Monday, January 31, 2011

Spinning Out by David Stahler Jr.

Gerry, a.k.a. Frenchy, is a loner. Besides his best friend Stewart, he has nobody. That is until Stewart signs them up for the school play together. But as soon as play practice starts Stewart isn't himself. His grades start slipping, he never talks to his parent anymore and he s working on a suspicious project titled The Don Quixote Project . Frenchy tries helping Stewart, but Stewart just says it's the wind towers that are getting to him. As Frenchy prepares for opening night him tries to keep his one and only friendship.

I loved this book. I especially enjoyed that the author captured the true perspective of wind turbines. I knew exactly what Stewart's family was going through. I enjoyed the plot very much and all of the other crazy characters in the story. I think the author did a wonderful job with this story. I highly recommend this to somebody who is looking for a good realistic fiction read.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hopkins, Michigan United States of America

Jake by Audrey Couloumbis

Jake is a ten-year-old boy that has a mom and no dad. One

day his life changes; a few days before Christmas his mom

slips and breaks her leg on ice. Jake has no one to look

after him for Christmas beside his granddad in North

Carolina. He comes with a dog that has an attitude. In

the end Jake realizes that his friends and neighbors are

his family.

The writing is friendly and will sweep you away into

the story. You will read into the night trying to finish

it, you'll want to because of how good it is. I

guarantee that you will love it! I did too.

Reviewer Age:12
Uxbridge, MA usa

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Other Words For Love, by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Ari Mitchell feels she is extraordinarily average - especially in comparison to her beautiful friend Summer who attends a prestigious private school in Manhattan. But when Ari receives an unexpected inheritance that allows her to attend Hollister Prep, it gives her hope that she will someday get into Parsons School of Design and become an artist. While at Hollister, Ari becomes friends with Leigh, who introduces her to her cousin Blake. Blake is older, attractive and wealthy - and Ari has never had a boyfriend before. Soon enough, Ari and Blake's relationship becomes serious. But when tragedy befalls Blake's family and he becomes distant, Ari has to deal with the subsequent break-up and the hard feelings that come after losing your first love.

I really enjoyed Other Words For Love. I loved that it was an historical novel in that in took place in 1985, however, it just seemed like a simpler twenty-first century. Everything was pretty much the same as now, except there were no computers, cell phones or iPods. It made the love story simpler in that there wasn't facebook or text messages complicating everything. It was fun reading about a time period that I missed living in by only a few years. Besides the setting, the characters in Other Words for Love were really strong. Ari is the responsible one, the daughter who will get a good education and have a career before she gets caught up in boy drama. But when she meets and falls in love with Blake, everything changes. Even though Ari's life starts going downhill, she still manages to fix everything in the end. I also loved reading the romance between Ari and Blake because they seemed like a real couple. Overall, Other Words for Love was a very well-written and sincere love story that girls of all ages will enjoy.

Reviewer Age:19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell

Ellie, a seemingly normal girl, is anything but ordinary. Her first day back to school and a mysterious boy catches her attention; Michael.  Like Ellie he is anything but ordinary. Upon their next meeting they instantly connect and feel that they are made for each other. Every night Ellie dreams of flying and Michael shows her this is no dream--she can fly and also read people's minds by touching them and by tasting their blood.  This leads to the conclusion that Michael and she are vampires. One night when she is supposed to meet Michael, her parents catch her and tell her the truth; well half of the truth anyway.  While Ellie learns the truth Michael does as well from a different source; Ezekiel. Though grounded Ellie manages to sneak a quick visit with Michael, but to her surprise Michael has joined forces with Ezekiel and now plans for her to join them as well.  With no other choice Ellie decides to leave her home and search for answers on her own all the while avoiding being captured by Ezekiel.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Invasion by Jon S. Lewis

Colt McAlister’s parents have just died, and he is forced to go live with his grandfather in Arizona. Things seem okay when he meets up with his childhood friend, Dani, and meets a new and mysterious person, Oz. After a few phone calls and meeting an odd person, Colt begins to suspect that his parents’ murder wasn’t an accident. His mother was about to publish an article revealing secrets about Trident Industries, one of the biggest industries in the world. Colt soon realizes that it is his job to avenge his parents’ deaths and stop Trident Industries.

This book was okay. The idea of other worlds and advanced technology were some of the things that intrigued me but it could have been better. Colt seemed a bit real but not enough. I would have enjoyed the book even more if it was written in first person. I would recommend it to people who liked The Compound or The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen, or most si-fi fans.

