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Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Sylo by D.J. MacHale

Sylo by D.J. MacHale.

Sylo by D.J. MacHale

Publication Date: July 2013
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9781595146656

Review: It all started on a small island called Pemberwick off the coast of Maine. Sylo is the first book of what would make a fantastic new series. D.J. MacHale, who has written a number of other good books, is the author. The main characters are Tucker Pierce, Quinn, and Tori Sleeper.

So as I said before the story takes place on the small island of Pemberwick just a few miles off the coast of Maine. Tucker has lead a normal life by most standards. He is on the back seat of his life always thinking that there is always tomorrow. That is until a mysterious group of the U.S military shows up on the island and as people begin dying mysteriously, Tucker realizes that tomorrow may never come. So Tucker, Tori, and Quinn start searching for the truth.

Overall I think book is a masterpiece of art, which blends all the elements of a great story together seamlessly. One of those things being its descriptiveness; it uses a dictionary's worth of descriptive vocabulary. When the author is relating a plan that Tucker and his friends are making, he uses so much description that the reader feels like he is part of the story, alive and breathing in the piece of writing. Another aspect that the author did well was to make an action packed, fast-paced story. And the thing about this is that he made the story go by faster but he kept it together using details and transitions to the max. This story is generally geared toward kids ages 10 and up who like action and adventure type books.

So please try this book out; I hope that you like Sylo; because I really did!

Review written by Mark (6th grade student).

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

Have you read Sylo? How would you rate it?

Review: Magicalamity by Kate Saunders

Magicalamity by Kate Saunders.

Magicalamity by Kate Saunders

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 2012
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385740777

Review: Fus Ro Dah! You shout as your voice and your spell knock your enemy off of their feet. Have you ever dreamed about being able to fly? Having a magic wand and spells? If so then you have dreamt about being a fairy, something that you don't see everyday. Magicalamity by Kate Saunders is about a time in a boy named Tom's life where he saw fairies everyday, without knowing it. Then one day he saw his dad in trouble in a different world called the "Realm." Although he didn't know it at the time, he was going to have to save his dad. The way he was going to do this was by exploring a world he never knew existed; he was brought into the line of fairy work. Lorna, his one nice fairy godmother, was with him each and every day but she wasn't the only one. They were going to have to get help from his other two godmothers. They eventually agree and they travel to and from the fairy world trying to get help for Tom's dad. When the time comes for Toms' dad's court trial. The people helping Tom have to find some way to save his dad. They encountered many twisted events and characters along the way, like Tom's cousin. I won't spoil it because then there wouldn't be a point of reading the book. Even so, there seemed to be a few flaws and minor issues I had with the book.

Don't be fooled by the magical, nice, little fairies that fly around during the book. What I mean by that is that the book has multiple instances of adult suggested events in the book. I would say that the intended audience is about 11 to 15 years old. The reason for this is because although it doesn't go to far with these topics, it has some implied swearing and some of the people in the realm are nude, including the main antagonist. These things aren't too much of a big deal because it is only a book but it can definitely create an image in the reader's head. One of the issues I had with this book is the lack of backstory for the parents. I mean, you hear a ton about Tom's dad because he is the person who has to be saved, but the mom is kind of nowhere. You hear that the mom is safe and hidden from the antagonists but that 's pretty much it. I would have liked to know more about the mom maybe at the end or beginning of the book. Another issue I had with the book is that some of the parts, logically, didn't make much sense. Now yes, this is a book about fairies and magical realm so it is all fantasy but even so, some things didn't add up to me. For example, there is one part in the book where the main antagonist is nude. While he is nude he gets mad and pulls out his gun off of his nude body. They say it was hidden but I was left wondering, "How did that happen?" He could've used an invisible spell on it but the book said "pulled out" which made it sound like it was a real gun and didn't have a spell on it. Like I said, minor issues but they still stood out to me. Overall I think that the book is a good book. Definitely detailed and exciting, but it also has a few minor flaws and confusing moments. It is easy to read and appealing to its audience.

Review written by Marat (6th grade student).

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

Have you read Magicalamity? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: The Little Prince by Joann Sfar

The Little Prince by Joann Sfar.

