Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review - My Sister the Vampire: Switched

By: Sienna Mercer
Published by: Harper Collins
Released on: July 24, 2007
Age Range: 8 to 12

Synopsis (from Harper Collins): When Olivia Abbott moves to town, she's excited to join the cheerleading team and make new friends. Then she meets Ivy Vega. At first, Ivy, pale and dressed all in black, looks like Olivia's opposite. Then the girls look beyond the glittery pink blush and thick black eyeliner to discover they're identical—identical twins!

Olivia and Ivy are brimming with plans to switch places and pull every twin trick in the book. But Olivia soon discovers that she and Ivy aren't exactly the same. Ivy's a vampire. And she's not the only one in town.

I read this with my 7.5 year old daughter who is, I have to admit, rather caught up with the fact that her mother reads YA Fantasy books. Finally, I felt like I found a story that she could enjoy and that was appropriate for her age level.

I loved the Parent Trap-like theme combined with fantasy. One sister tries out for cheerleading. The other is, well, she's not your average goth. Can they figure out why one is a vampire and the other is not? And why do they have those matching emerald rings? It's a funny, page turner that will keep both your tween and yourself amused.

And if your tween is anything like my daughter, rest assured there are more books. This is the first in a series of four. A perfect series to add to your Summer Reading List.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review- The Sons of Liberty (Graphic Novel)

By Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos
Illustrated by Steven Walker and Oren Kramek
Published by Random House Teens
Released on May 25th, 2010
Source- Random House
3 stars - It was a good read

Forget everything you though you knew about America's early days-history packs a punch in this full color, two fisted, edge-of0your-seat adventure!

Graham and Brody are runaway slaves blessed with extraordinary powers. At first they keep a low profile. But their mentor has another idea, one that involves the African martial art dambe..and masks.

Visual and visceral, this is a tale that could only be told as a graphic novel. With it's vile villains, electrifying action, and riveting suspense, The Sons Of Liberty casts new light on the faces and events of pre-Revelultion America, from Ben Franklin to the French and Indian War. American history has rarely been this compelling-and it's never looked this good. (taken from the cover)

What do you get when you mix beloved American history, with character's who have paranormal powers? You get a dark, edgy, riveting, action packed graphic novel.

The story follows two young male slaves who are on the run. When someone tries an experiment on them, they are left with little memory and super human powers. The novel opens with some scenes from 1777, and as we journey through the novel, we will see life as it was in 1760, the start of the boy's story.

Shady deals, the fight to free slaves, Benjamin Franklin's journey for a better America, life as a slave and the war with England are just a few topics found within this novel. I think The Sons of Liberty will be quickly swept up by those who not only love graphic novels, but those who like history books with a twist. Marvel comic fans will love the illustrations, as they're done by Marvel comic veterans. This is a graphic novel I'd recommend for those 14 years and older.

You can find out more information about The Sons Of Liberty here

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review Donner The Western Dragon, A Hero's Tale

By Suzanne Davis Marion
Illustrated by Marj Hales
Published by BookSurge Publishing
Released on July 1st, 2009
Source: Suzanne Davis Marion
5 stars

Donner the Western Dragon lived in a cold northern forest with his parents, brother and sister, and several other dragon families. Western dragons were noted for their warlike and fierce demeanor. The young dragons spent much of their spare time in rough-and-tumble games, snorting fire at one another, wrestling and fighting. While all the other young dragons were tumbling about and breathing fire all over the grass, flowers and trees, Donner much preferred romping and playing with his best friend, Una. Everyone found it strange that Una should be Donner’s best friend, as Una was a unicorn, an animal noted for its gentle disposition. Donner’s father and the other dragons mocked Donner for his quiet demeanor. They accused him of behaving like a peaceful Eastern dragon. He was an embarrassment to them. In an unexpected twist of fate, Donner’s unique personality and talents enabled him to intervene in a frightening situation, and become a hero, appreciated and commended by all. (Amazon)

My children loved having the story of Donner read to them. It's a wonderful story about a dragon who acts differently from the rest of family and friends, and no matter what they say, he's still friends with an unlikely friend and doesn't change who he is. Donner's story teaches children about accepting others who may not look like you, but it also has a wonderful message about being proud of who you are and staying true to yourself, no matter what.

The book has wonderful illustrations and of course who doesn't like a good story with friendly dragons in it. I think this story has a powerful message and many children and parents alike will enjoy reading it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review- The Magic Keepers, The Pyramid Of Souls, Book Two

By Erica Kirov
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwacky
Released May 1st, 2010
Source- Sourcebooks
3.5 Stars- Good Read, Go Pick It Up

It was stolen from Alexander the Great. To keep it safe, Edgar Allen Poe bargained away his sanity. And somebody suckered P. T. Barnum to get their hands on it. It's the most closely guarded secret in the magician community. And it's missing.

