Category Archives: YA book reviews

Jedi Apprentice Book Series Review

Jedi Apprentice by Jude Watson: Best Star Wars Book Series

jediapprenticebookcover

Can’t get enough of all things Star Wars? Did you know that Star Wars characters live on in a number of different book series, many of them aimed at youth readers?

My son is a huge Star Wars fan, so we checked out every Star Wars book in the LA County library system, plus we bought plenty many for the collection on his shelf.  I’ve read most of them as well.  By far, our favorite series is the Jedi Apprentice Series by Jude Watson (one book is by Dave Wolverton).

Jude Watson writes with great suspense, character development, and continuity of the Star Wars story.  She tells each story in a way that not only builds drama, but also reveals the Jedi ethos. She tells a good story that appeals to kids as well as adults.

Jedi Apprentice books have Accelerated Reading Tests. The AR interest level for Jedi Apprentice is between 4-6 and the AR points for Jedi Apprentice are usually about 4 points.

You can read each book out of order and it will make sense. But if you read the Jedi Apprentice series in order you will see references to prior books and the details keep continuity.

We have read other Star Wars book series, and they are OK, but Watson’s are the best.  Highly recommended. All the Jedi Apprentice Books at Amazon are available at this link.

A summary of the plot of each book at Wikipedia is below.

  • The Rising Force by Dave Wolverton (45 BBY) (Y)
  • The Dark Rival by Jude Watson (45 BBY) (Y)
  • The Hidden Past by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Mark of the Crown by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Defenders of the Dead by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Uncertain Path by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Captive Temple by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Day of Reckoning by Jude Watson (44 BBY) (Y)
  • The Fight for Truth by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Shattered Peace by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Deadly Hunter by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Evil Experiment by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Dangerous Rescue by Jude Watson (43 BBY) (Y)
  • The Ties That Bind by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Death of Hope by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Call to Vengeance by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Only Witness by Jude Watson (41 BBY) (Y)
  • The Threat Within by Jude Watson (40 BBY) (Y)
  • Special Edition #1: Deceptions by Jude Watson (41 BBY – 29 BBY) (Y)
  • Special Edition #2: The Followers by Jude Watson (40 BBY – 28 BBY) (Y)
  • Related post:
    Lego Rock Band Review

    Best Book Series for Boys

    LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

    Recommended Books for Boys in Middle School

    Best Books For Boys: A List on Amazon

    Everyone knows about the Harry Potter book series, which appealed to boys, girls, and adults, too.  But did you know there are several other excellent book series for tween boys out there? Here’s a list of some great books for middle school boys. If you like the first book in the series, you will probably like the rest. Click on the name of the series to read a review.

    Just like Harry Potter, each of these book series has a movie either out or in the works. Also, all of them have boxed sets available for great deals on Amazon.

    Percy Jackson & the Olympians series review

    Rick Riordan has written five books in the Percy Jackson series
    The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

    The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)

    The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)

    The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4)

    The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5)

    Ranger’s Apprentice series review

    John Flanagan has written 10 books in the series. Seven have been released in the U.S. so far.

    The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)

    The Burning Bridge (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2)

    The Icebound Land: Book Three (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    The Battle for Skandia: Book Four (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    The Sorcerer of the North: Book Five (Ranger’s Apprentice)

    Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of Macindaw: Book 6

    Erak’s Ransom (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 7)

    Ranger’s Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel: Book 8

    Halt’s Peril (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 9)

    The Emperor of Nihon-Jin This book is not available on Amazon yet.

    Note that the books come out in Australia first. The last one to come out in the U.S. is book 7, Erak’s Ransom, which came out in January, 2010. The later books have not been released in the U.S., although you may be able to get them from sellers who import them and re-sell them. Check the links above to order through Amazon.

    Artemis Fowl series review

    Eoin Colfer has written seven books in the Artemis Fowl series.

    Artemis Fowl (book 1)

    Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

    Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

    Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

    Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

    Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

    Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    Jeff Kinney has written five books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

    Diary of a Wimpy: The Ugly Truth

    Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice Book Series by Jude Watson

    Artemis Fowl: Fun Book Series for Boys (and Girls)

    artemisfowlbookcover

    Review of Artemis Fowl Books

    Why is it so hard to find good books for tween boys?  When my 6th-grade daughter goes to the library, we come out with stacks and stacks of books. But when I take my 4th-grade son, we often come out empty-handed. Or we get a book, he reads a few pages, and pronounces it “boring.”

    When he is hooked on a book series, however, he can’t get enough.  Recently he just finished two book series for boys he loved: Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Ranger’s Apprentice.  My daughter mentioned that boys in her class liked a series called Artemis Fowl. So at a recent trip to the library I checked out the first two Artemis Fowl books.

