Review: The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Dark Side of Nowhere
Author: Neal Shusterman
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 192
Grade Reading Level: Grades 6-9

Summary: Jason has always lived in the same town his whole life and thinks it’s so boring. But when Jason’s friend, Ethan dies from a burst appendicitis everything changes. Not only is everyone sad that he’s gone but something really weird happens. Grant, the janitor tells Jason that Ethan isn’t dead. Is he right? How is that possible? Then Jason is given a robotic-like glove by Grant and finds out that his whole life has been a lie. Everybody he knows, including himself, are aliens!

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because it was a book we were reading in class before school got out for the year. We didn’t get to finish it so I decided to cheek it out of the library.

Likes:

  • The writing in this book was phenomenal! I was at the end of my seat after every chapter. I could understand how the characters felt and their whole experience. It was like I was there in the same situation.
  • I liked how his parents never lied. He told Jason the truth about them through a bedtime story, he just didn’t know it was true.
  • The cover of this book is way awesome and fits the suspenseful  haunting quality of the story.
  • The book’s main point is what it means to be human.

Last minute thoughts: I wouldn’t suggest anyone under sixth grade read this book. It’s very dark and I don’t know if they would understand everything or just be completely creeped out.

Neal Shusterman is my favorite author at the moment! I look forward to reading more of his books!

Buy: The Dark Side of Nowhere

Book Rating: I give this book 5 treasure chests!

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Review: The Bad Beginning (Book 1) by Lemony Snicket

by Cook Cutlery, guest reviewer

Title: The Bad Beginning (Book 1) Series of Unfortunate Events
Author: Lemony Snicket
Illustrator: Brett Helquist
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 162
Grade Reading Level: Ages 10+

Summary: Violet, Kluas and Sunny Bauldilair were at the beach when Mr. Poe comes and tell them that their parents had died in a fire. At their house all they find are ashes. Arrangements are made so that the kids live with Mr. Poe at his house while he tries to find them a relative to live with on a permanent basis. Mr. Poe finds them a place to live with Count Olaf. At Count Olaf’s many bad things happen to them… in a series of unfortunate events!

Like:

  • I love Violet. She is always trying to invent something. For instance, later in the story Violet invents a grappling hook out of old clothes and old wire. How does she think of things like that so quickly? I would be hard pressed that is for sure.
  • Justice Starauss is very kind to the kids. He lets them use the library and helps them buy food so they can cook for Count Olaf and the troupe of people living with him.
  • Klaus and Violet are always taking care of Sunny and making sure she doesn’t get into trouble. I have a hard time with one sister that’s closer to my age! So while it might not be very accurate in normal circumstances, the Bauldilair kids are a whole other ball of wax.

Dislike:

  • Mr. Poe doesn’t believe them when they are trying to tell him that Count Olaf is a terrible man and gives them way too many chores to do. Mr. Poe should know what sort of kids they are from when they lived with him and it’s really important for adults to take kids seriously when it comes to stuff like that.
  • When Count Olaf puts on a play that is called the Marvelous Marriage. In actuality it is not a play but a real marriage ceremony. He wants to get the Bauldilair fortune that they were left with and does it through trickery. Plus, can you imagine being married to the guy? Gross!

Buy: The Bad Beginning (Hardback), The Complete Wreck (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-13), The Trouble Begins: Books 1-3, The Situation Worsens: Books 4-6, The Dilemma Deepens: Books 7-9 , The Gloom Looms: Books 10-12

Rating: I give this book 3 out of 5 treasure chests.

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Review: The Center of the Storm by Ann Simko

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Title: The Center of the Storm
Author: Ann Simko
Format: Digital ebook
Page Count: 210 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 16+

Warning: Parents may decide that they want to read this book first because it does deal with sensitive issues such as cutting, abuse, and suicide.

Summary: This story was written in the first person.

Dodge Landry receives a phone call from his mother in the middle of the night. She’s calling about Storm. Dodge is going to take his son Christian with him. Chris is fifteen and has the typical teenager attitude – especially when the parent wakes them up early.

We learn that Dodge and Chris both have something in common. They were both in the foster care system. Both of their backgrounds were almost similar. Dodge and his wife, Anna, have adopted Chris. And Dodge is hoping to use this trip home as a bonding experience.

Kate and her husband, Mike Landry, own a horse farm which is located in Pennsylvania. As we read this story, we learn that Dodge was just like Chris when he was around the same age. He also had an attitude about him. They also had something else in common as well which you will find out as you read more of the story.

Ann seamlessly moves between the past and the present. The reader will not get lost as she transitions back and forth. She’ll also have you reminiscing about your own attitude and behavior at that age. If you or your child is an animal lover, this story may also pull at your heartstrings.

This is a story that any teenager should read. It may give them a better understanding of why some people are the way they are. It may also help in discussing what they are feeling – what they don’t think they can put into words. It may also help a parent in trying to understand a troubled teen. Maybe it’s a story that both parent and child can sit down and discuss together.

Maybe this is a story that you can relate to – maybe you have personally been touched by some of the issues that Ann covers. She also shows how cruel some people can be. Some scenes may reflect what you and your parent went through during some of your rough times.

