone and am looking forward to more books by Jessica Bendinger.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hightstown, New Jersey USA

The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz

Bliss has spent the last year as a passenger in her own body, as her father Lucifer has taken control. Schyler and Olive have been on the run after she was found guilty of her grandfather's murder. And Mimi? She's roughing it in South America. The Silver Bloods are growing closer and closer. The softened blue bloods have been forced to face there greatest enemy. Everything has been turned upside down in the world of Manhatten's elite.

This book is by far the best of the Blue Blood series. The world has changed for all of the characters in the series leaving a sad air over the book. Every character, even Mimi, has much more important things to take care of than shopping, things that if left undone could result in the end of the world. This causes some really interesting chraracter development leading to a deeper and more interesting story. This is a must read for Blue Blood fans!

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Greenwood Village, Co USA

Shadowland by Alyson Noel

In the paranormal fiction novel, Shadowland, by Alyson Noel, the main characters Ever and Damen, soul mates, can sadly never touch each other because of Evers misguided attempts to save him in the previous novel. In the previous book of this series, Blue Moon, Ever saved Damen from dying by giving him a cure. However, due to pressure from the horrid Roman, she also put some of her blood in the cure. Somehow, this means that Damen can never touch her DNA again because it is now poison to him. Ever decides that that dreadful curse must be broken. In her desperate attempt to actually break it, she asks Roman, the person who brought about the curse, for help. However, Ever mostly relies on the help of Jude, an odd surfer, because she feels a connection with him, which shocks her and causes her to wonder whether or not Damen is truly her soulmate. Ever further wonders about her relationship with Damen when she discovers that his extremely long past was not completely noble and good. Ever has friends, such as Haven and Miles, which also cause drama. For instance, when Haven was worried about her cat dying, she turned to Ever for help. Overall, Ever's friends fade into the background and don't really contribute very much to the plot.

I very much disliked Shadowland, the third book in Noel's series. It was written fairly decently, but the characters, the plot, and the overall book annoyed me in that the characters were not well formed and were not at all interesting. I didn't agree with the choices that the characters made, such as when Damen decided to get rid of all of his expensive things. It seemed pretty pointless to do so. Above all, Ever was impulsive and silly because she did not plan things out, but rather meandered along until she thought of something to do, such as be stressed about her relationship with Damen. I did, however, like the part when Miles found out that he was going to Florence. This is a great book if you're stranded on an island, have nothing to do, and already ate all the monkeys, but not a very good as a means of entertainment. I definitely would borrow this book from the library and not buy it since it's really not worth the money.

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

Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

This book is about a girl who has never had to really be herself. She has an older brother who always gets her into the good social events and two best friends who helped her through life. Everything was as it was until her two best friends turn into punk posers and change completely. Jessie begins to start look for new friends and finds people who she never would of assoicated with before. She has to decide whether to stick with her new nerd friends or her old cool friends.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is a book that every girl who is doubting herself should read. Jessie is a girl who has had the same two best friends her entire life and all of a sudden she has to give it up because they aren't the same people she once knew. I loved this book! It was well written with romance, humor and a life message mixed in. I would of liked to find out more of what happened to henry and Jessie but it was a very good book. If the author wrote a sequel I would be the first to buy it. I would recommend this to any teenage girl.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mantua, NJ USA

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr.

The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. takes place in America during the 1930s-in the middle of the Great Depression. It tells the story of Mary and her son Jack, who is a deaf mute. At the beginning, Mary finds out her husband is cheating on her and plans to abandon her, so she steals his money and runs away, taking Jack with her. They stow away in a van and wind up in Chicago. Mary lives for several weeks off of the money she took, but then loses all of it when she drops her purse. She and Jack then spend several nights at the Salvation Army and befriend a woman working there, Grace, who is unable to have a child. Grace prays over Jack one night before going to sleep. Jack then takes a pencil and writes a series of numbers, which Mary discovers correspond to a verse in the bible. This verse predicts that Grace will bear a child and give birth. This is the first sign of Jack having a "gift." Mary eventually finds a job as a maid in Olivia Edmunds's house. Jack continues to make predictions through bible verses, including one that saves Olivia's daughter's life. Eventually, word of Jack's gift spreads, and Olivia is forced to release Mary to protect her family. Mary and Jack, once again homeless, plan to take a bus away, but Mary falls ill. An old woman named Agnes takes her in, and Mary and Jack go to live with Agnes. They begin to use Jack's gift to make money, allowing people to come in and receive their verse and taking offerings. This goes on until Jerry, Mary's husband, tracks them down. Mary is sent to prison for kidnapping her son, and Jerry takes Jack. Jack runs away, and is found and sent to a home for children with disabilities. One of the workers there takes Jack and frees him when Jack is in danger of being used for testing. The worker, Felix, takes Jack and joins a circus as a cleaner. Meanwhile, Mary is released from prison and begins to search for Jack. Will Mary ever find Jack and be reunited with her beloved son? Read The Silent Gift to find out.

