Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review #80
How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Rating: one star (out of four)

Stephanie Landry wants to be popular.  Ever since that incident in 5th grade she has been shunned by the popular kids, but now she has a weapon, a book that will teach her how to be popular, it's called, How To Be Popular.

I was really not impressed with this book.  The characters seemed flat and boring (or predictable) and I just couldn't make myself care about their situations or problems.  I also thought that the story line for this book needed some help.  The tips in the book were pretty good actually, but the way that they were applied and used just didn't match up somehow.  I also didn't like a couple scenes where Stephanie and her friends went "out of character" and by this I mean, that they did something that I wouldn't have thought that their character would do, and this was a little annoying.  The end was predictable and didn't make the book any better. Overall I'd say that you could definitely skip this book.

Book Review #79
Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

Nick sees his old girlfriend coming towards him with a new guy and he can't let her see him like this, so he asks the girl next to him to be his girlfriend for just five minutes.

This book was trash - complete and total trash, with the F-word making an appearance at least every other page and other profanities littered across the story I found it highly offensive and vulgar. I didn't have to read much to realize what kind of book this would become, and needless to say, I did not finish this book. I cannot respect authors who degrade the name of literature by peppering their novels with filth and immorality. I was not impressed with the writing style, nor the characters and felt that having each chapter switching characters was tedious and annoying because they always backtracked. Now you are probably wondering why I even picked up this book in the first place, good question! I had seen it several places and it's name and cover art had been logged in my mind and I decided to put it on hold. The story line is totally unrealistic, and has these two unhappy people who become boy-friend and girl-friend for five minutes to both avoid people and find that they might just have found someone who Really understand them...yeah, right. I was disgusted with their methods of kissing random strangers so they could keep their "pride" in front of people who weren't even worth caring about. I find it really annoying how the people in the book can take one look at someone else and know their character and personality traits, all with just one discerning glance, you expect me to believe that the girl can look at the boy and know exactly what he is like and what he needs? Puh-lease. With novels like this gracing our bookstore shelves it's no wonder teenagers act the way they do. When they read books like this with no morals and a "feels good so do it" attitude how can you expect them to make good choices?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Review #78
Stop Dating The Church by Joshua Harris
Rating: three stars (out of four)

A practical guide to what you should think about and consider before choosing a church.  I found the information in this book to be extremely well researched and thought provoking.  Joshua Harris did an excellent job of telling you what you should look for and then explaining exactly why you need to meet those standards.  I'd recommend this book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Review #77
Peeled by Joan Bauer
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Hildy Biddie wants to be a journalist, not just any journalist, but a Good journalist.  She strives hard to get all the facts straight and get every angle of the story before she publishes it.  She writes for her high school newspaper and is waiting for the perfect moment for her work to shine when interest about the old haunted Ludlow House starts creeping up.  Pretty soon Hildy is caught up in a story that she must crack.

I enjoyed reading this book, Joan Bauer is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is very comical and at the same time has elements of surprise and sweetness thrown in. While this was not my favorite book of hers to date I still thought that it was definitely worth reading. I absolutely love the cover of this book, it beautifully portrays the two main elements of the story. I also thought that this book had some helpful tips on journalism.

Book Review #76
Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him! by Dr. Seuss
Rating: one star (out of four)

While the rhyming was nice, I didn't think that the story was very impressive. The illustrations were pretty cute but this is definitely not a book I'm buying anytime soon.

Book Review #75
All American Girl by Meg Cabot
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Samantha is caught selling celebrity portraits at school and so her mother decides that maybe she needs a creative outlet and signs her up for art classes. Samantha does not want to take art classes, she doesn't think that they would be any use to her, and when she runs it by her older sister's boyfriend, Jack (whom she's secretly in love with) he totally agrees with her.  Samantha decides to just go to the first class and then she'll ditch it, but she finds that it is actually kind of interesting, and that there is also a boy her age.  Then one day (after she has skipped class, and hung out in the CD store upstairs for an hour) she comes out and sees the president walking into a store, but what she also sees is a man with a gun aiming for his head.  Before Samantha can really think about it, she tackles the guy with the gun and saves the president's life.  Samantha, as she sees it, thinks her life is over.

