Monday, December 8, 2008

King of Thorn (part 1), by Yuji Iwahara

"In a world petrified by the Medusa virus, a syndrome that rapidly turns its victims to stone, only 160 people are selected to be frozen until a cure can be found. Kasumi's one, only she's a twin, and she's forced to leave her sister behind. As expected in stories of this sort, something goes wrong . . . ." Publishers Weekly

"Because the book is so good I must read the next! ~ Reviewed by Paulicia, from Grimsley High School

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chasing the High: A Firsthand Account of One Young Person's Experience with Substance Abuse, by Kyle Keegan.

"I drifted in and out of consciousness for most of the night, not sure where nightmares left off and reality picked up. Several times I hallucinated, thinking someone was calling me from the courtyard down below. I would find myself teetering on a ledge stories up, yelling into the darkness of the cold rain. If I'd had the nerve I would have just hurled myself of the edge and put an end to this sanity."

Now in his 30s with a sucessful job, wife and kids, Kyle Keegan relates in his book the gritty reality behind his drug addiction, which began in his teens, and how he managed to climb out of it to become the successful man he is today. Keegan writes a blunt, truthful, account of his addictions, providing readers with an unsettling view into a world that our media often overlooks. But this is more than just an addict's journal. Chasing The High is cowritten by a physician, and contains valuable information about the different drugs being sold on the streets today, and the reality of being addicted to them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Car Trouble, by Jeanne DuPrau

"It's every high schooler's dream: finish up school and immediately peel out of town in your car to head to your new high-paying job somewhere (Anywhere!) else! And Duffy Pringle did it! Straight out of school he's been offered a hot computer job across the country in California. With visions of a great adventure in mind he takes part of his life savings, buys a used car, and drives off . . . only to end up with a broken car. But hope is not lost as Duffy discovers another way to get there - driving a big chrome-edged '57 Chevrolet Bel Air to it's new owner in St. Louis, Missouri. What follows is definitely not the adventure Duffy was looking for!"

"While not exactly The Great American Novel, Car Trouble is entertaining. I found the characters a little two-dimensional at times, and it took the book several chapters before it really got going. Aside from that, it was pretty good! Reviewed by Robbie

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli

"This book has been heart touching. Maniac Magee's unbelievable characteristic has been the most exciting "make-of-the-book. I suggest this book to everyone that is literate! I give it five stars (out of five)!" Reviewed by Haejin, Jamestown Middle School.
Magic Steps, by Tamora Pierce

"This book was an exciting fantasy book, but parts of it were sad. I enjoyed the excitement and mystery. The book is well-written and intriguing." Reviewed by Hannah, loyal Hemphill Branch teen reader!

Quick plot summary: "When drawn into the investigation of murders perpetrated on a powerful family in Summersea, Sandy and her student Pasco undertake the dangerous mission of entrapping the invisible killers."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Manic: A Memoir, by Terri Cheney

"I think this book was simply amazing. Terri puts the reader smack dab in the middle of her head. The graphic descriptions of mania to hypo-mania to depression, and sometimes in reverse, lets the reader feel her emotions and even hear her thoughts. As a manic-depressive I felt a connection with Terri. I think everyone can. (It was) one of the best books I've ever read." Reviewed by Rebekah, Northeast Guilford High

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling

"Harry Potter #7 is the best book I've ever read in my entire life. My favorite part was the Epilogue." Reviewed by Hai, loyal Harry Potter fan!

We can't think of anyone else who has sustained such an intricate, endlessly inventive plot over seven thick volumes and so constantly surprised us with twists, well-laid traps and Purloined Letter-style tricks. Hallows continues the tradition, both with sly feats of legerdemain and with several altogether new, unexpected elements. Perhaps some of the surprises in Hallows don't have quite the punch as those of earlier books, but that may be because of the thoroughness and consistency with which Rowling has created her magical universe, and because we've so raptly absorbed its rules. ~ Publishers Weekly
The Princess and the Pauper, by Kate Brian

"It was very interesting. It would have deserved more stars (I give it four out of five) if Ingrid, Carina, and most of the people they hung around with didn't smoke; and if she didn't meet Ribbit and hang out with him while he was drunk." Reviewed by Jordan, Hemphill Teen Reader!

A light story generously peppered with modern-day references to movie stars, musical styles, and teenage slang, this novel is perfect for fans of Meg Cabot's "Princess Diaries" series ~ School Library Journal
I am Rembrandt's Daughter, by Lynn Cullen

"This book really gives insight into the true meaning of love. It's based on real historical figures such as Rembrandt and his daughter, and though some parts are sad, the end is like a happy new beginning. It's full of interesting twists and turns. Reviewed by Hannah, a Hemphill Branch teen reader!

