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Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: Conspiracy 365: April by Gabrielle Lord

Conspiracy 365: April by Gabrielle Lord
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Conspiracy 365: April
by Gabrielle Lord
Conspiracy 365

Kane Miller
ISBN-10: 1-935279-53-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-935279-53-2
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $10.99

Review: Once upon a time there was a boy who was always safe and sound, never ever having to - Cut!! This is absolutely NOT April, a book from the Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord! April, a fantastic thriller is anything but a story about a boy safe and sound! It’s about adventures and thrills that will definitely keep you on your toes and wanting more. April is the 4th book in the Conspiracy 365 series.

A year is a long time. For Cal Ormond, it’s even longer. On New Year’s Eve, a stranger ran up to him and croaked, “The Ormond Singularity! Don’t let it be the death of you too, boy! They killed your father! You must hide - lie low until midnight of December 31st!” and then was dragged away by the police. Cal has been in hiding for 4 months. We last saw him in a pond and enemies gaining on him while trying to hold an innocent truck driver’s head out of the water. Now, the enemies, two thugs employed by Oriana De la Force - who is Cal’s biggest enemy have passed, and Cal is offered help from a passing police officer. Cal uses this opportunity to make a break for it. Soon, Cal finds out his younger sister Gabbi, who is in a coma and on life support is about to be taken off life support. He tries to get to the city in time to save her. On the way, while he is trying to hitchhike to the city, he meets up with another bad guy named Kelvin and is sucked into yet another chase. Cal is running from Kelvin and jumps into a trunk of an old lady’s car. He hides in the car until the car stops. Then the trunk opens and the old lady discovers him. Will Cal ever get to the city? Who is this old lady? What is she going to do to him? Find out by reading April!

Overall, I think that this book is fantastic!!! It contains all the elements needed to create a great book. Some of these elements are memorable characters, plot twists, and an ending leaving you eagerly awaiting the next book. I think the most memorable character in April is Mrs. Melba Snipe who provides Cal with shelter and food after she discovers him stowing away in her car. I think she’s interesting because you wouldn’t think that an elderly old lady would give help to a stowaway in her trunk!! Plot twists are also important in books. Without them, books would be very predictable and boring. In April there are countless twists and turns that add to the story, for example when Kelvin gets stuck trying to catch Cal. When I was reading I thought that Cal would be a goner! The ending is very suspenseful – so suspenseful that you just want the entire series to come out in a day so you can finish reading them so you know what happens. That is the kind of feeling I get when I read this book. I also like how in the book, when they talk about documents, they actually show a picture of them! I think that is neat! The one thing that is disappointing to me is the lack of vivid descriptions and details. I think if Gabrielle Lord added more details it would me more compelling for readers to read. But because I really liked the story overall, the lack of details is only a minor problem.

This book is a compelling read!! I will definitely recommend this book and its series to anyone that asks me “So, have you read a good book lately?”

Review written by Sarah (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Kane Miller for providing a copy of Conspiracy 365: April for this review.

Have you read Conspiracy 365: April? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Sports Camp by Rich Wallace

Sports Camp by Rich Wallace
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Sports Camp
by Rich Wallace

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-84059-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-84059-3
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $15.99

Review: Riley Liston stars as the major character in the novel Sports Camp by Rich Wallace. Wallace based some of this story after his experiences as an eleven year old at sports camp, such as the famous, legendary turtle, Big Joe. And, the story also takes place in New Jersey, Wallace’s hometown.

Riley Liston just turned eleven in April and is not the biggest kid in the pack. He is going away to a sports camp for two weeks haunted by Maynard, a victim to Big Joe, a legendary snapping turtle. Riley knows he is not the best athlete in most sports but when it comes to swimming, he could just pull it off. When he goes to camp, Riley and his bunkmates are determined to win the Big Joe trophy. But what will these kids do to win it? When they are pranked with gross substances, ordered to eat revolting food, and totally beaten in most sports, will Riley and the rest of cabin three be in it to win it or to lose it?