The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. is one of the most inspirational stories I have ever read. The message sent by Landon's powerful writing is truly fantastic. Landon expresses Mary's love for her son in such a way that the reader cannot help but share the feelings. The reader shares the fear Mary feels as Jack is taken from her. When Jack and Mary finally reunite, you share their joy in each others company. As the story ends and Landon brings it to its conclusion, you will feel the emotion running through the characters. The Silent Gift is truly a masterpiece of fiction.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Dragon Book by Jack Dann

In this book, The Dragon Book by Jack Dann, dragons come alive in many countries. Twenty-one of our young adult writers wrote these short stories for us to read and enjoy, and enjoy you will. Even though the stories are all different, they all have the same idea... DRAGONS! In one of the stories a young dragon asks his mother how they came to be, and she talks about an evil knight. In another story, a young lady is special... but not in a bad way. She can talk to dragons, and she even has her own personal dragon! So, as you can see, these stories are different and individual in there own ways, yet they are about one of my favorite things, dragons.

Do you love dragons? Well I do, and that is the main reason I chose this book in the first place. When I first started to read this book, I wasn't so sure I made a good choice in my selection. Just like with any collection of short stories some stories are better then others. In this particular book you must read a few confusing stories. But a couple stories in, I realized how great the stories were. Each author's style was unique, so I got a taste of how each author writes and how their imaginations are working. All of the author's reached their goal which was to talk about dragons. Every time I closed my eyes I could imagine dragons soaring or helping out a new friend, and when I finished that story and would go on to the next, I could imagine the two dragon's and the people from both stories forming a whole other book. Even though it wasn't the greatest book I've ever read and had some flaws such as the titles of some of the stories, and how confusing some of the stories were with their plots. It was really good, and I hope I will be able to read some of these amazing author's works again sometime soon.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fresno, California USA

The Kindling of Greenfyr by Mark Freeman

Owen was just a lonely boy living in a sleepy snowy town. He was the kind of boy who finds a cozy spot in his room and reads with his cat, but he was also the kind of boy who sneaks out through his window to take walks in the woods. During one of these walks, his entire life changes when he meets a snow leopard. When Owen saves the snow leopard from a pack of crazy dogs, he sets a whole chain of events in place that take him to a world unknown to humans. A world of fairies and troll, shapeshifters and sorcerers.

When Owen's parents are kidknapped by beings from this world, Owen embarks on a quest that will ultimately decide the fate of this world and his own.

To be completely truthful, I did not really enjoy this book. The plot was that of a generic fantasy adventure- you know the type, young hero traveling with a wise old mentor, pretty princess in danger, and brave and valient warrior buddies, embarks on a quest that will determine the fate of the world. I was not overly impressed with this because it is nothing new to the literary world.

One strength of the book was that the author used very descriptive writing. Scenes were described so vividly that I could picture them in my mind. However, sometimes the author got a little carried away with the descriptions and I found myself having to reread whole sections of the book because I got lost.

The vocabulary level is not very difficult to understand, which makes it a good book for people with lower vocabulary levels to read. However, they could only do this if they could get over all of the grammar mistakes! This book was unrevised and unedited. This really upsetted me because I had to repeatedly reread sections of the book to figure out what the author was trying to relate. This was distracting to the story. Also, becaus it was unrevised, several portions of the book could have been taken out because they were completely uneccesary to the plotline.

