Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Not Summer Without You, by Jenny Han

In It's Not Summer Without You, by Jenny Han, Belly was counting the days until summer when she would go back to Cousins Beach with her cousins Jeremiah and Conrad. But not this year. Not after her aunt, Susannah, got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything had fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing that summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls Belly, saying Conrad had disappeared, Belly knows exactly what she should do to make things better. So she Goes to the beach house and finds him there. Everything can be alright at the end with the three of them together, the way things used to be before Susannah died.

I really enjoyed this book. It has a great story plot about family, boys, and how so much can change so quickly, this book has what every girl wants in summer. It was very descriptive. I can inhale the ocean air and take long walks at the beach.
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Desires of the Dead, by Kimberly Derting

Desires of the Dead, by Kimberly Derting, is the sequel of the captivating The Body Finder. We now learn that Violet (the main character) is now not only looking for a complete stranger, but is now coming to find out that the killer just might be someone she knew. The plot is completely different from The Body Finder and will keep you wondering until the end.
I had both tears of laughter and tears of sadness running down my eyes when reading this book. With mixed emotions. and very strategically written paragraphs, I just couldn't figure out the ending. Overall, I give this book a nine out of ten because it was simply one of the best books I have read. You will just keep flipping and flipping until the end.
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens



In A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, Scrooge is a greedy businessman who feels no kindness towards others. However, on Christmas Eve, he is transformed when the ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future visit him at night. Christmas Past makes him regret his actions and what could have been, Christmas Present makes him realize how he actually is and how others are happier even if they are not as rich as he, and Christmas Future shows him his lonely and forgotten self that he will become if he does not change his ways. After the three ghosts visit him, Scrooge wakes up and it is Christmas Day. He has changed his ways and is kind, joyful, and loving. He celebrates Christmas with his nephews family and all ends well.

This is really a good novel. It is a classic, and if you do not have time to read it, then at least watch the movie. The the story of a person becoming an absolutely new man overnight, was not only interesting, but also very fun to read. It is a good book to read and fit for all ages. I recommend it to anyone looking for something to read.

-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult

In Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult writes the story of a daughter named Delia Hopkins who finds out that her father, Andrew Hopkins, kidnapped her at the age of four. Delia is emotionally torn because as a mother herself, she can't see how her father could have just stolen her away from her mother. On the other hand, she also knows that her childhood was happy and that her father's decision may have been justified. Through the course of Andrew's trial, the novel goes through the changes that Delia and her two childhood best friends, Eric (also her fiance) and Fitz have to confront. Delia is also forced to face her childhood memories that bring up information on her past, while trying to find inner peace.

This is the third Jodi Picoult book I've read and so far this is my favorite. As usual, Picoult lets the reader have a first person point of view on each character, which gives the characters many ending than her others. Most importantly, I like the debate the novel presented; that maybe some things are better if never found out.
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-Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 12.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Devoured, by Amanda Marrone

In Devoured, by Amanda Marrone, Megan is being visited by the ghost of her twin sister Remy who died when they were both in second grade in a tragic car accident. Her father, who was also in the car accident, survived, but has not woken up for ten years, and is being fed through a feeding tube in a home. Throughout the years after the accident, Remy's ghost has visited Megan time to time, but lately her visits have been much more frequent and scary. With phrases like "Hurry, Megan" and "she is going to die," haunting her every step of the way, Megan is determined to put the pieces together and solve the mystery before it's too late.

A hint of romance, ongoing suspense, and never ending goosebumps, this book will take you into its world and you will be almost deaf to any other ideas, noises, or words outside of it. As captivating as it sounds, it is even more than that. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something mind blowing, and mysterious to end a long day with. Halloween is right around the corner, so this would be a great thriller for your fall season!
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson

The novel Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is about a teenager named Tyler Miller who seeks acceptance by his classmates in High School. He starts dating the popular girl in school, who is also the daughter of his workaholic dad's boss, and the sister of his enemy. Things turn out "twisted" when everything goes wrong and his life turns worse than before.

I really enjoyed this book because it was both entertaining and didactic. It was a complete page turner and I would recommend it to all teens who can relate to Tyler. When I finished it, I realized that many kids out there have worse lives than me, and that people should be tolerant and kind to everybody. This book also taught me that when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
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-Reviewed by Anush, grade 11.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon, by Sara Beitia

In The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon, by Sara Beitia, when Lily Odilon goes missing, like every other book, idea, theme, or plot, the people of the story will suspect the one person closest to her. In this case, her boyfriend Albert becomes the main suspect. The love that these two share it is no surprise when Albert himself goes on a quest to find his missing love. His determination draws him to her finding, and he will stop at no where. Knowing he might need help along the way, he asks Lily's younger sister to help him on this journey. Read the book to find out the adventures they take and the obstacles they come across.

