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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-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,