I have read my fair share of the recently popular supernatural-themed books, ranging from the “Twilight”REVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS
I have read my fair share of the recently popular supernatural-themed books, ranging from the “Twilight” series to “The Zombie Survival Guide,” some of which were well done, and some of which were... less excellent to say the least. “Fangs and Stilettos” by Anthony DiFiore definitely fell on the excellent side of the spectrum, and was a fun take on vampires and “supernaturals” (a general term for zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies, oracles, and amazonions, to name a few of the categories).
In “Fangs and Stilettos,” supernaturals have been cursed to never reveal their identities and to only ever work in the fashion industry, all to keep the supernaturals from wreaking havoc on the rest of the world. No one is sure what would happen if a supernatural tried to break the curse, but the international organization Caligae polices all supernaturals to make sure no one ever needs to find out.
Of course, where there is power, there are power-hungry people, and this is only too true at Caligae. The leader of Caligae has a plot to unleash her own power and attain ultimate dictatorial world domination. Into this backdrop are placed an unskilled, naïve set of teenagers, just realizing their places in the chaotic fashion industry. As naïve as they are, they do not have the same fear of Caligae and may be the only people capable of saving the world.
Throughout the book, I found the plot unpredictable, and felt myself carried along by the twists and turns. Many young adult books tend to be driven by weak characters, written with formulaic plots, or dominated by silly love triangles; “Fangs and Stilettos” had strong characters, and it was refreshing to see a plot driven, yes, partially by these strong characters, but also by dramatic schemes of world domination.
The writing was also excellent. I find that there are two types of good writers – those you notice and those you don’t. While I enjoy basking in witty word play, it is also enjoyable to forget that I am reading and just enjoy the story, a task DiFiore did excellently. The pictures painted were vivid, the characters believable, and the story central.
I would recommend “Fangs and Stilettos” to a variety of readers in the late-middle-school to high-school range, particularly those intrigued by fantasy, but looking for a light-hearted unique take. Of course, anyone in love with fashion, or head over heels with supernaturals should also read “Fangs and Stilettos.” Anthony DiFiore has crafted a perfect vacation read, just in time for summer....more
I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but before I even opened “Falling for Henry,” I wasREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS
I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but before I even opened “Falling for Henry,” I was drawn in by the smooth and sturdy binding, the beautiful juxtaposition of script and serif with a simple sans serif, and the perfect small, but not tiny and thin size of the book.
“Falling for Henry” by Beverley Brenna did not disappoint. Kate Allen is living with her sister in London, attending a private school. Both her parents are gone – her mother left when she was young and hasn’t been seen since, and her father died less than a year ago. After her father died, she went to live in London with her older sister who is studying acting.
She finds adjusting to the new school and life difficult. Her British schoolmates ignore or tease her, her sister is a terrible cook, and her claustrophobia has been getting worse. Sometimes she wishes she could disappear; she misses her old life and her new life is so unbearable.
On a class field trip, first to a museum, then in a tunnel under the Thames, she decides to skip the tour and go to the tunnel before her class does – sometimes familiarity helps assuage the claustrophobia. Kate forces herself into the dark tunnel, intent on conquering her fear. To her surprise, she finds herself in a forest, where a hunting party dressed in medieval clothes gallops past on horses.
Kate finds herself in the court of Henry VII where Henry VIII is prince. Kate struggles to avoid falling for Henry VIII when she knows how he ends up treating his wives.
Brenna’s character development is excellent. Throughout the book, Kate grew as a character, and although I liked her more at the end of the book, I was able to sympathize with her and understand her progress. Full of time-travel, a touch of romance, and a well-drawn historical setting, “Falling for Henry” by Beverley Brenna is an excellent historical novel which I would recommend both to purveyors of the genre interested in a time-travel twist and to those who read less historical fiction, as an enjoyable read for anyone....more
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in anREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in an action-packed, fast-paced, fantasy novel. Darla Jade is called from the grave by Striker and sent to heaven to train in the Heaven Sent Academy to become a guardian angel. Among the other souls called up at the same time is Johnny who is sent to help. Darla finds a group of friends – they call themselves 'the guardians' – with whom she makes a pact to fight against evil. Meanwhile, hell is unbearable, and Johnny is determined to find a way to bring evil's wrath and destruction to earth in order to escape hell. The guardians must save the world from Johnny and Brimstone; otherwise, the balance will be turned to evil and the world will be overcome.
Reynolds painted a clear world. From descriptions of Striker’s (somewhat like the grim reaper) bony hands, or the sullen countenance to the keeper of the feather’s many years of work and struggle to hold the feathers, or the enjoyable class Leonardo DaVinci taught on restoring the earth, I was given a clear understanding and picture of the scene. Fortunately, the descriptions were not heavy handed nor did they leave the book full of pages of endless descriptions; the descriptions were often fit into dialogue or actions scenes, keeping the book fast-paced.