Sports Camp is astounding. It was a good story, and I liked that the author based some of the story after his own life. The only thing that disappointed me was that it was a short book. I wish he could have written a bit more since he has an amazing talent to write. I like that at the end of every chapter there is a bulletin or newspaper telling the reader what is going on – like all of the upcoming events and winners of challenges. Also, I like how there are some devious and sneaky pranks going on like “slime” on the walls of cabin three and the egging of cabin four. I think this book is good for almost all ages. It is a cool story about a weak, small kid bringing his team to the top with all of these distractions going on throughout camp. I really enjoyed this book and so will many other readers when they read the first page.

Review written by Sheila (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Sports Camp for this review.

Have you read Sports Camp? How would you rate it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review: TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook by RH Disney

TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook by RH Disney
Buy TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook by RH Disney

TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook
by RH Disney
Toy Story

Random House Books for Young Readers/Disney
ISBN-10: 0-736-42709-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-736-42709-8
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $9.99

Review: The Toy Story trilogy concludes in Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3. This is a much anticipated movie, and the read-aloud book, Toy Story 3: Read-Aloud Storybook by RH Disney, is a great bedtime story for kids. It features all your favorite Toy Story pals like Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Bullseye.

The book begins with the Toy Story gang reliving the adventures they experienced while playing with Andy. But, now Andy is all grown up and heading out for college. In packing up for college, Andy puts Woody in the college box and Buzz in a trash bag with the rest of the toys. Andy’s mom mistakenly puts the bags in the garbage, when really Andy meant to put them in the attic. Woody once again saves the day with a pair of scissors. The toys sneak into a box that is meant for donating and they wind up at Sunnyside Daycare. The toys are greeted by Lotso the Lots-o-Huggin Bear who shows the gang around the caterpillar room, the place where they were assigned. Woody desperately tries persuading the gang that they are still Andy’s toys and should return to Andy, but the toys would not be swayed. Woody leaves the daycare bent on finding Andy. The toys soon realize that the caterpillar room is for energetic toddlers who do not know how to properly play with the toys, and that the other toys may not be as nice as they really seem. Will Woody ever get back to Andy? Will the gang survive another day of this innocent abuse? Only you can find out by reading the Toy Story 3: Read-Aloud Storybook.

I loved this book. My sister wanted to watch the movie and she got me excited. When I saw this book I was thrilled because I would learn the plot of the movie. This read-aloud book goes more in depth than the picture books I read when I was a child. Plus, it is full of surprises – both good and bad. In addition, I was shocked when Buzz started speaking in Spanish. It is a funny random part of the book. The book is filled with these kinds of moments. In that it is a read-aloud book, it is filled with very well illustrated pictures. The pictures look a lot like the movie with painted backgrounds. They help bring the story to life. I happened to find an Easter egg in the book too! If you are familiar with the original Toy Story, the toy destroying boy, Sid, makes an appearance in the book. He is the garbage man who is easily identified by the skull shirt. All in all, Toy Story 3: Read-Aloud Storybook is an amazing storybook for kids of all ages.

Review written by Ohm (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook for this review.

Have you read TOY STORY 3: Read-Aloud Storybook? How would you rate it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Review: THE NECROMANCER by Michael Scott

THE NECROMANCER by Michael Scott
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by Michael Scott
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73531-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73531-5
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $18.99

Review: What if you could magically control the elements of the world? What if science, philosophy, and religion were incorrect? What if all you knew was wrong? This is what Josh and Sophie Newman discover in The Necromancer by Michael Scott. This is the fourth book in the “Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” series.