Rating: 6

Content Rating: 1

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Northglenn, Colorado, United States


CLOSE TO FAMOUS, written by Joan Bauer, is a story about Foster McFee, a young girl who lives with her single mother.  After being forced to leave Memphis, the Mcfee family ends up in a small town in West Virginia named Culpepper.  There they meet many interesting people, each with a dream of their own.  Foster’s mother dreams for a day when she can be the lead singer instead of always being the back up singer, while another woman dreams of helping the community church.  As for Foster, she dreams to one day have a cooking show on Food Network.  Even through all the obstacles she must overcome, Foster continues baking and touching hearts.

Similar to many books written by Joan Bauer, I found this one quite enjoyable.  It was both inspiring and sweet, filled with unique and lovable characters.  The setting—a very, very small town—was the perfect place for this book to take place and it was very realistic; I could easily imagine it.  The main character, Foster, used cooking to help her conquer fears and obstacles, which I found to be very interesting and relatable.  Some portions of the book required more description and it was not a book for action lovers, as it was very slow moving.   As the story wrapped up, the main themes of following your dreams and overcoming obstacles became very clear.  They gave a motivating message to the story: anyone can change their world.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Needham, Massachusetts U.S.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Annexed by Sharon Dogar is the eye opening tale of one Peter Van Pels, the young man who spent two and a half years in the annex of a building with the Frank family during WWII. Also known as the boy who loved Anne Frank, Peter is a teenager who must go into hiding due to the annihilation of Jewish people in Europe in the 1940s. Although it is historical fiction, it tells a powerful story from a new perspective. This book outlines the years in the annex, how the Holocaust altered life and how Peter changed throughout those fateful years. It looks through the eyes of a teenage boy who loses everything he has ever known, and becomes someone else entirely. It is a novel that illustrations how people, emotion, and life vanished from many places during WWII. It is the world through Peter s eyes, ready to tell a moving story of a self-destructing world.

This book was phenomenal. Dogar takes you on a journey to a place few people can imagine - the annex of Anne Frank. For once it was not through the eyes of Anne herself, instead you see the world of Peter Van Pels. Dogar did an amazing job of creating these people that you want to reach out to and hold forever. You feel the emotions of the characters, you cry with them, laugh with them, fear with them. And while most people know how life ended for the Franks and Van Pels, readers cannot help but hope and believe that these people will make it. This novel really makes people step back and examine the world they have, the simple daily things that seem so basic and unimportant, and how they can end up being the things people wish for the most. Dogar's narrative voice is strong and enticing, as a reader I did not want to put the book down. It felt so real that it brought tears to my eyes, and made me want to step into their world and be with them. It is a truly amazing book, and I look forward to seeing more of Dogar in the literary world.

Reviewer Age:16'
Reviewer City, State and Country: Minnetonka, Minnesota United States

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

The Museum of Thieves is about a girl named Goldie. She lives in the terrible city of Jewel that is ruled by the terrible Blessed Guardians. In Jewel, being bold means punishment chains, and impatience is a sin. Each child is bonded to a Blessed Guardian or parent by a guardchain. On Separation Day, the chains are removed and the children are free. Sadly, for Goldie, right before she was going to be separated a bomb exploded. Suddenly, the Fugelman (the leader of the Blessed Guardians) comes in running and screaming. The ceremony ends abruptly. Goldie runs away from the grand hall and eventually finds herself at the marvelous Museum of Dunt. The museum keepers protect her from the Blesseed Guardians. She becomes the fifth keeper. At the museum there are two nearly extinct animals, Morg the slaughter bird and the Broo the brizzle hound. Morg is the pet of Toadspit, one of the keepers and Broo helps the keepers with their daily tasks. Among the many rooms at the museum are the war rooms. The "Dirty Gate" guards the war rooms and protects everyone from what is in them. The Fugelman comes to the museum to open the Dirty Gate. Goldie works with the keepers to protect the museum.

The author provides a good and interesting story. The Museum of Dunt has a vivid setting. It is easy to see the buildings in your mind as you read the book. This book is dark and scary in some parts, but most of the time it is light and adventurous. The author closes the story very well. There are some open items that could be used in a sequel. The novel is written in third person narrative. This book is appropriate for 10-14 year old readers.

This book is very good and would make my "top ten" list. There is nothing obvious that could be added to make it better. I would recommend this to others who are looking for an exciting page-turner. The Keeper series could easily match up to the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.

