Friday, March 26, 2021

StarTalk by Charles Liu and Neil degrasse Tyson

StarTalk by Charles Liu and Neil deGrasse Tyson is a very informative and interesting book about the universe, galaxies, planets, living things, and questions we all want to find out more about. It uses basic chemistry, physics, math, and logic to counter and explain ideas and problems. It has chapters that cover topics like other dimensions, gravity, living things, possible reasons of how we came to be or why, movie theories, and if they would be possible with science.

I found this book to be well-written, fun, and interesting to read. I liked how it involved physics to explain most concepts and ideas. It had small funny captions to keep you interested. I would get bored at some points because I wasn't interested. If you want to understand the science concepts, make sure you pay attention in physics and biology class to understand. I recommend it to anyone who loves extraterrestrial studies and wants to learn many more new facts.

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Reviewed by anonymous, Grade 10

Pacific Park Library

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

This story is about Cornelia, or Corrie ten Boom, and her family, the ten Booms. They are a Christian family living in Holland during WWII. They own and operate watch/clock making and repair shop. However, the Nazis have taken over much of Europe, including Holland, and they have begun to send Jewish people into concentration camps or even to execute them. Although they are not Jewish and although it is illegal to do so, Corrie and her family begin to take in Jews who come to their door for help and safety. This is a big risk because the Nazis come after the people that work in the underground, who are people like the ten Booms who help the Jews. This is because their Christian beliefs tell them to love others and help people in need. Working with other family members and people in the underground, they hide Jews using secret rooms, and using their contacts to get what they need. They also practice hiding in case someone comes, so it looks like no one else is there. They also use special codes that sound like they're just talking about work when people call.

 The Hiding Place is a good book that I think a lot of people would enjoy reading. I would recommend this book to people who are interested in history, or about ages 11 and up because it deals with difficult subject matter such as war and concentration camps. I liked that it showed the close relationship between Corrie and her sister Betsie and how they rely on each other and their faith through challenging situations. I didn’t like that there were a lot of sad or scary parts, such as them not having any contacts with their family members and not knowing what is happening, as they are sent to concentration camps when they were discovered harboring Jews. However, it did keep me interested by having a cliffhanger each time I stopped. This book surprised me because the ten Booms had such a strong faith, even though they helped the Jews which could cost them their lives.

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Reviewed by Hope C, Grade 5

Glendale Central Library 

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley is a book about the life of a religious and civil rights activist, who fought for equality and no discrimination between people of different skin tones. During his childhood, he loses his dad to violence, and his mom experiences mental health issues where she is placed in a hospital. He and his siblings are separated. Malcolm then invests in drugs and acts of robbery. Later on, when Malcolm is arrested and sent to prison, he takes advantage of the library and improves his knowledge. He learns about Elijah Muhammad, Islam, and decides to convert. They start their own service and teach African Americans living in the U.S. to convert to Islam. Soon, everyone learns about Elijah Muhammad’s affairs which become public. This causes Malcolm X to leave the nation of Islam and stop working with Elijah Muhammad. Later on, Malcolm X is assassinated on February 21, 1965, at Audubon Ballroom.

Autobiographies are always interesting and very informative to read about. This book is very outstanding in the way it presents an African American point of view of living in the United States in the 1900s. Malcolm X's autobiography provides great detail and knowledge to those interested in learning about how discrimination and challenges in a person's life can affect their future. It is very impressive how Malcolm X proceeds and lives on to become an important figure in his adult life especially having gone through so many hardships as a child. It is not a very colorful and bright book for a fun read. It dives deep into relationships between siblings, friends, and elders that change his life. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about African Americans' lives in the United States and enjoys thought-provoking topics like racism, hustling, activism, and basic human rights.

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Reviewed by anonymous, grade 10

Pacific Park Library


Friday, March 5, 2021

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Beatrice and her four friends are driving to a place to hang out, but they get into a crash. They appear fine the next day, or what should be the next day, in an estranged house. They're told that they have entered the "Neverworld Wake" which is a time period where it repeats the same "wake" over and over again. In order to escape the wake, they have to vote for someone at the end of each wake to live, while the others will die. They use this as an opportunity to try new things they haven't discovered yet, and most importantly, find out the truth of the death of their sixth friend, or Beatrice's boyfriend.

This book was definitely interesting to read. There were several concepts which were confusing to me, but aside from that it was definitely a page-turning book. You don't know who to suspect and who is telling the truth. There were several plot twists, which were both good and bad. At certain times, the author snuck in some humorous parts, which let go some of the burning tension you feel when reading. My only problem is the characters, while very different, felt a bit stereotypical. Overall, I think a good portion of teens who like mystery and thriller would enjoy this book.

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Reviewed by Julie S., Grade 9

Glendale Central Library

Friday, February 26, 2021

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

The book is based off of Romeo and Juliet, and is set in Shanghai, China in the 1920s. The book is written in third person, so it follows multiple people, like Juliette, Roma, or even Kathleen. Juliet is the heir of the Scarlet gang and Roma is the heir of the White Roses gang. There is a blood feud that had been going on for centuries, but Roma and Juliette had fallen in love anyways, at least until Roma betrayed Juliette. Juliette was shipped off to the U.S and then comes back to China after a couple of years. The story begins there. There was a plague going on that was killing people from both gangs, and Roma and Juliette had to work together to find out what it was.

I really loved this book, because I had been reading multiple series, but since this was a stand-alone, it was much shorter. There were a lot of plot twists, and it actually made me think about who did what and why, and when I finally thought I got it right, it proved otherwise. Anyone who likes reading about gangs would love this book. I would recommend this to people who like to read young adult books because it is the perfect stand-alone. I really look up to the author, Chloe Gong, because she was only 19 when she published it, and as an aspiring author, it really is impressive.