Two thumbs up! This book is so amazingly written that you can almost see the images of them as they take steps into finding Lily. For movie lovers, I highly recommend this book. It sets the mood of adventure, mystery, romance, and friendship. I found that determination was the theme of this story. Lessons were taught that determination will get you where you want to go. Read this book, and I promise you will be drawn to every page until the very end!
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

She's So Dead to Us, by Kieran Scott

When I checked out She's So Dead to Us, by Kieran Scott, I was hoping for some little girl drama. As crazy as it sounds, I needed to read about someone else's drama and forget about mine. That's exactly what I got! I dived into the book after the first sentence. Extremely captivating. The idea was based on reality, possibility, and truth. Ally Ryan lives the "perfect" life with everything included, until one day everything is lost. Her and her friend's father lose millions of dollars in investments and it all goes downhill from there. Her father leaves her and her mother alone, and a couple years later she is forced to the town she grew up in. Her fear of her old friends accepting her once more takes over her mind.
I highly recommend this to teenagers. I would specify what kinds of people this book will relate to because I know that many different people will refer to it in different ways. That's why I loved this book. My friend and I both read it, and I learned different things as to what she learned. The book is amazingly written and emotions are bluntly expressed. This is not just another story about teen drama, this is reality!
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Afterlife, by Gary Soto

Everyone wonders where they will go and what will happen after they die. Gary Soto's The Afterlife, takes us on an adventure filled, tearful, yet enlightening journey with a Latino boy named Chuy. The story begins with Chuy getting killed in a club bathroom by a man waring yellow shoes. As we flip the pages and read more and more of this amazing book, we are driven into journeys with him, almost anticipating where we're going next. Chuy realizes he is now a ghost, and has to deal with both the fear and excitement of his powers, and abilities. He learns he can walk through walls, and be anywhere without anyone knowing. Throughout his journey, he visits family members, and sees them mourning his death, realizing that he really did have people who cared about him. He goes on a quest to find his murderer "yellow shoes" and meets a homeless ghost who terrorizes him. Of course, what would a story be without a little romance? The love that creates between him and this beautiful ghost named Crystal follows through the story. This comedic, dramatic, romantic, and almost theatrical book is the perfect entertainment for teenagers. Read it to find out more!

To me, the Afterlife was very captivating. I felt as if I were Chuy. The story is written in first person, so the narrator was Chuy himself. I was able to know exactly what was going on in his head, and in front of him, and Soto's idea of using first person for this story was perfect. I would recommend this book for many different reasons. One of them being that it teaches you lessons of life. It teaches you the importance of life, family, love, and just all those things that you come across on a daily basis that you think don't matter. It is greatly entertaining and will grasp the reader's attention in an instant. The Afterlife is also very grammatically written, yet easy and fun to read. Make sure to check-out a copy today from your nearest library and put your walking shoes on, because you're about to be taken on a long and fun journey!
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-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Stranger, by Albert Camus

The Stranger, a novel by Albert Camus, is a philosophical take on the key ideas of twentieth century, including absurdism, determinism, nihilism, naturalism, and stoicism. All these -isms may get a little confusing, but you will understand the novel without understanding a word about philosophy. Divided into two parts, the novel explores the before and after parts of the life of the protagonist, Meursault. The reader will immediately see the unconventionality of the novel when he/she sees Meursault's noncommittal reaction to his mother's death. He is aware of the loss of a loved one, but not actually affected by it, almost bored by the proceedings of the funeral just smoking and sitting the entire time. However, everybody around him seems to enjoy his company, especially his girlfriend, Marie, who is set on a marriage few days into their romance. Meursault's life and ultimate downfall can be credited to his friend Raymond Sintes, so intent on taking revenge on his own Moorish girlfriend that he hurts everyone in his life. There are elements dispersed in the novel for it to be a great movie such as courtroom proceedings, a dismal heated surrounding, subtle violence, and even murder. But there is a small disadvantage to reading this novel: the incredibly slow pace. Because the main character Meursault is so emotionless, it is hard to find anything pleasant while reading. The good elements are spread out far apart, such that the reader is left with a wistful want of an interesting event to occur. Provided enough patience and respect, you can enjoy this novel but the mature context can throw you off.
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-Reviewed by S.M., grade 12.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, is a book that, although I picked up because it sounded intriguing (a twelve year old genius who is already so disgusted with society that she plans to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday?), I kept reading it because I think it helped enrich my mind. Renee is an old widowed concierge of a high-class apartment building, who adores art, literature, and all cultural things. She feels the need to hide this side of her from the world to fit the stereotypical concierge mold. Meanwhile, Paloma (the suicidal twelve year old) writes philosophical haiku that both ridicule modern life and describe her own spiritual growth as she tries to achieve her greatest heights before the deadline of her birthday. Their lives both change when a Japanese man name Ozu moves into the building. This book was translated from French. I am so overwhelmed by this book that I cannot simply go on and ruin the ending for the readers. I would give this book ten stars!

For someone like me, who is intrigued with philosophy, and loves books that will captivate my mind and give me something to think about, this book was perfect! I recommend this book to intelligent people who are willing to spend a lot of time thinking philosophically. I would also recommend it to those who wish to further their mind and think outside the box.


