Monday, July 30, 2012

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is about a woman named Hester Prynne who lives in 17th Century Boston with her daughter Pearl. She wears the letter "A" on her chest, which means adultery. Hester is known in the community for adultery, and she is ignored by many and looked at differently. Hester's husband, a man much older than she, sent her to Boston and never came back. It was said that he had been lost at sea, and Hester thought she would never see him again. Hester apparently had an affair and had a baby, but would never reveal the true identity of her lover. Hester's husband comes back with the name of Roger Chillingworth, who is known as a physician in society. Hester finds out that the man is her husband and swears not to tell anyone. Roger is seeking revenge and does this by trying to find out who the lover is. Once he does, he finds out it's a man named Dimmesdale and does everything he can to torture him by his words. Chillingworth turns out to be successful, and Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold where Hester was once standing on and was given the letter "A." Hester and her daughter Pearl see Dimmesdale, and the three of them stand on scaffold and link hands. People realize that Dimmesdale has changed, and Hester asks Chillingworth to stop torturing Dimmesdale, but he refuses. Dimmesdale confesses his sin and dies. A year later Chillingworth dies as well. Hester and Pearl leave Boston, and no one knows what happened to them. Hester continues her charitable work and receives a letter from Pearl who has married a European man and has established a family of her own. Hester dies and is buried next to Dimmesdale. The two share a single tombstone, which bears a scarlet "A." I personally enjoyed reading this book. It is a good book for high school students and has very exciting and dramatic moments. This book keeps the reader busy and excited to read the next chapter and to see what happens next. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I believe it's a very exciting book to read.

Reviewed by Alen, grade 12

Flawless, by Sara Shepard

Flawless, by Sara Shepard, is the second book in the mind-boggling Pretty Little Liars series. This book picks up right where the last one left off, but with a little flashback that reveals some interesting little secrets. Still mourning Ali's death, all four girls meet up at her memorial. They discover that all of them have been receiving frightening messages from someone who calls themself A. Toby and Jenna, the girl they blinded, are shockingly at Alison's memorial and the Liars have a hunch that Toby is A. Aside from that, the girl's lives are more complicated than ever.  Aria might not be with Ezra anymore, but now she's developed feelings for Sean, Hanna's ex-boyfriend. Her parent's relationship however just gets worse and worse, and A is threatening to tell the secret that could destroy her family for good. Spencer's parents are still angry with her and her grades are going down. She's still seeing Wren and A knows secrets that could ruin her life. For Hanna, she's desperately trying to get Sean back, but doesn't realize she's not the only one. Plus, her Dad comes back into her life, but his flawless new family might not want him too. Lastly, Emily is trying to get back her old life. She tries to push Maya out of her mind, but Ben keeps showing up and reminding her what he saw. To prove him wrong, she takes a certain someone to Foxy, but the night might turn out to be dangerous instead of fun. Will Rosewood be mourning the murder of two young girls?

After seeing the television series, I couldn't wait read the books! The first one was great, but kept me wanting more! Flawless proved to be even better than the first book and I certainly have high expectations for the third book. Sara Shepard has a unique way of writing and it was new but very interesting. Each chapter is a different girl's life and feelings, giving you insight into each of their lives. I was thrilled with this book and recommend it to teen girls and anyone who liked the first book or show! You won't regret reading this book.

Reviewed by Kristine K, grade 9.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Bad to Cursed, by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender is the fantastic second book in the Bad Girls Don't Die series. Alexis finally has things somewhat back to normal. After her little sister Kasey was possessed by a spirit, Alexis had done everything in her power to save her. In her new house with her adorable boyfriend and sister coming home from being institutionalized, things were getting how they used to be. That's why Alexis was thrilled when Kasey joined the Sunshine Club. But something was odd about that club. The girls seemed to turn gorgeous and popular overnight. To investigate, Alexis and her best friend Meghan join the club to see what's going on. When they find out that it's really a spirit, Aralt, helping them, they forget why they really joined the club. But why would Alexis ever want to get rid of Aralt? After all, he does so much for them and asks for so little in return...right?