Cullen's novel is noteworthy for its emotional depth and sensitive development of characters. Readers will learn about Rembrandt and his art--his radical painting style, his belief that God directed his brush. Around these facts, Cullen creates a powerful family drama, fleshing out father and daughter into whole, heartbreaking individuals whose inner lives are glimpsed with acute sensitivity. ~ Booklist Magazine

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kindgom's Hope, by Chuck Black

"This book is part of a series that uses a medieval background to paint the events of the Old Testament. It's exciting, thrilling and romantic. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Reviewed by Hannah, Hemphill Branch teen reader!

Sorry, but we don't have this series in the library yet. It sounds great!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Girl in Blue, by Ann Rinaldi

"I really enjoyed the Civil War setting, and it was interesting following Sarah's journey from impersonating a soldier to becoming a spy. But I didn't like how the book ended - it left loose ends and wasn't very satisfying." Reviewed by Hannah, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

"Inspired by the war fever of 1861, and tired of her father's mistreatment, 15-year-old Sarah Wheelock determines to run away and join the Union forces to fight the Confederacy. The last straw comes when her father promises her hand in marriage to a man who is twice her age and has the manners of a bear. After she cuts her hair, changes clothes, and lowers her voice, Sarah has few problems passing as a boy: years of hard farm labor have toughened her physically, and she has a natural talent for impersonation. . . . While Sarah and the other characters lack depth, Rinaldi's novel offers an exciting plot based on solid historical research." School Library Journal
Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry, by Henry H. Neff

"This book is the first in a fantasy series. I was completely absorbed in it; it was exciting and captivating. The book had a happy ending, but it leaves off for the next book. I can't wait until it's published!" Reviewed by Hannah, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

"In a hidden alcove within Chicago's Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. He arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy . . . This novel's sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff's storytelling boasts charms of its own." Booklist Magazine

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

"This is an amazing book. It deserves ten stars (instead of just 5). The world the characters live in is perfect. Everyone is alike; but Joan is singled out to learn of "the memories" when there wasn't Sameness. He is the only person that gets to experience holidays, wars, and much more." Reviewed by Jordan ~ Hemphill Branch Teen Reader

"In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world . . " A review by
Slap Your Sides, by M.E. Kerr

"I have never read a book that went through World War II with the setting in America. Usually the World War II stories take place in Germany with their perspectives or the Jewish people's perspectives. It was a nice change, so I could see . . . a different situation. However there was a lack of emotions in the characters." Reviewed by Haejin, loyal Hemphill Teen Reader!

"The 13-year-old son of a Pennsylvania Quaker family admires his oldest brother for adhering to his antiwar convictions despite hostility from neighbors and relatives. "Kerr does not shy away from difficult questions, nor does she resolve them for readers." Publishers Weekly

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kingdom's Dawn, by Chuck Brown

"This is an amazing book which allegorically begins to tell the story of the Old Testament of the Bible. I love the way that the author portrays biblical truths in a medieval setting." Reviewed by Hannah. l Sorry, but the library doesn't own this novel!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, by Walter Dean Myers

"The perfect pick for realistic fiction lovers. It takes place during World War II from the perspective of an American soldier - Scott P. Collins. It may not be the right story for readers who adore fantasy because this book means business!" Reviewed by Haejin, Jamestown Middle School

"Writing in May_ 1944, 17-year-old Collins has no inkling of the massive military offensive he is about to take part in. Myers captures nicely the shift from the fraternity and the boredom of life on the base to the terror and confusion of D-Day. The action and imagery are explicit but not exploitative . . ." Booklist Magazine

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Peter and the Shadow Thieves, by Dave Barry & Ridley Pierson

"One of my favorite books! (It) is equal in greatness to the first book of the Peter Triliogy." Reviewed by Kahlil, Loyal Hemphill Teen Reader.
- - "An evil force is once again trying to obtain starstuff, the magical substance that, among many other qualities, enables Peter to fly and to remain eternally youthful. Peter must visit London to help his friend Molly and her family of starcatchers, leaving the boys on Mollusk Island at the mercy of Hook. Squalid London streets, aristocratic mansions . . . , and even Stonehenge make atmospheric backdrops for bouts with pirates, wolf packs, and a deliciously creepy villain who steals souls from shadows." Booklist Magazine
Scorpions, by Walter Dean Myers

"I love this book. It was packed with action and drama. It was very interesting!" Reviewed by Chris, Hemphill Branch reader!

