January 29, 2010

Boring Rabbits

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Reviewed by Leila

The book "Watership Down" by Richard Adams was the absolute worst book I've ever read in my life. It's about a group of rabbits that flees from their warren in order to be safe. A rabbit named Fiver sensed that there was danger coming to the warren and so he and his brother, Hazel, gathered other rabbits to come with them to their journey to happiness. Will they find their happy place or will it turn out to be a disaster?

The worst thing about the book was that it didn't have any interesting plot points. A book about rabbits going on a journey is not fascinating. Another thing that was bad about the book was that it had lots of uninteresting words and too many details. The best thing about the book (not many great things) is that it had a few cliffhangers between the chapters. Also, it had some "rabbit language" in the book so that made it a little different than other books.

The age group that would like to read Watership Down would probably be high schoolers of both genders. It has a lot of large high school words. Now, if you have nothing at all to read, then Watership Down might be the best book for you.

Posted by at 02:37 PM

Whale in the Pool

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Reviewed by Mimi

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher was truthfully one of the best books I read all summer and changed my outlook on life in so many ways. The book is narrated by T.J. Jones, one of his school's best athletes, who's never played on a sports team because he doesn't believe in competition. But when asked by a mentor to help form a swim team, T.J. decides to give competitive sports another chance. The team is made up of all sorts of misfits that would never fit the role of high school jock. There's a guy with mental retardation, a body builder, a guy with one leg and then of course T.J. who is one of the only black people in town. As T.J. struggles with racism, trouble at home and the stresses of finally being a part of a team, he also learns to love who he is even with the challenges that come with it. But will this team of misfits conquer their personal issues and rise to success or will they never have somewhere to belong? What I loved most about this book was the protagonist, T.J. He is such a mixture of personalities and abilities and he is always confident in himself and has the will to do anything. Even at times when the pressure of being different comes back to haunt him, T.J. never lets it stop him from believing in himself and his team. The author, whose other books I have also read and loved, made T.J. so realistic that I felt myself rooting for him at every moment. Anyone and everyone should read this book but be prepared for some derogatory terms, to show the contempt for the townspeople, and a fair amount of foul language.

Posted by at 02:31 PM

Uniqeness Is.

What's in a Name? by Ellen Wittlinger
Reviewed by Joie

A quiet, sheltered suburb along the coast of Folly Bay. Seems peaceful, but that is hardly ever the case. Calm winds, high waves, and the final chapters of some high school lives are about to be plunged into confusion. The town, split apart, by the anxiety of war. And the teenagers, vying for love, attention, and friendship. But as the town falls into battlefield, these ten teenagers begin to think, who are they really?

Stereotype. It's found everywhere, in everyone. Someone could, literally, walk down the street and start stereotyping the first people they see. The kids in the accelerated program are geeks. The guys wearing hoodies all the time are gangster. Yet in this story, What's in a Name, these teenagers realize that the stereotypes in their school makes them need to struggle for true identity. Most adults never realize how much agony some teens go through, thinking about: who are they? Expertly written, deep, and profound, What's in a Name has viewpoints all around and will change the way you see those kids with calculators or those guys shooting hoops. You will begin to see them as having unique identities, not classified like bugs.

I particularly enjoyed this book because, although not everything applied directly to my life as a teenager, I could feel similarities with how their school was organized and how their social ladder worked. It broadened my mind, as I felt more and more empathy for more people in school and how they must have their own problems as well. Ellen Wittlinger was extremely talented when bringing the stories of the ten teens into one story, the story of Scrub Harbor's seniors. I would recommend it to anyone who is or once was a teenager. One mustn't have too much of a judgmental mind to read this though. The whole point is to keep your mind open and to figure out, through each of these teenagers, What's in a Name.

