Friday, April 29, 2011

The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen, is a story about Elizabeth Holland, the star of all of New York's society. All eyes are on her arrival from Paris. But little do they know that her family is on the verge of poverty. Her engagement to the most available bachelor, Henry Schoonmaker, is the Holland family's savior.

Elizabeth has enemies within that don't like her engagement proposal. One of her enemies is her maid, Carolina Broad. Both Elizabeth and Carolina had a crush on the late Mr. Holland's valet, Will Keller. Both girls want to live happily ever after with him. Another suspected enemy is her best friend, Penelope Hayes. These days, Penelope's eyes are on Eliazabeth's fiance, Henry. In the midst of all this is Elizabeth's little sister, the beautiful Dianna Holland. Dianna is the complete opposite of her sister. She breaks all of society's rules and does not plan to marry. But when her sister's fiancee falls in love with her, she is stuck in a strange courtship. Elizabeth, on the other hand, will go to extremes to be with Will, even if it means faking her own death.

Elizabeth Holland is her mother's prize. She was groomed since birth to be the perfect debutante. The author brings out the "bad girl" in her that the average person would never see. This is one of those books I have had to read over and over again because it is so good. The rest of the books in this fabulous series continue the story of Elizabeth's strange death, Dianna's unwanted courtship, and Penelope's unparalleled ambition.

-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce, is a great book. The Tredbond twins are off to study their given fields. Eleven-year-old Alanna is off to learn to use her magic in a convent. Her twin brother, Thom, is off to the palace to learn to become a knight. The only problem is they want opposite things. Alanna is the one who wants to become a knight and Thom wants to learn to master his sorcery. The two deviously devise a plan to switch places. Alanna becomes Alan of Tredbond and heads off to the palace. This is her magnificent story.

Alanna is one person who proves that if a person tries hard enough, they can change the stars. She is quick to make a good number of friends and enemies. One of her most trusted friends is the heir to the throne, Prince Jonathan. Another is Myles of Olau. But the only catch is that no one knows her true identity.
When the squires are taken to the Bazhir desert on a fieldtrip, unwanted truths are revealed and a powerful enemy is made.

Tamora Pierce is my favorite author of all time. The books she writes are all down-to-earth and relatable. This book about Alanna is one that most of us can truly relate to. Her strong will and unstoppable mentality give her the strength to stand up to her enemies and protect her friends. Alanna is one person girls all around the world want to relate to. In this world, there are very few people who young girls can look up to and I believe that Alanna is one of those very gifted people.

-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard is a novel by Linda Sue Park. As an orphan, Tree-ear had been ignored, neglected, shunned, and cursed at. In 12th century Korea, orphans symbolized bad luck, so Tree-ear's only friend and companion was Crane-man, or the one-legged man who lived with Tree-ear under a bridge. Tree-ear's life only consists of foraging for scraps of food. At least, until the day Tree-ear accidentally breaks some of Min's pottery.

Tree-ear's village was a potter's village and Min was the best of all of them. Tree-ear works for Min to pay off the debt, but later becomes his unofficial apprentice in hopes of learning how to throw pots. After months and months of working under Min, an emissary comes from the King's Court to see which potter should be the royal commission. Min is not picked, but the emissary shows interest in Min's work and tells him to bring some of his flower vases with inlay work to the King's Court. When Min finally does, it is Tree-ear who needs to make the dangerous journey there.

This story depicts many facts about life in this period in Korea. This truly amazing book also shows changes in characters just like the fire changes pots of clay. It is a must-read book for everyone. I think this book is especially for those interested in Korea's past.

-Reviewed by JunHyung, grade 7.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, by Laurien Gardner

A Lady Raised High is a novel by Laurien Gardner. Living in the English countryside, Frances Pierce is ready for adventure. But unfortunately the adventures she seeks are high above her place in life. Court is the place that everyone dreams of going. Hidden behind the splendid facade of beautiful dresses, love, and merry-making, court can be a place of murder and intrigue. One day she is struck by luck when the king's progress crosses paths with Frances's home. Thinking quickly, Frances saves the "great lady" Anne Boleyn from a mud war and is invited to court to wait on Anne.

Anne Boleyn is the second most important woman in England, second only to the queen. Frances will soon learn to see through the thin invisible layer that separates the splendid court from the treacherous one. Innocence can only take a person so far. The court of Henry VIII is full of jealousies and one little girl is going in for the biggest plunge of her life.

