Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Evernight (book review)

In the suspenseful novel Evernight, Bianca finds herself attending the eerie Evernight Academy. She thinks her life is over...that is, until she meets Lucas. He's handsome, smart, and kind. But the school, and Bianca, are hiding a big secret from him. Except for a select few students, everyone at Evernight is a vampire. Evernight is one of the only places where they can relax and be themselves. Born to two vampires, Bianca is destined to become one herself someday. But it turns out Lucas is hiding a secret just as big, one that threatens to destroy the magical world of Evernight...and those in it...forever.

This was a great book. It wasn't as good as the Twilight saga, but then again it's hard to beat that series. At times it was a little confusing. For example, about halfway through the book, I learned that Evernight was a vampire school. Then, it was revealed that Bianca had known about the vampires all along. Overall, however, it was excellent. The characters were complex and realistic, and I felt like I actually knew them. I will definitely look for the next Evernight book, Stargazer.

This book was for the Young Adult Challenge 09.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gothic Lolita (book review)

Gothic Lolita, by Dakota Lane, is the story of two girls in two separate countries with a supernatural connection. Miya lives in Japan. Chelsea lives in California. They're both half Japanese, dress like Gothic lolitas, and love reading a manga series called, "Shonen Rainbow Warrior". But they have more in common than that, as they will soon realize...

They got to know each other through their blogs, but three years ago tragedy struck Chelsea's family, and she stopped writing. Miya has experienced tragedy as well, but she keeps posting and checking Chelsea's blog in the hopes that one day Chelsea will write back. Soon, Chelsea realizes she can't avoid Miya any longer. She goes back online and tells Miya everything. And both girls' lives will drastically change because of it...

I loved this book! It was a bittersweet story of tragedy, love, and triumph with a bit of mystery and fantasy thrown in as well. It was a very quick read, and I'm definitely glad I bought it!

This book was for the Young Adult Challenge 09.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Warriors: Cats of the Clans (book review)

Warriors: Cats of the Clans, by Erin Hunter, is an overview of the lives of the cats from the Warriors series, which is also by this author. With beautiful illustrations and short but fact-filled descriptions of the cats' lives, the book presents well-known cats from each of the clans (ThunderClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan, and WindClan).

This is a must-read for fans of the series, and a good introduction for new readers as well. It was very quick, and very enjoyable. I loved it!

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bliss (book review)

Bliss, by Lauren Myracle, is the story of fourteen-year-old Bliss, who's spent most of her life on a commune with her hippie parents. But that's behind her, and now she's going to school at stately Crestview Academy. She's excited at first, but soon she begins to hear a voice...a voice that speaks of ghastly things. Bliss soon learns that something terrible is lurking on campus, and that it thirsts for blood...possibly hers. Her fellow classmates seem oblivious to the horrors around them, but, as Bliss soon learns, they are hiding secrets as well. And Bliss will soon be caught in the center of a grisly conflict that will inevitably end in somebody's death.

I really enjoyed this book at the beginning, but near the end it just got too disturbing for my taste. I stuck with it, though. I know the author, Lauren Myracle, has written many other books, and I bet they're probably pretty good. She just went a bit too far for my tastes in this book.

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When (book review)

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When, by Annette Laing, is the story of three children and their time-travel adventure. For Hannah Dias and her brother Alex, life couldn't get any worse. They've moved from their home in California to boring Snipesville, Georgia, where nothing ever happens. Nothing changes when they meet Brandon, a weird kid whom Alex befriends.

But before they know it, the three kids are catapulted into World War II England. The food is gross, the adults are strict, and overall it's not much first. Hannah longs to return home, but Alex is slowly warming to this new environment. Brandon, meanwhile, is swept backwards in time to 1915. Why is he here? He doesn't know for sure, but what Brandon DOES know is that it has something to do with a person named George Braithwaite. And none of the kids can return home until they solve the mystery and find this boy.

I enjoyed this story overall. It hit a little bit of a drag in the middle, but it soon picked up again. This book made me eager to read the next in this series, called The Snipesville Chronicles.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Werewolves (book review)

Werewolves, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg, is a collection of stories about, well, werewolves. The stories in this book are incredibly varied. In "Bad Blood", by Debra Doyle and J.D. Macdonald, a group of young backpackers is terrorized by a bloodthirsty werewolf in the middle of the night. Who would suspect that the one to save them would be...another werewolf? This was one of my favorite stories.