Top Ten Things You Should Know Before You Read This Book:
1. It made me laugh.
2. I was highly amused by the top ten lists littered throughout the book telling the story of what Samantha had gotten herself into.
3. Some parts of the story were slightly unrealistic and made me want to gag.
4. I didn't care for the age different between Samantha and David.
5. I thought that sometimes Samantha got a little ahead of herself and needed to respect authority more.
6. I thought Samantha's sister was a pretty interesting character.
7. I didn't care for Samantha's sister's boyfriend, I thought that he needed to grow up and get over himself, I also couldn't see what her sister was doing hanging around this kind of scum.
8. I thought that the fact that Samantha was "in love" a little unrealistic for someone that young.
9. Overall I enjoyed this book.
10. I'd probably recommend it. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review #74
Airman by Eoin Colfer
Rating: one star (out of four)

Conor Broekhart lives on a small island governed by King Nicholas Trudeau. Conor's days are spent with his tudor and playing with princess Isabella.  But Conor's real passion is flying.  All Conor's life he's dreamed of flying.  He spends massive amounts of time and energy pursuing his obsession.  That changes when he discovers a plot to overthrow the king and becomes tangled in the mess and branded as a traitor, being sent off to work in the diamond mines on little Saltee.

I decided to read this book because I saw that my friend had read it and given it 5 I was curious.  I've read some of the artemis fowl books, but I wasn't impressed, and I thought that they were awfully violent. I really could have cared less about any new books Eoin Colfer had published, but I had read his Supernaturalist book and it wasn't too bad, so I decided to give this book a try. 
     In the beginning I found the storyline to be pretty interesting, I kept reading because I wanted to know what would happen at the end, but when I finally got there, I was disappointed. I really thought it was annoying how the main character, Conor kept getting stuff thrown at him - all the time.  It seemed like he could never really rest because something was about to happen, which was a little tiring for me.  Even though I do approve of exciting and thrilling books, I do think that there are such things as "too much excitement" and this book crossed the line.  
     I do know not what it is about Eoin Colfer but he always seems to include a decent amount of violence, and it really is rather unnerving.  Everybody is constantly being brutally beaten up. Also, the bad guys are always BAD TO THE CORE, and Conor can usually tell what they are thinking by the look in their eyes (something I thought was unrealistic and slightly aggravating).
     Conor, that's another interesting aspect; I really thought that he was just a little too perfect. He was handsome, brilliant, athletic and loved by a princess - what more could he want? To me, the author describing him as such only made me like him less, I wanted someone that I could relate to. 
     The reason this gets such a low rating is because I just could not bring myself to group it with the "two star" books, it just didn't seem quite up to par, while I thought it was an okay book without any language or adult content, I didn't enjoy it enough to recommend it to friends. I just don't really care for Eoin Colfer's writing style, his characters and the way they are portrayed just bugs me, but if you are a fan, you'd probably like this book.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Review #73
In A People House by Dr. Seuss
Rating: three stars (out of four)

A mouse decides to show a bird exactly what is in a people's house.

This was a fairly comical book that I thought would be fun to read out loud to children. The pictures of all the things the mouse and the bird were getting into were pretty humorous - a cute book.

Book Review #72
The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Do Kings' go around galavanting in red stilts? According to some people, "no" should be the answer, but maybe that is not the right answer...

This book was an interesting little tale.  Leave it to Dr. Seuss to have a kingdom depend on something as simple and silly as a pair of red stilts to save the day.

Book Review #71
Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller
Rating: four stars (out of four)

I love Donald Miller's writing style, it is so poignant and strikes you in the heart, convicting you to do better.  Donald Miller always finds a way to put in a couple quirky bits of humor, catching you by surprise, but also fitting right in with the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could see myself reading this book again and again over the years, I would definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review #70
Hidden Talents by David Lubar
Rating: two stars (out of four)

After being kicked out of every school he's ever gone too, Martin Anderson realizes that he's in trouble when he is sent off to Edgeview, an alternative school that is the place where they send the kids that nobody wants to deal with and have had the last straw. Martin doesn't know how he is going to fit into this school of freaks/regects and isn't sure if he even wants too.  Then Martin begins to notice things about his new friends that are a little weird...

