Why Are There All These Blank Spaces?

You may notice that in some of my posts there are blank spaces in the reviews. These are spoilers that I've written so I can remember important details of the books when I want to read the sequel. I've made the text a beige color to blend in with the background so you won't accidentally see something you don't want to. If you want to read it, just highlight the section to make the text appear - although you should really just read the book yourself! :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Little White Horse

by Elizabeth Goudge

I've gone about this completely in the wrong order! A few weeks ago I watched a little movie called The Secret of Moonacre. I learned that it was based on a book titled The Little White Horse (the movie's title is superior in my opinion, although not sure if would work for the book). Then I learned that the book was one of J.K. Rowling's favorite childhood books. I then decided that I needed to read it.

Alas, though I can see why this was a favorite book of Rowling's childhood, it does not really do it for me as an adult. Much of the plot comes across as silly and entirely too unrealistic. **Spoilers** The characters decide to just go tell their enemies to stop being evil and it (eventually) works, Robin and Maria agree to marry in such a bizarre way (and then they get married at age 14!), and various other details are almost laughable. There is no suspense except for one brief chase scene (which was probably my favorite part of the book). Interesting characters and I liked the bare bones of the story, but this is a kids' book, and it doesn't really work unless you are one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


by Chris Wooding

Poison is the happy result of wandering the aisles of Powell's books. I bought it because it sounding interesting and different, because it was a used paperback and therefore cheap, and because it is so purple it will not be denied.

Poison is the story of a young girl of the same name. Poison lives in the Black Marshes, with her father, baby sister and stepmother. Poison and her stepmother do not get along, although Snapdragon is not necessarily a bad person. Poison always dreams of one day escaping the Marshes and seeing the world. That day comes all too soon when Poison's sister Azalea is kidnapped by the phaeries and a changeling is left in her place. It is then that Poison sets out to find the Phaerie King and demand her sister's return.

I'd have to say that Poison is one of the most compelling stories I've read in a quite a while. The characters are interesting and the narration is stunning. I found myself frequently re-reading paragraphs simply because they were so beautifully written. The last time I did that was when reading one of N.D. Wilson's books (another of my favorite story-tellers).

Poison is pure delight from the very first chapter, and I was eager to share details about it with every new twist. I will say however, that towards the second half, the book looses a little steam as the story is set on a new path. Poison is now not only seeking her sister, but also unravelling a plot to overthrow the Hieriophant - the ruler of all the Realms. It is because of this that the original story goes partially unresolved, and therefore left me yearning for a sequel. I do not care for loose ends, or ambiguous resolutions that depend on the reader to make their own conclusion.

However, because the beginning was so amazing, and some of the adversaries Poison meets on her way so terrifying, that I simply have to give it 5 stars. The Lady of Cobwebs alone warrants it.

I really do wish for a sequel though. Perhaps Azalea's story??

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Sacrifice

by Richelle Mead

Here it is, the final book in the Vampire Academy series. One of the things I've liked most about this series is the different take on vampires. In the VA books, there are a few types of vampires - the royal, pure Moroi vampires, who live on blood, but don't kill to get it; the dhampirs - a mix of Moroi and human who don't drink blood and live to protect the Moroi, and the evil Strigoi, who kill anyone they can get their hands on. Throughout this 6-part series we've meet Rose (the dhampir), Lissa (her best friend, the Moroi), as well and their ever-widening group of friends and acquaintances. We've seen Rose's love Dimitri turned Strigoi and then back again, and watched Rose struggle with her feelings for both him and party-boy Adrian.

At the start of this book Rose is in prison, accused of killing the Moroi queen. Desperately trying to think of a way to clear her name and avoid execution, Rose is surprised when she is suddenly broken out of jail. On the run, Rose and her companions begin a search for Lissa's previously unknown half-brother or -sister. Meanwhile, back at court Lissa and the gang are searching for who really killed the queen so Rose's name can be cleared.

Oh, and did I mention that Rose is still trying to decide between Dimitri and Adrian? Because she is - that's what young adult book heroines do!

