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Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti. A Guilded Wings Novel.

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9780547626147

Review: Imagine having the choice to live a much longer life but on only if you sell your soul. Haven Terra and two other friends are on an internship at Lexington Hotel. Where they are having the time of their lives until…. Haven and her friend Lance uncover some horrid news. They learn that they are being hunted by the Outfit. The Outfit is the group workers at Lexington that have given up their souls and are trying to get Haven, Lance, and Dante to sell their souls. Soon the members of their high school are also being put into danger, and they must not only save their own lives, but they must also save their classmates lives as well.

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti is an exciting read. It is full of action and adventure. I enjoyed the novel because it kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time, and it will also surely keep you at the edge of your seat too. Illuminate has unexpected twists and turns which is one reason why I enjoyed reading it so much. Haven Terra is a very realistic character because she is one of the classmates that is quiet and keeps to herself. I also enjoyed how the author, Aimee Agresti, incorporated the history of Chicago into the story which is where the story takes place. Illuminate is definitely a one of a kind excellent. It is truly a fun-filled book to read and I enjoyed it so much.

I rate Illuminate ten out of ten. I give it a perfect score because to me a great book has to be unexpected and Illuminate fits the bill. Towards the beginning of the story Haven thinks, "Get me out of this horrid high school society and into Chicago society." This shows that she is excited to leave school for her internship at the Lexington Hotel. But towards the end, she feels completely opposite. I also enjoyed reading along as character Haven Terra transforms. I enjoyed that Haven and her friend are realistic and all grow and developed into better friends throughout the entire scenario. Overall, Illuminate is a fun book in which everything fits together like a puzzle, and it is amazing.

Review written by Mia (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy of Illuminate for this review.

Have you read Illuminate? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Machines of the Future: Space Tourism by Peter McMahon

Machines of the Future: Space Tourism by Peter McMahon.

Machines of the Future: Space Tourism by Peter McMahon

Kids Can Press
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $16.95
ISBN-13: 9781554533688

Review: Machines of the Future: Space Tourism is written by the stunning non-fiction author, Peter McMahon. Born in an average family, he excelled in science and history class. He was especially interested in space exploration. After graduating with a degree in writing, he wrote his first and only book, Space Tourism. With the help of Andy Mora, a graphic artist born in New York, he researched and found ways how Space Exploration could turn into Space Tourism.

Space, is it the Final Frontier? Or is it the newest tourist attraction? Space Tourism captures the true opinion on tourism in space by the common people. Although going on a space tour seems like an expensive thing to do, Space Tourism tells how it is becoming more available to the public. McMahon uses graphic pictures and directions for experiments (Illustrated and created by Andy Mora) you can do to explain most inventions to come. This includes the space hotel, a secure, large station with a lobby and several rooms. He uses factual information, yet he keeps the text fun and interesting. This includes inventions such as the space runner, a small, single - manned space hovercraft. McMahon also talks about space vacations. You can soon stay at a hotel in space, visit foreign planets with ease, grow your own garden in space, and much more. So in about twenty years, instead of thinking of going to Hawaii, choose a vacation out of this World!

One thing that I liked about this book is its historical section. It tells of things in space that have already been done, so I could further understand the predictions of the future. I also liked how graphic the pictures in Space Tourism were because they helped me further understand what some inventions might look like. One thing that I disliked, however, was the fact that what was predicted would likely happen so far in the future. I will probably not be here when they happen. On a scale from one to ten, I gave this book a nine because it kept me interested and was fun to read.

Review written by Zach (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Raab Associates for providing a copy of Machines of the Future: Space Tourism for this review.

Have you read Machines of the Future: Space Tourism? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: A King's Ransom by Jude Watson

A King's Ransom by Jude Watson. A 39 Clues, Cahills vs. Vespers Book.

