Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vietnam: Book One; I Pledge Allegiance by Chris Lynch

Hope P.,    16   
Chris Lynch   
Vietnam: Book One; I Pledge Allegiance   
Scholastic     2011

         Morris, Ivan, Rudi, and Beck are inseparable friends, and will be for life. They pick on each other, and defend each other too. And no one-no one- outside the four messes with Rudi.  Rudi is a little slower than the rest of the guys, even having to repeat a grade in school. Because he is older than the rest of the guys, he is eligible for the Vietnam War Draft. When he is called, all four boys sign up. They are all in different branches of the military, but they are fighting together, and they pledge they are coming home together too. That pledge means even more to Morris, who has had vivid, terrifying dreams every night about the war. He dreams his friends die, and he promises himself he will not let that happen. In the heart of the Vietnam War, that is a hard promise to keep. In the US Navy, he is seeing combat almost every day. The Air Force, Marines, and Army are no better off, and he gets very little word on his friends. There are times when it seems better to desert or worse.  But he gave a pledge to protect his friends and he will keep it, or die trying.      

I was actually surprised by this novel. Most novels about a war, and especially one as controversial as the Vietnam War, reflect the author’s own opinions. However, I felt Chris Lynch did a good job of remaining neutral, and portraying the events that happen through the character’s eyes, not his own. Each of the four characters had his own opinions about the War and I hope the series alternates between the four boys. This first novel [in the series], told from Morris’s point of view, centers on the US Navy and its roles and history; which I found very interesting. I will definitely read the next installment.    

Rating: 4 Better than most

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Scary Scene In A Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone

Hope P. ,   16   
Matt Blackstone    
A Scary Scene In A Scary Movie   
Farrar Straus Giroux     2011

        Rene is an obsessive compulsive freshman who wants to be a superhero. He wants to fit in with his schoolmates, despite the fact he will not  pick up a face down coin,  doesn’t move a muscle if the clocks adds up to thirteen, and  wears a Batman cape when he gets nervous. And he gets nervous a lot.  He is convinced if he does anything in his life out of order, his beloved teacher will quit, his mother will get fired, his dream girl will move away, or he will cause a nuclear holocaust; whichever one comes first. He, naturally, is the target of bullying and school jokes, but he never stands up for himself. Then a new kid comes to school, a guy named Giovanni that everyone loves. He starts being a friend to Rene, the first friend he has ever had. Gio teaches him about life and being a normal teenager. Rene starts to learn to stand up for himself. He even speaks to the girl he has had a crush on forever. He stops wearing the cape…as much. Things are looking up. But when Rene’s runaway dad drops back into his life, Rene’s little world is shaken to its core. This OCD superzero, aided by his hero Gio, embarks on a journey to discover life, liberty, and the hero within himself….if only he could stop washing his hands long enough to do so.     This novel had a refreshingly original writing style, and I was surprised to find this was a debut novel. While the story line itself was a little shaky in places; the main character was so engaging and lovable it more than made up for it. Rene tells his story in his own way, and through it we see many aspects of a teen’s life, from abandonment of a parent, to school pressure, to the reappearance of that runaway parent. Emotions, whether good or bad, run high throughout the novel, keeping the reader engaged in the story. Peppering this novel are observations of everyday life, told through the eyes of this quirky, endearing character. 9.5/10 rating.    

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon (2 reviews)

Dria,    17  
Sherrilyn Kenyon 
Infinity      
2010

       Nick Gautier is your typical poor 14 year old, going to a private school of snobby rich kids. Bulllies, girls, and keeping his mom happy are his primary concerns, just like everyone else. Until he nearly gets killed and is saved by the uber rich, uber ninja, uber awesome Kyrian Hunter! To pay off his medical bills, Nick goes to work for Kyrian. And to make things worse, some weird b-rate zombie flick seems to have infected the school's football team. Can Nick save the city without getting himself killed or grounded? This book was imaginative and compelling. A funny fast read that I definitely recomment to all Sherrily Kenyon fans. Her voice is so amazing and one of a kind. I was left rolling on the floor laughing and wanting more.    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!  

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book
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Ronnie, 17
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Infinity
2011

An supernatural, action packed novel that will have you laughing on one page and full of suspense the next.

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Danielle,    15   
Dawn Metcalf   
Luminous   
Dutton Books    2011

       Luminous is the story of a girl named Consuela. She has the ability to take off her skin and change into different skins made out of organic material, specifically fire, feathers, air, water and butterflies. She beomces part of the Flow. The Flow is a place where the impossible is possible and everything is ever changing and yet never changes. There she meets others who have special abilities. However as she continues to stay there she begins to learn secrets and faces betrayels from every corner. When someone starts killing the people in the Flow, it's fate rests on her bony shoulders.     When I first started reading this is was kind of creepy. The way she can shuck of her skin and the author is very descriptive. However as I continued to read it, the book kept me hooked to the very end.    