In "The Werewolf's Gift", by Ru Emerson, an old werewolf, stuck as an animal for the rest of his life, is given the choice to turn back into a man, but throws it away in order to save a young child. This was a heartwarming story, and I enjoyed it as well.

"The White Wolf", by Leigh Ann Hussey, is the story of a young boy, Kagwai, who wants nothing more than to earn an animal totem and learn the ability to change shape...that is, until he spends a few nights away from his village. He meets his grandfather, who has become totally obsessed with the change and spends most of his time in the shape of a wolf, and learns that shapeshifting can have its downsides. But in the end, when the fate of his entire village hangs in the balance, will Kagwai decide to embrace his destiny and his animal totem? This story was okay, but I didn't think it was great.

In "Not all Wolves" by Harry Turtledove, a thirteen-year-old werewolf tired of persecution finds solitude in a Jewish ghetto, living with a man who has been persecuted just as many times as he has. This story was also okay, but not great.

"Wolfskin", by Mary K. Whittington, is a futuristic werewolf story about a young boy named Gwehr, who has finally been admitted to the Hall of Shapeshifting! In this building, one can put on the "skin" of a creature (kraken, dragon, vampire, etc.) and, for a time, be transported into a virtual world where one IS that creature. Gwehr has been waiting forever for this day, but unfortunately the only creature left is a werewolf. But, once he's tried it, Gwehr decides that he loves roaming as a wolf, and he secretly takes the skin home with him. He slips it back on in his room, not expecting himself to actually change...but he does. He enters the enchanted world of the werewolf, and decides that he will never turn back into a boy...but when the sun rises, the magic fades, and in the end Gwehr has no choice but to part with the skin. I really enjoyed this story.

"Night Calls", by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, is the story of a young girl whose village is being plagued by bloodthirsty werewolves. She longs to go out and fight them with her father, but, unfortunately, she's expected to stay home with her mother while her older brothers fight. Soon, all the werewolves are killed except one. But she never expected that werewolf would be...her brother. I didn't like this story that much.

"Wolf from the Door", by Elizabeth Scarborough, is the humorous story of a young girl, Lucy Garou, conducting a study on wolves. The only problem is--in the term paper she's trying to complete, Life Cycle of the Wolf, she's completely personified all the wolves she studied. And, as her professor reminds her, this is a scientific class, not a creative writing one. Basically, he's given her an F, and she isn't too happy, no matter how much Professor Forrest thinks she might deserve it. Because Lucy Garou has a good reason for personifying the wolves--she's one of them! And it's not wise to draw the wrath of a werewolf...we're left wondering what unhappy fate Professor Forrest will meet. This was a very funny story that left me hanging.

In "Monster Mash", by Sherwood Smith, a girl named Cat is a drummer in a school rock band called The Nerds...when she isn't running free in the shape of a wolf. But one night, a big concert coincides with the full moon. Good thing it's Halloween, because Cat has a plan. She'll pretend to be dressed in a costume the whole time! Can she be clever and resourceful enough to pull this off, or will the night end in disaster? This story was okay.

"The Passing of the Pack", by Bruce Coville, was the story of a young boy who's always had a strange connection with wolves. They seem to be there watching him whenever he turns around. And one day, when he is prosecuted and thrown in jail along with his friend, Wandis, the wolves come to rescue him, and take him to his mysterious father, who just happens to be a werewolf! And his father wants to pass the responsibility of leader of the wolf pack on to him! Will he accept his destiny, or will he remain human forever? This was an excellent story.

In "Flesh and Blood", by Marguerite W. Davol, Sally's spending her whole summer in a boring European village called Krev. But things start to get exciting when she discovers a chest full of clothes...along with a mysterious furry belt that seems to fit her just right. But when she tries the clothes on, she experiences an intense bloodlust and a painful change from a human to something in between human and wolf. The problem is that she can't seem to get the clothes off! Is she doomed to life as a bloody monster forever? This story was okay.

