Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where the Red Fern Grows, by William Rawls

Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is a tale of both friendship, love and tragedy. In the beginning of the novel, protagonist Billy Coleman is leaving work in the late afternoon when he comes across a Redbone Coonhound in a fight with some other dogs. Saving the dog from the fray, he nurses it back to health, realizing that he must set it free once it is healthy enough to go. However, his time with the dog allows him to revisit his past, back to when he was just a 10 year old boy who wanted nothing more than to raise a pair of Redbone coonhound pups. The young boy is so determined to fulfill his dream that he raises the money himself to buy the puppies, whom he names Old Dan and Little Ann after a tree he saw with the names carved in it. The story is about this boys unbreakable bond with his dogs and the trials they go through, as well as the triumphs.

This story is packed with emotion that will have you reaching for the tissue box, filled with plot development that will have you on the edge of your seat and comprised of those moments in life that we can all relate to. I very much enjoyed reading this work of realistic fiction and I read it from cover to cover many times. I also like how the story starts off with the same boy, who is now a man, and then has him flashback to his childhood. The novel is very enjoyable and is suitable for anyone who loves tales of unbreakable friendship and trust. I loved it and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by C.W, grade 12.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline

In Look Again by Lisa Scottoline, reporter Ellen Gleeson is shocked when she sees a photo of a child in a missing child flyer identical to her adopted son. She adopted her son when he was a sick one-year-old two years ago. The adoption seemed completely legal and lawful, but Ellen now feels as though something must be wrong and suspicious about it. To make matters worse, after investigating and looking further into the adoption papers, she finds that some details do not fit or make sense. Ellen wants to come to some sort of conclusion, but is afraid of what future events it may lead to.

This story is beyond thrilling and mysterious. It will keep readers wanting to know more and more about what is to come until they reach the end. The situation of Ellen and her son is found to be quite emotional and touching as well. Overall, the story moves very quickly while still being able to keep readers engaged. I give this book a 10/10 rating and recommend it to readers who would enjoy an entertaining and fast-paced mystery about a mother's search and journey for answers regarding her son's questionable adoption.

-Reviewed by Emily K., grade 12.

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks, by Lauren Myracle

In Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, fifteen-year-old Carly returns home to Georgia from a summer camp in Tennessee and finds that she is sick and tired of her family's usual wealthy and overprivileged life. She wishes for a more common and real lifestyle where everything is not just handed to her. In addition to this, her younger sister Anna is starting high school and has gone from being a cute, little girl to a curvy, more beautiful young lady over the course of the summer. Things turn strange and awkward for Carly because of her sister, especially at school. Because of all this, Carly feels alone and as though she is unable to be as comfortable with her sister as she was before.

Sisterly love is the main theme of this book. Carly and Anna's relationship is put to the test upon Anna's "transformation" over the summer. I thought that the book was well put together and that it came to be very deep and touching while reading it. I give this book a 10/10 rating and would recommend it to all who would like to relate to a struggle and adventure of sisters.

-Reviewed by Emily K., Grade 12

Keeping the Moon, by Sarah Dessen

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen is about fifteen-year-old Nicole "Colie" Sparks' experiences throughout the summer spent at eccentric, unique Aunt Mira's house when Colie's mother, a popular fitness instructor, is on her fitness tour in Europe. Colie is a girl who has never quite fit in. First, the reason was being overweight. Even after losing weight, though, people talked about her being promiscuous and wanting attention. By spending the summer with Aunt Mira in Colby, North Carolina, Colie wishes for a fresh, new start with brand new people around her.

I feel that this story is very strong and compelling, and teenagers can truly relate to it. Negative and hard times with people around you and having difficulty fitting in are things in life that many people have had to deal with growing up. For this reason, I would recommend this wonderful book to all, but especially to teenagers, who can deeply connect to Colie's experiences in the book.

Reviewed by Emily K., Grade 12

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Not Her, by Janet Gurtler

i'm not her, by Janet Gurtler, is an amazing, unbelievably touching debut novel. Tess and her sister, Kristina, don't have much in common. Kristina is beautiful, sporty, and popular. Tess is smart, has one friend, and is very shy. And they are all okay with that, until Kristina gets cancer. Out of nowhere, Tess is popular, everyone knows her name and they are dying to know about Kristina. But she has bigger things to worry about. Her family is splitting, her sister might be dying, and her parents live in denial. She has to be strong, though, if she isn't, then who will be?

To be honest, this wasn't a book I was expecting to be as fantastic as it was. It was a "cool name, cool cover" choice. But I am really glad I did choose it because i'm not her is an absolute must read! I was touched several times in the story and found myself tearing up. Not only was it a fantastic, not to mention realistic, book, it was very relatable. I would 100% recommend this book to ALL teenage girls because they will love this book and possibly relate very well.

-Reviewed by Kristine, grade 9.

The Name of This Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch

In the book, The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch, two ordinary children, Cass and Max-Earnest, embark on a not so ordinary adventure. It all starts when Cass finds the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with different smells in different vials. Later, the Symphony of Smells leads Cass and Max-Earnest into a web of mysteries involving a dead magician and his notebook.

As to every other good book in the world, there is some sort of "bad guy", some "villain" that ignites the flame of a book, adding action and adventure. In this book, Cass and Max-Earnest not only have to get past their parents, or other over protective adults, but they have to go through evil as well.