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Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8

Casa Verdugo Library 

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Trials of Koli by M.R. Carey

Koli's exile from his town of Mythen Rood has led to danger and adventure. When he learned that the Ramparts, the protectors of Mythen Rood, were in a conspiracy to keep the power of technology to themselves, they cast him out into the lethal forest. But against all odds, he survived. Now, he's looking for long-lost London - a mythical city with ancient tech that could help save the future of humanity. Meanwhile, Mythen Rood is being besieged by disease. Spinner, Koli's childhood friend, must find out a way to save the town and its residents from certain death.

This novel was a great continuation of The Book of Koli. It was well-written and built further on the world Carey created in the first book. The story was intriguing, as were the settings, and the characters showed growth and were not static and boring. The addition of Spinner's perspective was also interesting and made the book feel more complete - as it showed what was happening back at Mythen Rood. Carey created a novel that expanded on the world of the original story, and I really enjoyed reading it. I would definitely recommend this book.

Reviewed by N.K., Grade 11

Montrose Library 

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

This book is about communism and socialism. It talks about class struggles that the proletariat (exploited) experiences from the bourgeoise (exploiters). As you read the book Marx uses these terms interchangeably. He discusses about the exploitations of the proletariat in a bourgeois society. He mentions how the serf and handicraftsman will eventually also become the proletariat. How this working class's lively hood will be crushed as they all become wage laborers. It discusses the steps in what we must do to move to a communist society. It also talks about how one country cannot overturn capitalism and that we need more countries to succeed. He never mentioned how to achieve these goals (unlike Lenin who pushed for revolution).

I think it's a wonderful book for those who are leftists. The issue is it is difficult to understand. I had to read the book twice to fully grasp the concept. Marx also loved to make new words up which is why I don't recommend the actual 37 page manifesto. I think it's still very relevant to this day. As the wage gap increases and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. There is no such thing as ethical capitalism as the capitalists all exploit their workers and the planet to get rich. I think baby leftists who already understand some theory would like this book. It isn't a good book for liberals who want to radicalize as it's confusing. I instead recommend reading Angela Davis and Michael Parenti books before you read the Manifesto. They are easier to understand and gives material context to what theory actually is.

Reviewed by anonymous, Grade 11

Glendale Central Library 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Jason Dessen lives a hard, but fulfilling life. Fifteen years ago, he gave up the chance at a massive science grant to stay with his wife and unborn child. Although things have been tough, he doesn't regret a thing. One night, he's abducted and drugged. When he wakes, he's greeted warmly by a man he's never seen before. He is in a world where everything he's known is gone. His wife is not his wife, and his son doesn't exist. So what is real and what is not? Did the last fifteen years of his life even happen? And how can he get back to his family?

This book was amazing. It was one of those novels that you can't put down. The story was thrilling and terrifying. The author did a great job at portraying Jason's feelings to the audience - from his confusion and disorientation to his drive to get back to his family. The novel was gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat. The ideas discussed were very interesting and thought-provoking. Honestly, this might be the best thriller that I have ever read. I would definitely recommend this to people looking for an intense read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 11

Montrose Library

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer

John Watson's private journal has been discovered - and in it is another tale of the great Sherlock Holmes. In 1905, a woman washes up on the bank of the Thames River. She is a member of the British Secret Service, and in her hands, she clutches papers that speak of a conspiracy to take over the world. Holmes and Watson are asked to help British intelligence find out where the documents came from and what they imply. From England to Russia, Holmes and Watson must race against mysterious opponents to uncover this conspiracy.

I liked reading this book. It was very reminiscent of the original Sherlock Holmes novels, and it continued them almost flawlessly. The story was intense and thrilling, and the descriptions the author used really contributed to making the 20th-century settings seem realistic and interesting. Overall, I thought this was a good book, but it didn't have some of the "kick" that the original novels do. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book, especially to enjoyers of Doyle's original Sherlock.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 11

Montrose Library

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

Centuries in the future, the human race is all but extinct. They survive in small populations, fighting against nature to survive. The town of Mythen Rood is one such safe haven. Outside its walls is the forest, made up of lethal flora and populated with vicious creatures. The townspeople are protected by Ramparts - people with the power to wake and utilize ancient technology. Koli has lived in Mythen Rood all his life, and has always been told that to venture into the forest is certain death. But when he finds an incredible secret about the Ramparts and their technology, he must face the forest with all the courage he can muster.

I actually really enjoyed this novel. It was well written, and the atmosphere was incredible. The book is written as if Koli is telling the reader the story firsthand, and I really enjoyed how it flowed. The world building was great, emphasizing the Middle-Age lifestyles of the townspeople, and society having to deal with the repercussions of their ancestors' actions. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who enjoys reading post-apocalyptic fiction, or coming-of-age stories. 

Reviewed by NK, Grade 11

Montrose Library

Friday, January 15, 2021

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

A List of Cages revolves around two friends, Adam Blake, a high school senior, and Julian, a freshman. Adam and Julian have been childhood friends and after Julian's parents' death, foster siblings. However, after Julian is taken into custody by his uncle, the two drifted apart until high school. Adam took an elective that made him the assistant of the school psychologist and found that Julian was skipping his appointments with the psychologist. The two friends are polar opposites. Adam being optimistic and upbeat all the time throughout the novel while Julian was the more withdrawn and quiet one. As Adam tries to reminisce and reunite with Julian, it seems that Julian has become even more withdrawn and afraid. Adam tries to find out why whilst Julian avoids telling truth to anyone.

I was honestly surprised by how heart tugging this book was. For some this can be very triggering to read because of parental neglect and abuse themes. This was also, for the first time, a book I read that did not a have a romance focused or driven plot. Yes, Adam does try to get with his crush but the story does not focus on it. Adam and Julian's friendship feels very much realistic and you can feel sympathy for both of them with how bad their situations are, especially Julian who is constantly paranoid and afraid, looked down upon by his teachers and unstable uncle. If there were any criticisms, really only nitpicks, it would be characters not getting enough spotlight and the ending. Adam's friends do not really get enough time to develop as characters, given they are supporting characters, and it seems very rushed during the parts Adam was inviting Julian to come with him and his friends. The friends as well were very stereotypical "High school" teenagers except Charlie, his best friend. 

