Sunday, September 30, 2012

Prisoner B-3087

Author: Alan Gratz
Publisher: Scholastic Press

What would you do if you were taken away from your family to a series of horrible concentration camps-–the only reason being you were Jewish? Shortly after Yanek Gruener’s parents and several other family members are taken by Nazis, Yanek himself is taken away. After that, he is taken to the Plasz√≥w Concentration Camp, and after that another camp. Yanek soon realizes that he is used to death now–and finds himself wondering if it would be better to survive or not. 

Prisoner B-3087 is historical fiction, (almost non-fiction, since it is based on a true story by Jack Gruener) so readers that enjoy historical fiction will like this. Another thing about this book is that it is very honest. Younger readers wouldn’t like this book because of some of the violence and cruelty that are present in this novel.

One of the things that I kept remembering throughout Prisoner B-3087 was that it is based on a true story. The level of honesty that the author used was astonishing. One thing that I liked about this read is that it isn’t a detailed look at one concentration camp, but instead a broad look at the series of camps Yanek is sent to, all the way throughout the story. As Yanek progressed through several years of practically torture, I found tears coming to my eyes at how hard it would’ve been to be Yanek during those times. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Author: Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

After suddenly being orphaned, Neryn begin a long journey to a place that might not even be real–Shadowfell. But Neryn is also hiding an incredible magical ability that would not be looked upon kindly by the cruel king that has taken over her country, Alban. As Neryn moves forward, she encounters challenge after challenged that test her in many ways...including Flint, a strange soldier and friend of the king that she can completely trust...or can she?

Shadowfell is a book that would be enjoyed by middle school girls. Since the main two genres in this book are fantasy and romance, readers that enjoy reading those genres will definitely like this book. Anyone who has every lost a family member will be able to empathize with Neryn and her struggles as she attempts to put her past behind her and move on.

I can’t say that I didn’t like Shadowfell, but I didn’t really like it either. I wasn’t impressed with the beginning, which was very slow and boring. After you got through the beginning, it wasn’t a bad book. However, for some reason I couldn’t get into the book–I couldn’t relate to the characters very much, it lacked the suspense and foreshadowing that lots of readers crave when reading, and I lost sight of Neryn’s main goal in the beginning of this novel. Another thing I didn’t like about this book was that it was almost exactly the same basic plot as another book I’ve recently read, making it harder to really get into. 

Note: On page 180, there is a sentence that begins with "fPut on your cloak...".

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Dark Unwinding

Author: Sharon Cameron
Publisher: Scholastic Press

After being sent by your aunt to your uncle’s estate, where he is supposedly wasting the family’s money, Katharine Tulman finds “Uncle Tully”. Uncle Tully lives on a private estate where another nine hundred people he has taken from London and from poverty live. Katharine also finds that Uncle Tully is surprisingly like a child in his commitment to his workshop, where he invents incredible “toys”. But as Katharine suddenly finds herself learning to love Uncle Tully and his strange habits, she also realizes she doesn’t want to betray him to her aunt–but this will prove harder than Katharine thinks. 

The Dark Unwinding is based in the past, so readers with a liking of historical fiction will appreciate this book. Readers that are really looking to think as they read will definitely enjoy this book because of the questions that it makes you think about as you read.

The Dark Unwinding is definitely a book for older readers. Because of the not very fast (but not slow, it’s just the way the book is written) plot, younger readers would probably get bored. Another thing I didn’t like very much about this book was the barrage of names it presented you with. I got confused very rarely, but it did happen, unfortunately. There were lots of names and facts that you had to remember. However, I did like this book in that it made you think a lot. Just about every chapter there was a new question or idea to ponder. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Under the Bridge

Author: Michael Harmon
Publisher: Random House

Skateboarding is what Tate and his brother, Indy, love. School is definitely lower on their list of things they enjoy. But for Indy, it’s not something that is even important. After Indy gets in more trouble with his dad, he leaves home and starts making bad choices. And Tate will have to make good decisions to bring him back-–but what happens when there are so many decisions that it is impossible to know which ones are right?