"Jamal, who is pressured to become leader of the Scorpions gang, worries about school, family, and the rough kids on the street. When a fellow gang member gives him a gun, Jamal suddenly gains a new level of respect from his enemies. A realistic look at a boy who wants to do the right thing but gets caught up in the culture of violence. " School Library Journal

A Newberry Honor Award winner!
Romiette and Julio, by Sharon Draper

"It was a love story . . . just as good as Romeo and Juliette!" Reviewed by Bria, loyal Hemphill Branch teen reader!

"A contemporary retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story with a happy, upbeat ending. Sixteen-year-old Julio Montague's parents have moved their family to Cincinnati, OH, in order to get their son out of his gang-ridden high school in Corpus Christi, TX. Romiette Cappelle, also 16, is the daughter of successful African-American parents and the granddaughter of college professors. When these two young people, both from proud heritages, begin a romance, they must deal not only with their parents' prejudices but also with the threats of a local gang" School Library Journal

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Heather Hills of Stonewycke, by Michael Phillips & Judieth Pella

"This was an interesting historical Christian fiction book, full of romance and intrigue, but the description (in) the book slows the plot down somewhat. It is the first of a trilogy, and I will definately read its sequel" Reviewed by Hannah, Hemphill Library teen reader!

Robbie's note: "Our library has the audio CDs for this book. Check it out!"

Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper

"The book was very good, had a great lesson and moral behind it, and it was very interesting" Reviewed by Bria, Hemphill Branch teen reader!

"This prequel to Draper's Tears of a Tiger is a stark portrayal of a young man struggling to protect his little sister from a drug-addicted mother and an abusive father." Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dancer, by Lorri Hewett

"Two words describe "Dancer": dedication and passion! This book has great promise and bursts out (with) pride. This is just the book for teens who are chasing their dreams and wish to suceed in their desires." Reviewed by Haejin, Loyal Hemphill Branch reader!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When Science Goes Wrong: Twelve Tales From the Dark Side of Discovery, by Simon LeVay

"The book is a cavalcade of mistakes, all of them related to science in some way. (It) discusses what happens when scientific projects encounter unforseen accidents, and how they could have been prevented. The author states that this is not an attack on scientific values, but human error, both ethical and neglect for caution . . . (which) sometime ending in tragedy."

"The book is absorbing, but some readers will be inclined to skip chapters one, three and six because the incidents are retold with too much information. Beside that this is a good book. I rate it four and a half out of five stars. Check it out!" Reviewed by Micah ~ Homeschooled.

"Experimental brain surgery goes horribly awry; a dam fails catastrophically; a geologist leads an ill-equipped party to its doom in the mouth of an active volcano: these are the amazing and sometimes horrific stories of technical errors and scientific mistakes that LeVay relates." Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood

"This book is historical fiction, one of my favorite genres to read. It was exciting and suspenseful; I could hardly put the book down! I enjoyed following the journey of the main character as he overcame obstacles and made real friends." Reviewed by Hannah, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

"Blackwood excels . . . in the lively depictions of Elizabethan stagecraft and street life." Publishers Weekly

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis

"This last Narnia adventure was a battle twisted with tretchery and justice in the final days of Narnia." Five Stars! Reviewed by Brandon, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

"With Eustace and Jill at his side, the King, the noble unicorn Jewel, and a few remaining loyal subjects must stand fast against the powers of evil and darkness and fight The Last Battle to decide the future of this once glorious kingdom." School Library Journal

How I Saved My Father's Life (And Ruined Everything Else), by Ann Hood

"This book has been heart touching! The author has brought the main character - Madeline ~ into a world of obstacles she must face. But Madeline isn't being cooperative; after a lot of events and realizations she comes around, (becoming) a new sister, daughter, and a better person!" Reviewed by Haejin, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer

"WOW - I have never read a book filled with such intensity! Its unique situation made me grip this book, and (I) raced to the end of the story. The author sure made me want to find out its secrets before anyone else." Reviewed by Haejin, Hemphill Branch teen reader.

"Farmer's novel may be futuristic, but it hits close to home, raising questions of what it means to be human, what is the value of life, and what are the responsibilities of a society." Publishers Weekly
Voyage of Slaves: A Tale of the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, by Brian Jacques

"It was a tale of survival, wit, courage and seeking adventure!" Reviewed by Brandon, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader.