I liked the whole solve-the-mystery aspect of this novel, even though it was a little slower than the previous books. The main thing I didn't like was how blase Rose was at the end about how things had turned out for others. **Spoilers**Adrian was right when he called Rose out for not being concerned enough for others. She didn't fret long over cheating on him with Dimitri, as soon as she was back at court and had the answers she needed she forgot all about Sydney, and she only spared a few passing thoughts for how Christian was feeling about the turn of events. It was all about her getting Dimitri, with a side of saving Lissa. I actually think this could have been alleviated by including an epilogue at the end, to fully explain where everyone ended up, and hopefully showing how Rose had made an effort to patch things up with everyone. As it was, she came across a little selfish. **

Mostly satisfying conclusion, a few character problems, but redeemed mostly by good story-telling.

Friday, December 10, 2010


by Ally Condie

Cassia lives in a future society (simply called The Society) where all of her decisions are made for her: what she will wear, what she will eat, where she lives, and now, who she will marry. Cassia is 17, and in The Society, that means a young person can decide to be Matched or to live life as a Single. The Society uses their extensive knowledge and resources to match each teenager with their ideal mate. Usually, teens are matched with another adolescent from a different district, who they then communicate with via computers before their initial meeting. Everyone is surprised then when Cassia is matched with Xander, her childhood friend.

Both Cassia and Xander are overjoyed, until Cassia sees another boy's face on the microchip with information about her match. The Society tells her it's a mistake, but Cassia is left very confused. The Society doesn't make mistakes, and this boy is also a boy she knows - her mysterious classmate Ky. Cassia is left with an agonizing choice to make - a safe, comfortable life with her best friend Xander, or a life of excitement and danger with Ky. Of course, if she chooses Ky, The Society will not approve.

The premise of this story was what really caught my attention. Along with vampires and faeries, dystopian novels are the next big thing in YA literature. And although I was left disappointed by the end of the Hunger Games, the genre still intrigues me. I did like Matched, and yet there were parts of it that bugged me.

**Spoilers** Now, I think it's pretty obvious from the start that Cassia is going to pick Ky. I have yet to find a book where a girl has to chose between the sweet boy next door and the dark, mysterious stranger when she doesn't go for the latter. And yet, I didn't understand why she ended up falling for Ky. She sees his face on the screen, she's puzzled by him and somewhere along the line she forgets her love for Xander and decides she loves Ky more. I knew it would happen, but it was not justified. **

The end is ok, but does leave a lot of loose ends - this is a trilogy after all.

Despite my reservations (and fear that this is going to end dismally like the Hunger Games), I'll probably be persuaded to read the next book.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale Dark & Grimm

by Adam Gidwitz

I bought this book because the cover was interesting, and the first few pages had me laughing out loud in the book store:

"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome. I know, I know. You don't believe me. I don't blame you. A little while ago, I wouldn't have believed it myself. Little girls in red capes skipping around the forest? Awesome? I don't think so. But then I started to read them. The real, Grimm ones. Very few little girls in red capes in those. Well, there's one. But she gets eaten."

This book is a retelling of 9 Grimm fairy tales that are adjusted to feature Hansel and Gretel as the main characters. Not much of the gruesome stuff it changed from the original Grimm version, and thus this book is bloody at times. The author relieves some of that by jumping in at times with his own commentary, clearly marked by a bold-face font. Also weaving throughout the book is the theme that children should be valued and not cast aside as many of the adults in Hansel's and Gretel's journey did.

I particularly liked this line at the end:

"There is a wisdom in children, a kind of knowing, a kind of believing, that we, as adults, do not have. There is a time when a kingdom needs its children."

Four stars simply because some of the "icky" stuff makes it hard to recommend this book across the board.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Once a Witch

by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin was supposed to be the most powerful witch in her family - at least that's what her grandmother predicted on the day of her birth. However, while other children's talents in her large family manifested by the time they were eight, Tamsin's never came. Since then she's felt like an outsider among her relatives, and it glad to attend a boarding school in Manhattan to be away from it all.

However, Tamsin cannot resist agreeing to help a handsome professor one day when he mistakes her for her very Talented sister and asks for her help finding a lot family heirloom.

Soon however, Tamsin realizes the request is not a simple or a benign as she thought, and she must use all her wits to save herself, her sister and her family.