A King's Ransom by Jude Watson

Scholastic Press
Publication Date: December 2011
List Price: $12.99
ISBN-13: 9780545298407

Review: What would you do if you were being forced by an evil mastermind, who you have no clue to their identity, to steal priceless artifacts from all over Europe? What if that person was also threatening and fully prepared to kill one of seven of your relatives that he had captured in a hidden bunker that could be anywhere in the world? This is the predicament faced by young Dan and Amy Cahill, who must use their extensive riches obtained when they completed the hunt for the 39 clues in previous books in this series. These events begin A King's Ransom. This is the second book in the Cahills VS. Vespers series, in which a secret organization called the Vespers is threatening to capture power, and are forcing Dan and Amy to steal ancient artifacts just to please them. Jude Watson wrote this book, but I find it interesting that a different author writes each book in the series. The book is a mystery written in today's world all around Europe. Dan and Amy Cahill are the main characters of this story.

Dan and Amy Cahill are at the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence Italy. They are dodging police like crazy due to their recent theft of Marco Polo's original manuscript Il Milone for the power hungry Vesper One. They then receive a text from Vesper One, on a special military phone he sent them, telling them to go to Switzerland. They begin a new search that not only endangers themselves but their helpless loved ones as well, if they do not meet this invisible tyrant's demands. Now, they have the help of a private headquarters they had built in Massachusetts, with the treasures they gained from discovering the 39 clues in the prequel series. Members of their family are helping them from their HQ and along the way. Their newest objective is to find an ancient map of the world called the de Vigra mappa Mundi and bring it to Vesper One in four days. They now face two rogue Vespers looking for the glory of retrieving the map themselves. They are ruthless and slow Dan and Amy's progress at every turn. In addition, the main problem is that no one has seen de Vigra in more than half a century.

The author wrote the story very literally which I liked because I might not have understood some parts if she had written with figurative language. A Kings Ransom was written as if it was really happening in our world today. This story's plot was very interesting; she made it seem as if you were there with them and you knew what they were thinking. Jude Watson filled the genre very well; she had everything a mystery novel needs to be great; suspense, intrigue and excitement. Although I haven't read all of the books, the author recapped and explained what happened in previous books phenomenally well, so I understood almost everything. The author described everything with exceptional detail so I had a clear image in my mind at all times. The book was very well paced, not too slow or too fast the entire time, but varied in speed appropriately throughout the book. The ending was written as a cliffhanger, which makes readers desperately want to read the next book so they can find out what happens. Overall, the book was fantastic. Despite the fact that the author did not use figurative language, which I felt was not needed; I gave the book 10 out of 10. Readers of all ages will love A King's Ransom.

Review written by Noah (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Scholastic for providing a copy of A King's Ransom for this review.

Have you read A King's Ransom? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2012
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385741286

Review: Have you ever had the feeling that you've lost everything that matters to you? Well, that's exactly how Sonia feels in The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani when her dad loses his job. Sonia has been going to Community, a private school, ever since she started school. She had never attended a public school and when she is forced to attend Maplewood Middle School, nothing interests Sonia; especially the fact that she has to leave her best friend, Sam, at Community. Sonia hates Maplewood and the rude and ignorant kids there don't help matters. Sonia finally squeezes into two different groups at her new school; the popular girls and the kids who are of a different nationality. Sonia becomes good friends with Kate, the popular girl, and she visits Kate's house a lot. Eventually Kate persuades Sonia to try out for cheerleading and Sonia is great! Unfortunately, Sonia ends up only being an alternate. When Sonia finds out about this, it's the last straw. She says," I'm half Indian, I'm half Jewish, and now I'm half a cheerleader." To complicate matters further, Sonia's dad has also been suffering from depression since he lost his job. In fact, his depression grows so much that he starts to smoke, which leads to even worse problems. Is there a bright side to Sonia's life? Read The Whole Story of Half a Girl to find out!

