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BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:20 PM

BOOK REVIEWS: Temporary Location
Since the book review portion of the site is temporarily under construction, new reviews will be posted here for a while. Remember to check the list of available books, the requirements for being a reviewer (25 forum posts and an application on the site), and dedication to sharing your thoughts by sending us a book review within a month of getting a book. For now, we will also post new books from our generous publishers as they come.
The reviews are in the posts below...

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:21 PM

The Center of the World
The Center of the World
Andreas Steinhöfel (Translated by Alisa Jaffa)
Had I not had a transatlantic flight to fill, I never would have had the patience to finish this novel. The abstract, pretentious title gives no clue to the book’s content, but aptly describes the author’s opinion of himself. Although the novel was almost huge enough to bring the plane down into the ocean, nothing about the main character in all 466 pages, not even his name, has stuck in my memory. Oh, except he is gay, a fact that Andreas Steinhöfel expects us to find so riveting that no further characterization is necessary. I think the author is aiming at ‘gritty realism’, but he tends to miss this mark. His sub-plots are unlikely (featuring some unlikely sexual exploits), and his characters are unlikable. I recommend this book to you only if you are locked in a library, and have read every other book there. 0 out of 5.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:22 PM

The Burn Journals
The Burn Journals
Brent Runyon
This is not a book that could be called a joy to read, but it is one that I guarantee will leave a lifelong impression in your mind if you choose to subject yourself to it. Reading The Burn Journals often feels like reading fiction, in fact I got a chill every time I glanced at the cover, and was reminded that the central character has the author’s name.
Being a teen is not easy, although few of us would decide to kill ourselves to escape it all. Brent Runyon did, at fourteen. Suicide remains a powerful taboo, and nowhere outside of this book could you find a more honest, up-front, or graphic confrontation of the issue. Somehow, you will find yourself strongly identifying with an eight-grader who set himself alight, you might begin to feel what it is to be a self-conscious, hormonal teen in a ruined body, but you will never understand what made Brent throw a gasoline-drenched towel round his shoulders and strike that match.
This autobiography is suitable for all teens, a must-read for boys of Brent’s age especially. 5 out of 5.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:22 PM

Garden of Angels
Garden of Angels
Lurlene McDaniel
Garden Of Angels is a touching and inspiring story about the Quinlin family. The story is set in 1974 in the small town of Conners, Georgia. It is a time when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and when few people knew and talked openly about breast cancer. The story is told from the point of view of Darcy, a straight A high school freshman who is not as popular or as pretty as her older sister, but is a very endearing character due to her strength, wisdom and courage.
As the story unfolds, Darcys mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. While the Quinlin family struggles to accept this sad news, Darcy also struggles with the powerful feelings she has for Jason, the new boy in school. Amidst all the conflict in her life, she finds solace in her mothers beautiful garden.

Garden Of Angels has touched me so deeply that I was literally teary-eyed while reading the book. It has brought back memories from my own life, back to the time when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and I was one of the people who helped care for her. The story affirms the fact that regardless of time, setting or race, the emotional effects of cancer to the person diagnosed with it, as well as to the people who surrounds her, is basically the same. The pain of witnessing the one you love suffer, the emotional struggle, the hardship of letting go and finding the courage to move on is so skillfully and realistically portrayed in the story.
If you like to read a story about the strength of a family, the beautiful relationship between mother and daughter, the ravages of war, falling in love for the first time and an unwavering faith in God, then Garden Of Angels is the book for you. Author Lurlene McDaniel really is a profound writer. I look forward to reading more of her work.
I would rate this book a 4. I recommend it for any young adults or older.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:23 PM

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
I read the fiction novel Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Danica Shardae is the heir to the avian throne, the Tuuli Thea is the title she will inherit soon. Her guards tell her that she must be careful, as the only remaining heir, and that the serpiente, the culture her people have been at war with for longer than anyone can remember, are evil. No one can remember why they are fighting, how the war was started, or even what peace is, besides what is in songs. The only reason they are still at war, is because both cultures wont stop until someone has won, or they are just fighting to avenge all of those who were killed in the innumerable battles. After the loss of too many family members, friends, and people, Danica will do anything to stop this war, and maybe create a peace with the enemy she has never known anything other than lies an fear.
Zane Cobriana is the heir to the serpiente throne, Diente is the title he will inherit when he chooses his mate. He has been raised in this bloody war fare, and is just as determined as Danica to end the war, if not more so.
When they are both proposed with a plan that could end this war, but what they need is for them to be able to trust each other, and therefore have their people trust each other, but is trust more than they can give?
I recommend this book to both boys and girls ages eleven and up. I would rate it a 4, on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best. This book is a wonderful book that embraces what teenagers feel like, and what war can cause. All in all a wonderful book full of descriptions and emotion.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:23 PM

American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert
American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm
By, Gail Buckly and adapted for young people by, Tonya Bolden
I would recommend this book to teenagers in grades 6-8, regardless of gender. Anyone who has taken an American history class will know a lot of the information that is written in this book. American Patriots is a quick read (219 pages) and is very easy to understand. I would rate it a 3 (1-4, 4 being best).

