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Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review: The Stalwart Companions by H. Paul Jeffers

The Stalwart Companions by H. Paul Jeffers
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The Stalwart Companions
by H. Paul Jeffers
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Titan Books
ISBN-10: 1-84856-509-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-84856-509-8
Publication Date: February, 2010
List Price: $9.95

Review: In the year 1880, a humid July night in New York City, two grand companions pursue a notorious criminal through the paved streets. This is the adventure of The Stalwart Companions.

Set in New York, New York, this novel by H. Paul Jeffers follows the infamous Sherlock Holmes through the eyes of his early cohort, the future President of the United States: Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, fresh out of Harvard, arranges to meet his pen pal Holmes at dinner with his friend from the New York Police Department, Will Hargreave. But when Will gets a call about a murder at Gramacey Park, the hunt begins.

As the companions search for clues, the mystery complicates. Soon, the murder doesn’t seem as simple as a robbery. The complications grow when the President comes to town. And when they are finally putting the pieces together, it might be too late…

This novel is exceptional! It is a fantastic story, filled with all of the things you could want in a book: suspense, thrill, plot, everything! What I really liked is the author’s plot\setting consistency. Jeffers truly makes it feel like the book takes place in the late 1800’s. He made it so the dialogue was like how it would have been back then. Jeffers was also careful about incorporating real live characters into the story. There are no loose ends in the story that he forgot to tie up. The story is very well written and makes sense. It even plays a part in history! He incorporates other figures and places of that time frame very well. His phenomenal blend of fact and fiction kept me on the edge of my seat until I had finished. It was so good; I was disappointed when it was finished. If you are in the mood for an action-packed, tortuous mystery, The Stalwart Companions is a great choice!

The Stalwart Companions is in the new adventure series: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Like other books in the series, these present the untold mysteries of the infamous detective.

Review written by Jonathan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Titan Books for providing a copy of The Stalwart Companions for this review.

Have you read The Stalwart Companions? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review: Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley
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Nature Girl
by Jane Kelley

Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85634-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85634-1
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $16.99

Review: Jane Kelley has written her first book, Nature Girl, and has proven to me that she has an outstanding talent to write! When Megan is forced to go on a hike with her sister Ginia and her sister’s boy friend Sam by her parents, she gets lost and it is up to her and her not so trusty dog Arp to get back home. So that is what starts her journey across the Appalachian Trail to get to Mt. Greylock in order to prove herself to Lucy and the world!

Megan and her family are spending the summer in Virginia known as the middle of nowhere to Megan. When she gets there she faces one bath roomed houses and slime pools. She knows she can’t live there for an entire summer so she tries calling Lucy from a tree and falls out of a tree. Because of that, she is forced to go hiking with Sam, Ginia and Arp. Well, while Sam and Ginia race ahead, Megan tries to find them and she gets mad when she does. She tries to go back home but instead she gets lost and finds the Appalachian Trail. From there she tries to hike to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts where her best friend Lucy is staying. Along the trail, Megan meets many people and learns who she really is.

In general, I think this is an outstanding book. It has a message that if you can hike the Appalachian Trail and find out who you really are, you can do anything. Kelley also wrote the book so that almost anybody could read it so I would suggest this book to anyone seven years or older. The story flows evenly and it has many details that pull the story together. Also, it is very amusing. There are some funny and mischievous parts in the story that Megan is in and it can make anyone laugh out loud. Kelley did a very good job of thinking of the story and writing it. There are funny parts, sad parts, exciting parts, nerve-wracking parts and much, much more. There are a lot of details that, in the long run, make the story incredible. In all of the books I have read this year, this was one of the best because it is that type of story that you don’t always hear about and just reading the first chapter pulls you into the book and you can’t escape until you are done. I want to thank Jane Kelley for writing an outstanding book that can entertain many, many people.

Review written by Sheila (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Nature Girl for this review.