It's been a while since I've found a new young adult book that I really liked, so I was happy to finally get around to this one and enjoy it so much. Tamsin had loyal friends, and an adorable boy who loves her even though she doesn't know it (of course). The best part is, is that this book is the first of series, and yet has a satisfactory conclusion of it's own! I'm excited to read the second which, unfortunately, doesn't come out until August 2011.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Nightmarys

by Dan Poblocki

Well I've done it again! I've let a month go by before I actually write this review and I can not remember much of what I had to say about this book.

I can't actually remember it much at all. Which, is one reason I only gave it two stars. The story is kind of interesting at the time, but it's not memorable.

I actually liked this book less than Poblocki's other book The Stone Child. Where The Stone Child had a nice creepy vibe to it, I felt like The Nightmarys was trying too hard. The creepy parts sometimes just came off a goofy to me (a graffiti dragon with swirling eyes peeling itself off the wall and chasing the boy is a good example.)

It just didn't grab me. Maybe middle-grade 'scary' books are not my genre.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Museum of Thieves

by Lian Tanner

The city of Jewel is a strange little place. Until the age of 16 all children are protected from every danger by being tethered by a small silver guardchain to their parents, their Guardian, or to their beds at night. Years ago, Jewel was overrun with plague and slavers and dangers of all sorts. The children were lost or dying at a rapid rate, and a group of adults set out to protect them. These adults would become the first Blessed Guardians. Despite the passing of time, and the safety of the city now, children are still chained until Separation Day. At the beginning of the book, the age of separation has been changed from 16 to 12, much to the disagreement of the Guardians. Goldie Roth couldn't be more excited. She is 12, and more eager than ever to be free from her chain. However, when the Separation ceremony is interrupted, and then cancelled, Goldie can't bear the thought of being chained again. So she runs away. As the Guardians search for her, and imprison her parents, Goldie finds refuge in the mysterious Museum of Dunt. There she meets the museum's keepers, who take her in and hide her from the Guardians. However, the Guardians do not relent in their search for Goldie, or the quest to unravel the mysterious of the Museum - a quest that could end up destroying the town.

This book is delightfully different and yet reminiscent of so many things I love. The museum's got just a touch of Hogwarts to it, and the town of Jewel offers up a perfect contrast. While the book does state that one must be a thief to be able to navigate the museum, it also goes a long way to avoid glamorizing theft. There's a lot to think about here too, such as to what length we should go to protect children and when they should be allowed to make their own mistakes. In Jewel the children were so protected that they had no ability to think for themselves or make a decision when faced with trouble.

I'm happy to find another kids' book that's not just for kids. Also eagerly awaiting the next book in this trilogy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Limit

by Kristen Landon

Matt lives in a society where all families are given a "limit" to their debt. Once a family goes over the limit they must complete some program to bring them back under the limit. One of those options is to send one of their children to a work camp where they work they do will help to pay off the debt. Matt never worries about this until one day his family unexpectedly goes over the limit. Before he knows it a big black vehicle arrives at his house and a small syrupy lady and some large men cart Matt off to the nearest work center.

The work center isn't what Matt imagined. He lives in a plush apartment on the top floor, doing exciting work during the day and playing in the pool and gym in the evenings. However, some things don't seem quite right. Matt phone doesn't work in the building, none of his emails seem to be going through, and kids keep getting headaches and then disappearing. Matt soon decides he needs to get to the bottom of this. The question is, once he figures it out, what will he do about it?

This book is a little hard for me to review. I enjoyed it. As a kids' book it's great. It's got an interesting plot, surprising twists and turns, fun characters, etc. I'd recommend it to many kids.
However, it's pretty much strictly a kids book. Some books in the kid section seem to transcend it and find a way to be relevant or thought-provoking to an older reader. While this book was great fun, it doesn't really have any of that. It's just a cool story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Replacement

by Brenna Yovanoff

I barely finished this book, and now that I have I wish I hadn't wasted my time.

The Replacement is the story of Mackie Doyle - a 16-year old changeling boy. Mackie's parents and mostly his sister have done their best to love and care for Mackie, but his allergies to iron, steel, blood and consecrated ground are making it harder and harder for him to live in the human world. However, the world that Mackie came from is not a place he's dying to go back too. The Houses and Mayhem and Misery lie beneath the ground, under the slag heap and the dump hill. They are filled with creeping, mysterious dead and undead creatures. Mackie is content to avoid the world beneath the ground until he finds he needs their potions to keep him living. Then Tate's sister dies, and Tate isn't so sure the girl they buried was really her sister. Mackie finds himself attracted to Tate, which makes it harder and harder for him to deny to her that she's right, and he knows where her real sister is - he just doesn't think they can get her back.