    I starting reading the first book just to see what it was about, and I could not put it down. Within a couple of days I was back at the library getting the rest of the series and all three of us devoured them.

    Kudos to the author, Eoin Colfer, for plots, characters, and action and humor that appealed to all of us.

    Colfer’s hero (or perhaps anti-hero) Artemis is a super-bright, rich, articulate 12-year-old with supreme confidence.  He is also a criminal mastermind intent on amassing an even greater fortune. The kid comes up with brilliant plots, and his buff bodyguard Butler, who is trained in martial arts and carries array of lethal high-tech gadgets, helps him to carry them out.

    When we first meet Artemis, he is planning to rob gold from fairies. But these are not your typical fairies. “Die Hard with fairies” is how Irish author Eoin Colfer describes his books.  His magical beings are an advanced civilization with amazing technology and powerful weapons.

    Colfer’s inventive plots have tons of twists and surprises that pull you through the adventures.

    The settings include Fowl Manor, where the Artemis has a mansion any boy would envy, various places around the world Artemis flies to in his private jet, and the Lower Elements, the world inhabited magical beings, which Colfer describes in rich detail.

    Readers come to know quirky, charismatic characters with an edge, among them:

    Artemis Fowl, a preteen prodigy with a huge bank account and the toughest bodyguard in the world. Although he is greedy and ruthless, Artemis can do the right thing at times. He is still figuring out his place in the moral order.

    Domovoi Butler, a loyal bodyguard with cool weapons who has no problem taking orders from a 12-year-old.

    Captain Holly Short
    , a gutsy female LEPrecon officer who sometimes bends the rules to save the day

    Foaly, a wise-cracking techie centaur who is a genius in his own right coming up with amazing gadgets that give his side an edge

    Mulch Diggums, a dwarf thief who uses explosive flatulence to help tunnel his way into places through impenetrable.

    Opal Koboi, Foaly’s nemesis, an evil genius pixie who comes up with diabolical (and extremely clever) plans to rule the world

    Accelerated Reading and Artemis Fowl Books
    The Artemis Fowl books have accelerated reader tests.  The accelerated reading interest level is between 5 and 6AR Points for Artemis Fowl books range from 10-13.  Adults will enjoy them as well.

    Artemis Fowl Movie
    A film based on the first two books is reportedly in development. A script has been written, but the film been delayed several times.

    Artemis Fowl Series Books

    Artemis Fowl (book 1)

    Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

    Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

    Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

    Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

    Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

    Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

    Other Artemis Fowl books
    The Artemis Fowl Files (2004)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (2007)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Arctic Incident (2009)
    Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Eternity Code (20xx)

    My son, almost 10,  ranks the Percy Jackson and Ranger’s series above Artemis Fowl, but I think I actually liked the Artemis Fowl series better.  Lots of humor and wit with likable characters and inventive plots.  Action packed but not scary.  Artemis Fowl books rate among the best books for middle school boys. Let me know if you like Artemis Fowl, and if you have other books to recommend to this age group.

    If you read the first book in the Artemis fowl series, you will want to read them all.  Amazon a boxed set of the first five Artemis Fowl books. The set would make a great gift for a tween boy.

    LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

    related posts:

    My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

    My review of the Percy Jackson series

    Battle of the Boys Books: Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

    Lego Rock Band Review

    Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

    I asked my almost-10-year-old son a tough question: if you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take one book series, which would you take: Ranger’s Apprentice Series or Percy Jackson series He had a tough time. Finally he noted that one series had more books. So maybe he would pick that one. Otherwise it’s a dead heat.

    Finding good books for boys his age is so hard I am thrilled he is so excited about both these series. He is also reading the Artemis Fowl Series now, but Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice have him begging me to take him to the library, and when the books are not there, to the book store.

    Both Ranger’s Apprentice and Percy Jackson series published new books in January, 2010. Book number 7 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series came out in January, and a special “movie”edition” of book 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians came out as well. I’ve found that most of the books in both series have waiting lists at our library, (LA County Library system).

    Lightening Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series
    The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
    rangerapprenticepic
    The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice Series

    Number of Books in the Series

    Both writers Rick Riordan and John Flanagan are prolific, coming up with new adventures for their young heros (who age as the books continue). In the U.S. the score is Percy Jackson: 5 books, and Ranger’s Apprentice: 7. Flanagan has written 10 Ranger books, but the last three have not yet been released in America.

    AR Rating

    Both books have AR tests.  Ranger’s Apprentice has a slightly interest level (between 6 and 7) than Percy Jackson (between 4 and 5).  This means they probably appeal to readers in 6 and 7th grade vs those in 4th and 5th grade. Although I think both books appeal to a much wider range.

