Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, by Amy Sutherland

In this nonfiction book Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, by Amy Sutherland, the writer recounts her experiences of spending a year tracking students at Moorpark College's teaching zoo, where your daily activities consist of walking a camel, playing with big cats and having monkey poop thrown at you. When these students enrolled in the program given somewhat appropriate name EATM (Exotic Animal Training and Management), they had no idea that it would be one of the most intensely emotional and physically exhausting periods of their lives. However, this is THE place to be for anyone interested in a career with furry, feathered, or scaled creatures.


Being an animal enthusiast myself, I loved hearing every story of interactions between the student trainers and their trainees at the teaching zoo. The author does a great job of describing the events of EATM realistically but also comically at times, and it increased by interest in the animal training profession. I would recommend it to anyone from mature teens and older, for anyone who is consideting working alongside, or who simply loves, animals.


-Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 9.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shark Life, by Peter Benchley

Shark life is a nonfiction book by the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, that addresses some misconceptions about sharks and other creatures and is filled with exciting stories of Peter Benchley's own experiences with the animals of the ocean. He recounts some dangerous situations he has been in and how to avoid them as well. His encounters with marine life include being charged by a killer whale, rammed by a dolphin, caught underwater with a great white shark, and getting a free ride through the water on the back of a manta ray! All this is mixed with a strong environmental message indicating the need to preserve the world's oceans.

This book was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be, since I'm not really a shark person in the first place. I enjoyed hearing the many true stories included in Shark Life about Peter Benchley 's adventures with the animals, and it made me realize how complex and unpredictable the ocean can be. I would recommend it for anyone who is into the marine life.


-Reviewed by anonymous, grade 9.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a novel written by Sherman Alexie. The protagonist of the book is a part-time Indian named Arnold "Junior" Spirit. He is a feeble cartoonist who lives in the Spokane Indian reservation. Arnold faces several problems everyday because of his misfortunate luck and his parents' poverty. Arnold sometimes can't go to school because his parents run out of money to buy gasoline, so he hitchhikes or walks for a long time. His problems deepen when he throws his geometry book unintentionally at his own geometry teacher's face, Mr. P. His geometry teacher doesn't get angry at Arnold, but persuades him to not stay in the same school anymore and move to another school.

I appreciated and enjoyed reading this book. My opinions are that this book was written by a very heavily influenced author and this book's fantastic story makes a great fictional diary. This book was also a National Book Award winner, which makes sense because the book was incredible. Sherman Alexie has made chronicles of a teenager who faces difficulties as a part time Indian that lives in America.


-Reviewed by Elliott, grade 9.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice: The Icebound Land, by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan, introduces a third book in its series. Book three: The Icebound Land. Will and Evanlyn have been captured and taken to a new land ruled by Barbarians called Skandians. They are big and cruel, and all prisoners taken there work as slaves. Will ends up being drugged and all his senses are getting lost. The story follows both Will's trip to Skandia, and Halt's trip. Halt and Horace race through the kingdom to save Will, Horace shows his skills as many knights challenge the ranger and his companion. Will Halt save Will in time?

Book three has met my expectations. I enjoyed it a lot. The book has a lot of different adventures since it is following two different people through different challenges. This book is setting the scene for the next book which is filled with a lot of adventures, including a huge war. With each book, I learn many things that I relate to life. From this book, I learned that you should help friends and loved ones no matter what. This book as well as the series, Ranger's Apprentice, will always be one of my favorites, and I recommend this book to anyone.
-Reviewed by Krassi, grade 9.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge, by John Flanagan

The Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan, introduces a second book in its series. Book two: The Burning Bridge. The story continues to follow Will and his friend Horace through adventure. Will and Horace are on a mission to a neighboring town where they realize the citizens have been killed or captured. Will and Horace find out that an evil lord named Morgarath has returned and he is plotting to invade the Kingdom. It is in the hands of Will and Horace to warn the King, but they encounter trouble along the way. The Kingdom is in Danger, and Will and Horace are the only ones who can save them.

