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

Monday, July 20, 2020

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Llewelyn Moss is hunting in Texas, close to the US-Mexican border, when he stumbles upon a convoy of wrecked, shot up vehicles. When he comes closer to investigate, he finds a bag filled with money - and although he knows better than to take it, he goes and does just that. He believes ( and rightly so) that the wreck is a result of a feud between two drug cartels. Soon, he is hunted by a psychopathic hitman, and not even the police can protect him or his family.

I really enjoyed this novel. The characters were believable, and like other McCarthy books, the atmosphere was gritty and realistic. The story was intense and suspenseful. Along with superb tension and action, the story also showed how greed could lead to horrible things. I think that people who like action novels and books with a hunt/chase being one of the main storylines would enjoy reading this book. However, it was not just action - there were plenty of deeper, sadder themes going on in the novel. Overall, I thought that this book was terrific, and I highly recommend it to others.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Tyrant's Tomb by Rick Riordan

This is the fourth book of the series Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan. Apollo has restored the first three oracles with the help of Meg McCaffery, a demigod ally, and must now restore another in his quest to become a god again, but without his powers, he is just another human being named Lester. Apollo must now head to Camp Jupiter, where the Roman demigods will be preparing for a final stand against the evil trio of Roman emperors, Apollo’s old friends will need his help in order to survive. But right now all odds are against them as they will have to first journey to a forgotten tomb that belonged to an emperor more powerful than he has ever faced.

The thing that makes this book so interesting is that Apollo and Meg must go somewhere unknown and forgotten, and this builds suspense. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes thrill and suspense, making you want to keep reading. This book uses a lot of imagery (creating pictures in your head) to hook the reader into it. Apollo is a dynamic character, meaning he develops through each story. But he wasn't always like that. He used to have a lot of confidence in himself; he used to think that just because he is a god, he can do anything he wants, that he is better. But once Zeus punishes him, he begins to seek help and becomes friends with Meg. What makes it interesting is that Apollo is this amazing god and has all his powers, but in this series, he learns to survive without them and it gives him a different point of view. This makes the book very interesting.

Reviewed by Aryan S., Grade 8

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

This is the third book in the series The Trials of Apollo. Apollo, or Lester, has survived his first two trials, one of which was at Camp Halfblood and the other at Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words that she said while she was seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil trio of Roman emperors plan to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo, a Greek demigod ally, flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles, somewhere in the American Southwest. There is still one spark of hope in the sorrowful prophecy. Can Lester and Meg restore the third Oracle?

The thing about this series that will hook the reader into it is the plot and the character development. Riordan uses a lot of different techniques to make the stories interesting and gets a lot of people hooked into the book. I would recommend this book to almost anyone because of how the plot is built and the genre does not even matter, anyone can read this book. This book would make you feel as if you are one of the characters because of the effective use of imagery which plays an important role in the development of the story. I believe that once you read one of the books you will be wanting to know what happens in the next.

Reviewed by Aryan S., Grade 8

Friday, July 10, 2020

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

After the events of Gemini, our protagonists (Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, and Ella) are trapped on the ship Mao and are running out of resources. With the jumpgate destroyed, there is no way back to the Core System- their only option is to return to Kerenza and its hostile Bei-Tech occupation. As they suppress mutinies and reluctantly accept the help of a dysfunctional battle AI, the team must find a way to defeat the overwhelming amount of enemy troops and ships at Kerenza.
Meanwhile, on Kerenza itself, the colonists are hard at work under the harsh Bei-Tech occupation- mining the hermium necessary for Bei-Tech to fire up their jumpgate and escape. Faced with the horrors of the situation at hand, Rhys Lindstrom, a Bei-Tech trooper, is disgusted. When he is contacted by Asha Grant, one of the colonists and his girlfriend from before he enlisted in military service, he decides to help the insurgency against the occupation. They must delay hermium production until the Mao can come and rescue them all.