Six days ago, twin siblings Josh and Sophie Newman led normal lives, with a normal home. All that changed when they met an immortal alchemist and Nicholas Flamel and his sorceress wife Perenelle. After they meet, they set off on a magical journey, learning different magic of the spectrum of sorcery. Six days into the quest, where the novel takes place in the series, Josh begins to learn the magic of sorcery from Prometheus. Yet, through the course of the week, the Flamels are becoming harder to trust, and they engage in an intense chase from an evil magician, Dr. John Dee. As tensions rise, the only thing stopping Dee’s evil plans is his need for a necromancer. Can Josh and Sophie stop him, or will he succeed with his catastrophic, evil plans?

First, I really liked this book. The plot was phenomenal, and it took an extremely overused fantasy genre, one that I normally don’t like, and turned it into something that I could not stop reading! Michael Scott took this theme and made a compelling, original book that could draw any reader of almost any age to this series. One of the best things about the book is how vast, yet understandable, his fantasy concepts are. His view of reality formulated in this book is greatly creative and interesting. The book shapes a fantastic realm which readers will find nearly impossible to put down. At some points, Michael combines fantasy and fiction in a way that makes sense to all readers. Another part of the vastness of his world is that multiple things happen at once. His storyline consists of one main plot with three subplots. He makes the stories tie up and come together.

The Necromancer is in a four book series, “The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.” It is bestselling, and is going to come out with a fifth soon. Overall, this is an amazing book. I’d highly suggest reading all of the books of the series first. But, I’d definitely suggest checking out this series, it’ll surely put you under a spell!

Review written by Jonathan (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of THE NECROMANCER for this review.

Have you read THE NECROMANCER? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn

The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn
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The Tilting House
by Tom Llewellyn

Tricycle Press
ISBN-10: 1-58246-288-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-58246-288-2
Publication Date: June, 2010
List Price: $15.99

Review: An exciting, thrilling, and wonderful story of mysteries, The Tilting House, written by Tom Llewellyn, is a story of great family values and friendship that always trail from one very abnormal home. How can a home possibly be an abnormal one? Something is not right with this house and two brothers and a girl from down the street are about to unravel its secrets, secrets that have been kept in the tilting house that can change a person’s life forever.

When Josh and Aaron Peshik move into a new home and out of their cramped apartment, Josh is not very happy. Although the house is bigger and came for an extremely low price, it had its problems. For one thing, the floors of the house tilted three degrees, making it hard to maneuver around the place. But the longer Josh and his family stay in the house, the more attached they become to it. The house’s previous owner placed many secrets into the house, such as grow powder, invisibility, and much, much more, but when his family is accused of theft, and Josh’s father loses his job, Josh has to use the things left behind by the owner of the tilting house to clear his family name, and to find out the secrets of long ago; secrets of how the tilting house became a reality.

The Tilting House is a superb story that, children will adore for a long time to come. I think the story is geared to readers around the ages of anywhere between eight years of age to thirteen because of its fantastic imagination such as invisibility. For a score of five stars, I give this book all five for the same reason and because this book really appeals to young as well as some older readers. I also like the idea of having many stories about the house chain together to form the main story because it really makes the reader excited and anxious to find out what is going to happen next. The ending to the story is brilliant and answered all of my questions that I asked myself during the book. In a book with a slanting house, The Tilting House is a slant in the right direction. I hope it entertains children, as it did me, for many more years to come.

Review written by Brandon (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Tricycle Press for providing a copy of The Tilting House for this review.

Have you read The Tilting House? How would you rate it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review: FRENZY by Robert Liparulo

FRENZY by Robert Liparulo
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by Robert Liparulo
Dreamhouse Kings

Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 1-59554-816-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-59554-816-0
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $14.99

Review: Imagine a world in which people have the power to go back in time and change history – make the world a different, hopefully better place. Robert Liparulo has created such a world in The Dreamhouse Kings series which culminates in the 6th book titled FRENZY. “No one can make you. But I can tell you, whenever a generation has rejected the responsibility (to fix the past), the world has gotten worse, darker. Think of humankind as a body, a human body. Sometimes it gets sick or injured. If we don’t tend to it – stitch it up, make it right – it gets worse.” This is the mandate of the King family. They live in a home filled with portals to different times in different places. Throughout history, Taksidian has used his powers to engage the world in war thus granting him power. But, the King family won’t stand for it. Xander and David, along with their father and sister, Toria, continue on a quest to find their mother who has been stolen through a portal. But along the way, death knocks at their every door. Is it possible for them to find their mother who could be lost anywhere and at any time in history?! Even if they do find her, will they have the power to stop Taksidian from wreaking havoc on the world? Or, will Taksidian once and for all rid the world of the Kings so that he can finally be the ultimate king? Read the shocking and inspiring conclusion to The Dreamhouse Kings series.

