Monday, September 17, 2012

Heist Society, by Ally Carter

At the beginning of Heist Society by Ally Carter, fifteen year-old Katarina Bishop decides to leave the life of art theft that her family is involved in. Things don't exactly go as planned, and she is whisked away from boarding school by her long-time friend and accomplice W.W. Hale the Fifith. She is notified by Arturo Taccone, a wealthy thief himself, that he believes that Kat's father stole five of his precious paintings. Kat is fully determined to locate the paintings and save her father from whatever scheme Taccone is planning. Kat forms both a plan and a team consisting of skilled teenagers to pull off a heist larger than ever before.

This fast-paced novel receives a nine of ten from me. The author combines action, humor, and some romance to create a book that captures the reader's attention from the start. After reading the Gallagher Girls Series, also written by Ally Carter, I anticipated another page-turner and was not disappointed. I recommend Heist Society to teenage girls seeking an engaging story with believable characters and a hint of romance.

-Reviewed by Rebecca S., grade 8.

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

Tom Shales' and James Andrew Miller's Live From New York chronicles the first 30 years of the seminal American comedy series, Saturday Night Live. The book opens with SNL's tumultuous creation by its Canadian executive producer Lorne Michaels, in order to replace Saturday night reruns of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The book- narrated by the stars, writers, and guest hosts of the program- reveals the behind the scenes tensions that existed between Lorne, the original cast, and the NBC network bosses. Live goes on to cover SNL's disastrous season and near cancellation at the hands of executive producer Jean Doumanian, its righting in 1981 by new EP Dick Ebersol, Lorne Michaels' return to SNL in 1985 with a cast of young actors who again nearly tanked the program, and its general success since then with such great players as John Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell, and Chris Kattam.

Live From New York gets an 8/10 from me. While it presents an incredibly thorough look at SNL's formation and subsequent travails, it can sometims jump around confusingly between topics, making it difficult to follow the exact thread of SNL's history. That being said, the glimpse that Live reveals of the culture at SNL- the competitiveness between the writers and performers and Lorne Michaels' extreme reservation of praise, among other things- is an essential resource for understanding just what it takes to be part of the great American institution of SNL. Anyone interested in how show business really works, both thirty years ago and today, will find a wealth of information to enjoy in Live From New York.

-Reviewed by Jerry, grade 11.

Take Me There, by Carolee Dean

Dylan Dawson finds himself on the wrong side of the law too many times, in Take Me There by Carolee Dean. This is the story of Dylan being tired of living life on the run, Dylan and his good pale, Wade, try to start fresh and keep out of trouble's way. However, after a life full of bad choices and bad acquaintances, trouble keeps finding them. As you read of Dylan's past you also learn about the present and what he is doing through. Dylan is determined to get to know who his father really is. You feel all the anger and frustration Dylan goes through.

This rollercoaster of a story had the book stuck to my hand. I couldn't put it down. This is by far one of the best realistic fiction books that I have read in a long time. I enjoyed the way the story was told, going from past to present with sprinkles of his father's story in between. It is told honestly and truthfully and is actually quite inspriing. I have and will definitely recommend this book.

-Reviewed by Alex, grade 12.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book by Richard Bach is about a seagull named Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who has a passion for flying, which is very unlike the typical seagull in the flock. Everyone tells him that he should act like the rest of the flock, but he can't seem to fit in with the other seagulls so he goes back to his regular habits - flying. One day, he goes too far - he was flying in the dark. The following night, after successfully achieving two hundred fourteen miles per hour that day, he was called to the Center for Shame and cast out by the flock, therefore becoming an Outcast. Lonely and driven out by his fellow seagulls, he went beyond Far Cliffs and greatly learned more about flying; from streamlined high-speed dives to riding the high winds far towards inland. One evening, as he was flying, two gulls appeared at his wings and escorted him to heaven. There, he was welcomed by a flock that thought just like him: loved flying, and was able to spend time practicing his flight everyday hour after hour. One day in heaven, his mentor, Sullivan, compliments how quickly Jonathan learned about flight in comparison to the other gulls that came to heaven. Jonathan also gains wisdom from the elder gull, Chiang, in addition to his flight practice. Then, Chiang vanished, telling Jonathan to keep working on his flying, his passion. Shortly after his disappearance, Jonathan decided to come back to Earth. He arrives to see a young seagull, Fletcher Lynd Seagull - just cast ou t- and offers him his wisdom of flight. As Fletcher learns to fly, more young gulls cast out for their belief of flight join with Fletcher to learn how to fly from Jonathan. One day Jonathan, to the gulls' surprise, announced that it was time to return to the flock. What will happen next?

In my opinion, I really liked this book a lot. This heartwarming book openly tells us to follow our passions in life whether other people like it or not. It helped me realize that I should follow what I want to do instead of living up to my peers' expectations, like Jonathan did. Following your passions would surely make an easier future for you.

-Reviewed by Kiersten, grade 9.