-Reviewed by A.A, grade 12.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini

Eldest is the second book of Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini. You have to read Eragon to understand this book. The story starts when Ajihad (leader of the Varden), Murtagh (friend of Eragon), the twins (twin magicians), and others are hunting for the remainder of the Urgals in the tunnels of Tronjheim, a large dwarf city in the Beor Mountains. As Ajihad is returning from the hunt, he and his soldiers are ambushed by a surviving group of Urgals. The onslaught occurs in front of the entire Varden (a rebel group living with the dwarves in Trinjheim), but no one realizes what is happening before the ambush is over. As Saphira (a dragon), and Eragon (Saphira's Rider) approach, they realize there are no survivors, and that the beloved leader of the Varden was dead. However, he also finds that Murtagh and the twins are missing from the dead pile. He asks Arya, and elf friend, to go after the Urgals and rescue the kidnapped. She returns later with bloodied clothes, proving that Murtagh and the Twins were dead. A meeting of the Council of Elders is called, along with Eragon, Saphira, and Arya, to decide whom the new leader of the Varden should be. The Council of Elfers basically force Eragon, Saphira, and Arya to agree with the Council that Nasuada, Ajihad's daughter, should follow Ajuhad. The Council tells Nasuada, and she agrees. After the meeting, Eragon swears his fealty to her, becoming her first vassal. now, Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik, a dwarf, must travel to Ellesmera (the capital of the elves' country) in DuWelden Varden (a forest where the elves live) so Eragon and Saphira can continue to train in magic and combat under the elves command. Before they leave, Hrothgar, the king of all dwarves, offers Eragon to join his clan (there are thirteen dwarf clans) and Eragon accepts after he realizes it was a great privilege. They first travel to Narga, another dwarf city in the Beor Mountains. There, Eragon is confronted by dwarves from the Az Sweldn rak Anhuin clan. They are enraged to learn that Eragon is a member of Hrothgar's clan, Durgrimst Ingeitum, and swear that in time, they will kill Eragon. The group then travels to Ellesmera uneventfully. Meanwhile, in carvahall, where Eragon grew up, Eragon's cousin, Roran, learned that Eragon was responsible for his father's death and the destruction of their farm. He is working to rebuild his life and farm so he can face his love's father. He is in love with Katrina, Sloan the Butcher's daughter. However, there is another problem, the Ra'zac, the inhuman creatures that are really responsible for killing Roran's father, are back to arrest Roran now. Roran flees into the Spine to hide for a while. The Ra'zac and their soldiers stay in Carvahall to wait for Roran. After the soldiers set fire to the town, and the Ra'zac killed and ate someone in Carvahall, the town decides to fight back. They succeed in holding off the soldiers for a while. Roran proposes to Katrina without the consent from Sloan after a battle, and Sloan finds out. He tries to get Katrina back, but Katrina is loyal to Roran, so Sloan secretly goes to the Ra'zac and makes a bargain with them. Late that night, the Ra'zac came into Roran's room and tries ti kill him, but he manages to fend off the soldiers and becomes unstoppable with his weapon: a simple hammer. The Ra'zac give up and just kidnap Katrina, much to the dismay and anger of Roran. He tries to stop the Ra'zac, but they run away too fast. The town then learns that reinforcements are coming, and Roran convinces everyone to leave and head for Narda, a city over the Spine. Meanwhile, Eragon learns his new teachers are another dragon and Rider. His is shocked because until then, he thought he was the only Rider outside of Galbatorix's reach. The Rider's name is Oromis and the dragon's name is glaedr. Oromis and Glaedr teach Eragon and Saphira many new things about magic, battling, and other topics. Switching to the Barde, Nasuada has successfully moved the Varden from the Beor Mountains to Surda, a country that lives outside of the Empire's reach. (See the map at the very beginning of the book.) She plans turn the tide on the Empire and go onto the offensive. She moves the Varden to Aroughs to get ready for their first attack on the Empire. In the meantime, Roran and all of Carvahall have made it to Narda and have successfully rented barges to take them to Teirm. They reach Teirm and find a man named Jeod, a sailor and secret agent of the Varden. He helps the villagers commander a large enough ship to hold all the people from Carvahall. They set sail for Surda. Back in Ellesmera, Eragon attends the Blood Oath Ceremony of the elves. During the ceremony, two elves do a dance and, during a dance, an image of a dragon appears and heals Eragon of his horrible back wound that he gained at the last battle in Tronjheim. After this, Eragon now looks like an elf, and has the physical strength of one too. Soon he learns that the Varden are about to go to battle against the Empire. He finds his dwarf friend Orik, and they fly Saphira to Aroughs to join the Varden. The next day, a group of about one hundred Kull, a large species of Urgals, offer their assistance against the Empire to Nusuada, who agrees despite advice not to. The next day, the battle is on! In the middle of the battle, Roran and Carvahall come up a river to aid the Varden. Also, the Twins reappear on the Empire's side, slaughtering the Varden. To add to the situation, another Dragon Rider comes and is on the Empire's side. Eragon and Saphira must face this new threat. But they are tired from battle already! Will Eragon and Saphira have enough energy to defeat the new Rider? Can the Varden overcome the Twins and the Empire? Find out!
Personally, I think this was the perfect sequel to Eragon. The story was exciting, suspenseful, and full of surprises. I recommend this book for teens, and also any one who likes fiction or fantasy.
-K.C., grade 9.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