Have you read Nature Girl? How would you rate it?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski
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Gimme A Call
by Sarah Mlynowski
Magic in Manhattan

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73588-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73588-X
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $17.99

Review: Romance, suspense, and great, enjoyable characters. Are these all aspects of books you love? If so, then Gimme a Call is for you! I can guarantee that you will love it. This remarkable book is by Sarah Mlynowski.

When this book starts, 18-year-old Devorah Banks, or Devi, is at the mall. After all, who doesn't love the mall? She's sitting at the fountain, listening to her voice mail from her boyfriend, Bryan, when all of a sudden her phone just slips out of her hand and into the fountain. Devi sighs, rolls up her jeans, and goes in. After finding it, she tries to turn it on, or call someone, or text someone. As the phone comes alive with the push of the send button, it turns on. As Devi tries to call someone, her phone calls her own number- 3 and a 1/2 years ago! Devi sees this can work to her advantage: she can keep her friends, drop Bryan first so he can't break her heart, and generally make her life better. As a freshman Devi (nicknamed Frosh) and senior Devi (nicknamed Ivy) make plans, Ivy's life changes in ways she never thought were possible. Some of the things Ivy tells Frosh to do are try to win the lottery, cheat to try to get into better colleges, and even crazier things! As for her colleges, she gets accepted to UCLA, Hofstra, and Harvard (and at one point, Heken, a school for juvenile delinquents). Another small detail is the batteries in Ivy's phone are running out! She can't charge it, and she can't put in a new battery. With this detail in mind, Ivy's phone..dies.

Gimme a Call is a really good book, and I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the plot because it never repeated itself. Also, the storyline was really original because the whole calling-your-younger-self thing has never really been used before, so it was new to me. I liked how Ivy and Frosh tried to change their lives, but then in the end everything turned out pretty much the same it had been in the beginning, except for a few small fine points! I also liked the characters, because they were funny, made me laugh, and most of them seemed like people I would want to be friends with. Another thing that I enjoyed was how at the end a senior Frosh finally accepted how she and Bryan were going to be, and how they all finally got to prom. One thing I didn't like was how in the end, they didn't tell you how college Ivy turned out. I really wanted to know that part, and I was disappointed that the author didn't tell the reader more about it. In addition, I liked how Ivy still got into a good college. Also, I really hope there's a sequel to Gimme a Call, or the author writes more books, because it has become one of my top favorite books. All in all, Gimme a Call is a great book that I could read over and over again.

Review written by Emily (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Gimme A Call for this review.

Have you read Gimme A Call? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
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The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
by Josh Berk

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-85699-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85699-0
Publication Date: February, 2010
List Price: $21.99

Review: Being heavy and deaf aren’t two good qualities to have when entering a new school. It won’t get you popular but it won’t make you a nerd either. But it will make you a detective when the most popular jock at Carbon High school is murdered. Join Will Halphin (a.k.a. “Hefty Houdini”) and Devon Smiley as they solve the mystery murder. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halphin was written by Mr. John Berk.

Being heavy and deaf aren’t two good qualities to have when entering a new school. It won’t get you popular but it won’t make you a nerd either. But it will make you a detective when the most popular jock at Carbon High School is murdered. Will Halphin wants to figured out who murdered Pat Chambers and why. Was it the stunning Leigha Pennington? How about Mr. Fatzinger? Could it be Travis Bickerstokes, Pat’s good friend? To find the answers, all you have to do is find this book and read. I know who it is but I am not ready to spill.

Overall, I think it was an okay book. I have heard the same plot a lot (only this time it is a deaf kid who solves the mystery). There is quite a bit of bad language in the book. It talks about very inappropriate things throughout the book. There is also a lot of swearing and it uses every word in the swear vocabulary. I would say that you would at least have to be in seventh or eighth grade to be eligible to read this book due to the language and inappropriate descriptions and scenes. Also, this book was not very appealing. It had so much bad language; it was hard to concentrate on the subject. The lack of originality is also a weakness because there are a lot of high school murder books out in the world. This book is almost the same as all of the others. Someone gets murdered, and, an unexpected detective solves the mystery. Overall, I would only slightly recommend the book to some people but I’d feel compelled to warn them about the swearing and inappropriate things going on. It is a decent book; it is unfortunate the author felt the need to pepper it with such foul scenes and language.