The Little Prince by Joann Sfar

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: October 2012
List Price: $12.99
ISBN-13: 9780547338002

Review: Draw me a sheep. Does this sound familiar? It may if you have ever read The Little Prince, but the version I read is different. Instead of a book, this version is actually a graphic novel written by Joann Sfar. A graphic novel is more like a comic book with a lot of pictures and fewer words than your typical storybook which makes this a short, good read.

In this story, a pilot's plane breaks down, and he lands in a desert. As he fixes his plane, a boy comes up to him and asks the pilot to draw him a sheep. After several attempts to draw the boy the sheep he wants, the little prince is finally content with a picture of a box which the man states has the sheep inside. The boy explains to the man that he wants to take the sheep back to his planet. He then proceeds to tell the pilot about his planet and a beautiful flower that grows there. The flower is very demanding and upsets the little prince so he decides to leave his planet. The prince travels from planet to planet, meeting strange people at each stop. Lastly, the prince came to Earth, but before meeting the pilot, he saw more flowers like the one on his planet and then he meets a fox. The fox told the prince that he is responsible for his flower, and that made the prince want to be with his flower. Then that's when he met the pilot. The pilot grew fond of the little prince and wanted to stay with him, but the prince felt he needed to go back home to his own planet and his flower. Did the prince make it back to the flower? Well, you will have to read it to find out.

The Little Prince graphic novel is a good book for ages 8 and up. Many older people will also like it especially if they have read the novel version of the story. The book is a pretty fast read with great illustrations. It also has many mysteries that keep you engaged. If you like reading but find large storybooks to be a bit overwhelming, this book, being a graphic novel with few words and many pictures, is a perfect choice. There are touching parts that will make you happy and you find yourself caring about this strange little boy from another planet. So when you are looking for a short yet entertaining story that is fun for all ages look no further, and read The Little Prince.

Review written by Justin (6th grade student).

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

Have you read The Little Prince? How would you rate it?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Rump: The True Story of Rumplstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Rump: The True Story of Rumplstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff.

Rump: The True Story of Rumplstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780307977939

Review: Have you ever wondered about a fairytale from the villain's point of view? Have you ever considered that the Big Bad Wolf might just be hungry, or that the three bears were just angry at Goldilocks? Or perhaps Rumpelstiltskin, the greatest villain of them all, who stole the queen's child, had more to his story? Indeed, the book, Rump: the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, gives the whole story of Rump, the main character, as accounted from the imagination of the author, Liesl Shurtliff.

Once upon a time, there lived a boy up on a mountain called The Mountain, in a magical kingdom called The Kingdom; the boy's name was Rump. In a land where a name foretells your destiny, the newborn child's name was whispered into his ear by his dying mother, then announced throughout the town by church bells and screaming gnomes, the one syllable forever sealing his fate. When, Rump finds his late mother's old spinning wheel, though, all his luck seems to change. Rump, much to his delight, can spin gold from straw. This gold turns out to be unlike any other, though; the gold Rump spins is magical gold. And magic, no matter how deceivingly harmless, always has it's consequences. With every piece of straw turned to gold, Rump weaves himself deeper and deeper into a curse older than he himself. There is one way to break the curse, though, Rump discovers. He must find a stiltskin, the deepest, purest form of magic. All odds are against him, but with a bit of luck, determination, and help and advice from his best friend Red, Rump could just succeed.

A fascinating tale full of fantasy, adventure, and mystery, Shurtliff spins a story like Rump spins gold. I was hooked from the beginning, where the author started the story with a sense of humor unmatched by many other books I have read. "My mother named me after a cow's rear end. It's the village's favorite joke, and probably the only oneÉ" Rump's misery and discontent is easily relatable for people of all ages, and it's hard not to get attached to this brave and witty underdog. This story, though you may have guessed already from the title and synopsis, is an adaptation of the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin, the story of a strange little man who promises to spin straw into gold for the queen in return for her first child. This fresh twist on the story is just as captivating and even more inventive, with the story from Rump's point of view, showing not only the perspective of the hero or heroine, but also the so-called "bad guy". This book would be enjoyed by pretty much all ages, I think, but I would especially recommend it to grades 4-7. The captivating adventure, wittiness, and new twist on a classic fairytale make Rump: the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin a great book, 4.5 out of 5.

