Monday, March 30, 2015

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith, was about a boy named Austin Szerba, his best friend, Robby Brees, and his girlfriend, Shannon Collins, who all live in the small town of Ealing, Iowa. Throughout the book Austin explains to the reader about his Polish ancestry, how his family eventually got to live in Iowa, all the while struggling with his own identity and feelings toward Robby and Shannon. If that wasn't enough for him, after their confrontation from of group of boys from Hoover, Robby and Austin have to deal with the plague they let loose that turns ordinary people into six-foot tall carnivorous monsters.

Overall I enjoyed the book very much, it was interesting and unlike anything I have ever read before. There humorous parts throughout the book and I enjoyed the characters since they were well developed and changed a great deal. The author's writing was fluid and in my opinion he did a great job of combining the main character's past with what was already going on. It was an amazing well written book, and I'd recommend this book for teens and young adults who are interested in science fiction and apocalyptic books.

Reviewed by Lusine M., Grade 8
Glendale Central Library 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

The tragedy in Mara Dyer's life continues once more, as Mara wakes up once again in a hospital bed with no recollection of how she got there. It turns out she is a psychiatric ward, as her family worries for her mental health now more than ever. But Mara knows the truth now, and there is more to her hallucinations than previously thought. Her ex boyfriend, Jude, did indeed survive the accident, and wants revenge for the night that took his sister's life. Taken to out patient care, Mara must play the part of patient trying to get well, but her doctor seems to have an agenda of her own. In order to help Mara, Noah Shaw finds a way to put himself in the same program, as he is the only one that actually believes her. Together they try to further unravel the mayhem around them, as Mara and the people she cares for's lives are all put into danger.

The sequel to Michelle Hodkin's debut novel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin, succeeds as a suspenseful tale sure to keep reader's attention. Romance and suspense, this book is also a mystery as you find the answers the all the questions Mara has. Keeping the reader's eyes glued to the page, the reader never knows what it is we'll discover next. The second installment in the three part trilogy fairs well, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good book to read.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Umbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

In the book Umbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle HodkinMara Dyer was in a tragic accident that only she survived, leaving her with no memory of the night it occurred. Guilt ridden and traumatized, she is plagued with nightmares and hallucinations that make her family worry for her mental health. In order to giver her a fresh start, they move to Florida hoping that things will get better. Unfortunately this is not the case, as the hallucinations and nightmares continue to haunt her wherever she goes. However some good comes of it, as Mara meets Noah Shaw among the mayhem, and finds unexpected solace in the odd boy that seems to relate to Mara in ways nobody else can. However, he cannot stop the chaos unfolding around her, as tragedy always follows in her wake. Together they try to piece together what happened that tragic night in order to full understand what it is that is happening to her. They seek answers to questions that seem to frightening to ask, as Mara deals with the sinking feeling that she may have had more to do with that night than everyone thinks.

Michelle Hodkin's debut novel follows many familiar tropes in fiction, that has begun to make it feel like we are all reading the same book with different names. There is the typical teenage boy heart throb, that is too perfect to be remotely realistic, the mean popular girl who torments the main protagonist, mental illness that is actually paranormal abilities, and so forth.The plot, however, does allow for the reader to keep interested as Mara struggles to discover what happened the night of the accident. However, under further inspection Mara Dyer has many problematic aspects that make it an unworthy read. Noah falls in love with Mara because she's "different than the other girls". Following the overused myth that all the "other girls" are people you do not want to be. There is nothing wrong in being like the "other girls" because to imply as such would be to imply that there is something wrong with being a girl and is yet another form of ridiculing them. Despite having a female lead, most characters are in fact male, and when women are put into the picture they seem to only cause trouble. This under representation is seen often in media and fiction, and it is woeful to see it once more. Overall, I would not recommend this book for anyone to read.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare

In the book City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra ClareThings are going well for Clary Fray, as downworlders and shadowhunters get along, her mother alive and getting married, and her boyfriend Jace with her at last. But nothing comes without a price, as nightmares plague Jace in which he kills Clary, and he desperately tries to distance himself from her to keep her safe. Simon himself is in a precarious situation, struggling between dating two girls, and someone trying to kill him. The Mark of Cain, however, protects him from their efforts, and he tries to lead as much a normal life as he can. But it appears that nothing can go right for him, as even his new room mate Kyle seems to be hiding something.