Review written by Sheila (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin for this review.

Have you read The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin? How would you rate it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: Out of the Woods by Lyn Gardner

Out of the Woods by Lyn Gardner
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Out of the Woods
by Lyn Gardner
Eden Sisters

David Fickling Books
ISBN-10: 0-385-75154-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-75154-4
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $17.99

Review: Fun, adventure, love, and witches! This is what 12-year-old Storm, an adventurous young girl, and her sisters, the beautiful Aurora, and the remarkable two-year-old Any encounter in their everyday lives in Out of the Woods. Out of the Woods is the sequel to Into the Woods, by Lyn Gardner, and the wonderful illustrations of Mini Grey.

In Out of The Woods, Storm’s mother has died, and their father goes on many expeditions that last him weeks, sometimes months to complete. His goal is to find the only dragon that has sweet disposition in the world. The girls are pretty much on their own. When their father goes on one more expedition, the girls are pretty scared. Aurora is stressing over the bills, and Storm just wants to be with her mother. Storm makes daily visits to her mom’s grave, and talks to her. But when a strange fun fair flyer blows by Storm really wants to go, little does she know that the fun fair is just a trap. Unfortunately, she just doesn’t have money. Luckily, she meets a “nice” old lady (who is really the mean old witch Belladonna) who gives her and her sisters some free rides. Her and her sisters can’t refuse now. Little do they know that the fun fair isn’t much fun at all. It is just a boatload of scares! When their new “step mom” (who is really Belladonna) comes to save them, they run into her loving arms. Sadly, she brings them bad news of their father’s death. Belladonna is really just a mean witch that uses a magic mirror to change her appearance. Storm suspects her right away, and is mad. Then they find out the truth. Belladonna is about to get the girls into a world of adventure and trouble in Out of The Woods!

Overall Out of the Woods is a wonderful book! I just loved how much it had other fairy tales entwined with one very original book! For example, there is the Wolf from Little Red Robin Hood, and the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White. I also loved that it is a page-turner. One minute your favorite character is a frog, and then they are human, and then back to a frog. I was also sad when it ended. The illustrations are fantastic, and I think that they really add to the story. Also, even though there are a few references to other fairy tales, the author kept her book very original which is hard to do. While I loved this book, there were a few things that I would like to mention. One of these is read the first book before you read this one. It helps, because the girls keep referring to things from the other book. It isn’t hard to understand, but it would defiantly help. For example, it would have been better to know more about the pipe, and not just have it mentioned. I also think that there was some mild violence in this book, but it was nothing to bad. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars, but wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under fourth grade.

Review written by Kayley (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Out of the Woods for this review.

Have you read Out of the Woods? How would you rate it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen

Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen
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by Lynn E. Hazen

Tricycle Press
ISBN-10: 1-58246-257-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-58246-257-8
Publication Date: March, 2010
List Price: $7.99

Review: Most people believe that crime is a bad thing. In the book Shifty, by Lynn E. Hazen, the main character Soli, and his foster mother Martha, have illegal secrets that they keep from each other. Soli and his foster sister Sissy learn a whole new meaning of relationships when Soli has to take care of Sissy. In Shifty, Soli does whatever he can to help his foster family survive. A shifty person, a.k.a. Soli, wants to know the truth about his natural family.

Soli, age 15, has already been to juvie, but suddenly his life takes an unexpected turn when he finds himself at Martha’s house. Two other foster kids also come to live with Martha. One of Soli’s adventures is when he is at a store, and he sees a random lady and says that she is his grandma to avoid getting a ticket. Sissy, Chance (the two other foster kids), and Soli go around getting into mischief. Martha has a nervous breakdown and has to go to the hospital and Soli has to take care of “his grandma’s” cat. Shelia-not-Shelly is always trying to get Martha’s house under police watch, and an old guy gets Soli into a ton of trouble when Soli tries to help “his grandma”. On the bright side, Soli gets a new job that involves parking cars at a restaurant and helps Sissy meet new people with the help of a surprising invitation. But an unexpected call makes for a troubled family. Will Martha be able to continue living in her house? Or has it been a coincidence that Soli and Sissy just happened to meet each other? You need to read the book to find out.