Dystopian romance caught my attention. Of course, the title, Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, and cover of the book had a lot to do with me picking out this book, but I came to realize that was behind that cover was the best part. The title of the book is derived from the book's main focus, a disease called amor delitia nervosa, which people once thought was a disease, but is now widely agreed as one of the worst illnesses. In this society, upon reaching the age eighteen, every citizen is required to be "cured" of this disease. The cure is a surgery involving brain which will eradicate the deliria and furthermore remove the emotion and ability to feel love, and promote a better living for the citizen. Our main character, Lena, seems calm and strong, living under her Aunt Carol's rules and taking care of her two younger cousins. She anticipates the day where she will be cured. Behind this calm, smart, and very obedient Lena, darkness unfolds, and secrets untold lurk in her mind, one being her mother's suicide. She is ridiculed by her strange past. Lena's idea of the society completely changes when she meets a boy, with amber brown eyes. Both characters are well developed and Lena isn't one of those main characters you usually read about who are "perfect."
I am greatly anticipating the release of the sequel to Delirium. Unlike many futuristic and fictional stories published, this one gives a sense of reality and possibility between the idea, and the characters. I would highly recommend this book to those who love fiction, science, and romance all in one. Aside from reading mysterious ideas, and dystopian theories, Lauren Oliver delivers and idea that captivates the minds of teenagers and young adults, based on everyday things they feel. I would even say this book has a psychological twist, and will keep you on your toes until the very last word.

-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse

In Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, a girl, ironically called Billy Jo, struggles to survive the Dust Bowl. During these harsh years, she encounters dust storms, fires, grasshopper attacks, and other natural disasters. She is also faced with tragedies, like losing her mother as well as her two hands. However, she never loses hope. Will she be able to survive and live to tell the tale? This was one of my favorite books because it showed me to never give up and keep moving forward. I greatly recommend this book to people who are depressed or in sadness.
-Reviewed by JunHyung, grade 7.

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, is about the convict Valjean who is released from prison after serving 19 years in France for stealing a loaf of bread. Once free, he asks around for shelter, but no one except the kindly bishop gives him shelter. Valjean steals the bishop's silverware and runs away, but is caught by the police. However, the bishop pretends he had given the silverware as a gift. In return for saving him from more prison, Valjean promises to be an honest man from then on. He moves to another town under a new name. Here he invents a new manufacturing method, bringing prosperity to the town and himself, eventually becoming the town mayor. Here he lives happily until his old prison guard, Javert, recognizes him and retakes him to jail. He soon escapes, and moves to Paris with Cosette, a girl of whom Valjean had promised to take care of her mother before she died. Here, Cosette and Marius, a revolutionary leader, fall in love, but Valjean tries to prevent them from meeting in order to protect themselves. Then a revolutionary uprising and barricading begins in Paris. Javert, working now as a spy, is discovered among the revolutionaries and is tied up. Meanwhile, on the streets of Paris, the French army launches its first wave against the uprising, during which Marius is wounded and sends a letter to Cosette, but Valjean intercepts the letter and goes out to save Marius because Cosette loves him. When Valjean arrives at the barricades, he recognizes Javert and secretly sets him free, and then tries to take the wounded Marius through the sewers to his grandfather's home. But when they get out of the sewers they are spotted and arrested by Javert. Javert, not knowing whether to do his duty or repay Valjean for saving his life lets Valjean and Marius go but then, still confused, jumps into a river and drowns. Marius gets better and marries Marius, and Valjean confesses his past. Then Valjean falls ill and dies.

This story was not only entertaining and fun to read, but also very deep and emotional. Though it was not based on a true story, it was historically accurate in depicting the setting and times, as well as in depicting the uprising. It also explored deeply human emotions, and also law vs. grace. In addition, this book was page-turning and is a must read. I strongly recommend it to anyone looking for something interesting to read.
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-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Musician's Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap

The Musician's Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap, is a beautifully written historical fiction novel by Susanne Dunlap that describes the adventures of the daughter of a prestigious violinist. Set in Vienna, Austria during the time of Franz Joseph Haydn, a 15-year-old girl named Theresa Maria discovers her father to be dead on Christmas Eve and with his violin missing. She is determined to solve the mystery because she can hardly believe anyone would kill her beloved father. With her adventures, she discovers a secret life her father is leading. He is aiding to the cause of freeing the Hungarian Serfs and he, along with many other fellow musicians and friends must deliver important documents showing the mistreatment of serfs by their masters and any nobles to the Emperor. Theresa also gets affiliated with the outcast Gypsy's who help her along the way. Her aristocratic, mischievous uncle and his involvement add tension as to whether Theresa's father's mission will ever be reached.
This novel does not only radiate suspense, but also offers romance. I am a musician at my school and I was attracted to this book for its musical subject as well as history. One who lacks any classical musical instruction may find some parts difficult to understand for it refers a lot to musical terms. Nonetheless, this book was very captivating and is a valuable source in European history. I think anyone who enjoys danger, music, romance, and suspense will find this book very exhilarating to read. I recommend this book to youthful ages below twenty-five.-
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-Reviewed by Maryann, grade 11.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, Dick and Perry were friends from prison out on parole. However, they are soon sent back to prison, this time on a death row. The Clutter family is respected and prosperous. And Mr. Clutter is prominent figures in the Holcomb, Kansas community, while Mrs. Clutter is ill. Nancy Clutter (16) and Kenyon Clutter (15) are intelligent, well brought up, and popular children. However, the Clutter family is buried in 1959 after being murdered. The investigators and detectives are unable to discover the culprits and are about to give up. Meanwhile, Dick and Perry drive across the US and even go to Mexico. After a former prisoner-friend of Dick informs the officials that Dick was behind the murder, they search for them and eventually find them in Las Vegas.