Frances is the most innocent figure at the court of Henry VIII. Usually the people at court are lying, conniving idiots. Frances is a fresh, clean slate. Her view of the world is so unlike everybody else's. She doesn't look at everything for greed. My favorite part of this book is that it shows how one can be pure in a pool of impurities. This is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink, is a dark, logistical novel about a man's guilt as he tries to find answers by digging through his past. Written in flashback and told in the strong narrative of Michel Berg, the author raises profound questions and follows them with insightful answers, not denying us the truth. During Michel's brief affair with an older woman, he is taught the possession of love and the trials of a difficult life. Thus, Michel treasures his more preciously and decides to go to law school. As a student, he is allowed to sit in on a trial of six women guards in a Nazi concentration camp, where he meets up again with his lover. As she is tried for war crimes, only he knows the secret that could save her innocence.

I usually praise every book I read, but this book I hold in high regards. It is artistically written and resounding in its honesty. the author has an original voice, one perfect to tell the story of those affected by the Holocaust. This book takes you by the hand and leads you on an intellectual journey to a sensitive conclusion. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history or who is looking for a change of pace from all of those romance vampire stories. A good winter read to snuggle up by the fire and sip from a hot cup of tea. One could also read this book before taking long afternoon walks, perfect to ponder over the moral questions the author raises. I understand that the book was made into a movie in 2009 starring Kate Winslet (and actually won an Oscar) and this is the one occasion where I recommend seeing the movie before reading the book. Because the books is not exactly written in story form, those visual learners might understand the plot better while watching the movie.

-Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 12.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2), by Richelle Mead

Frostbite, by Richelle Mead, is the second book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose Hathaway is a guardian-in-training unlike any other. Her best friend (and Moroi princess) Vasalissa Dragomir is going in and coming out of a psychotic state. Her mentor/lover/kick-ass guardian, Dimitri Belikov, has refused to love her since their lust-filled night under the secret spell.

In her head nothing could be worse than her mother coming for a visit, which, to Rose's dislike, actually happens! Jeanie Hathaway is one of the Moroi world's best guardians and has a reputation to protect and is more unlikely to spend hours with her daughter crying over teenage girl things. Most of the time they spend together ends up in mixed feelings and hatred. Rose is positive that her mother hates her, but that is all put on hold when Christian Ozeras' Aunt Tasha comes for the holidays. Dimitri seems to be head-over-heels in love with her. And much to Rose's dismay, Tasha needs a guardian and picks Dimitri. Mason is thirsty to hunt Strigoi, but Rose won't have it. Will she have to suffer the murder of her best friend at the hands of the most evil being out there?

In this second book in the series, many questions are brought up and others solved. Although this was not one of my favorites, it sure had its own meaning. Rose is hassled with many immoral things that we teenagers think impossible. The author really keeps us on our heels through the whole book and in the end we can't wait to see what happens in the next book.

-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Airhead, by Meg Cabot

Airhead, by Meg Cabot, is a book about a girl named Emerson Watts (Em for short). She was never one of the popular kids and was always teased by them. She had an annoying little sister and was in love with her best friend. She was just the average girl. That was, until something terrible happened. One day she woke up in the hospital not feeling like herself. I mean REALLY not feeling like herself. She was literally in someone else's body. But not just anybody's body, she was in Nikki Howard's body. Nikki Howard, the teenaged supermodel, the "face" of the multimillion dollar company, Stark Industries. Not able to speak about who she really is or even talk to her family or best friend in public made life even more complicated in addition to modeling, interviews, paparazzi, and dealing with Nikki Howard's crazy best friend, boyfriend, and many secret lovers. Many mysteries and secrets are hidden in the mysterious world of Nikki Howard and now Em has to deal with all of that. Being in Nikki Howard's body makes Em realize that being famous isn't all it's cut out to be.

This book is all about secrets of the mysterious world of entertainment and modeling that all girls want to be a part of someday. I highly recommend this book to girls of all ages. This book also includes a little bit of science fiction, which makes it even more interesting. It's a wonderful romance and mystery!

-Reviewed by Natasha, grade 10.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Into the Gauntlet (39 Clues #10), by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Into the Gauntlet, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is the final book in the 39 Clues series. All the teams come to Cahill Island, the Madrigal hideout. Isabel Kabra captures them and forces each of them to say their clues by threatening to kill their loved ones. Amy saves them by smashing the serum over her head and knocking Isabel out cold. Amy and Dan are left with a list of everyone's clues in their hands. It is revealed that there is another family like the Cahills called the Vespers. Other things happen but I don't want to spoil the ending!

This is a wonderful ending to the series. I recommend this to anyone who read the books before this book and wants to see the final showdown of the Cahills.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Storm Warning (39 Clues #9), by Linda Sue Park

Storm Warning, by Linda Sue Park, is the ninth book in the 39 Clues series. Amy and Dan go to Jamaica where they meet a friend of Grace and her nephew, Lester, who helps them and dies. The identity of the Man in Black is revealed in the book. He reveals seven Madrigal Clues.

