Monday, July 29, 2013

No Safety in Numbers, by Dayna Lorentz

In the book, No Safety in Numbers, by Danyna Lorentz, four protagonists, Ryan, Marco, Lexi, and Shay, find themselves trapped in a mall and unable to leave. They do not know what happened, nor the reason why they are not allowed to leave. They soon figure out that a biological bomb has been placed in the mall and that people are getting sick because of it. Supplies are running out, and the number of people in need of medical attention is rising. However, nobody can still go out. More people are panicking, and the adults are behaving worse than the children. These four protagonists, each with his or her own life threatening situation, find out that they need to change.
This was a certainly a new book for me. It was a whole new style that I chose quite carelessly in our local bookstore. However, it ended up to be high above my expectations. It was filled with suspense, and since I was always interested in viruses and biological studies, it was a good choice for me. I had always wondered what would happen if I was in a public place with a bomb, and this book answered my questions. Chaos, changes in the behavior of people, and a lot of fear. I think many people who enjoy some suspense will like this book, especially kids my age.

Hannah, grade 7
Montrose-Crescenta Branch


So B. It, by Sarah Weeks

Heidi lives with her neighbor, Bernadette, and her mentally ill mom. She was living fine, supporting Bernadette and her mom by using her unusual luck at a gambling machine. However, when she started to question herself, such as who she was and when she was born, her mom said a word to her. "Soof." Although she constantly asked her mom for the meaning of her word, she soon realized that she would not get an answer by simply questioning her. When Heidi found a file about her family, she decided to set out on a journey to find out more about her grandparents, father, and just who she is in general.

I found So B. It, by Sarah Weeks is very memorable and easy to read. Although the meaning of this book came to me after reading it a couple more times, I finished the book rather quickly and enjoyed it every single time I read it. This book made me feel thankful about having a complete family, and while I was reading it I would constantly put myself in Heidi's point of view. When I found out the meaning of the title in the end, I was very surprised. I especially liked the ending, and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a nice heart-warming story.

Hannah, grade 7 Montrose-Crescenta Branch

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick

Maxwell Kane is an eighth grader with zero self-confidence, no mother, and a father in prison. Even feared by his grandparents that he would grow up to become like his father, Killer Kane, he was friendless ever since. When he was younger he would kick anyone who tried to comfort him after his mother's death, therefore earning the nickname "Kicker." However, when Freak came along, everything changed for him. Although he first did not quite understand having Freak along with him, he gradually came to enjoy his time with his new buddy. When Max came together with Freak, they were unstoppable. They became Freak the Mighty.

Honestly, at first I was not eager to read Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick. However, I had to, since it was one of the required books to read in school. Now, it is one of my favorite books. The story between Max and Kevin (a.k.a Freak) is really relatable, especially since the book is written in Max's point of view. Their friendship was really heart-warming, and the book never let me take my eyes off of it. It was filled with surprises, which was one of the reasons why I loved this book. I would recommend it to anyone of any age and reading level, since the book is extremely easy to understand but still has a deep meaning to it.

Hannah, grade 7 Montrose-Crescenta Branch

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forbidden Boy, by Hailey Abbott

Julianne is an average girl that is looking forward to her senior year in high school. Her family lives near the beach and she enjoys spending her time swimming and tanning. The only thing that bugs her are her new next door neighbors that are trying to make Julianne's family move, because they want to build something. Julianne meets a boy that she is very much attracted to, but soon after she finds out that he is the son of her unpleasant neighbors. So what should she do? Should she keep talking to him or will that bring her and her family more trouble?

Forbidden Boy, by Hailey Abbott is a great book about life changes. Not only that, but it also teaches you how to make good decisions and how to decide what is best for you and what is not. Also, how to not be selfish and think about your family as well as yourself. Julianne has a big decision to make. What should she do? In my opinion she should stay with they guy and just talk to her family about it. It is not their fault that their parents cannot get along. They really have nothing to do with it and they can't do anything about it.