Posted by at 02:14 PM

One Review to Rule Them All

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Reviewed by Grady

There is a verse sung in the halls of the legions of fans. The stanza which illustrates the power and bloody glory of Mordor. It is written as such, an ever binding oath of power granted to the Rings of Power and the One Ring.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where shadows lie.
~Tolkien The Lord of the Rings

And so, it began. The most epic classic trilogy for the entire century began with that fateful forging of the rings. Even as the first nineteen rings were forged, The Dark Lord, Sauron, created his own. The One Ring, destined to be used as the ultimate weapon of control and domination. But during the Elves and Men's final stand, it was lost and Sauron seemingly defeated. But now, as the mysterious One Ring makes its way to unlikely heroes, the first of a series of trials begins. And the fate of Middle-Earth lies on the edge of a knife.

From the edges of Middle-Earth, the inhabitants of Good gather in Rivendell, a city of elves. After the discovery of the One Ring, a council is called. Who shall take the Ring-bearer, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring forever? They must've gazed apprehensively at Frodo, Ring-Bearer, as he was simply a small and ill-fated hobbit. But a Fellowship must be gathered, else forever will Middle-Earth lay under Sauron's control. The Fellowship of the Ring presents their oaths and embark on a journey which it is quite possible none will survive.

But their journey spawns for much longer than one book. It weaves and intertwines, even after the fellowship is broken beyond repair. Frodo and Sam continue on their perilous path to Mordor, and soon find it hard without the diligent guiding of Gandalf. Help is both blessed and cursed to them in the most unlikely ways, as Bilbo's pity returns in spite. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are pursuing those who fled with Merry and Pipin, yet they arrive to find most for naught. Sauron's true allegiance deceives everyone and the union of the Two Towers mark an age of desperation as the Kingdoms of Men must unite. Else all is lost as people lose faith and only the heroes and legends themselves can bring Men to the battlefield to fight for the peace of Middle-Earth.

Then, the tides look bleak. After a stunning betrayal and a hope shattering capture, Sam must rally himself in a last ditch attempt to save Frodo and make it to Mount Doom. Frodo confronts the fate of the greed the Ring twists in him, and they are both slowly dying from the pain and weariness of the journey. Sauron is now throwing his entire might onto one of the last strongholds of Men, Minas Tirith, city of Gondor. The armies of Rohan and Gondor must rise together as the wretched Witch King, leader of the Nagzul, rides into battle. Aragorn must reclaim a throne, and the Fellowship, though broken apart physically, is held together by the ties of friendship. The final battle is coming, and whether Frodo succeeds or not bears upon all minds. It is time.

For many decades, The Lord of the Rings has been a trilogy of untold fame and adoration. It presents Middle-Earth's history as the ultimate story. The movie released followed another surge of fans of Middle-Earth. Simply masterful, it is a true legend. To read such a work is almost mind-numbing. This is the stuff of legends and classics.

Posted by at 01:59 PM

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Watchmen by Alan Moore
Reviewed by Grady

Watchmen transforms the image of the superhero and sets a new standard graphic novel writing. Moore's characters follow the archetypes of superheroes but as the story unfolds, they are shown in a more human and amoral light and the nature of these archetypes is revealed. Watchmen is about a mentally disturbed super hero named Rorschach who tries to solve the mystery behind the murder of The Comedian, a superhero-for-hire of the U.S. Government. The reader is introduced to the remaining superheroes who are faced with a world without super villains and are instead dealing with society's problems and the threat of nuclear war with Russia. Moore's exploration of character is at its best with Doctor Manhattan, Moore's Superman, capable of seeing the future, teleporting anywhere he wants to, blowing up tanks by pointing at them, and destroying nuclear warheads while they're still in the air. Doctor Manhattan is used by the U.S. To prevent war with Russia as well as to win the Vietnam war and the man with unlimited power becomes totally controlled by the government. Because of his expanded perception and mental capacity, he is alienated from other human beings and loses his girlfriend due to his inability to understand her problems which seem irrelevant to him. He goes into exile on Mars and in his absence the threat of nuclear war is heightened as Russia ceases to fear an America without Doctor Manhattan. The Comedian, a superhero similar to Captain America, works for the government and without any moral restraint. After throwing riot gas on protesters he claims that the superheroes are society's only protection from itself and that the American dream has come true through him. He is the perpetrator of some of the most brutal acts in the book and stands as a symbol of unchecked government power. His personality is dark and cynical, devoid of any meaning behind his actions. I think that Moore is dead on in creating this character as if Captain America were real, he'd likely be very similar to The Comedian and would symbolize something much darker than the hero of today's comic books. The character who best criticizes the modern superhero most effectively to me is Rorschach. The dark vigilante wears a mask that he calls his face, signifying that his true self is his superhero self. Rorschach does not compromise and if something is evil to him, he persecutes it or exposes it. He destroyed his original personality some time before the story started and replaced it with his superhero persona. Rorschach stands out to me because his superhero role is not an idealized trait but is instead a characteristic of his psychosis. The superhero is a problem rather than a solution. This is an important theme of Watchmen. Watchmen tells a story that needed to be told about superheroes and brought them to a depth that hadn't been reached before.

