Wednesday, October 24, 2012


by Marissa Meyer
400 pages
Middle School +

Cinder lives a boring life.  She works in her little mechanic shop, pays whatever she makes to her step-mother, and also has to do the chores at home. The world is being ravaged by an incurable plague and everyone is scared.  She is in a rut and dreams of getting out.  On top of all of that, she has to hide her secret from everyone: she is a cyborg, part-machine, and part-human.

One day, as she is in her mechanic shop, a hooded stranger comes to her booth.  He asks her to fix a droid for him, and it is imperative that it he gets the information from this droid's memory.  As they talk, Cinder recognizes him as Prince Kai, the unmarried heir to the throne.  He enjoys talking to her, and eventually asks her to a ball.  Throughout all of this, her sister catches the plague, Cinder is sold to research, and the Lunar Queen decides to visit Earth.  Cinder must deal with Prince Kai, avoid the Lunar Queen and try to find a cure the plague that threatens to destroy the world.

I had two reactions to this book. First- what a fun idea!  A Cyborg Cinderella!  The action was fast and the story creative even though it is based on a well-known fairy tale.  This book kept me enthralled from the very beginning.

Second reaction: I wish Cinder wouldn't have been so down on herself.  She is constantly demeaning herself, and wishing she was something else.  She never has a good opinion of herself.  Girls get enough of that already, I don't know if they really need to read about it.  On the other hand, it can also make her more approachable as a character, that she has the same feelings that teens do.  While I really enjoyed the book, this was a minor drawback.

Overall, I will still recommend the book.  I think teens will really enjoy the story telling, plus the originality of the idea. Retold fairy tales are huge, and this is a great example of an original twist.  There is a sequel coming soon (February 2013) that I can't wait to read.  Fun book great idea, and lots of twists and turns!

Tags and such....

Hi everyone!  Bren here...

So, I recently went through and added a lot of tags to things so that my blog is more user friendly.  I added more tags to past items, plus started a new rating system so you could find my favorite books!

Here is my ranking system:

Don't Bother- Really, don't bother reading this book.  I didn't enjoy it, and if there is a sequel, it holds no interest for me...

It's Okay- It was an alright book, but nothing special.

Liked It A Lot- I enjoyed reading this book! 

Great Book- These are some of my favorites!  I would recommend to most people!

I also added a tag called "Couldn't put it down," which means exactly what it says.  These books are very engaging and really captured my interest!

Hope these make my blog a little better for you all!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dark Life

Dark Life
By Kat Falls
297 pages
Late Elementary and up.

Ty is a pioneer, but instead of going west, like the old days, his family went deep!  As the water levels rise and space on land grows more and more precious, people have started going under the sea.  Ty knows nothing but living underwater. He is much more familiar with the life that thrives in the darkness of the deep sea than he is with sunshine and stars. 

One day, Gemma shows up from the world above and changes everything in his life.  She seems so vulnerable alone, searching for her brother that Ty can't just leave her on her own.  As they try to learn her brother's fate, they start finding more than either of them bargained for.

So, this book was okay, but not totally enthralling.  The premise of living underwater is really cool, and the technology is suitably present.  But I just had a hard time finishing this book!  I might recommend it, but it would be pretty far down my list of things to recommend.  A sequel has come out, but I have no interest in it.  To me, the characters were flat, the relationships cliche, and the story line was not engaging.  While the setting was fun, the story never fully explored its full potential.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vordak The Incomprehensible

Vordak The Incomprehensible: How to Grow up and Rule the World
by Scott Seegert
Illustrated by John Martin
208 pages
Elementary and up!

Vordak is evil.  He is beyond evil, he is Incomprehensible! Learn from him how to be evil! In this book, Vordak discloses all secrets about how to be the best super-villain you can be!   Learn everything from how to choose your name to what colors are acceptable for your costume. Take Vordak's Evil Aptitude Exam, and gets plans for nefarious schemes!

This book is along the lines of Diary of a Wimpy Kid- lots of white space, fun illustrations, and lots of humor.  This would be a great book for any reluctant reader that likes super heroes, or just has a different sense of humor.

