As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

October 27, 2013

THE SUPERNATURALIST by Eoin Colfer, 2005

At Clarissa Frayne, the boys are put to work, testing highly dangerous products. At the end of most days, they are covered with burns, bruises, and sores. Cosmo realizes that if he doesn't escape, he will die. When the moment finally comes, Cosmo seizes his chance and breaks out with the help of the Supernaturalists, a motley crew of kids who all have the same special ability as Cosmo-they can see supernatural Parasites, creatures that feed on the life force of humans. The Supernaturalist soon find themselves caught in a web far more complicated than they'd imagined, when they discover a horrifying secret that will force them to question everything they believe in. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Valette M.

The characters had very definite personalities. From a single sentence I could tell who was talking, from Ditto's sarcastic comments, to Mona's fiesty matter-of-fact, to Stefan's driven way. I loved them all! It was interesting to see how they dealt with the pressure of their circumstances. There world was literally falling apart, and they were a hodge-podge group, thrown together simply to battle the demons of their world. I particularly enjoyed watching Cosmo's as he was forced to grow up well before his time. 

The plot kept me up till one reading. It was something I'd never seen reflections of in other books, completely new. The couple huge plot surprises were utter shocks. Life kept getting worse for our beloved crew. I cried. I laughed. I had my heart ripped to shreds. I loved every word of it.

Eoin Colfer has a style that will sell the story to you, hook, line, and sinker. With only a few sentences he made Satellite city seem strange and depressing. He can name a futuristic object with one word and immediately the reader knows what it is. THE SUPERNATURALIST views the world in such a way that you can't help but fall in love with the main character, Cosmo, as he goes on a journey of heroics and self-discovery.

Market: Young Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Death, Oppression

October 21, 2013

THE HOURGLASS DOOR by Lisa Mangum, 2009

Abby's senior year of high school is going according to plan: good friends, cute boyfriend, and college applications in the mail. But when Dante Alexander, foreign-exchange student from Italy, steps into her life, he turns it upside down. He's mysterious, and interesting, and unlike anyone she's ever met before. Abby can't deny the growing attraction she feels for him. Nor can she deny the unusual things that seem to happen when Dante is around. Soon Abby finds herself drawn into a mystery whose roots reach into sixteenth-century Florence, and she uncovers a dangerous truth that threatens not only her future but the lives of those she loves. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Francesca - high school graduate and huge book worm
Normally when a girl meets a gorgeous new guy and instantly starts to like him, I am a bit wary of the book, but this one surprised me. The author did a good job on making Dante (the gorgeous, foreign guy) really sweet and lovable so you wanted the main character to be with him. 

I also liked how the author was able to show you that you shouldn't let everyone else make decisions about your own life. It is your life and you need to decide what you want to do with it. Even though the book had a cliffhanger and I am not a huge fan of those, I found THE HOURGLASS DOOR very interesting and I kinda found it hard to put it down. It is the first in a trilogy.

Market: Young Adult
Language: very mild
Sensuality: the worst you are going to get is kissing
Violence: There is a bit of fighting but nothing super gory
Mature themes: *spoiler alert* her best friend turns on her, it deals with time travel

October 15, 2013

THE PIRATE AND THE PURITAN by Mary Clayton, 2007

1704 - Dangerous times, when the colonies of the Americas are threatened by Queen Anne's War. It is not the French but a pirate who captures Mercy Penhall, mute Puritan spinster. In fear for her life and virtue yet drawn to the captain in spite of herself, Mercy has unknowingly begun on a course of adventure, heartbreak that will test her courage to the utmost. Edmund Gramercy is an unwilling pirate, forced to join a hostile crew to save his life. He defies them to spare the lives of the vanquished and the virtue of the women. But the mute Puritan girl tempts him like no other. It is best to set her free and never see her again. Yet their paths cross again, then again. Can the impossible become possible for the pirate and the Puritan? (Amazon)

Reviewed by Francesca - high school graduate and huge book worm

I really liked THE PIRATE AND THE PURITAN because it had pirates and romance. I love how Mercy's and Edmund's romance happens and how it develops. Sometimes there scenes together get a little steamy but nothing bad. 

Edmund is not a typical pirate, in fact he is a reluctant one which makes his story even more interesting.  I also love Edmund's friend, Richard. He is humorous and charming. Kinda like Jack Sparrow. All in all it is a good read and romance.