Review written by Amina (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Rump: The True Story of Rumplstiltskin for this review.

Have you read Rump: The True Story of Rumplstiltskin? How would you rate it?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-Up by Michele Jakubowski

Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-Up by Michele Jakubowski. Book 1 of Sidney & Sydney.

Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-Up by Michele Jakubowski

Picture Window Books
Publication Date: February 2013
List Price: $8.95
ISBN-13: 9781404881044

Review: I reviewed Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-up written by Michele Jakubowski. It is a story in the perspective of two characters, Sidney, and Sydney. Sidney is the new boy in town, just starting third grade. He is 8 years old, his birthday is May 11th, and he has no siblings. Sydney is the smallest kid in class, but is very spunky. She is 8 years old, her birthday is August 3rd, and has a 1-year-old little brother. They have a few things of common. They 1. Do NOT want to go to school on the first day, and 2. Love video games. Sidney only had one friend, Gomez. Sidney had only spent 2 minutes with Gomez and they were best friends. Sydney, already had friends, and a bully who called her "Squidney".

These two kids, Sidney and Sydney, accidently meet several times and eventually become best friends. They go through several dilemmas, from the beginning of the school year to Halloween. Read this book to see how teamwork and friendship are the best ways to solve a problem of any kind! Read Sidney and Sydney to find out what happens on Halloween night!

This book was a great book. It was a quick, easy read. I'd say this book would be for kids 6-10 years old. It has 124 pages. I read it in about 2 hours. This book was a great book, with greatly developed characters, a great plotline, and lots of fun and humorous stuff. This book was a great, quick read. I give it a 9.5/10!

Review written by Dylan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy of Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-Up for this review.

Have you read Sidney & Sydney: Third Grade Mix-Up? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Faerieground Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser

Faerieground Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser. A Faerieground Novel.

Faerieground Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser

Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: April 2013
List Price: $12.95
ISBN-13: 9781623700034

Review: Have you ever had an argument with a friend and wished that they would just disappear? In the book Wish by Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser, Soli wishes her best friend, Lucy, away after an argument. Unfortunately for both girls, however, Soli makes her wish in the heart of the Willow Forest, the one link between the human world and the Faerieground.

After Soli makes her wish, Lucy is sent to the other part of the Willow Forest, the part in the Faerieground, where she is met by guards of the faerie queen, Calandra. The faeries are not at all as she had expected, and Lucy immediately wants Soli to wish her back home, away from the scarier, meaner faeries. Meanwhile, Soli, who feels extremely guilty, goes to visit Lucy's mother, Andria. Andria, who is also very worried about her daughter, instructs Soli to go back to the woods, find a four-leafed clover, and wish to see a faerie. This way, Soli will be able to see the secret entrance to the Faerieground and go save Lucy. Back in the Faerieground, Lucy has been made a prisoner in a small, damp cell, along with a faerie called Kheelan. As soon as Soli enters the Faerieground, she is brought to see Queen Calandra. Calandra tells Soli that she must retrieve the Dark Crown from the Black Lake or Lucy will never be released. With the help of Kheelan, whom Lucy sends, and the Ladybirds, the wise elders of the faeries, will Soli be able to dive deep into the Black Lake in time to save her best friend? Is Calandra telling the truth? You must read the book to find out.

I enjoyed reading this book because of its strong lessons about friendship, beautiful illustrations, and because it was a quick read. I would recommend this book to Middle School age girls because the book is about girls that are this age. If you are ever having a hard time deciding on what to buy at the bookstore or borrow from the library, make sure to look for Faerieground: Wish by Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser.

Review written by Laura (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy of Faerieground Wish for this review.

Have you read Faerieground Wish? How would you rate it?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: CODE by Kathy Reichs and Brandan Reichs

CODE by Kathy Reichs and Brandan Reichs. A Virals Novel.

CODE by Kathy Reichs and Brandan Reichs

G. P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9781595144126

Review: Welcome to the adventurous, thrilling, suspenseful, and modern world of Victoria Brennan created by Kathy and Brandon Reiches! Tory is smart, quick thinking, determined, and is the man with the plan. She will take you on a giant clue hunt that will dazzle your mind. When The Game was afoot Tory was ready to take the challenge in CODE by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs.