The ending was underwhelming and felt more like the "bandage" than a "cure or solution to the problem" ending. For those who are not triggered by abusive behaviors and acts, this is a must read and I believe one of the most underrated books I have ever read in my life. Robin Roe was not glorifying the acts done in this book compared to some moreover trying to shed light in the very flawed foster system. A quick read and a book I can easily recommend to anyone and a great message on how family is more about true bonds you make with people rather than blood relations. 

Reviewed by Rafi, Grade 10

Glendale Central Library

Friday, January 8, 2021

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Victor and Eli are college roommates. Both men come from troubled backgrounds, and they recognize a dark brilliance and ambition in one another. When it comes time to state their research thesis for their science seminar, Victor chooses to talk about adrenaline and its effects on the human body. Eli decides to do his thesis on the existence of EOs, or "ExtraOrdinaries" - people with supposed supernatural powers. When their research into the skeptical world of EOs, adrenaline, and near-death experiences start to result in actual progress, Victor decides to take it one step further - to try and emulate the process by which an EO is created - and everything goes horrifyingly wrong.

I loved reading this novel. It was written extremely well and had a dark, somewhat uncomfortable undertone. The tense style of writing made for a great, thrilling read. The characters were written very well, and everything in the novel was easy to visualize. Schwab did an amazing job at discussing the ambiguity of morality and explored decidedly unrealistic themes with a gritty, realistic story. Overall, this was a great book, and possibly could be one of my favorites. I highly recommend others to read this novel, especially if they like dark stories with an antihero and a morally gray cast of characters.

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Reviewed by NK, Grade 11

Montrose Library 


Friday, January 1, 2021

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Jessie is a 16-year-old girl, who lost her mother and didn’t know how to challenge her loneliness. Her dad meets a new woman on the Internet, who then becomes his wife. Jessie is forced to move to LA with his dad where his rich wife lives. During her first days of junior year in a private school, Jessie doesn’t seem to be able to find her place among those rich kids. That’s when Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) enters, trying to help her settle and find friends. But he does this all through anonymous messaging. He tells her about all the drama of Wood Valley High School and doesn’t reveal himself. Jessie is really curious who SN is and tries to figure out herself, while learning all the previous drama of WVHS and becoming a part of it.

The book is thrilling and funny. It’s romantic and mysterious at the same time. I really couldn’t put the book down until I was done reading and found out SN’s identity. Jessie convinces herself that SN was Caleb, the guy whose existence I find unnecessary. She turns out wrong, though. I am not going to tell you SN’s real identity but it was the guy I was hoping to be while reading. The relief I felt is indescribable. I would recommend the book to those who like teen drama and romance.

Review by Anna Baghdasaryan, Grade 11

Glendale Central Library 


Friday, December 25, 2020

Wool by Hugh Howey

The world outside has become lethal. Humanity's sole survivors live in the Silo - a massive underground structure built centuries ago for the very purpose of sustaining people. To the residents of the Silo, it is all they know. Mentioning the outer world is taboo, and thinking of leaving the compound is punishable by exactly that - exile to the toxic outside, where the perpetrator succumbs within minutes. These people are called "cleaners" - for their final job is to clean the lenses of the one camera that shows the outer world. When the Sheriff of the Silo expresses the desire to leave the Silo and subsequently dies, a mechanic named Juliette is unexpectedly promoted to take his job. Her research into the previous Sheriff's death uncovers a trail of deception and conspiracy, and ideas about the world around them that only the elite know.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. The story was very well-written, and the idea of all of humanity living in an underground silo was intriguing. Howey put his own unique spin on the popular post-apocalypse genre. The book was honestly hard to put down and made for great reading. It was thrilling and balanced action and mystery well with more mundane aspects. People who like books from the science fiction genre would probably enjoy this book as well. Overall, I would definitely recommend this novel.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Touched by Corrine Jackson

The book is about Remy O’Malley, a 17-year-old-girl, who has the ability to heal people with a touch. Fearing what the world might do to her, she keeps her talent a secret. Remy lives with her mom and alcoholic step-father. After being abused by him once more, Remy moves to Blackwell Falls to live with her biological dad and his family. No one knows about her powers, except Asher Blackwell, a guy from her school, who seems to know more than Remy does about this supernatural thing. Asher has his talents too, he is a Protector, an ancient enemy of the Healers. But that doesn’t stop them from falling in love with each other. They are determined to protect one another with their own lives.  

Touched is full of various emotions and colors, such as sadness, happiness, love and loyalty. I liked it very much because it represents two people falling in love with each other, despite the fact that they are enemies by their nature. It represents the trust and loyalty in their relationship, considering that their powers can kill each other. I loved the main character, Remy, because she is strong and courageous. Remy was weak and scared with her step-father, but since she met Asher, she became confident and aware of her powers. I would recommend the book to those who like fantasy and romance.

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Reviewed by Anna Baghdasaryan, Grade 11

Glendale Central Library


Friday, November 20, 2020

Wild Born by Brandon Mull

The Spirit Animals series takes place in the fantasy world of Erdas. There, once you turn eleven, you drink a special nectar. If you're lucky, you'll summon a spirit animal, which links the human and the creature summoned, granting unique powers to both of them. There, we find out about the stories of four young kids: Conor, Rollan, Abeke, and Meilin. They've all summoned one of the four Fallen, powerful beasts who had previously died in battle. At the same time, an ancient evil is awakening, and they are the only ones who can stop it from taking over all of Erdas. As legends become reality, these four kids will travel great lengths to unite and fight for the fate of the world.