It sounds so promising! Even when I describe the plot here I can't help but thinking, "Oh, that sounds cool!" Alas, the fabulous plot idea suffers from a few flaws:

One. The first half of the book drags. The author is intentionally vague about characters, history, origins, even what exactly Mackie is. Sure he's a changeling, but there are many types of changeling in folklore. Is he a faerie? A troll? An elf? A demon? Some new type of thing you just made up? It is NEVER explained. That bugs me. I read through the first half of the book feeling like I'd missed a chapter. I didn't know what was going on, who exactly people were, what they thought of each other, why they were doing things, etc. It felt like it does when you watch a TV show for the first time in the middle of the 3rd season. Lost and confused. You need a friend with you who knows the show to fill in the gaps for you. In the case of the book I needed the author to do that for me, but she didn't.

Two. Are these kids really supposed to be high schoolers? There is so much drinking going on with no apparent concern for being caught. Never mind the fact that the characters stay out all night and nothing comes of it. Where the heck are the parents? Wouldn't they be concerned? I've encountered this in other books, but it's often is explained away with and over-busy parent, or a poor (as in bad, not penniless) parent or something. But in this book Mackie's dad is supposed to be a pastor - shouldn't he be showing more concern?

Three: I just didn't understand the characters. Is Mackie popular or a freak? At one point he's freak, but then all these girls like him, so...? The twins were very flat and just seemed to be there to fill space. Alice was there one minute kissing Mackie and then she never comes into play again. Roswell was a nice guy, but if he's so close to Mackie, wouldn't you think he'd be more curious about what Mackie is? He seems to be aware of his oddities, but never questions. Maybe that's just supposed to make him a good friend who doesn't question, but I think it makes him seem too timid. Tate - one minute she's super mean girl, the next she's flirting with Mackie. I don't think I really understood any of them, and therefore I didn't really care that much about them.

Even though the ending was hastily and almost too-tidily wrapped up, I really didn't care anymore. I was just glad it was over.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Missing You

by Meg Cabot

It really bugs me that this book came out with new cover art that does not match the cover art on my other books.

However, I love the book itself. Jess annoys the heck out of me a couple times for being so dense about Rob, but I was very satisfied with the ending of the book and the series - this is a well-concluded series.

Missing You takes place a few years after the previous books. Jess has used her powers to find missing people in the war. She has found countless terrorists in her time overseas, before the trauma of it all caused Jess to lose her powers. Now Jess is back in the US, living in New York City with Ruth and going to Juilliard. She and Rob have falling apart and Jess is struggling with what she wants to do. So when Rob shows up at her door in NYC asking for her help to find his sister Hannah, she is upset with him. She can't find people anymore, she insists. But Rob begs her to try. So she does, and discovers that at some point her powers have returned. Jess goes back to Indiana with Rob, and while there she discovers more secrets than just where Hannah is hiding.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


by Meg Cabot

I have been blazing through these books so fast I can barely remember what I was going to write. Let's just say I loved it, and was glad that I am reading these years after they were published so I didn't have to wait 4 years before the 5th book came out. This book is great, but is not a satisfying ending to the series - it definitely needed one more.

In Sanctuary a new family moved in across from Jess's. However, shortly after the family's teenage soon turns up dead in a cornfield. There are rumors of gang activity, despite the family denying it. A few days later and young Jewish boy disappears, and a few days after that the Jewish synagogue is burned down. Jess and Rob discover that there is a white supremacist militia group living in the backwoods that is responsible for the recent events. Jess knows where to find the missing boy, but the problem is getting to him. Jess and Rob believe they can find a way to get in, but how will they get out with the boy and put this group to a stop?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Safe House

by Meg Cabot

Third book - darker and more mysterious than the first two. This time, Jess is searching for someone she knows.

