Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Title: Skinny
Author: Donna Cooner
Publisher: Scholastic Teen
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Reviewer: Maggie (13)

“Skinny” tells the story of Ever, a 15 year old girl who has to deal not only with being over 100 pounds overweight, but also with a voice in her head that tells her she won’t ever be good enough – a voice called Skinny. Ever loves musicals, fairy tales, and singing, but doesn’t enter the school musical because she doesn’t want people to judge her. After Ever accidentally breaks a chair at a school function, she decides to undergo gastric bypass surgery, which basically cuts down the size of her stomach permanently so she won’t eat as much (and will therefore lose weight).

The book is mostly about Ever’s life after the surgery, and how her life at school changes when she loses weight and gains some confidence, therefore defeating Skinny. However, there’s a subplot where Ever chases after a guy, Jackson (who hasn’t noticed her since she started gaining weight) only to realize that her best friend, Rat, has been in love with her the whole time.

“Skinny” was pretty well written – I really liked the scene near the end when Ever realizes that Skinny doesn’t actually know anything about her, and all Ever needs to do to move on with her life is ignore the little voice in her head. The book had some funny bits, and it showed that losing weight isn’t always as easy as dieting and exercise. That said, Ever wasn’t always a really sympathetic character to me. She obviously had good reason to be upset – besides her problems at school, her mother died of cancer when she was ten, and she doesn’t really get along with her stepsisters that well at the beginning of the book. But that’s kind of Ever’s fault – she’s so busy feeling sorry for herself that she kind of assumes her stepsisters hate her, and she’s pre-emptively mean to them. That goes for most of the people at her school, as well – whenever Skinny tells her “Oh, those people think you’re a waste of space,” Ever gets annoyed at them even if they never actually said anything.

In the end, I think this is a pretty good book, but I think it’s definitely geared more towards teenager-ish girls than boys.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers

Title: The Encyclopedia of Me
Author: Karen Rivers
Publication Date: September 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Reviewer: Martina (11)
Rating: 4 ½ Cheeseburgers

The Encyclopedia Of Me is written from the point of view of “Tink” Isadora Aaron-Martin, a 12-year-old girl from the outskirts of New York, New York. It takes you through her friend troubles, boy drama and shows you the hardships of having an autistic brother, while sorting it alphabetically and in the layout of a proper encyclopedia. This book gives you the definition of friendship, loyalty, and love. It is an amazing book for 10-14 year old girls though I wouldn’t recommend it for a guy because it’s a walk in a girl’s shoes and probably wouldn’t make much sense. Overall, The Encyclopedia of Me is an exhilarating, funny and captivating novel that left me begging for more.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: August 16, 2011
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

In a very popular virtual reality online multiplayer game, something that could change the world happens, and it all comes to life in this great novel. This book uses video game language, so it's easy for gamers to understand.
  The creator of the game passed away, and left behind the greatest video game competition of all time, so great that some people would kill to win it. It's up to five game adicts to rescue the game from going into the wrong hands. This thrilling novel has kept me longingly reading for a long time. Anyone who's addicted to video games will love this book.
  This book has mild language, but it isn't very strong. The book is also relatively hard to comprehend by people who aren't gamers due to its occasional video game language. It also has some very tragic points in it. Some points that made me feel as if the end of the book was really close.
  The characters in this book are really well thought through, and the position the main character finds himself in. Him having a crush on a girl who he's never known except for how hot her avatar looked. The
book also makes a good impression on what it might be in the future. How terrible it is with everyone starving, homeless, and having to escape it all by playing a video game.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Infinity Ring by James Dashner

Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: August 28, 2012
Reviewer: Stephen (11)
Rating: 3 Cheeseburgers

It’s about two nerds, Dak and Sera, who have a time travel device and try to save the world. Dak’s parents invented the Infinity Ring, Sera got it working and they are approached by the Hystorians, who need the Infinity Ring to correct Breaks in history, stop the SQ, and save the
world from a Cataclysm. The book was interesting because of the time travel concept and science stuff, but the plot is not really explained and there is no explanation of what is going on and what the SQ is. I think it is a decent read for ages 11 and up, and I would give it 3 stars.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time

Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: August 28, 2012
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 4 Cheeseburgers

This is the soon-to-be first book of a series called "Infinity Ring". It's about a couple of kids named Dak and Sera that discover that Dak's parents have been working on a top-secret experiment: A handheld time-space wormhole device known as the Infinity Ring (or you could just call it a pocket time machine, whatever works). Dak and Sera can't keep it a secret, and it appears to be key for a group called the Historians to fix history which has apparently been broken. Now it's up to Dak and Sera to fix history with a teenager called Riq, so a rival group called the SQ doesn't gain power in the future (or present?).