    Ranger’s Apprentice books also have higher AR points possible (between 12 and 14). AR points for Percy Jackson range from 3 to 13 with many between 9 and 10.

    Action

    Both series are packed with suspenseful action and plot development.  Both feature both battle strategy and detailed descriptions of battles.  Both have fierce enemies.  Both have cool weapons. Percy Jackson has more mythological characters.

    History

    Although both series are fictional adventure stories, they both teach you something about history and culture. In Percy Jackson books you learn about Greek mythology, and in Ranger’s Apprentice books you learn about Medieval times.

    Characters

    Both have likable, young, male protagonists with various sidekicks and friends. Ranger’s may have more in-depth character development of some of the characters.

    Movies

    We’ve already seen the trailers for the first Percy Jackson movie, based on The Lightning Thief. The movie is due out next month (Feb). Ranger’s Apprentice has a script and a director, but no word on when it might be out.

    Video Games

    Nintendo has a game in the works based on the first book and movie of Percy Jackson. The video game is a tactical role-playing game for Nintendo DS that puts players in command of Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods as they battle for survival in a world ruled by vengeful Greek gods. Nintendo says the game will be in stores when the movie comes out. No word on a video game for Ranger’s Apprentice as of yet.

    Cover Art

    It’s interesting to see what publishers come up with for cover art for tween and teen readers. My kids are voracious readers, and as a graphic artist I appreciate the thought and creativity put into book covers. The U.S. editions of both Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice series are stunning. As a personal preference, I like Ranger’s a bit more.  Pubishers sometimes change the cover art when they release books in different countries or when they do a second printing.  If you do a Google image search you will see differences in covers in both of these series.

    Accolades

    Both books have garnered praise from critics and been on the New York Times best-sellers list. Both have been published in several different countries.

    Websites

    Both books have official websites, and to be honest, I find both annoying, just because they take too long to load and I do not always like background music or spooky rainfall and wind howling. Kids probably love it though. On the Ranger site you can log in to become a “Ranger” and get access to more info on the site. Even without doing that you can download beautiful graphics for your desktop. There’s some interesting info about the author. On the Percy site there is a page describing all the Olympian Gods and Monsters. It also has downloadable games and wallpaper. You can also access the trailer for the new movie.

    Rick Riordan has an author’s website that has some additional features without all the fancy sounds and effects.

    My reviews

    My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series
    My review of the Percy Jackson series
    My review of the Artemis Fowl series
    My review of Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice book series

    Let me know how you think how these two great book series compare. Both books have special deals on sets on Amazon.

    Percy Jackson Book Series: Review

    Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Greek Mythology Meets Modern 12-year-old

    Lightening Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series


    My almost 10-year-old son and his friends all love the Percy Jackson series, in which a young boy helps the Greek Gods battle mythological monsters in modern-day America.  My son has read almost all the books (we still gotta get the latest that just came out) and can’t wait to see the movie when it comes out next month.

    The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by bestselling-author Rick Riordan is about a 12-year-old kid who figures out  is a demigod . . . his mom is human, but his dad, (who left his mom before he was born) was a god.  Percy has to solve the mystery of his identity and discover what powers he possesses.  Percy and his demigod friends train in the ways of the Greek gods at Camp Half-Blood. They end up helping to save the world by fighting a seriously powerful bad guy, the titan lord Kronos and his mythological monsters. In the first book of the series, The Lightning Thief, Percy and his pals journey across the US to catch a thief who stole Zeus’ master lightening bolt. Other books in the series present Percy with other tough challenges. They all come complete with characters straight out of Greek mythology.  What’s fun is to see how Riordan devises ways for the mythological creatures to act in our time and to see how a typical 12-year-old would act with mythological powers. Along the way, of course, Percy learns things about himself.

    The book is written from Percy’s point of view, complete with phrases and attitudes typical of a 12-year-old. Percy is just a guy with all the insecurities and issues any boy might have, but he is also a powerful superhero. My son and all his friends in 4th, 5th and 6th grade love these clever, fast-paced books.  The Percy Jackson series has garnered tons of awards and been on best-seller lists. A top choice for boys who love adventure, although girls might like it, too.  The books are on the Accelerated Reader lists, so if your school uses AR tests, you can get AR points for reading them. The first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, has an AR interest level for middle grade students, a book level of 4.7 and possible AR points of 13.

    An added learning bonus: kids learn all about Greek mythology.

    The movie—The first book is being made into a movie, now in post-production, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by 20th Century Fox, scheduled for release February 12, 2010. The title role is played by Logan Lerman, 18, of Beverly Hills. Filming took place in Vancouver, Canada, but portions of filming also took place in Nashville, Tennessee, at a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens. A second film on the next book in the series is also planned. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters is scheduled to be released sometime in 2012.