Overall, this novel came up short of my expectations, and while it entertained me for a few hours, I would definately not read it again.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Brownsburg, IN United States of America

The Expressologist by Kristina Springer

Jane's job as a barista at Wired Joe's Coffeehouse is a pretty boring gig. To make the workday go faster, she tests out her theory that you can tell a lot about a person based on their favorite coffee. After extensive research, Jane has a notebook full of personalities that go with each drink. So when she sees that some drinks seem to go along well with other drinks, based on their descriptions, Jane tries her hand at matchmaking two friends. When all goes well, Jane continues trying to find dates for other friends and the regulars at Wired Joe's. But when the manager Derek discovers what Jane has been up to, he decides to make it an in-store promotion for the month of December. Jane will be the Espressologist every Friday night and match customers based on their drink preferences. Jane's having fun and becoming semi-famous, so why is she feeling weird about her best friend Em dating her friend Cam, when she was the one who matched them?

I thought that The Espressologist was such a cute book. It was light, fun, humorous and romantic. I loved that Jane was a modern day matchmaker, and matching people based on their coffee preferences is a really smart idea. Who doesn't want a little love with their coffee? The book was short and interesting, so it read fast. The one thing I didn't like that much was that the author was very brief. Everytime something happened, the author could tell it in five sentences. She really took efficiency to a new extreme. It wasn't that big of a deal, but in my opinion it prevented The Espressologist from flowing as well as it could have. Despite that, I still think that The Espressologist was hilarious and a fun read for the holidays.

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fan Boy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Fanboy has never been popular, but at least he had friends. Now, however, his less-than exciting life has hit a new low. His best friend is abandoning him for sports, a gym class bully has chosen him for his personal punching bag, and his pregnant mother is too wrapped up in the coming baby to care what's going on in Fanboy's life. But he can deal with all this, because he has something to look forward to-- namely the coming comic book convention, where he plans to finally meet the man who can, hopefully, help him to get his precious graphic novel, Schemata, published.
And then Fanboy meets Kyra, aka Gothgirl. Kyra is bossy, foul mouthed, and vengeful, and she likes Schemata-- loves it, really. She might not like Fanboy much, but with the potential she sees in Schemata, that doesn't matter much. She'll do anything to get it published, and that's fine with Fanboy-- but what happens when "anything" goes too far?

If the summary isn't a tip off, this book is certainly a prize find for graphic novel enthusiasts, particularly fans of Neil Gaiman and Brian Michael Bendis. But even the average reader will be glad to pick up this novel. The characters are intriguing, well formed, believable, and incredibly easy to identify with, and it is these qualities that make the plot so powerful. Despite the emotional power, however, the book is anything but sad-- the dialogue is witty enough to keep readers laughing from beginning to end. The novel's conclusion may feel a bit empty, but this may well be intentional the characters return in Barry Lyga's new book Goth Girl Rising.

Many sexual references

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Ellicott City, Maryland United States

Wormwood, Nevada by David Oppengaard

Tyler and Anna Mayfield are newlyweds who have moved out of their hometown in order to make enough money to properly settle down. Tyler, an English teacher has been offered a job in Wormwood, Nevada, a small city in the middle of a desert with blistering heat and lonely conditions. They are given shelter by Tyler's aunt Bernie. At first the move seems normal with Tyler spending time at the bar with friends and Anna chatting with Bernie and others, but then suddenly everything changes when a meteorite lands in the middle of the town. The whole town begins to panic and turn itself upside down with insane men predicting the end of the world and stupid teenagers sacrificing animals to "please the gods." Tyler begins to teach summer school classes and starts to go on adventures with buddies and joins an alien visitation club after seeing "alien" heads. Things take a turn for the worse as tragedy strikes with loss of a life. As the town begins to settle down the most shocking event happens: an earthquake strikes. What will happen now? Is it the end of Wormwood as they know or will the tragic events keep plummeting down?