In "Green Messiah", by Jane Yolen, the ultimate science experiment is attempted as a girl is transformed into a wolf in order to gain important data that she couldn't have otherwise. But, once experiencing the wonderful change, she decides to throw her responsibilities to the wind and run free as a wolf forever. I loved this story!

"The Wolf's Flock", by Susan Shwartz, is the story of a young werewolf who wants to rid himself of his curse forever. He embarks on an incredibly long journey, accompanied by a group of children who are heading for the same place that he is. He grows to feel at home among them, and when their lives are threatened, he must reveal his secret in order to save them. I liked this story.

In "Met by Moonlight", by Anne E. Crompton, teenager Len wanders off on his snowmobile and gets lost in the snow. He meets a strange girl, who asks him about his life, and in turn tells him about hers. Len has come to the conclusion that she's crazy, babbling on and on about wolves, hunting, and blood...until she saves him from an angry transforming into one herself! I didn't really enjoy this story.

"A Winter's Night", by Esther M. Friesner, is the tale of a lone Gypsy, whose companions were killed by Nazis, hiding out alone in a cemetery. At least, he thinks he's alone...until he finds a mysterious boy with a big secret...I did not like this story at all. It was very confusing and hard to understand. However, I have read Esther Friesner's book, Nobody's Princess, and I enjoyed that a great deal.

The final story in this book was "One Chance" by Charles de Lint. It is the story of a girl, Susanna, and her friend Billy. They are both unpopular at school, and they hate their lives. But Billy thinks he knows a way to get away from all this...using a bronze wolf figurine, he summons a mysterious wolf that beckons them to follow it to a better world. Billy gladly agrees, but Susanna pulls away at the last second, knowing she's doing the right thing, but feeling great pain inside to see Billy frolicking away with the wolf to a magical world. She knows that she'll never see him again, that this was her one chance...and now it was gone. This was a bittersweet story, and a good end to the book.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Saving the World and other Extreme Sports (book review)

Saving the World and other Extreme Sports, by James Patterson, is the third installment in the Maximum Ride series. Max and her friends, Fang, Iggy, the Gasman (or Gazzy), Nudge, and Angel, are six kids who have escaped from a horrible laboratory called the School. Bird DNA was grafted into their bodies when they were infants, so now they have wings and can fly. Max and the "flock" were happy to sit back and relax after their escape, but they soon found out that the School was in league with an organization called Itex, who planned to wipe out almost everyone on Earth and create a new, better "super-race". As it turned out, Max and her friends were the only ones who could stop them.

Now Max and her friends have been captured, and are back at the horrible School once again. And it turns out one of them just might be a traitor. But who? Have Max and her friends finally met their end?

I thought this book was really good. It was action-packed, and the plot was intricately developed. There were a ton of cliffhangers, and it kept me guessing at every turn.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book is for the Sci-Fi Experience.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (book review)

In A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, by Valerie Zenatti, 17-year-old Tal Levine, who lives in Israel, decides to ask her brother to throw a bottle into the Gaza Sea, with a message inside of it. She expects a Palestinian girl about her age to discover it. What she doesn't expect is Gazaman, a witty twenty-year-old boy who mocks Tal at first, but gradually begins to befriend her. They begin exchanging emails, learning not only about each other but also a great deal about themselves.

This was a very moving book. I was sad when it was over. I learned a lot about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians while reading it, too. As it says on the jacket of the book, this was "a modern-day Romeo-and-Juliet tale for the third millennium."

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Dog with Golden Eyes (book review)

The Dog With Golden Eyes, by Frances Wilbur, is the story of Cassie, a girl who has always wanted a dog. But her mother is too busy to take care of a dog, and besides, who would pay for it? Feed it? Care for it? With Cassie away at school and her mother away at work, there would be no one left to watch the dog. But one day, when Cassie is sitting in her backyard, a beautiful snow-white dog wanders into her yard. Cassie immediately decides that she will be the one to take care of him. even if she has to get a job (or two) to pay for all the food he eats.

But soon Cassie learns that Toklata, as she has named him, is not a dog at all--he's a runaway Arctic wolf! Can Cassie afford to take care of a wolf? And can she protect Toklata from animal control and the hunters who want to kill him?

This was a quick read, but it was very good. I think children who are interested in animals would love reading this book. It was filled with facts about wolves and their behavior.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.