The plot was well developed and set up. Many times, small pieces of information, often hidden (just like the descriptions) in more exciting scenes, came back later to carry along an unexpected twist in the plot. “Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” as the first book in a series, left many loose strings for the next book, yet still managed to feel like a complete story, enjoyable without book two on the nightstand.
I do have one minor issue with the book. As a Christian, when this book presented certain beliefs which I disagreed with as ‘Christian,’ I felt misrepresented. My biggest concerns were twofold.
First, God was presented as a CEO trying to maintain the “balance” of good and evil according to certain laws, but largely removed from the gritty details. I believe in a God more kingly, glorious, good, and all-powerful, whose plans are for redemption, not just maintenance of a balance. In fact, the balancing concept felt more Jedi or yin-yang than Christian.
Second, I felt that the book present a works-based reality – you go to heaven (or hell) based on good (or bad) deeds. In heaven, success depends upon good grades and good behavior (the more demerits, the less capable of fulfilling duties). I believe the all-powerful God has, in mercy, provided us a way to become our god-created, perfect selves without counting good deeds and thusly producing a “nice and naughty list.”
Any other beliefs I would have disagreed with weren’t large enough to really bother me, and I saw how they added to the world and plot. Although I had some disagreements with the beliefs, I would still recommend the book – with a warning that I didn’t necessarily agree with everything – just as I would a book set in another religious system.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds is an enjoyable epic tale. I would recommend book one of the Guardians series to most middle and high school students, particularly those who enjoy books pitting good against evil, with strong action....more
The end of 2012 indeed brought the end of the world as we know it in “The Aftermath” by Sara Michelle. FREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
The end of 2012 indeed brought the end of the world as we know it in “The Aftermath” by Sara Michelle. Few survivors are left following the terrible disaster; roads are torn up, houses decrepit, food and water are in short supply, and those left are struggling to survive.
Cecilia lost all her family and friends except her boyfriend Ryan, and it is lucky they have each other: their chances of survival alone are slim. It has now been a week since the end, and Cecilia and Ryan are looking for help as they begin to starve. They are hoping to find help at the local snow shelter – still a couple days’ walking away – but if this attempt doesn’t work out their prospects look grim. “The Aftermath” is the first book in a trilogy. It follows Cecilia and Ryan’s search for the snow shelter, and leaves us hanging at the end, ready for the next step in their journey.
I often felt that “The Aftermath” would have been benefited by more descriptions. Perhaps questions about Cecilia’s old normal (what did it look like, where does she live, what does she do for fun) or her new normal (how it came about, what caused the destruction, what happened and how it played out) would flesh out the characters and story. I can see a case, however, for this, book one, setting up questions for the next book - in which case, I am intrigued.
I read an Advanced Uncorrected Galley, and it must be mentioned that there were many grammatical and structural errors. However, these were not inductive of poor writing, so much as a lack of editing. As a bit of a grammar Nazi – one of my favorite books is “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” by Lynne Truss – these errors left me disgruntled. However, on a second read through the book, I found the story itself much more enjoyable. I am sure that these errors will be fixed by final publication, and the book itself is good in spite of any problems.
Although “The Aftermath” isn't a game changer or likely to win many prestigious literary awards, it is a solid first release for author Sara Michelle, who shows lots of potential. I would recommend this book to fans of “Twilight” and readers looking for a quick, light-hearted, action, sci-fi and romance....more
“The Battle for Tomorrow” by Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall is narrated by Angela (Ange), who has had to deaREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“The Battle for Tomorrow” by Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall is narrated by Angela (Ange), who has had to deal with lots of adult-level responsibilities in her sixteen years. In her thirteenth year, her mom had a stroke on her right side and lost speech and most mobility. Also at thirteen, Ange had her first abortion. Now, at sixteen, she is getting her second abortion, and while she accepts that her relationship with the 23-year-old political activist is over, Ange is totally convinced of the need for activism.
In fact, Ange is willing to give up her goth-personality for a more responsible looking personality, and move to Washington, D.C. so that she can attend more rallies, particularly a large one later in the fall. Ange, at only sixteen, has some problems on her own, but manages living in a hostel, working at a grocery.
As she attends civil disobedience trainings and starts to lead trainings herself, Ange struggles to lead and interact with adults when they know she’s underage. Additionally, the protocol for dealing with a minor in the event of arrest is problematic and bureaucratic for a minor without a guardian to call upon.
Throughout the book, Ange learns to personally handle her own (temporary) “age-deficiency” and learns how to interact with adults in a mature and responsible way. She also challenges societies’ methods for handling minors, fighting for her right to live independently, without a legal guardian.