This book was pretty interesting, I liked the premise and thought that it was a good idea, but it didn't flow quite as smoothly as I would have liked.  Parts of the novel were pretty riveting and I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next.  At the end, I didn't feel this great satisfaction that I had just read a great book, but at the same time it wasn't a huge disappointment that I had wasted a couple hours.  It's kind of in the middle.  I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this book though.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Review #69
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Rating: four stars (out of four)

Milo is bored with living, he rushes to get places but once he is there he wonders why he even bothered.  He can't seem to help that he finds everything so droll.  That changes when he finds a mysterious tollbooth kit and decides that since he has nothing better to do he will build it, and that is when the real adventure begins.

From the very first sentence of this book I was hooked. I knew that this was exactly the sort of book that I would enjoy and I absolutely loved all the phrases and sayings that when taken literally cause hysterics in the reader. I had been seeing this book everywhere lately, it was referenced in books, recommended to me by friends and finally I got the hint and checked it out from the library. What I was expecting was remarkably different from what I read, but it was oh-so-much-better. Every page had a little piece of wit that if you weren't carefully watching out for, you'd miss entirely. The Phantom Tollbooth was a book that taught you why things were important all the while cleverly hiding them in a seemingly harmless story tale. This was the sort of book that when reading you would burst out laughing and have an urge to find someone, anyone so that you could read them the clever little line that was so spectacular.  The Phantom Tollbooth is a supremely awesome book, far superior to a lot of the rubbish they publish nowadays.

Book Review #68
Dodger And Me by Jordan Sonnenblick
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Willy knows he's pathetic, but does he really need an imaginary friend who's a blue chimp following him around getting him into all sorts of trouble?

Being a huge fan of Jordan Sonnenblick I've made it my goal to read every book he publishes, so when I found out that there was a book of his that I had not read yet, I immediately put it on hold at the library. Dodger and Me was a delightful book that had me smiling throughout the whole story. I love Jordan's sense of humor, he never ceases to amaze me with how funny he can make a situation, even when you thought that the main character was already going to die of embarrassment. I also enjoyed how you were reading and everything was going along fine, then there was an plot twist that you never would have expected and suddenly things are a lot hairier. I'm a little older then the intended reading age for this book, but I found myself entertained and would definitely recommend Dodger and Me to juvenile readers.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Book Review #67
Silver On The Tree by Susan Cooper
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The last book in the Dark Is Rising Sequence, Will must combat the Dark with the help of his friends, Merriman, Bran, Simon, Jane and Barney.  It is up to Will, the last of the immortal ones, and guard of the six signs to bring peace to the world by defeating the Dark and restoring the Light's power.

Having already read four other books in this series, I was a little anxious to see how it would all end. While I've thought these books were fairly interesting, I don't think I'd call them one of the best series I've ever read. The last half of this book I pretty much raced through, I wanted to see how it would all be resolved. I wasn't too impressed with how simple the quests seemed to be, or, the way they just glided through them...Bran and Will just seemed to do exactly everything right and I never felt like they were really tested, everything just seemed to fall into place, not very exciting.

S ~ P ~ O ~ I ~ L ~ E ~ R

The ending: why did they have to end it like that? What was the point of all the books where these children completed these quests and defeated the dark and now they are going to go back to living their normal lives and not remember a thing? Except for Will, the Old One, and the only Old One left because everybody else, now that they've completed their task, they're going off to rest in some other place. Now that the Dark has been vanquished, the children are told that they have done their duty that they will never see Merriman again because he has to leave and that they are in charge of making the world a better place now that the Light is gone. I did not like the last page, they are told they won't remember and are left on that hill and they start talking like nothing has ever happened, for in their minds, nothing has, and I just feel so bad that they can't remember I just want to throw the book on the ground, it seems so rude that they can't even remember parts of it, that they aren't allowed, only Will.


I thought this book series was interesting, and although I didn't really care for the characters in the beginning, slowly I grew to like them and was happy for them when they succeeded in their quests. The ending was, however, not what I had expected and for that I was sadly disappointed. I'm pretty sure that not everyone would have such a violent reaction as I did to the ending, but for me, the way it ended kind of defeated the whole purpose of the series. I'm not sure I would recommend this book.  All in all, I thought The Dark Is Rising Sequence to be ok-ay.