Posted by at 01:48 PM

January 27, 2010

Twilight (The Books)

1st in the series
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Bronte

I only read these books because I found out that Kristen Stewart was going to be in the movie, and I like to read the books before watching the movies. Since this book is so famous it doesn't really need an introduction but here goes: Bella moves from Phoenix, California to Forks, Oregon to live with her dad. There she meets Edward Cullen, a vegetarian vampire, and falls in love with him. That's really the entire plot of the book, heck, of the entire series. I didn't think it was that bad, it wasn't good writing or a good plot but it wasn't horrible, but then people started comparing these books to Harry Potter and that made me furious. Harry Potter is an amazing story while this is just a chic high school romance. Meyer's writing is elementary and her story stagnant until the very last chapters into which she fits all the action. Meyer's characters don't seem real, they have no real flaws, Edward might be overprotective but really who doesn't want someone overprotective so this isn't really a flaw. Bella is even worse, I'm sorry no one is that selfless, real people are prone to fits of jealousy or other ugly emotions but none of the main characters have any real feelings or react in a believable way. The first 370 pages are devoted to Edward and Bella's relationship which gets boring. OK they love each other, now get on with the story. Since this is primarily a love story I would recommend this for young girls (12-13) though I do know two boys who have read the series.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Leila

The book Twilight is a very interesting book. It's about a girl named Bella who moves from her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona to live with her father in Forks, Washington. She encounters a rare family at school and figures out they are vampires. She then falls in love with one of the vampires, Edward. Throughout the book, Bella learns secrets about vampires and the like.

One of the things I like about Twilight is that it's very captivating and I didn't want to put the book down at all. It took me four days to read the book. Also, the fact that it includes supernatural characters. It got me interested about what types of myths the author puts together to create a background for the supernatural. There was nothing bad about the book except for the fact that I couldn't stop reading it. This book is for people ages 11+.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer is part of a series consisting of four books. These books are, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.They are all fantastic books and should be enjoyed by all young adults. There is also a movie on it, too.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Chimey

Twilight, written by The New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Meyer, is the first selection in the series. Readers relish the imaginative sequence of words and are captured by this suspenseful theme of trust and relationship. I give this book five stars—as my favorite all-time story.

Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington for a few months expecting nothing but to meet her dad and take school at the Forks High School. As mist clouds the story, a teenage boy emerges stealing butterscotch-eyed glances at Bella. When they finally make eye contact, he introduces himself as Edward Cullen, brother of Alice, Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, and son to Esme and Dr. Carlisle Cullen.

Bella takes a sharp turn one night into a gang, and is saved by Edward who takes her out to dinner. Sipping coke, he quietly mentions he has the ability to read minds. The evening ends uncertainly and during the next few weeks they begin to spend more time together. Bella picks up on strange details about Edward - his creamy cold skin and changing eye color. When Edward stops a truck from crashing into her from across the parking lot with his bare hands, Bella puts her foot down. She spends her time on Google and at bookshops..then the answer hits her.

What other creature has agility, speed, strength? What other creatures stares hungrily at classmates? Edward Cullen was a vampire.

She demands Edward tell her to confirm her suspicions. He then brings her into the forest and whispers, "If you know what I am, say it." Bella surreptitiously answers "vampire" and Edward sighs, anxious. He tells her - most of it, and admits the change in his eyes. As Edward shines his glistening skin in sunlight, he lifts her easily and flashes to the top of the hill, Bella keeps his secret safe, for a while.

