Saturday, July 19, 2008

Haridama by Atsushi Suzumi

Kokuyo and Harika have been best friends since they were young. They are also Obsidians. Obsidians are the lowest of the low when it comes to wizards. They have to have a special sword in order to do magic. Together, they want to become the greatest wizards ever, but they must face some challenges. Can the power of friendship help them follow their dreams?

Haridama is a great manga (Japanese comic book) to read. The book is very well drawn and written. In some mangas that I have read, you couldn’t tell the difference between some of the characters, and you couldn’t tell who said what. With Haridama, the pictures were clean and clear, and all the characters looked different. I truly enjoyed the experience of reading this book. The plot line was ingenious, and a little bit cliche. It had a lot of things that other mangas have, such as how the characters seemed like so many others that I have read about. Atsushi Suzumi is a great mangaka (Japanese comic creator), and I would not hesitate to read anything else by her. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Haridama series!

Some swearing and magic

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania USA

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Jonah was adopted when he was a child, but he never
minded. His parents were very open with him about it. He
and his friend were playing basketball when Jonah received
a mysterious letter without a return address. He thought
it was a prank letter. Then, he found out that Chip, his
friend, received one also. Chip asked his parents if he
was adopted as well, and they tell him he was. Now, Jonah
and Chip are out to find who is sending them the
mysterious letters. However, they discover a plot that
they must unravel before it is too late.

Margaret Peterson Haddix has written another wonderful book. It
kept me up all night; I couldnt put it down until I had
finished it! The characters were very well thought out
and each had their own distinct personality and thoughts.
The plot was engaging and mysterious. The ending was a
little abrupt. But, it made me want to read the next one
even more! I cant wait for another Haddix masterpiece in
The Missing series!

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shippensburg, PA USA

Physics: Why Matter Matters By Dan Green

PHYSICS: WHY MATTER MATTERS is a great way to learn about physics. This books takes all the boring, dragging parts of a physics lesson and turns them upside down. The best parts of this fun-loving book are the characters. Dan Green came up with fun cartoon illustrations to personify certain physics terms. For instance, Sound (from the Wave Gang) is a character who wears a yellow jumpsuit and has a large stereo speaker for a head. Along with each awesome doodle is a paragraph about the element. Boring? Hardly! The paragraph is written from the perspective of the doodle. X-ray (from the Light Gang) admits, "I am an electromagnetic peeping Tom." At the bottom of each page, four interesting facts are given (e.g., inventor, date of discovery, etc.), and a Glossary in the back helps define the tough terms.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about physics from a kid-friendly but not dumbed-down point of view. Even if you're a physics whiz, you'll enjoy this book just for the illustrations and text. And it's not just for kids  readers from age 12 on up to their teachers will like this book. If you're not too keen on science or if learning about physics makes you nervous, this is definitely the book for you. I think this is a great resource because the pictures are memorable, and it would be helpful to use when studying for tests.

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Saugerties, New York USA

Friday, July 18, 2008

Demon In MY View by Amila Atwater Rhodes

Think you know about vampires? What if everything you knew
as fiction was true! In the anticipated sequel to In the
Forest of the Night, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes introduces
Jessica, a gothic human who is a descendant from an ancient
and powerful vampire. Jessica, under the name of Ash Night,
writes popular vampire novels, which are all turn out to be
true. With no inside knowledge Jessica manages to portray
all the violent and intriguing vampire/witch tales just as
they happened. This is far from ideal for the secrecy of the
vampire world. When Aubrey (remembered from In the Forest of
the Night) shows up at Jessica's school, she knows
undoubtedly that he is the charming, attractive character
from her book. Her publications have caused a stir in the
vampire world and Aubrey has come to kill her but finds he
can't. Jessica meets Carolyn Smoke, a safe witch who tries
to help her, and Fala, another vampire who is set out to
kill her. As Jessica delves further into the darkness of
vampire's bloody streets she faces understanding of her past
and great choices dictating her future.