Reviewer Age:10    Uxbridge, MA USA

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lucky Luciano by Tim Newark

Lucky Luciano: the Real and Fake Gangster is a biography of the mobster who most people believe was the most notorious mafia boss of all time. But this book reveals that most of the stories of Luciano's great endeavors were just that: stories. Tim Newark takes the urban legends and pulls them apart to reveal the simple truth: that Luciano was a good mobster, but not the legend he is usually thought to be. He mainly attacks The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, the biography said to be taken straight from Luciano's own words. He tells us that The Last Testament was a display of the one thing that Luciano was truly notorious for: lying. So he exposes the truth of many of the legends created by the mob, Italian folklore, and even the U.S. government.
The thing about this book is that I found it somewhat hard to reach. I think this was mostly because I hadn't heard of Luciano before then. If I had heard any of the things the author was disproving, maybe I would have found it more interesting. In fact, the one part that I had some familiarity with, namely the murder of Thelma Todd, was the most interesting to me because I had seen a few movies of hers. So I would recommend this book to someone older who had heard more of the myths and legends of Luciano, but probably not to someone my age.

see opinion section of review.
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Fairfax, Virginia USA

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

What do you do when you're fed up with your mother's drinking problems? Run to your dear old dad. At least that's what 16-year-old Dana Hathaway does. When her mother shows up drunk to her voice recital, Dana decides that it's the last straw and decides to pack her bags and run away to the faraway and enchanted land of Avalon in search of the father she s never known. Her mother had been deliberately moving and hiding her from him for fear of what could happen if Dana got caught up in the intense political affairs of Avalon. Her mom had all the right to worry after many perilous and confusing events start occurring at a breakneck pace once Dana arrives there. From kidnappings to finding out about her sacred position as a Fairiewalker to hot Fae playing tug-of-war for her loyalties to attempts on her life, Dana certainly can't complain about being bored. Maybe running away wasn't the best idea after all.

I really enjoyed reading Glimmerglass and it's a wonderful start to what is bound to be an enchanting series. I constantly caught myself cracking up because of the large amount of humor and the comical personalities of the characters and situations they found themselves in. The scenes that included Ethan were very cute and had the perfect touch of romance and intrigue that would make any teen girl fall head-over-heels for the dreamy hunkmuffin; he really helped to brighten and create liveliness within the novel. l think the story overall was very well-written and thought-out, but I also think that the world of Avalon could use some more depth, and some more description through-out the entirety of the novel would be nice. The characters were fairly easy to relate to since they were around late teenage years and Dana had a lot of problems that many normal teens face in reality today, such as starting into the whole dating business and also possibly having a family member that drinks too much. If nothing else, the enticing cover art alone will make you want to buy this novel; it is beautifully created.

There is alcohol and talk of sex.

Rating: 8
Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Upper Strasburg, PA USA

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Dana is fed up with her mother's alcoholism; so much that she decides to run away and live with her father. Dana has grown up knowing that she's part fae and that her father is a faerie, but she doesn't realize how much of a problem that will be when she enters the magical world of Avalon and is subsequently kidnapped by her aunt Grace. As Dana learns more about her heritage and the dangers of fae politics, she finds herself the target of both assasins and abductors. Between her father, her aunt, and her new friends Ethan and Kimber, Dana doesn't know who to trust and how to make her life return to normal.

At first, I did not like Glimmerglass. One of the reasons that I didn't like it was that I couldn't get used to a magical world that everyone knows about. In many fantasy novels, the mythical world is kept hidden from ordinary humans. But not in Glimmerglass. In this book, everyone knows about Avalon and fairies and a whole host of other things. It kind of threw me off, but soon I started really enjoying Glimmerglass. I especially liked Jenna Black's writing and Dana's voice. It sounded just like a teenager: complete with witty comments and funny thoughts. I think I laughed out loud a few times. Throughout the book there were a lot of twists and turns that made me want to keep reading. There is a sequel that I can't wait to get my hands on. Glimmerglass is a great novel for fans of fantasy.

