College Prep Genius

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Prep Genius presents the VocabCafe series as an attempt to gently introduce common SAT-level vocabulary words essential to master for top college entrance exam scores. These non-fiction books are written by different authors, 160 - 200 pages in length and published by Maven of Memory Publishing.

My initial impression from the cover illustrations and synopsis of these paperback books: IM for Murder, Operation High School, Planet Exile and Summer of St Nick left me wondering if I had signed up for the right review and if the content would be appropriate for my 14 yo son. The covers promised a storyline focused on "hot" girls, boys and girls sneaking around behind their parents backs and participating in other "typical" teen activities. It felt the publishers were trying to interest readers who would not normally be tempted by "wholesome" books. From a marketing viewpoint, I understand the idea behind this, however, I would not have even picked up 3 of the 4 books. For instance, Operation Highschool pictures a teenager sitting in the dark, ringed by candles with her arms crossed. If I knew nothing about the series, I would instantly think the subject would be witchcraft related.

In reality, the plots are not what I feared and are wholesome, free of bad language and the dating references are G-rated. However, there is lying to parents, sneaking around and other characteristics that wouldn’t be my top pick for reading material.

Besides the plot issues, this series left me wondering if I needed to read a particular book first since they are a series. I started with Planet Exile and intended to let my 14 yo read it after me. However, he would have really struggled with the words presented. While each key word is in bold italics and defined at the bottom of the page, sometimes the words were used in an awkward manner and the definitions didn't really help. A dictionary would be required as well for many words.The end of each chapter lists the review words used in that chapter. The words are reinforced throughout the text and really shows great promise

I feel I should also point out, there were clear editing mistakes in the book. I.M. for Murder- for instance- has a sentence that stops in the middle of a  thought on page 96.

Perhaps I am simply too old, but I just couldn't get into the style or the storyline, yet liked Planet Exile the best, though I typically do not care for Sci-Fi.

This was a review I really looked forward to and was prepared to love these books. While the concept behind these books is wonderful,  the execution is poor and would not appeal to most homeschool family I know. If written differently, this could be a series  every colleg bound homeschooler would want! . The books themselves missed the mark in readability and subject matter for me and my family. In fact, there wasn't one book I felt I could give my son. I considered sending the series to my college aged daughter, but felt they wouldn’t be worth her time and didn't want them to compete with her studies.

There is a current special of buy 3 and get the 4th book for free for a total of $38.85 before tax and shipping. They might be a perfect fit for your family, even though they weren't for mine.

These books were given to me for free in excange for my honest opinion.


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