Dr. Bramhall’s writing flowed well. Written in first-person narrative, almost stream-of-consciousness style, “The Battle for Tomorrow” used the technique well. Ange’s voice was well-defined and clear. Dr. Bramhall captured the voice of a scared teenager who is still figuring herself out very well.
Although I didn’t agree with some of Ange’s political leanings (e.g., socialism), I admired the passion Ange exhibited, and the resolve she had to act on her beliefs and to see change happen. This inspired me to strive harder to stand up for my beliefs, even in ways that might not be comfortable.
I was also fascinated by the lifestyles I might not normally be exposed to – of living in a hostel, of marching and blockading roads – and I thought the book well-exposed the personal rationales behind any extremist movement.
Although I really enjoyed this book, I would only recommend this book to older readers, as it dealt with mature themes. That said, I would highly recommend “The Battle for Tomorrow” – it was an inspiring and insightful look at political change and the struggle for minors....more
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” by Jacquelyn Castle is narrated by Lexi, a 17-year-old with a perfect life. LexREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” by Jacquelyn Castle is narrated by Lexi, a 17-year-old with a perfect life. Lexi is highly intelligent, has loving, caring parents who (mostly) don’t smother her, and she is dating handsome, rich, British William who is taking Lexi and her parents on a surprise getaway to a tropical island. Well, Lexi’s life is perfect apart from her frequent – and worsening – fainting spells, her horrendous dreams of dragonflies, and now she’s hearing voices.
Then, perfect turns on its end. She gets stuck in a fainting spell. While coming in and out of her coma, she hears William and her mom and dad discussing “finding the right person” and yelling, with worry in their voices. Next thing she knows, she’s awake and nobody remembers William and she supposedly doesn’t remember the accident.
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” involves super powers (yes, super powers as in flying, and shooting lasers, and invisibility, and teleportation, and fighting), dual worlds (not parallel exactly, but co-existent), romance, and mystery. Castle has crafted a believable and creative universe for her story to take place in.
The plot was entirely unpredictable. The only thing I successfully predicted was the happy ending, but I had no idea, throughout the entire novel how that would happen, or, for a large part, what it would look like. The plot was intricate, well-crafted, and compelling. Castle kept twists coming that kept me reading far too late into the night. The ending was maybe a little quick, and I didn't feel that the Evangeline subplot was fleshed out, but these are minor irritants in a largely well-done book. The largest fault I found was that the romance often irritated me – particularly with William – as the plot progressed. However, I am often cynical and unromantic, so that dig might just be me.
Overall, “The Dragonfly Prophecy” was a well-written book with good characters, a multi-layered world and plot, and good writing. I would recommend “The Dragonfly Prophecy” to anyone looking for an original and well-done fantasy novel....more
“Yellow Mini” by Lori Weber follows the story of five teenagers: Mark, Stacey, Annabelle, Christopher, aREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“Yellow Mini” by Lori Weber follows the story of five teenagers: Mark, Stacey, Annabelle, Christopher, and Mary. They are each struggling with issues of identity and voice. When the story starts, Mark’s dad has just died and Mark bought a yellow mini with the money he inherited. Stacey likes driving with popular Mark in his cool car, but sometimes Mark acts just too strange. Annabelle is betrayed when Stacey joins the cool crowd, and turns her energy to anti-consumer activism. Christopher likes Annabelle, but isn't sure how to get her love while keeping true to himself. Mary is an amazing pianist, but freezes in front of a crowd.
The story is told in short chapters of free form poetry, from thirteen different narrators (the kids, and some parents and teachers).
One of the first things I noticed upon opening the book was the uneven lines of poetry. The lines are sometimes short, sometimes long, and rarely rhyme, but the words of a beautiful rhythm and cadence.
For example, Mark writes:
“Driving out, getting away, ribbons of highway beneath my wheels, is the only way I feel real these days.” (p66)
Not only are the words put together well, but each of the characters has a distinct voice. Towards the beginning of the book, I had to make a note of which narrator was speaking, but by the middle, I barely had to glance at the name because their voices and stories (while intertwined) were so unique. I have seen even three narrators done awkwardly, with characters undistinguishable from one another; or heavy-handedly, with characters who were made different to extremes, but Mark, Stacey, Annabelle, Christopher, and Mary were not absurdly different, or hum-drumily similar.
“Yellow Mini” might sound at first like an angsty, emo-poem of teenage struggles, but it’s really much more. It is about finding a voice, a voice that says your own thoughts in your own way. It is about communicating new ideas with old people, old ideas with new people, and learning how to stay silent.
“Yellow Mini” is about growing into who you are, something we all do, more and more every day....more