Robert Liparulo has created a series that is not only packed with suspense, but is also filled with inspiration. FRENZY is a page-turner that will keep readers up until the wee hours of the morning as they surge ahead through the novel awaiting the shocking conclusion. The protagonists in The Dreamhouse Kings series are easy to relate to – being very much like most adolescent brothers. They have their own identities and passions, they fight with one another, but deep down they will do anything – even die for the other. The antagonist, Taksidian, embodies all the hatred and doubt in the world. But, just having excellent characters doesn’t even begin to explain why Liparulo should be a household name for young adult readers. The entire plot of the series is fascinating. By thrusting the kids into different events in world history, readers are able to bring to life scenes that they might otherwise only read about in a history text. But, Liparulo doesn’t stop there. Instead he leaves the reader contemplating how life would be different if one event had been altered. The Dreamhouse Kings series takes readers in a completely unusual – yet valuable direction. People rarely think about the effects of one small event on the overall world. But, readers of The Dreamhouse Kings series will definitely view the world through a different lens. As exciting as FRENZY is, though, it is imperative to start at the beginning. House of Dark Shadows should be at the top of your young adult reading list. The Dreamhouse Kings series has done for young adults what The Magic Tree House series did for early readers. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop until you reach the end. And, even then you’ll hope for more! So, if you’re looking for a series that is filled with all the suspense of R. L. Stein, but still delivers an inspirational message, then look no further – The Dreamhouse Kings series is the place to start.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Allen Media Strategies for providing a copy of FRENZY for this review.

Have you read FRENZY? How would you rate it?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review: June by Gabrielle Lord

June by Gabrielle Lord
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by Gabrielle Lord
Conspiracy 365

Kane Miller
ISBN-10: 1-935279-55-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-935279-55-6
Publication Date: June, 2010
List Price: $10.99

Review: It’s been six months, and Callum Ormond is still racing for his life against evil forces he has yet to comprehend. Cal’s quest continues in June, the sixth book in the Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord. Fifteen-year-old Cal begins this month escaping the deadly fires from his crashed plane. Amazingly, he comes out of this only a little worse for the wear. Thanks to his friend, Boges, he finds sanctuary and is able to spend a little time putting together some of the pieces of the puzzle shared by his late great uncle. Cal realizes that he must find the Ormond Jewel in order to solve the Ormond Riddle and hope to be able to discover the truth about the Ormond Singularity before it’s too late. He has six months left, but he also realizes he’s made little progress in the first six months. During the month of June Cal encounters old friends, some of whom turn out to be less than friends, old enemies who are even more determined, and ultimately the police. What must Cal do to make it to July and hopefully to his 16th birthday? He fears there’s a bigger goal out there than he realizes – his enemies want to eliminate him before his birthday. How will Cal be able to stop them?