I really liked this novel, just like I enjoyed the previous books in this series. All of the ragtag bunch of characters were written extremely well. The unorthodox combination of files, video transcripts, and message logs the authors used to convey the story was very interesting to read and portrayed a feeling of authenticity to the book. There was a perfect combination of suspense and action, keeping the reader at the edge of their seat. In fact, I think the suspense in the book is done extremely well- it starts to build and build and finally it crescendos into action. Readers of the previous books and books with a story told in unorthodox ways (Like World War Z) would probably enjoy this. Additionally, people who like sci-fi, space-traveling action novels would also love this book.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Hazel and Ben live in an unusual town, Fairfold, where magic is common and the Folk roam around. Inside that forest, a boy with horns lies in a glass coffin, in a deep, deep sleep. One day, this boy awakens, and the people of the town are eager to find him. Due to his awakened presence, a monster named Sorrow, who obeys the Alderking, terrorizes the citizens in order to find this boy. Both Hazel and Ben were both once in love with this horned boy, later known as Severin, but Hazel has another secret, one that may tear the siblings apart. Hazel risks everything and travels to land of the Folk with a Faerie, Jack, whom she falls in love with, too, to uncover answers. She also learns dark things about herself that she didn't know before. However, Hazel knows that it is up to her to save the town.

I really enjoyed this book because it was the first fantasy fiction book that I've read and enjoyed in a while. Well, I've read plenty, but they all usually have the same plots or conflicts about fighting a corrupt government, or falling in love with princes or princesses, but this one was different. There were many "oh my gosh" or "I wasn't predicting that" moments. The Darkest Part of The Forest is also a book that I can connect to, of course we don't live in a Faerie world, but the way the book talks about "being normal" is not always great and it's okay to be different, inspires the readers. I believe that anyone who enjoys reading something new would love reading this book. I hoped this book would be a part of a series, so that I can continue reading on with it, but it's not. If I were to rate this book out of 10, 10 being super amazing and 1 being absolutely horrible, I would definitely rate this book a 10.

Reviewed by Raeesah, Grade 8
Casa Verdugo Library

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

An unnamed disaster has ravaged the land, bringing the apocalypse. A man and his son travel a desolate road, desperate to get to the coast, where they hope to survive. As they face death and violence, the boy is faced with questions that the man cannot answer. A story of hopelessness and grief, the boy must learn to grow in a world of uncertainty- one where death is imminent and violence is around every corner.

I really enjoyed The Road, even though the writing style took a while to get used to. Written in a simple prose, it shows a strangely riveting description of a hopeless, dark world. I think people who enjoy post apocalypse novels and books about survival would like reading this. However, I also think people who want to try a new kind of book would also like this- it is a very unique, riveting book. I would definitely recommend this to other people.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

This is the second book in the arrangement Trials of Apollo. Apollo has reestablished the main prophet, however, there is a lot more to come. Apollo is currently at Camp Halfblood as a human named Lester. Apollo has confronted a few risky and embarrassing trials at Camp. His next target is to go right to the American Midwest into a cavern that conceivably holds answers for him. This isn't as simple as it appears. Apollo should now leave the security of Camp Halfblood and set out on a hair-raising excursion. An evil Roman emperor remains in his way. Apollo will require quality, fearlessness, and backing from certain partners in Camp Halfblood. Apollo has existed for around 4 thousand years and this will be his greatest test yet.

This novel is very similar to the previous one. Apollo sets out on an exciting journey and faces near-death situations. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in fiction, adventure, and thrill. This book has a vocabulary that might be a little difficult to understand at first, but after you get the plot and purpose of it, it is pretty straightforward. I really liked how the author conveys the characters and helps the reader connect to them by using imagery and literary devices. Apollo is a dynamic character meaning he learns from his experiences and it is nice to see how he develops throughout the story. This book is made for teens and adults but children can also read it as long as they can understand the book. Apollo's journey really grasps the reader into the book which makes it so interesting.

Reviewed by Aryan S., Grade 8

Friday, June 26, 2020

Revived by Cat Patrick

At a young age, Daisy fell victim to a bus accident, in which she was then given a second opportunity to live. A drug referred to as ‘Revive’ had saved her and several others. However, this wasn’t ordinary to the real world and the drug had not yet been disclosed to the public. Ever since the accident, she has been revived four more times. Daisy, along with the others revived, has been a crucial variable throughout the research of the drug. Moreover, after every revival, families must move and alter their names. Unlike most teenagers, this did not have an acute effect on Daisy at all. This was mainly because she had never been part of a true friendship at school whom she had an emotional connection with. That is until she arrived at Omaha. There she met two siblings Audrey and Matt, who soon became her best friend and boyfriend. After this, she finds herself in a complex situation in which she must find a solution.

I strongly recommend any reader who has experienced numerous twists while reading. Revived is nothing like you could predict, the twists are out of the ordinary and open your eyes to a new and far more interesting view on life and your surroundings. Author Cat Patrick beautifully emphasizes the meaning of friendship along with the risks you choose to take despite all the hardships. Ultimately, Revived is truly an amazing book that deserves more recognition from the public.