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (2 reviews)

Anqi,     12  
Andrea Cremer  
Wolfsbane  
Penguin Young Readers Group    2011

        I was delightfully surprised after finishing Andrea Cremer's new novel. After reading Nightshade, I decided the only reason I would ever read Wolfsbane would be to figure out what happened after the cliffhanger left in the prequel. (I can never leave cliffhangers just hanging there.) But as I turned the last page of this new addition in the Nightshade series, I couldn't help feeling that I needed to read the next book, and not because it didn't have a big ending (because it did) but it turns out that Wolfsbane is infinitely better than Nightshade. First things first, there were tons of secrets that were revealed in this one. I was gasping at every page because the enormity of each were just so big and monumental to the story. It was a big step up from Nightshade-for some reason, I could almost see what was happening next in her previous book, which really irked me. A warning though; You should definitely read Nightshade before reading Wolfsbane, even if you're not sure you would like it. I read it, and I still got confused with all the terms and action they were throwing around. That's the other thing-this book reads fast. The plot twists and turns with fighting, romance, and gore, and I found myself at the last hundred pages when I was least expecting it. The romance is the only thing that's holding me back from giving it a full five stars. The chemistry between Shay and Calla and Ren and Calla never exactly felt...well, real. I couldn't find myself really detesting or liking either Shay or Ren, which I didn't enjoy. I also thought that Calla's character could be developed more-sometimes she seemed so selfish, while others she seemed like the perfect heroine in every way. Maybe that's the key to a good character-she/he needs to have an equal balance of good or bad-but I still thought she could've been more well-rounded. So, yes... please do read Wolfsbane! It is amazing! I will be eagerly waiting for the next in the series, as I'm sure that other readers will be!      

Rating: 4 Better than most
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Anthony,    16 
Andrea Cremer 
Wolfsbane 
Philomel books    2011

       I normally hate all romance novels but Nightshade (the book preceding this one if you didn't know) had just enough action to make it tolerable. This book starts off directly after Nightshade leaves off with Calla imprisoned by the searchers who she learns are actually the good guys. Calla has to learn to cooperate with her previous enemies and save her pack. This book had more intriguing story than the first and I really liked the authors take on werewolves.     

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Anqi,     12   
Sarah Darer Littman   
Want to Go Private?   
Scholastic Press    2011

       Abby is starting high school. So why shouldn't she be excited? After three years of bullying from the Clique Queens at Abby's middle school, she sees no point in making an effort for the first day of school if there are going to be even more 'Clique Queens' on the rage. So when she starts talking to Luke online, she loves the escape-from school, from her parents, from even her friends-and she feels there is no one else who understands her better than Luke. When Luke suggests they meet, Abby readily agrees. But when Abby goes missing, it's left to her closest ones to figure out the truth...or she will be gone forever.

I LOVED this novel. Sarah Darer Littman takes a real-life, gritty, and what we think of as almost a technical situation and turns it into a full length book that dissects it bit by bit to reveal the human nature underneath, much like what I thought Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why did. Though it is albeit predictable (even from the summary, you probably know what happens) it doesn't give away the completely poignant way this book is written, the way it tugs at your heartstrings and almost makes you cry. That's what definitely happened to me. It had my heart racing as I turned page after page after page to see the outcome, and when I finished a few hours later, I couldn't shake the nightmarish images out of my head. Take heed of the words in this book-though it is mostly a dark journey, rays of hope shine through to let you believe that some good things come after the bad.        

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan (2 reviews)


Jessica,    15  
Sophie Jordan  
Firelight  
HarperTeen    2010

       This crazy, independent girl wants nothing more than to be just that: a girl. But her mother and twin sister have other ideas. They want her to be something other than she is. They want to kill her Draki. But Jacinda can't let that happen. Her Draki is the only thing that links her to her father, who's now been dead years. What will happen when she meets a boy who would put in jeopardy everything she's been fighting for the past few months? What if being with him might mean having her Draki killed by the one she's coming to love more than even her family?

Jacinda made me laugh and cry and curse at almost every turn. If you don't read this, you can't consider your curiosity rightfully satisfied    I'd definitely recommend it to those who love the shape-shifting genres.  