Rating: 8
Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Monday, January 17, 2011

Across The Universe by Beth Revis

In Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, Amy decides to freeze herself
cryogenically in order to remain with her parents as they travel to another planet
300 years away from Earth. However, 250 years into the journey, she becomes
unplugged, and nearly dies. Onboard the strange ship named Godspeed, Eldest
rules every single person. Elder, the only teenage boy aboard the ship, is in line
to becoming Eldest. Upon discovering that she cannot be refrozen, Amy has
trouble adjusting to life on the massive ship. She teams up with Elder and they
together attempt to uncover some of the secrets aboard the ship, such as what
really happened during the Plague. Suspense increases when more cryogenically
frozen passengers are unplugged, sometimes resulting in death.

cross the Universe was an extremely original novel with interesting characters and plot.
Amy' s surprise upon discovering the artificial sun, the genetically altered cows,
and the modified history records is tangible and realistic. I very much enjoyed
this book and the, for once, surprise twists. It was also interesting to read of the
technological advances, such as the communication implants. Overall, Across the
Universe was a unique book with strong characters and is definitely

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Charleston , SC

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson

Sophie McGee's junior year starts off like normal. She's fighting for the position of editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, has an annoying family, and is living a boy-free life. Then, these new kids show up who talk like they are from the 19th century and are always staying at school as late as possible. And to add to her list of problems, James Hallowell is back. The James that used to be her best friend until he moved in elementary school. The James that now makes Sophie's heart melt whenever she sees him. Sophie's investigating skills kick in when she realizes that James is more reclusive than he used to be, is stronger than normal, and is harboring the same secret as the rest of the new kids at school.

I enjoyed reading Vampire Crush. I found the story interesting, even if it was a little repetitive. I found many similarities between this book and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and I wish A.M. Robinson had thought of some other ideas for her story. I really liked the ending of the story because it was unexpected and different. I would recommend this book to people who like vampire and romance novels.

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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taking off

Annie is a high school senior cursed with apathy. She has her boyfriend Markand her hometown of Houston where NASA engineers live and half the population never goes anywhere. After her friend Lea introduces her to Christa McAuliffe, Annie finds herself a role model. Christa is the woman from the famous 'Teacher in Space program'. As basic American history dictates, the spaceship explodes before leaving earth. Faced with sadness, Annie is confused about everything and--quite frankly--a hot mess. On her trip, she comes to know a boy named Tommy and must choose between him and Mark. A page-turner for sure.
Truth be told, as an engineer, I was excited to read this book.  However, I had been disappointed in the past when reading about The Challenger in other teen books.  Fortunately, this book did not let me down.
There were no creepy romance scenes, and I actually wanted to keep reading.  Emotion leaks off the pages, and readers find themselves identifying with the characters.  Moss also keeps her book real and does not end with Annie becoming an engineer.  While I'd have liked for Annie to study math and science, I found myself smiling for her when she finally started to make her own decisions and do what she wanted.

Reviewer Age:19
Reviewer City,
State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Entice by Carrie Jones

Various predicaments have presented themselves to Zara since the death of her stepfather and the unwilling move to Bedford, Maine that followed. There is, of course, the whole pixie situation, but now Nick, her boyfriend and warrior werewolf, is gone, too. Zara, heartbroken and determined, allows the pixie king Astley to transform her into a pixie herself as a last resort to aid in the quest to retrieve Nick. The problem is: the only leads they have are the words of a disdainful Valkyrie and the existence of a mythical place, Valhalla, said to be the ruling place of the Norse god, Odin. As Zara and the crew continue to search for more clues, evil pixies led by the newly appearing king, Frank, are kidnapping boys left and right. Zara, now the Queen of King Astley, also faces entirely new problems as her relationship with Astley and the trust of her friends are brought into jeopardy by these recent turn of events. However, Zara is nothing if not stubborn, and she will not rest until Nick is safely returned to Bedford.

As I read each of the NEED books one after the other, the growth of the author was especially evident. Descriptions of the background and setup of each place, which were lacking in the first two books of this series, are found embedded throughout ENTICE, creating an even more realistic world for the reader. I adore the steadily increasing plot complications, too. A series that started out with a relatively simple concept - eliminate the evil pixies and their violent ways - has successfully morphed into an intense story involving mythical places and the existence of benevolence in an initially evil species.

Young adult books nowadays all seem to contain the classic love triangle scenario, and this book is not an exception. There does seem to be an almost two-dimensional quality to Zara and Nick's relationship, though. Why are they even in love? I suppose there was a time limit on the development of their relationship since Nick was whisked away to Valhalla so soon after the series started. On the other hand, the author did a great job with Zara and Astley, whose relationship is multi-faceted and angst-filled enough to keep me interested. It also seems obvious who Zara will choose at the end, if one were to observe the popular trend followed by other YA novels. But who knows? Maybe Carrie Jones will spring out a surprise for us at the end of the series.