This non-fiction story is a must read and a page turner. It was interesting and deeply analysed the emotions and thoughts of the murderers, the Clutter family, and the members of the Holcomb community. I recommend it to everyone looking for something interesting to read.
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-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, is about a journalist who decides to go undercover to find out what it really is like to be poor. From 1998 to 2000, she gives up her upper-middle class life style and attempts to survive on low wage jobs. She experiments in Florida, working two jobs as a waitress and a hotel maid, she finds the work too much physically demanding. However, in Maine, she does better. As a housekeeper server and a s an aide in a nursing home, she is able to keep up with her rents and eat enough. In the last state, Minnesota, she is unsuccessful. Working at Wal-Mart, she is unable to meet ends. She is also unable to find a vacant apartment and is forced to stay at costly hotels. In the end, she summarizes by saying she could maybe survived in the long run but the work was both physically and mentally challenging. This story was very entertaining and enjoyable. A must read and a page turner.  It is a true story and therefore gives valuable insight to the conditions of the poor and low-wage workers. I recommend it to everyone looking for something interesting to read.

-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass, is a book about a black slave, Frederick Douglass, who is brought up on a plantation while still a child. When he grows up, he is sent to Baltimore where he works for his owner's sister, Mrs. Auld, as a house slave. In Baltimore, he gets hope of one day being free and also learns to read and write. Later, he is exchanged between various slave owners until he ends up with Mr. Covey. Through at first Mr. Covey treats Douglass badly, after he stands up to him once, Mr. Covey beats him no more. He is then sent to Baltimore again where he learns to be a caulker in the shipbuilding industry. He is allowed to hold a job, but has to give up all his wages to his current master. He therefore plans to escape and runs away to the north where he became a free man.
This autobiography is not only interesting but also thought provoking to read. It is page turning and gives insight to slavery and the way slaves were treated. It depicts the conditions of slaves how they actually were. I recommend it to everyone looking for something interesting to read.
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-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Othello, by William Shakespeare

Combine love, jealousy, hatred, revenge, lust, betrayal, and chaos, and you will come close to describing the masterpiece Othello, by William Shakespeare. When pressed for time for school, it might be tempting to just spark notes the book or just watch many of the movies and play adaptations, but do not let those take away from the experience of reading the actual tragedy. The cast of characters include Othello, a brave soldier who is easily manipulated; Desdemona, the beautiful wife of Othello who receives constant admiration for her elegance; Lago, Othello's trusted companion and advisor who is secretly jealous of all the adulation and success Othello receives; and Emilia, Lago's wife and Desdemona's attendant, a minor character but an important part of the plot. There are other characters that play more minute roles. The plot though exceptionally simple, is equally complex, a great story that can be related to any time. Enjoy a drama-ridden novel and experience Shakespeare's brilliance by reading Othello.

- Reviewed by Anonymous.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell, is an historically accurate story about the Puritan settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It describes their lives and the problems they encountered. It focuses on the governor, Winthrop, and other historically important characters. This book covers everything from the founding of Rhode Island, to the beginnings of Massachusetts Bay Colony, to the wars with the Indians. In addition, it analyzed and comments on the history as well.
This non-fiction story is not only interesting, but also fun to read. It is page turning. It is also valuable as a source to learn early US history. I recommend it to everyone looking for something interesting to read.
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-Reviewed by Manuk, grade 9.

Feathered Dinosaurs of China, by Gregory Wenzel

The book Feathered Dinosaurs of China, by Gregory Wenzel, is about dinosaurs in China. It explains that in China, there were only flying dinosaurs. There were no T-Rex, no grass-eating creatures, and no hunting other land creatures. The flying ones attacked little and small animals. All the information about China's dinosaurs in this non-fiction book.

I really liked this book because it is informative about prehistoric times and especially because it talked about my favorite animals, dinosaurs. I felt good for having information about them from this book and I therefore recommend this book to my father because he likes dinosaurs more than I do so I think he will enjoy this book and I was also fascinated by the fact that there are only flying dinosaurs in China.

-Reviewed by Norvik, grade 9.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

Normally not interested much in biographies myself, the poetic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, is a coming-of -age autobiography every girl should read, regardless of her age. Angelou explores topics such as identity, rape, racism, education, motherhood, and more. Beginning with the prologue, the reader is sucked into the mindset of a young girl in a time race, color, and religion mean everything in someones life. A young Maya is unsure of her life, guided mostly by her brother and her grandmother's rules. As she breaks out of her own insecurity, the reader grows as well. Parenthood becomes a matter of circumstance. Each character Maya highlights in her life has a different dimension, notable among them being her grandmother who is a very powerful woman in their community, the only black woman to be acknowledged respectfully by a judge, her mother who is a notable actress renowned for her beauty and many affairs, her father a thorough businessman and an incredibly charming man, and her brother who is loved by all for his looks. While reading the novel, it often becomes difficult to distinguish between Maya the character, and Ms. Angelou the author. By reading this novel, you will be sure to experience real literature, but also enjoy the story, and learn more about what it meant to be a black girl in America.