What would you do to protect your family from an ancient pyramid capable of stealing your very soul?

Nick Rostov finally has the life he's always dreamed-and he'll do anything to protect it.

Nick has only now discovered he is part of an extended Russian family of magicians: the Magickeepers. He lives with his eccentric new relatives at the Winter Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where they perform daring feats of magic to a packed house. Real magic.

But Nick and his family face a new danger in the form of a stolen relic, the Pyramid of Souls. The tiny pyramid has traded hands many times throughout history. Its power can steal a magician's very soul.

Nick knows who took it: Rasputin, leader of the Shadowkeepers. Using his unique ability as a Gazer-one who can see into the past-Nick enlists his cousin Isabella to help him find it. Soon, the two are hot on the evil sorcerer's trail...until Isabella's soul is trapped by the very relic they're trying to find.

Nick will do anything to rescue Isabella and recover the Pyramid of Souls. But will it be enough to save his family? (from Goodreads)

I hadn't read the first book in the series when I received The Pyramid of Souls, and was still able to get into the story. I think Erica did a great job by giving enough back story from what happened in the first book to follow Nick's journey in this great sequel.

Nick is still struggling with learning his Russian heritage. He's having a hard time with learning what his tutor Theo is teaching, and most importantly, he feels he's not living up to being a great Magician like his cousin Damian is training him to be. Damian, after all is the greatest Magician in the world. His cousin Isabella is even a great Magician in her own right.

Nick lives on the top three floors of The Winter Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, NV with the rest of his Magician family, who's very proud of their Russian Heritage. They perform real Magic shows and the greatest show of all is about to take place as Magicians from around the world are getting ready to descend on The Winter Palace for the chance to gain, The Greatest Magician in The World bragging rights.

When someone steals the Pyramid of Souls, Nick must help to get it back. It's been sot after all through out history as, Alexander The Great had it stolen from him. Edgar Allen Poe pledged his sanity to keep it safe. P.T. Barnum lost it in a bet against a Magician and now the most guarded, most sacred secret in the Magician world has been stolen. It wasn't stolen by anyone. The Shadowkeepers are back, and this time they won't stop until they have Nick. Nick is the Magician's only hope is getting it back, but at what cost?

Swept away in a wonderful world full of Russian-lore, magic and family ties, I think this is a wonderful sequel in The Magic Keepers series. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

You can learn more about the series here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review- The Owl Keeper

By Christine Brodien-Jones
Illustrations by Maggie Kneen
Published by Random House Children's Books
Released on April 13, 2010
Source- Random House
4.5 Stars-I really liked this book. Go pick it up.

Five years ago, Maxwell Unger was diagnosed with a rare and mysterious illness making him allergic to sun particles. Max had always loved the night, but now, at almost twelve years old, it was all he knew. During the day the shade were drawn, clipped tightly together, in order to avoid the sunlight.

Before Max was brave, he used to do things like go out into the forest with his gran after dark. He would listen to her stories about the world before the Destruction-about nature, and books and silver owls. But his absolute favorite, the one story that he love more than any other, was the one about the Owl Keeper. It was the Owl Keeper, according to his gran, who in times of darkness would appear to unite the owls and sages against the powers of the dark.

But things are different now. Gran is gone, and so are her stories of what used to be. Max is afraid now. The forest is dangerous. The books are destroyed. The silver owls are extinct (or so the Hight Echelon would like people to believe). But Max knows better.

With the help of a mysterious girl who appears under his owl tree, Max is forced to reach inside and find his bravery once more, because the time of the Owl Keeper is coming soon. (taken from press release about the book, received from Random House).

I am so captivated by the cover. It's beautiful. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are just as intriguing. Get ready to be swept away into an amazing world where nothing is what it seems, and as the darkness is taking over the world, the hope of many rests on two eleven and twelve year olds.

Max and Rose live in a world that has been taken over by The High Echelon. They have destroyed everything that was good in the world, and have killed off most of the animals, altered the weather, which destroyed much of the world and in the year 2066 they are now altering people. Books have all been burned, people go missing, families aren't what they used to be, and people's memories are fading. Now The High Echelon is about to destroy the last hope anyone has to fight the darkness, Max. Except for Max doesn't know that he's the last hope. At least not yet anyway.

Max misses his lovely Gran who unexpectedly died when he was 7. When she died, so did the stories about the Silver Owls, and his favorite story about the Owl Keeper, who'd come in times of darkness and would unite the owls and sages together. He misses their talks about nature and the way the world was before the Destruction, the late night walks through the forest, all of her books and the warmth, love and comfort he felt when he was with her. Now the parents he used to be close to are forced to work 6 days a week in factory and he's guardian Miss Crumlin, a cold lady who's destroyed all but one of his Grandmother's books and treats Max with little regard. There's something that doesn't feel right about Miss Crumlin. She's a cold person, who's always reminding Max how sick he is and giving him medicine, even if he feels fine.