Rating: 4 Better than most
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Anqi,     12 
Sophie Jordan  
Firelight 
HarperTeen    2010

 
     After a constant onslaught of vampire and werewolf books, Firelight seemed a comforting surprise. Being an eternal dragon/fairy fan, I knew this would be a great read, and although the plot of forbidden love sounded similar to Twilight's, was glad to give it a try. Firelight starts when Jacinda, a draki, breaks the most important rule of her kind: she shifts into a dragon and flies out in the daytime, in sight of possible humans and hunters. The Draki's most important defense is being able to shift from the form of a human to dragon, and if dragon hunters, who serve Enkros, evil beings set out to poach them, find out their secrets, the draki have no hope of surviving.     That same day Jacinda meets a handsome hunter named Will, who surprisingly refrains from killing her and instead lets her remain hidden. She flees back to her nest and meets her mother and sister, Tamra, who both are unable to turn into draki like Jacinda. Her mother warns them that they are in terrible danger, and they leave the nest in order to spend their time in the human world.     Jacinda is disgusted as she learns that her mother has set out to kill Jacinda's inner draki by forcing them to live in a dry desert area with no moist earth to quench her draki's thirst. She's also obliged to go to high school, where she discovers that they're here: the dragon hunters. I thought that Firelight was an okay kind of novel that had an excellent plot but lacked the style that would've defined it from other vampire/werewolf books published this year. Although Sophie Jordan beautifully described the need Jacinda felt to reunite with her withering draki, I thought that all in all Jacinda did not act as if she were half-human and instead walked and talked like a regular human girl. I would've liked to see some dragon traits in her, or at least something besides her dragon shifting that would've reflected in her personality. Another aspect that I didn't like about the book was that the romance between Jacinda and Will wasn't at all realistic. We did not delve much into their personalities before Jacinda fell head over heels in love with Will, the only reason being that being near him made her feel alive inside. Jacinda herself was a strong character, and admitted when she was selfish or vain. I liked that she had flaws but wasn't too proud to admit it, and that she cared for her mother and sister even though they did not understand her need to fly and be a dragon.    This was a good book, with its own flaws, but I'm still very excited for Firelight's sequel, and hope to find that what happens to Jacinda next, it'll be action-packed and filled with dragons once again. 

Rating: 4 Better than most
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Dria,    17  
Catherine Gilbert Murdock  
Wisdom's Kiss      
2011

        To be honest I'm not really sure who this book is about. It's either Trudy or Dizzy. Maybe it's both. Anyway Trudy (Fortitude) is a small village kitchen maid, until Princess Dizzy (Wisdom) and her grandmother pass through her town on the way to see Dizzy's fiance. In the event Trudy must go with them, which she's totally okay with since the love of her life happens to be in the same town. That's basically the plot without any spoilers. The spoilers are what made the book good. I liked the syle in which the book was written, at first it was confuzing jumping from one document to another in order to tell a story but it totally worked in this book.    The last three words made me like this book more than the entire story did. I don't know, it was just pretty average in terms of enjoyability.  

Rating: 3 Readable

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Project by Brian Falkner

Anthony,    16   
Brian Falkner   
The Project   
Random House    2011

       This was a surprisingly original book. It all starts when Luke and Tommy pull a prank that is foiled by a drunken squirrel. While they are being talked to by their principal they say that "The Last Of The Mohicans" is the most boring book on earth. The principal then says if they can prove it they won't be punished for the prank. While searching for the most boring book on earth they discover that it is "Leonardo's River" which happens to be found the next day in the towns university basement. Thus starts a journey involving modern day Nazis and Leonardo Da Vinci.       

Rating: 4 Better than most

Thursday, August 11, 2011

With or Without You by Brian Farrey

Danielle,    15  
Brian Farrey  
With or Without You  
Simon Pulse    2011

        Evan and his friend Davis are constantly tormented for being gay. However all that changes when they meet Sable. Sable is the leader of the Chasers, a group of people trying to make it better for gays. Or are they? Evan discovers dark secrets in the Chasers and turns to his sweet and sexy boyfriend Erik for help. But can Erik help him after everything Evan has done?   

It was hard to read simply becuase of the amount of pain people had to go through. It was interesting but heartbreaking at the same time.   

Rating: 4 Better than most

The Accidental Genius Of Weasel High by Rick Detorie

Spencer,    13  
Rick Detorie  
The Accidental Genius Of Weasel High  
Egmont    2011

       This book was funny and a easy read. I liked the plot of the book and the Accidental Talent that Larkin possesses. I enjoyed seeing Larkin work out where he stands in his relationship with Brooke. This was a nice break and relaxed me as I read it. The only problem I had with this book was the ending which irratated me a bit... But if Rick publishes a sequel to this he could redeem himself.

P.S. It wasn't a happy ending!    Better than most for a graphic novel, and was much better than any of the Wimpy Kid's in my opinion!  

Rating: 4 Better than most

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Staniford

Hannah, Middle School Student   
Natalie Staniford   
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters    
Scholastic Press    2010

        Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters is a unique book its self. Well, it starts out with the rich Sullivan family going to go see their grandmother, Almighty, on Christmas. When they get there Almighty informs them that she will be cutting the whole family from her will. Reasoning behind that is that someone in her family has offended her greatly. So with that said the family immediately turn to the three daughters; Norrie, Jane, and Sassy; to save the family from poverty.     I would recommend this book who like romance and mystery.    