This book has made me want to read it over and over again. It is very exciting and each chapter leads into the next chapter. On a scale from 1 to 10, this book deserves a 9 because Soli and Sissy get into a lot of trouble, but always manage to escape it. The only bad part is when the author doesn’t explain why Soli does the things he does. Shifty is a great book to read if you are between the ages 7-14, or if you like to read about a kid who always gets himself into trouble. But the absolute best part is the first page when Soli receives a ticket for parking in a bus zone and when Martha asks him why he got the ticket. Soli replies, “I was hungry”. Read this book and you will get the same excitement as me when you read it. Soli won’t be too shifty in the future if he finds a new home.

Review written by Adam (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Tricycle Press for providing a copy of Shifty for this review.

Have you read Shifty? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
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The Owl Keeper
by Christine Brodien-Jones

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73814-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73814-9
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $17.99

Review: A boy allergic to sun particles, a mysterious girl only appearing at night, a last silver owl, weekly shots, mind control, strange and disgusting creatures that live to kill, a nanny keeping a very big secret and an evil government? What do all of these mean? What is going on? Find out in The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones.

12 year old Maxwell Unger, known as Max, hasn’t been outside in the sun since his was 7 when he was diagnosed with some kind of disease that makes him allergic to sun particles. He has to get weekly shots to keep him well. Because of the illness, he is forced to stay inside with his babysitter, Mrs. Crumlin, all day and can only come out at night. He has a friend, a silver owl who lives on an “owl tree” in his backyard. It is the last silver owl alive and they are known for their exotic “owl songs”. One night outside with his owl, he meets Rose, a girl who is running with her dad from the government, the High Echelon. From that moment on, they meet almost every night. Together he and Rose find a strange creature called a skræk. He also learns some horrifying truths about the High Echelon. What are these secrets? What really is skræk? What do they do with Max? What happens next? Do you want to know the answers to these questions? Then make reading The Owl Keeper the top of your list of priorities!

This book absolutely amazes me! It is probably the best book I have ever read! The emotions that swirl around in this book are more than I could count! Anger, hope, perseverance, fear, rage, and cocky are just a few of them. These emotions are so well described in the book that you can feel them inside of you. The author also puts a lot of thought, details and imagination into this book. The author creates a creature called a skræk and uses wonderful descriptions such as “It had no hair and its slimy skin was transparent, with a tangle of pulsing veins underneath……its face looked pliable and half formed, like one of Mrs. Crumlin’s griddle cakes. Its eyes were sunk deep into its head, so deep, he couldn’t see them.”

The only disappointment is that it takes a really long time to build up to the climax which makes the first half of the book not as interesting as the second half. All in all this was a really fantastic book. With its wonderful details and vivid descriptions, this book deserves 4 and ½ stars. When I saw this book, I knew it would be a book that would be cherished by me for a long time. I hope that once you read this book you will love it too.

Review written by Sarah (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Owl Keeper for this review.

Have you read The Owl Keeper? How would you rate it?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
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Five Children and It
by E. Nesbit
Looking Glass Library

Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-86336-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-86336-3
Publication Date: January, 2010
List Price: $12.99

Review: Five Children and It by E. Nesbit is a great book for any adventurer! Cyril is on of the five brothers and sisters, and he is also known as “squirrel” He sticks along for all the adventures that have gone on, and is always looking for a way to discover something new. Anther is also one of the five children, and she is known as the panther because her instincts act quickly, and she is always observing the world around her. She can run like the speed of light, and over-come many obstacles thrown at her. Robert is known as “Bob’s”. He is an adventurous boy, but isn’t always up for every challenge. Then you have Jane who is known as….. “Pussy” she is always scared to try new things. She has fears of just about everything, and never really cares to try to get over those fears. Finally, there is Hilary, the youngest out of the five children. She is known as “Lamb”. Hilary is too young to go on the adventures, but loves to hear about them afterwards! Then, you have “It”. “It” is a Psmeadd, curious to know what a Psmeadd is? Well get the book and you will find out soon.