I personally think that Veera Hiranandani did a great job in writing The Whole Story of Half a Girl, her debut novel. The story is based on Ms. Hiranandani's childhood; her father was Indian and her mother was Jewish. I loved this story and I think that she was able to write this story especially well since she can so personally connect with Sonia's life. This book really makes you feel like reading. I would recommend this book for girls who are about 11 or 12. The Whole Story of Half a Girl is also great for girls who are having difficulty transitioning between two schools because they can connect to what Sonia is going through.

I think The Whole Story of Half a Girl deserves a rating of 5 out of 5. Ms. Hiranandani has done an outstanding job writing this story and conveying the struggles a child can face- especially when they feel like "half a child". Plus, she shared pieces of her own childhood into this book, giving it richness in both character development and theme. One glance and you won't be able to put The Whole Story of Half a Girl away!

Review written by Yahvi (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Whole Story of Half a Girl for this review.

Have you read The Whole Story of Half a Girl? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: The Shepherd of Weeds by Susannah Applebaum

The Shepherd of Weeds by Susannah Applebaum. The Poisons of Caux Book III.

The Shepherd of Weeds by Susannah Applebaum

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2011
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780375851759

Review: A poisonous ink, evil fathers, and a shepherd of weeds. All these objects and much more can be found in the book The Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds, part of the Poisons of Caux book series, by Susannah Appelbaum is a tale full of magic and dangerous events which keep magic lovers on the edge of their seat. The story opens with Ivy Manx, the Child of the Prophecy, waking up at the Wayward Home for Indigent Orphans and Invalid Hotel and meeting up with her friend Rue.

Recently arriving back from Pimcaux, Ivy wakes up in torn clothing at the orphanage run by the evil Mrs. Mulk. She keeps her home for orphans a mess and only has dirty water for her residents. Ivy does escape with Rue by finding the other well, Mrs. Mulk's well with fresh, delicious water. But, Ivy doesn't escape easily because Lumpen Gorse, the well keeper, won't let anyone escape the orphanage. Soon, Ivy befriends the scarecrow well keeper by saving her life from Dumbcane, an evil assistant working for Ivy's evil father, Vidal Verjouce, director for the Tasters Guild who tastes the poisons of Caux. Ivy, Rue, and Lumpen then set on a quest to Rocamadour, where she can defeat her father and meet with her Uncle Cecil and friend Rowan to battle the Tasters Guild. Meanwhile, her father is concocting an ink that can erase the prophecy where he is defeated by his daughter. Once at Rocamadour, Ivy joins with her friends and uncle and acquires an army of birds and scarecrows. Will Ivy be able to defeat her father, or be trapped in his clutches forever?

I found The Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds to be less amusing than most books I have read. I found the story to be confusing for many reasons. One reason would have to be that the story would change location and characters with no warning. Also, the names of the characters were hard to follow and names of creatures weren't real. I also found that the words that weren't factual made the storyline quite perplexing. Some examples would be how the author didn't explain that in the story some characters called the individual Dumbkin, was actually named Dumbcane. The author also didn't explain many things, an example would be how the main character, Ivy, could heal people but there were consequences for doing this. These traits puzzled me throughout the book. Although I was confused, this was probably because this was the last book in a trilogy and I haven't read the stories before. This must have caused for the confusion I experienced. Though I would give these book two stars, I did find some fragments amusing. I did like how the author added a summary of the two books before to catch the reader up to date. I also found that the emotions of the characters were related able. Although I didn't enjoy the book, my opinion would probably change if I read the first two books. This book would be great for people who love stories of fictional kingdoms and have read the first two books. Overall, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to.

Review written by Kyle (7th grade student).

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

Have you read The Shepherd of Weeds? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Black Stallion and the Lost City by Steve Farley

The Black Stallion and the Lost City by Steve Farley. An Alec Ramsay and the Black Story.

