Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hold Still, by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour revolves around Caitlin starting junior year of high school without her best friend Ingrid there with her. Ingrid committed suicide that past summer, and Caitlin is now suffering in life, being unable to have Ingrid there to share joy, art, music, and laughter with. Caitlin is also greatly affected emotionally by her best friend's unexpected death as she becomes more and more isolated from and unhappy with everything and everyone. However, when Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal, she sees a completely different side of Ingrid that she never knew about, and the journal ends up serving as a guide for Caitlin, helping her get through this tough time in life.

I thought this book was truly excellent and well-executed in telling the story of struggling and coping with a close friend's death. However, I must admit that some parts got quite intense and overwhelming. Once all the bits and pieces of the story came together, though, the story turned out to be very enjoyable and successful. I give this book a 10/10 rating and would recommend it to all who would like to read a remarkable story about the journey after a friend's death that includes all aspects of everyday life, particularly in the lives of adolescents.

Reviewed by Emily K., Grade 12

Extras, by Scott Westerfeld

Extras by Scott Westerfeld is the fourth book in the so-called Uglies Trilogy. This time, Aya Fuse is the one taking us through. It's been three years since the cure for bubbleheads came through, also known as the mind-rain, and the world is recovering. This city's economy is a little different; it's based on popularity. Aya's life goal is to become famous by kicking, their word for publishing, a great story on her feed. If you're popular, you have anything you want and won't have to live the "extra" way. While searching for a story, she discovers the Sly Girls, girls thought to be imaginary before. These "Plain Jane" looking girls go on wild mag-lev riding trips and stay far away from feeds and popularity. Aya joins them and find ways to film them and kick one of the most shocking and greatest stories. But she's got it all wrong and is visited by the one and only Tally Youngblood. Her next visitor might not be for her own good, though. But one question: what are they?

I must say I couldn't believe there was another book in the series! Westerfeld has given the word trilogy a whole new meaning. To be honest, I was a bit bored at the beginning of the book, and if it hadn't been for my dedication to the series, I would've stopped reading it. But then the introduction into the new ways of life were done and things got interesting. I was pretty happy with this book but sad that the series is now truly over. I would recommend this book and series to teen girls because it is amazing and they would be interested in the story.

Reviewed by Kristine K., grade 9

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard is the first in the amazing series. Alison DiLaurentis is Rosewood's prettiest, most popular girl. And let's not forget her clique of Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, Hanna Marin, and Emily Fields. But right before eighth grade, Ali disappears only to have her body be found three years later under cement in her old house. Since the disappearance, the other four girls have drifted apart, but are reunited by Ali's finding. The girls all suddenly start receiving texts from an unknown person who calls himself "A". "A" knows all of their old secrets along with stuff that is going on now. What are the girls going to do? Will they discover who "A" is?

To be honest, the only reason I started reading this series was because I had fallen in LOVE with the television series. Sara Shepard had a great idea, and she wrote it down with spectacular skill. I would recommend this book to all teen girls because they will be able to relate to the girls' points of view and will be more interested in the book.

Reviewed by Kristine K., grade 9

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is about the author himself who tells the story about two fathers. One is his biological father, and one is his best friend's dad. The biological dad is the poor dad, and the friend's dad is the rich one. The author compares both fathers and how they taught him many different things about life, and how the rich dad is different from his dad. The author learns many things from both of them, yet does not know which one is right. The poor dad is the one who tells him to do well in school and have a good job, and the rich dad is the exact opposite and tells him that you should just enjoy life and do what you want. The author becomes lost and does not know which path to take. This novel was a unique one to me because it had an interesting point. It not only keeps you excited, but also teaches you many things, like what is right and wrong. I would recommend this book to those who like to read true life stories. This was a well-written book, and I would rate it 10 out of 10.

Reviewed by Alen, grade 12

Faces of Fear, by John Saul

Faces of Fear by John Saul is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Alison Shaw. Alison isn't good looking, but she doesn't care. She'd much rather read a good book than to stare at the mirror. But Alison's gorgeous mother, Risa, believes that beauty is the most important thing in life and that without it, you won't live life the way you should. When Alison's mother marries a plastic surgeon named Peter Dunn, they move to a different city. Alison and her mother are surrounded by beautiful people in the city. This is when Alison trusts Peter Dunn and agrees to undergo her first procedure. A while after the surgery, Alison begins to notice the resemblance between her new face and Peter's first wife's face. Alison soon discovers dark secrets and realizes that her worst fears are fast becoming reality. This is one of the best books I have read so far; no wonder it is a bestseller. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read thriller novels. This is one of those books in which you keep on wanting to read. I would rate this book 10 out of 10.

Reviewed by Alen, grade 12

Thursday, August 16, 2012

House of Reckoning, by John Saul

House of Reckoning by John Saul is about a fourteen-year-old girl named Sarah Crane. After the death of her mother, Sarah is left alone with her father, who is an alcoholic. Their life together is shattered when her father is jailed for killing another man in a bar room brawl and injuring Sarah in a drunken car crash. She is left in the cold care of a loveless foster family, who only keeps her because they receive money from the county. Sarah meets a boy named Nick Dunnigan, a former mental patient still bothered by voices and visions. They both later find out about a mansion which was once a prison. Sarah finds out many disturbing things that happened in the mansion. Sarah and Nick reveal many hidden stories from the mansion, which was known as the "Shutters".

I really enjoyed reading this book because it kept me excited for each new chapter. It is written by a New York Times bestselling author. I recommend this book to those who like to read thriller novels and like to stay excited for each chapter. I would give this book a 10 out of 10.