This book is great since we know who the Man in Black is. I recommend this book to fans of the series.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Emperor's Code (39 Clues #8), by Gordon Korman

The Emperor's Code, by Gordon Korman, is the eighth book in the 39 Clues series. Amy and Dan arrive in China fresh from the shocking discovery that they are Madrigals. In this book, Dan releases the info that he is a Madrigal to the Wizards. At one point in the book, Dan is kidnapped by the Kabras. They continue to search for clues, though, and find a note written on silk from the Chinese emperor Puyi. They travel to the top of Mout Everest to find the Clue.

This book is full of action and adventure since Dan gets captured. I recommend this to anyone else who likes the other books in the series.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Viper's Nest (39 Clues #7), by Peter Lerangis

The Viper's Nest, by Peter Lerangis, is the seventh book in the 39 Clues series. Amy and Dan, shaken up by their last encounter with Irina, travel to South Africa with their au pair, Nellie Gomez, after discovering a note in Irina's boat. They seem to not trust Nellie Gomez, but she gets their trust back later on. Their search leads them to a Tomas stronghold in the South African veldt. They find out that their branch is the Madrigals, which is a combination of all the branches.

This book is very interesting and full of adventure. It is good that the characters maintain the lead and keep ahead of everyone. I recommend this book for anyone else who likes the series.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Too Deep (39 Clues #6), by Jude Watson

In Too Deep, by Jude Watson, is the sixth book in the 39 Clues series. Amy, Dan, and their au pair, Nellie Gomez, arrive in Australia and meet up with their surfer uncle, Shep Trent. Also, Isabel Kabra joins the hunt. Isabel tries to kill Amy and Dan by starting a fire and Irina dies saving them.

This book reveals a lot of information that all the readers have been waiting for. It is action packed and adventurous. This is a really good book in the series. I recommend this book if you have not read this one before.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Black Circle (39 Clues #5), by Patrick Carman

The Black Circle, by Patrick Carman, is the fifth book in the 39 Clues series. After receiving a telegram from a mysterious person known as "NRR," Amy and Dan travel to Russia. In Russia, Amy and Dan form an alliance with Hamilton Holt. They go through a series of clues that keep leading them to different places and they are being timed.

This book takes the adventure a step further. They are sill in the lead and the clue is there's again. They are very successful and will win if they go at this rate. This will be a great choice for anyone that likes adventure stories.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beyond the Grave (39 Clues #4), by Jude Watson

Beyond the Grave, by Jude Watson, is the fourth book in the 39 Clues series. Amy and Dan and their au pair Nellie Gomez go to Egypt on the next step in their quest and meet an old friend of their grandmother's who gives them a hint left for them by Grace before she died. Amy is apparently not over Ian as she often thinks about him.

This book is very mysterious and great since the characters are getting the clues and getting ahead. It is quite interesting how Amy doesn't get over Ian since that can ruin their lead. Everything works out perfectly and they maintain the lead. This book will be great for anyone that likes action and adventure.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Sword Thief (39 Clues #3), by Peter Lerangis

The Sword Thief, by Peter Lerangis, is the third book in the 39 Clues series. The characters travel to Japan to find the next clue, focusing on swords stolen centuries ago by Japanese warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi. They make an alliance with Alistair Oh and later the Kabras. Amy and Ian start to like each other, but their relationship ends in an unusual way because Ian fails miserably at reading his true feelings.

This book is as good as the first two. It is very interesting and keeps you guessing at the end of each chapter. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action and adventure.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One False Note (39 Clues #2), by Gordon Korman

One False Note, by Gordon Korman, is the second book in the 39 Clues series. Amy and Dan and Nellie Gomez (along with their competition) travel to Vienna, Austria to find a clue relating to Mozart and his sister, Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart. Following a lead to Venice, Italy, Dan and Amy brush up with the other competitors to secure the lead.

This book continues with the action packed adventure of the first book. The characters may be teenagers, but their minds work quickly to find all the clues. I recommend this book to anyone who likes action and adventure.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Maze of Bones (39 Clues #1), by Rick Riordan

The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan, is the first book in the series 39 clues. Amy and Dan Cahill go to their grandmother's funeral and attend a secret meeting there. William McIntyre, the person holding the meeting, gives them a choice of a million dollars or a quest to find 39 clues and get the hidden answer to be the most powerful people on Earth. There were people who chose the money but Amy and Dan choose the quest which is very dangerous. Amy and Dan Cahill along with their au pair, Nellie Gomez, travel to Paris, France in search of a clue that Benjamin Franklin hid there after their grandmother sets their large family off on the quest. William McIntyre (the person that first told Amy and Dan about the clue hunt) told the seven teams to trust no one. Unfortunately, Amy and Dan didn't do what William had said. While on the journey, they discover that there is more to their family than they were led on to believe.

This first book is very interesting because it makes you think about what you would do if you were the characters. This book is action packed and adventurous. I recommend this book for anyone that likes to read action and adventure books.

-Reviewed by Daniel S., grade 9.