The story takes place in Charleston, South Carolina during the 21st century. Tory is a 14-year girl who is the leader of a pack called the Virals. The pack consists of Ben, Shelton, and Hi (also called Hiram). They are called the Virals because a virus infected them giving them part canine DNA. This allows them to ÒflareÓ activating their canine side, which makes all their senses, and strength go beyond what is humanly possible. Tory's very special ability is to see into other people's minds. In the story they go on a clue hunt designed by the Gamemaster. You would think that there would be no harm in doing this but the Gamemaster has set a timer upon it and if they don't find each clue within the time limit a bomb goes off and people die. Also if they notify anyone of The Game a bomb goes off and their family may even die. Will they find the clues in time to stop the Gamemaster and win The Game? Find out in CODE.

This book is just spectacular. I have many great things to say about this book so I'm going to start with the plot of the story. The introduction of the story snatched me by my shirt and held me captive. I think the introduction was great because it started off not too calmly but not to intensely which is good since it had a mild start to it. I also liked how the author described the setting by using short statements. For example: "Tern Point. Loggerhead Island. Ben Blue and I were perched upon a wide stone ledge twenty feet above the Atlantic Ocean." The setting created an image, which definitely engaged me. As another point the setting was integral because the story could not have happened anywhere else. Secondly the rising action and climax were very fast-paced. This was a this was at it's max when they were trying to stop the gas at the debutante ball and when they were chasing down the Gamemaster. This was especially fast paced because the story moved from one scene to another very quickly but at the same time putting in good description, which helped me keep track of what was going on in the story. Also at the end of each chapter there was a cliffhanger, which consumed my mind and made me keep reading. For example: "'Chance Claybourne.' He shook his head in disbelief. 'He's coming back to Bolton.'" The last thing that I have to praise about the plot is that the conclusion was pleasing (I'm not allowed to tell you about the end otherwise I would spoil it.). Also just by the ending I could tell that there was another book on the way. Next I would like to praise the characters. Tory is a round and static character. I also forgot to mention that the story is told from her point of view. This enhances the readers experience by making the reader feel like it is himself or herself experiencing what Tory is! Ben has the following traits: strong-willed, loves Tory, physically strong, selfish, good-looking, dishonest, and jealous. Shelton is smart, resourceful, friendly, and cautious. Hi is smart, geeky, willing to do anything no matter how embarrassing, easygoing, and immature. The readers could definitely relate to the main characters and the character where also very interesting to read about. All in all I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars! This was the best book that I have ever read! I would also say that this book would be most appropriate for children 13+ because of the scenes and language of the story.

CODE is my favorite book ever and I hope you like as much as I do. This is a book that many will adore and love. Have fun reading!

Review written by Ronak (6th grade student).

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

Have you read CODE? How would you rate it?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2013
List Price: $16.95
ISBN-13: 9781616202514

Review: In Asia lies a culture that is foreign to the rest of the world. Although Iran is a country that is seen throughout the news, Sara Farizan takes readers into the more obscure parts of Iranian culture in her debut novel, If You Could Be Mine. Sahar, a seventeen-year-old intelligent student with a bright future ahead of her, is plagued by her love for her best friend. Sahar has been in love with Nasrin nearly her entire life. They've grown up together, loving one-another, making promises of a romantic future. But, in Iranian culture, homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or even death.

Sahar is madly in love with Nasrin who is more or less the selfish, rich girl. But Nasrin returns Sahar's love. Sahar is the only person who truly understands her. However, when Nasrin's parents announce Nasrin's impending marriage, Sahar's life is turned upside down. No longer can she stand being the hidden figure of Nasrin's lust. She wants more. Tormented by Reza's obvious love for Nasrin and Nasrin's acceptance of their marriage, Sahar turns to more dramatic ways to solve her dilemma. Because Sahar cannot live a life of homosexuality in Iran, she turns to the only alternative. It is not a crime to be a man trapped in a woman's body. Sex change is legal because these feelings are accepted as "nature's mistake". Once Sahar is a man, Nasrin and she will be able to be together legally. But will she be too late? Will Nasrin already be married? Will she turn away from Reza for her? Is Nasrin worth giving up her true self?