Before reading the second book from Atwater-Rhodes I
thought I knew what I was in for but I was surely wrong.
Expecting another vamp vs. vamp novel I was pleasantly
surprised to find this novel different. I really liked that
this book was set from a teenager's point of view. I liked
the aspects of school life for Jessica and how the author
included the vampires into this setting. Amelia
Atwater-Rhodes explained in great detail the emotions
Jessica felt but could have added more description to the
surroundings to enhance visual images in your mind. In
comparison to the first book in the series I preferred Demon
in My View as I thought it had a faster pace that kept the
pages turning. This was another easy to read book that was
constantly spooky and captivating. A great read for anyone
who enjoyed reading the first book in the series.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country:
Melbourne , Victoria Australia

Boys Are Dogs

Boys are a lot like puppies; they drool, they make messes, they can be cute and annoying. Annabelle just started middle school and already she feels like she is in over her head. Elementary school is nothing compared to Birchwood Middle School. Her mom has a new boyfriend, she is living in a new house with new friends, her puppy is hard to handle and don't get her started on the boys at school! If only summer camp lasted forever! How is Annabelle ever going to survive?
I thought the book was cute and funny. The characters' personalities were amusing. Her puppy melted my heart! I think any girl going into middle school can relate and learn from Annabelle. Leslie Margolis is a creative writer; in the book she compares the boys to Annabelle's puppy. Annabelle bribed the boys with treats just like she does with Stripe her puppy.
I would give this book four stars.
Reviewer Age:14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Renton, WA USA

The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer is an intriguing story through the eyes of an alien, called Wanderer. Wanderer has the appearance of a beautiful glowing worm, but is unable to sustain life without a host body. Wanderer gets placed in the body of Melanie Stryder, a determined human girl who is unwilling to give up her body. At first Wanderer is fighting to erase Melanie completely, and Melanie is trying to get Wanderer to leave. But, as the story goes on Wanderer and Melanie begin to enjoy each others' company. Wanderer begins to see life through a human's eyes and starts to feel sorry for them. She even falls in love with the human race.
The Host is an exciting and interesting book. Seeing life from an alien's perspective makes you reflect on your every day senses, such as smell and touch. You never think twice about your senses, but a vivid description from something that has never been able to smell before, makes you consider at it differently. This book will toy with all your emotions; it will make you angry, sad, depressed, and eventually happy. This is a personal favorite in my library. I have read numerous books and rarely find a book this enjoyable. It is well written and has a plot that will keep your interest. In the beginning of the book you may find yourself hating the main character, Wanderer, rooting for Melanie to overcome the alien invading her; but as you continue reading you cannot help but fall in love with her as Melanie does. I would strongly suggest this book to anyone that is looking to read something new and unique. It is unlike anything I have read, causing an inner conflict that is both frustrating and enjoyable.
Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lemoore, CA US

Visibility by Sarah Neufeld

Visibility by Sarah Neufeld tells the story of a girl struggling to understand herself and the people around her. One thing separates her from sharing this situation with her peers: on her eighteenth birthday, Natalie discovers that that she has a superpower of sorts - she can turn invisible. With her bodyguard sitting in for her absent father and her mother, Jadyn, acting invisible in more ways than one, it's no surprise that Natalie is unsure of how to deal with her new ability. After spending years in the infamous Jadyn Irving's shadow, Natalie strives to keep her talent hidden, but this proves to be more of a challenge than she expects. Caught up in a world of blackmail, deception, and absent family, Natalie must learn how to use this ability to discover truth, without endangering her own life and the lives of those around her.

As an illustrated novel, Sarah Neufeld's Visibility falls in between graphic novels and common novels. Less intimidating than a graphic novel, it has the potential to introduce otherwise cautious readers to the genre. As someone who is always trying to convince her friends to try out a graphic novel, I am thankful to find a book I know they won't regret reading. Furthermore, Meister's illustrations are extraordinary, adding to the vividness of the plot without distracting from the text.

Neufeld skillfully merges the power of invisibility into her work of fiction so that Visibility remains accessible to readers of all genres, not just fantasy. Told from Natalie's perspective, the reader feels her panic at being caught by her bodyguard after sneaking out and even experiences invisibility with her. While Visibility won't take long to read thanks to the fast-paced plot and frequent illustrations, it will leave the reader with a first-rate impression of illustrated novels that will linger for days to come.

Reviewer Age:19

Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kamichama Karin Chu

Karin Hanazono is your normal girl until she receives a ring that can turn her into a goddess. A young boy named Suzune comes from the future asking for her help. Karin and the boy she is in love with, Kazune, must find the three noble gods to help Suzune. Although a mysterious girl tries to interfer with Karin finding the last god, they still pull through. Unfortunately, Kazune and Karin's friend, Himeka, are departing for England leaving Karin behind. Now, Karin has to wait for Kazune's return while having to take care of Suzune.