Much like the 39 clues, this is a collaborative series done by several authors, with an online game that goes along with the book. I think that the book has some sudden introductions. You kinda have to figure everything out mid-book. I didn't even know what the SQ was until, like, Chapter 15. Aside from that, it was an interesting book that I bet is the beginning of a great series. Time travel kinda confuses me, though. If Dak and Sera fix the future, then there won't be a broken past to begin with, therefore they won't come back to the past to fix it because there's nothing wrong with it, but then it would have to remain broken, and the cycle goes on and on. Still, the plot is interesting. I've read 10 of the 39 clues books and they've each had their own "flavor" so I bet these books will be like that too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Planet Tad by Tim Carvell

Book: Planet Tad
Author: Tim Carvell
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: May 18, 2012
Reviewer: Ben (11)
Rating: 4 4/5 Cheeseburgers

This book is, very, very, VERY funny. In this book, Tad, a middle-school boy, who blogs every day.  He blogs about his family, his friends, about school and about everything that happens to him.  Tad has a very funny way of looking at the world and can make even the most ordinary things sound hilarious.  Very soon after I started I could not put the book down AT ALL. I read the whole thing in one night! This book is very funny and I congratulate the author on an amazing book that is worthy of many more people reading it.

My rating for this amazing book is 4.8/5, because I would like to see a little more book and a little less blog. Well that is all my own opinion and if I were some one else I would rate it 5/5.

Good work, Tim Carvell.

[Editor's note: This book is such a favorite among our reviewers (and their moms!) that our ARC is starting to look like it was chewed by wolves. One mom even asked the local comic book store to order a case, since they would make such great go-to birthday gifts. Good work, Tim Carvell, indeed!]

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Holt Children's / Macmillan
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Reviewer: Maggie (13)
Rating: 4 1/2 Cheeseburgers

Shadow and Bone takes place in an alternate Russia, called Ravka. There are rifles and serfs and a king, like in normal turn-of-the-century Russia, but also a group of nobles, called Grisha, who have psychic/magic powers. Depending on what type of Grisha they are, they can bend metal and forge things, create/move water or fire, or kill people. With their minds. There’s also a very powerful, just-beneath-the-King Grisha called the Darkling, who has the power to summon darkness/shadow. Years ago, the Black Heretic (the first darkling) used his magical powers to summon up a dark cloud, the Shadow Fold, filled with evil creatures called volcra. When it was created, it killed everyone inside, turning farmland filled with people into a wasteland. Shadow and Bone tells the story of Alina Starkov, who is discovered to be the Sun
Summoner, someone with very rare Grisha powers (summoning light) and who has the capability, in theory, of destroying the Shadow Fold.

The book is really well written: it’s got some darkness to it, but it’s not super disturbing like the Hunger Games. There’s a love triangle, but it’s well done and not over the top, and the characters are interesting, so it doesn’t make you want to go to the dentist or anything.

The best part is Alina Starkov herself. She’s skinny, and not glamorous or beautiful, and she starts off not knowing she has magical powers, but she’s a great character, because she doesn’t let anyone give her a hard time. At one point, after she’s taken to the king’s palace to show her powers to the nobles, she’s woken up to be made “presentable”. However, she doesn’t know that’s why she’s being woken up, and the servants expect her to just go along with this. Instead of cooperating and asking bewildered questions along the way, she stops, refuses to let them do anything, and when she’s told that there’s not enough time, says “Make time! I’ve covered almost two hundred miles on horseback. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week, and I’ve nearly been killed twice. So before I do anything else, you’re going to have to
tell me who you are and why it’s so very important…” Which is awesome.

I would definitely recommend this book to kids around age 9 or higher… there’s a slightly graphic kissing/make out scene and at an earlier, unrelated point someone gets cut in half. However, if you don’t care about that stuff, it’s definitely interesting to read. I would give it 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: 2008
Reviewer: Phoebe (10)
Rating: 4 1/2 Cheeseburgers

The Hunger Games is a book about a girl named Katniss Everdeen, who is taken to be a tribute in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games takes place in the future, where instead of states there are 12 Districts. Years before the book happens, there were 13 districts, and they rebelled against the Capitol, who rules them. District 13 was destroyed, and the Capitol’s way of punishment for the rest of the districts is the Hunger Games. One girl and one boy between the age of 12 and 18 are chosen from each district to participate in the Hunger Games.