Jess returns from her summer working at camp to learn that one of the cheerleaders has been found dead in the quarry. Not only that, but her classmates blame Jess for not finding the girl - even though Jess wasn't in town and knew nothing about it. When a second girl goes missing everyone turns to Jess to find her. How can she say no? But also, how can she keep the FBI away if she says yes?

This series is reminding me more and more of the Mediator series with the darker turn. I love the mystery and suspense and trying to figure out just who the culprit is. I was fooled. Love that even more.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Code Name Cassandra

by Meg Cabot

I like the second book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series even better than the first. In this book, Jess and Ruth are working at a summer orchestra camp for kids. Jess has gotten the press and the FBI to leave her alone by telling them she no longer has her powers. However, she's still working secretly with Rosemary from the 1-800-Where-R-You call center to find missing kids who Rosemary researches and makes sure they really want to be found. Jess is looking forward to a summer of flute playing, and story-telling and hair-braiding with the little girls in her cabin. It's not long though before Jess gets moved to a boy's cabin because the camp is short on male counselors. Jess's campers include a big bully name Shane, who seems to make it his personal mission to make everyone miserable.

Things are pretty normal, if not exactly how she planned, until a man shows up at the camp begging Jess to help him find his lost little girl. Jess wants to help, but how can she do so without tipping off the world that she lied about her powers?

I love the parts of this book with the kids - particularly the many sides of Shane and how Jess interacts with him. And we can't forget the ever-obnoxious Karen Sue Hankey. Meg Cabot has a talent for characters.

Friday, September 24, 2010

When Lightning Strikes

by Meg Cabot

After buying the first books of this series nearly two years ago, I am finally getting around to reading them - and I'm glad I did.

I loved Meg Cabot's Mediator series, and the 1-800-Where-R-You books remind me a lot of it.

The main character is Jess, an ordinary, if somewhat anger-prone high school sophomore. Jess's best friend Ruth meets her after school and insists on walking home, despite the gathering clouds that suggest a storm is coming. Ruth and Jess don't get very far before the hail starts and they must take cover under the metal bleachers. As Jess leans against the bleachers, a bolt of lighting hits them, and runs right through her. Despite being knocked quite a distance away, Jess seems to suffer no problems after her brush with death.

However, the next morning Jess wakes up knowing exactly where to find the little boy whose face she saw on the milk carton yesterday. From then on Jess learns that she can find any person, so long as she sees a picture of them and then goes to sleep. Of course, Jess starts making calls to 1-800-Where-R-You to report where to find the missing kids, and that's how she gets a lot more attention than she bargained for. Soon the FBI is following her, wanting to know just how she knew where these kids were and when they learn of her powers, they want her to come work for them. Not long after, reports from all over are camping out in Jess's front yard, hoping to get a glimpse of "lightning girl".

And in case things weren't complicated enough, Jess learns that the first little boy she found, didn't really want to be found. Now Jess must get the press off her back, make things right with this boy, and try to keep the FBI from controlling her life.

It's a fun start to the series, and certainly leaves you wondering, "What's going to happen next?!" Onto book 2!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


by Gloria Skursynski

It took me a while but I finally figured this book out. This book is the republished version of the first two books in a science-fiction series entitled The Virtual War Chronologs. Devastation contains books 1 (The Virtual War) and 2 (The Clones).

Since the books are so vastly different I will write about them separately first.

The Virtual War was the better of the two books. We start off by meeting Corgan, a 14-year-old boy who has lived his entire life in isolation, with his only company being a virtual world and computer program mother/father named Mendor. Corgan was created by the government to fight in the upcoming virtual war. The winning region will receive the Isles of Hiva - the last piece of land on Earth that humans can live on without the protection of giant domes. Corgan isn't fighting alone though - he's soon joined by his code-breaker Sharla and strategist Brig. While Corgan is used to obeying every command, Sharla is much more prone to breaking them, and it's not long before she starts telling Corgan things about the government he's never even dreamed.

In The Clones, Sharla is working on a new project - analyzing human DNA. Shortly into the novel we (and Corgan) learn that she has been working on making a clone of Brig. She started with 4, and 2 survived. The government only wants one and tells Sharla to destroy the other. She can't bring herself to do it, and so she brings the tiny baby Brig (named Seabrig) to Corgan and asks him to take care of it. Corgan is shocked to hear what Sharla's been up to, and even more shocked to learn that this version of Brig (as well as the Clone Sharla has kept, named Brigand) will mature at an incredible rate. Things get even more complicated when Sharla comes back a few months later with Brigand in tow, and the two clones (who now look about 12) will actually meet.

