Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott

Title: Dark Spell
Author: Gill Arbuthnott
Pages: 224
Publisher: Floris Books
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Callie Hall has always been the bullied kid, the odd one out - hardly what you could call normal. But Callie doesn’t know how abnormal she is. When this young heroine realizes that she can do some pretty unexplainable things, it all comes together: she’s a witch. Along with her grandmother - another witch - Callie must learn to control her powers before somebody finds out about them.

There’s something strange about Callie’s house. A shadow is constantly interrupting Callie’s sleep, but always disappears before she can tell anybody - as if they would believe her. But when the shadow's identity is revealed, Callie knows she must defeat it. With her friend Josh, and her grandmother Rose, Callie will have to harness her powers and destroy the shadow before it destroys them.

One thing that I really like about this book, was the overall theme of friendship that is present between the characters Callie and Josh. Even through the ups and downs, the two stick together and continue to help each other out - no matter what the cost. Another part I liked about this book was how the problem was solved. Here the author puts in lots of detail, emphasis and emotion which helps the reader connect with the narrator. This elevates the intensity and danger that is felt by the readers.

On the other hand, there were flaws that made me rate this book as low as I did. After reading the synopsis I felt that this was a lot like the other fantasy fiction books I enjoy reading. But once I started reading, I was surprised that it was nothing like I had expected. During the first half of the book, the story just drags on. It is slow paced – it took too long to get to the point. While the conflict is being introduced in this part of the story, the book lacks intensity, making it seem more boring than it actually is.

But overall, the story had aspects that were quite captivating. Read Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott and join Callie and Josh on an adventure they’ll never forget. Other series about magic like this that I recommend reading is the Hex Hall Series by Rachel Hawkins.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: The Fourth Stall Part Two by Chris Rylander

Title: The Fourth Stall Part Two
Author: Chris Rylander
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 9/10

This is the second book in the series out of two so far.

In this book, Mac, the school detective, just started a case that would test his bravery, trustworthiness, and friendship. It all started with a girl named TrixieVon Parkway, who had just arrived in Mac’s school. Her problems started when she dated this guy in her old school. Trixie didn’t like the boy at all. She though he was such a loser, so she dumped him. Her ex-boyfriend’s dad, Mr. Kjelson, worked at Trixie’s old school. He did not like Trixie dumping his son, so he started giving Trixie detentions. She thought this was really unfair. Finally Trixie moved, and she thought she escaped  her ex-boyfriend’s dad.

After she moved, Mr. Kjelson moved with her and took a job at Trixie’s current school.  Now Trixie wants Mac and Vince to get Mr. Kjelson off her back. The problem is that Mr. Kjelson is a nice person and Mac doesn’t know who he should trust. Along with Trixie’s problem, a person from Mac’s district, Dr. George, has come to discipline the school. He has made a new end of the year exam that is supposed to be harder than the previous exams. It is called the SMART. Everybody is really nervous about these tests. They want Mac to get the answers for the SMART. Can Mac and his friends solve Trixie’s problem along with helping his schoolmates get the answers for the SMART?

My favorite character in this book is Mac‘s friend, who helps Mac solve Trixie‘s problem. His name is Tyrell. Tyrell is so sneaky and cool it makes me laugh a lot. The role that Tyrell plays in this book  makes me understand the story more. I like him because he can gain a lot of information for Mac by lurking in the shadows. For example, Tyrell spies on Dr. George so he could get information about the SMARTs. Also, I like the gadgets that Tyrell has in this book. It makes him seem more mysterious and cool. Another reason why I like Tyrell is because he helps Mac a lot. When Mac asks for help he never says no. Also he is never afraid to take up a challenge. For example, he isn’t afraid to break into the school with cameras watching his every step.

I liked this book a lot because of the illustrations on the front cover. I think it really looks cool. Along with illustrations I like the font decoration for each chapter. I also like the descriptions in this book. It made me feel like I was in the book. For example, when Mac and his friends are in the lunchroom, I feel like I am right next to them eating my lunch.  Another reason why I liked this book was because of the plot of the story. It was very well thought out.  I also thought that the characters were creative. Mac and his friends use whatever they can to benefit them. They turn junk into treasure by thinking out of the box. In the book some questions remained unanswered. I think Chris Rylander should have answered these questions because some parts were hard to understand. It would have helped me comprehend the book better. Over all it was a fantastic book. I would recommend this book to people who are interested in mysteries.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

Title: Since You Asked
Author: Maurene Goo
Pages: 272
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Maurene Goo skillfully weaves a story cultural values, high school problems, and a teen girl’s hectic life in the book Since You Asked.

Holly Kim has always been a nobody. Just the Korean American girl that everybody ignores. But when she accidentally submits a newspaper article filled with negative comments about the school, Holly’s no longer a nobody. But that’s not all the trouble Holly’s facing. No, high schoolers have more than just one problem, a truth Holly can definitely consent to.