All of the kids go to an arena to fight to the death until there is only one kid left. Their district gets food and gifts from the capitol, while the other districts are almost starving. This is a great book which will keep you reading it until 3:00 in the morning. I really loved it because Katniss is awesome and can use a bow and arrows, and the story is always interesting. My rating is 4 and a half cheeseburgers, because I really, really, really liked it, but it might be kind of depressing for a lot of people. Even so, you should read it too.

Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese

Title: Happenstance Found (Books of Umber)
Author: P. W. Catanese
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: January 2009
Reviewer: Shira (11)
Rating: 4 1/2 Cheeseburgers

Happenstance is a boy with strange abilities. With no past and no memories, he is found by the amazing Lord Umber and taken under Umber's protection in a medieval world.  

Happenstance was found with a letter from a mysterious creature named WN. It tells Umber that Happenstance, will see abilities arising. Strange ablilities like his amazing green eyes that can see future, past and what could be along, with amazing night vision. His legs are capable of propelling him 7 feet or higher in the air, and his mind always curious.

On top of Hap's numerous questions like, "Where am I? What am I?" and "Why am I so strange?" there is a creature, an eye hunter, named Occo, who is hunting Hap for his all-seeing eyes.

Happenstance gets the help of Umber's bodyguard and friend, Oates, Umber's archiver, Sophie, a small man Umber rescued from a mean noble, Thimble,and the librarian Smudge.  And with Smudge's help he discovers that he is something called a "Meddler". A creature, small in numbers, that can bend history and future to its will.

<Editor's note: The paragraph below contains spoilers. If you want to read it, highlight the text!> 

After a fight with Occo and defeating the creature, Umber shows Hap his secret. A secret that he has kept to himself for 10 years. "Project Reboot". This was a project in Umbers' world (Our 21st century) in case the world were to have a global cotastrophy. He helped collect info about everything in his world on a computer in case this were to happen. 

Eventually it did. Umber was still collecting the information needed when the catastrophy became reality. He was knocked out and woke in Hap's world. The world he lives in to this day.

Follow Hap, as he and his friends discover new and interesting abilities and fight new monsters hunting Happenstance the Meddler.

Ricky Vargas: The Funniest Kid in the World by Alan Katz

Title: Ricky Vargas: The Funniest Kid in the World
Author: Alan Katz
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: June 2012
Reviewer: Sadie (8)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

Ricky Vargas is a really really really funny book. I loved it! I would buy the second book of it. It's kinda like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but better. I think you should read it. I hope you like it! This is not really just one story. There are three stories in it. My favorite one was the "Vargish" story. Ricky's last name is Vargas, and he made up his own language. It's called "Vargish." It was my favorite because at one point the teacher told Ricky to stop speaking Vargish, and she tried to speak Vargish so he would understand. But what she said to him in his way was "Please dance around on one foot with a book on your head." And so he did that, and of course it made the teacher and all the students laugh. It's a really funny story. If you have this book, I hope you will like it. Since I'm a girl, and it's about a boy, both boys and girls should like it, because it's really funny.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Title: Tunnels
Authors: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Publisher: Scholastic
Reviewer: Tom (10)
Rating: 4 1/4 Cheeseburgers

I've been reading this book called Tunnels by authors Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. It's an incredible book about a boy named Will, who discovers an amazing world below ground. His family is a crazy mix of people. His mom is lazy, his sister is bossy and cleans all day, and his dad keeps to himself.

His dad disappears without a trace. Things start to get weird and Will and his friend Chester find themselves running from sinister, pale men called Styx. When they find a strange tunnel in Will's house the boys set off on a wild adventure. This book has a big steam-punk influence as well as a firm sense of adventure.

Tunnels is an awesome book that once you pick up you won't want to put down. Will is curious and uses his head, but in this book you don't see much of Chester. The Styx are creepy and sinister and I felt like I was really being chased by them. Digging tunnels like Will and Chester would be really fun. A one-of-a-kind read, Tunnels is an amazing book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Book: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Author: Christopher Healy
Publisher: Walden Pond Press / Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Reviewer: Stephen (11)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

My new book review is about the book The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.

The book is about the many different Prince Charmings in stories, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc. One of them, Gustav, is a big brutish guy who usually thinks the best solution to a problem is brute force, even if you are going one on one with a giant. Another one, Liam, is a tactical thinker and usually comes up with a plan. He got booted out of his kingdom because Sleeping Beauty spread some lies about him. Yet another one, Fredric, is a wimp and usually hangs out way behind the front lines. The last one, Duncan, is kind of an oddball and is kind of weird, and totally obsessed with naming every animal he sees.