Max's has always loved the night, which is the only time he can go out doors. He's been raised to believe he's allergic to the sun and if the sun touches any part of his skin he can die. Now Max goes out by himself, but only to his Owl Tree. He reminds himself about the stories of the Silver Owls, fierce protectors that no longer exist. The High Echelon has killed them all, or at least that's what they claimed. There tucked up in the high branches of his beloved Owl Tree, Max is hiding his very own Silver Owl. He's keeping the message he found in her beak a secret, along with her existence. One night he meets a mysterious girl under his Owl Tree. She can see his Silver Owl.

It took me just a little bit to get into the book and once I did, I couldn't put it down. The world Christine built is fascinating and only gets more and more intriguing as we go on a journey with Max and Rose to find the Owl Keeper. The beginning of the book builds up to everything Max has been taught his whole life. When Rose enters his life, she'll challenge everything he's been told. Nothing he's been told is the truth. When Rose starts to show him things are not what they seem, he discovers a very dark secret and what his fate is about to be, unless he can change it. Confiding in each other, they both learn they have the mark of the Owl, they're night seers. When The High Echelon come looking for them, they flee. Their journey is to find The Owl Keeper and Max's Silver Owl will lead them to where The Owl Keeper is at.

The Owl Keeper is one of those books that keeps you guessing at who's the bad guy and what's really happening, until you learn the truth. It's full of adventure and wonderful characters set in a fascinating, not so distant time. With the destruction of the world, and all the wonderful things it holds, Max and Rose are the last hope and when they arrive at their destination, only then will they learn what their their true destiny will be. I'm really looking forward to a sequel. I think readers will really love Max and Rose's characters and definitely recommend this book to those 10 yrs old and up.

You can find out more about The Owl Keeper here

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review-Hailey Twitch Is Not a Snitch

By Lauren Barnholdt
Published by Sourcebooks
Released on May 1st, 2010
4 stars

Hailey is a normal seven-year old girl. Well, sort of. She's normal in a lot of ways. She loves pink sparkly pencils and bending the rules. But Hailey also has a secret: she's friends with Maybelle, a sprite that's visible only to her. And Maybelle is on a special mission to help Hailey have fun.

The problem is that Maybelle keeps getting Hailey into trouble.

Hailey likes having Maybelle around, but soon thing are a big mess. She's about to lose her newest friend at school, and she finds herself being blamed for everything Maybelle does. Will Hailey tell, or will she be able to keep her secret.. and her friends?

This is such a great book for younger readers. Hailey is a typical second grader, who's class is working on World projects. She wants to be partnered with Antonio, a boy in her second grade class. Hailey is partnered with Addie Jokobeck, and Antonio is partnered with Natalie Brice, her competitor at everything. Hailey goes home feeling sorry for herself. She doesn't want to be paired with someone she's not friends with, let alone allow Natalie to be partnered with Antonio. While she's in her room contemplating how to get out of being Addie's partner, she meets Maybelle, a sprite who's been living in her toy castle.

Hailey is the only one who can see Maybelle, and she's not allowed to tell anyone about her. As punishment for something Maybelle has done, she isn't allowed to use magic. She wants to do everything she can to redeem herself so she can return to The Department Of Magic. Once called a rule monger, Maybelle tries to teach Hailey to have fun, but in the process gets her into a lot of trouble.

Hailey is such a fun loving character. She learns she doesn't need to try and be better than Natalie Brice. She learns that being partnered with Addie can be a lot of fun, and in the process she gains a new friend. While Maybelle was the cause for her troubles, Hailey takes responsibility for things she does wrong.

I think this is such a great read. Lauren captured life as a second grader perfectly with her characters Hailey, her friends Addie, Antonio, Russ and even Natalie. What second grade girl wouldn't want to have a sprite living in there room!?!

Hailey Twitch Is Not A Snitch

Seven-year-old Hailey Twitch knows three things for sure: who she’s the boss of, how to throw a tantrum, and above all, how to get exactly what she wants. But all that changes when Hailey gets paired up with annoying Addie Jokobeck on the class project. No matter what Hailey does, she can’t seem to change her teacher’s mind.

At home, a cranky Hailey is feeling sorry for herself when – poof! — Maybelle, a magic sprite, comes flying out of Hailey’s dollhouse. Maybelle’s on probation with the Department of Magic, and on a special mission to get Hailey to have fun.
The only problem? The invisible Maybelle starts causing a lot of trouble, and when Hailey’s teacher wants to know who’s to blame, Hailey takes responsibility. After all, Hailey Twitch is not a snitch! Now if only Hailey can convince the Department of Magic that Maybelle has reformed…

You can buy Hailey Twitch from amazon by clicking here, and find out how to win a free book from Lauren by clicking here!

**We'll be posting our review shortly**
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~