A secret admirer, a new crush, strict Korean parents, weird problems have taken over, and Holly’s life has totally taken a strange turn. First of all, a secret admirer. Someone who likes Holly? Unheard of. And the new crush? After interviewing one of the most popular guys in the school, who isn’t what he seems, Holly’s head over heels. But the parents are the worst part. With a crazy, vindictive mother and a father who doesn’t normally side with Holly, things are never fair. Whether she likes it or not, Holly’s in for a strange sophomore year.

My favorite character in this book is Holly. She’s witty, funny, a great friend - what’s not to like about her? As she faces each problem, her reactions are entertaining and easily kept me hooked. Angry, sad, or confused, Holly’s a character I enjoyed reading about. Adding to that, Holly is a very stubborn character. If she believes in something, she will follow through, a trait that I admire. And though my life isn’t like Holly’s, I understood what she was going through, and instantly connected with her when the story started.

As Holly encounters one problem after the other, this tale is told with skill and precision so that readers don’t get bored easily. Maurene Goo fills the story – and characters – with life. Everything is interesting, and nothing is simple. One problem blends smoothly into another, and readers are thoroughly entertained for all 272 pages of this book.

But the part I liked the most about this book is how there were multiple plot lines. For example there would be one problem, and then it would be dropped, but would be solved in the end. This ties the book together so there aren’t any large – there are some – cliffhangers in the story.

The biggest thing that I didn’t like about this book is the main plot: a girl having trouble dealing with her life, in and out of school. While Maurene writes an entertaining story, the plot is very clich├ęd. There have been dozens of books written about people not fitting in, each having to face problems. And after reading so many of them, the plot begins to wear down. Otherwise, I loved this book and the problems Holly must face.

Join Holly as she faces the problems of 10th grade in the book, Since You Asked by Maurene Goo. If you like realistic fiction, then this book is one that you will like.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: The Fourth Stall

Title: The Fourth Stall
Author: Chris Rylander
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Pages: 314
Rating: 9.5/10

This book is the first book out of two.

In this book, a boy named Mac has his own business that he runs with his friend Vince. The business solves problems that other kids in his school have. Then one day, a boy named Fred comes to Mac and Vince’s office with a problem. He says that a boy named Staples is running a business in which people bet on things like who would win a basketball game. Fred was working for the business at the time, but decided that he did not want to be a criminal anymore, so he ran away. Fred said that Staples was going to come after him, and that he needed protection. Mac did not believe what Fred said, at first, because Staples was supposed to be a legend in school. He was thought to be smarter than the teachers. Mac didn’t want to help but he knew he had to do what his client said.  Mac needed staples out of his school. Can Mac defeat the mighty Staples?

My favorite character in this book was Mac.  Mac was my favorite because he kept on persevering. He stayed on his case even though he didn’t think he would be able to do it. Also I liked Mac, because he was really brave, like during the book Mac took on Staples even though Mac knew Staples was strong and had many people working for him. Also, he is brave because he and a couple of little kids  fought Staples head on. Also, another reason why I like Mac is because his personality is alike to mine. He likes sports and I like sports. I felt a strong connection to Mac. I think Mac was a very well thought out character. He had a deep personality which gave the story some life. He created the whole picture in this book.

I love this book for many reasons. First of all, Chris Rylander describes the story well. He gives it a lot of color and made sure that the reader didn’t get confused at all. I understood the book right away.  Another reason why I liked this book was because of the characters. The characters were very well described. There personality was really good. I think Chris Rylander filled them with life. The best character was Mac followed by Vince and then Fred. I also liked the suspense in the book. My teacher read this book as a read aloud in school. When he would finish a chapter we would beg him to read more and more because we really wanted to know what would happen after. All in all I liked this book very much. I would recommend this book to people who like detective books.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Double Crossed by Ally Carter

Title: Double Crossed
Author: Ally Carter
Pages: 60
Publisher: Hyperion
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 3.5/5

When characters Macey McHenry and W.W.Hale – people from 2 series written by Ally Carter – meet at a party, things are definitely strange. But when burglars take everybody at the party hostage, the truth about both characters is revealed. Now faced with danger where it was never expected, both characters must act quickly to outwit the burglars.

With chances of survival steadily decreasing, Kat Bishop (another character from the Heist Society), Macey and Hale start making a plan to save everybody at the party. But that’s easier said than done. With twists and turns that nobody can see coming, this Heist Society short story is one that readers will enjoy.

My favorite character in this book was Macey. She’s always being underestimated, yet she continues to stand strong and prove that she is a unique girl. Never expecting to use the knowledge she learned at Gallagher Academy, Macey learns what it is like being a true spy.

