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Book Review: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

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When Tiki managers to snatch the queen’s own ring from the confines of Buckingham Palace, she is overjoyed. Finally, she can provide her ragtag family of orphans with a real home. What Tiki doesn’t realize is that the ring is the key to an ancient truce between the Fey and mortals, and now that she has the ring, London is thrown into chaos.

This was a thrilling tale with all of the pieces: action, tension, betrayal and budding romance. The courts of faerie were never completely explained, but that was the only fault I could find. I found the cover intriguing and the audience range is 12-15. This is a captivating tale that gives new life to the age-old tales of faeries.

Each and every character is strongly developed, from Toots to Reiner. The plot could have been predictable, but instead is a twisting labyrinth of lies, threats and the rush of new love. Tiki always follows her heart, even when it leads her down dangerous paths. The descriptions of a beggar’s London are complete and eye opening.

-Marissa, age 15

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Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Rory has just arrived in London, but she’s not the only new arrival. Jack the Ripper has returned and is even more terrifying than before. This story has believable characters and surprising twists, though some seemed a bit much and rather far-fetched. It took away some reality, but did make the story interesting. I’d rate it 4 stars — I liked it a lot.

This is a book crafted by a creative mind — the largest twist is shocking and, in my opinion, completely changes the genre of the book! Nevertheless, it is wonderfully executed!

-Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: Saga of the Sioux by Dwight Jon Zimmerman

This is a book that tells the other side of the story — something I’ve been looking for. I liked that it was full of information, but in an easy format. The only thing I didn’t like was that the maps were omitted, but that’s due to the unpublished nature! [Note: this review is of a pre-publication galley of the book]. The chapters were well-planned and the cover striking. This is a book directed toward youth, which was enjoyable, and it was full of useful and fascinating information.

This book truly captures the courage, pride and integrity of the Sioux chiefs. They were continuously wronged, and they fought for what they knew was rightfully theirs. This is an embarrassing blotch on the USA’s history. I’m excited to finally be able to read the Sioux’s side.

– Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

Annabel’s family has been avoiding work for years, so when the new lord comes to town, she is sent to work in his castle as payment. Stern, mauled and foreboding Lord LeWyse is not a welcoming man. Chased by the Bailiff, Annabel is saved time and time again by her Lord. What interest does he have in her?

This was a realistic Beauty and the Beast — a tale of unconditional love fraught with pain and heartbreak. I’d rate it 5 stars — there was nothing I didn’t like about it!

A potent combination of my favorite genres — romance and action, all set in medieval times. Annabel is a perfect heroine, embodying the traits of women both ages ago and today. Humble, shy and caring, she is also quick-witted and unafraid to follow her heart. I immediately connected with her, cheering her on every step of the way. Lord LeWyse is a man with heart-wrenching scars — inside and out. While his beard hides his scarred face, his rough, harsh demeanor hides a heart of gold and a sweet soul. He is fiercely loyal, and committed to doing what is right. I love the way chapters switched between the two. I couldn’t wait to find out what the other was thinking in each event. It gave the piece a three-dimensional quality that I have ever encountered before. This is truly a phenomenal book with characters that are strong and realistic beyond belief and a plot that twists with each page.

One of the best books I have ever read.

-Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

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Dylan and Alek are off to the Siberian wilds to pick up a mystery passenger who turns out to be an eccentric inventor claiming his latest invention – “Goliath” – is powerful enough to stop the war. Alek and Dylan become divided over whether or not to trust Tesla’s odd invention. Then Dylan’s (or Deryn’s) biggest secret is revealed to Alek — will their friendship survive?

Even though I haven’t read Behemoth, I had no trouble understanding what was going on. The plot was action-packed and the Darwinian creatures as creative as they were in the first book. The similar cover styles make this trio easily identifiable and the drawing add a unique flair to the books. This is a wonderful addition to the Leviathan series –a powerful book full of action, adventure, and two types of love — the kind between friends and something stronger. I hope another book is on the way!

Reviewed by Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

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Each person aboard the Titanic had a unique voice and a story to tell — this book is a collection of them all, from the time the Titanic left the dock to the last tragic moment. This is a powerful tribute to the lost souls of the Titanic — everyone is represented, from millionaires to the rats. The format of the writing is refreshing, and each voice different and complete. This book is full of ingenious ideas — from the voice of the iceberg to the Morse code inserts/dictionary throughout. It gives readers a faint idea of the horrors and miracles of the Titanic’s last hours. Overall, a wonderful insight into the fated voyage.

