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!)