ENTICE is packed with action and is easily my favorite book out of the NEED series so far. I will be looking forward to the next installment of the series.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Palo Alto, CA US

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wish by Joseph Monninger

The book Wish by Joseph Monninger is the story about a girl named Bee and her brother, Tommy. Tommy is fascinated by sharks but, he has a cystic fibrosis. He will not live for a long time, so the Make-a-Wish foundation tries to fulfill Tommy's wish, to go diving with Great White sharks. Tommy is disappointed when they do not let him dive into the water, so his sister takes him to his role model, Ty, who had survived a shark attack, unscathed. Bee falls in love with Ty's younger brother, Little Brew. They try to teach Tommy how to surfboard, but he falls into the water. Because he has a breathing disorder, there is a very slim chance he will live. I liked how there were little facts about sharks scattered throughout the whole book. The book was well-written and captivating. Although Tommy knows that sharks can sometimes attack people, he says it is because people spend too much time in the shark's territory. Tommy always has a positive attitude. He never complains and always has a way of touching one's heart. Tommy's personality is one of the greatest things about the book.
Reviewer Age:13 Uxbridge, MA USA

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes

In A Crack in the Sky, global warming has destroyed the earth. The seas have risen and acidified, and a Great Sickness has wiped out a huge amount of the earth's population. Humankind survives, however, in clean, perfect dome cities run by InfiniCorp. Eli Papadopoulos is the grandson of the owner of the powerful company and is expected to follow in his family's management tracks. Everything changes when Eli is contacted by the Foggers, a group of people who live outside of the domes and claim that the earth is ending, and InfiniCorp knows it. The story follows Eli, his pet mongoose Marilyn, and star employee Tabitha as they struggle against the powerful company to figure out what is really happening to their world, inside the domes and out.

Fans of the Hunger Games will love this fast-paced adventure that explores controlling governments and the pollution in our world today. Hughes' characters were believable and interesting, and the situations they were put in made sense. Marilyn, Eli's mutant pet mongoose, Tabitha, the star employee turned traitor, and Spider, the creepy, powerful cousin, made me laugh, cry and shiver with everything they did. The setting was well done as well. I could easily visualize the clean, controlled domes, and the hot, dry and dusty Outside, with help from a perfect amount of detail. The journal entries at the beginning and end of the story added anticipation for, hopefully, a sequel. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, humor, suspense and the occasional "What if?"

Rating: 9

Content Rating: 1

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Lederach, Pennsylvania USA

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Modern Fairies,Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties by Edythe McFate

Fairies, goblins, and dwarves are a myth, right? Wrong.
Fairies are as real as you and I. But have you ever
wondered how can you tell where a fairy is hiding, or if
they are good or bad, or even if you should trust your
fairy godmother? That is where this book comes in! Miss
Edythe McFate will guide you through life, teaching you
handy skills, such as how to deal with a fairy, how to
know if a dwarf is ready to attack, and when to avoid
goblins. As the story progresses, you will learn how to
tell the difference between dwarves and trolls, where
fairy habitats are located, and the link between fairies
and diamonds. This information will help you when you need
it most. For all you know, fairies, goblins, and dwarves
aren t that far away.

This book is enchanting! I found
myself believing in fairies, goblins, dwarves, and other
mystical creatures! I was recommending this book to
friends from chapter one! If you enjoy fantasy, or even
love getting whisked away in a book, this one is for you!
Miss Edythe McFate has got some valuable information to
share, and I think it may come in handy one day. So go
ahead, believe in your wildest dreams, because this book
will give you faith!

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Panama City, Florida United States

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Frannie has always been a bit of a loner, but when Luc Cain enrolls in her school Frannie can't stay away. But as tempting as Luc seems he is still unattainable, because he is on a mission for the king of Hell. Unfortunately, for Luc Heaven won't let Frannie go that easily when they send the angel Gabriel to save her soul. In the battle for Frannie's soul, everything could be on the line.

This book was absolutely amazing. I loved it. The author made the characters and setting come to life throughout the whole book. I would recommend this book to people who liked Fallen, Hush, Hush, Evermore and anyone who loves romance, angels, and demons.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Northglenn, CO United States

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Heaven's Superhero by Jason Krumbine