Yuliya, grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium is the second book in the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. In Pandemonium, Lena Haloway enters a world totally foreign to her. After escaping to the Wilds and losing her love, Alex, Lena is dazed, confused, and disoriented. After getting lost in the wilderness without food or water for several days, Lena is rescued by Raven, who resides in the Wilds. Nursed back to health, Lena decides to join the resistance to fight against the corrupted system back home: where love is considered a deadly disease. Back in the States, disguised, Lena is kidnapped together with Julian, the head of DFA, Deliria Free America, the very cause Lena is fighting against. Read Pandemonium to find out what happens next!

I thought Pandemonium was incredible, and I would give it a 10 out of 10! It was packed with suspense, mystery, and romance, some of the things I like best in books. The book went back and forth between "then" and "now"- past and present. Although it got annoying at times, switching between two different stories, it made the book that much better. The twists and turns and intense cliffhangers literally left me on the edge of my seat, especially the breathtaking ending! I would recommend to teenage girls who read the first book in this series, Delirium, and are looking for an incredible read filled with action and romance.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 8
Central Library

Ruthless, by Sara Shepard

Ruthless is the tenth addition to the amazing Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. This time, A's back, and he/she knows the girls latest dirty secret: what happened last spring break. Spencer's stress is really getting to her now, she might start taking pills, and who knows, maybe tell the truth for once. Emily's trying out new things to help make her enjoy life more "interesting". Hanna's father may not approve of her flirting with the enemy. Aria just doesn't know what to do with her love life anymore. New loves, old loves, and one girl who always interferes. And don't forget A, will the girls get what's coming to them?

With each new book in this series, I fall more in love with the Liars. Sara Shepard captures exactly how teenagers nowadays act. She doesn't exaggerate anything which is what makes the story so relatable. I don't get stalked and threatened every day, but I can relate to the situations the girls are put in. I think that Sara Shepard is a great writer and this book is just spectacular. The series is a bit long but I like it because the fun never ends. We discover new scandals and secrets with each book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the recent books or has watched the television series. The books are even better than the show!

Reviewed by Kristine, Grade 9 Casa Verdugo Branch

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

In the book Looking for Alaska by John Green, the main character, nicknamed Pudge, is starting school at a boarding school as a junior in high school. He meets a beautiful girl named Alaska, but she can be really emotionally unstable sometimes. Despite that, Pudge is in love with her, even though she has a boyfriend. One day Alaska hurriedly leaves and they are worried about her. Pudge and his roommate spend the last half of the book figuring out why that happened, and more importantly, why it had happened in the first place and so suddenly.

I though that this was a book that teens could really relate to, because it is told from a teenager's point of view. I really liked this book because it was not very formal, I felt like one of my friends was casually telling me a story. The ending was shocking and breath taking. I had never read a book from this author before, but after reading Looking for Alaska, I think I might! This is my all time favorite book that I have ever read in my life. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a laugh and a cry while reading books.

Reviewed by Melody, Grade 9.
Central Library

The Odyssey, by Homer

In the epic poem, The Odyssey, by Homer the story focuses on one main character's long journey back to his home. Odysseus, the man who is known as "formidable for guile in peace and war" is the main character. He goes through many adventures that test his courage, strength, mentality, and cleverness while trying to make his way back home to his wife and son. For example, one day Odysseus and his men land on an island known as Cyclops island. He ventures off into the island, his curiosity getting the best of him, and ends up getting trapped in a cave. Odysseus soon finds out that the cave is not just some ordinary cave, it is the home to the Cyclops Polyphemus. His men then go through brutal treatment and many of them die. After a little while Odysseus ticks Polyphemus by giving him a "gift" of wine which makes the Cyclops drunk. Odysseus then violently stabs Polyphemus's eye with a charred, red hot spike. This giv es him the opportunity to get away along with the remainder his men. There are many more of these action packed adventures just waiting to be read by another eager reader in the epic poem, The Odyssey.