I really enjoyed the world that Mull created. I thought that the idea of Erdas was very clever and that it made sense in my head. There was also a lot of action, which kept the book interesting. However, I would say that I don't think some of the dialogue that the characters would say was very realistic. In some cases, a certain character wouldn't have been so transparent, and the progression of emotions was a little too quick for me. One moment, someone would be feeling one thing, and the next moment, they'd be thinking something else. There were also a lot of different named characters, so it was a little difficult to identify them individually, especially if they were amongst other characters. I'd have to go back to where they first appeared to determine who they were. Overall, though, it was an engaging book and I'd recommend it to any hardcore fantasy readers looking for something different to try.

Reviewed by LK, Grade 8

Friday, November 13, 2020

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is about a 17-year old student in her senior year of high school, Pip, decides to investigate a past murder that took place in her town for a school project. She wants to prove Sal, the alleged murder, innocent because she thinks he didn't kill his girlfriend, Andie Bell. She goes to interview people that may have been involved with either Sal or Andie. As her investigation continues she befriends Ravi, Sal's younger brother, who also helps her with her project. As Pip nears the end of her investigation she discovers something very shocking and unexpected.

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder had a very intriguing plot with a major twist you never saw coming at the end. A book you can't put down until it is finished. I thought the book was very well written and put together. As you read, it makes you think as to what is going to happen next. The mystery and unexpected twists make this story even better. The story was thought out so well it seems as if this had actually happened. 

Reviewed by anonymous, Grade 8

Casa Verdugo Library

Friday, November 6, 2020

Bungo Stray Dogs : Volume 1 by Kafka Asagiri

Atsushi Nakajima is an orphan who just got kicked out of his abusive orphanage and is being chased by a tiger that tormented his orphanage. Starving to death beside a river in Yokohama he saves Osamu Dazai from drowning as a reward Dazai and his partner Doppo Kunikida take him out to eat where they reveal that they are apart of Yokohama's armed detective agency full of ability users and they are looking for the same tiger that tormented atsushi's orphanage. Dazai decides to use atsushi as bait but it is then revealed that atsushi is an ability user and he's the tiger. Since he's an ability user he is taken in by the armed detective agency and solves all kinds of cases and goes up against tough opponents while trying to maintain some form of a normal life.

Bungo Stray Dogs is one of my all time favorites. It can make me go though a rollercoaster of emotions in a few pages. Each character is complex and well written, mostly everyone is this story is morally grey and have reason for what they do so you can't hate anyone. I also really enjoy the art style for the anime and the manga. I could never get tired of analyzing Bungo the relationships and the parallels between each organization really makes you question right and wrong. It's also really funny and great if you want action but some laughs too. If you enjoyed things like My Hero Academia you'd definitely love Bungo Stray Dogs. 

Reviewed by ellen bagramyan, Grade 8

Montrose Library

Friday, October 30, 2020

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Detention took a turn when Simon Kelleher, an outcast student in Bayview High who runs an infamous gossip app called About That, dropped dead after taking a sip of water. One of Us is Lying is a gripping mystery young adult story about the four suspects of murder who made it out alive of the classroom, Adelaide Prentiss, the beauty, Bronwyn Rojas, the brain, Nate Macauley, the criminal and Cooper Clay, the athlete. Everyone has secrets, so how far would the four highschool students go to get the attention off themselves?

I liked this book because you can’t put the book down until you’re finished and makes you think about it after you’re done. Each character had their own chapters so readers can understand what they’re thinking about and what their relationship is between them, the victim and the other suspects. I couldn’t guess how the victim died but maybe some people can. I liked how smart but kinda dark this book was. I would recommend this book to people who like mystery in a regular teenage life setting.

Reviewed by C.B., Grade 8

Montrose Library

Monday, October 26, 2020

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

The book takes place in the deep south where a poor family fulfills the request of their dying mother. The book begins with Addie Bundren, the mother, alive but extremely sick. As she lays dying, she requests that her son builds her coffin, and that she be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. Now the entire family must carry the body of Addie, slowly discovering themselves and passing each stage of grief over the course of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It switches perspectives every chapter, allowing the reader to gaze into the eyes of every character. It was emotionally heavy, but wonderfully written. Faulkner was able to make the audience connect with every character, and make them go on the journey the Bundren’s go on. I would recommend this to people who want to go through a roller coaster of emotions. This classic is a must read for anyone who is experiencing a death within their family.

Reviewed by Stacey, Grade 12

Pacific Park Library

Friday, October 23, 2020

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Taking place in the late 1800s, the novel describes the story of how Willam Johnson, a rich student at Yale, joins a team of esteemed paleontologists in order to win a bet. The head of the research trip, Dr. Marsh, decides to leave Johnson in the west after believing Johnson was with his sworn enemy Dr. Cope. Now left to fend for himself, Johnson joins Dr. Cope’s team of paleontologists. As their trip across the west continues, Johnson and his team are faced with challenges and victories coming from every direction.

This book made me feel neutral. Although there were some parts that were captivating, many parts of the book were boring. The book lacked dialogue, but managed to show character development of all the people in the book. The book was fast paced, but some parts dragged on. The end of the book was satisfying, and made up for the parts that lacked flavor. I would recommend this to people who enjoy history and adventure novels.

Reviewed by Stacey, Grade 12

Pacific Park Library

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When a pilot crash lands into the deserts of Africa, the last thing he expects to see is a little person. Over the course of the next week, the little prince tells him the story of how he got to Earth from his home on Asteroid B-612. The story is riddled with messages and themes about adulthood. Through his life experiences, the prince shows the narrator to see with his heart, and not just his eyes, and to cherish the things that matter to him.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a very short book, one that people might think is for children, but upon rereading it, I feel that children might not grasp the full message behind the story. I enjoyed the narrator's strange perspective on life, and the themes shown by the little prince were very important. Overall, the book was beautifully simple, but meaningful. I would recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

When the cure for aging is discovered and made widely available for people to take, society is changed forever. John Farrell, a twenty-nine year old lawyer, is one of the first people to take the cure. Following his point of view, over a course of sixty years, The Postmortal tells a dark, disturbing story of a world without natural death - a world where violence and murder abound.