There's a new vampire in town, who's hunting down humans. In a few nights, a security guard and Bella's dad's friend's bodies are found. Edward resents telling her that this was simply the work of other vampires.

When the Cullens invite Bella to a baseball game, she tags along, gaping at the speed of the pitches and home runs. The game is called off by a worried Alice, who senses other vampires near. Edward protectively steps in front of Bella when three vampires come. Victoria, the pale female with fiery red hair, clutches the hand of James, his blood-red eyes glaring hungrily at Bella. Laurent explains they are from up north and flashes his crimson eyes at them.

Bella is a dream for a vampire, a perfect hunt, especially with Edward guarding her. As James lunges at Bella, Edward snaps his teeth at him, crouching down into a leaping position. Edward and Bella slip away into the truck and off to her dad's house, but Edward knows she is not safe and needs to leave as soon as possible.

Twilight is marked as my favorite book, and I suspect that girls are not the only ones reaching out for this book. The details in this book are succulent and dripping with red herrings, and make you want to read on and stay up as an all-nighter. Meyer works her word magic, making her characters come alive, nearly walking across the page. Forks is described as the rainiest, most glum area in the world. Meyer captures reader in these entrancing settings. Mainly written for Young Adults, people of all ages tend to stray across this book and are engulfed.

The story flows like a stream across the pages, suspicion turned into ink splattered on the pages. Will Bella and Edward's relationship survive through the tracking, chaos, and distance? Check out Twilight by bestselling author Stephanie Meyer at your local library to find out.

2nd in the series
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Bronte

I have to admit the twilight covers are amazing. This was the best book of the saga. After an accident that puts Bella's life in jeopardy, Edward decides that for her safety he must leave Bella. Alone Bella becomes closer to Jacob Black and learns more about the La Push natives. That description of what the book is about doesn't do justice to the book, the book is a lot more interesting than that. I like Meyer's spin on werewolves and why they change and how they interact. Bella becomes more believable and has more human emotions. I liked the heartbreak, Meyer did a good job with Bella's feelings and actions and we can understand why she does the things she does. We get past superficial emotions to Bella's turmoil. This is Meyer's best writing and best plot. Some might thing this book is the most boring of the saga because there is very little Edward and the story might move slowly but it is the most moving of the books, I cried a lot during this one where all I felt upon reading the other ones was mild entertainment. I would recommend this for tweenage girls (12-13).

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Leila

New Moon is the second book in the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. Bella continues her adventures in Forks with Edward and his family. She meets Jacob, an old friend, for the second time and begins to start seeing changes in him. For instance, his drastic increase in height.

This book was just as interesting as Twilight. I finished New Moon in three days. That's how fascinating it was. There is so much excitement in the book in between learning something new about Jacob that Bella starts having feelings for Edward AND Jacob. That was something I liked. There was the confusion about which one she liked most. Another thing I liked about the book is that I got to learn even more secrets about the supernatural and Jacob's new character. Children 10+ would love this book.

New Moon is one of four books in the Twilight Series along with Twilight, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. They all follow Bella in her confusing life with vampires. It is one of the best series I've ever read.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Chimey

New Moon is the second book in the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer, New York Times number one bestselling author.

New Moon features Bella, Edward, and brings a new character into play, Jacob Black who emerges into Bella's heart. Edward, being a vampire, stresses Bella's safety. Reluctant to injure her, he leaves her and heads to sunny Los Angeles—the last place Bella would suspect him to go. Heartbroken, Bella is left with tears and a wounded heart.

Jacob Black, Bella's childhood friend mends her wounds and together they build something more than a friendship, a sturdy and careful relationship. Jacob promises to keep Bella safe, but nobody is safe when a large, bearish figure is sighted in Forks. Meanwhile, Jacob's friends detest him and act secretive.