    You can sign up now at Amazon to be notified when the DVD or Blu-Ray of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is available.

    A Percy Jackson Video Game for Nintendo based on the first book and movie is also out. The video game is a tactical role-playing game for Nintendo DS that puts players in command of Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods as they battle for survival in a world ruled by vengeful Greek gods. Several Percy Jackson toys based on the books and movie are also out.

    The Percy Jackson Books
    The Lightning Thief
    The Sea of Monsters
    The Titan’s Curse
    The Battle of the Labyrinth
    The Last Olympian

    By the way, Amazon has a great deal on a box set of the first three books.

    Related posts:
    Ranger’s Apprentice book series review
    Percy Jackson & the Olympians vs. Ranger’s Apprentice
    Artemis Fowl book series review

    Review of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

    Reviewed by sk8tergirl

    The Story

    Twilight is about a high school girl who moves from sunny Arizona to rainy Washington to live with her dad. . . and ends up falling for a boy at her new school who turns out to be a vampire.

    Characters

    Bella Swan

    Edward Cullen

    Rating

    5 stars! Plus googleplex stars!

    What I liked

    O.M.G.! I LOVE this book SO much! Twilight has it all: suspense, action, and drama all together! Even a little mystery. Not so good for guys, though. Really mushy, lovey-dovey. Cliff-hangers. Edge-gripping. CAN’T PUT IT DOWN! I liked the first book the best.

    Other Books in Series

    I could not put Twilight down, and I read the first book in one day.  I tried to get the next one at the library . . . but was number 422 on the waiting list at the LA County Library! The suspense was killing me, so  I had to go out and buy book 2.  Read that in one night.  Found I would have hundreds on the waiting list in front of me at the library for book 3, so I went and bought that one, too.  And then book 4.  You can now buy the series as a collection on Amazon, and if you do not have any of the books yet, that is what I would do. You save a lot of money that way.  And believe me, you are going to want them all right away!

    New Moon

    Eclipse

    Breaking Dawn

    The Movie

    Twilight the movie
    The movie was a hit and now it’s out on DVD. I can’t wait to see it. You can get it now through the first link at Amazon. Or pre-order the Amazon exclusive Blu-ray collector set version at the second link.

    The Author

    Stephenie Meyer

    According to her official bio, Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She lives with her husband, an accountant, and three young sons in Phoenix, Arizona. The idea for Twilight came from a dream she had, and she did most of her writing for the book, her first, at night after the kids were asleep. She finished the first draft in just a few months.  She is in her 30s and is Mormon.

    Awards and Praise

    • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
    • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
    • An Amazon “Best Book of the Decade…So Far”
    • A Teen People “Hot List” pick
    • An American Library Association “Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults” and “Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers”
    • Has been translated into 20 languages

    Accelerated Reading

    Level 4.9

    Points 18

    Number of pages

    500

    Publisher

    Little, Brown Young Readers

    • ISBN-10: 0316015849
    • ISBN-13: 978-0316015844

    If you just want to get the first book in paperback, here’s the link.

    See my review of Indie Girl.

    Amazon has some cool Twilight merchandise. Here are my favs.

    Review of Indie Girl by Kavita Daswani

    Reviewed by sk8tergirl

    The Story

    Indie Girl is about an Indian girl who absolutely loves fashion. So when the editor of her fav fashion magazine comes to her school, she will do anything to try to land a summer internship with her . . . even babysit the administrator’s two-year-old son. When Indie finds out the magazine is going down the toilet, she finds out some juicy info. She saves the fashion diva’s job! But the editor gives no thanks. Indie’s parents do not approve of her choice to help. Indie wonders: will Aaralyn, the diva editor, ever see her as anything more than “the sitter.”

    The Characters

    Indie Konkipuddi, a 15-year-old girl who has always dreamed of being a reporter.

    Aaralyn Taylor, the fashion editor of Celebrity Style, who visits her school for an assembly.

    Rating

    4 stars

    What I liked

    Great plot.  Even though it was about celebrity fashion, the book had a new twist because the main character is Indian. You learn about a whole new culture. I loved Indie Girl.

    The Author

    Kavita Daswani started her writing career when she was just 17 in Hong Kong. She moved to Los Angeles when she married.  She has been a fashion correspondent and has written several books including For Matrimonial Purposes, Salaam, Paris and The Village Bride of Beverly Hills.

    Daswani also writes articles in our hometown newspaper, The Los Angeles Times.

    Accelerated Reading
    AR Quiz No. 119691 EN Fiction
    Level 6.5 – AR Pts: 9.0

    Publisher

    Simon and Schuster, 2007

    Kindle Version

    See my review of Twilight.