I thought this book was amazing. It was thought-provoking and really explored the idea of death and how it held people in line and had such a big impact on society. The story itself was fantastic as well, and the development of Farrell as a character was also very interesting. The story really showed how different events in his life changed his outlook on things. The novel was very dark, but engaging and suspenseful. Overall, I really liked the premise and execution of this book, and I would definitely recommend it to other readers.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Monday, October 12, 2020

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

When Dicey's mother suddenly leaves Dicey and her siblings with only vague instructions to get to their aunt's house, Dicey is confused. She knows her mom loves her and her family, but she also knows that a mother shouldn't leave her children like that. However, as the oldest in the family, Dicey decides that she'll try her best to take care of her siblings and find a way to get to their aunt, who they've never seen before. Secretly, Dicey doesn't want the burden of having to care for her family - after all, she's just a child herself. But it seems like too much to wish for someone who will take care of them.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. The story was very fun to read and had a nice underlying message. The characters were all very interesting and realistic. One thing I liked was how the author made Dicey's world seem so real - everything that happened in the book felt as if it could have happened in real life. The author also did a great job at creating the atmosphere of the book. It finished off on a happy, heartwarming note. Overall, I loved reading this novel, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Penned by Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes: A Memoir is an autobiographic account of his childhood growing up in Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s and 40s. The book follows McCourt and siblings as they move from Depression-era New York to Ireland and as they attempt to navigate the struggles of poverty and an alcoholic father. Told through boyish innocence and wonder, McCourt and family fight tooth and nail to survive in the unforgiving Limerick slums. McCourt mixes humor and tragedy on the same page, and often in the same paragraph, to present an accurate picture of their struggles and survival.

This is one of my favorite books to date. I found myself being unable to stop turning the pages of this riveting read. It was very interesting to read a first-hand account of the poverty in Ireland in the 1930s. It sparked conversations between me and my father whose parents were born in Ireland and grew up in similar situations as the McCourt family. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an interesting historical read. That said, proceed with caution, as this book contains themes that may be upsetting to some readers. 

Reviewed by Jean D, Grade 12

Glendale Central Library

Monday, October 5, 2020

Lies by Michael Grant

The tensions between normals and freaks in the Fallout Alley Youth Zone have come to a head. The fragile community of Perdido Beach has come apart, and order has been lost. Seven months after an impenetrable dome sealed off the city of Perdido Beach and killed everyone over the age of fifteen, the FAYZ, as its residents call it, is plagued with violence and death. Freaks, or kids who gained supernatural powers after the dome descended, are hunted by a hardcore group of "normals." And something even more terrifying occurs - Drake, a psychopath who was supposedly killed, is back. The situation is horrible, and many kids would do anything to get out. Including suicide.

I loved reading Lies. It was extremely suspenseful, and was a great continuation of the previous books. It captured the tension and action of both Gone and Hunger perfectly. The story was fun to read, and the characters were all very well-written. Each seemed like a real person, and I think Grant did a great job at creating the world of the FAYZ. Overall, I enjoyed the high-octane, breathless energy that Lies had, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, October 2, 2020

Hunger by Michael Grant

The situation inside the FAYZ is dire. The food has all but run out, and discontent by has grown to a head between the normal kids and the freaks, kids with supernatural powers. When a normal is killed by one of the freaks, the town of Perdido Beach goes crazy. Through it all, Sam, their de facto leader, must try to control the situation and make sure none of the kids get hurt. But that's not all. An unknown force is manipulating the teens into helping it. Something that none of the children have ever seen before, but with strange, godlike powers. It calls itself the Darkness, the Gaiaphage. And it wants to be fed.

This novel was a great continuation of the Gone series. It was just as tense and exciting as before. The author did a great job at making the reader feel the things the characters were feeling - especially hopelessness and fear. The book overall was pretty dark, and was pretty hard to put down. All of the characters were realistic and well-written. The dialogue between the characters just made the characters seem more real. They all had their worries, motivations, and hopes. Overall, I really enjoyed Hunger, and I would definitely recommend this novel to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale

When his uncle Press tells Bobby that there are people that need their help, fourteen year old Bobby is hesitant. But he agrees to go with Press, thinking that the help necessary is something simple. But what he finds is much stranger. He's swept into another world, or "territory," as Press calls it, in order to prevent their clans from destroying each other. Press tells him that he is a traveler - someone with the ability to travel between territories and a duty to make sure the situations in these territories are stable. When his uncle is captured by one of the clans and a rogue traveler, Bobby is on a mission to save Press and bring them back home.

I enjoyed reading this novel. The first time I read it was in like elementary school, so it was fun to remember parts of the book as I read through it. The book was still interesting to read, and although I felt as if it was more geared toward younger readers, I still liked it. The story was engaging and the territories were very descriptive as well. The characters were likable and had decent character arcs, and overall, I would recommend this novel to other readers. Just be warned, it is not as well-written as more advanced books.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, September 25, 2020

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive follows the incredible story of Louis Zamperini, former Olympian and World War II veteran as he fights for survival in the bloodiest conflict in human history. Readers will run alongside Zamperini as he competes in the Olympic games, fly with him as he takes to the sky in a US Air Corp bomber, float with him for 47 days in the seemingly endless ocean, and celebrate the inner strength required to survive in the astonishing true story that unfolds in Unbroken.

 I loved this book. It shows the remarkable power of human strength in the face of staggering odds. No matter how bleak the situation, Zamperini never gave up, and that’s how he managed to overcome the formidable obstacles in his path. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories of human courage and ingenuity. For younger readers, I would recommend the abridged young adult version of the book.