Once again, Gabrielle Lord has managed to pack non-stop action into her book. June maintains the excitement and energy of the previous five books in the series and has readers anxiously awaiting July. The Conspiracy 365 series is a phenomenal series for young adults. Although at times Cal’s ability to escape death by the narrowest of margins is somewhat unbelievable, it doesn’t matter. Her writing is exceptional, and it allows the reader to suspend reality for a little while and really believe that there could be a fifteen-year-old boy wrongly accused who could escape not only the police, but also the most evil crime lords, all the while traipsing throughout Australia, never being too short on food or money thanks to Boges. Cal’s exploits are fascinating – keeping pages turning well into the wee hours of the night. Plus Lord has done an excellent job with character development. Cal has changed a lot since January, but as readers will see in June, he has maintained a strong sense of duty and does not vary on his understanding of right and wrong. His friendship with Boges is unbreakable, but readers continue to be stumped about Winter. She seems to be helping him, but her mysterious nature and calamity that always seems to follow her keeps a question in the back of the reader’s mind – what does she really want from Cal? Characters like these and the never ending excitement will take Gabrielle Lord to the top of the charts for young adult writers.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Kane Miller for providing a copy of June for this review.

Have you read June? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: May by Gabrielle Lord

May by Gabrielle Lord
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by Gabrielle Lord
Conspiracy 365

Kane Miller
ISBN-10: 1-935279-54-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-935279-54-9
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $10.00

Review: The hunt continues as Cal Ormond runs for his life in a desperate attempt to solve the Ormond Riddle and answer all the questions surrounding his family’s past. He has 365 days to live, and the countdown continues in Gabrielle Lord’s May, the fifth book in the Conspiracy 365 series. The book begins with Cal being held in the Leechwood Lodge Asylum. One of his enemies who is trying to get his hands on Cal’s drawings has convinced the authorities that Cal is actually Ben Galloway, a boy in desperate need of psychiatric help in dealing with reality. Doctors are convinced Cal is delusional, and his claims that he’s not Ben Galloway only prove to support their assessment that he is fighting reality. Cal’s first goal is to escape the asylum, however being held in a straightjacket seems to pose a problem. When everything seems hopeless, Cal eventually finds hope. In a clever scheme, his friends help Cal escape, and send him on his way to his great uncle, Bartholomew. However, finding a safe haven with his uncle proves to be anything but safe. Cal’s pursuers seem to be able to find him anywhere. Will he ever escape? As more clues to the riddle begin to unfold, Cal continues to fight for his life – and his sanity.

Once again, Gabrielle Lord has written a spell-binding book. Readers will begin on the first page (page 181) and surge ahead until they finally reach the end (page 1) – only to eagerly await the next book in the series. Caution: May is the kind of book that might even cause readers to skip meals in order to find out what happens next! The Conspiracy 365 series is quite possibly one of the best series books for young adults on the market today. The books are relatively short, and they are very quick reads. This makes it a perfect series for the over-scheduled teens of today who want that instant gratification they can more often find on the computer and in video games. The non-stop action in Conspiracy 365 will grab the reader instantly and not let go until December 31st! Reluctant readers will be inspired to read – and they won’t just be inspired for one book, but rather for twelve. This series could easily take a reluctant reader, and by the end of the twelfth book, turn him into an avid reader. It is a series that would be enjoyed by boys and girls alike, and it has characters that continue to grow and deepen in each book. It is critical though, that readers begin with January and work their way through the series. But, be patient – books are only released once a month, so you may face extreme frustration while you await the next book in the series. However, from what’s been published so far, readers will NOT be disappointed!

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Kane Miller for providing a copy of May for this review.

Have you read May? How would you rate it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Buy Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle in Paradise
by Jennifer L. Holm

Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-375-83688-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-83688-6
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $16.99

Review: Nicknames, treasures, and family, is what Turtle encounters everyday in Key West, Florida. Turtle in Paradise is a magnificent book. Jennifer L. Holm did a great job writing Turtle in Paradise. This book goes through romance, family arguments, and family reunions. But will it all end up like a fairytale ending?

All the chaos started in June 1935. Sadiebelle-Turtle’s mother- gets a housekeeping job at Mrs. Budnick’s house. Mrs. Budnick is surprised to see Turtle because she hates children. So, Turtle is forced to leave and goes to her Aunt Minnie’s house in Key West Florida. There she lives with her cousins Beans, Buddy, Kermit, the dog Termite, and of course Aunt Minnie. Turtle finds herself opening up more as the days go on with living in Key West. Turtle is meeting new people every day and goes on the best adventures of her life. She goes and looks for treasure and comes back to a surprise between Mama and Archie. Will it tear the family apart or keep them together?

