Saturday, November 12, 2011

The VocabCafe Book Series ~ Review

I recently had the opportunity to review a product from College Prep Genius, called The VocabCafe Book SeriesThe VocabCafe series currently consists of four books, I.M for Murder, The Summer of Saint Nick, Operation High School, and Planet Exile. 

The series was created to help students quickly learn multiple SAT-level words while reading books that are fun and entertaining to the student.  There are currently four books in the series, three were written by Josh Burk and one written by Judah Burk. 
In a letter sent to the crew members reviewing this series, Josh wrote about when he was preparing for the SATs. “… I did a lot of reading to improve my vocabulary. I learned a lot of great words through the process of looking up every unfamiliar word, but it was often extremely tedious. Some of the best books had me pulling out the dictionary several times a sentence! This often sucked the fun out of reading and made learning vocabulary a chore. The VocabCafe Book Series tries to remedy this by keeping the power of learning through context while relieving the annoyance of dictionary interruptions!”

IM for Murder is about three best friends who find themselves in an extreme situation. When Will gets dumped by the girl of his dreams his friends Seth and Ashton create a fake blog page to try and get his friend to stop sulking and out the house. However, they ultimately find themselves in a very dangerous situation.

The Summer of Saint Nick tells the story of a young man named Nick who finds a stash of money hidden in his house.  He goes around town looking for people to help. With a generous heart he makes an anonymous donation to his church, buys a car for the post man, and more.  In the end, Nick is faced with a difficult decision of whether to do what he wants or to do what is right.

Operation High School: When Emma Jones becomes the new student at Providence High School she definitely isn't what you would call popular. She was often ignored by everyone and kept to herself.  Until one day, when she finds an invitation in her textbook to a secret club meeting, which ultimately turns her world upside down.  Operation High School tells of her journey to discover things about herself and do things she never would have done before.

Planet Exile tells the story of Maleck Vise Plutean and his adventures through outer space.  After crash landing on the mythical “Planet Exile”, Maleck and his friends are forced to stop a planetary insurrection, usurp an evil dictator, and rescue a beautiful princess all at the same time.

Each book covers 300 vocabulary words, 1200 words in total. The vocabulary words are interspersed throughout the plot in bold- italicized print.  A definitions and pronunciation guide is provided at the bottom of each page.  At the end of each chapter there is a review list of all the newly introduced words from that chapter.  There is also a glossary at the end of the book.
All the books are free of magic, foul language, illicit sexual themes, or sorcery.
The series is written for high school students, but may be enjoyed be enjoyed by many middle schoolers, as well.  I know they were a great hit with my 8th grader.  Here is what she had to say about Summer of Saint Nick, Operation High School, and I.M for Murder. She is currently reading Planet Exile. 
"I thought the Summer of Saint Nick was great. The author did a good job of creating a story with a lesson that is much needed now days, putting others needs before your own."
"I found I.M for Murder to be very intriguing. It had the perfect balance of drama, comedy, and action. It was definitely a great page turner, full of surprises."
"Operation High School had to my favorite. Judah Burk did a wonderful job with this book. It was mysterious and surprising. I loved it."
As a parent/teacher I think these books are an awesome way to learn new vocabulary skills. There were numerous words I had never heard of, let alone knew their meanings. Kudos to Josh and Judah for their creativity.

You can purchase each book for $12.95, but click here you can buy all 4 $51.80 $38.85 (for a limited time). 

Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and see what other TOS crew members had to say about VocabCafe. College Prep Genius also sells a SAT Test Preparation Program, which was also reviewed by fellow crew member.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received The Vocab Cafe Books Series from College Prep Genius free of cost in exchange for my honest review. 

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