Review: I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

by Second Mate Embry, guest reviewer

Title: I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls)
Author: Ally Carter
Format: Hardcover
# of pages: 288
Grade Reading Level: 7-10 Grade

Summary: Cammie Morgan goes to a school for geniuses (but really it’s a school for training spies). Cammie’s schedule is just like a regular kid’s – she has PE, sure it’s advance martial arts, but it’s still PE. One of her class assignments is to go to a carnival and find out what one of her teachers likes to drink with a funnel cake. There she meets Josh – which is both wonderful and terrible!

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because it had an interesting premise. I like the idea of a teenage spy in training. It sounded very cool to me, sort of like Agent Cody Banks, but for girls.

Likes:

  • I like the training that they did and their class schedules. It actually seemed very spy-like, which was good. I was afraid that it would be kind of hokey.
  • I like the character Cami a lot. She wasn’t a valley girl or a drama queen which was refreshing. She was smart and capable.

Dislikes:

  • They had to mind-wipe Josh at the end which I hated!
  • The romance between Cami and Josh was kind of weird. Cami and her friends aren’t sure if Josh is trying to infiltrate the academy or if it’s “true love” so they investigate him. They even went through his trash … gross and weird!

Buy: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls)

Book Rating: I give this book3.5 Treasure Chests!

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Review: Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

by Second Mate Embry, guest reviewer

Title: Igraine the Brave
Author: Cornelia Funke
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 212
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: As a daughter of two magicians, Igraine is expected to follow in their footsteps, casting spells and concocting potions, right? Actually, all she wants to be is a knight and have adventures. She gets her chance when Osmund the Greedy tries to take over the castle, and her parents are turned into pigs! Luckily her brother is making a potion to turn them back, but he needs one more ingredient. Will Igraine become a knight, save her parents, and beat Osmund? Or will Osmund the Greedy rule over the castle with an iron fist forever?

Why I Read This Book:

I read this book because I have enjoyed other books by Cornelia Funke and thought that I would try it. Also, that back blurb caught my attention in the library and sounded interesting.

Likes:

  • I like the idea of a 12 year-old knight. She’s fighting for us pre-teens!
  • I liked the magic used by Igraine’s brother and parents; it seemed unstoppable.
  • So we know Igraine wants to be a knight, right? Well she would be a knight with one fear: Spiders. I thought it was hilarious that out of all the fears she could possibly have, her ONLY fear was spiders.

Dislikes:

  • I found myself skimming this book to get it finished. It didn’t really hold my interest and more than anything I just wanted to finish it. Some parts of the book I enjoyed, but I like to be totally captivated during the whole book, not just good parts here and there. I’d be all excited about something that happened and curious to read on, but then instead of finding more rising action it was more of a plateau and that got very dull very quickly. I think Cornelia Funke could have made this book a lot more intense by keeping the rising action strong.

Buy: Igraine The Brave

Rating: 2.5 Treasure chests!

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Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

ender's gameReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison
Format: Unabridged Audio Book
# CDs + Minutes: 9 CDs (11 hours, 11 minutes)
Grade Reading Level: 9th Grade
Summary: In a near-future society, the human race is in a war against the buggers, a hostile alien race, who nearly won twice in two wide scale confrontations against humankind. Fearing a third invasion, a system was put in place to discover and train child prodigies in the art of war. This system found Ender Wiggin, and set a course for him unlike any other kid that has gone before. Is Ender the general humankind desperately needs?

Meanwhile a second (side) plot revolves around Earth, Ender’s siblings, and it’s three separate governing bodies. The Hegemon, Strategos, and Polemarch, all struggle for supreme control and threaten humankind on the home front. Peter and Valentine are determined to make the world over in their image and work to achieve this through the “Nets” to influence how the masses think. Are two kids capable of achieving that sort of influence?

Why I Started This Book:

I can name approximately half a dozen boys over the last several years telling me I had to read this book. It was essential, a must read! I caved. Got it in audio format, because I’m grooving it right now and settled in for the long haul. I now have to apologize to the first five guys who said to read it and I ignored. Great book!

Likes:

  • Orson’s style of writing. It’s obviously a style meant to be read aloud; in fact audio format is the best version to meet this book and is something the author mentioned at the end of CD #9.
  • Orson’s writing is very evocative. You see pictures and feel emotions and think thoughts as if you were a part of the book itself.
  • Battle School is fantastic. I loved it when Ender finally goes up in rank and starts commanding. The mock battles are some of my absolute favorite moments.
  • The surprising twist at Command School. It was an ending I did not expect it. I liked it even more when Orson took the story further and explained the aftermath. That too did not go how I pictured it might. Frankly, I was expecting that Ender was going to have to watch out for Peter.

Dislikes:

  • Very little. I was going to say the graphic nature of some of the fights or the violence but as Orson pointed out in his ramble at the end of the CD #9 the language is in fact very plain. All graphic nature is rendered through the reader.

Last Minute Thoughts: It’s definitely a book for boys as it deals on many fronts issues boys face more often than girls such as bullying and warfare. Ender also goes through a crisis of identity of self. He does not want to be a killer (or hurt others) but is forced to become one. I think the following quote explains this very well:

Unlike his brother, Ender does not take pride in destroying others and commits this action because he is often pushed into situations which demand physical defense. This portrayal and situation in the novel justifies Ender’s actions. (Nick M. on Amazon.com)

I am glad I came to this book now instead of earlier in my life. I don’t think I would have appreciated it then. I do now. It’s terrific! I’m giving the audio book to my dad and telling him to listen to it. He’s on CD #2 and loves it so far.

Buy: Ender’s Game (Unabridged Audio Book), Ender’s Game (Paperback), The Ender Quartet Box Set (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind)

Find books by Orson Scott Card on ebay.

Book Rating: 5 Treasure Chests.
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Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels entitled Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was in her teens and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.

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Review: The Seeing Stone by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black

guestreview

by First Mate Keira, guest reviewer

Title: The Seeing Stone (Book 2: The Spiderwick Chronicles)
Author: Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black
Format: Hardcover
# of pages: 109
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: When Simon is captured by goblins, Jared and Mallory must find a way to get him back. Thimbletack knows what to do but he’ll only rhyme and give clues. Angry, Jared attacks Thimbletack and gets the seeing stone. Suddenly all things fey come to light!

Why I Started the Book:

I got three Spiderwick novels at once so I could read them back to back. This is book number two.

Likes:

  • The goblin species – part frog in appearance with wicked looking teeth that are not their own.
  • Hogsqueal, the hobgoblin. His spit allows the Grace children to see the fantasy kingdom right under their nose.
  • The troll in the lake. Good thing he’s not very smart or the kids would be in serious trouble.

Dislikes:

  • Tibbs getting eaten. Poor cat! How gruesome!
  • Thimbletack the brownie/boggart is one wicked little creature who makes a lot of mischief. I’m not sure he’ll stay as a dislike as I read more of the books, we’ll just have to wait and see what he does.

Buy: The Seeing Stone (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 2), The Spiderwick Chronicles (Boxed Set; Books 1-5)

Book Rating: 3 Treasure Chests
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Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels entitled Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was in her teens and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.

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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