Double Crossed has some of the qualities that make it as enjoyable as the other books in the Heist Society and Gallagher Girl series: twists, turns, an enjoyable plot, funny and interesting characters. And the conclusion was excellent, making me wonder if there was going to be another book that combines the Gallagher Girl characters and the Heist Society characters.

But, the reason I gave this story the rating I did, is because it was very brief. That might be the point of a short story, but even short stories should include more details. I felt that this story had great problems and solutions, but there weren’t enough details to describe what was going on. This lowered the books ranking in my eyes. Adding more details to what was occurring would have made this book better.

Read the book “Double Crossed” by Ally Carter and join Macey, Hale and Kat on an incredible adventure to stop the burglars. I recommend this book to fans of Ally Carter or people who have read any of her other books, which includes the Gallagher Girl Series and the Heist Society.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review: Ghost Time by Courtney Eldridge

Title: Ghost Time
Author: Courtney Eldridge
Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
Publishing Date: 6/11/2013
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Mystery, romance
Rating: 4.5/5

In this, the first book of her new series, Courtney Eldridge writes about a girl facing the troubles of finding her missing boyfriend.

Thea has never been popular. So when Cam, a senior asks her out, she’s shocked. But that feeling is nothing compared to how she feels when Cam goes missing. Now trying to track down her missing boyfriend, Thea struggles through her everyday life. But that isn’t very easy when somebody starts posting videos of her and mysterious things occur at the school she attends.

Life is different without Cam. Desperately hunting for clues, Thea’s whole world has been destroyed. And when an unexpected turn of events occurs, Thea learns the truth about Cam’s past, a truth that had changed his life. But throughout this all, the main problem is consistent and shines through: Will Thea ever find Cam?

My favorite character in this book is Thea. Thea has always been the shy girl. That is, before Cam came. Now when she is finally fitting in and he goes missing, everything is thrown into disarray. While hunting for her missing boyfriend, and having to deal with the FBI and lawyers over her strange predicament, there is too much occurring in Thea’s life to cope with. But it is only when Thea realizes the truth about Cam, that this chain of events make sense.

When I first picked up this book, I knew this was definitely not my cup of tea. I usually don’t read romance/mystery books. So when I first picked up the book I wasn’t too excited. But after reading the first couple of pages I realized that this book was better than I had originally expected.

To me, the best part of this story is how Thea’s whole journey is mixed with details of Cam’s disappearance and how she is dealing with her life because of said disappearance. This makes the book seem as if it is nothing but romance but in reality, it isn’t. Instead, it shows how Thea’s character is developing because of the sudden change in her life.

In this book, the chapters were alternating present life and flashbacks. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashbacks because it helped me get to know the characters better and helped me understand what was actually happening. Though it took a while to get used to, having the flashbacks mixed in with the present day story was interesting and completely unexpected.

Read the book Ghost Time by Courtney Eldridge, a mystery/romance. I recommend this book to teens because of the language. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne

Title: Catch Rider
Author: Jennifer H. Lyne
Pages: 288
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: 6/4/2013
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Sid has always had one dream: to become a catch rider. One of the best horse riders in the whole world, a catch rider is a person who can ride anything with hooves. But that’s easier said than done. Living in a home filled with memories of her dead father, her abused mother, and her half-drunk uncle, life’s never been that great. But that’s all about to change with one simple turn of events.

Now working with her uncle, Sid’s taking care of some rich folk’s horses. But when an amazing opportunity to show case her riding abilities arises, Sid’s world is turned upside down. It’s a dream come true, a chance that she could never say no to. Little does Sid know that dreams are easily destroyed; all it needs is the right push.

Sid was a great character to read about. Filled to the brim with excitement and troublesome behavior, there is no end to the problems Sid winds up in. From having a fight with the rich girl who owns the stables she works at, to maybe even falling in love with said rich girl’s boyfriend, things are about to get interesting in Sid’s life.

This is a truly engaging story. As the adventure and action increased, time flew by faster and faster, with me barely noticing. As Sid faces her dreams, hopes, and interests, this is a completely new journey to read about. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the world through her perspective, especially what she thought of typical school society (popularity and teachers).

One thing I did not like about this book was its introduction and conclusion. When I first picked up this book, there was no real introduction. No, instead readers were thrust into Sid’s life with little explanation. As the book progresses, there is more explanation to what Sid does and how she lives, but that is something the introduction sorely lacked. I didn’t like the conclusion because of how suddenly it ended. All of a sudden the book draws to a close, leaving the reader hanging. In some books, this type of conclusion works, but in this one I felt that the conclusion was abrupt, lowering the book’s ranking in my eyes.

With a small sprinkle of romance, and a whole lot of action, dreaming and horse riding, this book is one that teens of all ages will enjoy. Read Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne. I recommend this book to horse lovers and other teens. Other books like this one include ‘Silent Harmony’ by Michele Scott.
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