-Reviewed by S.M., grade 12.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sea Monsters, by Mike Everhart

In Sea Monsters, by Mike Everhart, all is about deep oceanic creatures. Someone made a movie out of this book called Oceans of Kansas and it is for those who really want to have an information about what is in the seas or oceans. Both the book and the movie are non-fiction and therefore are very informative.

In my opinion, this book is one of the greatest books for gathering information about seas, oceans, and deep creatures and it's also cool that it has been made into a movie. My little cousin will love reading this book, which I actually got from him and I recommend it back to him. This book made it interesting to learn about creatures living deep in the ocean. I love the book and the movie.
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-Reviewed by Norvik, grade 9.

Falconer, by John Cheever

In Falconer, by John Cheever, Ezekiel Farragut is a college professor and a heroin addict, a crime adventurer and a killer locked behind the bars of Falconer prison for the death of his brother. He has survived loneliness, brutality, his own fierce anger, and the malice of a beautiful wife. He will discover more hope, more love, more of his own human compassion locked behind the bars of Falconer prison. This book is a fiction book written in the 80's.

In my opinion, This book just was one of the best books that captured my attention after reading the first page, so I really liked to read it and finish it but I couldn't because I returned it to my teacher and I told my friend that how much I loved it by even reading the first page the day that I took the book. I recommend this book to him and this book made me think that how can a book be good by even reading the first page and I felt really good by reading this book because it made my busy and think about the author.
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-Reviewed by Norvik, grade 9.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld, is a continuation of the book Uglies by the same author. In this book, Tally, the main character, has an enhancement surgery and she lives her life as a Pretty because she is sixteen now. However, she does remember that she was supposed to meet someone whom she befriended from the wilderness on one of her adventures where she escaped the town. She was supposed to meet up with this friend because he had the cure to get rid of the lesions in her brain from the surgery to get desired looks and features. However, because of the lesions, she cannot remember why she wanted to be cured in the first place because life in Pretty town was all about fun and games. In this book, Tally betrays many of her friends and gets herself in trouble many times. She has to somehow figure out how to please everyone and she has to figure out if she wants to stay a pretty or get rid of her lesions.

I really enjoyed this book because Uglies was such a good book and continuing to read about Tally's life was thrilling. You learn that if everything is beautiful in a world, then you start to realize things that are different as ugly. One thing I really like about these books is that when a new part begins in the book, there is a philosophical quote which ties into the story and I always enjoy reading those.
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-Reviewed by V.T., grade 12.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Envy, by Anna Godberson

Envy, by Anna Godberson, is set in the dawning days of 1900 New York's biggest scandals, socialites, heartbreaks, and marriages are brewing within. Elizabeth Holland is back after months of being "kidnapped." Her mother is expecting her to marry and to have children. But when she finds that she is pregnant with Will Keller's baby, perspectives change. She is forced into wedlock with her fathers old business partner, Snowden Carins. Dianna Holland is at the peak of glamour and beauty. She has fallen helplessly in love with the one man i the city she can't have, Henry Schoonmaker. Henry, being her first love, is a very fragile think for Dianna. But what happens when she sees things she that are not meant for her to see? Penelope Hayes has successfully used blackmail to marry Henry Schoonmaker. She finally got everything she wanted but she won't rest. Henry Schoonmaker is one of the most talked about men in New York. He is currently married to Penelope Hayes but is still head-over-heels in love with Dianna Holland. And he will do anything to have her for himself. And if that means joining the army then he will do it.

Penelope Hayes is a spoiled brat. Envy is the place where things seem to be getting better, but then dissolve into nothing. Elizabeth is back and pregnant with Will Keller's baby. This second to last book in the Luxe series makes you crave the ending. You will want to save each line in a vial of classified information. I send my praise to Anna Godberson for her job on this series.
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-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke

Inkheart is the first book of a series written by Cornelia Funke. Meggie lives alone with her dad in Italy. One night, a man named Dustfinger comes to the house and talks with Meggie's dad, Mo. Dustfinger calls Mo Silvertounge because he can read things out of books. He had read Dustfinger, Capricorn, and Basta out of Inkheart, and his wife into Inkheart. Dustfinger tells Mo that Caprocorn is coming to kidnap him. The next day, Mo, Meggie, and Dustfinger leave the house to go to Elinor, Meggie's aunt. Elinor is a book collector who owns a mansion filled with books and an alarm system to protect them. One night, Dustfinger takes Meggie outside during the night to show her what tricks he can do with fire. He asks Elinor to turn off the alarm so he can perform during the night. She does. During the show, a group of men break into the house and kidnap Mo and the book Inkheart. Dustfinger had told them where they were staying, and planned to break-in. He left with the kidnappers. Meggie soon found out that Elinor had swapped Inkheart with another book, and they decided to find Capricorn and swap Mo for Inkheart. Dustfinger returned to the mansion and said he had followed Capricorn's men back to where Capricorn was living. He, Meggie, and Elinor traveled to the village planning to make the swap. They gave Capricorn the book, but Capricorn then took them captive. Except for Dustfinger. Dustfinger is working for Capricorn in hopes that he could return to the world he loves in Inkheart. Capricorn turns on Dustfinger and burns all the remaining copies of Inkheart so Dustfinger cannot return to his world. Mo, Meggie, and Elinor are locked up. The next day, Capricorn has Mo read gold out of a book. Mo succeeds but also accidentally reads a young boy out of a book. He and the boy are locked up again with Meggie and Elinor. That night, Dustfinger rescues them all because he hates Capricorn for destroying the copies of Inkheart. They run to a nearby village and from there, Elinor returns home while Dustfinger, the boy named Farid, Meggie , and Mo look for the author of Inkheart. They find him. His name is Fenoglio. Dustfinger runs away with Farid when Fenoglio tries to talk to him. Mo and Fenoglio try to figure a way to get rid of Capricorn and his men. Mo gets a phone call from Elinor. She says all her books were destroyed by Capricorn's men. Mo goes and picks her up at the airport. While he is gone, Basta, Capricorn's most trusted servant, finds Meggie and takes her back to Capricorn's village, along with Fenoglio. Meanwhile, Dustfinger hid out near the village and found out there was another copy of Inkheart still in the billage. He asks his friend Resa, a maid for Capricorn, to try to find out where the book was hidden. Resa is caught, and so is Dustfinger. Meggie is locked up in a room with Fenoglio. She finds the book Peter Pan in the room and reads aloud to herself at night. She suddenly sees Tinkerbell flying about. Just then, Basta comes in, sees Tinkerbell, catches her, and drags Meggie to Capricorn. Then Capricorn arranges for Meggie to read Shadow out of Inkheart and kill Dustfinger and Resa. The Shadow is a faceless monster that kills anything and cannot be killed. When Fenoglio finds out what Capricorn plans to do, he starts writing an alternate story so that when Meggie reads it, the Shadow will come, but not obey Capricorn. Instead, the Shadow would turn against him and his men. Meanwhile, Mo and Farid plan to infiltrate the village and rescue Meggie, Dustfinger, and Fenoglio. However, Dustfinger already escaped by taunting Basta into coming into his cell and then disarming him and running away. However, Resa didn't escape. Elinor had gone to the police in a nearby village, but when the policeman came to Capricorn's village, he only asked a few questions and left, leaving Elinor to be locked up in the village. However, she is locked up with Resa, who is really Teresa, her niece and Meggie's mom. On the evening that Meggie is suppose to read the Shadow out of Inkheart, Farid and Mo set fire to the village to cause a distraction. Capricorn sends men to put out the fire, but continues with the execution. Just before Meggie starts to read from the book, Fenoglio tries to run away. All eyes turn to him as he hit Capricorn's guards and ran for it. He was caught, but he had given time for Meggie to slip a piece of paper with Fenoglio's alternate story into the book. She started reading the alternate story, but then Capricorn noticed that it wasn't the real story. He ordered his men to cease her, but the Shadow had started to emerge from the ground. Will the Shadow obey Meggie or Capricorn? And will Mo, Meggie, and Teresa be reunited? Find out. I think this is a good book because it is unpredictable. There is a lot of twists in this story. This book is good for readers who enjoy fantasy because there is a lot of make believe things in this book.



-Reviewed by K.C., grade 9,

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

In The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler, when a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, seduction, crime, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in and the date in the story is 1933 and its a fiction story.


I really love this book and I think it's one of my favorite ones I'm still not finished reading it so I can't tell the ending. I recommend this book to my sister and I think she will love to read this book, which made me think and I also understood it. I recommend this book to my friends, too.

-Reviewed by Norvik, grade 9.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, is a book that will capture your mind and keep you in suspense. It has a lot of surprising turns and it will keep you captivated. There are found children who are on a mission to save millions of people. It all starts out with an unusual ad in the newspaper calling out to kids for special opportunities. There are four stages of testing, and only four unique kids make it to the last stage. The last stage takes place at the house of Mr. Benedict, who planned out the tests, and also put the ad in the newspaper. In this stage, there are two levels that they must complete. The first is to go across the room without stepping on any blue or black squares. Reynold, a resourceful boy who prefers Reynie, notices that the floor only has rectangles and just walks straight across. Kate, who is skilled, throws a rope and somehow manages to tie it to the doorknob and she walks across on the rope. She has a red basket that she takes everywhere that contains literally everything from marbles to a spyglass disguised as a kaleidoscope. When she is asked to do it again, she removes everything from her bucket; and she leaps onto it to roll it with her feel until she reaches the other side. Once again, when she is asked to do it again, she stands supported only by her hands and slowly crosses the room. Sticky just crawls across the room. The second level is to find the way to the back door by going through a maze of identical rooms. Reynie easily finds it and makes it to the back door by finding squiggly arrows that point to the right door each time. The second time, he is asked to do it, he finishes quicker. Sticky just tries every door and somehow manages to finish the maze. On the second time, he surprisingly memorized the right doors and makes it through faster. Kate finds a heating vent and goes through it until she reaches the back door. Interestingly, she is not asked to do it another time. In the end, all three children pass all the tests. This whole time, they haven't met the last child who also passed all the tests, but they finally do when they're all together in Mr. Benedict's room. Her name is Constance and she is extremely short and has a bad attitude. Actually, she passed none of the tests, but Mr. Benedict still chose her. Mr. Benedict said she might be the key to success on this mission they were going to be told about, so Reynie, Sticky, and Kate keep quiet. What is their mission and will they survive?