Book Review #66
Read All About It! by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Tyrone rules the school, every place except the library - he doesn't like books, in his own words, "books are So last year." That all changes one day during story hour when an unexpected visitor arrives.

I was interested to read this book because I saw it advertised on TV and saw who the authors were. I really liked how on the chalkboard there would be tributes to famous childrens books and how it changed every time you turned the page (Also, the rules changed on a daily basis) While this book had a lovely message and pretty illustrations I was not overly impressed. I thought it was a nice book, but not one that a young child would want to read again and again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Review #65
Lock And Key by Sarah Dessen
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Ruby has been living without her mother for the past couple of months now, she only has a few more months until she's 18, so she figured she could pull it off. But social services finds out that her mother has been gone and before Ruby knows it she's living with her sister and her new brother-in-law, Jamie. She goes from poverty to a private high school and designer clothes all in under 24 hours. Ruby doesn't know how she feels living with her older sister, Cora, who abandoned her and went off to college when Ruby was young, but she knows she only has to wait until she's 18 and then she'll be free. After meeting her next door neighbor, Nate, Ruby is more then happy to know that she will be leaving in a few months. Nate is the total opposite of Ruby; popular, rich, and probably the nicest guy you could ever meet. What's worse is that Nate seems to think that Ruby and him are "friends." As Ruby slowly gets used to living with her sister, she grows and realizes there are more definitions of family then they ones she grew up with.

I've come to expect more of a like/dislike relationship with Sarah Dessen's books. This book, however, was somewhere in the middle. I liked the story line, for the most part, and really thought the book was getting somewhere, and then Ruby's relationship with Nate got tangled and took a different path then I would have liked. I also didn't care for Ruby's relationship with her old "boyfriend" and how casual they were about things I would not take so casually. There was a decent amount of drugs in this novel as well, which was annoying. All in all, I would be hard-pressed to recommend this book to my friends, I thought that several aspects of the book were too mature for younger readers too.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Book Review #64
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Rating: two stars (out of four)

When Will Stanton is sent to Wales to recover from a severe illness he has no idea of what adventures he is going to stumble upon.  He meets a very strange lad named Bran and his dog.  The Dark also follows Will, trying to prevent him from waking the six sleepers and fulfill his part in the fight against the Dark and the Light

This was a pretty good book, I wasn't too impressed with the story line, but I thought Bran was a cool character.  The Grey King was a little darker then the rest of the series and that deterred from the story a little, because up until now it had been pretty light-hearted. Some of the quests I thought were a little too easy, or simple for Will and Bran to complete, I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat wondering if they were going to make it.  Seeings how I had already read three books though, it must have been pretty interesting.  I didn't feel as if it was quite up to Newbery Medal material, but I liked it all the same.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Book Review #63
Please Try To Remember The First Of Octember by Dr. Seuss
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Oh all the wondrous things you shall receive, if only, you wait until the first of Octember!

This was a pretty cute tale by Dr. Seuss, I love his rhymes, they make me smile.

Book Review #62
Great Day For Up by Dr. Seuss
Rating: two stars (out of four)

A cute and amusing book that has a predictably tongue-in-cheek ending from the one and only Dr. Seuss.

Book Review #61
Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Simon, Jane and Barney are on vacation with their Great Uncle Merry again, only this time they don't have their Uncle all to themselves.  There is a new arrival, a boy named Will Stanton.  Simon and Barney are annoyed at having to share their vacation with this new boy, but Jane wonders if maybe there is more then meets the eye with Will Stanton.

I liked this book considerably more then the first two books.  I'm not sure if it is because it seemed like Jane had a more significant role, or because all the characters from the first two books are finally together.  I thought the story of the Greenwitch was very interesting and enjoyed seeing how it all unfolded, especially how much it relied on Jane's part.  I also liked the interaction between the four characters, Simon, Jane, Barney, and Will.  Overall I thought this was a fairly interesting story, if not a little dull in some places, but a pretty good fantasy book for juvenile readers.
Book Review #60
Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss
Rating: two stars (out of four)

A whimsical little book that has things quite not in the right place and it is up to you, the reader to spot all the wacky things.  This book is an enjoyable read, with Dr. Seuss's rhyming and the crazy illustrations you can't help but be entertained.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Book Review #59
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Will Stanton doesn't think that he is anyone special, but that quickly fades on his 11th birthday when he discovers that he is the Sign-Seeker, the last of the immortal Old Ones and that it is his job to find the six signs of the Light.  As Will's powers grow and he starts learning more about the struggle with the Light and the Dark he is thrown into battle that has been fought for centuries.  