This book was full of many of the famous Greek myths we hear about today. The author Rick Riordan with his Percy Jackson series first got me interested in Greek mythology. The example in the paragraph above was one of the stories he wrote about in one of his books, and since I read the source of the Greek myth of the Cyclops, I am now much more knowledgeable about the story. This book is perfect for all those Greek mythology fanatics and those who are just interested in reading about old legends and tales. I really enjoyed the story of Odysseus. In the past I have heard a lot about Greek Mythology and all these adventures that some person named Odysseus went through. I am really happy that I finally have the knowledge that I was missing back then to know just who Odysseus was and what he did. The only thing I would say I did not like about The Odyssey was that it moved a little slow. Also the fact that some parts were kind of difficult to unde rstand because Homer wrote this epic poem for people of his time and there are references to things modern day people would not understand. Over all the book was a great reading experience for me and most likely will be for many others who read The Odyssey.

Sky, grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What World is Left, by Monique Polak

What World is Left, by Monique Polak is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of a young girl named Anneke in Theresienstadt, a model concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Herded into Theresienstadt like sheep, Anneke and her family were exiled from Holland during the Holocaust in 1942. Starvation and dehydration plague the inhabitants of the camp, while disease pervades rapidly. Cremations occur daily to remove the dead bodies that fill the streets. Determined not to let the horrible conditions get her down, Anneke makes the most out of every moment. She learns the true meaning of friendship the hard way and that the strong bonds of love can never be broken.

Overall, What World is Left was a pretty good read. I would rate it a 7/10. The beginning of the book was a bit slow and started to feel tedious and strained. Thankfully, the book became more interesting the more I read on. The characters were very relatable, especially Anneke, the main character. She has the same interests as me, and her feelings were genuine, so readers are truly able to feel with her. I would recommend this book to kids and teens prepared for shocking and graphic themes looking for a Holocaust story in which they can laugh and cry with the characters.

Rebecca, grade 8
Glendale Central Library

Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen

Auden is an average girl who is having some family trouble. Her parents got divorced and her father left to live with another woman who had a baby from him. Auden stayed to live with her mother that always expected Auden to be perfect at everything that she did. Auden developed a habit of staying up at nights, which is called insomnia. This happened because she would stay at a cafĂ© and do her homework just so she would not hear her parents fighting. Auden gets a chance to go live with her father and his new family, and she is more than happy to go. She makes some new friends there and meets a boy that has his own troubles. Will they understand each other and will their relationship accelerate?

Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen is about a girl with a real life problem. Many teenage girls and guys can relate to this story. They all have different ways of expressing themselves. Some do not even know how to express themselves and it is just too much pressure for them. This book may help those teens learn a way to deal with their struggles and how to keep up with both parents. Along For The Ride is filled with many different emotions, for example: love, confusion, hurt, pain, attraction, etc. Read this book and see how Auden got herself on the right track again after a big change in her family.  

Yuliya, grade 12 Glendale Central Library

Candy, by Kevin Brooks

Candy by Kevin Brooks is about an average guy that meets a beautiful and charming girl that claims her name is Candy. It all starts when she gives him directions to go somewhere. They end up going to a donut shop together where they get to know each other. Candy seems like a very nice, beautiful, and intelligent girl, but little does he know that she is actually a prostitute that has a crazy pimp and she is hooked on drugs. Eventually he figures it out and she opens up and talks to him about it. He realizes that he is in love with her and that he wants to help her and get her out of that life style. Will he succeed?

I personally loved this book and I think that it would be very appealing to any teenager. It is filled with drama and pain. Unlike most books that make drugs look "cool", this book actually makes you understand the danger of drugs and what kind of a lifestyle they lead to. It also describes how painful it can be when going through withdrawals. I highly recommend this book, because it can be very inspiring. Notice how i did not write what happens in the book, it is because I would really want you to read this book and find out what happens yourself.  

Reviewed by Yuliya, grade 12
Central Library

Monday, July 8, 2013

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

In the post-apocalyptic America, the world has been torn apart into different factions. Each faction exhibits a certain human characteristic or quality that they feel is the most important in society: selflessness, peacefulness, honesty, intelligence, and bravery. When you come of age, you choose your faction. This one choice will determine your principles and allegiances forever. In Divergent, by Veronica Roth, sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to choose between the feuding factions that will fix her identity for life. However, it becomes apparent that Tris is an anomaly who doesn’t fit in any of the groups, and she’s slowly sucked into the deep battle between the factions.