This book covers the following wars: The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, World War I, Spanish Civil War, World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm. More information is written about modern wars (past 70 years), then is written for older wars. Eighty-four pages are written on Wars within the past 70 years. This is compared to 118 pages covering 150 years.
One of the strong points of this book is that the author makes many personal connections involving her ancestors. Another positive aspect is that Gail Buckley tells the story of the war, and then goes back and says how the Blacks contributed to the American cause in that war. A third part of this book that I liked was that it was historically accurate. I did research on information I thought was questionable, but everything I checked was correct. The only major weakness of this book was that I knew a lot of the information on the wars from American History, and I could predict was going to happen next. In that respect this book was somewhat boring. Overall, I would suggest this book to a friend.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:24 PM

Demon In My View
Demon In My View
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Demon In My View is a stereotypical science fiction novel, but it does the cliche well. This book is a 4 on a 1-4 scale, 4 being the best, and is aimed at girls aged 14 to 17. The story chronicles a week (or so) in the life of Jessica Allodola, the highly intelligent loner who also happens to be an acclaimed author, writing under the psuedonym Ash Night. Things start getting a little weird when the characters in her book show up in her town and at her school. They're vampires to boot. Jessica forages into the nightmare world of her books to discover horrifying and sometimes darkly cool things about herself and the demon world she thought was only in her head. The author, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, writes superbly and creates a story that if simple in deliverance lacks nothing in plot and suspense. This book comes highly recommended especially since the author is a teenager.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:24 PM

Goddess of Yesterday
Goddess of Yesterday
Caroline B. Cooney
Goddess Of Yesterday, written by Caroline B. Cooney is a historical
fiction book written about a young girl named Anaxandra, who, at the age of
six, is taken as a hostage, and raised by her captor, King Nicander and his
wife Petra. Raised as if she was their daughter, she is a happy, thriving
young woman until the day the pirates came and burned her home. Orphaned,
and left alone, she builds herself a shelter until king Menelaus comes and
takes her with him. Assuming the identity of a princess, she is safe, until
she meets Helen of Sparta who knows she is not a princess. When Paris of
Troy robs the city, Anaxandra poses as Helen's daughter while the real
princess escapes. Now what can she do? Should she assume the identity of
another in order to survive?
I recommend this to all girls about the ages of twelve to sixteen,
although older girls might enjoy it also. On a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the best, I
would rate this book a 3. It will help to know a bit about
Greek mythology when reading this to help you understand how early Greeks
based their behavior on their belief in the gods. This is a wonderful story
that can take you right into the life of this struggling teenaged girl, who
is caught in the middle of a war. Cooney puts so much description, and
character building into this book you get caught up in it and forget you are
not really aboard a ship during a storm, or watching Queen Helen at a feast.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:25 PM

Trickster's Choice
Trickster's Choice
Tamora Pierce
The new series, Trickster's Choice, by Tamora Pierce follows Aly, the daughter of the much loved Alanna from the Song of the Lioness series. The book follows after she is swept up by a race of people she has never known before, on an island she has only heard of in stories. When Aly goes sailing and is captured by pirates, she is sold as a slave on the Copper Isles. Bought by no one, she is given away with another slave to the Balitang family. But soon she learns that there is a reason behind her adventure.
Kyprioth, the god of the sea around the Copper Isles, and a trickster, has chosen her to create the destiny of the Isles. He makes a wager with her. If she can keep the Balitang children safe for the entire summer, then he will send her home. It will be a long road, with many dangers ahead. But some times even things like friendship and love come out of the worst situations.
Trickster's Choice, by Tamora Pierce, is a great story for anyone ages 13 to 17 who loves a good fantasy. I think that most readers will give it two thumbs up and won't be able to wait for the rest of the series to hit the bookstore.

BookReviewEditor 11-11-2005 08:25 PM

Alias Series
Alias: Disappeared
Lynn Mason
For ages 13 and up.
In Disappeared, college student and amateur spy for the CIA,
Sydney Bristow, is on her second mission,
on which she has to pretend to be a dangerous arms
dealer. She goes to Scotland and stay at a
haunted old castle with other arms dealers, and she
is all on her own, unlike in the first book. This is
Sydney needs to use all her spy training to survive.
Although I like the story, this book is not as good as Alias: A
Secret Life. The castle is described very well, but
the rest of the scenery and characters are sketchy.
But this book has enough action and excitement to keep
me reading so I give this book a 3 out of 4.

Alias: A Secret Life
by Laura Peyton Roberts
A Secret Life, is based on the tv show, Alias. In this
book, the main character, Sydney Bristow, is a college
student who also happens to be a spy for the CIA. She gets sent
to Paris to pose as a rich wife of an internet
millionaire so she can find out if a clothing designer
is laundering money is actually corrupt. This is
Sydney's first assignment, so she is nervous at first. She gets into
the assignment well when
she finds out that Noah Hicks, an agent she likes, is
posing as her husband. I gave this book a 4 out of 4
because it kept my interest the entire time. I like
how the author described Paris in detail and how I can
relate to Sydney, even though she is a spy. This book
is well-written and the action is great. I especially
like knowing how a spy works. This is a fun book to

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