Reviewed by anonymous, Grade 8
Glendale Central Library

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Leaving by Tara Alterbrando

Eleven years ago, six children went missing from a school during a shooting. Five of them are back- and they seem fine, despite not remembering the last decade of their lives. What happened to them is a mystery- the only clues they have are their subconscious minds and the habits they have. Jumping from the perspective of a survivor of the Leaving, and the sister of the child who did not return, the hunt is on to find who took the children and why.

I thought the book was okay. The idea was intriguing and the mystery was interesting, but the execution was lackluster. The solution to the mystery was vague and didn't seem like it flowed/ continued well in my opinion. However, the novel did a good job at showing feelings of loss and sorrow for the characters and the emotional aspect of the book was well written. I think readers of sad stories would enjoy this, but I can't say I loved reading it.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Wild Lands by Paul Greci

When a raging fire razed Alaska and it was disconnected from the rest of the United States, Travis's father chose to stay. However, food is now running low and the land is unusable. The few people that they meet are hostile. His father, finally realizing staying means death, gets the family ready to leave. The trip will be brutal. When tragedy happens and Travis and his little sister need to set off on their own to get to the lower 48 states, they must somehow survive the terrible weather, dangerous people, and maybe even form strong alliances with others.

I liked reading this survival-adventure novel. The idea of living in a destroyed, isolated place and struggling to survive the aftermath of the apocalypse was an interesting premise that I enjoyed reading about. The characters seemed realistic and their motives and actions were also very well written. The mindset of some of the characters was also fun to read about- such as the ideas of the hardcore survivalists. However, I felt as if the novel did not have a satisfying ending, something I hope the author will remedy with another book. People who like reading about post apocalyptic scenarios and survivalism would love this book and its intense action. Overall, I would recommend this novel as a great read for anyone.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Marguerite Caine is the main target of a powerful alliance, called Triad, spanning three realms of the multiverse. As the daughter of the geniuses who made it possible to travel between worlds, she has been to these other worlds- exploring herself and her relationship with others in radically different worlds, and thinking of the ideas of fate and destiny. When she learns that the goal of Triad is to destroy the other worlds to bring her sister back to life, she must go on a mission- righting Triad's wrongs and stopping their sabotage. Along the way, she has to deal with death, destruction, and the idea that she might be fighting something that might be too big to stop.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. I think it was a fitting ending to the series and a great, suspenseful read overall. The descriptions of the different worlds and the idea of fate was very interesting to read about. I also liked the story, and it made me think about the multiverse theory and its implications. People who have read the previous books and other books by Claudia Gray would enjoy this book, but it wouldn't make much sense without reading the previous books in the series. Overall, I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy science fiction and are interested in the idea of different universes and realities.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Friday, June 12, 2020

Jade City by Fonda Lee

On the island nation of Kekon, jade is the most important, valuable substance that everyone wants. And not for an unimportant reason either- jade from Kekon enhances the abilities of people and gives them magical powers. However, this jade is not available to anyone. One must have the genetics and training that let them withstand jade cravings. When tension between two clans of jade warriors rises, the Kauls of the No Peak clan must unite and do all they can so they do not lose some of their own. The new No Peak leaders are young and inexperienced and the odds are against them, but they must do their best to protect their blood and jade.

I really enjoyed this novel. I've read and loved novels written by Fonda Lee before, and I was not let down by this book. It had a great backstory of the island of Kekon, and the characters were realistic and developed throughout the novel really nicely. The action and description of jade magic was very interesting and exciting to read about. Readers of the author's other books and people who enjoy action-adventure novels with complicated characters would love Jade city. I would definitely recommend this novel to others, as it is a great, suspenseful read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, June 8, 2020

Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

After the events of Illuminae, the files incriminating Bei-tech's mass murder of civilians now change to the point of view from workers on the jump station Heimdall. The ship Alexandar, filled with civilians all knowing what Bei-tech has done, must be eradicated. Nik is a drug dealer living on Heimdall. When he is blackmailed into accepting a package that lets a Bei-tech kill squad infiltrate the Heimdall, he must team up with Hanna, the spoiled daughter of the ship's commander, to successfully defeat Bei-tech and get the truth out.