My favorite component to this story is its setting; the author vividly describes a desolate, dry and burning hot town. This description was so complete that I felt as though I experienced the climate in Nevada. The characters in this story have different and interesting personalities such Clyde the obsessive drinker with a carefree personality that adds adventure to the novel. Throughout the book the plot really drags, details upon details end up explaining the same ideas. Although it is a fairly large book the plot is not complex at all, it is mainly just going through the typical life of someone who has just moved to a new town. The author tries to include flashback in reference to both of their high school days, but the flashbacks used don't provide much useful information about personalities of characters. The beginning of the book it was fairly interesting but as it neared a close the quality of writing declined. It went from talking about Tyler's adventures in the start, to aliens coming down to take over the world in the end. Compared to many other science fiction books I have read, this is far, far down due to its lack of action and unrealistic feel. Throughout the book no reference to science fiction is made besides the occasional statement about the world ending, until the end when you are thrown into a world of aliens. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who does not enjoy extreme science fiction due to amount of fantasy involved.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, Kansas United States of America

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Seance by John Harwood

After her younger sister died, Constance Langton has been left to deal with a lot of baggage, especially since her mother cannot get over the sadness of Almas death to take care of anything. To help her mother, she starts pretends to be her sister in s←ances that her mother performs. This proves to be too much for her mother to handle and soon after, her mother dies. Constance is then left by herself with a house that is full of bad memories and supernatural occurrences by a relative. She is advised to get rid of the house but is unable to do so. The novel goes into detail about the stories behind the previous owners of the house, including a woman named Eleanor Unwin.

The novel is set in Victorian England. The background adds to the spooky undertone to the story. There is a lot going on here, including ghosts and mysteries and events that shouldnt be happening. I loved the idea behind the story, and it was very interesting, but the fact that there was too much going on and the language the author used made it somewhat hard for me to read the story. I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in mysteries and with a lot of time on their hands because its not a quick read.

Reviewer Age:22
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA United States

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

Among the poverty stricken families living in the Lower East Side during the 1900s is Essie, her mother and siblings. Essie has a talent for making beautiful hats, but that doesn't bring in enough to survive so she takes a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The factory is a place for Essie to get away from her everyday life, especially after a tragic accident takes someone very important from her life. At the factory, she befriends Harriet, an upper class girl who left her old life behind to work at the Shirtwaist Factory. As she tries to get her life in control, it's the tragic accident at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory helps her to face what she has been avoiding for a long time.

I thought that this novel was captivating and had a great plot. There aren't many teen novels that use the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire as a backdrop, and Davies weaves that with the mysterious disappearance of an upper class heiress at around the same time. The two stories tie together in a successful way and once I started reading, it was hard to put the book down. The characters were well developed and it was hard not to care for them. I would recommend this novel to any fans of historical fiction or anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer Age:22
Reviewer City, State and Country: Philadelphia, PA United States

Monday, December 07, 2009

Prairie Winter by Bonnie Geisert

Rachel Johnson is a sixth-grader at a Cresbard school this year. Going to school means everything to her. She lives in a rural part of town with no phone, so going to school is a way for her communicate. She can talk to friends and play in the band, which is going to Chicago this year, it is everything she loves. Then all that could be taken away from her when a huge snowstorm hits Cresbard, keeping her away from her beloved school. Then, in a surprising turn of events, her strict father agrees to fly her and her sisters into town. She stays in a hotel for weeks, living the good life. Will she ever return to her farm life again?

Prairie Winter takes place on a farm in the 1950's. It describes the way of life for a 10 year old farm girl in the harsh winter. This book gave a good depiction of a slower paced, quieter time period in history. It is a big contrast to the times we live in today. I had a difficult time relating to the main character and the different ways of this time period. Perhaps this book would be more interesting to a younger age reader or someone much older who might reflect on memories of their childhood.


Reviewer City, State and Country: Springfield ,
Ohio USA

Through any eyes, genocide is an awful crime, but through the eyes of Javier Mendoza, genocide is unbearable. When a genocide curriculum is introduced to Javier's fifth grade class, Javier begins to see just exactly how genocide affects the human race. From an upset parent to a genocide victim, Javier is inspired to help stop genocide.