While not big on a plot line, this book was lots of laughs.  I would recommend it mostly for boys, but if a girl was looking for something funny, would give it to her too!  Fun book!

The Selection

The Selection
By Kiera Cass
327 pages
Middle School and up

America Singer feels like an ordinary girl.  She has a secret boyfriend, works hard with her family, and has a strained relationship with her mother.  While not rich or famous, she is content with life and looks forward to a future with her boyfriend.

And then the Selection comes: 35 girls from around the world have a chance to get to know and marry Prince Maxon, heir to the crown. America doesn't want to apply for the Selection, but to appease her mom, she applies.  She is totally shocked when she is chosen as the representative from her region.  Reluctantly, she goes to the palace to meet Maxon.

Her first day there, she feels overcome with emotion and pressure.  She flees into a garden, breaking several rules, just to run into Maxon.  As they talk, she is honest with him, saying she misses her home and that she doesn't really want to be there.  Instead of ejecting her from the contest, he confides in her, and they become friends, just friends.

During the rest of the contest, Maxon uses America as a source of inside information.  But things start getting out of control.  Rebels are attacking the palace, the other contestants are scheming, and America's boyfriend shows up at the palace. America will have to choose where her loyalties lie and what she believes in.

First of all, why does the book have to end where it does!  Definitely will be another book!  While some issues are resolved, lots more are left hanging.  I really enjoyed the book, and can't wait for the sequel to come out!

Writing was fairly fast paced, so kept me interested throughout the book.  America has to grow up, face issues, and make decisions.  I can see some more themes that while minor in this book, will become much more important in the next.  The foreshadowing is great, and the characters are reacting in predictable ways. Great book!  I will definitely be recommending this to kids!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Scoprio Races

The Scorpio Races
by  Maggie Stiefvater
407 pages
Early High School and older

On the island of Thisby lives the capaill uisce, vicious horses that rise up from the sea.  If you can catch them, and survive, you can run in the Scorpio Races.

Sean Kendrick is a four time winner of the Scorpio Races, one of the best riders on the island, and together with his stallion Corr, trying to win his freedom.  His no nonsense approach to life helps keep the capail uisce in order.  When a girl enters into the races for the first time ever, his world shifts.

Kate Connolly, better known as Puck, is an orphan trying to eek out a living  on the harsh island of Thisby.  She lives with her two brothers, takes care of the house, but her true love is her horse.  When her older brother says he is leaving, her world starts falling apart.  She decides to enter the Scorpio races to earn the money to make her brother stay. Not only is she the first girl to enter the races, she registers her island pony, not a capaill uisce in the race.  Inciting ridicule, prejudice, and scorn, she trains herself and the pony to run in the race.

As they train against each other, they get to know each other better.  Sean is concerned for her safety on the beach during the race with the vicious water horses running beside her.  Puck just wants to try to win, but her life keeps getting more and more complicated.  Puck and Sean both need to win, but there is only one winner of the Scorpio Races.

This story is about relationships: Sean and Puck, Sean and his capaill uisce, Puck and her pony, and even family relationships. Puck's life is falling apart, and she needs to find something help her cope with it. Sean needs to find his path to manhood and freedom.  The fantasy takes a back seat to the personal matters and issues in the book.

This was slightly different book, but very enjoyable.  The story telling flips between Puck and Sean, giving the two perspectives to tell both their stories.  I liked having the different stories so that we understand every one's motivations.  A lot of the time I read books for the fantasy and the magic; this book I read to find out who won the race and what they did after that.

While this is not a book I will give out to everyone, it's definitely a great read.  I would hand it to both girls and boys, since the perspective switches between the two. I would recommend to early high school aged, mostly because I'm not sure that middle school kids would be interested in the issues in the book. Also, there are some slightly violent scenes.

Great book, if you can find the right crowd for it. I enjoyed it a lot!