I have to admit, I was hesitant when I first started the series because I wasn't too excited to read a scary story. But I am so glad I did! Katie Alender has created perfect characters that fit the storyline. I love how the plot changes halfway through the story. I would recommend this book to teen girls because they will be able to relate to Alexis's emotions and find the book interesting. You should definitely read this if you love the first!

Reviewed by Kristine K., grade 9

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

And Then There Was None is a story written by Agatha Christie and is a mysterious book about ten people who are all guests on a private island off the coast of Devon, which is in India. This island isn't like an ordinary one; it is very mysterious and quiet and seems very spooky. Their host, an unknown millionaire to them all, is nowhere to be found. All they hear is his voice who reveals each and every one of the guests' secrets. All the guests have a weird past that they're willing to reveal. Each of them has been marked for murder, and each one of them has been revealed. Slowly each one suffers and dies before the weekend is over. It turns out to be this isn't an ordinary island; it's an island that is looking for "revenge." This book is a very exciting book to read full of mysterious moments. I really enjoyed reading this book, and each chapter was better than the other. It keeps you very busy and excited about each upcoming chapter. I would recommend this book to any reader, especially to those who like mystery books. I personally enjoyed reading this book and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Alen, grade 12.

Forgotten Fire, by Adam Bagdasarian

From a very young age, I was exposed to the horrible event that tainted the early 20th century, the Armenian Genocide. However, I never fully got a true sense of the tragedy until I read Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian. This novel, which follows the story of a young Vahan Kenderian, exposes all the gruesome and livid details victims had to endure during incredulously hard, deplorable times. Vahan is a young Armenian boy living in Turkey surrounded by luxury due to his father's successful career who's life is turned upside down as April 24, 1915 approaches. All of his loving family members start dropping like flies and he is left all alone to fend for himself. Within minutes of witnessing the murders of his siblings, Vahan loses all of his innocence and struggles to grasp the reality of the wicked world around him. Bagdasarian does a magnificent job at relating to the reader the troubles young Vahan faces through a fictional story set in a historical context.

I strongly recommend Forgotten Fire to anyone seeking to find out more about the Armenian Genocide and hear the story of a victim that undergoes inhumane, deplorable conditions in life. It is not the easiest book to read due to the gruesome, vivid imagery and extremely tragic context. The novel gives readers a sense of human suffering, as well as many, many tears. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful book to read as both a story and a historical account of one of humanity's tragic events.

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis

In Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, once again the four Pevensie children return to Narnia after a whole year. They feel as though they've spent a lifetime in Narnia but when they come back to our world it has only been a day. The children miss being in Narnia because their lives there were so comfortable as Kings and Queens. They are drawn back into Narnia when Prince Caspian, a prince who is aware of the old Narnia, blows Susan's horn for help. Miraz, the King of Telmarines, the uncle of Caspian has taken over Narnia and has turned it into a non-magical world. Miraz is attempting to kill Caspian because he now has his own son and Miraz wants his own son to rule Narnia. When the Pevensies return to Narnia they are first confused and meet a dwarf named Trumpkin. The siblings realize that it's been centuries that has passed since they were Kings and Queens while it has only been a year in their world. Narnia isn't the place they remember it to be anymore. The talking animals are hidden, Aslan is gone, and evil is once again ruling Narnia. Prince Caspian and the Pevensies eventually meet and the old Kings and Queens of Narnia help the young prince. Susan and Lucy go to look for Aslan while Peter and Edmund help Caspian prepare for battle. Narnia is again in war mode; who will be the true King of Narnia now?

I recommend this book to those who have read the beginning of the series of The Chronicles of Narnia. It is another exciting story full of adventure and action. People who love adventure and the work of C.S. Lewis must read this book. I give this book a 5 out of 5 and recommend you to read the whole series.

-Reviewed by Micah, grade 9.

Friday, July 13, 2012

At First Sight, by Nicholas Sparks

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks is the continuation of the novel True Believer. Jeremy Marsh never imagined himself getting married again. Especially after a devastating failed marriage. As Jeremy Marsh starts his new life in a small town Boone Creek in North Carolina with his fiance, Lexie Darnell, the couple faces more and more challenges. Jeremy has never imagined being a father but in this new life he is about to start with Lexie, he is going to start a family right away. All seems well with the couple at first, but after a few bumps in the road, the daily grind starts to kick in and the couple faces more and more difficult problems. Being newlyweds doesn't mean that the honeymoon stage will last forever. The novel is told in Jeremy Marsh's perspective when he reminisces on the past he and his wife had spent together and explains the story to his own little girl. Although the girl is young, she tries to imagine and understand what her father and mother went through.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 because of Sparks' well writtne novel once again. This book explains the trials of new couples and that love can withstand anything. Love can give one memories that he or she will cherish forever. With every sadness comes a new happiness and new memories.