This very informative book covers different genocides from the last century and explores the roots of genocide. Any reader wishing to broaden their scope of global
understanding and human suffering would do well to pick this book and give it a read.
In the style of a journal, the horrors of genocide are explained in simple, easy to
understand words. I liked that this book gave a straight-forward approach to what genocide is, what causes it, and why it is awful. While maybe not a "for fun" read because of the content, I think this book would be excellent for any teacher teaching a curriculum on genocide. I think the most interesting section of this book is a conversation with a character known as Maker's dad and Javier. In this, I gained a new insight on genocide as Maker's dad reveals how he personally was affected by genocide. This book was definitely an eye-opener.

Adult guidance is recommended because the descriptions of genocide can become semi-
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mineola, TX U.S.A

We Were Here by Matt De La Pena

This is the best book I have ever read in my whole life. Matt de la Pena, made the book connect with readers and had a very interesting story behind it all. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story, with a thrill around every corner.

This book is called We Were Here by: Matt de la Pena. It's about a young boy named Miguel, who has made some mistakes in his life, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings too. Miguel gets sent to a group home for his big mistake, and meets up with a few other guys that have messed up too. Later on in the book, Mong, the crazy kid who smiles weird and fights all the time, and Rondell, all brawns and no brains kind of guy, escape the group home. There are many twists and turns for Miguel and his friends, but in the end, something unthinkable happens, and changes the meaning of the entire book. This is my favorite book of all time. I loved it so much, and I understood everything that happened. Matt de la Pena relates to teens well. I recommend this book to anyone of teenage years, you won't regret it.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Mineola, Texas USA

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Love in Translation by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Celeste Duncan has lead a hard life. She never knew her father, her mother died when she was young, she moved from foster home to foster home all her life; never finding a permanent family, and her boyfriend is always criticizing her music. She just feels stuck. But when an unexpected phone call tells her about her late aunt, she must travel to Tokyo to return the family heirlooms and possibly find some clues about her father. With her cute homestay brother, Takuya, they travel Japan trying to find her family. But things get tough with her nosy homestay mother, Takuya's ex girlfriend, and her music career. Will she ever find the family of her dreams?

This book was very good! Celeste is nice, her Japanese teacher, Mariko, is funny, Takuya is cute, and his ex, Sakura is annoying. Everything is right. There are a lot of Japanese words and traditions that are well-explained. This book makes me want to go to Japan! Love in Translation did not end the way I thought it would, but I like this ending better! I could really see this book as a blockbuster film!

There are a few sexual references, and one sex scene.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Gearhart, Oregon United States

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman

Will Elinor be able to capture Bertran's heart and change his views about marriage or will another handsome gentleman steal her heart first? Elinor has fantasized her entire life about marrying the mysterious troubadour Bertran de Miramount, so when she learns that she may never see him again and her parents don't approve of nuptials between her and Bertran, she comes up with a plan. She takes on the disquise of a boy troubadour and sets forth into a journey of a lifetime and a brand new life in hopes of finding her true love and escaping the marriage her parents had arranged for her, before it's too late. Little does she know that there are tensions brewing everywhere and many of the surrounding cities are on the brink of war. Having no hope in the life she left, Elinor believes that she made the right decision in leaving everything she once knew and loved like her family, friends, and the extravagant life of a noble; but is the hope of satisfying her heart's desire worth the possiblity of putting her life at jeopardy?

I thought Troubadour by Mary Hoffman was a pretty good book. The words were very much age-appropriate and there was an easy-to-use glossary in the back of the book, as well as a neat historical note that was very informative of the ways of the thirteenth century time period. The plot was fairly interesting but I found it was hard to focus on what I was reading because the text was hard to follow and confusing thanks to the excessive and somewhat outrageous number of characters. The author tried to help with this problem by providing a list of characters and their roles in the back as well, but I was still confused and got kind of annoyed at having to constantly flip to the back of the book. The over-all plot was well thought-out and developed but I thought that the action of the plot, as well as the conversations between the characters were very repetitive. This repetition caused me to get bored easily because it felt like I had already read those lines at least ten other times. I enjoyed the happy ending and was glad that the story took a surprising turn for the better. There is plenty of romance, adventure, and war for a large range of readers to enjoy.

There was a lot of war and bloodshed, as well as different religious matters.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA USA