Some girls might enjoy Under the Bridge, but boys will be more interested in the characters and their problems. Readers that love skateboarding will understand Tate and Indy’s loyalty to it. Also, skateboarders will understand what some of the skateboard tricks are that are mentioned throughout the story.

Under the Bridge is amazing in several ways. First of all, each of the characters is completely unique and realistic. Second, the story pulls you in and doesn’t let go without a fight. And last, but definitely not least, each page offers a new scenario where you ask yourself “what would I do?”. The only thing I didn’t appreciate was that the author occasionally used skateboarding terms that I didn’t know, but you didn’t absolutely need to know what they meant to understand the story.

Mystic City

Author: Theo Lawrence
Publisher: The Inkhouse

Soon you will be married to the love of your life, Thomas...but suddenly you aren’t so sure that he really is the love of your life. Aria Rose lives in future Manhattan, or Mystic City. Mystic City runs on power drained from specific people, called Mystics, who have special powers. The Mystics are singled out and live in poverty away from the rest of Mystic City. And after Aria wakes up and doesn’t remember anything about her supposed romance with Thomas, she starts to dig deeper and uncovers secrets that won’t only change her, how she sees the Mystics, and her family, but all of Mystic City.

Mystic City is a blend of fantasy and realistic fiction. Any girl from fifth grade to eighth grade will love this book. 

I definitely loved Mystic City. Especially the plot and idea that the author introduced. This book was a new sort of genre that is becoming more popular–a sort of futuristic fiction. But Mystic City is different than the other books I’ve read and I really liked that about this book. The only thing I would change is that some areas in the story move too fast and I would miss something and have to reread.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Author: Steve Sheinkin
Publisher: Flash Point

There’s a race going on–-between the Soviet Union and the United States–-to make the first atomic bomb. And it’s an intense race. Spies for the Soviet Union relay information about the atomic bombs the United States is manufacturing. And as the United States draws closer to building the bomb, so does the Soviet Union. 

Since Bomb is nonfiction, readers that enjoy nonfiction books about wars in the past will like this read. Although boys may like this more, some girls will also enjoy Bomb. This book is probably best for middle school to high school readers.

Despite not usually reading or liking nonfiction, Bomb pleasantly surprised me. I’m usually not interested in the topics it covered, but as I read through the book, I found myself very interested and wanting to keep reading. The author managed to create suspense even though I already knew some of the major events that were going to happen. A lot of nonfiction books I’ve read also bombard you with names and dates, but Bomb didn’t, which was very nice for me–and other readers I’m sure.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Fire Horse Girl

Author: Kay Honeyman
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Imagine going with your father and a young man you barely know across the ocean to America–from China. Jade Moon is a Fire Horse, which means she is stubborn and dangerous. When the opportunity arises to leave China, and her old life, behind, she takes the trip of a lifetime. Soon she will be making the toughest choices of her life as nothing seems to go right for her, the Fire Horse girl.

Readers that enjoy historical fiction about the 1920s will really like this novel. Since it deals a lot with Jade Moon and the hard decisions she is forced to make, readers that like strong female characters will love this book. The Fire Horse Girl would be best for high school girls.

The Fire Horse Girl wasn’t a particularly great book in my opinion. The entire story meandered its way along, and was very slow and boring. Despite that, I did learn a lot about how Chinese were treated in America in the 1920s. I would recommend this to older readers and readers that are looking to learn something.

Note: On page 202, the sentence "When I woke the next morning, my fingers were..." has two commas.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Author: Kim Baker (illustrations by Tim Probert)
Publisher: Roaring Book Press

What’s the best cover name for a club that’s actually devoted to pranks? That’s what Ben wonders when he decides to make a club at school for pranks. He invites Frank, Oliver, Bean, and Sienna into his club...the League of Pickle Makers?

Pickle would be best for boys and girls in around fifth grade. Readers that like to play practical jokes will get some good ideas from this book and really want to keep reading.

Pickle is filled with humor and in some parts I was actually laughing out loud. I really enjoyed how unique each of the club members and other characters were, down to what they wore and how they acted. I would have liked this book better if it was longer. I didn’t want it to end and the entire book seemed rather short. Other than that, it was a great read to get a smile on your face.