Days have been beautiful, wishes have been coming true, but the dark side has revealed. For days now many people have been trying to steal Hilary. A secret not known is that Hilary will one day grow wings! Once that gets out to the public people are doing anything to get there hands on her. Robert suddenly has this crazy wish in his head. He wishes his house would turn into a castle with shining nights in armor. Does it happen? Who knows…? The book shall tell you. That same day, Robert has yet another wish, to be bigger than the baker’s boy. He turns out to be…. Well I’ll let you find out. People are still trying to kidnap Lamb for the fortune, and fame of having a child with wings, so on one of the many adventures all of the children have been on, the children decide to make a wish to “It” that Lamb shale grow up right then and there into a grown up. Lamb doesn’t turn out to be the brightest person, and the wish had been taking a long time to end, and the children are starting to wonder if the wish is going to end up not going back to normal. One day the children received an offer where they can receive money and jewels as long as the don’t-.. Well toy are probably thinking DON’T WHAT? DON’T WHAT? Well that’s for me to know and you to find out! Is the ending of this story brighter than the days passed, or has the struggle just begun?

I recommend this book to any age group who is in need of some adventure! When I read this book I couldn’t put it down, it was just about glued to my hands and eyes. This book really gives you a little bit of everything, happiness, fear, curiosity, etc. You feel like you’re in a completely different world while you are reading this book. You will shut the book feeling like you have dirt on your new shoes, and your heart will be pumping with suspense! You can relate a lot about yourself to just about all of the characters making it easy to understand how they are feeling. By the time this book has come to an end you’ll be begging for more. So what are you waiting for? Go read it!

Review written by Briana (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Five Children and It for this review.

Have you read Five Children and It? How would you rate it?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Review: The Midnight Curse by L.M. Falcone

The Midnight Curse by L.M. Falcone
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The Midnight Curse
by L.M. Falcone

Kids Can Press
ISBN-10: 1-55453-358-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-55453-358-9
Publication Date: March, 2010
List Price: $18.95

Review: I could not put this book down. The book to which I am referring is titled The Midnight Curse, written by L.M Falcone. The main characters include the Darcy family consisting of Mrs. Darcy who works hard just to keep a roof over her family’s head, her eleven-year-old children, Charlie “the most superstitious kid you’ll ever meet,” and Lacey an overall calm child. Some other main characters include Great-uncle Jonathan a cursed man, Mrs. Rothbottom a weird psychic, Cornelius a lonely butler, Daniel a ghost in disguise, and Matty a silent and sometimes violent ghost.

It all begins when Great-Uncle Jonathon dies and Mrs. Darcy receives a letter in the mail inviting them to sign the will. After this, all chaos is unleashed. Charlie is given a bottle from Daniel that Great-Uncle Jonathan spoke into right before his death. When uncapped Charlie hears “The midnight curse has been passed onto you,” and totally freaks out. Charlie, because he is very superstitious, goes crazy and is put under a trance by Daniel to calm him down. They both soon find though that there are many people against them that they can’t trust, and that there are very few people they can trust. What is the midnight curse? How did the midnight curse come to be? How do they reverse the curse if they can? These questions can only be answered if you read the book.