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
by Richard Paul Evans
326 pages
Middle School and older

Michael Vey looks like a normal, slightly puny, fourteen-year-old.  He gets bullied at school, stresses about his tests, and plays video games.  But he has a secret- a BIG secret.  One day, when the bullies finally push Michael over the edge, he shocks them with his own electric force.  A cheerleader, Taylor, sees him shock the bullies, and wants to talk with him about it.  She has her own secret to share with him, and together with Michael's friend Ostin, they all form the "Electroclan!"

As Michael and Taylor learn more about their abilities, they start investigating their births and missing records from the hospital. When Michael's mom is abducted by people wanting to talk to Michael about his powers, he has to decide how far he is willing to go to rescue her and others.

Can I just say: wow!  I had a lot of fun reading this book, and a hard time putting it down to make dinner!  The story line is incredibly fast paced and engrossing.  Things keep happening in this book, and you don't want to leave it hanging!  Great writing and super story telling!

Overall, I loved this book!  Would recommend it to both boys and girls starting around middle school age.  I don't remember any swearing, and there was nothing inappropriate sexually.  Very intense action and emotional in places.  Great book, will definitely hand this out to kids.  Plus, the sequel is out!  Woo hoo!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thirteenth Child

Thirteenth Child
by Patricia C. Wrede
352 pages
Early Teens +

Eff was doomed the moment she was born.  She is a thirteenth child, classically unlucky and trouble from the start.  In high contrast is her twin brother, Lan, who is the seventh son of a seventh son: incredibly lucky and gifted in magic.  Lucky for Eff, Lan sticks up for her, and all her brothers and sisters like her just fine.

When their family moves out West for her father's work, Eff starts learning more about herself, and if she really is the trouble she is supposed to be.  She makes friends, goes to school, learns different styles of magic and meets interesting people.  Eff has to deal with being the twin to a double-seventh son, and figure out how her own magic works.

While not quite the normal setting for Wrede's works, this fictional, historical American setting is very vivid and fun.  Readers have a partly familiar setting, but lots of new things to discover within it.  Recognizable historical characters get tweaked to fit the different setting: Benjamin Franklin is another seventh son of a seventh son, plus a great magician.  This setting gives a great life and background to the story.

Eff was a very engaging character to read about.  The reader gets to follow her from being a little child, all the way to her late teens.  She has concerns that many teens could identify with, even if the teens aren't magicians!  Her voice stays true throughout the book: even as she grows older, her voice remains the same.  Though at times there isn't tons of action, the book moves along at a good pace.

Overall, I enjoyed this book!  This book is the beginning of a trilogy with Across the Great Barrier and The Far West being the next two books.  I will definitely be getting them and reading them as soon as I can!  While it has a female character, I think boys would like this as well.  I would recommend this to young teens and older.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Found (Missing Series #1)
 by Margaret Peterson Haddix
308 pages
Late Elementary to Middle School

Jonah has always know he was adopted.  He lives with his parents and sister Katherine, and has a normal life.  He's even become friends with the new kid down the street, Chip. As a regular thirteen-year-old, his biggest concerns are social studies tests and if he should try out for the basketball team.

Then he gets the first letter.  It is in a plain white envelope and has merely six letters on the page: YOU ARE ONE OF THE MISSING. He thinks it is just a prank until Chip gets one too and they discover that Chip is adopted as well.  They don't think much about it until they both get a second letter with another mysterious message.  This leads them to start trying to find out what the letters might mean.

Jonah and Chip investigate their adoptions, leading them everywhere from a crazy lady to the FBI.  What do these letters mean?  Where did 36 babies on a plane appear from?  And who is this janitor that is warning Jonah?  With Katherine to help them, they have to discover not only where, but also when they came from!

This story was so much fun!  It was fast paced, exciting, and lots of twists and turns.  The plot moves along fast enough that it keeps the reader wanting to find out more, but not so fast that it loses the reader. There is a lot of dialogue that sounds a lot like how kids their age would talk, without sounding stupid.  The characters are well fleshed out, act in believable ways, and are very interesting.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to both boys and girls staring around 5th or 6th grade.  This is the first of a series, that I am eager to get into the rest of it!  Looks like some of the others might be slightly historical in nature (time travel!  woo hoo!).  Can't wait to get to the next one, Sent!