Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
****(4 Stars) Reviewed by Jack
Mystery. First off, I have to tell you the book is wayyyy better then the movies. I just finished reading this book for the second time and I still can't figure out who did it before Holmes does.(Which is kinda embarrassing) This is a great book that contains a lot of Sherlock Holmes' best cases. I'm not a big fan of the mystery genre but I found this book to be really entertaining and full of twists and turns. The only thing you could count on is somehow, Holmes was going to solve the case. This book is good for kids 13+ only because younger kids might not understand it as much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen, Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen, Richard Paul Evans.
****(4 Stars) Reviewed by Jack
Science Fiction.The much anticapated second book in the Michael Vey series, Rise of the Elgen has lived up to expectations, at least in my opinion. The book starts out with Michael Vey and company making there way to Pasadena, the place where most of them used to live before all of this started, only to find Ostin's parens gone and Jack's house burned down. Meanwhile, a mysterious man who says he's a friend tells Michael that he can help him save his mom from the Elgen in Peru (long story). Though a little sceptical, Michael has to trust him because he's their only hope of ever seeing his mother again. As it turns out, Dr. Hatch has just called all of the Elgen guards (over 2000) from across the world to Peru for a Re-Education (brainwashing) session. As you can imagine, that makes things a lot more complicated. Follow Michael Vey and the Electroclan as they attempt to defy the odds and rescue Michaels mother, while trying to take down the Elgen and Dr. Hatch at the same time. There's a little kissing and theres violence, but otherwise its pretty child-friendly. I would reccomend this book to kids 12 and up.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Twenty and Ten, Claire Huchet Bishop

Twenty and Ten, Claire Huchet Bishop
****(4 Stars) Reviewed By Jack 
Historical Fiction. Twenty and Ten takes place in WW2 France, during the time that France was occupied by the Nazis. Janet, the main character, and 20 children from school along with their teacher, Sister Gabriel are sent to the countryside to protect themselves from the Nazis and the war. Everything is fine until one day a mysterious man shows up asking the students if they would hide 10 Jewish children from the Nazis, saying that he cannot pay them and that the risk is high. The children and Sister Gabriel readily agree to shelter the 10 Jewish children, not minding that it would mean smaller rations for all of them. This arrangement goes nicely until one day, while Sister Gabriel was in town shopping for food, two Nazi soldiers appeared, demanding to know where the Jews are hidden.
A very short (only 76 pages) and entertaining book, Twenty and Ten is a great book for children 10+. There's nothing to warn you about in this book as its very child friendly

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Lonesome Gods, Louis L'Amour

The Lonesome Gods, Louis L'Amour
****(4 Stars)  Reviewed by Jack

Western.  The Lonesome Gods is an amazing book about a boy named Johannes, who's fathers last wish before he dies is to get him across the desert to his only surviving family, his grandfather. The problem is, his grandfather really has it out for his father because he married his daughter, which to him is a "dishonor" as his father Zachery Verne was just a common sailor, while his grandfather was a rich ranch owner. Zachery Verne just hopes that his grandfather will not take his vengeance out on Johannes, who's mother recently died.
  Before they can worry about their vengeful grandfather, they have to cross the Californian Desert, and quickly, too, as Johannes' father only has weeks to live before he dies of an incurable disease. Shortly after they make it safely across the desert, Zachery Verne is killed by some of his grandfather's hit men, and Johannes is left out in the desert to die. He is eventually rescued by outlaws, then he decides to live with the the Indians, learning all of their tricks and traditions. This goes on for five years, until Johannes is ten, then one of his friends in Los Angeles asks him to come and live with her in town,(LA only had 2000 people back then) claiming that his grandfather won't ever know that he's there.
   After awhile the gig is up, and Johannes has to flee into the desert, followed by a dozen of his grandfather's men. During all of those years living with the Indians Johannes learned all that he could about the desert, and now he had the advantage. Johannes knew all of the water holes, all of the best ways to stay alive, and his pursuers had hardly ever been in the desert before, and they didn't last long. Bad comes to worse when Johannes realizes that his grandfather's men are waiting for him on the other side of the desert, and he is almost killed. Worse goes to much worse when his friend Meghan tries to come save him, and she gets captured by some outlaws. Then it gets better again when Meghan is reunited with Johannes and they head back to LA. Then things get bad again when there intercepted again by some of Johannes' old enemies, and he has to save Meghan again, which he does.
There is some swearing (seems everyone swore back then) and some violence, but that's all the negative things I can think of. This is a great western novel and I would recommend it to teenagers 13+.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Lord of the Flies, William Golding
****(4 Stars)
Fantasy. The Lord of the Flies is a dark book about a bunch of British boys who crash a plane onto an uninhabited island in the Pacific, where they have to survive until help arrives- if it ever does. At first, everything seems to be going well. The boys have elected a leader, the quiet Ralph, who gets most of his ideas from his ever loyal friend Piggy (that's the nickname that the boys give him, because of his larger stature, and because of his clumsiness), and they get a huge fire going, as to alert passing ships of their presence.
  In a few days things start heating up when the headstrong Jack (not me, I swear) starts to get jealous of Ralph's position and leaves the main group with his followers to go to the forest and live there, where they become something like wild beasts, losing self control and going savage. On top of all of that they have convinced the other boys to join them, leaving Ralph all alone with Piggy.
 Things really get bad when Piggy gets killed by a falling boulder, and Jack and his followers start hunting for Ralph, who ran into the woods. Just as Ralph got surrounded a boat landed on the beach, saving the boys from turning into wild animals.
 This is one of the most controversial books ever, because this book is about how mankind is so corrupt that even children can't go against it's destructive nature. A very deep and psychological book, I would recommend it for teens 13+