The Midnight Curse is awesome. It has excitement throughout the whole book. After reading it, I told my whole family about it. Because of the superb writing, my description of the book is so vivid. For some reason the whole book has been burned into my brain. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Also after reading the book, I am able picture myself running around inside Cornelius’s mansion. The book is so descriptive that you feel like you are there. An example of this is “When we leaned in to take a look, blue butterflies fluttered out and up to the ceiling.” This book is also very funny. An example is “Charlie was thrilled when he spotted his favorite-baked beans in molasses-on the menu. He ate three bowls full before Mom cut him off. She said he’d be tooting all night, and that’s exactly what he did… it sounded like we were in a war zone.” One reason why I couldn’t put this book down might be because I never knew what was going to happen next. One minute they would be walking and the next something terrifying causes them to faint. This book is full of lies, disguises, and surprises. If someone does not read this book they will regret it I guarantee. This book deserves ten out of ten stars. I finished this book in less than five days after I got it. I even got in trouble for not putting it down! So if you read this book beware: it is highly addictive.

Review written by Devin (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Raab Associates, Inc. for providing a copy of The Midnight Curse for this review.

Have you read The Midnight Curse? How would you rate it?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Review: Eleventh Grade Burns by Heather Brewer

Eleventh Grade Burns by Heather Brewer
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Eleventh Grade Burns
by Heather Brewer
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Dutton Juvinile
ISBN-10: 0-525-42243-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-525-42243-3
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $16.99

Review: “Out of the darkness came a sound. It was soft and breathy, a whisper that had only barely escaped the speaker’s lips before it raced to Vlad’s ear.” Who is coming out of the darkness at Vlad? Eleventh Grade Burns is filled with exciting moments like this. Author Heather Brewer, will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat anticipating more. Vladimir Tod is a typical teenager who holds a dark secret. He is a half-vampire/half-human and things aren’t looking well for him in the fourth book to the series The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.

Vlad deals with all of the problems of a typical teenager: fitting in, getting picked on by bullies, trying to maintain a relationship with a girl, as well as typical half-vampire problems like figuring out how to hide blood capsules in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Vlad lost both his parents in a suspicious fire. He is now being raised by his Aunt Nelly, a friend of his mother’s, who is able to get blood for Vlad at the hospital where she works. Vlad begins to unravel his parents’ past and in the process uncovers their enemies such as D’Ablo, a vampire psycho who believes Vlad to be the Pravus (the ruler of vampires who will enslave human kind). To make matters worse, he finds himself friends with a vampire slayer. Oops! In Eleventh Grade Burns, Vlad finds himself without any of his powers. He loses his powers in a ritual D’Ablo conducted with his father’s book. For this reason, Vlad must be extremely cautious while facing foes because he now has the ability to die. Therefore, it is not comforting for Vlad to find out Joss, ex-friend/vampire slayer, is back in Bathory. Furthermore, Vlad’s, Uncle Otis, faces the Vampire Council for his crimes: having a secret relationship with a human (Vlad’s Aunt Nelly) and telling others that he is a vampire. Otis needs help from Dorian, a vampire with a taste for rare blood who is immensely powerful; however, he will not help Otis unless he can drink Vlad’s blood and Vlad is vulnerable without his powers. Moreover, the fate of Otis’ trial is all part of D’Ablo’s plan and Vlad is sure to face more trouble from the trial than Otis.

Eleventh Grade Burns will keep you in suspense at every moment. Just when you think that everything is going well another surprise leaves Vlad even further entangled in problems. I could not put this book down as it is the most exciting book in the series so far, but make sure you read the first three books so you know what is going on. It is also important to note, Vlad is not a typical vampire character. He is not the coolest guy in school and does not make girls swoon like Edward in Twilight. Vlad is always being picked on and has to face big, mean, and nasty bullies. On the surface, Vlad is just a typical teenager trying to fit in. I wouldn’t change anything about this book; it is the perfect combination of reality and fantasy. It also has a good balance of action with a bit of romance. I would highly recommend this book to any teenager with a thirst for a good read.

Previous books in the Vladimir Todd series won ALA awards for her outstanding writing.

Review written by Nathan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Nathan for providing a copy of Eleventh Grade Burns for this review.