The Black Stallion and the Lost City by Steve Farley

Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $16.90
ISBN-13: 9780375868375

Review: Have you ever wondered what it would be like in Greece? Is it really as relaxing as it sounds? The Black Stallion and the Lost City an Alec Ramsay and the Black Story by Steven Farley gives a really realistic description of Greece. This book is in a series that is continued from Steven Farley's dad. Young Alec Ramsay, the owner of the Black, a famous race-horse, is summoned to make a movie about Alexander the Great's life. His stallion is to play Bucephalus, Alexander's stallion. However, he and his friend Xeena are plunged into the mythical world of Acracia, a lost city. Alec and Xeena must figure out what is going on in this strange place, avoid four flesh-eating mares, and escape back to the movie campus. Can they uncover a way out or are these two messengers stuck in Acracia forever?

Alec Ramsay and the Black are called to Greece to act in a movie reenacting the life of the famous warrior Alexander the Great and his magnificent stallion, Bucephalus. The Black is like a real-life Bucephalus with a shiny, ebony coat. However, during a break in filming the scenes, Alec and his friend Xeena ride their horses along a river and are whisked away into a foreign and strange world. They soon discover that they are in Acracia, a city that has been lost for centuries. Medio, the society's leader, has four beautiful white horses that the Black takes a fashion for. Little do Alec and Xeena know, but these four albino mares are legendary flesh-eating mares that were first bred by the great horseman Diomedes. Acracia also has waters like the Fountain of Youth and grandparents appear to be in their thirties. What is going on in this hidden, secluded society? Alec and Xeena have to be very careful to avoid becoming addicted to the water and the hidden city and remaining there forever. They must fight for their lives against Medio's four flesh-eating mares and escape before they can be trapped on mount Atnos forever.

The Black Stallion and the Lost City is a very good book. It is a part of the Black Stallion series started by William Farley. This book, The Black Stallion and the Lost City, is written by William Farley's son, Steven. This is a really good book. The author based the story off of old Greek myths and it has some reality to it. Mt. Atnos is a sacred area and home of the god Diomedes in Greek myth. Steven Farley does a great job of continuing his father's series. He writes with the same enthusiasm and makes The Black Stallion and the Lost City a very interesting book to read. The only thing that I didn't like was some certain parts were confusing and lacking some things that were essential to understanding the plot. In some scenes, the scenery was totally ignored and it was hard to follow where and what the location looked like. However, he does use figurative language to make the reader interested in the complex plot. I never wanted to put down the book until I found out what had happened to Alec, the Black, and Xeena. Steven Farley did a wonderful job writing The Black Stallion and the Lost City. I rate this book five out of five stars.

Review written by Colleen (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Black Stallion and the Lost City for this review.

Have you read The Black Stallion and the Lost City? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi.

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi

Publication Date: November 2011
List Price: $7.99
ISBN-13: 9780547577234

Review: Let the battle commence! The sounds of shots being fired fills the tense atmosphere. All know who is in charge for the American side. General George Washington is a sure sign that they are prepared to win the war in which they fight. Yet, one cannot become victorious without allies and troops to march across the dense fields with them. Ann Rinaldi however, successfully accomplished 274 (or so) pages of the difficulties regarding the Greene Family, in The Family Greene. A historical fiction story set during the Revolutionary War that carries on to the next generation of Caty Greene.

Caty is just a young girl, living with her rich father in the early 1900s. She receives tutoring and teachings, yet there are things she still doesn't understand, such as why her best friend's mother flirts so much. Why do women flirt at all? That's what she asks herself, and unfortunately for her, the answer isn't exactly what she expects. Just when Caty is tutored at her aunt's house, she seems to have discovered her true love, Nathaniel Greene. By now, you might know how her story ends. Of course, Caty later marries Nathaniel, and they have children. This is, also the setting of General Washington's Camp, and involving the difficulties of assisting a general. Soon, Nathaniel and Caty are able to lead a very happy life. But as you also might have guessed that wasn't the end of The Family Greene. The next generation begins when Cornelia Greene narrates The Family Greene. You guessed it, she's one of Caty's daughters. However, this time, her mother is the flirt. Cornelia Greene questions her mother, but she cannot understand her mother's mind. How does she solve this anticipating issue?