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draanen
***** (5 stars) from KATIE
Sports Fiction
I really don't think giving The Running Dream five stars is very fair. It is such a good book it deserves ten stars at least. I love this book so much!!!!
It's about a sixteen year old girl named Jessica who's track team gets into a car accident, leaving her alive, which is good, but minus one leg. She was the star of the track team and her dream was to get a track scholarship for college. After the accident she wasn't even sure she wanted to live anymore. What's life without running?
But her parents and track coach aren't giving up on her. The put her into physical therapy, determined to get her on her feet again, and even more importantly, get her running.
This book is so inspiring (it reminds me of the movie Soul Surfer) and you find yourself cheering for Jessica out loud. It makes you want to get up and work harder toward whatever goal you have.
This book has a special meaning to me because I had a diagnosis that resulted in surgery, leaving me skeptical if I would ever be able to dance again. I can dance now, which is GREAT, but I can relate to Jessica and her doubts very, very well. :)
As for warnings, I don't remember there being any swearing (there might be some "oh my God's" but I don't remember.) I don't think there anything else to mention.
I recommend this book for girls and boys 13+

Common Sense, Thomas Paine

Common Sense, Thomas Paine
***** (5 stars) from KATIE
This is an amazing book! I was studying the American Revolution earlier in the year and this book was such an help.
Thomas Paine anonymously published Common Sense on January 10 of 1776. He wrote it to the general public, encouraging them to rebel against the monarchy. His arguments are unbelievably sound, using the Bible and "common sense" as his references. Unlike most of the Enlightenment writers of the time, Paine wrote Common Sense in a very simple, very ordinary way so more people besides scholars could read it. Within months, it sold over 500,000 copies.
I absolutely loved it because 1. I'm a history nut 2. It actually made sense and 3. His arguments and points were an "ah-ha!" moments to me.
I recommend this book for girls and boys 14+ and I also suggest that you take notes as you read it.

Palace of Mirrors, Margaret Peterson Haddix

Palace of Mirrors, Margaret Peterson Haddix
***** (5 stars) from KATIE
Love this book! Another princess book (princesses are awesome) with a unique storyline which is always fun.
The book tells the story of a girl, Cecelia, who, although living as a peasant in a village is actually the crown princess of her kingdom. A commoner named Desmia is on the throne as a decoy. But as Cecilia gets older she finds it harder to concentrate on her studies. She feels that she's ready to rule.
Secretly, she and her best friend, Harper, run away to the capitol with the intentions of getting Cecilia back on the throne. What happens though, when they get the capitol and find out Desmia wasn't told the same story?
Ooooh, suspense! You'll have to read the book. :)
As for warnings, I can't think of any. There is a little romance (one kiss) but everything is very clean. No language to mention.
I loved the book because of the suspense, mystery and the really great ending. (Every princess book needs to have a good ending. It's a must :)
If you liked Princess Academy or Ella Enchanted you will love this book.
Age recommendation: 12+
If you like this book there is a second book in the series called Just Ella. The books aren't connected in anyway important so you could read either Palace of Mirrors or Just Ella first, it doesn't matter.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine
***** (5 stars) from KATIE

I have a lot of favorite books but this one is definitely in my top ten. At least. Maybe top five? Unlike Princess Academy this IS a Cinderella story, but with an awesome, really creative spin on it. The main character is Ella of Frell, who lives in an fantasy world (with gnomes, ogres, giants and best of all fairy godmothers).
On the day Ella was born, a fairy, Lucinda, visited her and her mother with the intention of giving her a gift (Sleeping Beauty, too?). Lucinda's gifts are notorious for being absolutely horrifying and this one was no different. She gave Ella the gift of "obedience" which, as you can imagine, was quite the opposite. To quote the book, "If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I'd have to do it. I was in danger at every moment."
But Ella wasn't about to leave her life up to fate. Ella goes on a dangerous quest, determined to break the curse and live happily ever after.
Grace and I were talking about it and we both agree that we love it because no matter how hard and unfair things get (and it gets pretty bad), she stays strong and refuses to let others overpower her.
This book is also a Newbery Award winner.
I recommend this book for girls 8+. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Children of the Lamp: Arkhenaten Adventure, P.B Kerr

Children of the Lamp: Arkhenaten Adventure, P.B. Kerr
****(4 Stars)

Arkhenaten Adventure is the first book in the Children of the lamp series, in which the twins John and Phillipa Gaunt discover that they are djinn (genie) and that they have the power to grant wishes.
They first discover their new powers when their housemaid (their parents are rich) Mrs. Trump, suddenly wins the lottery, the day after she told the twins that she wished she could win the lottery.
After that their parents decide to send them to their British uncle Nimrod's house for the summer, where they will be trained to be responsible djinn. But Nimrod had other plans. Nimrod decided that they will go on a trip to Egypt, the original home of the djinn, to try to find The 70 Djinn of Arkhenaten so that they can balance the powers of luck with the powers of chaos. The problem is that they aren't the only ones looking for them. John and Phillipa not only have to find The 70 Djinn of Arkhenaten, they have to find them before the evil djinn, the Ifrit, can use their power for their own gain.
I really liked this book because it kind of reminded me of The Kane Chronicles, and because there are a lot of funny parts, for example Nimrod tells John and Phillipa that smoking wasn't actually a human invention, but a method for djinn to stay warm (they are more powerful when they are warm), and the humans just wanted to copy them. 12+ for magic (Nimrod would disagree, he doesn't think of djinn power as magic). I would recommend this book to anyone who liked the Percy Jackson Series, The Kane Chronicles, or The Heroes of Olympus.

Note:  My sister Katie, age 15, started to read it and stopped after about five pages.  She doesn't like that it's written in the 3rd person and she didn't think it was engaging.  She said she will probably try and read it again.