Reviewed by Jean D., Grade 12

Glendale Central Library

Friday, September 18, 2020

Bounce by Natasha Friend


Evyn lives with her father, Birdie, and her brother, Mackie. For as long as she can remember, they have been happy together, despite her mother having passed away. When Birdie announces that he is going to get married and that they will have to move to Boston, away from Evyn's whole life and best friend, she is shocked. Everything seems foreign to her, and she just wants to have her old, familiar life back - not this confusing mess her father has put her in.

 I thought this was an alright book. The author did a good job of conveying Evyn's distress and horrible feelings at having to leave everything she knows and loves behind. However, I thought some of the characters were not realistic, and there was an insignificant amount of character development. The story was still fun to read, and Evyn slowing coming to accept the changes in her life was also interesting. However, I felt as if the book was geared towards younger readers. Overall, this was an ok novel, but not something I'd go out of my way to read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Monday, September 14, 2020

On the Fence by Kasie West

Having lost her mother at a young age, Charlie Reynolds spent most of her childhood with her older brothers, who have had a strong influence on her life. She is very athletic, and partakes in any sport or game that her brothers play. When Charlie receives speeding tickets, she is told by her father that she must pay for them herself. At her new job, Charlie is exposed to makeup and wearing girly clothes. As time wears on, she begins to incorporate them more and more in her everyday life. Because of her new work schedule, Charlie finds it difficult to sleep, and goes for a walk in her backyard. By chance, her neighbor and childhood friend, Braden, is there, too. The two continue meeting at the fence late at night to talk, and slowly, Charlie realizes she’s fallen for him.

I liked this book since I first found it because the story overall was appealing. Now that I have finished reading it, I only like it all the more. The romance in this novel is wholesome and it makes the reader feel positive emotion. Aside from romance, the author adds in suspense by including a tragic family history and how the Reynolds family had to cope with it. The reader gets to see the main character evolve into the best version of herself, with an accompaniment of hilariously relatable scenarios. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good Romantic Comedy. 

Reviewed by anonymous, Grade 11

Glendale Central Library

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Vin thought she was the Hero of Ages, prophesized to be the savior of the world. She has ended the Lord Ruler's terrible reign and freed the skaa. When faced with the power of the Well of Preservation, she selflessly gave it up in order to stop the Deepness, an unnatural, magical mist that was killing the empire, and successfully fulfilling the prophecy. A prophecy that turned out to be false. It has been altered by a powerful force of destruction known as Ruin, and Vin's act of giving up the power of Preservation has freed him. Faced with a new adversary, Kelsier's crew must play their cards right in order to defeat a primal god - a feat that might not be possible.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy. The story was thrilling, and the lore and the way it tied into Sanderson's Cosmere is awesome. As always, the action was amazing, and the magic system was very interesting. The characters were well written, and their worries and hopes were conveyed to the reader easily. Sanderson is a master of creating tension - there were many points in the book that seemed impossible for the protagonists to win, but they pulled through in a way that made sense. I really loved this book and this series, and I would definitely recommend it to others. After this, I'm probably going to read more Sanderson books.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Lord Ruler has been killed and a new government, under the leadership of Elend Venture, has been formed. However, the death of the Lord Ruler and his iron grip has thrown the empire into chaos. Warlords from the different provinces have come to Luthadel to take its fabled atium reserves, and now the fledging government is surrounded by three armies. There's another problem - the mists have become stronger than ever, and reports of it not going away during the daytime and even killing villages on the outskirts of the Final Empire are making their way back to Luthadel. The old crew must solve all of these problems in order to create a better world, one without the tyranny of the Lord Ruler.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The story was extremely well written and followed the first novel seamlessly. Sanderson did a great job of making the reader feel the emotions of the characters, especially apprehensive for all the problems in the book to be solved. The characters all had development, and the action was written very well. Like I said before, the systems of magic is very original and makes sense. I also liked the way the writing jumped from one character to another, showing their thoughts, worries, and feelings. Overall, I loved the book, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years, the Final Empire has been ruled over by their god-king, the Lord Ruler. He supposedly took a great magical power and destroyed a blight to the land known as the Deepness. But the Final Empire is far from perfect. Skaa, or people of common blood, are believed to be little better than animals. The Lord Ruler is a tyrant - one who oppresses his people with the powers of allomancy, a magical system that derives power from metals and their alloys. It is believed that millennia ago, he gave the nobility the power of allomancy to reward them for their loyalty to him. Now, Mistings, people who can use an allomantic power, is relatively rare, and Mistborn, people who can wield all of the different types of allomancy, are even more rare and prized. Vin is a street urchin, one who has a power to persuade people that she believes is "luck." Kelsier is a half-breed Mistborn, of both skaa and noble blood, who wields enormous allomantic power. When Kelsier finds Vin and finds her to be a Mistborn with power that might even be stronger than his own, his plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler and give a better life to the skaa is almost complete. Vin must take part of this impossible rebellion - one to kill a god.

 I thought this book was marvelous. The magical system of allomancy was very interesting and original. The characters were all well written and realistic, and the story was really good. I enjoyed almost everything about the novel. I think people who like magic/fantasy novels would like this. I was reminded of the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo, and I think people who enjoyed those books would enjoy this as well. Even if you don't normally read fantasy, you should try this book. I really liked this book and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library 

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

On the cusp of solving Ellingham's oldest, greatest mystery, Stevie Bell is pulled out of her school due to the death of one student and the disappearance of another one. Both were her friends. However, she finally convinces them to let her go back with the help of a corrupt senator who makes a deal with her, one that could possibly ruin her hard-earned friendships at school. When more things start to go wrong, Stevie realizes that figuring out the cold case is more important than ever - as it may be connected with whatever is happening now.