It's not long before Jacob himself begins ignoring Bella and turns his back on life. Bella, furious, demands what's wrong with him. Slowly and quietly the truths leak into Bella's mind.
Jacob admits his aid to the Protectors, a group of wolves, who protect humans from vampires.

Meanwhile, Victoria and Laurent, Edward's enemies, return to Bella, scouting to kill her. Jacob's pack kills Laurent while Victoria continues the hunt for Bella who, exasperated, jumps off a cliff in pain for Edward. Edward thinks Bella is dead and heads to Italy to commit suicide by revealing his identity of a vampire to mortals so the Volturi—an ancient vampire society—would kill him.

Alice, Edward's sister, hurries to Bella's aid and together they rush to Italy to save Edward. Is it too late? Will Victoria murder everyone? Will Edward die?
Check out New Moon by Stephanie Meyer at your local library to find out! Don't forget to read the whole Twilight saga.

2.New Moon
4.Breaking Dawn

3rd in the series
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Bronte

The titles are also cool. Why doesn't Edward just turn Bella and get it over with? This back and forth between them is getting tiring, if he had just turned her at the end of Twilight none of this would have happened. Bella is in mortal danger ... again, so why doesn't someone change her already so she can't be harmed? Bella is pulled in many different directions by Jacob and Edward and must choose between them, meanwhile vampire attacks in Seattle and Victoria's thirst for revenge put Bella's life in even more danger. The story is kind of repetitive, hasn't this "vampire out to get her" happened in each book? The interesting part is the werewolf-vampire interactions. I really don't like Jacob, he bugs me. Allie wants Edward for Bella and Jacob for herself but I just wish he would die or runaway, whichever is easier. This series is also one of my sister's favorites, though she admits the plot is a little dull sometimes she likes Meyer's style of writing. This book is a little more realistic with the Jacob-Bella-Edward love triangle but you get tired of Jacob. I would recommend this for tweenage girls (12-13).

4th in the series
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Bronte

If New Moon was my favorite of the saga, this is the worst. Bella and Edward are married at last, right out of high school, but they put of making her a vampire. Then Bella gets pregnant and has a little half-vamp baby, and the Volturi are after them because of a misunderstanding about the half-vamp. Now they must prepare to do battle against the all powerful Volturi and the people they have gathered to annihilate the Cullens. This plot is so far fetched it just amazes me, and not in a good way. Their getting married right out of high school, Bella getting pregnant, what are the chances? And then of course the Volturi are after them, because Bella can never be out of danger even when she is a vampire. I might have ruined a lot of the book for you with this description but it wasn't worth reading anyway. Meyer has understandable if repetitive plots until this one when she goes all out crazy. Bella is back to having inhuman feelings and acting unrealistically. This was a pretty bad finale to her mildly entertaining sappy romance saga. The romance and love are kind of unreal, her writing gets worse the more emotional the scenes are supposed to be, ruining the effect entirely. I would recommend this for young teenage girls because there are more adult concepts in this book (13-14).

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewed by Leila

Breaking Dawn was probably the best book in the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. Bella and Edward get married and they turn Bella into a vampire after months, maybe even years, of controversy over the subject. While she is a vampire, Bella has some quality time with Renesmee, her baby. But then there is word that the Volturi are coming with all their people. So the Cullens round up as many people as they can to help witness/fight the Volturi. It turned out the Voluturi were coming for Renesmee. This experience was made even harder because Alice (who tells the future) and Jasper (the best fighter) had run away.

I loved this book because it had so much suspense. With Alice and Jasper running away how would the fight turn out? Also, it turned out Bella had her special ability with her even when she was human (hint, hint, wink, wink). Another thing I liked was that Jacob had his own part of the story where the book was told from his point of view. Something I didn't like was that Meyer had jammed a lot of information in one book. This made the process of reading the book overwhelming at times. People ages 12+ would enjoy this book.

If you liked this book, wait until Stephanie Meyer finishes the next book Midnight Sun. . It is basically Twilightin Edward's point of view. Unfortunately, the process of writing the book has been delayed because the first 12 chapters have been released on the Internet. This book was very enjoyable and hopefully you would read it and feel the joy, too.