Rating: 2 Needs work

Monday, August 8, 2011

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Allana,    14  
Carl Deuker  
Payback Time  
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt    2010

       Payback Time is a modern day novel about a high school boy named Mitch. Mitch is a reporter and writes for the school newspaper. This book tells the story of him uncovering a big mystery inside of his schools football team that he and his friend Kimi the photographer. Throughout the investigation Mitch starts to like Kimi and changes himself and his over excessive eating habits. This story is great for teens and could be enjoyed by either a girl or a boy. Its also a fast and easy read with lots of twists and turns!      
 Rating: 4 Better than most

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (2 reviews)

Andrea F.,    18   
Dandi Daley Mackall   
The Silence of Murder   
Random House    2011

        Jeremy has not spoken a word in twelve years and he's even given up writing to communicate. There is no way he can defend himself against a murder charge after he was seen running away with a bloody bat from the body of his favorite baseball coach. But his sister Hope knows that there is no way her sweet, fantastic brother could've done this even though he sometimes still has tantrums at eighteen. There was no way he could've murdered Coach, one of his favorite people in the world. But the evidence is quickly mounting up and Jeremy refuses to say anything, forcing Hope to go looking for the real killer. An unoriginal plot but beautifully written by the author. She has a real gift for writing and makes it a murder mystery worth reading. 8/10.        

Rating: 4 Better than most


Hope P. ,   16  
Dandi Daley Mackall  
The Silence of Murder  
Random House    2011

           Beloved baseball coach John Johnson has been murdered. The only suspect is eighteen year old Jeremy Long, a boy who has not spoken a word in twelve years. He has always been a little eccentric, collecting empty jars and writing beautiful calligraphy notes about nature. But he also has a temper, and can get violent. He was seen running away from the scene of the murder with the baseball bat that killed Johnson. There seems no doubt he killed him. But Jeremy’s sixteen year old sister Hope is convinced someone is framing Jeremy. She will stop at nothing to prove his innocence, even when the whole town, including their mother, believes he is guilty. If Jeremy will not speak in his defense, Hope will be his voice. But as she delves into the mystery surrounding the coach’s death, she will learn secrets better left unspoken. Is the brother she adores as innocent as she believes him to be? This novel had all the excitement of a procedural drama, mixed with the everyday teen-age problems such as learning how to drive. In this gripping and beautifully written novel, Dandi Daley Mackall brings a murder mystery that will keep you guessing, intertwined with a story of family trust, a budding romance, tinges of humor, and the message that sometimes you do not need words to tell a story.      

Rating: 5 Hard to imagine a better book

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (2 reviews)

lolita.  16
Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races
2011

this book is about two differnt people sean and puck that have their own reasons to win the races that is known to have killed many of people not really what i was expecting probaly because i got my hopes up from what i heard about it but over all it was a good book

Rating: 4 Better than most

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Andrea F.,    18
Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races
Scholastic Press    2011

       The Scorpio Races are held every fall on the island of Thisby when the sea washes ashore the capaill uische, or man eating water horses. The water horses are captured, trained, and raced against each other in the deadliest horse race on earth. The book alternates between two points of view, Sean and Puck. Sean loves the water horses despite their dangerous natures and is a four time winner of the races. This time he is racing to win Corr, the water horse that belongs to him in everything but name, from the stables Sean works at. Puck's brother is leaving for the mainland and dumping her with a house that's about to be seized by the bank, spurring her to enter the races to win the considerable purse. Puck can't capture a water horse and because she's the first girl ever entering the race no one will sell her one, so she decides to enter with her ordinary pony Dove. Sean and Puck become friends over the course of the book and both want the other to win but they can't bear losing themselves.

I was impressed at the author's skill at mythology building which I had lost faith in since the Twilight incident. The afterword said that she had made up much of it but it felt old and incorporated much of the traditional spells against fairies in protection against the water horses; salt, iron, the color red. She was able to create a rich magical world but she was focused ultimately on the characters and their relationships with their horses. I'm not much of a horse person so I was worried that like many children's books this might only appeal to enthusiasts but I was pleasantly surprised. Puck's struggle to race gave the book a girl power boost without being suffocatingly gung ho and opened up romantic opportunities. Two very minor criticisms: 1. The title, 2. The characters names. The title was not attractive and the author only referenced it once in the book while not explaining the origins. I finally looked at the astrology page in the newspaper and realized that the races occur in November. It doesn't fit in with the rest of the book's mythology and I wish the author would change it. I have heard several people complain that they could not remember that Puck was a girl but I never remember character's names anyways so it didn't bother me. Overall a fun, magical, gory horse book. 8/10.    

Rating: 4 Better than most