I enjoyed reading this book, especially as it was a continuation of Truly Devious, a book I also thought was fun to read. The mystery was just right between vague and clear - it was vague enough that you couldn't immediately guess the perpetrator but clear enough that you could follow Stevie's thinking. The characters were all very interesting and realistic. There was a good balance between the mystery and murders and the more normal parts of Stevie's life at Ellingham. I really liked this book, and I thought it was a very well written thriller/mystery novel. I'm excited to read the next one. I would definitely recommend reading this if you've read Truly Devious.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, August 28, 2020

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone is about a sixteen year old girl named Ellie Mack and her disappearance. After not coming home one day, her mother, Laurel Mack, panics and becomes devastated when she realizes that she is gone forever. But who wouldn't want to kidnap Ellie, she has the perfect life. From excellent grades, to perfect boyfriend, and to a perfect family of five, she basically has the life everyone wants. But Laurel was obsessed with Ellie, she referred to her as the golden child. She was her mother's favorite child. When Ellie disappeared, Laurel's life fell apart and nothing was going right. After her divorce and her other children leaving the house, the police found bones that were identified to be Ellie's. Years after, Laurel was living on her own and found herself meeting a young man named Floyd and his daughter Poppy. Laurel was shocked when she met Poppy because she was identical to Ellie. She is then determined to find out why Poppy looks and acts like her missing daughter.

This book became one of my favorite books. I enjoy reading books that have mystery, thriller, and some sort of suspense to them. The plot twist was unsuspected and it took a crazy turn. I just wanted to keep on reading and reading till the end. The plot took so many turns and it kept up the suspense. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery themed books and people who want an exciting plot.

Reviewed by A.C., Grade 9

Casa Verdugo Library

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Hig lives on an abandoned airfield with his dog, Jasper, and an acquaintance - a prepper named Bangley. They have survived the flu epidemic that destroyed society and killed his wife, and the new dangers they have are other survivors. Hig flies his planes over the area, keeping overwatch and looking for potential other survivors, while Bangley protects the airfield. Hig hates the rigidity and ruthlessness they meet the survivors with, and when he sees a chance to find a life outside this tension, he takes it. Flying his small Cessna past the point of no return, he must figure out if whatever he finds is worth changing his rigid, but relatively secure life for.

I enjoyed reading this novel. The entire story was very good. Hig's character was believable and reading the world through his eyes was very intense. All of the characters were very well written and interesting. The story was also written in a slightly different prose, more reminiscent of The Road (Cormac McCarthy). I think people who liked The Road or post-apocalyptic fiction would enjoy this book. However, the book wasn't all about violence or survival - a lot of it was about Hig's emotions and memories of before society collapsed and how he dealt with this new reality. 

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, August 21, 2020

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Stevie Bell is extremely surprised when she is accepted into Ellingham High, a prestigious private school for people who are geniuses at what they do. Stevie feels out of her depth - she hasn't done anything important, but she's an expert on the kidnappings that had happened to the Ellingham family eighty years ago. When one of the students at her school dies mysteriously, and none of the facts seem to add up, Stevie jumps on the case.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was a well written mystery and very tense in some places. The author did a good job of creating this mystery, and also utilized flashbacks to when the Ellinghams were kidnapped to tell more of the story. The characters were all well fleshed out and believable, and the main character, Stevie, was likable. The mystery was very fun to read and think about. However, the story ended off unfinished - but it is continued in a sequel. Overall, I think this is a great book if someone wants a good mystery written in a YA-style novel.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Set in the universe of the first novel in the series, The Ghost Brigades features a new set of characters. Charles Boutin, a high-ranking scientist who studied the Colonial Union's soldiers, has faked his death and defected over to the side of an alien alliance against humanity. The Colonial Union decides to clone Boutin's body and consciousness from existing DNA and try to figure out what Boutin has done. If it works, they have the potential to thwart the alliance. If it doesn't, the new Boutin will be just another soldier in the Colonial Union's mysterious Ghost Brigades. The story follows Jared Dirac, Boutin's clone, through his service in the military and his final conflict between who he is and the precedent his predecessor has set for him.

I enjoyed this book a lot. However, extensive knowledge of the first book is needed to have a more complete idea of the story. The action was top-notch, and although the characters are kind of similar, they are also written very well. The dialogue is good and witty, and the main story was very interesting and fun to read. Readers of the previous novel would love this, and people who enjoy sci-fi/space opera type books would also enjoy it very much. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, August 14, 2020

Moral Compass by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel's Moral Compass is a book set in Saint Ambrose Prep, an elite private school that houses some of the best teachers and administrators in the country, sending their students off to nonpareil schools. Though everything seems perfect on the outside, Saint Ambrose has some skeletons in the closet. On the school's Halloween event, something happens that changes the course of the school as we know it. Things are crumbling fast and time is ticking. Read to find out what happens!

Danielle Steel does it again with Moral Compass, arguably her best novel yet! I absolutely loved taking a peak into the lives of the seemingly privileged, the people who have everything handed to them on a silver platter. It was a super eye-opening novel and it definitely grounded me to not be quick to judge. It is a devastating novel; it literally broke my heart but in the best possible way. I honestly recommend this to everyone! Such an incredible, gripping novel.

Reviewed by M.S., Grade 11

Montrose Library

Monday, August 10, 2020

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett's family has owned the Hopewell Hotel in New York for generations. It's a family tradition to give each child of the Martin family a suite to take care of when they turn fifteen, and Scarlett is given the task of maintaining the Orchid Suite, the most expensive (and well-known) suite of the Hopewell. Things are looking down for both Scarlett and the hotel - Scarlett has nothing to do for the entire summer, and the hotel is running low on money. When a wealthy, mysterious socialite named Mrs. Amberson comes to visit and requests the Orchid, Scarlett is caught up in her schemes - for better or for worse.