Posted by library at 04:22 PM

January 22, 2010

Traveling Fools

Travel Team by Mike Lupica
Reviewed by Mimi

If you've ever been the little guy, always doubted and picked on by others, then you'll understand the plight of Danny Walker, or at least you'd think you would from the back cover.

Travel Team is yet another book that will put you to sleep. The book chronicles the everyday account of Danny Walker's life as a 7th grader. His father, who's an alcoholic, used to be a world famous NBA player until a car crash ruined his life, and he abandoned his wife and kid and moved to Las Vegas. Now Danny wants to live up to his father's name and prove he's a great basketball player as well. But unfortunately for Danny, despite his talents, the coaches say he is simply too short and he is turned down by the "travel team". Together he and his newly returned father decide to build a basketball team that accepts anyone and turns them into a basketball star. Will Danny ever grow into the basketball player he's bound to be or will he always be the low man on the totem pole? I didn't come looking for this book with high expectations but I figured I would give it a chance. The main character, Danny, is very unrealistic, since he does not talk like a typical preteen and is not a well rounded character. The author has many run on sentences and I also found the dialog unbelievable. The author either does not know kids these days or is painting a picture of an idealistic world. Don't put yourself through reading this....just forget it and keep moving.

Posted by at 01:53 PM

Greasers on the Outside

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Reviewed by Shanta

The Outsiders is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read!

Ponyboy is a fourteen-year old boy who depends on his older brothers and his friends Two- Bit and Johnny. However, one day a group of Socs (a gang of rich kids) who enjoy beating up greasers (members of a gang of poor kids) like him, try to beat him up. Ponyboy counts on his friend to help him out, but on that very day, Johnny takes things too far, and both of them know that life will never be the same. I recommend this book to boys and girls who enjoy books that describe how life is like and how you have to be ready to take up challenges. I would not recommend this book to boys and girls who are younger than eleven since it portrays the life of gangs and uses some inappropriate language. The Outsiders is a true, hopeful, and inspirational book that I will always remember.

Posted by at 01:39 PM

Unreal Spy

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Reviewed by Samson

Stormbreaker is a novel packed to the brim with action. It is a great introduction to a series that will keep you reading for hours longer than you planned.

This story centers around a 14-year old London teenager named Alex Rider, who is suddenly whisked away from his schoolboy life by the death of his supposedly normal uncle Ian. He is dropped in the secret-filled world of MI6, Britain's top intelligence agency. Recruited to complete his uncle's last mission, Alex is sent to the manufacturing plant of Stormbreakers, revolutionary new computers invented by a successful man named Herod Sayle. While searching for clues undercover, Alex discovers the true intent behind Sayle's massive Stormbreaker donations to schools; a smallpox virus that will kill masses of British schoolchildren when released. However, in true spy hero fashion, Alex escapes from the plant and captures a jet, flying to London's Science Museum and saving the country seconds before the virus is released.

Reading this book, I was amazed by the amount of action and suspenseful plot that Anthony Horowitz had put into this novel. It is mostly targeted at a teenage audience due to its size and general reading level, but I think it can be enjoyed by most age groups due to its great quality. In my opinion, this book may also be slightly more enjoyable for boys because of its action/spy theme, but is still a novel worth reading for anyone. Horowitz does a great job of telling this story, using many literary tools that flow well with the story and enhance its quality. Throughout this story and other in the series, there are several plot twists that can completely turn the situation upside down and back in a matter of pages. Like almost every story, there are a few moments where action may slow down, but you will always want to see the story advance and keep reading. Some events in the stories that Alex gets in may also seem slightly unrealistic, especially for a teenager like him, but do contribute to the non-stop action of the plot. Overall, I think that Stormbreaker is a novel that is well worth reading, and will probably get you hooked on the rest of the series. When you pick up Stormbreaker, you will instantly be enveloped in a fast-paced story filled with cliffhangers, action, and quality writing.

Jackson's Horowitz reviews:
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and other Extreme Sports
Horowitz Horror

Posted by at 01:30 PM

January 13, 2010

Adventure Suite

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Reviewed by Ruya

Suite Scarlett is an excellent book which takes you behind the scenes of a family-owned hotel and an acting troupe. It's about the entire (somewhat dysfunctional) Martin family, but mostly about Scarlett Martin.