They originally want to save Cinderella from a tower, but she had already gotten free and the princes have to save the bards from an evil witch, Zaubera.

It is a really good book for ages 10 and up who do not mind a little heavy reading and I would give it five cheeseburgers.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Book: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Author: Christopher Healy
Publisher: Walden Pond Press / Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Reviewer: Jacob (12)
Rating: 4 Cheeseburgers

My book review is on The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, and I think it's pretty good. It's about four princes who were booted out of their kingdoms and rejected by their princesses for various reasons, and have to save their kingdoms from a plot that threatens to destroy them all. These princes all have their own problems. Prince Frederic, the one who got Cinderella, is a pampered wimp who is too boring for the adventorous princess. Prince Gustav is a big brute who tends to rush in the battle without even ASSESSING THE SITUATION AND KNOWING WHAT'S GOING ON. Prince Liam is actually pretty normal and smart, but the problem was that Sleeping Beauty was a huge jerk and spread terrible rumors about her when he didn't want to marry her... because she was a jerk. Finally, Prince Duncan is just plain weird.

Things the princes have to deal with outside the kingdoms are bandits, trolls, a dragon, and an evil witch who's trying to take over the kingdoms. They even have to fight the king of bandits (who's ten years old). On their journey, they learn to work as a team and become heroes.

In conclusion, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was a pretty good read, although towards the end it got sort of crazy and didn't make a whole lot of sence to me. I give it a rating of 4 cheeseburgers.

Monday, April 30, 2012

39 Clues by Rick Riordan Etc.

Title: 39 Clues
Author: Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, Jude Watson, Patrick Carman, Linda Sue Park, Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Scholastic 
Reviewer: Louis

39 Clues written by (author name here) is about two kids who go on a scavenger hunt (a deadly one) and compete against their relatives to be the most powerful humans on earth. The clues are around the globe so Amy and Dan (they are the two kids) have to dodge traps and even come close to death! The book is funny because Amy and Dan are brother and sister so even though they are on the same team they can get into fights. The fights are pointless just like real brother and sister fights. What I think will attract readers is that the whole series is around the globe so you may learn things you didn't know before. What could confuse readers is that Book One, Book Two, Book Three etc. etc. aren't written by the same author! What else I think will get readers confused is that in book one Dan's back pack got sucked in the sub way and now in book two he has it back the book does not explain how he got it back! I recommend this to kids of all ages. 

Parents! Check out this series too.

--------------> Yes the language is good <-------------

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 2007
Reviewer: Bethany
Rating: 4 cheeseburgers.

City of Bones is the first in the Mortal Instruments series, an urban fantasy set in modern-day New York. It starts when fifteen-year-old Clary Fray witnesses a murder at a club, but is the only one in the building who can see the killer, a boy named Jace. Later, Clary receives a distressed call from her mother, and rushes back to their apartment to find the place trashed, her mother missing, and a demon creature waiting for her. Clary manages to kill the creature, but is injured in the process, and Jace takes her to his home.

There, Clary meets Jace’s adoptive-siblings Isabelle and Alec, and their tutor Hodge, and is told that they are Shadowhunters, a race of people bred to kill demons. The City of Bones is where they take Clary to figure out why she can see Shadowhunters, why she can’t remember ever having seen them before, and how to find her mother.

City of Bones was a good book. Not the best book in the series, for me, but I liked it. There was hilarious humor, interesting characters, and a well thought out plot; the only problem I had was that at times it got a little too dramatic. The romance was believable, but my favorite part had to be the little world Cassandra Clare created for her story. It’s by far my favorite fantasy world to read about, because it’s really convincing. It’s what led me to Cassandra Clare’s prequel series, the Infernal Devices, which I suggest that you check out, because I love that one just as much. I give City of Bones 4 cheeseburgers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg #1 by Geoff Rodkey

Title: Deadweather and Sunrise
Author: Geoff Rodkey
Publisher: Putnam
Pub date: May 29, 2012
Reviewer: Stephen (10)
Rating:  4½  Cheeseburgers

This is my book review of Deadweather and Sunrise. It’s about a boy named Egbert who lives on a really dirty and smelly island called Deadweather, but goes to another island called Sunrise Island on a vacation every year. His family disappeared on a hot air balloon, but a rich merchant takes him in. Afterward, the merchant gets angry when he didn’t sign an adoption thing, and the merchant sends someone to kill him, but things go awry and Egbert escapes and stows away on a ship, which is captured by pirates, he lands back on Sunrise. He tries to escape to Deadweather because there may be a treasure on it.