If you Could Be Mine is a thought-provoking novel. Not only does it open the reader's eyes to the culture if Iran, but it also shows what it means to truly love someone - anyone, and it shares with readers the pain and suffering homosexual and transgender people face in Iran. As the understanding for an alternative life style is more and more accepted in the rest of the world, it is disheartening to see how it is perceived in other corners of the world. In a fresh, respectful manner, Farizan shares the pain that is faced by people who want to act on their true desires but who can't because of the risk of death. Young adult girls in particular will be drawn into the love felt between Sahar and Nasrin, and they will feel the pain as Sahar is faced with the most challenging decisions of her life.

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

We would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of If You Could Be Mine for this review.

Have you read If You Could Be Mine? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick.

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2013
List Price: $16.95
ISBN-13: 9781616202200

Review: Do you like stores of adventure? If you said yes, well than I have a story for you. The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick is full of adventure.

A boy named Edward begins the adventure. One day he is going to school like a normal kid would and he finds a rock, but all around things start disappearing. So actually what he just picked up was a time fetch. When you wake it up to early in its hibernation, bad things would happen. All around Edward are sidewalks disappearing and kids to. All that is left is Edward. And so Edwards adventure begins.

The Time Fetch is a fantastic book for young readers because it has all the right qualities. One, it has good story, Two, it had a good adventure, and three, it is filled with action. This book also reminded me about this one time when it was my responsibility to do something. I would give or recommend this book to anybody that likes a good adventure.

Review written by Eric (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of The Time Fetch for this review.

Have you read The Time Fetch? How would you rate it?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Double Vision by F. T. Bradley

Double Vision by F. T. Bradley.

Double Vision by F. T. Bradley

Harper Children's
Publication Date: October 2012
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780062104373

Review: Sometimes, even ordinary kids can save the day. Do you like action and suspense, with humor in between? DO you like spy books? Then Double Vision by F.T. Bradley is just the right book for you. The main character is a boy named Linc Baker.

Linc Baker is an ordinary 6th grader. He has a life with his mother and his father. Normally, you would think that he would have a normal life. Well, you would be wrong. He lately has been getting into a lot of trouble at school field trips, the last one at a chicken farm. This time, he gets in deep trouble and his family is sued. Then, Linc meets these government agents that want him to join them on a top-secret mission. A top agent originally took on this mission, but he went missing so Linc is his double. He will have to make up for the lack of perfectness that the agent, has. How will he get the mission done? Will he get this done? You will have to read the book to find out.

I really enjoyed this book. What I really like about this book is that it is humorous. For example, in the prologue, it talks about how the story isn't about Percy Jackson or Spiderman in a really funny way. It also has some suspense and action, which I like in books, like the moves that the people as they fight, like "The Henry" roundhouse kick. This book has some history into it, like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre museum. This helps us reference what goes on in the book, which helps me understand it better. I think that this book would be acceptable for kids 9-12, but maybe 8 year olds can read this.

Review written by Nathan (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Harper Children's for providing a copy of Double Vision for this review.

Have you read Double Vision? How would you rate it?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Scowler by Daniel Kraus.

Scowler by Daniel  Kraus

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385743099

Review: Life is nearly normal for nineteen-year-old Ry and his mother and sister. After his abusive father, Marvin Burke, destroyed their lives, Ry has worked to shed his life of the terrifying memories. In a horrific look at mental illness, Daniel Kraus takes readers into the minds of Ry and Marvin in Scowler.

On their dilapidated farm, Ry, his mother, and sister try to eek out a life that brings some normalcy to their damaged lives. They think they've succeeded until an escaped convict shows up on their property. After learning of the catastrophe at the prison and finding out that Marvin had been transferred to that prison, Ry and his mother know it's time to leave their farm behind and run away to a new life. But, when Marvin surprises them as they are packing, they know their hopes of escape are shattered. Fourteen minutes later, a meteor crashing onto their land offers a distraction and hope, but the fervor of Marvin's find sends their lives into an even more disturbing tailspin. As imaginary friends of Ry's past come once again to life, he finds that maybe there is a monster lying in wait inside him too.