Reviewed by Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer

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The daring Jacky Faber is in trouble once again. After she and Ravi are swept overboard in a typhoon and stranded on a tiger-infested beach, they make their way to Rangoon, where she is captured by a merchant who puts her to work in his black market. Desperate to get back to Jaimy, she is shocked when she hears that Jaimy has turned to crime and succumbed to madness.

I like that Jacky is as strong a character as ever. She uses her considerable intelligence to triumph over her opponents with wit, humor and that special Faber touch. I love the drawn covers and prefer them over the newer photographed ones. I don’t like that the books seem to be getting shorter — but maybe I’m reading faster! I always look forward to the next Bloody Jack book. It seems to be the perfect combination of piracy, adventure, humor and romance. Jacky is the perfect heroine because she’s not always such a heroine. She is very relateable and real — the kind of girl I want to be! She always has some original bit to say — and it’s usually funny. Just when I thought Jacky had done all she could, the cunning twist of Jaimy going mad is added! Where will Jacky take him – how will she heal him and how will she heal from the discovery of Jaimy’s love for the now-dead landlord’s daughter? Overall, another stupendous addition to the Bloody Jack series!

Reviewed by Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

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(Sequel to Matched. This title will be released on November 1, 2011)

Reeling from the abrupt loss of her Aberration love, Ky, Cassia heads into the treacherous Outer Providences to find him. They seem to always be minutes apart until they finally reunite — only to be torn apart by Cassia’s determination to join the Rebellion and Ky’s misgivings. Ky also has to worry about losing Cassia to Xander because Xander has a secret that could make Cassia his forever.

A powerful novel that makes you wonder about your own capacity for love and hate, this is another moving story about love, death, and the reaches of human cruelty. Ally Condie has a talent for weaving many distinct threads into one startling whole.  I loved the alternating chapters. They gave me an insight into the different ways Cassia and Ky viewed the various situations that arise. Both characters had very strong voices, and the supporting characters like Indie, Eli, Vick, and Hunter are all well-developed and distinct — much more so than in the first book. The cliffhanger ending is clearly meant to support another — I can’t wait!

-Reviewed by Marissa, age 14

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Book Review: The Centaur’s Daughter by Ellen Abbott

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(Sequel to Watersmeet)

Still coming to terms with the loss of her father and her newfound home, Absina is shocked when the seemingly perfect community of Watersmeet becomes as divided and hateful as the village she once fled. Now, Absinia must reunite the lands of Uran and Watersmeet, all while adjusting to some startling changes and feelings she is undergoing.

I liked that Absina’s character is as relateable as always, It is easy to connect with her and the situation seems like it happens right outside the door. There was nothing I didn’t like about this book. The cover design features an image of Absina’s face and it immediately made me connect it with Watersmeet. The hooves are a nice, subtle touch of foreshadowing. This is an absolutely stunning companion to Watersmeet. No bookshelf is complete without it.

I admire the way Ellen Abbott is able to weave powerful lessons on prejudice into her works. The lessons never come across as “preachy,” but sink in gradually. As Absina accepts who she is and her role in everybody’s future, it is hard to think back upon the first few chapters of Watersmeet and remember how much she hated and feared dwarves, centaurs, and the rest of the ill-named “beasts.” I was not expecting a sequel and was therefore excited to find The Centaur’s Daughter. I always wondered what happened after the battle with the white worm, how Absina dealt with the death of her father and if she became Keeper. This book answered those questions but left me with more, as well as a sense of eagerness — with the cliffhanger ending, I know there must be another book on the way!

– Reviewed by Marissa, age 14

 

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Blood: Book One in the Mercian Trilogy by K.J. Wignall

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A boy named William is turned into a vampire at the age of 16, when the year was 1256. I like that this book was always keeping you at the edge of your seat. I didn’t like that I couldn’t read the second book right away! I’d recommend this book to fantasy lovers of the ages of 13 and up. I rate it 5 stars — I loved it!

-Reviewed by Vanessa L., age 13