Reviewed by Micah, grade 9.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nothing But the Truth, And A Few White Lies, by Justina Chen Headley

Patty Ho is an everyday American teenager living with her close to perfect brother and her overprotective, high-standard, single typical Asian mother. Her father is a white and her mother took them away from him before Patty could remember. Her weird tall figure makes her stand out from the rest of the "china dolls" or petite and cute Asians she is compared to. She spends her summer at math camp in Standford where she meets a few interesting people who make a great impact on her life. She experiences exhileration, embarassment and leads to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with her mother in this fantastic story. I would suggest this to anyone, but most especially a close friend of mine who could relate just about as much as me. It was one of the few books where I laughed aloud to myself and I felt like I got into the main character's head. It shows all the embarassing inside moments of a modern family with real problems of jealousy and broken families and heartaches. It was an amazing find and I had a feeling I would enjoy this book when I picked it up.

-Reviewed by J.P. , grade 8.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis

In the novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, only Lucy and Edmund of the Pevensies come back to Narnia. At first, they don't understand why Peter and Susan can't come back to Narnia, but over the journey they have once again in Narnia they mature and understand. Edmund and Susan are forced to love with their obnoxious and ignorant cousin, Eustace. Eustace does not believe in Narnia and talks like a know-it-all. But when Lucy and Edmund are in their new room, they find a painting with a ship that looks like it's from Narnia. The painting then comes alive, but while Lucy and Edmund are happy to be back in Narnia, Eustace is scared out of his mind and can't believe it. The ship they board is the Dawn Treader. Prince Caspian who is now King Caspian is on the ship along with an old friend rat, Reepicheep. The crew is traveling to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia. Reepicheep hopes to find Aslan's country, beyond the seas of the "utter East". They first land in the Lone Islands, which was once part of Narnian territories, but has turned into a slave trading center. They continue to search for the seven Lords and run into many other obstacles. Will Narnia be at peace again?

I give this book a 5 out of 5 similar to the other books in its series. The books themes and morals are once again outstanding. People can change drastically, similar to what happens to Eustace the obnoxious cousin at the end as he turns into a matured and graceful person. Although Lucy and Edmund are older now, their adventures of Narnia will always remain with them similar to people's memories that they are grateful for.

-Reviewed by Micah, grade 9.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

True Believer, by Nicholas Sparks

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks is about a journalist named Jeremy Marsh. Jeremy Marsh lives alone in New York and is known as a workaholic. He is great at his job and enjoys exposing people who pretend to be something they are not. Recently he has just exposed a television psychic. He later receives news about Boone Creek, a small town in North Carolina that has its citizens seeing "ghosts" at night. Of course, Jeremy does not believe the story at all and sets out to this small town to disprove this citing. Little does he know that he will grow to love this town and the people in it. He spends all of his time in the library, studying and trying to figure out why the "ghosts" are appearing in this town. Jeremy eventually falls in love with a typical southern belle named Lexie Darnell, the librarian of the town. Lexie is an orphaned child who lives with her grandmother Doris who is the "psychic" of the time. Jeremy is doubtful about Doris' "talents" and dislikes the town of Boone Creek more and more. The people around him make him feel uncomfortable and he's not used to the atmosphere in the community. However, he decides to stay because he is falling for Lexie more and more even though at first she shows no interest for him and they are from completely different worlds. Will Jeremy find what he is really looking for or go home to the daily grind?

I would recommend this book to people who have the time to relax and want to pick up a good book. It's a story that captivates the mind's imagination and the author allows the reader to feel the emotions of the characters in the story. I would give this book a 4 out of 5. It depicts a good romance story with a mix of the importance of taking the time to love the little things around you.

-Reviewed by Micah, grade 9.