Throughout The Family Greene, I didn't have a hard time understanding the plot. Not only is The Family Greene about the first generation, it's also about the generation afterward: Cornelia's generation. Have you ever finished reading a book and wanted to know what happened next? Well Ann Rinaldi gave us that advantage. I give The Family Greene 5 stars, mostly because of its simplicity, yet the story still contains adequate depth to be engaging for all readers. I could think for hours of this, saying to myself, "Caty should know how it feels to not understand flirting, so why did she make Cornelia wonder?" Overall, The Family Greene is a great book packed with history, fiction, inspiration, love, wonder, and most of all, curiosity. I like it.

Review written by Tam (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy of The Family Greene for this review.

Have you read The Family Greene? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield. The Companion Novel to Banished.

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2011
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385738545

Review: A girl who can make zombies is not a person who you would think to be average. The book Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield is a sequel to the book Banished. The author of this series is one of the best. She has the capability to stay on task while getting off task. Having characters in a book with a comedic dialogue always adds humor to the book, but they also help by giving supporting detail.

Hailey Tarbell is a typical sixteen year-old girl, if typical included healing powers to make zombies. Healing is one of the talents that Hailey had; she can heal anyone from damage as long as it wasn't too late. Hailey is one of those who were a descendant of the Banished, a group of ancients who had powers that weren't known to the world. Hailey, for once, can have a chance to actually have a normal life. She has gone through the worst and is now with her Aunt Prairie and her little brother, Chub. She also had a secret boyfriend, one who lived in Chicago named Kaz who is also among the Banished, pretty far away from Milwaukee. One day when Hailey went to go pick up Chub from his daycare, he was kidnapped. She goes to find her aunt and see if she knows where he is, but she is gone to. Will she ever find out what happened to her family? Is her family even alive? Thoughts are racing through her head; she knows she is running out of time. She looks at her comfortable house, and then to the open road which didn't put her mind at ease. Her mind is going to erupt with the thoughts going through her head. She knew there was only one way to find out if they were alive, and so, the clock started ticking.

I personally love Unforsaken. It is a book that can be described as a drama. This book involves a lot of critical events that when you are reading, has much suspense. This was a book that I picked up and never put it back down. The only part about these books is that it should be read in a series. I started with the second book and got slightly confused so I had to go back to the first book but once you know background detail, you can understand a lot more. This is a book I personally enjoy reading, and it is one that I keep on my bookshelf.

Review written by Max (7th grade student).

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

Have you read Unforsaken? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: Ichiro by Ryan Inzana

Ichiro by Ryan Inzana.

Ichiro by Ryan Inzana

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9780547252698

Review: Japanese Legends all in a comic book?! Ichiro is a young boy from Brooklyn, New York who goes on the adventure of a lifetime in Ichiro, a graphic novel by Ryan Inzana. Ichiro is a good book. To find out more read on!

Ichiro begins is on a plane with Ichiro on route to visit his grandfather in Japan. But before he reaches Japan, the author shares a legend about a raccoon that can morph into anything. Once Ichiro reaches Japan, he heads to his grandfather's house where he sees a raccoon for a split second before it disappears. Remembering the legend, the next night, Ichiro camps out to find the raccoon but eventually gets tired and falls asleep. When he awakens, he is in the underworld surrounded by guards ready to kill him. Will Ichiro live? How did he get into the underworld? Who's the raccoon? Read Ichiro to find out the answers to all of the questions above, AND MORE!