In Kamichama Karin Chu the main characters sometimes seemed a bit over-dramatic, but overall, despite the odd situation, the reader could relate to them. Kamichama Karin Chu is the sequel to Kamichama Karin, so without reading the first book in the series, this book could become a bit confusing. The characters all had wonderful designs, and provided a contrast to each other with their distinct personalities. Not everything is entirely explained, but that is to be expected, as more secrets will be revealed in the next volume. The majority of this book maintains a cheerful tone with quite a bit of comedy. Kamichama Karin Chu is a comic book from Japan, so anyone who hasn't read one before will find it an interesting experience. Anyone who likes magic and romance would enjoy this book.

Suggestive themes

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas United States

The Truth by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Every girl knows it can be tough to communicate with Mom, especially during adolescence. The times when a girl needs motherly advise the very most are often the times that communication seems impossible! Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein's book, The Truth: I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything, tackles the delicate issues behind mother-daughter relations. This simple narrative is written as a young girl's diary, and is followed by a set of questions that inspire reflection on the book. In her introduction, Dr. Holstein expresses her wish for mothers and daughters to read the book together. As a psychologist, the intention of her book is to help mothers and girls recognize that what we know growing up is just as important as what we learn later in life. This straightforward story can do just that.

This book is not for everyone. Younger girls, ages 9 to 11, will enjoy The Truth for its relevance to their lives, though more mature readers would most likely tire of the juvenile writing style. Each journal entry is very brief and to the point, and there is very little characterization or detail. Though I would not recommend this book somebody looking for a good read, I think it could be a fundamental method of obtaining that communication with Mom that every girl desires.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: Tipp City, OH USA

Rating: 6

Content Rating: 1

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hunter's Heart by Julia Green

Death changes everything. At least that's how it is for Simon when his dad dies. His pain drives him farther and farther away from his mother and sister. Eventually they can't even recognize who he is anymore. To his mother's dismay, he takes up the extreme hobby of hunting, using slingshots and air rifles. Although she tries to change him, it never works. Then Leah comes along. As Simon grows closer to Leah, his mother begins to see Simon's art teacher, Matt. With Leah's help, Simon begins to grow and change into the person his mom tried to make him before. Although the process is slow, he begins to feel almost normal with his family again, like when his dad was around. Simon develops feelings for Leah, but she doesn't feel the same way; she falls in love with Matt instead. She begins to work for him which makes Simon angry. He follows her to Matt's house one day. The whole time, his anger builds up until he commits the ultimate extreme. That day changes everything for Simon. He realizes the mistake that he has made and finally begins to change, but is it too late for Leah and Matt?

I had high hopes for Hunter's Heart, but it fell short of what I was expecting. The book isn't something to read straight through, but to read in small doses. The author, Julia Green, uses such strong emotion that it becomes overwhelming. Although it is powerful, it gets monotonous very quickly. Every single day Simon is angry and in pain. At first his pain is realistic, but as the book progresses it gets to be overdone. Instead of giving the reader his emotion in doses, Julia Green gives it to you very vividly at the beginning. Since his feelings don't change drastically through the course of the book, it gets to be overdone. The changes that he goes through are extremely gradual that it makes you lose interest. I felt that the author left the book open enough that she could have taken it in many directions. Throughout Hunter's Heart there was a mysterious feel to it and I think that if it had gone in that direction, it would have been more interesting for the reader. Overall, Hunter's Heart is a book about how emotions can grow out of control and drive you to the edge of what you can handle, but it falls short of being the powerful book it could have been.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Champaign , IL USA

Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Mina Hamilton has an important decision to make. Her parents are vampires, and she's just discovered that she has one month to decide whether or not she wants to become a vampire too. She can't tell her best friend Serena anything that's going on, and she has to attend "vampire classes" to learn about her new life. As if being a teenager and trying to get her crush at school to notice her isn't hard enough. But Mina knows she has to make the right decision, one that could change her life forever.