Scowler is an unnerving look into the world of the mentally disturbed. It is filled with symbolism and depth that is often not present in young adult books of this genre. However, Scowler could just as easily been a novella. In fact, it might have been more effective. At times it seems as if Kraus is trying to fill pages by adding unnecessary details. Readers might find themselves saying, "Get on with it . . ." The overall storyline has the potential to be truly terrifying, but the over-development of inconsequential details takes the reader away from the actually in-depth plotline. Nonetheless the fear, blood and gore, and disturbing characters will definitely appeal to young adult readers.

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

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

Have you read Scowler? How would you rate it?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: Promises to Keep by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Promises to Keep by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Promises to Keep by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385741927

Review: Growing up in this generation most young adults will picture a glittering, supernatural, human fighting against other strange, fictional characters when they hear a book about vampires. After reading Promises to Keep by Amelia Atwater- Rhodes, it will change that perspective on vampires completely.

It all begins with a crashed party and an epic clash of events. At the center of all this chaos is Jay, a young witch and vampire hunter. Somehow he finds himself in a situation no one has ever expected. He finds himself at the vampire empress Kendra's fabled Heathen Holiday bash where he is dragged into a trap. He has always raced his way though these dangerous conditions, but this time he won't be able to get out of it so easily. Throughout this nerve-wracking evening he meets an insane vampire and another mysteriously supernatural person in the middle of the forest floor. In this thrilling story, Jay Marinitch may be the only hope to stop the rise of a vampire-controlled slave empire called Midnight.

Personally, I think that this book is decent. It definitely will catch any reader's eye. It has a very unique and interesting plot. I recommend Promises to Keep to readers age 12 and older because there is some language in the story that would not be recommended to be read by younger readers. A weakness of this book is that it is a bit vague in the beginning. But in spite of that, I gradually became more interested. However, I know that other readers will be captivated by this unique story from the very beginning.

Review written by Lauren (6th grade student).

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

Have you read Promises to Keep? How would you rate it?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller.

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

Publication Date: February 2013
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9781595145185

Review: Predators. That's the term we use here. The alumni hate being labeled sociopaths or psychopaths - and they'd be furious to hear you call them monsters. They don't want to be thought of as mentally ill. And they're not. No one at the Mandel Academy is insane. Psychopaths and sociopaths are not defective humans. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced they're superior beings." Thus is the belief behind the long-standing, highly respected Mandel Academy, a school for the chosen few who graduate to be the most powerful leaders in the world. In How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller, readers will enter alongside Flick as he follows in his father's footsteps and attends the Mandel Academy.

Flick is a teenage boy, not terribly different from other teenage boys except he lives a life of crime. After escaping abuse from his father and suffering from the knowledge that his brother was murdered by the hands of the very same father, Flick resorts to the streets and makes a life as a pickpocket. When Flick is offered a deal to finally get the proof to send his father to jail, he accepts the invitation into the Mandel Academy. However, once he's admitted - even though he is seen as the most formidable competitor - he notices that the school is not just training criminals, but it is also eliminating those who are not strong enough to succeed. Since no one can leave the academy without being fully trained and willing to keep the true agenda of the Academy secret, they find a different, more alarming way to eliminate the weak. Flick finds himself conflicted and when an old flame is admitted and they are pit against each other with the threat that only one of them will survive, will he find a way to reach his goal and save the only girl he's ever loved?

How to Lead a Life of Crime has the most unique premise for a novel to date. It takes some of the excitement of The Hunger Games and mixes with it a grueling explanation of what genetic attribute leads to power. "Those who inherited the gene were smarter, stronger. Better. They became predators. Those without the gene were weaker, less intelligent, more prone to illness. They were the predator's prey. That's what psychopaths and sociopaths share in common. Both possess the mutant gene." Readers are grabbed from page one, and their attention is held to the very end. Not only is the backdrop to the novel engaging and exciting, but the character development also adds to the novel's ability to captivate its audience. Every character is significant and developed to the fullest detail so that readers can immerse themselves in the adventure, in the horror that is the Mandel Academy. The New York Times bestselling author has done it again. How to Lead a Life of Crime is bound to be recognized as a one-of-a-kind young adult novel.

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

We would like to thank Penguin Group for providing a copy of How to Lead a Life of Crime for this review.

Have you read How to Lead a Life of Crime? How would you rate it?