Turtle in Paradise is a fantastic book. Jennifer L. Holm did a good job portraying the many different settings and time era. She put in great details; I especially liked the details when Turtle comes home and sees her mother. Also, I felt like I was actually in the story; I could picture everything that went on in the book. I could really visualize the scene where the kids get trapped on the island looking for the treasure. Jennifer Holm is a fantastic author. The best thing is that Jennifer Holm made it seem very realistic, like it could happen to anyone that was like Turtle. That quality just makes the book better. The characters made the story happen. The way Turtle starts to come out of her shell when she moves to Key West is great. Her cousins are all very different, but that makes the story all the much better. In general, the book Turtle in Paradise is terrific and Jennifer Holm did a great job on it. I cannot wait to read another one of her books.

Review written by Jennifer (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Turtle in Paradise for this review.

Have you read Turtle in Paradise? How would you rate it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray

Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray
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Summer Sanctuary
by Laurie Gray

Luminis Books
ISBN-10: 1-935462-34-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-935462-34-7
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $11.95

Review: A boy lost in adolescence – trying to figure out his own identity. A girl confident in her own being – yet alone in society. Two surprisingly familiar, yet unique characters find friendship and themselves in Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray. Matthew is the eldest child in a growing family with four boys and another baby on the way. He is preacher’s kid – which has its own challenges, plus he struggles with the fact that his next youngest brother is taller, faster, and better at sports than he is. While his brother is “Mark the superstar”, Matthew is just Matthew. His best friend, Kyle, is away for the summer, so Matthew is left with the library and his summer independent project for fun. He plans for a boring summer! But, little does he know, Dinah, a girl from a completely different world, will turn a boring summer into the adventure of a lifetime. Dinah is a teenager who is hiding from welfare services and living on the streets until she is able to be reunited with her mother. She knows that if she is put into foster care, her mother might never be able to see her again. She is street-wise and confident, but finds Matthew is the perfect cure for loneliness. Two unlikely teens find themselves in a secret friendship that changes both their lives forever.

Summer Sanctuary is a perfect summer read for young adults. It would be difficult to find a teenager who didn’t grapple with some of the issues Matthew and Dinah face in creating their own identities. Adolescence is a time riddled with insecurity and change, and Laurie Gray has created characters who face those insecurities and struggle with that change, yet in the end come out on top. In Summer Sanctuary, religion plays a significant role. Matthew is from a line of preachers, and is home schooled. His summer independent project is based on the Bible, and this is the one area where the plot might become cloudy for some readers. Matthew’s project, though very intriguing, is unbelievably challenging for most young adolescents. He is spending his summer trying to prove that Einstein’s theory regarding time dilation is actually evident in the Bible – in other words, he wants to prove that if “God is light, and that 1,000 years on earth is like a single day to God . . . . . then time dilation traveling at the speed of light would be like one day equals 1,000 years.” Fortunately, his assignment is not a focal point in the story, but it does weave throughout the book. Readers need to be careful to not get lost in the math! Also, Matthew refers to the Bible quite frequently in his attempts to understand Dinah and life in general. The author does a wonderful job weaving religion into a novel that could be enjoyed by all people – not merely Christians. Still, Christian themes of goodness and providing sanctuary for others, definitely drive the story. Aside from the brilliant, heart-warming story, quite possibly the most enjoyable part of the book is Dinah’s poetry. Both teens are clearly gifted – but in different ways. Dinah’s gift is in the insightful poetry she writes. Laurie Gray could easily publish a compilation of poetry that would be top the charts. The poems in the story are so meaningful, and they serve as a way to bring to light the deeper themes within the plot. For example in one of her shorter poems, she writes:

Sometimes the rest of the world is asleep,
And I find that I’m all by myself.
I realize I’m not what I seem to be,
But neither is anyone else.