Like I said, The Virtual War was better than The Clones, despite having a rapid conclusion. The Clones doesn't seem to know what genre it is. It starts out much like the first book - as a sci-fi post-apocalyptic novel, but somewhere along the way it turns strange. Brigand can communicate with the boars? The cannibal kings have given him their power? It was strange and oddly reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies though this is supposed to be sci-fi, not fantasy fiction. I was confused. Some things got half-heartedly explained toward the end and it did improve from that point.

I might read the next book sometime.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Infinite Days

by Rebecca Maizel

Some book are just hard to rate! I liked this interesting and atypical teen vampire novel, but parts of it still bugged me.

Lenah is a sixteen-year-old girl, attending a prestigious boarding school for the first time. She's nervous, timid and at times naive. But Lenah's got a secret - she's been hibernating for 100 years underground, and only recently awoke from the ritual that turned her back into a human, after hundreds of years of existing as a powerful vampire queen.

In Lenah's world, being a vampire truly is a curse. Vampires lose their souls and therefore can never experience happiness or kindness. They delight in evil and give no second thought to killing humans. The thrill of the kill gives them a temporary respite from the constant pain and suffering, but there is never a relief that lasts. Lenah was tired of the suffering, and after much begging and threatening to walk out into the sunlight to end herself, Lenah's love Rhode performs the ritual that will give Lenah her humanity back. Rhode sacrifices his life for her.

And so Lenah wakes up in a unfamiliar place and time period, with virtually no instruction on how to live. She makes quick friends with a boy named Tony, and despite promising that she not "one of those girls", she soon finds herself falling for the heart-throb of the school - Justin Enos.

However, Lenah's time is running out as she knows her old coven will soon discover she is missing and hunt her down - and she's sure they won't be happy to find her human.

So the premise of this book is what grabs me - a girl who's hundreds of years old, turned from vampire back to human, trying to live a normal teen life in a time period so foreign to the one she's known. Lenah is smart, but she's also often clueless - she doesn't know what snorkeling is, or a prom. The book is peppered with flashback sequences where we get to learn what Lenah was like as a vampire. However, I didn't understand her many times. She makes friends with Tony, but gradually ditches him when she discovers that Justin likes her. She trusts Justin more than Tony even though Tony has given her more reasons to trust him.

Also, I really didn't understand why Rhode waited 100 years to perform the ritual. The hibernation was supposedly to throw her coven off the trail so Lenah could escape them to become human. If that was the case, why didn't they just tell the coven she was hibernating 100 years, then Rhode could dig her up after 5, perform the ritual, and then Lenah could live out her entire life before the vampires ever figured it out. By the time they realized she wasn't there anymore she'd be dead! Maybe there was a reason for it, but it wasn't explained and therefore made the whole time line of the story seem silly.

I'm still interested though, and anxious to see where Maizel takes this story with the next two installments in the trilogy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1

by P.J. Haarsma

Virus on Orbis 1 is the start to a four-part series entitled, The Softwire.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny has spent all of his life living on a spaceship in route to the rings of Orbis. His parents (as well as all of the other parents on board) where to complete 4 years of work on the rings of Orbis with the hope of eventually becoming citizens. However, there was an error on the ship and all of the adults died in the hibernation pods. The ship continued to pilot itself there, even somehow "hatching" the embryos of the hundreds of children. When the ship docks on Orbis the children are put to work in factories to pay for the cost of passage that their parents were originally supposed to work off. Soon after arrival, the aliens of Orbis discover that Johnny is a softwire - a being with the ability to enter a computer simply with his/her mind. But when the supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing, never-failing central computer starts to malfunction, suspicious is caste upon Johnny and he must find a way to clear his name, as well as save Orbis' computer.

Despite lack of description in some areas (I never really had a clear picture of what things on Orbis looked like, except maybe for Weegin's World), and a few strange plot twists, this was an enjoyable trip into kids' sci fi. I'm curious enough to read another entry and see how things continue to work out with Johnny and his friends.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I still love the concept behind this series, although I found this book to be less captivating than the first two.