The family, who runs the Hopewell Hotel in New York City, has a tradition: when each child turns fifteen, he or she is given the responsibility of a room and whoever stays in it. Scarlett is given the Empire Suite, and with it comes Mrs. Amberson, who is best described by Scarlett's first impression of her. "Something about her stance suggested that at any moment she might raise her arms above her head and superhero it right through the ceiling and every consecutive floor until she hit the sky." A former actress, Mrs. Amberson decides to take Scarlett on as an assistant so she might write a book. Between running crazy errands for Mrs. Amberson, helping out a bit with her brother's acting troupe, and admiring her brother's attractive colleague Eric, the summer of Scarlett's fifteenth birthday turns out to be quite the adventure.

The best thing about this book was definitely the characters. Well, some of them, anyway. Scarlett's dramatic brother Spencer was hilarious ("'You know what?' he said. 'People give you really suspicious looks when you emerge from a bush, covered in leaves, carrying a unicycle.'") and Mrs. Amberson, with her expensive skin products and endless whims, was thoroughly likable. Scarlett started out relatively boring, but I liked her toward the end. The only character who I actually disliked was Eric. His relationship with Scarlett was not developed enough, and the dirty little secret he hides does nothing to ingratiate himself with me. Neither does his excuse of "trying to be decent." But, you know, to each his (or her) own. The ending, though, is something to look forward to. There are a couple of satisfying plot twists, some predictable, and some unexpected, and everyone ends up happy.

If you're looking for a good summer book to read at the beach or maybe on a car trip, Suite Scarlett is an entertaining and heartwarming read that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Posted by at 02:48 PM

Rembrandt's Left Leg

I Am Rembrant's Daughter by Lynn Cullen
Reviewed by Bronte

First, amazing title, so strong and poignant. It was a good story, a historical fiction coming of age and mystery story rather than an adventure story. Using actual people as characters, Cullen weaves a plot that could have happened. She takes her inspiration from Rembrandt's paintings and actual events, and makes a story about a young girl living in the shadow of her father's former glory.

Cornelia is a mousy sort of heroine who lives in the background of others' brilliance. We see flashbacks of her earlier life through separate chapters about certain paintings of her father's.

It was interesting to see Holland at that time and to find out how what they thought of Rembrandt. They preferred other artists, but now we know his name but not the ones they thought better than him. That made me think about how people will see our artists in later years and wonder how it will differ from our view of them.

Anyway, it was a little dull at some parts but still I wanted to know what finally happened to her. It was a worthwhile read, but I would not read it again. I would recommend it to young girls (12-13).

Posted by at 02:35 PM

Favorite Breed: Brown

Mutts: America's Dogs: A Guide to Choosing, Loving, and Living with Our Most Popular Canine by Brian Kilcommons and Michael Capuzzo
Reviewed by Joie

Don't let the AKC (American Kennel Club) trick you. The favorite dog of America is not the pure bred Labrador Retriever or German Shepherd. My friends and fellow dog lovers, it is the Brown Dog. You know, that usually brown dog with short hair, narrow snout, about forty pounds? Oh, did I forget to mention he's the classic mutt? This dog is the "Original" Dog, as in, the Dog every dog would become if we didn't interfere with their lives. And these are the dogs, not the purebreds as the American Kennel Club wants you to believe, that America loves the most. Mutts.

In this guide, Brian Kilcommons and Michael Capuzzo create one of the first dog guides just for mutts. Curious, as mutts make up more that 80% of the American Dog Population. In this one guide, they tell you everything great about mutts and are outrageously funny at it to boot. While disproving myths, they provide heart warming and wrenching anecdotes about day to day mutts and owners. The guide begins with a introduction to what is a mutt and their benefits. It flows nicely into the Mutts 101, detailing the most common mutts of the day, and hinting at the crazy combinations. Finally, the guide even helps you along with getting your own mutt and living plus loving your own mutt. This really is a fantastic guide and persuasive tool for our most popular canine.