With every poem, I found myself stopping and thinking . . . just what good poetry should do. In the end, Summer Sanctuary is an excellent book from first-time novelist Laurie Gray. Hopefully Gray will continue writing and providing quality literature for adolescents with wholesome themes. Parents should be very pleased to find their teen reading Summer Sanctuary.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank MM Book Publicity for providing a copy of Summer Sanctuary for this review.

Have you read Summer Sanctuary? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: Nocturne by L. D. Harkrader

Nocturne by L. D. Harkrader
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by L. D. Harkrader
Companion to A Practical Guide to Vampires

Wizards of the Coast Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-7869-5502-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-7869-5502-2
Publication Date: June, 2010
List Price: $9.95

Review: Secrets, magic, and trust are just three out of the many concepts that appear in the book Nocturne by L.D. Harkrader. The characters in this book are Flannery Lane, who is an independent adolescent who has concealed her magic from everyone but her uncle, Monsieur Anatole, Flan’s uncle, wizard, and shop owner, Lucien Kidd, and Pascoe Christopher, a stranger.

Flan was left by someone on Anatole’s steps when she was just a baby. Ever since then he has told her never to use magic because it brings evil. When she was a child the whole town was protected by a generation of a family called the Blakely’s. When the Blakely protecting the city passes away, the city is then plagued by disaster. Around every corner trouble lurks, and the townspeople think they have a vampire on their hands. Then a new Blakely moves into town, and the townspeople think that all of their troubles are solved. But they are far from over because this adventure, though it does not take them far, has many outcomes. Secrets will come out of hiding, hearts will be broken, and most of all questions will be answered.

Nocturne is awesome; it is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. There are many reasons why this book is so great. One is that this book is the perfect mixture between mystery and adventure. Throughout the book, there are plenty of mini-mysteries that all lead up to the grand finale outcome. There are clues that you can piece together in your mind to sort of predict what the outcome of the mystery will be, but after each chapter you will find another clue that will totally cause your hypothesis to take a whole new route. The adventure is amazing in this book, scattered with decisions that influence the rest of the story and relationships that make the whole book better. Another reason why I really like this book is that it is very descriptive, which makes it even more realistic. For example, in the book it says “… she found herself with a wild tangle of copper hair and a fiercely mulish streak.” Another example from the book is “…lay a circle of dried rust-colored dots. Blood.” Also the book refers to creative figurative language such as “To the townsfolk, it was as if the soft underbelly of the city had been exposed…” Also the book makes you wish you were in the adventure experiencing the thrill and excitement, but here I lay reading this book wishing and wondering, wishing that I could be inside Nocturne - a fantastic book.

Review written by Devin (6th grade student).

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

Have you read Nocturne? How would you rate it?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Review: TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization by RH Disney

TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization by RH Disney
Buy TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization by RH Disney

TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization
by RH Disney
Toy Story

Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-73642-711-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-73642-711-1
Publication Date: May, 2010
List Price: $4.99

Review: All of the world’s favorite characters are back in a new sequel to the Toy Story series. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are being donated to a daycare center because Andy is heading to college. What they discover at the daycare center is just another crazy adventure. Toy Story 3 the junior novelization is adapted by Jasmine Jones.

Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang still want to be played with, and they want to play with Andy. Andy is going away to college though, so Andy prepares to put them in the attic when his mom takes the bag the curb instead as trash! The toys soon escape that mess but, uh oh, more trouble. Now, they’re being donated to the Sunnyside Daycare center. They meet lots of new and friendly toys, but some of them are holding dark secrets. When Woody tries to escape the crazy daycare center, he winds up in one of the girl’s back packs and goes home with her! He then learns the start of how the toys got dark secrets and why they are keeping them. Meanwhile Buzz and the rest of the gang are being held captive by the once friendly toys. I guess you will have to read the rest of this book to find out what happens in this adventurous sequel.