The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis

In C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair, Eustace, the Pevensies' once-annoying cousin, comes back to Narnia with a new friend: Jill Pole. There, they are told of their mission; to rescue Kind Caspian's son, Prince Rillian, from the Underworld, accompanied by them was a Marshwiggle named Puddleglum. As they travel, they encounter giants playing cock-shies, a giant's bridge, and a fair lady and knight who told them of the castle and of Harfang-home of the gentle giants. At the castle, they were graciously welcomed by the giants and treated very properly. That night, Jill had a dream involving the Lion and the words, "UNDER ME". Jill then told the other two about her dream which got them back on track. A few days later, they found a cookery book where they found out that they were going to be eaten at the Autumn Feast and decide to run away before the hunting party comes back. Moments later, they are running for their lives to escape the pursuing giants. Puddleglum manages to find a little hole and goes in, followed by Eustace and Jill. Inside, they fill the opening with stones to prevent the dogs from catching them. As they go down deeper, however, they slipped and arrived at the Underworld. From there, Earthmen appear and escort them to the castle where Prince Rillian was living. After a meal together, however, he started to change. The next time they see him, they see him bound to a silver chair. When the Queen of the Underworld arrives, she is surprised to see the prince free, the children and the Marshwiggle present, and the silver chair destroyed. She immediately locks the door and enchants them with a sweet smelling fire and a mandolin. As they struggle to think, they attempt to tell her about Narnia, the sun, and the lion. With enchantment almost complete, Puddleglum courageously went to the fire and stamped out the fire, causing the witch to turn into a serpect, attempting to wrap itself around the prince to finish him off. Will the children escape? Will Rillian be able to see his father one more time?

In this book, I thought that this was a great book full of adventures that is being awaited. It showed how the three travelers were able to overcome a quest that seems almost impossible. With adventures at hand, the future awaits to be take on.

-Reviewed by Kiersten, grade 9.

Specials, by Scott Westerfield

Specials by Scott Westerfield is the third book in the Uglies series. This book, like the others, picks up where Pretties, the second book, left off. But now, Tally is Special, a Cutter to be more specific. Shay has kept her promise and made Tally a cruel, killing machine. The Cutters had one goal: track down all the New Smokies and destroy the cure. But when the Smokies fight harder than usual, they realize that the city, or some city, must be helping them. Where will they end up when they follow Zane and other Pretties to the New Smoke?

Having read the first two books in the series, I already expected a spectacular book. And of course, it was. Aside from my liking of Westerfield's writing style, the plot is exciting and unexpected. Not only that, but Scott Westerfield does an amazing job of describing every event and thought that goes through Tally's head. I would recommend this book mainly to teen girls, because they might rind the idea of the book interesting. If you liked the first two books, you should definitely read this one!

-Reviewed by Kristine, grade 9.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I am the wallpaper, by Mark Peter Hughes

In the book I am the wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes a gril named Floey Packer thought that now she is turning thirteen and a teenager her life is going to be different. She was tired of being the wallpaper in the background. However, it all went south when Floey opened her Aunt Sarah's gift that she received for her birthday. However, that's not the worst part. Floey's best friend, Azra, made Floey take an embarassing picture with the present her Aunt gave her. They both laugh at the picture as a joke. During the night, Azra suggested to send the picture with a thank-you card to her aunt. Floey disagreed, however Azra sent the card and the picture herself the next day to Floey's Aunt Sarah. The only bright side so far is her twenty one year old sister is getting married, however, then comes more bad news: her aunt is attending the wedding. Floey tries to avoid her aunt when she runs into Calvin, a fifteen-year-old boy. Floey was rather starting to get feeling for him or it was the champagne kicking in and she decided to make a move. They ended up slow dancing and afterward they ended tangled on the floor from an embarrasing accident Floey did. In addition, her cousins, who are staying with her for three weeks, aren't the politest. Ever since her sister's wedding day, Floey decided to change. She was to become a new person, however this doesn't go according to plan and everything she tries is going south. However, something worse than all of these embarassing things will happen to Floey.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 since the book has many things that I could connect to as a teen. I would recommend this book for girls since it has many situations where a girl could connect. It is a great book for someone who feels down and feels like nothing is going their way. This book shows that even if life can be mean and cruel, you shouldn't let it break your spirit. I really enjoyed that the main character, even after everything she has been through she still keeps trying.

-Reviewed by Amy, grade 9.

The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson

In The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker is a bookworm and band geek who has been pleased and used to living in the shadow of her older sister Bailey. But Bailey's sudden and unexpected death forces Lennie to come out of that shadow and become her indivudual self. In the midst of the grief and sadness, Lennie must also balance and deal with struggling between two boys.

I found this book to be a remarkable piece about struggles involving both grief and individuality. Overall, the story was very strong, emotional, and touching. I give this book a 10/10 rating and recommend it to all who would like to read about a deep, intense journey after the loss of a loved one.

Reviewed by Emily K., Grade 12