This time, Haddix's time traveling series takes us to early America where Andrea learns that she is actually Virginia Dare. However, immediately upon arriving, the kids find themselves in lots of trouble. They've lost the Elucidator (which allows them to communicate with the time-travelling adults who are helping them) and it seems that someone out there is trying to sabotage their mission to fix time and bring Andrea back.

I found this book to be more confusing than the previous two. It seemed to get bogged down by too much time paradox talk, and incessant mention but brief explanation of "tracers". By biggest complaint though was the ending. Haddix is known for being fond of the cliff-hanger ending, but this one was such a sheer drop that it didn't seem like an ending at all. I think my book is missing a few chapters! Virtually nothing is resolved and the characters are about to start off on an off-shoot to their original mission when, all of a sudden, the book is over. That just seems like the author ran out of time and decided, 'oh well, I'll just finish this story in the next book!"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prada & Prejudice

by Prada & Prejudice

Callie is on a class trip to London. She's supposed to be having the time of her life, but instead she's feeling just as left-out and unpopular as ever. One day, in a scheme to get the popular girls to like her, Callie goes out and buys a pair of red Prada heels. However, on her way back to the hotel Callie trips and suddenly finds herself stuck in 1815. She meets friendly Emily, who mistakes her for her friend Rachel and takes her in.

At first Callie thinks this is all some big joke or misunderstanding. (In fact, it's starting to get annoying right before she finally realizes she's been catapulted into the past). Soon she's becoming close to Emily, and trying to figure out how to save her from marrying a man much older than her - in the hopes that she can marry the man she loves instead. Of course, this is Prada & Prejudice - a non-so-subtle reference to the beloved classic Pride and Prejudice - so there must be a "Darcy" figure. Alex is a duke, and it is his house where the two friends are staying. Alex is gorgeous, but he really rubs Callie the wrong way. He's conceited, and selfish, and apparently hiding a pretty big secret.

Can Callie find a way to help Emily, confront Alex, and make it back to the twenty-first century before the real Rachel shows up?

This is a cute book, with some funny moments. Despite the nod to Pride and Prejudice, I almost think it would be easier to read this book if you didn't know much about the Regency time period. I'm not an expert, but I found Callie's complete ignorance to be frustrating. For example, she gets all bent out of shape about classes and superiors. Of course the duke acts like he's better than you - everyone in the time period would say that he is!

Another thing I thought was strange was that Callie often wore her 3-inch red patent leather heels around in 1815. I didn't think they wore heels back then.

Lastly, and the real reason this book gets 3-stars instead of 4 or 5, is that the ending was a bit of a let down. I'd been wondering from the beginning how things were going to work out since it was pretty likely Callie would return to her own time by the end. What would happen to the guy she liked and the friends she made? That aspect of it wasn't entirely satisfying.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


by Suzanne Collins


I don't quite know what to say about this book, or what to rate it. Realistic? Perhaps. Engrossing? Yes. Satisfying? Not really.

And with that I must warn you that *spoilers* will follow. I do not know how to discuss my feelings on this book without them.

I close the final chapter in the Hunger Games trilogy feeling depressed. I know it's a dystopian novel, but I still hoped that there would be hope at the end: hope for a better life, hope for freedom, hope for the future generations. And while there was a tiny glimpse of that, as a whole the book was filled with doom and despair and a tragic resignation to mankind's tendency towards hate.

Lots of characters die. Many that we care about. Many in gruesome ways. One in particular that left me shocked and nearly made me want to put the book down right then.

The sweet romance between Peeta and Katniss is absent. Katniss feels cold and detached throughout most of the novel. It's hard to read. And even harder to connect to her. The passionate, spirited girl we feel in love with in The Hunger Games is not to be found in this book.

I kept hoping that despite the despair and horror of the beginning of this novel, that by the end the characters would find reason to move on. They would pledge to make things better. To right their wrongs and not make their children suffer through the world they did. Instead we see the rebels squeak out a victory by becoming almost as villainous as the Capital, and proceed to contemplate another Hunger Games as punishment for the Capital. Have they learned nothing?

I miss J.K. Rowling with her sweeping, victorious ending that honored the sacrifices of the fallen with a solid, strong hope for the future. There was sadness, but it was tempered with moments of joy, and hope.