Have you read Eleventh Grade Burns? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Review: Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews

Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews
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Swan for the Money
by Donna Andrews
Meg Langslow Mystery

Minotaur Books
ISBN-10: 0-312-37727-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37727-5
Publication Date: July, 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: Money, trophies, roses, and- and murder? This is what Meg Langslow has to deal with when she agrees to help her mom by organizing a Rose show. Meg is in probably in her late 20s or early thirties. She is very glad when her parents take up a “safe” hobby little does she know that what she thinks to be safe can become a whirl wind of danger right before her eyes. Swan For The Money Donna Andrews is filled with twists, and it is defiantly a page-turner.

When Meg Langslow signs up to organize a rose show for her mom she expects it to be fairly normal, but it turns out to be anything but normal. For starters the estate on which the show is being held has a cruel, uptight, and downright nasty owner. When Mrs. Winkleston’s (or Wrinkleston) dog is stolen, and there is suspected animal cruelty going on, Meg’s Grandfather can’t help but investigate. But when a dead body is found on the grounds the investigation really heats up. While the body isn’t Mrs. Winkleston’s it is a look- alike. When the real Mrs. Winkleston is poisoned, but survives, everyone is a suspect. Who is the real murderer? Will the Rose Show still go on? Will Mrs. Winkleston survive? Meg Langslow is on the case in Swan For the Money!

I found Swan For the Money to be a fantastic book! Donna Andrews made all of the characters interesting and unique. Not only that, but they were very easy to relate to! Andrews also made a topic that isn’t funny very funny. For example, everyone jokes about how the killer was disappointed about how he killed someone nice and friendly instead of the mean Mrs. Winkleston. Also, I loved the fact that this book was a page-turner. I found it amazing how many interesting twists she put in this book. One second you think that your favorite character is out of the suspect list, but the next second they are the prime suspect. While this book had many good parts to it, it also had a few weaknesses. One thing I didn’t like was that at some points it got gore. When there was a scene describing a crime scene, it got very gory, when it didn’t need to be. I know that if there is a murder scene in a story, it will be fairly gory, but this went over the top. I am going to rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars- due to the gore. I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone under 6th grade, because it might scare younger kids. Overall I found Swan For The Money to be a fantastic book!

Review written by Kayley (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of Swan for the Money for this review.

Have you read Swan for the Money? How would you rate it?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter

Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter
Buy Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter

Monster Slayers
by Lukas Ritter

Wizards of the Coast Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-7869-5484-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-7869-5484-1
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $9.95

Review: Finding monsters. Adventures. Kidnapping. The new book Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter covers it all. The author starts his book with action and doesn't let up until the last page. Monster Slayers tells the story of a young boy whose whole life changes in one night of terror. Evin, the innkeeper’s young son has his whole village captured by monsters which starts Evin on his journey to rescue his family and friends from the gnolls, the evil monsters of this book. Teaming up with his best friend Jorick, and the elf wizard Betilivatis they meet, Evin and his band of adventurers set off to save the day.

Evin slowly begins to lose his memory and his friend Jorick doesn't believe him. Then Evin begins to see Betilivatis talking secretly to an unseen entity. As the plot unfolds the suspicions Evin has about Betilivatis begin to escalate and as his fear for the villagers increases, Evin becomes more confused.

Monster Slayers took me on a thrilling adventure. This book dared me to keep turning pages. There are enough plot twists and turns in this book to keep any reader engaged. This is one of those books you stay up all night to finish. Actually, I was up until 2:03am! The plot forged action and suspense into a novel as sharp as a sword! I enjoyed the author's descriptions of mythical monsters, fantastic friends and peculiar places. It was nice to read a book that was not so formulaic! I was not able to figure out what was going to happen in the next chapter, and I think this is what drew me in the most.

This book is a companion book to the popular A Practical Guide to Monsters published several years ago. This prior published book is used extensively throughout this novel, and this book depends on it a great deal. Although the ending may be predictable, the book is still worth the read! (You know how a roller coaster is going to end, but you still go on it!) I challenge YOU to stop reading this book, once you begin!

Review written by Jonathan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Raab Associates, Inc. for providing a copy of Monster Slayers for this review.

Have you read Monster Slayers? How would you rate it?