Book two satisfies me as I had expected. The book has even more adventure since Will has matured and is nearly a master being a Ranger. This book definitely deserves five starts for its ability to keep me reading. With each book, I learn many things that I can relate to life. From this book, I learned to be more courageous. This book as well as the series, Ranger's Apprentice, will always be one of my favorites, and I recommend this book to anyone.
-Reviewed by Krassi, grade 9.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Plantation, by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Plantation," by Dorothea Benton Frank, is about a woman named Caroline that falls in love with one of her professors at her University, a Psychology teacher named Richard, at first sight. They get married and have a child. As time goes on they find out that their son Eric, wasn't exactly like all the other children, like in writing. Despite some minor differences, Eric a very smart boy. Caroline's husband Richard was married once before, and has another son one or two years older than Eric. He favored him more, and this upset Caroline and Eric greatly. Soon, Caroline catches Richard cheating on her with his ex-wife, Lois. After all the things he had put her through, Caroline had finally had enough. She gets a divorce and, with Eric, moves back to South Carolina, and in Tall Pines, to live with her vivacious mother, the "Queen of Tall Pines." Caroline had thought she had hated her mother after her father died, but as time goes on, she realizes how much she really loves her.

I absolutely LOVE this book. Its hilarious, and full of sarcasm that you can't get enough of. I recommend this book to everybody, more so to those who like humor, romance, and drama. You won't be able to put the book down.

-Reviewed by M.P., Grade 9.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lord Edgware Dies, by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie, a world renowned mystery writer, had captured my interest from the first time I read her in Lord Edgware Dies. A suspicious death, a soild alibi, and complex characters are all pieces to this puzzle-like story. Jane Wilkinson, a past actress had come to Hercule Poirot (the main character, and famous detective) about her miserable marriage when her husband had died the day before. Hercule Poirot must use his best of skills to crack open this case.

This was the first book I had ever read by Agathie Christie after being a steady fan of Sherlock Holmes. Once I started, I needed to know the truth. This urgency to find the murderer came over me every time I would pick up the book and when I put it back down. The Queen of Crime has an unique of talent of descibing each character in such detail that they become alive, but yet you always began to doubt who they actually were. Each person throughout this book was surrounded by an aura of suspicion. It drove me crazy because I could never be confident in my guesses who the real crime-committer was. Yet, the clues were so subtle and well-hidden that even if I read so slowly, it took more than an hour to read a chapter. I could never catch a clue. When Hercule Poirot explains, he makes it sound so clear and obvious. There were some traits about this book that I, however, disliked. I seemed disorganized and the dialogues were confusing. It took you to one scene to another, and Christie did not explain why we had suddenly switched settings or do so in a vague way. It was hard to follow the sequence of the plot. The conversations between Poirot and the other characters were also difficult to understand. The way it was formatted and the slangs used added to the confusion. I may have been my limited in my knowledge of past manner of speaking in old England, but I could never grasp what the character was saying because it was mostly made up of slang.

If I had to give this book a rating, it would be four out of five stars. This is not a book that once finished it just becomes part of the shelf. Throughout the story and once it ended, questions interrupt your train of thought and analyzation of every clue must take place. This is a book that I can never forget. I recommend Lord Edgware Dies for fans of mystery and those who are seeking a dark, suspenseful book that they can lose themselves into.
-Reviewed by Sophia, grade 9.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Pretty One, by Cheryl Klam

Everyone wants to be beautiful, gorgeous, someone that people will admire. Megan Fletcher had that wish. In The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam, Megan is an overweight, plain girl who had been overshdowed by her talented and beautiful sister, Lucy, for most of her life. When she gets involved in a car accident, a cosmetic surgery had made her become the "pretty one" and the center of attention. When the two sisters both fall for the same guy, let the drama begin.

To be honest, the story bored me. The writing was bland and the characters were confusing, almost like they were split in two. Lucy is the older sister and in some parts of the book she was aggressive and willing to fight her younger sister. Then in a matter of a few paragraphs, she was sweet and regretful. Was she a good character or the antagonist? Not only her, but Drew, the supposedly good-looking, mysterious, talented guy that Megan and Lucy both fell over, sounded like the most boring person to fall in love with. I could never see the connection between Megan and Drew and why she liked him in the first place. Cheryl Klam's writing had no tone. I felt like the words would come in one ear and leave in the other. I cannot even remember one sentence from that book. With the writing being so monotone, I could not tell which was the central conflict and when it was happening. The plot seemed uneventful. I believe this book could have been improved and I will probably never read this story again. There was an interesting point to this book, though. I did enjoy her message of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and "personality counts more than looks," which she presented in an original story. It was a fresh new taste of the idea of perception of beauty. Many girls, in this time period, can relate to Megan's thoughts and worries because in this century, media has put more pressure on outer appearance. There are many women who are going through plastic surgery or girls trying to lose weight in unhealthy ways. Women today are stuck in this society rush to become the "pretty one." I would recommend this book to some people who enjoy too-cheesy stories and others who need something to read to pass their time.