I actually really enjoyed reading this novel. The author did a very good job at creating the atmosphere of both the Hopewell Hotel and the city of New York. The main character was likable and interesting, and the other supporting characters were all very well-written. I liked the story itself as well, and overall, it was a nice respite from all of the more serious books that I read. It was reminiscent of other books I've read by Maureen Johnson, which is good because I enjoy her writing. 

I would definitely recommend this novel to other readers.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10

Montrose Library

Friday, August 7, 2020

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow is released from prison three days earlier than expected when he receives the news that his wife has been killed in a car accident. With no where to go, he accepts the offer to become the bodyguard of a strange old con man he met on his plane ride home. While working for the man, called Wednesday, he learns that the gods are real, and derive power and immortality from their worshippers. The old gods, the gods of ancient civilizations, are slowly dying and weakening as belief in them declines, and new gods of media, technology, electricity, and drugs are out to finish them off. As Shadow is drawn into a world of dangerous quarrels between the gods, he finds out that the gods are just as vulnerable as people - and that he must make the right choices if he wants to get away from the problems of the gods and their magic once and for all.

This book was an amazing read. Written in a gritty prose, the idea of the gods of all religions vying for power in a new America was very interesting to read about. Besides from Shadow's main storyline, there were a couple of other small storylines, some concerning people, and some about gods. Some parts of the story were almost mystical in nature, sometimes telling themselves through Shadow's dreams, and I loved it. I also really enjoyed how Gaiman made the gods all very similar to people - they had their own troubles, romances, and moments of happiness and sadness. The characters, although gods, were very believable - from the grizzled con man Wednesday, to Shadow and his owning up to his past mistakes, and even mentions of characters like Thor, who, faced with the unbelieving land of America, committed suicide, or Horus, driven mad by the matters of the gods that he spends his life as an animalistic falcon. The book had tons of references to ancient religions, and was also packed full of action and suspense. I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it for others to read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Plague by Albert Camus

The Plague by Albert Camus is a philosophical novel set in Oran, French Algeria. It is a story about an epidemic in North Africa that starts when thousands of rats come into the city and die, creating mass hysteria. The plague is deadly and is essentially an allegory of the French's suffering under the Nazis. The main character, Dr. Bernard Rieux, is the man who treats the first victim and he is the man that tries to pacify the hysteria and epidemic.

This story is very relevant to current times, seeing as the epidemic in the story is extremely similar to the pandemic we are undergoing right now. The story has to do with an epidemic and deals heavily with philosophical questions about the human condition, destiny, and the totality of being a human being. Camus does an excellent job with weaving the struggles of being human with his fictitious stories. I highly recommend this book for fans of philosophical and reasoned novels! If you want a book that makes you think far after you finish it, this truly is the book for you and if you end up enjoying it, definitely check out the rest of Camus' works.

Reviewed by M.S., Grade 11
Montrose Library

Friday, July 31, 2020

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Has love changed? Has finding a soulmate gotten harder? Is online-dating safe? Does social media change the way we find love? In Modern Romance by actor and comedian Aziz Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg, all those questions and even more are answered. Conducting multiple surveys all around the globe, from Paris to Tokyo to the United States, the two writers wanted to investigate if the Internet has affected romantic relationships as we know it. Many esteemed academics also participated by adding their own research, thus making it even more rock-solid. It is honestly such an interesting and any questions you may have will be answered.

I have been in love with Aziz Ansari's work since he appeared on Parks and Recreation. Ever since, I have followed all of his comedic endeavors and 2015's Modern Romance is not an exception. Pairing up with Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist and professor at New York University, Aziz Ansari is able to write a hilarious but poignant portrait on modern romance and what love really means in this contemporary day and age. I highly recommend this to sociology, philosophy, and comedy lovers! It is an incredible book that delivers an important message whilst adopting a humorous tone.

Reviewed by Melody Seraydarian, Grade 11
Montrose Library

Monday, July 27, 2020

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a suspense novel that follows the life of the Sinclair family, who from outside, were the archetypal, perfect family. More specifically though, it centers around Cadence Sinclair Eastman, the eldest grandchild of the wealthy Harris Sinclair, her mother's father. Every summer, Cadence spends her summer on Beechwood Island, an island owned by Harris Sinclair. The Sinclairs are wealthy, affluent family with a lot of secrets. Summer Fifteen was an interesting one. Read to find out what happens behind closed doors.

As someone who enjoys suspense novels, I can confidently say that this was one of the best young adult thrillers I've ever read. Lockhart has crafted a psychological mystery about the downfalls of wealth, privilege, and affluence. It was done in truly such a cunning way! You almost don't even expect the twists and turns Lockhart throws your way when you're reading it. If you're a fan of thrillers or a book that you won't put down until you finally finish it, We Were Liars is the perfect book for you!

Reviewed Melody Seraydarian, Grade 11
Montrose Library

Friday, July 24, 2020

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

David and Julia are two best friends with a list - a list of things they swore not to do when they first entered high school. But now they're in senior year, and they decide that they have to break every single rule on that list. One rule on the list is the most important - to never date each other. However, Dave and Julia both have a secret - they've been in love with each other for as long as they can remember, both too scared to admit their feelings. Breaking out of their comfort zones, Dave and Julia must find out what they really mean to each other - and if they're too late to act on those feelings.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It was different from what I usually read, and kind of refreshing. The characters were well written, although some (insignificant) things seemed unrealistic. Many of the characters, from Dave and Julia to their family and friends, were believable and all seemed like they could be real people. The adventures and antics that the characters became involved in were fun to read about, and the love story/drama was very well written. I think Alsaid did a pretty good job at portraying school/life as a teenager. It reminds me of John Green's writing, which is also really good. I think people who enjoy love and teen romance novels would like this book. Overall, I would recommend this book, even if it isn't a genre you normally read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library