I really think the story is great, but it is kind of a spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie yet. What I love is that the story really has a twist where you discover the true characters. It also is cool because there are many new characters such as Lotso the Teddy bear and Ken, the Barbie. Each new character has a secret, some of the secrets are good and some are bad. This book is also cool because it has pages in the middle that are picture clips from the movie! I like this book also because it includes a lot of details and subplots. One of the events is where Barbie has to distract Ken from the other toys who are trying to save Buzz. Also, if you have seen the commercials for Toy Story 3, this book explains what is happening in them and why. This book is very enjoyable. It has a bigger font size so it is an easy read for little kids and for older people. It is a good book to read in the car or for a bedtime story. This book is truly marvelous.

Review written by Sheila (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization for this review.

Have you read TOY STORY 3: The Junior Novelization? How would you rate it?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book Review: Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson

Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson
Buy Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson

Kiss in the Dark
by Lauren Henderson
The Scarlett Wakefield Series

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0-385-73777-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73777-7
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $15.99

Review: The Wakefields and the Barneses – a little like the Montagues and the Capulets? The tried and true Romeo and Juliet story is blended with a British mystery to produce an engaging novel for young adults in Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson. Henderson is also the author of the other Scarlett Wakefield books, Kiss Me Kill Me and Kisses and Lies. Scarlett Wakefield hopes to start a new life after putting Dan McAndrew’s murder behind her as she enrolls in Wakefield Hall Collegiate, an elite boarding school run by her grandmother. However, her hopes are dashed once Plum Saybourne, Scarlett’s greatest nemesis, joins her. In spite of Madam Wakefield’s warnings, Plum does not keep the past to herself and sets a course to destroy Scarlett and her best friend Taylor.

Excitement does enter Scarlett’s life though, and its name is Jase. Jase Barnes is the son of one of the work hands on the estate, but for reasons that baffle Scarlett and Jase, no one is happy about her relationship – least of all Mr. Barnes. As Scarlett tries to keep her female relationships in check, she also must sneak around in order to see Jase. Although they care deeply for one another, fate doesn’t seem to be in their corner. On a fateful morning, Mr. Barnes is found dead by none other than Scarlett. But worse than that, the primary suspect in the murder is his own son – Jase. In an effort to save her boyfriend, Scarlett delves deeper into the mystery of the Barnes family, and in turn also into her own. She finally gets some answers as to what happened the night her parents both died, and she eventually uncovers the reasons for the family divisions. But, is she ready to handle the information? Did she get into more than she bargained for? Could Jase really be a murderer? Read Kiss in the Dark to find out.

Overall, Kiss in the Dark is an enjoyable read. It’s fast-paced and has all the drama that teenage girls love to read. The relationships in the story help to draw the reader into the plot. The rapport between Plum and Scarlett is the typical girl scenario. Plum is the “alpha” girl on campus, and she has her minions that follow and mimic her every move. Scarlett, on the other hand, represents the rest of the girls who want to be their own person and stand up to the “alpha” girl. Her friendship with Taylor is also captivating. Taylor has a secret that she holds dear to her heart which sets up some intrigue around her. The connection between Jase and Scarlett is sweet and innocent with just a hint at something more to keep the reader engrossed. Lauren Henderson also uses an ideal tone to her writing to keep readers flipping pages late into the night. For example when Scarlett is explaining Miss Newman, a teacher at Wakefield, she says, “She only has one eyebrow, which is as busy as a shrubbery, more than a shadow of a matching mustache, and there are thick black wires sprouting from the moles on her chin. The only reason for her not plucking them has to be the terror they provoke in anyone who looks at her.” The entire book is told through the eyes of a teenager, which makes it great fun. Finally, the mystery is unpredictable and engaging. There are so many twists and turns, the reader is kept guessing until the very last page. It’s understandable why the Scarlett Wakefield series is such a success.

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Kiss in the Dark for this review.

Have you read Kiss in the Dark? How would you rate it?