-Reviewed by Sophia, grade 9.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare is the most famous love story of all time and fully captivating. William Shakespeare's most famous play is one that many don't understand because of its dialog. But in truth it is one of the most extraordinary works in English literature. At the beginning, young Romeo is devastated by the heart break of not being able to win Rosaline's hand. Juliet is preparing for the ball that will change her life forever. The pair has a milestone in the way. They are from the two oldest feudal families in Verona. They soon form a forbidden bond which causes them to marry in secret. With the communion of their marriage the goodly friar hopes to bring peace between the two families. When they are both confused and troubled, they go to him and receive the deadliest advice of their short lives. Romeo drinks a potion from the apothecary and dies. When Juliet awakes from her long slumber only to find that her beloved Romeo is dead. To her grief and disbelief, she acts on a moments notice and has her love's dagger take "its sheath in {her} body." When their funerals come around, the families bury both their children and their feud. Never was there a story more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo.

Having previously read this story on my own I thought I would dislike it when we read it in my English class. On the contrary, I understood the story better and it is now one of my favorite stories. Romeo and Juliet are considered the Edward and Bella of their day. They love each other enough to kill to be. Even though the story takes place in five days, it is incredible.

-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cirque Du Freak: Tunnels of Blood, by Darren Shan

Tunnels of Blood is the third book from the series of Cirque Du Freak. In this novel, Darren Shan, the vampire's assistant is in training with Mr. Crepsley to have more knowledge as a vampire and how to survive. Darren has joined the Cirque, or the freak show that is roaming around the world with Mr. Crepsley. After a while, the two left their home to go to a city for a research with evra, the snake boy from the Cirque. As they get used to the new city, Darren falls in love with a human girl, and then they get into a big trouble. An evil vempire named Murlough kidnapped Evra to make Darren and Mr. Crepsley to rescue Evra, while he sets up a trap.

Honestly, I had imagined the vivid details as I read the whole book. It is just fantastic how it gives so much description and details. It's just absolutely crazy how I can be glued to the seat and finish the book. It is so hard to stop reading in the middle of the book because the story is so interesting. Darren Shan, the author, is amazing yet creative when it comes to writing.

-Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 10.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, previously introduced in the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is a rebellious and independent boy. Readers find out that Tom and Huck received $6,000 apiece from the previous book. Then, Widow Douglas adopts Huck to "civilize" him. Huckleberry is required to go to school and even pray before meals despite his prior laid-back life on the streets. Huck is also forced to have spelling lessons with Widow Douglas' sister, Miss Watson. That evening, while everyone is asleep, Huck hears a "me-yow! me-yow!" Huck climbs out of his window into the ground and sees Tom Sawyer. While tiptoeing along a path, Huck trips over a root and Miss Watson's slave, Jim, hears them. Eventually, Tom and Huck make a quiet get away and meet some boys to form a gang, "Tom Sawyer's Gang." As Tom is adjusting to his new life-style, he sees footprints in the snow. He identifies that the footprints belong to his father. Huck sells his six thousands dollars to Judge Thatcher for a dollar. Pap, Huck's drunken father, and Huck meet up and go to Jackson Island. To escape Pap, Huck sets up a murder scene so everyone thinks he is dead. While roaming Jackson Island for a few days, Huck runs into Jim, Miss Watson's slave. they plan to run away together. What will become of Jim and Huck?

I really enjoyed this novel because I was able to get more familiar with the character Huckleberry Finn despite his brief introduction in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I was impressed how Huck tried to go with his new life style regardless of his image in the past. This book is bery exciting and full of adventure.


-Reviewed by Michelle, grade 9.