Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TOS Crew VocabCafe Review!


Vocabcafe Four Book Series:
IM for Murder
Operation High school
Planet Exile
Summer of St Nick

$12.95 / book 
$38.85 / set

VocabCafé books help students easily learn SAT-level words while reading an original wholesome story.
These modern novellas contain no foul language, no illicit sexual themes, and no sorcery!
Based on a three-step approach to increasing vocabulary, each book highlights 300 advanced words by using DEFINITION, REPETITION, and REINFORCEMENT.
Readers find the definition of every highlighted word at the bottom of the page -- a word review and appendix complement the learning process!
STOP wasting your time on fiction books that don’t enhance your knowledge.

Our experience:

I really like the concept behind these books.  Learning high school level vocabulary in the context of a story - with no wizardry to boot?  Sign me up!

In my excitement in receiving these books, I didn't think twice when handing I.M. For Murder to my 8th grader.

A very short time later, he came and told me what he had just read - several references to a girl's body shape, dating, skipping school, comments like "Blockhead" and "I'll make her love me"....and he was only on page 14!

So - with that, I began to read the remaining VocabCafe books myself.

All 4 books center around a physical high school.  The majority of characters are high schoolers as well.  And, while the situations they come into are toned down from a "pop-culture" perspective, I wouldn't necessarily call them wholesome.

Planet Exile is an intergalactic adventure initiated by a prank gone bad.  It's sure to please any science fiction buff - but has language such as "stupid", "losers", and "shut-up".  Characters engage in vandalism, gun violence and are bound and beat up.

Summer of St. Nick has a good under lying theme of giving and forgiveness but is also filled with topics that distract.  Vomiting, kissing, dating, smoking, a high school romance where one character declares "I love you" to another and so on.  At one point the main character says "She had blonde hair and blue eyes, wore a mini-skirt, and, to put it plainly, looked like a model."

And finally, Operation High School.  This by far was the most intriguing book of the set.  Fast paced, 'spy thriller' mystery but also filled with keeping secrets from parents and defying their rules --- but in this book, the main character actually does reap some of what she sows.  This book doesn't contain the same distractions as the previous three.

Depending on where your family falls on the conservative pendulum will determine whether or not these books are appropriate for your household.  
Check out College Prep Genuis' website for other SAT prep items at

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer:  I received a set of 4 books free of charge in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Thanks for the honest review. We did not get these books to review but knowing this, we would not allow our children to read these books at the ages they are right now.

  2. Thanks for this review. Assists me in my perspective about these materials. I think the idea/concept of interweaving the vocabulary words into the novel is a good one...