This story reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean, but is a completely different story and is a very good read. The thing that grabbed me about this book is that I like pirate adventure books very much. This book is good for ages 10-13, and also for adults who like pirate books. My rating for this is 4½ cheeseburgers.

This book has a trailer, where you can hear the author discussing his work:

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewer: Bethany (14)
Rating: 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in the Infernal Devices series, my favorite book series to date. It’s set in 1878 London, and centers on sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray, a New Yorker who’s been taken captive by two women called the “Dark Sisters”. She came to London to find her brother after the death of their Aunt Harriet, but she fears she never will, because the Dark Sisters are bent on keeping her, and using her “power”— Tessa is a shape-changer, a kind of magical creature no one’s ever seen before— and preparing her for the Magister, a man she’s never met.

On the day Tessa is set to meet the Magister, she gets rescued by William Herondale, a special kind of demon-killer called a Shadowhunter. He takes Tessa back to the Institute, where he and his fellow Shadowhunters let Tessa stay. They think she’s the key to their latest mission— to uncover the source of all the disappearances over London. They need Tessa to solve the mystery, and Tessa needs them to help her find her brother, the Magister, and to figure out what she is.

Clockwork Angel is a fun mystery, and once I started it, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s got an interesting, but not overly dramatic love triangle, and lots of action, humor, and fantasy. It’s got something for everyone— I give it 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Book: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: 2008
Reviewer: Jacob (12)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

My dad hates this book, but I honestly think he has no idea what he's talking about.

I first heard about this book in my Church group, where, honestly, it would ALWAYS be brought up in every conversation. Not wanting to be left out, I FINALLY read the book and loved it.

It's about a girl, Katniss, living in what used to be the United States, but it is clearly not America, after being ravaged by a nuclear war and a failed revolution years after.

She lives in one of the twelve districts, District 12, which is pretty much the poorest. She has to kill animals with a bow (and we're talking squirrels and rabbits here) to feed her family and to deal to buyers who are also hungry. The leaders, who are stationed at what is known as the Capitol, demand one boy and girl between 12 and 18 years old from each district to compete in an annual televised gladiatorial battle called (you guessed it) the Hunger Games. After her sister is selected, she volunteers in place of her sister.

After being displayed, interviewed, and trained (also told by the tribute, Peeta Mellark, that he's in love with her ON CAMERA), she is put in the arena, which is different every year. This time it's a thick, piney, forested area. The 24 tributes (what the kids in the Games are called) are released to get weapons and begin. The arena is littered with supplies, food, water, weapons, whatever tributes might need, but the problem is that lots of tributes lay ambushes near lucrative piles of supplies. Katniss survives by getting a bow and arrow and hiding in the trees. She survives a fire and homicidal tributes, when a twelve year old girl named Rue saves her life from genetically modified wasps that can kill a person in four stings. They form an alliance and find a larger group of allied tributes' camp. Rue distracts them by making a noise while Katniss tries to destroy the food stores, which is really just a big heap of food. She learns that it's not just booby trapped as she expected, but mined. She detonates a mine, setting off a chain reaction that destroys the food and nearly Katniss in the process.

SPOILER ALERT! Select the text in the following paragraph to reveal it, if you already know the end.

Rue is sadly killed by one of the tributes, who is in turn slain by Katniss with an arrow through him. She finds Peeta, somehow still alive but seriously injured, and nurses him back to health, and in the process falling in love with him. Turns out that the whole lover thing caught on camera earlier is so popular with the audience that a rule for this year's Games is that if two tributes from the same District survive till the end, they both win. When all the other tributes are dead, the amendment is dropped. Just before Katniss commits suicide with poison berries, they are both declared winners.

In conclusion, I loved this book and I think it's a great read (though too intense for younger readers), and if you've read Pure (mentioned earlier), you're definitely ready for this one. I give it a full 5 Cheeseburgers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

Title: The Magic Thief
Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: Harper Collins Kids
Pub Date: June 2008
Reviewer: Shira (11)
Rating: 3 1/2 Cheeseburgers

One night, Conn, a boy just wanting to fill his stomach, picks the wizard Nevery's pocket.  He takes out the wizard's power stone. Shocked that Conn was not immediatly killed by the stone, Nevery takes Conn on as a servant. Seeing Conns inquisitive nature and promise for magic, Nevery keeps him around.  But Conn must find his own unique stone, his "Locus Magicalus" that will focus his magical powers.

One of Neveries fellow wizards convinced Nevery that one of his friends was in cohoots with the city's dark underlord.  On a quest to defeat the evil underlord, Conn also must find his Locus Magicalus in time.

Readers will love this unlikely adventure by Sarah Prineas.