In my opinion, this book always keeps you in suspense like I mentioned earlier, and the characters are all so well thought out. You will come to love the characters, and the conflict is really unique. This book may be a little long, but once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished it. There are two more books after this one, and I am sure you'll like those as well too. Well, I hope that you can read this wonderful book if you have the chance to.



-Reviewed by A.P. grade 8.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spirit Bound, by Richelle Mead

Spirit Bound, by Richelle Mead, is the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series. After a long heartbreaking journey to Siberia, Rose has finally returned to St. Vladimir's to take her trials and become a full fledged guardian. She is excited to graduate and go out into the world as Lissa's guardian, but she never forgets that the love of her life is out to destroy her. She sets off on a dangerous assignment to save Dimitri and gets caught up in the political drama of the Moroi Royal Court.



In my opinion, it was an extremely intriguing book. The character's relationships are pushed farther into testy waters - which causes for a more dramatic effect. The book also explores Lissa's character more and the reader's get to see a completely different side of her that they've never seen before. However, I wish that the relationship between Adrian, Rose and Dimitri had been explored further. Also, if the relationship of Rose and Tatiana Ivashkov was explored a little further, it would have made for a more understandable ending. Overall, I believe it was an excellent book. It is well written and once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down!


-Reviewed by Desi, grade 11.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sundays at Tiffany's, by James Patterson

Sundays at Tiffany's, by James Patterson, is about an eight year old, Jane Margaux, who has an imaginary friend named Michael. Because she rarely spends time with her mother other than their weekly trips to Tiffany's, Jane spends her time cherishing every moment she can with Michael, but little does she know, Michael plans on leaving her on her ninth birthday. A few years later, Jane is a proper young lady, who works under her mother at the same company. Coincidentally, she meets someone, and it turns out his name is Michael. Could it be fate that brought him back to her? James Patterson's book, Sundays at Tiffany's was a sweet romance that kept me reading. I enjoyed the simplicity of the book and how he incorporated the fantasy of an imaginary friend into the story's plot. I recommend teens to read this book if they are seeking a novel filled with laughter and romance.


-Reviewed by C.L., grade 9.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beauty Pop Vol.1, by Kiyoko Arai

The first volume of Beauty Pop, by Kiyoko Arai, is set in Japan where there is a high school girl named Kiri Koshiba. She has a talent, she is a very gifted hairstylist. Her father was a legendary hairstylist long ago. Also, there is another student named Narumi that dreams to be the top beautician in Japan. He has a group named Scissors Project with two friends, Kei Minami, who is in charge of the hall arts in the group, and Kazuniko Ochiai, who has every information and calculations about everything. School is always normal as Narumi shows off, Kei eats snacks, and Ochiai doint researches. No one in the school knows yet that Kiri can give a little magic to someones hair. One day, Narumi meets Kiri and gets all fussy about her and makes a scissors project the next day. A project where they choose a girl and make her up, but at that same day, Kiri gave a little magic to her friend Kanako. Her hair was really beautiful after the haircut. When the S.P. (scissors project) saw that, they were shocked. Narumi thought there was a challenger in the school and so they set up a verse, not knowing who the other person is. Her initial becomes "X." Ochiai finds out before, but not the others so he made the plan of the project. Kiri disagreed at first, but she actually came to the project and was versing Narumi. Only one minute left when the finishes are done, and no one knows who won yet.



This book shows very a very interesting life about Japan hairstyling. This book gave me real interests in hairstyling. I think this book would be a great book to read. I really enjoyed reading this book. This is my opinion.




-Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 9.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dewey, by Vicki Myron

Dewey, by Vicki Myron, is about a cat, Dewey, with a bad start in the world. On a cold night he was found in a library slot and he decided that the pain of frostbite would not keep him from thanking the librarian that saved him from his past. The Librarian did not save Dewey, Dewey saved the Librarian and the rest of the town as learned throughout the story. Dewey, the Library Cat, changed a run-down town to a place of love and affection. His presence warmed the hearts of the town and the visitors. I truly recommend this read because it warms the hearts of many and teaches readers that animals have an impact on a person's life. a library, and even a town. Once you open this book, your heart will grow for this lovable cat and you will wish you had a Dewey walking out of each character. This book would be good for someone who just wants a heart-felt story that teaches you how an animal can bring out the best in us and teaches us the true values of life.



-Reviewed by Katie, grade 9.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements

Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements, is about a boy named Bobby Phillips who is an average 15 year old boy. All of a sudden, out of the blue, Bobby waked up one morning and can't see himself in the mirror. There doesn't seem to be any reason for Bobby's condition and his physicist dad can't even figure it out. Bobby now can't go to school, have friends, and pretty much can't have a life. Then Bobby meets a girl named Alicia after sneaking out of his house. Alicia is blind and Bobby really enjoys talking to her and trusts her with his life. The school and people are trying to find out why Bobby suddenly disappeared, and if he's even still alive. This could lead his family into some serious trouble. Bobby must find out how to be seen again before it's too late.


Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements, was ultimately a fun read. I thought it was creative and fun. It kept me interested and flipping the pages. You really get to know these characters and their personalities. This book was well put together. I would recommend this to all ages and genders who like a fun read and can tolerate 250 pages. I looked forward to reading this book everyday and I hope you will, too.



-Reviewed by Logan, grade 9.