Ann writes one scene between Kate and Dodge – typical mother and child stuff. And as I’m reading the scene, I can almost hear my own mother saying the exact same thing. Then in the next breath, Ann has you almost in tears. Then there’s another scene between Dodge and Mike and Ann has me almost in tears again. Plus I’m back to reminiscing about growing up in my household – me, my three brothers, and my parents.

When I first saw that it covered some sensitive subjects, I was not sure that this was a book that I was going to like. I went into reading this book with some preconceived notions. Ann totally changed my mind. By the time I finished this book I was so glad that I was given this chance to review it. With students getting out school for the summer, this is the perfect time for them to sit down, read it and then discuss it with you. They may even want to read more of her work after they are finished.

Buy: The Center of the Storm

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

Review: Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4) by Angie Sage

by First Mate Keira

Title: Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4)
Author: Angie Sage
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 624 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 4-8

Summary: For years ExtraOrdinary Wizards have feared the time when their Apprentices would have to draw for the Queste stone. It’s supposed to happen at the end of their training, but due to some nefarious dealings between Merrin Meredith (previously known as Septimus Heap) and Tertius Fume (Ghost of the first Chief Hermetic Scribe) the real Septimus Heap is forced into drawing it sooner. He figures out the trick and refuses, but he can’t escape the Queste in the end… and neither did any of the other unfortunate Apprentices, all dead.

Why I started this book:

I read the first three books in the series and plan to read the rest in the series.

Likes:

  • Merrin Meredith is a horrible little boy. He’s petulant, bullying (if he can get away with it), pretty gullible, petty, and unkind. He wants nothing more than to get back at Septimus Heap, the boy who stole his name/identity and eat his way through a stash of licorice snakes. Who knows why I like him, but I do. Maybe I just have fun picturing his stomach aches from his unhealthy candy diet.
  • I like how the quest to find Nicko and Snorri is a parallel Queste to the one Septimus is forced to go on himself.
  • I love Beetle! I wonder if he’s going to be the love interest for Princess Jenna? He’s very knowledgeable without being stuck-up about it.
  • Ephaniah Grebe, the Conservation Scribe at the Manuscriptorium, who was cursed in his youth by a couple books from the Wild Section of the Manuscriptorium. I wonder if anybody will place him under the magic spell that makes the message rats speak human? It seems like the best option to me.

Dislikes:

  • The Gathering is never complete technically, which the author didn’t account for in the story. DomDaniel appears, but the very first Extra Ordinary Wizard was never there.
  • The Queste end was interesting, but I guess I don’t see the point? Why doesn’t the person behind the Queste venture out of the House of Foryx to see everything for himself? What does Septimus learn from the Queste?
  • I can’t believe Beetle was fired from his job at the Manuscriptorium. I really dislike Jillie Djinn, the current Chief Hermetic Scribe.
  • Possession by the Thing… and the sickness that follows possession if you’re lucky to get free without dying.

Buy: Queste (Septimus Heap, Book 4)

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith

by BookWatch, guest reviewer

Title: Fly Girl
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 256
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-9

Summary: Fly Girl is about an African American girl, Ida Mae during World War II who wants to be a pilot and also help the war effort.  Her father had already taught her how to fly his crop dusting plane.  When she learns about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Program) she decides to join even though they will not accept applicants from her race.  She is light skinned and passes as a white girl, which means she has to deny her family identity in order to follow her dreams and serve her country. The biggest enemy she confronts is prejudice.

Why I started this book:

My favorite books are the Newberry Award winners.  I have a goal of reading all of them and I have quite a few to go.  I read Fly Girl by Sherri L Smith about a year ago. (I don’t think this is a Newberry winner.)

Likes:

  • The struggles that she faces and the ultimate questions she must come to terms with make it a very moving book.
  • You also learn about the dangerous flights these female pilots flew during the war without receiving any recognition from the government or status as veterans.  That has only recently been remedied by congress for the few surviving pilots from this program.

Buy: Flygirl

Rating: I give it 5 treasure chests.

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Review: Through Indigo’s Eyes by Tara Taylor and Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Reviewed by Tavern Wench Maisie

Title: Through Indigo’s Eyes
Author: Tara Taylor and Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Format: PDF ebook
Page Count: 288 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 13+

Summary: Indigo Russell keeps having psychic visions of events, and she doesn’t know why she is having them, and it scares her as the visions are so real to her, and contain some unusual imagery. She would like all the other students at Ridgemont High to get to know her, even like her, yet she is still an outcast, someone most overlook when it comes to friendship. But then, she isn’t like other kids, and as far as she is aware, everyone has visions just like her – but she’d be wrong, very wrong indeed.

Why I started this book:

I enjoy reading novels about psychics, and the supernatural, so this was a must.

Likes:

  • Indigo wants to be a normal girl who has a boyfriend, and she is endearing because of that.
  • The reader is plunged straight into the mind of a teenage girl who has fears of what others think about her, and what might happen in the future.
  • However hard it was for her in her younger years, she has found friends at school.

Dislikes:

  • Indigo falls for the new boy, a transfer student who got kicked out of his last school – why she would fall for a bad guy is a bit strange as everyone else thinks he’s bad news.

Last Minute Thoughts: The story runs at a nice, steady pace, and Indigo is just as angsty as her friends.

Buy: Through Indigo’s Eyes (Visions)

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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