Ichiro is a good book. It has a lot of dialogue at the beginning and very little at the end so it is very important to pay attention to the graphics at the end. Ichiro contains information that is appropriate for middle school readers as well some information that would lend itself more to adult readers. Readers would have to keep this in mind when selecting Ichiro. It is geared, however to readers age 12 and up. The character, Ichiro, is easy for readers to relate to because of the lesson he learns in the story. I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. Some pages are just all pictures and no words which left me uncertain as to what was going on at some parts. Possibly an avid graphic novel reader would be better at interpreting the illustrations, but it was a struggle for me. Overall, however, Ichiro is a good book. It is a relativity quick read because there are far more pictures than words. Ichiro is a good book for a trip to pass the time.

Review written by Max (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy of Ichiro for this review.

Have you read Ichiro? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang

The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang.

The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang

Kane Miller
Publication Date: September 2011
List Price: $4.99
ISBN-13: 9780141316499

Review: Do you feel like you've read every interesting book there is? If you haven't read The Garden of Empress Cassia, then you haven't! Gabrielle Wang is the author of The Garden of Empress Cassia. The main character is a girl named Mimi Lu. Her life changes a lot from a small gift.

The Garden of Empress Cassia is about an unpopular, new girl named Mimi Lu. At school, she excels in art. Because of this, her teacher gives her a box of pastels that turns out to be more than they seem. She draws beautiful pictures on the stones and one day, she creates The Garden of Empress Cassia. This drawing is so powerful, that it has the ability to suck people inside of it and release them as a new person. They don't even remember what has happened! But Mimi has to be careful because the pastels are "A Treasure for Some / A Curse for Others." She especially had to protect them from Gemma, a girl at school who is bullying her, and who wants the pastels in order to stop Mimi's gaining popularity.

The Garden of Empress Cassia is very interesting in multiple ways. I'm especially a fan of art, so the book is inspiring. I feel that the quote "A Treasure for Some / A Curse for Others" really explains that only polite people are treated respectfully, while bullies might not be respected by others. This book shows that although people are equal and should be treated that way, each person is unique in some way. Mimi is as much of a person as Gemma, but Gemma is jealous because of her artistic talent. This book also inspires readers that as long as you have the material, anything can come from your artwork. This really shows the power of creativity.

The Garden of Empress Cassia will appeal to people who may be shy, new, or unpopular because it shows that the inner you is what really matters. Also, this book is very inspirational to creative people. It shows the true value of artwork and emphasizes that the value something or someone has is the inner beauty, not what there is to be seen on the outside.

Review written by Kelly (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Kane Miller for providing a copy of The Garden of Empress Cassia for this review.

Have you read The Garden of Empress Cassia? How would you rate it?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Review: You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis.

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2011
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9780385740289

Review: The book You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis is a wonderful book. It is beautifully written and well worth reading. The main character Luna is a sweet curious girl and is the perfect fit for this puzzling mystery. Luna and her family go through many trials in this book, which will make your eyes widen with wonder or perhaps might even move you to cry or perhaps laugh! This dramatic mystery is full of suspense and will give you a thrilling pleasure. You absolutely won't want to put this book down!

Luna lives with her little brother, Tile, and her dad; all of whom have been injured by the past. Luna's mother had died one year before after being hit by a taxi. Her mother had been a fashion model and her dad is a movie-director. But things will never again be the same. One day, Luna decides to clean out her mother's old studio and discovers her mom's phone fully charged and with seven new messages! As she listens to them she discovers a secret about her mother's death that threatens what everyone has always told. Could what everyone has told her be a lie? Has she been kept in the darkness this whole time? With the help of her neighbor/crush Oliver she sets off on a mission to discover the truth about her mother's death, all the while unraveling more and more truths that she never knew before. What is the real story behind her mother's death? Does she really want to know?

Everyone should read You Have Seven Messages because it is an exciting mystery about a family that has been torn apart and are trying to get back together again. It is well written and full of detail. It has all the characteristics of a good book and is a joy to read. This book has a thrilling plot and interesting characters. Luna's dad is more quiet and reserved but there is more to him that what meets the eye. Luna seems to be the exact opposite of her father with her curious, passionate personality, while Tile is a lovable, sweet little boy. These characters set the plot and make the story explode with excitement. I personally loved the part where she watches Oliver from her window and also when she finds her mom's phone. Those parts depict the feelings of love and shock. This really is a wonderful book that is well worth your time.