Heaven's Superhero takes place on the third of seven parallel worlds created at the beginning of time. These worlds, or creations, are monitored and protected by Heaven's police force of angels. Daniel, one of Heaven's angels, is sent to the third creation after increased demonic activity is detected surrounding the multinational corporation, Halo Inc. When Daniel starts piecing clues together, he uncovers a sinister plot aimed at starting a war between Heaven and Hell. Along with the help of Sara Linfield, a company executive in the middle of a corporate war with Halo Inc., Daniel is in a race against time to stop those trying to take complete control of the third creation while avoiding government execution robots and bloodthirsty demons.
One of the greatest strengths of this book is its pace. Despite Daniel and Sara being on the run for decent amount of the story, clues and action scenes are spaced perfectly in this interval to keep the reader hooked. I was really intrigued by the author's vision and description of the angelic and demonic characters. Jason Krumbine's depiction of the Heaven vs. Hell theme allows readers to relate to the characters in a very human way while also recognizing that they are higher beings. One aspect that could be improved is the strands of plot. I felt that these different avenues could have been woven together in a tighter way. Nevertheless, Heaven's Superhero is a great book for action and fantasy readers who enjoy a fast pace.

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota United States

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens' upbringing in a cemetery after the tragic murder of his family. Bod--short for Nobody--is welcomed by the inhabitants of the graveyard (who are ghosts), after an attempt to protect Bod from the man Jack, the assassin who killed his family. Bod' s new guardians show him the ways of the graveyard, along with the many secrets and legends it holds. Bod encounters ghouls, witches, and other creatures of the graveyard throughout his bizarre upbringing. Ultimately, these experiences help him face his family' s killer with the hopes of seeing the world beyond the gates of the graveyard.

Neil Gaiman lives in a world that science fiction enthusiasts would do anything to explore. The number of creatures and worlds presented in this book are tightly woven together and creates endless possibilities to the reader' s imagination. Gaiman has written a book that mesmerizes readers while taking them on a journey of a boy' s coming of age. Gaiman effortlessly combines the fantasy world he created along with a tale of childhood that everyone can relate to. The Graveyard Book is a masterful story that I highly recommend.

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Eden Prairie, Minnesota USA

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Arisa by Natsumi Ando

The story begins with a promise between twin sisters, Arisa and Tsubasa. Then we enter the world of Tsubasa. She is 14 and has the nickname 'Demon Princess' due to her aggressive behavior toward people who have committed wrongs. She has been separated from her sister, but now is her first chance in three years to see her again. Arisa has written letters to Tsubasa for years detailing her days apart from her, but there is more to Arisa than just those letters.

Arisa sees how much her sister wishes to be her so she grants her wish and lets her be her for a day. Only after Tsubasa returns with the wonderful news of how that day went Arisa tells her that she doesn't "know their secrets or mine" just before she attempts to commit suicide. Now it is up to Tsubasa to act as Arisa and find out the secret of class 2-B.

I love Arisa. The protagonist, even though she is a twin, is so different from her sister and that's how real twins are. Tsubasa is so into justice that it is her mission to protect others. I love how open-ended the author left the book because now I have to read the next one.

I really relate to Arisa. She has a heavy burden to bear no matter how perfect her life seems. I laughed and cried because I know how the characters must have felt. Imagine people hating you so much you want to commit suicide.

Overall, I found this book very moving and powerful and I would recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer Age:20
Reviewer City, State and Country: Arizona City, Arizona USA

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Killer Angel by William Frost

Killer Angel is about a group of friends who start a band, but dream of making it big. Meanwhile, the angel, Benjamin, meets up with his old friend, Levi, who has turned on him to become a dark angel. When Levi shows up in some of the band members dreams, he offers them fame and fortune in exchange for their souls. At this point, choices come in to play to decide what's right and wrong. Will they accept and live with fame and fortune, but no soul, or will they decide to avoid the situation and walk away, knowing they made the right decision?

This book really shows how right and wrong choices can affect your life. It makes me realize how one bad choice can snowball into more bad choices. The ending disappointed me because I was expecting the complete opposite of what really happened. Besides the ending, I really liked the book because it was a fresh idea for a book and I couldn't put it down. This book was very easy to read. I would recommend this book to ages 13+ because I thought the idea of the book was a little hard to process and understand.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leawood, KS, USA

Monday, January 03, 2011

Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson

The second book in this series starts with the main character Sophie catching cats that are used in science experiments at the Institute for Theoretical Physics. From there the book gets even more bizarre. Sophie and her friend Mikael’s family live in flats at this Institute where some of Europe s greatest scientists meet. In this alternate society Germany has taken over much of Europe except for most for the countries near the Baltic and Northern Seas. Sophie learns much about her parents and the tragic explosion that took their lives and, after her great-aunt’s death; she learns even more why their family is so connected to the elusive billionaire, Alfred Nobel. Soon after her great-aunt’s death Sophie’s life begins to unravel as she discovers close kept secrets about the family she never knew about. Along the way she travels to Sweden and inside the Arctic Circle as she discovers herself and what really matters in her life.