I rate this book 3 1/2 cheeseburgers.

Note: Sarah Prineas has a new book out for 2012: Winterling

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman

Title: The Exceptionals

Author: Erin Cashman

Publisher: Holiday House

Publication Date: February 2012

Reviewer: Maggie (14)

Rating: 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

The Exceptionals is a really, really cool book – think X-Men meets the Graveyard Book meets Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It’s about a 15 year old girl, Clair Crane Walker, whose parents transfer herto the school they run/teach at - Cambial Academy. Cambial Academy is a school for people with supernatural abilities - telekinesis, clairvoyance (telling the future), mediums who can talk to the dead, codebreakers, as well as people who are especially gifted at math/science. Clair has one talent she doesn’t tell anyone about because she thinks it’s too stupid to count – she can hear the thoughts of animals. But she settles in and finds friends, and almost all of the kids don’t care that she doesn’t have a “special”. Then, one day, she goes into the woods to write, and meets a mysterious –and apparently cute- guy. Shortly after she meets him, the most talented students from Cambial – known as the Exceptionals - start going missing. When Claire’s parents (also supernaturally talented) go looking for the missing students, they, too, disappear. When Claire and her friends find out about the missing students (and an important prophecy about a girl who can talk to animals), they follow the clues left behind to stop whoever it is that’s taking people.

That’s a pretty condensed version of the plot. There’s a lot more about what goes on at Cambial – training, classes, what the students are like – and there’s also a whole backstory about an evil man with powerful telekinetic powers who tried to take over the school. There are also ghosts, scientific healing goop, and (sort of) talking hawks.

I liked this book. It’s got something for everyone – superpowers, evil machines, ghosts, animals, and a love plot which is *NOT* overly dramatic. It’s not super scary, but it’s still really interesting. It’s definitely geared towards teens rather than kids or adults, but not in a “SUPERROMANCE!” or “DEATH TO LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE!” way. The only problem I had with it was more of a personal opinion thing – Clair likes the mysterious boy from the woods, who may or may not be evil, when at the same time there’s a really cool guy who at Cambial Academy who obviously likes her. She keeps going back to the mysterious woods guy even when she’s not sure if he’s on her side, so it gets kind of sappy at points.

However, those points are pretty spread out, she freely admits that she shouldn’t trust him (and doesn’t, until evidence pointing otherwise is uncovered) and does in fact try to get over him, which is refreshing after so many teen books with the standard “I love you forever, but I can’t stay with you, because I am a vampire-werewolf-robot-alien-hybrid! *intense glare*” plot. Also, this is mostly secondary to the whole story, so you can kind of gloss over those parts if you’re not interested. There is also action and fighting, and there are definitely some funny moments.

To summarize – refreshing teen book which is readable if you’re younger, funny moments, love plot is related but glossable for the uninterested, action moments, superpowers, has something for everyone. I’d give it 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happenstance Found by P. W. Catanese

Title: Happenstance Found (Books of Umber)
Author: P. W. Catanese
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: January 2009
Reviewer: Ben (11)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

A 12-year-old boy, Happenstance, wakes up having lost his memory. He is given into the care of an eccentric lord, Umber. Umber gives him his name and because of a secret letter, keeps Happenstance by his side through his many adventures. As the adventure continues he will meet friends, battle eye-stealing villains, and discover new talents. This book is all around a wonderful book with lots of emotion and AH HA moments.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hoot by Carl Hiassen

Title: Hoot
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Publisher: Random House (Knopf)
Publication Date: March 16, 2002
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 4 Cheeseburgers

I think this book has a nice plot, though kinda predictable, to center a book on. The most predictable part is when Roy meets "Mullet Fingers", a boy that seems to be crazy about nature, and we already know about Mother Paula's all-american pancake house being built on top of the owls, and of course, their little problems (alligators in the porta-potties, vandalized bulldozers and stuff, lost stakes, cottonmouth moccasins, and of course, spray painting cop cars. I also like the Idea of the main character, and the main character of the sub-plot, Roy Eberhardt, and Officer David Delinko. I also like the idea for a bully, Dana Matherson, Roy's "sidekick" Beatrice Leep, and of course, her stepbrother, -------- ------- Leep (name blanked out intentionally). Anyone with a green thumb, likes politics an' stuff, and dare I say it has a grudge for pancakes, will love this book, which, believe it or not, is actually out there, and selling, so read one for yourself!