This book was an okay read. I was curious to see how the author, Kimberly Pauley, would fashion her vampires because vampires are a hot subject right now in literature. I wanted to see if these vampires would be completely unique or if they would follow with traditional vampire mythology and I found that it was a little bit of both. The book was corny at times, and Mina tries too hard to be funny. But she's still a good character with a interesting decision before her: to stay alive or to become one of the living "un-dead". It's nice to see someone take a tough decision in stride and add humor to a somewhat somber situation. The book was cute, but definitely not hard-hitting literature.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Aston, Pennsylvania United States

Dark Powers Collection by Bill Myers

In Bill Myers' Dark Power Collection, Rebecca and Scott Williams have recently moved with their mother to a new neighborhood, attending high school after spending years in the heart of the Brazilian wilderness. As a result, they are the outsiders at first: unwelcome and unwanted in a cliquish and petty clan of teenagers who dabble in witchcraft and shamanism. But Rebecca and Scott have something no one else in the entire school has, something that scares the living daylights, so to speak, out of the demons encircling the area: good, old Christian faith. And no evil demon can top that. When the spirits begin to get out of hand, Rebecca and Scott must use that trump card to fight the demonic invaders that have pervaded their town and school.

While the lessons Myers attempts to underscore for impressionable young Christian minds in an increasingly faithless world is admirable, they were too mired in a host of shortcomings. It was laughably prejudiced against all faiths and people not Protestant Christian. Everyone, it seems, is either evil or jumping to convert. Further, Myers' portrayal of women could spur a feminist uprising. Although at first Rebecca's fallible nature makes her seem more human, her damsel-in-distress syndrome grows tiresome after the umpteenth time she fails to adequately defend herself from outside forces. In fact, every female character is grossly flawed in some way, being either treacherous or too easily corrupted; none can compare to the valiant Scott Williams or the heroic and sturdy Ryan Riordan who lacks any sense of depth of character and whose sole purpose in the novel appears to be shepherding around Rebecca in her wheel chair or saving her from what are literally the school children from Hell.

Although the novel may appeal to those more partial to the Christian genre, I felt the entire novel read like something from a fire and brimstone sermon. It appears as if the author is only concerned with getting his message across; maintaining some semblance of believability and political correctness simply did not cross his mind. The message, by the way, is as subtle as someone hitting you over the head with a Bible, and frankly, I would have preferred a literal Bible thumping to Myers' figurative one.

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Bellevue, Washington, USA

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Dimension Next Door by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

The Dimensions Next Door is a book composed of 14 sci-fi short stories. Each story tells of a made up alternate universe or world. The stories may come off a little strange, but definitely keep you hooked. From forever-living Benjamin Franklin to 2nd and 3rd Earth, this book will fill your imagination with unique alternatives to reality. Each story is completely different so it never ceases to amaze. If you like 2001: Space Odyssey or The Twilight Zone you with definitely love this book.

This book was an amazing sci-fi collection. I believe it was made to show readers that life isn’t always what it seems. It definitely made me rethink a few ideas myself. I think all the stories were well written and extremely creative. I understood all the grammar techniques and vocabulary usage. The imagery was vivid and thought provoking. Every time I read the book I felt like I was there. I would definitely recommend this book to many people. I would like them to read about how this world could be different.

Rating:8

Reviewer Age:13

Reviewer City, State and Country: Germantown, TN United States

Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Raina Lee

This book is a nonfiction book about karaoke. However, the author means karaoke for adults in bars, not basic kids' karaoke. It starts with some history. It moves on to songs and stage presence. There is even a part with interesting facts. I didn't know that there was a karaoke championship!

I was disappointed with this book. It was meant for adults, so I couldn't connect with what the author wrote. My favorite part was the section about the karaoke world championship. It was interesting to read about people who are serious about singing besides pros. Another interesting part was the vocabulary section. Who knew that there were so many words to describe karaoke?

Mentions adult topics

Reviewer Age:12

Reviewer City, State and Country: Exeter, New Hampshire USA

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame by Ben Bova

The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame: Volume Two B, edited by Ben Bova, contains eleven science fiction novellas written between 1928 and 1961. These stories were written before the Nebula Award was created for best science fiction novella of the year. The stories are listed below, with a quick summary of the plot in one or two sentences.

The Martian Way, by Isaac Asimov - the government of Earth limits the shipment of water to the people of Mars and they have to find an alternative water source.

Earthman, Come Home, by James Blish - is about earth people who wander from planet to planet, only to find a planet that is occupied by other earth people who have a harsh and cruel slavery system. Will the newcomers ever make the planet their own?

Rogue Moon, by Algis Budrys - a project to place an astronaut on the dark side of the moon either kills them or drives them insane. Dr. Edward Hawks needs someone who is not afraid of death, but what will that person's personality be like?