In my opinion this book was mediocre at best. Since I didn’t know this book was the second one in the series the parts in this book about the previous book were a little confusing. The author also used many words that I never heard of and the way the characters spoke was different than I was used to. The plot was interesting at times but could get confusing at certain parts. If you were to read this book definitely read the first one first.
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Loves Park, Illinois United States

Revenge of the Geek by Piper Banks

Miranda Bloom, a junior at Geek High, is ready for school, but Miranda must watch her back, because Geek High (the nickname for her prestigious school, Notting Hill) has a new student, Nora. Nora seems to be a nice friend whom she could connect with, but as time goes on, Miranda becomes suspicious about this girl. Nora is copying her clothes, slowly taking her best friends, and it seems like anything she says could be a lie. Miranda sees Nora for who she really is, but her friends accuse her of being paranoid and jealous. Miranda is determined to expose this copycat for who she really is.
I read the whole book in one evening. I could connect to Miranda, because anyone who has had someone take their ideas and imitate them, feels like she does. I also understand how her friends don't believe her at first. This book has interesting characters, an engaging plot, and it touches real-life topics, like imitation and friends being skeptical of you. This book is an enjoyable read for middle and high school students.

Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Leawood, KS United States

Sunday, January 02, 2011

For The Love of Stranger, by Jacqueline Horsfall

Philoxenia- a Greek word meaning "love of strangers." Love is exactly what Philoxenia House- a house for women who need to hide from abusive husbands- shows to the strangers it takes in. Darya and Nikki are two children adopted by Tee-tee, the head of Philoxenia house, from Russia many years ago. Told from the point of view of Darya as she struggles with feelings of abandonment and being an adopted child, this story deals with the mundane as well as the fantastic, for little does Darya know that she is born to fulfill an ancient prophecy. As more and more deer are being culled and hunted, she is destined to protect them. Along with Rawley, a boy from the Virgin Islands, she must face an entire town bent on hunting these deer. Will you heed the call?

Personally, while I felt the book had believable characters and I liked the storyline behind and around Philoxenia House, the anti-hunting propaganda that littered this book was a major turn-off, and I had a hard time looking past it. I also wasn't too pleased with the overly feminist undertones of a horned deer goddess. However, looking past the obvious propaganda, the book wasn't poorly written. It was a simple and quick read that dealt with some heavy stuff, such as adoptive families, domestic violence, and feelings of inferiority. Being told from Darya's point of view, you experience some of the feelings of betrayal and neglect that she feels, and can easily relate to her problems. Overall, I give this book a 5/10 rating, and recommend it for readers ages 12 and up.

Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Sykesville, Maryland United States

The Christian Lady's Dating Constitution... by Jessica Martin

"The Christian Lady's Dating Constitution" by Jessica Martin is all about how Christian--and all--women deserve to be treated in a relationship. Martin outlines a woman's rights and uncovers some very big myths in the dating world. Copious Bible verses are quoted--hence the Christian theme--but the overall message of the book is for all. Different types of abuse (physical, emotional, mental, etc) are gone over. Case studies are even included where the reader have room to write down what she would have done in each situation.

This book does not talk about how to date or how to get a boyfriend. It is not that type of book. Rather, it is all about what abuse is, how to recognize it, and what steps to take to stop it. Statistics and hotlines make the book feel a bit more professional. The way the writing read, it sounds like the author is speaking one-on-one to the reader; she even shares her own story of abuse. My only criticism is that the syntax with commas and semicolons is not where it should be.
domestic abuse and its warning signs are discussed
Reviewer Age:19
Reviewer City, State and Country: Troy, NY USA

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi Alpers is having a tough senior year. After the death of her brother two years ago, she has been self-medicating herself on anti-anxiety pills and has started to slack off in school. The only thing that keeps her somewhat sane is music; playing guitar, studying famous musicians, and listening to her iPod are the only things that Andi has going for her. But when her absent father discovers that Andi has been slacking off so much that she might not graduate, he takes her to Paris with him so she can work on her senior thesis. While in France, Andi discovers the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, a young girl in Revolutionary France who is the companion of the dauphin, Louis-Charles. Immediately Andi finds a connection with Alexandrine, who's love for the young prince parallels Andi's feelings about her own brother. But one night in the Catacombs makes Alexandrine's story come alive, and changes Andi forever.