Reviewed by Alen, grade 12

Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson

The book Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is about a girl who survived the yellow fever in Philadelphia. In the beginning of the story, Matilda Cook, the main character, was just an ordinary girl who lived with her mom and grandfather who owned a coffeehouse. She was living a peaceful life until yellow fever broke out and many people started to die off. Matilda and her grandfather left the city to countryside in a wagon to flee from the disease but were left in the middle of nowhere because of the grandfather's bad health. To make things worse, Matilda got the fever and was moved to a hospital. In conclusion, this book is the story of a girl who went through the yellow fever of 1793.

I personally like this book very much because this was the first novel I've ever read in English, and it was easy to understand with fairly easy vocabularies. When I was reading the book, I was totally drawn to the characters and the setting of the book, which is Philadelphia of 1793. I could mentally picture every single scene in my head because of the author's excellent writing skills. The story is well-made, with sad and heart-touching scenes in between. This story of the young girl who helped others encouraged me to be bold and fearless with all the hard and difficult situations. I strong recommend this book to others, especially to people who don't really like to read a long and difficult book.

-Reviewed by Sunyoung, grade 9.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

The book Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze written by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis is about a boy named Young Fu who just moved into a city from a small countryside. In the beginning, he was extremely amazed at the sight of the busy city people and buildings. Then as he started his life in the city, he made several mistakes and adventures. He was 13 years old, and was very dependent to his mother. However, as he worked as an apprentice of a famous artisan Tang, he slowly became independent and learned how to be responsible and take care of himself. When he first became an apprentice, other workers mocked him and called him a countryman. Even Tang himself didn't really care about him. After many incidents and journeys to other places, however, made Young Fu grow as a man from a boy, and everyone started to respect him as a man. This book is a story of a young boy who came to the new world and his experiences in the city.

I liked this book because through this book, I could totally picture the beginning of modern China which is the setting of the book. It has a nice story with good characters such as Fu Be Be, Young Fu's mother, and Tang. I could connect to him when he wanted to be recognized by Tang. My favorite part of the book was when Young Fu needed money desperately to pay a debt so he sold 'snow', which people believed it was 'the dragon's breath' and it brings good luck. I thought he was very creative, and it shows how many people back then didn't have knowledge and believed many silly things. This book really inspired me to work harder and be independent. It also taught me not to make foolish mistakes that will put me in trouble.

-Reviewed by Sunyoung, grade 9.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Before the Twilight series, there was Dracula by Bram Stoker. This novel essentially started pop culture's obsession with the mysterious, sultry creatures known as vampires. Count Dracula, the infamous vampire, is responsible for many deaths all over Europe, and usually uses his power through money to keep himself away from trouble. However, when a group of young English men and women, led by Professor Abraham van Helsing, catch on to what Dracula is doing, his efforts are suddenly threatened. Read the novel to find out how the battle between humans and vampires ends up and if Dracula does indeed get away with his horrendous crimes!

I enjoyed reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, but to be honest, the book was a little hard to get through at times. Written in 1897, the wording of the novel is a bit more challenging than modern-day reads, and Bram Stoker does take quite a while to get to the point. Regardless, it is really an interesting book, and a great read for anyone looking for a timeless classic with a bit of horror, adventure, and thrill.

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 100 Young Adult Novels
75, 200 readers voted in the Best-Ever Teen Fiction Poll by NPR.     See if your favorite made the top 100!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wake, by Lisa McMann

The book Wake by Lisa McMann is about a girl named Janie who has a special ability to visit other people's dreams. She doesn't have her own dreams, but she always gets sucked in by other people's dreams, by force. She struggles to avoid the dreams because mostly they are nightmares, but it doesn't work. However, her life changes as she meets Miss Stubin, an old, blind lady in the hospital-like organization. First, Janie didn't realize that she has the same ability as her, but just before she died, Janie found that out and was amazed. Miss Stubin taught Janie how to avoid dreams and how to help people in their nightmares, which forever changed her life. Janie also meets a guy named Caleb who came to know about her strange ability in school. They work together as a group, when police department offers Janie to catch a criminal through searching people's dreams. This is a story of a girl who has the strangest power.

I like this book, because first, I thought that the theme of this book is really creative. I've never really saw any movies or books about this strange ability of going into others' dreams. Second, I loved the writing style of this author. The author lists what Janie did at what time. For an example, the texts says, "12:30 a.m. Janie is asleep on the couch. She doesn't dream. Never dreams." (25). The author doesn't go on and on about the details, but she makes it clear what the characters are doing and what is happening in the story. The author has the most attractive writing skills and I absolutely love it. One thing I didn't like about this book is that the mood of the story is so dark. When I was reading it, it creeped me out a little. But if anyone likes dark, mysterious stories, this book will be one of the best books to read.

-Reviewed by Sunyoung, grade 9.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles are a compilation of multiple fantasy stories focused on the conflicts of Martians as well as new settlers from planet Earth. These stories paint a dystopian picture and depict human beings as ultimately destroyers of all that is ancient and sacred. As people move from Earth to Mars, they completely take over the planet and rewrite its history, colonizing it like an army of ants. The conflicts that occur have much to say about human nature and the way society works. One story, "The Earth Men", reveals how astronauts from Earth are depicted as psychopaths by the Martians of Mars. Another story, "The Naming of Names", goes on to discuss the dominating nature of humans. Read the book to fully experience the thrilling, thought-provoking stories of Ray Bradbury!
I absolutely loved The Martian Chronicles, especially due to the dystopian/fantasy air of most of the stories. I found these stories to be extremely thought-provoking, and they definitely do require the time and effort to fully process and analyze the meaning within the literature. Nevertheless, they are amazingly creative compilations and excitingly fun to read. Make sure to pick up this book, you will not be disappointed!

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.