I found this book really refreshing, among the many stories set in the post-apocalypse world. It contained suspenseful, adventurous, and dark parts, but there was still room for lighthearted and funny scenes. Of course, like in most teen-based books, there was a love-interest. What I found interesting and different, though, was that the love-interest was secondary to the actual plot (which was much larger and deeper), rather than being the focus of the plot. The most enjoyable part of the book, in my opinion, was how the author was able to explore the different aspects of human nature, while still making it relatable. Tris, while set in a different time and place, still experienced many things that a teenager today would go through. I would definitely continue with Tris’s journey in the next book, Insurgent. I think that a lot of teens would appreciate and enjoy this book, it really pulls you in and you can't put it down!

Reviewed by Gabby Y., grade 10.
Montrose Library

Where I Belong, by Gwendolyn Heasley

Where I Belong, by Gwendolyn Heasley is a very good book that will open up many people's eyes and make you appreciate everything that you have and realize that some people do not even have that. Corrine's family was very wealthy and she had everything she ever wanted and asked for. She was extremely happy with the life style that she was living, but one day everything suddenly changed. Her parents told her that she had to move to Texas with her brother and go to a public school, because they could not afford their big house anymore or the private school that she was supposed to go to. Will Corrine adjust to the new life style she is forced to live or will she struggle forever?

Some people do not appreciate what they have. Nothing is ever enough for them, they want more and more and more. Hopefully this book will teach those who read it a lesson that you can never take things for granted, because unfortunately nowadays we can never predict what can happen the next day. This is exactly what this book is trying to get across to the reader. Always be ready for the unexpected. I guarantee that this book will not be a waste of your precious time and you will definitely not regret reading it. Do not hesitate, pick up the book and read it.

Yuliya, grade 12
Glendale Central Library

The Blue Girl, by Charles de Lint

A science fiction book about a unique girl that always gets picked on for being different at school. Even though the other students always make fun of her and tease her, she always defends herself even if she is scared. She starts seeing a ghost boy that went to the same high school before and died there. He also used to get picked on. She is the only one that can see him. Eventually they end up getting closer to each other and he tells her all about his world and she tells him all about hers. They fall in love with each other. How will they make their relationship work?

If you are the type of person that likes fantasies, The Blue Girl, by Charles de Lint is definitely for you. It involves high school life in it, love, ghosts, etc. It is a book that you will get hooked to. In the beginning it may be a little bit hard to understand what is going on, but as you go on reading the story starts unfolding and you start finding out more about the characters. Pay attention and you will notice all the similarities the ghost and the girl have. His support and her bravery is what gets her through high school every day.

Yuliya, grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

In the book Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, the novel opens in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre, where the Director of the Hatchery and one of his assistants, Henry Foster, are giving a tour to a group of boys. The boys learn about the Bokanovsky and Podsnap Processes that allow the Hatchery to produce thousands of nearly identical human embryos. During the gestation period the embryos travel in bottles along a conveyer belt through a factorylike building, and are conditioned to belong to one of five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. The Alpha embryos are destined to become the leaders and thinkers of the World State. Each of the succeeding castes is conditioned to be slightly less physically and intellectually impressive. The Epsilons, stunted and stupefied by oxygen deprivation and chemical treatments, are destined to perform menial labor. Lenina Crowne, an employee at the factory, describes to the boys how she vaccinates embryos destined for tropical climates.
My opinion about the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, would be it's truely weird they duplicate embryos by the thousands. And they have categories that separate you by how hot and sexual you are. And it's against the rules to fall in love with someone because they want you to have sex with as many people as possible and produce as many embryos as possible. They have this medicine that makes you really want to have sex with different people and they will even let you go where ever you want to go as long as you do what your suppose to do. It's just really weird.  

Reviewed by Samantha, Grade 12.
Montrose Library