Join Cass and Max-Earnest as they unravel the codes to the secrets. I really enjoyed this book and am sure many others will too. I recommend this book to kids 10 years of age and older, because of the challenging vocabulary.

-Reviewed by Nellie, grade 9.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Leaving Paradise, by Simone Elkeles

In Simone Elkeles' Leaving Paradise, Caleb Becker is back home from juvie and no one knows how to act around him- especially not Maggie Armstrong, who's techincally the reason he spent the past year there. After Caleb got drunk at a party and decided to drive home, Maggie's life was never the same. She spent her junior year in rehad and all sorts of hospitals, got her scholarship to study abroad and leave Paradise revoked, and will now have to forever walk with a limp because of the accident. However, there's a lot Maggie and everyone else in the city of Paradise don't know about what really happened that night and as Maggie and Caleb get closer, she discovers that Caleb's got a lot to hide. Is it possible to forgive the person who ruined your life when they re-enter it and are suddenly the only person you could actually trust?

This novel is a mystery of sorts, starting from "what really happened that night" to the confusing feelings Caleb and Maggie start to develop for each other and I recommend teens everywhere to read it.

-Reviewed by Rita, grade 12.

All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque emphasizes that war is not all about nationalism and patriotism. In the novel Paul Baumer, a young German soldier, narrates all the events taking place in Germany's western front during World War I. He and his friends have all volunteered to join the army after hearing all the "wonderful" stories their schoolteachers have told them. Although, their enthusiasm and excitement for fighting is cut short after seeing fellow soldiers dying left and right. Anxiety, rage, hunger, and paranoia are just a few of the many things creeping in to each soldier. After Paul's close friend, Kemmerich, dies he recognizes that in order to survive one must separate himself from his feelings; be numb. Throughout the novel, Paul talks about trying to continue fighting the enemy until the end comes. But when he kills a French soldier, a question pops in his mind, "Who is the real enemy?" The only thing that is even more daunting than the "enemy" on the opposite side of the front is the silence of the night.

All Quiet on the Western Front is probaby one of my favorite novels. Erich Remarque did a brilliant job with highlighting the key events that occurred. I absolutely love his use of symbolism with the boots and butterflies. It is a novel where a reader has to read between the lines to really understand what is happening. I would recommend it to anyone. Simply an astonishing story of a young soldier's journey in war.

-Reviewed by Rocen, grade 11.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hold Still, by Nina LaCour

Hold Still, by Nina LaCour, revolved 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 be 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 life of adolescents.

-Reviewed by Emily, grade 12.

My Life in Pink and Green, by Lisa Greenwald

My Life in Pink and Green, by Lisa Greenwald, is a cute book about a very talented seventh grader. Lucy Desberg can work magic with makeup, despite her young age of twelve. When the local homecoming queen shows up at her family pharmacy with a hair catastrophe and Lucy helps her, it doesn't take long for the news to spread. Out of nowhere she has a long list of appointments for every event. But that won't exactly help her family's struggling pharmacy, Lucy looks for ways to help and stumbles on a way to help the environment too. But when does anyone listen to a little seventh grader?

I was happy with this book, not thrilled or in love, but happy. It was sweet and an averagae book on middle school crushes, beauty, and family. I wish I had a friend like Lucy! I would recommend this book to younger teen girls because they will certainly be able to relate to Lucy and Sunny!

-Reviewed by Kristine K., grade 9.

The Lying Game, By Sara Shepard

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard is a story of two long separated twin sisters, Emma and Sutton, separated at birth, were both adopted but given two very different lives. Sutton was given an amazing, rich life with a loving family and popularity. Emma was abandoned by her mother and shipped from foster home to foster home. When Emma discovers Sutton from a video and Facebook, she messages her and they plan to meet the following day. Emma rushes to Arizone and can't find Sutton, that's when this all begins. Will people truly believe that it's Sutton and not Emma? Where is Sutton?!

To be honest, I wasn't especially thrilled with this book, but it was okay. Sara Shepard writes some pretty good books of this theme. I think it was enjoyable and am planning to read the next book in the series. I recommend this novel to teenage girls who enjoyed Pretty Little Liars, or a series of mystery.

-Reviewed by Kristine K., grade 9.

Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles, by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey

If you are looking for a definitive story on the work of the Beatles, look no further than Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey. This is an inside story from audio engineer Geoff Emerick, who begins by telling about his interest in the music industry, and soon tells how he got a job at EMI studios. From there on, he tells of his experiences of working with famous musicians (such as Judy Garland and Elvis Costello), but mostly his many rich experiences with the Beatles. He was there on their first session, and frantic recording of "She Loves You", the creating of the Sgt. Pepper album, and many, many more.

This memoir is packed with the richest of all memories about working with legends ever told, making it impossible to put down, especially if you know the songs of the Beatles. Geoff himself is a very interesting person to learn about, and seems like a very talented person. Every last session comes right off the pages, giving enough detail to choke a mule. Readers will learn so much about music and recording techniques just by reading this. The memoir is filled with times that are funny, sad, frustrating, embarassing, bewildering, pathetic, whimsical, and so on. Though some parts can be a bit slow, there are so many other parts to make up for those. To music fans, get outside and find this book! You owe it to yourself to read this story!

-Reviewed by Liam, grade 9.