I miss Stephenie Meyer with her golden, perfect ending were everyone is loved and happy and left with the feeling that they can conquer whatever comes next.

This book was not the satisfying ending I'd hoped for. There is no joy here.

My Double Life

by Janette Rallison

Alexia is just a regular high school girl, except for the fact that she looks like famous pop star Kari Kingsley. Alexia's life is turned upside down with Kari comes to town herself hoping to hire Alexia to be her double. Alexia would move to California, live the rich and famous lifestyle, and make various appearances pretending to be Kari. At first Lexi turns the opportunity down, but when she realizes this might be her chance to meet the father she's never know, she changes her mind. However, things aren't so simple when she finally arrives. Lexi soon befriends famous heart-throb Grant Delroy, and despite being told to keep her distance, she simply can't resist him. Meanwhile, things are getting more complicated with Kari and her manager, and Alexia is trying to hold things together long enough for her to finally meet her father.

My Double Life is sweet, funny, happily-ended - all things I've come to expect from a Rallison novel. I wasn't disappointed! If I had to critique something it would be that sometimes the translations of the Spanish words and phrases were a bit heavy handed - but maybe I just felt that was because I knew what most of them meant in Spanish anyway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ring of Fire

by Pierdomenico (P. D.) Baccalario

This book was a fun little discovery! The Ring of Fire is the start to a four-part series about a group of kids that meet in a Roman hotel over the New Year's celebrations. As they are getting acquainted they discover that they all share the same unique birthday - February 29. Things get weired as the group receives a mysterious briefcase. Soon they are on the trail of mystical device called the Ring of Fire. They aren't the only ones searching for it though...

This is an intriguing start to a new series. It kind of reminds me of National Treasure, but in Rome. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

Monday, August 9, 2010

You Wish

by Mandy Hubbard

I adore this book.

It was all the right combinations of hilariously awkward situations, sweet moments, romance, and friendship.

Kayla's birthday is not going well. Her best friend Nicole just told her she going to be late to her party. Kayla doesn't even want this party - her mom (the party planner) has put it together without consulting Kayla at all. It's filled with people she doesn't know, decorations she hates, and to top it off - her high school nemesis, Janae. Things only get worse when Nicole is much later than she said she'd be. Because she's still out on her anniversary dinner with her boyfriend Ben - a boy who Kayla's happened to be secretly crushing on for 3 years. So when her mom pulls out the giant birthday cake and practically orders Kayla to make a wish, Kayle hopelessly wishes that her birthday wishes actually did come true, because "they never freakin' do!"

Kayla's wish does come true though, and she soon wishes it hadn't. A giant My Little Pony appears in her backyard. She awakens to a room full of gumballs. Her childhood doll comes to life. And that's just the beginning. As more and more of Kayla's past birthday wishes come true, she has to do more and more to hide them from her family and friends while tying to find a way to make them stop. Because it's not long before she realizes that her birthday wish from last year was that Ben would kiss her - and she's pretty sure that's going to ruin her friendship with Nicole.

As I mentioned before, this book is funny and sweet in all the right places. I laughed out loud at poor Kayla's predicaments and was left completely satisfied by the ending. All in all a super fun book.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wild Magic

by Cat Weatherill

I bought this book on a whim last weekend because the title intrigued me, the cover was pretty and the description was interesting. Sometimes despite all that promise, a book has still failed to deliver, but thankfully Wild Magic was mostly a pleasant surprise.

This book is a retelling of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. After the piper successfully rid the town of their rat infestation and is refused payment, he plays his pipe again and leads the children of Hamelin away with him. Our main character, Mari is one of the children to be lead away, while her crippled brother Jakob is barely left behind. The Piper leads the children into the world of Elvendale where they soon learn that he is looking for one child in particular - a child with unknown magical powers who will help him lift an ancient curse.

The book is split into 3 different narratives that alternate back and forth. Mari and Jakob serve as two of the narrators, with the Piper as the third. It is interesting to read the story from both the perspectives of the "heroes" and the "villain".

The story is inventive and interesting. The ending was mostly satisfying. Despite a few "too-neat" aspects, and a couple unanswered questions, I enjoyed this take on the Pied Piper.