The Spectre General, by Theodore Cogwell - is about what happens when the remnants of two empires meet.

The Machine Stops, by E.M. Foster - answers the question of what would happen if humans were controlled by a machine and that machine stopped.

The Midas Plague, by Frederik Pohl - is about a society where poor people must be constant consumers. Can Morey break the vicious cycle of the people being forced to consume everything?

The Witches of Karres, by James H. Schmitz - Captain Pausert of the Republic of Nikkeldepain tries to return three witches from the planet Karres to their home with mysterious consequence.

E for Effort, by T.L. Sherred - Two men, Edward Lefko and Miguel Jose Zapata Laviada use a machine that records all of history in order to make movies. What happens when they use to the machine to end war forever? This question is answered in E for Effort.

In Hiding, by Wilmar H. Shiras - answers the question of what it would be like to be a genius in a world of regular people.

The Big Backyard, by Clifford D. Simak - Hiram Taine is a regular handyman and antique dealer in Willow Bend in the United States. One night, he discovers that his house is being used by aliens as a connection between the Earth and a distant planet. Find out what happens in the Big Backyard.

The Moon Moth, by Jack Vance - Ser Edwer Thissell has to search for a murderous imposter on a planet where everyone wears a mask.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume Two B, edited by Ben Bova, deserves a rating of 9. I have not read a lot of Science Fiction novellas, but these were well written, thoughtful, and entertaining. If you enjoy Science Fiction, you will definitely enjoy this book. I especially enjoyed The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz and E for Effort by T.L. Sherred. I enjoyed The Witches of Karres because it was entertaining and fun. I found E for Effort very interesting because it is thoughtful story about the character of human nature. Reading this collection has inspired me to read other books by these Science Fiction authors, such as I, Robot by Isaac Asimov who wrote the story, The Martian Way . The Science Fiction Writers of America chose well when they compiled these novellas into this book.

Reviewer Age:18

Reviewer City, State and Country: Urbana, Illinois 305 E. Sherwin Circle

In the Forest of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Rachel is a 17 year old girl living with her Father and siblings in 1701, until she is unwillingly turned, to become a blood lusting vampire. She is forced to leave her loving family to enter a world where loneliness, murder and deceit are part of life. With this change she becomes know as Risika. After 300 hundred years, Risika is one of the most powerful vampires on the earth. She stalks the streets of New York City by night searching for prey. But she is being followed, by who, we do not know. Risika’s follower leaves little things that invoke memories of her past years as a human and her first years as a vampire. She uses these flash backs from centuries ago and experiences from her present immortal being to shape her mysterious endeavors gaining power and revenge.

In a powerfully intriguing debut, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has created a mysterious and captivating vampiristic novel. Although I found the book slow to start, the author formed a great setting for the story, this being the eerie back streets of New York. Everything she wrote was imaginable and presented with strong emotion. In comparison to other vampire books I have read, this one is both similar and different to many others. The stereotypic vampire is upheld but the twist is that witches are vampire hunters. I found this to be a very quick and exciting read that is easily understood without much concentration. In the Forest of the Night is a worthwhile read suited to people who enjoy light yet suspenseful vampire novels.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote this book when she was 13.

Reviewer Age:14

Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne , Victoriai i Australia

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Reformed

The Reformed by Christopher Hart is a manga about a vampire who lives among humans. Giancarlo, the vampire, is supposed to drink human blood to survive and stay strong, but he longs to be a normal human, to be able to love Jenny and come out during the day. He saved Jenny from a man who was trying to kill her and almost instantly fell in love with her because she was so beautiful. But a lot of mysterious killings are going on, most of them prostitutes, and the police are worried that it will interfere with the mayor's reelection. Then Detective Frost decides to investigate the murders. He comes up with a lead that Giancarlo is the culprit and Giancarlo is trying to prove that it is not him doing these murders. Can Giancarlo prove that he's innocent and maybe even get the girl to love him back?
I thought this book was amazing. The plot line was perfect and the black and white pictures were easy to read and figure what was going on. It was the type of book that you can read in one sitting once you're immersed. The author achieved his purpose which was to write a manga that was capturing and compelling; the mysterious happenings, the love that Giancarlo has for Jenny, and the element of surprise for readers. All of the characters were interesting and complex. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will look forward to seeing others follow this one.
Reviewer Age:13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Colleyville, Texas USA