I really enjoyed this novel. The unusual way it was written in- like a file or report- was very interesting to read, but the story still flowed really well. Its stories of futuristic warfare, space travel, and love were all very well-written and tied in well with each other. There were also some very, very good twists in this suspense-filled novel. I think that people who like reading books with plenty of action and suspense would love this book. Don't be turned off by the way the book is written- I thought it was refreshingly different. I definitely recommend this book, but only read it after reading Illuminae.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

A Question of Holmes is the last novel of Cavallaro's Holmes series. Jamie and Charlotte finally have the business of the Moriartys firmly behind them, and are excited to go to college together at Oxford. When Charlotte hears of a cold case resulting in the disappearance of a girl at Oxford, Jaime has no choice but to follow along as she sets off on a hunt to solve the case. Even more worryingly, the perpetrator seems to be back in action, and no one can be trusted in this final case for Holmes and Watson.

I really, really enjoyed this book and the whole Charlotte Holmes series. It has very witty commentary, is amusing to read, and is a mystery with plenty of action. I enjoyed basically everything about it, besides the (intentionally) vague mystery. It was very thrilling to read, whether about action or even the relationship between Jaime and Charlotte. Although it had a bittersweet ending, I still loved the way it was put together. Readers of Sherlock Holmes or mystery novels would love this novel. Readers of teen novels would also love to read this, as they would like the way the book was written. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, but only after they have read the previous three books.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Alex and Conner Bailey are twins, but they could not be more different. Alex focuses on her schoolwork and is always the first one to raise her hand to answer in class. Conner is lazy and sleeps in the back of the class instead of paying attention, but the teachers don’t say anything about it since the tragic death of the twins’ father. At home, things are not easy as their mother struggles with money and they have to sell their old house. It’s almost their birthday and the mom has to go to work, so she calls their grandma. The kids love the grandma since she’s such an interesting person and she travels everywhere. Their grandmother brings them dozens of presents with it a fairy tale book. To them it’s a plain fairytale book filled with stories like the ones their father used to tell, but one day it proves to be much more. Alex hears a noise coming from it and discovers it to be a portal she goes through it and Conner jumps in after her. Together they must find a way back home and live through many fairytales.

I read this book growing up, years ago, and it is such an interesting story, especially to kids and early teens. People get to read fairy tales all over again, but each story is written with an original twist to it that makes it different from the fairy tales we’ve heard as kids. I recommend this book to people who like to read books filled with adventure and fantasy. I also like this book for showing the development of brother and sister, Alex and Conner, throughout their adventures in the Land of Stories, a relationship which makes the story overall better.

Reviewed by AK, Grade 9
Montrose Library

Friday, May 29, 2020

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Kamran Smith, an Iranian-American, has everything. He is a star football player, dates a popular girl, and is excited to follow in his brother Darius's footsteps and attend West Point and join the Army. But then, everything changes. Darius is accused of being a terrorist, seemingly joining al Qaeda and attacking a U.S. Embassy. Videos of him get released in which he makes threats against the U.S. and speaking of a major, upcoming attack. Because of this, everyone turns against Kamran because they believe he is a terrorist too. Then, he and his family are taken into custody by the U.S. government. Kamran refuses to believe that Darius is a terrorist and that he would never betray his country. Now, Kamran must set out to prove Darius's innocence and to stop this terrorist threat, as well as uncover the terrorists' next plot. With the help of a ragtag team, Kamran will go on a crazy adventure to find his brother and discover the truth behind what happened.

I think this became my new favorite book. I love it. Alan Gratz did an amazing job with this masterpiece. The various incidents Kamran encountered while on the search for his brother were incredible. This book kept me in great suspense the whole time I was reading the book, and I wondered if Darius really had joined al Qaeda. The background stories of Kamran's team members were really interesting. This book also accurately depicted racism and stereotypes. The racial insults in the book are what many people call Muslims in real life. It also depicts what Muslims experienced in terms of racism and hate after 9/11, and explains the stereotype of all Muslims being terrorists. Overall, this book's outstanding use of real life historical events combined with fictional characters make for an awesome read.

Reviewed by A.J., Grade 9
Casa Verdugo Library

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The Storm Crow is about the princess of Rhodaire, Princess Anthia. Thia lived in a world where crows where magical, it was their countries way of life and Thia had always wanted to be a crow rider. However, all her dreams were crushed when one day, a neighboring kingdom attacked, wiping out all the magical crows from Rhodaire and murdering Anthia's and her sister, Caliza's, mother, the queen. When Caliza becomes queen, Thia is forced to marry Ericen, the prince from the country who doomed Rhodaire. But, Thia has a plan. If she can save the last storm crow egg that she found, just before leaving Rhodaire, she could end their engagement, and save her country. Along her way, she meets a friend, Caylus, who would help her try to hatch this egg. Meanwhile, Ericin was slowly starting to fall in love with Thia, though Thia didn't share the same affections. While trying to accomplish her goals, Anthia discovers a horrifying secret. She now is more dedicated to saving her country.