This book was darker and had an older main character then the first book in the Dark is Rising Sequence. While the first book had a couple main characters this book only had one, which I liked slightly better. I was surprised to find that the first three characters that you met in the first book were not in this book at all, they weren't even mentioned, which made you wonder if maybe every book in this series was going to have different characters. It was a Newbery Honor book, but I didn't think that it was the best book I have ever read and maybe not even worth the Honor.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Book Review #58
Don't Know Much About The Bible by Kenneth C. Davis
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I had to stop reading this because it was just too annoying having Kenneth C. Davis belittle the bible and write about how some of the "stories" contained were probably not true and that the Hebrews just stole the ideas from their neighboring nations. It is quite obvious that Kenneth does not think that the bible is the divinely inspired word of God and I figured that if I was going to read a book about the bible I might as well read a book written by a christian, at least they would believe what I believed. Ugh, don't even bother reading this book.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Book Review #57
Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This is an inspiring book that Max Lucado deftly crafts around the biblical story of David.  I thought it was pretty cool how Max would intertwine modern examples alongside those from the bible.  Max does such a good job of writing about heavy topics, but adding elements of humor that make you smile and don't seem overbearing or take away from the seriousness of his message.  A great read for anyone who is struggling, this book is uplifting and will offer strategies on how to face your giants.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Book Review #56
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Rating: two stars (out of four)

On vacation with their Great Uncle Merry three young children stumble upon an old map and suddenly they are thrust into an adventure they never could have imagined.

The beginning was a little slow getting into it and I even considered discarding it, but as I trudged along through it I found myself getting more and more intrigued. It had a feeling of The Chronicles of Narnia mixed with Nancy Drew, making it suspenseful, but fitting into the Fantasy mold. I wanted to read it because of the recent movie, "The Seeker" which is based upon the second book in the series, "The Dark Is Rising". I also wanted to read this series because two of the books have won Newbery Medals/Honors. Once I was half-way through the book it felt like I was pedalling downhill on a bicycle, it was getting harder and harder to put the book down because I was so anxious to see how it would turn out. The ending was a slight letdown, but I didn't feel as if it took away from the book, it was realistic. I'd recommend this book for young readers, as a young adult, it wasn't as thrilling as it might have been if I had been younger when I read it.

Book Review #55
And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Marco sees the Most Interesting things on his way to school.

I thought this was a cute book, it had a simple beginning, leaving you wondering where Dr. Seuss was going, but once you figured it out you only had to turn the page to see what he would cook up next, something that would be sure to make you smile.  A crazy little book that is fun to read.

Book Review #54
Betsy Who Cried Wolf by Gail Carson Levine
Rating: one star (out of four)

Betsy is determined to be the best Shepherd, little does she know she is up against a wolf with a Plan.

I wasn't too impressed with this book. The illustrations were fairly likeable, but the storyline wasn't very interesting and I didn't think the ending was very realistic, (then again, how many children's picture books are?) Overall I thought this book was a little less then okay.

Book Review #53
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Rating: three stars (out of four)

You thought regular high school was tough, well Cammie is going to Gallagher Academy, an all girl school for spies.  By sophomore year she is fluent in over ten languages, can kill a man seven different ways and hacks into the CIA for extra credit.  So falling for a boy shouldn't be so stressful, not when you are a spy-in-training. Having a relationship with a boy may be the toughest mission Cammie may try to undertake. 

A lesson that I learned the hard way, or more like the I'm-delusional-because-I-didn't-make-sure-way was this: if you are reading a book, make sure it is not a Sequel.  That being said, I read the sequel to this book first, not realizing my mistake until I looked up the author later.  I really enjoyed this book, it had all the elements of a spy book, but without any gore and major violence.  This book was also remarkably clean.  A lot of books written for teens nowadays usually have to put in a couple obnoxious things, just so they can be "cool" and it was really refreshing to have absolutely nothing in this book that was objectionable.  I thought this book was great and I'd definitely recommend it.