Having decided to add three more books to the series, Cassandra Clare gives her characters whole new conflicts to deal with. Nice to see the after effects of the war and how the characters are faring themselves, we follow them through whole new journeys. As always, packed with suspense, romance, and wit, readers will enjoy whats in store for them. For anyone wanting more about the world of shadowhunters, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library 

Monday, March 16, 2015

City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare


Clary Fray is desperate to save her mother, and when the only way to do so is to travel to Idris illegally, she does so.The ancestral home of shadowhunters, she discovers more things about herself than ever in this thrilling tale. Her brother, Jace, is there already desperately trying to distance himself from her. But can he really get over the love he has for her? But this must wait as Idris is at risk, Valentine plots against them, and their only hope is for downworlders to work with shadowhunters to save their home. Can the two enemies get along long enough to save billions of lives?


Things reach their conclusion, as Clary tries for the last time to save her mother. A new setting, Idris is a nice change to the usual gritty backdrop of New York. Conflicts reach their final climax, leaving you at the edge of your seat to find out what is going to happen to these characters you have grown to love over the course of the series. Well thought out, Clare gives her characters each their own individual voice that people are sure to enjoy. You will not be disappointed by how things end, and I recommend this to anyone to read.  
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson

Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson, takes place in the 1860's in the state of Texas. Travis and his family live in the country in a log cabin. "Yeller" the dog shows up one day and becomes part of the family when he saves Travis' little brother from a bear. Travis and Yeller becomes insepererable. The dog helps him hunt and mark hogs. He saves the lives of the family and is a hero.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is something that not many people have to go through and it's really sad when it does happen. Though as times goes by, you can feel good again. We can easily empathize with Travis. Family is important and we never want to lose them. It's very good to appreciate your loved ones, even if they are an animal, too. If you really love animals, you will enjoy reading this American classic.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library


Monday, March 9, 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The main character of this book is Milo, who is a 10 year old that is very bored all of the time. One day, he comes home and there is a large tollbooth in his room. He brings along a dog named Tock. together, they go on many journeys, meeting many strange characters along the way. they eventually visit a kingdom, where they get to rescue two princesses. Milo is certainly cured of his boredom by the end of the book.

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, was average. It had a pleasant, whimsical feeling about it. The wordplay was very clever and amusing. However, the plot was simple and the vocabulary was simple as well. Each of the characters lasted a short time. If they were developed further, the story might be a lot greater. There were a lot of themes associated with the book, which can either be good or bad depending on who you are. The book had good points, but they were equalized by its bad points.


Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by Anonymous

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an old English novel that tells the tale of King Arthur's court. A knight garbed all in green on a green horse bursts into King Arthur's court at Christmas time and proposes a game to the knights of the Round Table: a knight can have a swing at his head, and in a year, the green knight could reciprocate the blow. The purpose of the game is to challenge the court's famous code of chivalry. Sir Gawain volunteers to play the game, and we see how his values are compromised throughout the novel to prove he is not the knight he thought he was.

Overall, I found this book to be very dull. I had to read it for school, and if I was not assigned this book, I would never have even touched it. The alliteration in every single line made it not only hard to understand, but it also made it harder to read out loud, or even to myself. The plot was just plain uninteresting. I would recommend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to people who enjoy reading classics, and I would give it a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Monday, March 2, 2015

City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare, is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series. Jace and Clary are finally together, and Valentine, their mortal enemy, is gone. Her mother and Luke are engaged, and everything seems perfect. Clary notices Jace becoming distant and not like himself, and Jace admits he is plagued with nightmares about killing her. Simon struggles with living a normal life as a vampire, and slowly they find that everything they thought was true is the opposite.

I really enjoyed this book! The characters were funny and lovable as usual, and the writing is great as well. The only thing I didn't like was that the author didn't give Jace and Clary a chance to be happy together- something was already in the way of their relationship. But overall, the book is a really good read and I would recommend it to fans of the series and books geared for teens. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 10
Glendale Central Library