I really loved this book and I cannot wait for the next book to come out! I enjoy reading teen fiction and fantasy books, and this is one of them. I love how this book creates an aura of suspense and encourages the reader to want to keep reading. I can never find myself to close the book once I start reading! Like most characters, Anthia is strong and dedicated, which is what I love most about her. She cares and embraces her country's culture and memories, and doesn't allow anyone to dare criticize it. I 100% recommend people to read this book and give it a try. If I were to rate this book, one being the absolute worst and ten being one of the best books I've ever read, then I would rate The Storm Crow a ten.

Reviewed by Raeesah, Grade 8
Casa Verdugo Library

Friday, May 22, 2020

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens is about a girl named Keralie who works for a criminal and spends her life following his orders. She also had personal affections to Mackiel, her criminal boss. One day, she was assigned to steal a comm case for a boy named Varin. Little did she know, that stealing this would change her life. Meanwhile, all of the Quadara's queens were being murdered, the anonymous murderer killing each one gruesomely. Keralie and Varin join forces once they both find out the message inside the comm case would affect life on Quadara forever.

I really enjoyed reading this book because I personally love fantasy and teen fiction books. This book went into depth with all its details and plot twists, it was like experiencing a dream or being in another world when reading Four Dead Queens. I loved how this book continued to change perspectives, sometimes in the view of the main character or sometimes in the view of a minor character. This really helps readers understand what is happening more clearly. If I were to rate this book from a one to ten, one being terrible and ten being one of the best books I've ever read, then I would rate it a nine.

Reviewed by Raeesah, Grade 8
Casa Verdugo Library

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler

After an accident caused Jo to give up her dreams of being a pilot, she feels lost. But when she arrives on the planet of Tau Ceti E, she is excited for a fresh start on a seemingly perfect new planet. However, everyone seems to be hiding something- a secret about the planet itself. When a ship crashes and Jo is forced to make First Contact with two sentient alien species she wasn't told about, disaster strikes. Humanity is caught up in a war between aliens, and Jo must make it back to base camp to make sure they don't make it worse.

I enjoyed reading this novel. Many of the ideas and the story of interstellar travel and sentience were very interesting to read about. The story was also very captivating- there was a lot of suspense and action, along with betrayal and chaos. However, I felt as if the story finished off as a cliffhanger- which might be remedied by a second book. Also, some parts of the novel felt too shallow or unrealistic, but it was still a fun read. People who like space travel, aliens, and futuristic action would probably like this book. Overall, I would recommend this book to people who want a great, action-packed read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

When James goes to visit Charlotte's family for winter break, he thinks that they will finally be able to relax after the harrowing action at school. However, when Charlotte's uncle Leander goes missing and an underground fake-art ring surfaces, they must go on a trip to Berlin to track him down and hopefully save him. They are embroiled in danger- mainly from the powerful Moriarty family. James and Charlotte must have the wits to figure this out and save themselves and Leander from the influence of the Moriarty's.

I enjoyed this book very much, but not as much as the previous novel. The characters and plot were all very well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. However, I felt that the ending was very confusing, and not much was explained. I think that people who like crime mystery novels and action would like to read this, as would readers of the first book and Sherlock Holmes. There was also plenty of teen romance/drama, which was also very well written. I would definitely recommend this book to others, but the first book should be read for it to make more sense.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library

Monday, May 11, 2020

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

When James Watson is sent to a boarding school in America, he is excited to meet Charlotte Holmes, a descendant of the detective Sherlock Holmes himself. She is elusive and generally unwelcoming, and seems to have inherited Sherlock's genius and tendency to take opiates. Disaster strikes when multiple murders happen and they are pinned on James and Charlotte. They must clear their names and catch the murderer before the trail goes cold or they are killed themselves.

I really enjoyed A Study in Charlotte. As a fan of Conan Doyle's original stories, I was captivated by this book as well- it had a great plot and even better characters. The characters were well fleshed out and had well-written development, and overall I just enjoyed the mystery and suspense of the plot. I think that readers of mystery fiction would like this book, as the main story revolves around a framed murder. People who liked Sherlock Holmes would also love this book. All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting an enthralling book to read.

Reviewed by NK, Grade 10
Montrose Library