Review written by Rachel (7th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of You Have Seven Messages for this review.

Have you read You Have Seven Messages? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Tighter by Adele Griffin

Tighter by Adele Griffin.

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2011
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780375866456

Review: A book with many interesting details always makes it a wonderful read. That's why Tighter by Adele Griffin; a two-time National Book Award finalist, is a book that you would want to read and not miss it. Unlike any other book you may have read, Tighter will not "leave you hanging" or be too anticlimactic. Adele Griffin has put a great amount of effort into all her books especially Tighter so you will not be disappointed by her excellent genius.

In the beginning of Tighter, Jamie, a 17-year old girl, is traveling to "an idyllic New England island called Little Bly." A distinctive attribute of Jamie is she has a near addiction to pills. She has been hired as an au pair or "baby-sitter" for a little girl named Isa McRae who lives at Little Bly during the summer. What she sees when she goes to find Isa is a ghost couple together people she doesn't know who they are. When Jamie meets Isa, she finds out some interesting about Little Bly's past. The people that Jamie meets and hears about during the novel surprise and astound her and have a bizarre "phenomena" effect on her, whether the people are dead or alive. It is strange what is awaiting Jamie at every turn the longer she stays on Little Bly. Be prepared to be amazed as you read one of the most worthy books ever written.

Overall, Tighter is phenomenal; out of this world. It will have readers "marveling in its glory". After every turn of the page, readers are greeted with suspense, comedy, drama, and even tragedy striking the McRae children, Connie, Jamie, and their friends. The unbelievable aspects, actions, and scenarios complete the book; which I give 5 out of 5 stars. The unbelievable truth is awaiting; get the book! You will be in love with it! Looking at a book will never be the same after you read Tighter by the wonderful Adele Griffin. You'll have to read it to know it.

Review written by Sam P. (6th grade student).

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

Have you read Tighter? How would you rate it?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Pet Disasters by Claudia Mills

Pet Disasters by Claudia Mills. A Mason Dixon Story.

Pet Disasters by Claudia Mills

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 2011
List Price: $12.99
ISBN-13: 9780375868733

Review: Would you like to have a pet? A fish? A cat? A hamster? A dog? These are the pets that Mason has in the newest Mason Dixon novel, Pet Disasters by Claudia Mills. His parents feel that since he is an only child he needs the comfort of an animal. Unfortunately, Mason thinks otherwise. His fish is overfed, his best friend is highly allergic to his cat, and his hamster escapes through an open door.

Mason is an ordinary, calm child. He prefers the simply ways of life. He likes brown socks and brown socks only. He is even simplistic in the naming of his pets. He names all of his animals after the type of pet they are. He does not like to call attention to himself. His parents' next animal for him is a dog, which he names "Dog". He is supposed to share the dog with his friend Brody. Dog is a 3 legged rescue dog. At first Mason is reluctant to get involved with Dog, but after life altering experiences, he changes. Instead of Mason being ordinary and predictable, he confronts a bully and deals with almost losing his best friend and Dog too. Mason finally realizes that this 3 legged dog can fill holes in his life and heart.

While reading Mason Dixon Pet Disasters by Claudia Mills people start to wonder why Mason's parents insist on getting him more and more pets. After Dog comes into his life he turns into someone else. This book teaches that life can change all the time and that is okay to act and feel different. It is a great story about friends, bullies and animals and how they can all help one another. I would highly recommend this book to third to fifth graders. I give this book a 4 out of 5 because in the beginning of the book it was confusing why parents would keep on giving him a pet after a pet.

Review written by Cesco (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Pet Disasters for this review.

Have you read Pet Disasters? How would you rate it?