I found this book full of witty humor, valuable information, and good stories. These mutts deserve a second chance and another look at them. There are too many misconceptions about mutts, and they're all blown away here. Not to mention this is the first book out of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of dog books that feature exclusively mutts. These dogs are lovable, trainable, and in some aspects, better than the purebred dogs of today. There is a good reason why the Brown Dog is number one.

Posted by at 02:11 PM

Internet Gospel

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian
Reviewed by Mimi

The Gospel According to Larry, a novel written by Janet Tashjian tells the story of a seemingly normal high school genius who leads a double life as an Internet god named Larry. Josh Swenson is your typical teenager who struggles with the normal issues growing up including making friends, acting cool and ...running a website that makes him become an internet sensation. His alter ego Larry is his face to the world and so Josh feels free to vent on everything he can't express in his day to day life. But what will happen when Larry and Josh's worlds collide and Josh works to find where Josh stops and Larry begins? The thing I loved most about this story was the gradual fusion of the two main characters of Josh and Larry. In the beginning they are both two separate and distinct beings whose ways of life are a completely different. But as the book moves on you see more and more of Larry in Josh's everyday life. The author did a great job writing this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a read that'll make you think even after you've put the book down.

Posted by at 01:49 PM

Dog Pye

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Reviewed by Leila

Ginger Pye is about a boy and his sister who want to get a dog. They have to earn a dollar dusting pews in order to get the dog but it turns out that another boy wants that same exact dog. After the boy and his sister get the dog, they start hearing a person follow them and they think it is because someone is trying to steal Ginger (the dog). They start calling this person the "unsavory character" and try to find out who it is, who is trying to steal their dog. But then on Thanksgiving, Ginger disappears and everyone is on the look-out for him.

I liked this book because it was full of mystery and suspense and I like those types of books because you can't stop reading them. Another thing that stood out for me was the Pye family. The mother was the youngest mother in town, the father the most famous bird man, and Ginger the most famous dog. It's funny how the children's uncle is only three years old.

This was a great book and I hope you will read it.

Posted by at 01:38 PM

January 08, 2010

Ender's Saga

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Reviewed by Shanta

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is the best science fiction book I have ever read! Ender, an intelligent six-year old, joins a Battle School in order to fight aliens (or buggers) that attacked Earth. Ender learns about friendship, love, trust, and forgiveness as his quest continues, and he soon becomes an honorable leader. I recommend this book to both girls and boys, especially if they like books relating to space and aliens. However, I would not recommend this book to kids younger than 10 years old for some of the language that is used. This book is suspenseful from the first word to the last. The characters experienced some feelings like I have (like sorrow, when seeing somebody leave) and that made the characters seem real. Some things were confusing, like how the author switched settings abruptly, but the story still managed to flow smoothly. It actually creates more suspense! I can't wait to continue the Ender's Game saga, and I am looking forward to reading more books by Orson Scott Card!

Posted by at 01:53 PM

Reinventing Batman

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Reviewed by Grady

The Dark Knight Returns reinvents Batman and raises important questions about modern government. The story begins with an aged Bruce Wayne in a world without any superheroes other than Superman. Superman is a tool of President Ronald Reagan and Gotham City is in a state of chaos as a violent gang attacks innocent civilians. Bruce Wayne decides to become Batman again to bring the gang to justice and this leads to a conflict between Batman and Gotham's authorities and eventually the U.S. government. Much of the story is told through scenes of the news and a great satire of 80s America is given through this vehicle. The Dark Knight Returns is particularly good because it puts Batman in a situation where he is fighting crime against the authorities. In his recreated Batman, Miller shows a man trying to bring justice to a nihilistic and corrupt city and then shows the evil of both the criminals and the authorities. He paints a grim picture of the world and shows what a hero would look like within that picture. Batman is contrasted to Superman, the hero who chose to conform, who is placed in a position where the only aid he brings to his country is the damage he does to the Russians. The Dark Knight Returns has become one of my all time favorite graphic novels.

Posted by at 01:47 PM
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