The third book in Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series continues the adventures of Ben and the black labrador Ned. Guided by the angel who spared them the fate of the Flying Dutchman's crew, they find themselves once again being used in heaven's fight against evil. ~ Booklist Magazine
The Last Dragon, by Silvana de Mari

"This was an incredible book! I love the mix of romance, adventure and fantasy." Reviewed by Amy, Hemphill Library Branch Summer Reading Program.

"Yorsh is the last of his kind, an elf child in a world that despises elves. He seeks warmth, food, and shelter but has found only cold, rain, and despair. When he meets two unlikely companionships - humans who help him in spite of their prejudices - Yorsh learns of a prophecy concerning the last dragon and the last elf: when these two break the circle there will be a new beginning." School Library Journal

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Dectectives, by Michael Buckley

"This book is an absolute must-read! Its unique combination of reality and fantasy results in hooking the reader with awe. P.S. - Fairy tale characters, princesses, and America's favorites make an appearance, but with a whole new personality, attitude and style. The author, Michael Buckley, looks at fantasy from a whole different level!" By Haejin, Jamestown Middle School
"Buckley has created a world in which humans and fairy-tale creatures live side-by-side in rural New York" School Library Journal
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, by E. L. Konigsburg

"It was in a way interesting. But I think that it was too slow, and it left you hanging in some places." Reviewed by Chris, Hemphill Branch Teen Reader!

"Konigsburg has created another spunky young heroine in The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place (Atheneum, 2004.) Twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane declares her independence when she politely, but firmly, refuses to "fit in" at summer camp. Fortunately, her great uncles Alex and Morris are happy to bring her to their home on Schuyler Place where she quickly learns about a dispute between the elderly men and a neighborhood group." ~ School Library Journal

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finding Grace, by Alyssa Brugman

"This book was intriguing - the characters and the book's conflict started the mysteries that the caregiver, Rachael, finds out (about). Its definitely going to get you to flip the pages with rapid speed! The main character lacked passion - and in my opinion passion is a great factor. Reviewed by Haejin, Jamestown Middle School

Rachel is just starting college when a local attorney who met her during graduation hires her to care for Grace, his former coworker and friend, who has suffered brain damage. The teen approaches the job with her typical perfectionism, but without much compassion. However, as Rachel begins to unfold and piece together Grace's past, she discovers a woman who once lived and loved. As Rachel opens herself up to a new world of experiences, she is forced to admit that she doesn't know everything. Brugman has written a novel that is both funny and heart-wrenching. ~ Booklist Magazine

High Strung, by Quinn Dalton

"I give this book 3 out of 5 starts because it was interesting but it did not explain or give enough details about the main character and the situation that she was in. It left us hanging!" Reviewed by Chris as part of the Hemphill Branch Summer Reading program!

"A quietly moving debut novel" ~ Booklist Magazine

Monday, September 8, 2008

Code Orange, by Caroline Cooney

"Code Orange was a "one-of-a-kind." You'll never find a book that matches it . . . My only concern is that it may not grab and hook the reader first thing . . ." Reviewed by Haejin.

While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.
Planet Pirates, by Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon & Jody Lynn Nye

"Hard working doctor Lunzie Mespil's life gets turned upside down when an accident leaves her in cyrogenic sleep for over sixty years. The book has an interesting plot, but I don't know why the authors McCaffrey and Nye wasted so much of the reader's attention on unnecessary plot details before getting into the more typical Science Fiction action. Besides this the book was alright, but far from the best."

I rate it 3 and 1/2 stars (out of five).

Reviewed by a Anonymous Teen Reader [Please remember to sign your book reviews! We are concerned with your privacy on the 'net, so we only share your first name and school here on Cool Books for Teens! ~ Robbie]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

River Secrets, by Shannon Hale

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the books of Bayern series, where River Secrets was the third book. It's suspicion and thrilling environment surrounded me - and I demanded more! However its excitement came pouring down near the end of the book, with not so much in the beginning."

Reviewed by Haejin, Hemphill Summer Reading program
Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, by Lauren Barnholdt

"When a person starts lying about her "fabulous life and popularity" she cannot stop her sin. This is exactly what happens to middle schooler Devon Delaney. It's unpredictable on what she's planning to do next, and the story builds until the flabergasting climax!"