I thought that Revolution was a magnificient novel. It takes two tough stories - Andi's grief and Alexandrine's suffering during the French Revolution - and makes them feel real. The stories intertwine so perfectly; nothing is rushed and the different tales are not choppy - it's almost as if they belong together. The reader is smoothly and surely drawn into both Andi and Alexandrine's worlds. Jennifer Donnelly did an amazing job of writing about the French Revolution, one of history's most interesting periods. There is so much detail and you feel as if you are there with Alexandrine, experiencing the horror of the Revolution and the Reign of Terror. At time the plot is slow-moving, but it allows for a lot of backstory and for the reader to learn about the Revolution. The parallels between Andi and Alexandrine are uncanny - their names are even an anagram - and it's as if they are the same person living in two different centuries. Revolution was an amazing novel and I recommend everyone to read it.

Reviewer Age:18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Flipped is, simply put, the story of a boy and a girl told from both of their perspectives. It follows them for six years. It starts days before their first day of second grade when Bryce moves in next door to Juli. And it follows them throughout elementary and middle school. Flipped documents their struggles and triumphs, giving opposing perspectives to each issue.

Fliped is an incredible story of a girl who loves a boy. And then a boy that loves a girl. The story follows Bryce and Juli, next door neighbors who can never agree. The book is from the perspective of both characters and shows the serious miscommunications they have. The tale takes place in elementary and middle school yet the romance is real. Van Draanen is able to intertwine grade school drama with deep feeling successfully. Van Draanen makes a high school student interested in the young romance.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Amherst, MA USA

The Last Seal by Richard Denning

A powerful demon named dantalion has been trapped below London for over 300 years. Ben is trapped in school, unaware of the rising threat to the city which will cause the Great Fire of London. When Ben runs away from the school he meets a nice squibe, who turns out to be a magican who is trying to keep Dantalion from rising to his full power, in his shop and buys some books, but gets more than he bargained for. As he is leaving the shop he runs into a thief who is no ordinary thief, but a girl trying to make her way in the world. Ben is charged with thievery and runs for is life after the thief who he teams up with along with the scribe, Gabriel, and a unlikely doctor to stop the rise of Dantalion. As London burns they must race against time to save London and the whole world. Will they stop Dantalion or will the world perish with them with it?

I didn't really like this book due to the fact that it had a pentagram on the cover. Other than that it was a really good book, the way it was written and the characterization. The strengths and weaknesses of this book are excellent word choice but it doesn't flow well. What I mean is that it was kinda of choppy and I didn't really get it half of the time. I would not recommend this book because it is all very religious and kind of boring. There are no inappropriate
scenes in this book but there is a lot of religious beliefs in it.

Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Hopkins, Michigan USA

The Skinny On Success by Jim Randel

The Skinny on Success brings attention to the several characteristics of successful people. This book was a self help book. It will help many adults. Maybe some teens or college students on how to be successful. It was a witty way to show you the importance of success.

The author would achieve his purpose on success if the readers are older.I say this because I felt it should be geared towards college students and adults. The strengths of this book are it definitely will help people with the success of jobs and guide them in the right direction. The jokes in the book and the wittiness is geared to adults so it didn't seem all that funny. This book made me realize being successful isn't always easy. Also you should never give up and you should stick to your goal no matter what. Also you can't expect instant success cause nine times out of ten it won't happen. The author could have made the jokes a little more funny because they weren't very amusing. I would recommend this book to older people college age and older. I think this because it was more job related and how to succeed financially and young people don't have to worry about this kind of material just yet.

Reviewer Age:12
Reviewer City, State and Country: Braintree, Massachusetts USA

The Official XXXHolic Guide by Clamp

Since the worlds that CLAMP has created are all incredibly complex, this guide is helpful in filling in the blanks that users might have about the manga series. The Official xxxHolic Guide starts out with six full-color mini posters depicting the main characters of the manga - namely Yuko and Watanuki. It then continues to go in depth about the characters, connections to other CLAMP works, and Yuko's best quotes, wardrobe, and favorite things. At the end are various readers' poll results, compatibility tests, and quizzes.

I have not read the xxxHolic manga series before, and this definitely piqued my interest. Having read other CLAMP works, it was fascinating to see the intricate plot threads and parallels that bind various CLAMP mangas together. Coupled with the gorgeous artwork, complex storyline, and explanations on Japanese legends and culture that were integrated into the manga, The Official xxxHolic Guide would be perfect for any CLAMP fan.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Palo Alto, CA US