Note: Carl Hiaasen has a new book coming out! It's called CHOMP and it will be published on March 27. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy

Title: Scepter of the Ancients
Author: Derek Landy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 21, 2009
Reviewer: Shira (11)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

Meet Stephanie Edgley, a girl who's life changes when a tall stranger appears at her uncle's funeral. Follow Stephanie through an adventure to fight vampires, werewolves, and other assorted mean monsters, all along side Skullduggery Pleasant. Skullduggery Pleasant is a mage who dodged death and is now a living skeleton who uses his head , that he won in a poker match, in innovative and creative ways to always get Stephanie out of danger.

In "The Scepter of Ancients" Skullduggery and Stephanie solve the mystery of a scepter which, when activated correctly, could bring about the end of the world with the rule of the gruesome gods, the Faceless Ones. They must find and destroy the power crystal in the scepter, once owned by the good gods of the universe, the ancients, so that the evil can never touch it. All readers are sure to get addicted to the crazy adventures of Skullduggery Pleansant and love the witty jokes and emotion in this story. I rate it 5 Cheeseburgers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Grimm Curse by Stephen Carpenter

Title: The Grimm Curse
Author: Stephen Carpenter
Format: e-Book Novella
Reviewer: Stephen (10)
Rating: 4 Cheeseburgers

The book I'm reviewing right now is called Grimm Curse. It's about a boy who is the descendant of the Brothers Grimm, and it turns out those faerie tales actually happened, and he is fighting these mythical monsters and witches and stuff. It's a pretty good book and I would give it a rating of 4 cheeseburgers.

Note: The Grimm Curse is the basis for the TV series "Grimm," which Carpenter also helped to write. 

Planet Tad by Tim Carvell

Book: Planet Tad
Author: Tim Carvell
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: May 18, 2012
Reviewer: Louis (9)

I think 'Planet Tad' by Tim Carvell is a good book even though I may not understand some of the jokes because I am only 9 and I have never had a sumer job or attended real school before.

Some parents will probably disapprove of the language in 'Planet Tad'. A word that I don't mind seeing in the book is "suck". The reason I don't mind it is because it doesn't describe someone for instance it dosen't have things like " you suck" it has things like "it must suck having this job". What I think the parents will disapprove of is this word, it only says once, "smartsass". I can kind of understand why the writer put the words in and that is because the writer may think a teen is reading the book. And we kind of know how teens think it is kind of cool and funny to swear. I sometimes like swearing because I like hanging out with my big kid friends.

The book is about this 13 year old boy who goes to Lakevill School and starts a blog on his new computer he got for Christmas. The book starts off as a story but sometimes the story will end very fast and say something funny and random. I love books like that, and the other thing I like is that it has a bunch of short little stories put into one.

One of my favorite quotes from Plant Tad is "I wonder if Link doesn't like it when Zelda gets kid napped, I bet Zelda just likes getting rescued by someone cool". I liked it because it came from no where and it is about a video game. I would like to see more books this series. It is similar in style as "Diary of a Wimpy Kid' so I'm sure once Planet Tad comes out people will be rioting for more!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: October 5, 2005
Reviewer: Stephen (10)
Rating: 1/2 Cheeseburger

The book I'm reviewing is Twilight. I know everybody likes it and that it's a big thing, but to be honest, it's actually kind of lame. She doesn't even find out the guy is a vampire until halfway through the book, and the only good part is when they run from werewolves, but they never fight or do anything really interesting. My rating? 1/2 cheeseburger.

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Book: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
Reviewer: Jacob (12)
Rating: 4 1/2 Cheeseburgers

This book is a gripping and exciting, if rather disturbing, post-apocalyptic novel. It's about a girl named Pressia who is trying to survive with her family after the Detonations, where huge non-nuclear but insanely powerful explosives light up the world. Everyone caught in the blasts is either killed or they have strange deformations where objects around them warped and fused to them. Pressia has a doll head fused to her hand. These people are called wretches.

There are normal people left, though. They're called Pures, and they live in a giant dome with climate control, and a controlled social environment. Another character comes into play, named Partridge. He's been told that his mother is dead, and believes that, out in the wrecked and burned world, he will find her somehow.

In addition to all this, there is a place outside the wrecked city, called the deadlands. It is inhabited by Dusts, unfortunate people whose very molecules fused to the dirt and dust, and are now monsters who wait for a passerby, then drag them into the ground and eat them. A boy is wounded by one and becomes stiff, his mouth foams, and after a couple of days dies.

As if things weren't bad enough, an organization called the OSR comes into play just after the blasts. They were originally Operation Search and Rescue, but are now Operation Sacred Revolution, and little more than terrorists, who hunt defenseless wretches for fun in a massive tribal hunting game that comes every two months or so.