Reviewed by Haejin, Hemphill Branch Summer Reading Program
The First Part Last, by Angela Johnson

"I felt that this book gets 5 (stars) because it is about how a 16 year old boy named Bobby's life changed when he saw that his girlfriend Nia was pregnant. It shows before and after the baby is born."
Reviewed by Tyrin, Hemphill Summer Reading Program.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gorilla Doctors, by Pamela Turner

"Learn about gorillas from the veterinarians point of view. And (though) poachers are a threat to the wildlife of Africa, disease must also be addressed. The book has an organization in the back you can contact to help. Great for anyone into great ape conservation!"

Reviewed by Micah, Homeschooled

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, by Stephen A. Marshall

"This hefty book undertakes the gigantic task of trying to classify the world's know insect groups. And while this most likely is an impossible task, this book gives it's best shot. The chapter on insect classification is superb. This probably more of a text book, and unless you want to pick through it's probably not best for those of us that want to a quick read." - Reviewed by Micah, Homeschooled.

Dangerous Girls: The Taste of Night, by R.L. Stine

"Livvy Weller wants her twin sister, Destiny, to join her on the darker side as a vampire, but Destiny is determined to restore Livvy to her human condition and bring her back home to their family." - Publisher's review

(This book is terrific) "because it teaches you how you shouldn't run away from home, and how much your family would miss you." - Reviewed by Antonia, Jackson Middle School.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Crossroads, by Chris Grabenstein

"The book is well written and easy to follow along with. The plot is engaging and the story original. I personally felt connected somehow to the main character and found it easy to relate. Overall this is a well written story."

Reviewed by Derek

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Testament of the Dragon, by Margaret Weis

"Justinian, Earl of Stearling, was a happy man until the plague struck England and killed his family. Then he sold his soul to a dragon for the power to become a strange beast called Wyrm, and do his master's evil bidding. But is Justinian human enough to know whether his master is truly good or evilf? The book is interesting with its dragon concept, but the amount of violence makes it less desirable. For that I give it no more than three stars (out of five)."

Reviewed by Micah, Homeschooled

Reviewed by Micah

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper, by Michael Reisman

"This is a exciting story about Simon Bloom, a ordinary (but slightly nerdish) 6th grader who finds an ancient book that actually gives him control over the laws of physicis. The adventures he and his friends have are mind-boggling! Gliding down gravel hills like they were made of snow, leaping impossible distances, floating in their bedroom like they were in zero-G, it's one adventure after another! Of course there's a bad guy (there always is), but that what keeps the story moving!"

Reviewed by Robbie:-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

American Beauty, by Zoey Dean

"This book is awesome!! Teenagers can see . . . the perfect life that they desire"

Reviewed by Trinh, Western Guilford High School
There's a Girl in my Hammerlock, by Margaret Bechard

"This book can express teen's thinking. Girls always want to find themself. This book is wonderful!"

Reviewed by Trinh, 11th grade at Western Guilford

Monday, July 21, 2008

Keeper of the Night, by Kimberly Willis Holt

"The author really gets you into the book and the girl's life. Her mother dies and she wants to know why she killed herself. But on that journey she discovers how to open up to people and herself."

Reviewed by Tiffany, Smith High graduate of '08!

And here's the New York Times Review of Keeper of the Night!

Mexican High, by Liza Monroy

"What do you think when you read a book and you get new views in(to) another world? I kept reading this book, and I realized I was really excited to know what happened next. This novel is like a new lesson. Thanks Lisa Monroy, you are a awesome author!" Reviewed by Trinh, Western Guilford.
"This is a story about a 17 year old girl (Mila) who moves with her Mom back to Mexico City after living in the U.S., and the clash in culture that she encounters. Mila also trys to solve the mystery behind her Mexican father, who has been long absent from her life." Reviewed by Robbie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

"This book explains a complicated relationship between a clumsy girl and the vampire she falls in love with. It's romantic in a sweeter way than other vampire love novels. The romance adventure . . . is at a "PG 13" level."
Reviewed by Sabrina, who attends Weaver Academy

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rewind, by Jan Page

Like a bolt of lightening, teenager Liam was struck one day by the novel idea: start a band! He thought he could play a drum (not that he had a set), and his friend’s Daz and CJ could sort-of maybe play guitar and keyboard, so what’s to loose? And so the band Salamander was formed. But at their first gig a terrible accident happens, and Liam finds himself (as a ghost) back in the days to when his mom and pop were teens in their own band!

Liam finds himself faced with a dilemma. Can he right the wrong that cost one of their band members his life? And will his meddling cause himself never to have been born? This is an interesting British book filled with lingo like “telly” and “blue bloody moon,” but still a fun read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes books that challenge you to think “what if I could have changed . . . “
Reviewed by Robbie