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: mild
Sensuality: there are no sex scenes but there are a couple of scenes that get a little steamy
Violence: they are pirates so there is going to be fighting but there is nothing gory
Mature themes: The main character is kidnapped, beaten up and watched her mother's death

October 10, 2013

THE INVENTOR'S SECRET by Chad Morris, 2013

Abby and Derick have been accepted to the most prestigious secondary school in the world Cragbridge Hall. Due to the inventions of their grandfather, Oscar Cragbridge, they will be able to experience history in 3D, use their minds to literally project visual interpretations of classic literature, and become animal avatars for zoology. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, Abby and Derick must follow clues Oscar left for them that will reveal a dangerous secret. Saving their family will take all of Derick s mind and Abby s heart as they come face to face with a crazed scientist who desperately seeks to change the past. If they fail, the world past and future will never be the same. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Valette M.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of middle grade. I grew out of the stuff long before I hit my teenage years, and have only revisited it for real gems. But, to put it bluntly, I found THE INVENTOR'S SECRET to be one of these gems.

Chad Morris' characters were remarkably believable and relateable. I've found a big thing that puts me off about middle grade is that the plot, the world, and the adult characters are all painted in a simplified middle gradish way. But in the Inventor's Secret, the adults weren't simplified. They actually acted like adults. Of course the kids still saved the day, but the adults weren't weak or stupid. And, even better, the kids weren't whiny or stupid themselves. Many times, middle grade author's try to emphasis something by emphasizing their characters' reactions to it (The monster is scary because the kids act really scared of it, not because it actually is scary). I'm happy to say, there was none of that in here. In fact, it may have been one of the main character's normalness that really drew me to this book. Abby (Derick's twin and the main focus of the book) is average. She wasn't a genius like her brother, or all the other kids at her school, and she could never think of witty things to say. But she still was a hero, simply because she was willing to work for what she wanted. And even though her brother Derick was a genius, he was lovable too. Originally I thought Carol (Abby's friend) would get annoying, but she didn't. And her same irritating traits added a nice flavor to the characters' interactions.

This was not high fantasy, but it was still a fun journey and kept me reading till the end. I appreciated that the world and the plot didn't revolve around the children. Without them, the world would have been destroyed, but they didn't discover some secret power at the last moment or another VooDoo, easy way out. Every victory was won by them as they were. And time travel. I mean come on, what doesn't grab you about that? At first, the plot may sound unoriginal, but Chad Morris successfully freshens it up.

Chad Morris has written a fun story with an aspect about it that makes the adventure genuine entertainment. The action/reaction time throughout the book flowed smoothly, and the end tied up satisfactorily while still leading nicely to a sequel. Quite thankfully, Chad Morris lacks the patronizing tone that so many middle grade authors present to their audience. To sum up, I found it an engaging book and, even though much older that middle grade, was able to enjoy it thoroughly. 

Market: Junior Fiction
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Dealing with tragedy

October 5, 2013

THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943

Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Karina - student, writer, and full-time reader

When I got THE LITTLE PRINCE in my English Academy Class, I expected this book to be like every other book an English Teacher has assigned me to read; dull and uneventful. Mrs. Lefler reassured me it’s a classic and I would adore it. She said that The Little Prince was the book she most looked forward to read and discuss every year. I thought she was just trying to get me to start the assignment. I had no idea that The Little Prince would end up being one of the best books I have ever read.
Part of the assignment was to put a sticky note on a page whenever we found a passage we liked. My copy was covered in sticky notes! Almost every page had a sticky note attach to it. Not only is The Little Prince a cute, fun book to read, but it is a book that makes an impact on your life. If you are looking for a little inspiration, I would definitely recommend this book.
To put simply, The Little Prince is about a boy who has left home to discover the shameful ways of adulthood. Not your body growing old, but your spirit. Between encounters with a king, a drunkard, a lamp lighter, and other strange adults the Little Prince learns a lesson or two on life. After quarreling with a flower, taming a fox and meeting a Pilot who dreams of meeting someone who can finally understand his drawing, the Little Prince finally understand what life is really all about.
I’m in love with this book. More importantly, I’m in love with the characters. I felt a connection with the Little Prince and the Narrator. Though their situation was unrealistic, their emotions and thoughts were real. I could easily relate to the Little Prince’s sadness and frustration. What I thought was unique about this book is that I could also relate to his happiness. I feel most authors tend to focus more on trials and tragedy. Yes, that is very important to have in your book. However, people don’t just mope around all day. We feel happiness as well.
My suggestion is to read this book as soon as you can. The writing is amazing, the characters are lovable, The Little Prince is definitely a must read.

Market: Childrens
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: None
Mature Themes: Loss, Death