For Partridge, getting out from the dome is far from easy. There is heavy security, but he escapes through the ventilation system. Pressia's world is turned sideways (it's already upside-down) when he runs into her. Partridge is now in trouble, because the Pures are despised among the wretches. They haven't been through what the Wretches have. Even children sing rhymes about killing Pures and using their body parts as common household items. He joins forces with Pressia, along with another boy called Bradwell, who has birds fused to his back. But everything is screwed up when Pressia is kidnapped by the OSR. She only survives because they want her to be trained as an officer. She is trained by a man named El Capitan, who has his own brother fused to his back. His brother is little more than a shell, just repeating what everyone else says. She learns the brutality of OSR life when El Capitan shoots a lone Wretch casually.

Meanwhile Bradwell and Partridge, who don't always get along, look in the Meltlands for help from Our Good Mother. The Meltlands used to be a common suburban area, but with the explosions the plastic slides and households melted partially. Our Good Mother is head of a group of parents and children, some of which are fused together. They get advice, but at a cost: to make Partridge truly among the Wretches, they cut off his pinky with a knife.

In conclusion, Pure is a great book, but it shook me a little and was kind of scary. I really don't recommend it for anyone who is disturbed or grossed out easily, or for anyone younger than 11 or so, but I think readers of Hunger Games and stuff like that will like it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple by T. R. Burns

Title: Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple
Author: T. R. Burns
Publisher: Aladdin / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 4 Cheeseburgers

This is another good book, but the thing about it is, the kind of thing where almost none of this book makes sense until you read it over a couple of times, and think more and more about what the heck every little sentence means.

Everything else about the book is good. The unexpected plot, the good characters, and I really like the main character, Seamus Hinkle’s situation at school, what he does about it (accidentally killing his substitute teacher by throwing an apple at her) and what his punishment is for doing so (going to a reform school that happens to be a top-secret high tech facility training kids to be professional troublemakers) and how he handles it (painting the school and many teachers with a paintball gun, torching a carousel, haunting his history teacher’s midnight jog, scaring the crap out of his music teacher during his bathroom break, and not to mention blowing up his gym teacher.)

Anyone who likes mystery, weird schools, or pullin’ pranks on your teacher will love this book, which will come out on April 24. Find it in a book store near you!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Book: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Publisher: Walden Pond Press / Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

This book is a great book that will come on May 1st. 2012. It’s about the famous Prince Frederic, Prince Gustav, Prince Liam, and Prince Duncan. You wouldn’t recognize them, but they are the princes who saved Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleepin’ Beauty, and Snow white. Fairy tales like to refer to them as Prince Charming. 

In this book, these guys get upset about how their actual name isn’t included in these classic fairy tales, and they set out on an adventure to save each of their kingdoms. I like how Christopher Healy (author) gives each of the princes and princesses their own personality, and how he shows how they don’t get along well. 

Cinderella was up for adventure, Frederic was up for a picnic. Gustav was a crab apple, Rapunzel was, well, a rapunzel. Liam was a hero for hire, Sleepin’ Beauty was a bossy big ol’ sister. Duncan was a loud guy, Snow white was a peaceful gal quiet as a mouse. I hope I didn’t express too much, but it’s a great book. It has a sense of things pre-teens would like. (For those of you who aren’t interested yet, there’s a Bandit King aged 10 years old... no lie!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Planet Tad by Tim Carvell

Book: Planet Tad
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: May 18, 2012
Reviewer: Benny (12)
Rating: 5 Cheeseburgers

This book you already may know is called Planet Tad. I liked this book because of the genre. I like the type of diary/blog/journal type thing. I think there are a lot of interesting things about this book, like for example: Occasionally the book will trail off the main story for thoughts about different things like criticizing things like lame mascots, books, vacations, and stuff like that. Sometimes it isn’t criticizing. For instance: Different ideas about things like the pledge to the flag, video games, and other things.

 If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you’ll like this. It’s about a kid (obviously named Tad) who’s making a blog and recording a year of his life on it from Jan. 1st, to Dec. 31st. He faces a lot of problems like GIANT FULL-BODY SUNBURNS, and LITTLE SISTERS RULING HIM LIKE THEY’RE SOME WEIRD SORT OF QUEEN, and BROKEN CAMERAS, and stuff like that. The plot for this book is kinda based on Tad’s new year’s resolutions (Getting girls to notice him, doing a kick-flip on his skateboard, and stuff like that. I think it’s a good book, and when it comes out, you should read it!

 (This book is not available for purchase and probably has future revisions coming up. It’s coming out May 8th.)