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All Book Reviews

Jackaby
Ritter, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Nice idea, not especially well executed, but serviceable nevertheless. Penniless but daring young Abigail Rook is stuck in New England when she meets an eccentric private detective named Jackaby. He specializes in supernatural deduction using an ability to see what other people can't -- faeries, monsters, etc. He is also in need of an assistant. When a very odd murder occurs, Jackaby and Abigail are on the case. Who is the murderer? Can our heroes stop the killer in time to save innocent lives? And will we ever learn what Jackaby's initials stand for? At best, it's a really laudable middle-grade supernatural mystery. Unfortunately, Jackaby himself falls rather flat. He seems to be a collection of quirks and mannerisms borrowed from more famous characters. Abigail is by no means and ideal character, but she is independent in a way that many female protagonists aren't. There are several appealing secondary characters -- one of whom is a ghost -- who were a bit more unusual, but on the whole, this book does not have the most intriguing cast, although it does try very hard. The plot itself is reasonably interesting, but suffers from the same malady as the characterizations: originality, or rather, lack thereof. Anyone who's familiar with folklore (or has read Harry Potter) has a good chance at guessing the identities of the murderer and other characters long before the big reveal. If you want a lightweight, easy-read fantasy-mystery with some fun characters and fairly witty dialogue, you'll probably like it, but for really intense murder mystery fans, look elsewhere.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Awards:
Witch & Wizard
Patterson, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Witch and Wizard is an extravagant book for young adults and teens. From a kidnapping to an evil tyrant, Whit and Wisty Allgood can't accept the fact that they are the children from the proficy, the children with powers, the children destined to save and rule the world. James Patterson takes his readers on an adventure that you can't put down. This book was unpredictable and left me wanting more from the very beginning. This is one of the best books of I have read since fourth grade and I've read a lot. On my free time I will go to a bookstore and grab as many books as my arms can carry and this time I tried to find as many James Patterson books as I could and this book was yelling my name from across the room. This book captivated me within just the first paragraph. The language and content flashbacks kept me engaged to the end. Whit and Wisty will do much more than keep you intrigued, they will keep you close through the whole series. I would rate this book five of five stars and I would recommend this book to teens from ages 11-15.
Reviewer Grade: 5

Reviewer's Name: Samantha K.
Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food
Schlosser, Eric
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everyone knows what McDonald’s or Burger King is, but how many people know how they got here, how are they getting their food, and why do they target kids as a key consumer audience. In Chew on This, Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson explain who founded the fast food industries, how animals are mistreated in slaughterhouses,
and the horrible effects fast food has on our bodies. I personally loved this book because I am super interested in food and health and it’s shocking to learn that: high school dropouts started the biggest industries in the world, each can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and that chicken slaughterhouses feed chickens leftover chickens. The authors profile stories of teens who have taken action to stop the fast food industry such as: A girl launching a campaign to remove soda machines from her school. I recommend this book to those interested in learning about the fast food industry and what they are actually doing. Chew on This is meant to show people, especially kids and teens, they can change the world by changing what they eat.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat
Pollan, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you ever wonder where your food comes from? How the potatoes in your french fries were grown? Or even what's in your burger. This book answers those questions and many more and it also lets you in on the food industry’s biggest secrets. It’s super interesting and educational. I mean did you know that corn is in about
everything from batteries to fireworks and that in cattle feed people put in M&M’s, hooves, corn, and cardboard?! I recommend this book to people interested in food and health since it teaches you the brutal truths behind industrial food production. It taught me what “real” food is and why I should stay away from processed foods. I loved this book because it actually taught me a lot about food that isn’t taught in school and I would recommend it to basically everyone because this is stuff you really need to know before you go grocery shopping.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Elie Wiesel is a twelve year old Jewish boy living in Sighet, Romania in 1944 who loves to study the Talmud. When his instructor warns the people of the Nazi aggressors coming to threaten their peaceful lives, it is too late and Elie’s family is forced into ghettos. Elie and his father, Shlomo, are separated from the rest of their family and are sent to multiple concentration camps, just trying to survive. This is my second favorite book ever because it is written by Elie Wiesel himself and is about his life as a Holocaust survivor. I can’t even describe
how good this book is because once you realize it is nonfiction, it gives the book a whole new meaning. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially those interested in the Holocaust or books about it such as The Diary of Anne Frank. I picked this book because I love autobiographies about the Holocaust and it just really shocked me at how life for Jews during that time was.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Anthem
Rand, Ayn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Equality 7-2521 is a street sweeper in a society ruled by a Communist/ Fascist type of dictatorship where individuals rights have been destroyed and everyone works only to serve their government. As a young boy, Equality 7-2521 witnessed the execution of someone who had spoken the “Unspeakable Word” and ever since
then, he has wondered what that word is. Resuming to the present, Equality 7-2521 one day discovers
a metal grill leading down into a dark tunnel from the Unmentionable Times, the ancient period prior to the establishment of the present society. For the next 2 years, he does secret experiments down in this tunnel and discovers electricity, but when he shows it to the World Council of Scholars, he is rejected and must escape from being persecuted. I love Anthem by Ayn Rand because it talks about a dystopian society and about a curious mind that defies the government and learns something great. The beginning is boring and is of backstory, but from there it becomes so interesting that it feels like you are there with the main character. Also it’s a short book for those who hate 800 page books and want a quick read for school or just to kill some free time.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Marcelo in the Real World
Stork, Francisco X.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Don't get me wrong -- this is a good book. The narrator is Marcelo, a teenage boy with an Asperger's-like condition that allows him to hear music that no one else can hear, but that also means he has some difficulty with social interaction. He goes to a special school for autistic students, although to be honest he could probably manage in a regular school, it's just that he has been coddled his entire life -- no one has made him push himself to practice functioning in regular society. His parents realize this is the case, and offer him the option of attending a mainstream school for his senior year. To help him decide, his lawyer father his makes him work at his law firm over the summer -- forcing Marcelo to get used to the "real world."

Marcelo is extremely relatable and well-drawn -- he is a sympathetic character, and both earnest and honest. When he is faced with difficult choices, the reader experiences his conflict. Many of his interactions with other people seem realistic and believable. I loved the first half of the book. My problem was with the second half. A major plotline appeared that I simply didn't like -- it didn't seem to fit the rest of the narrative in the sense that it brought a new focus to the story that altered its tone. I didn't enjoy it very much, but I think that many other readers wouldn't mind it. The book as a whole is still definitely worth reading. If you like thoughtful, introspective books with appealing narration and moral conflict, this one does very well.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Genres:
The Hidden Oracle
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Apollo – the Greek god of music, archery, healing, plague, and the sun – has been turned into a mortal teenager and dropped onto Earth as punishment from his father, Zeus. In order to earn his godly title back, he must be guided by a demigod and follow their orders – this demigod happens to be feisty Meg McCaffrey, “street urchin overlord”. The two must team up to help Apollo succeed in his trials and become a god again.

I read this book in 2 days – I could not put it down! It is adventurous and hilarious! Apollo is an interesting hero who must overcome his arrogance by becoming an average mortal teenager and proving himself to his fellow gods – and you totally root for him along the way. I would recommend reading the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus books before reading this one because many of the old characters make appearances and it would be easier to understand the references to the other series. Being a longtime fan of these books, I was so excited to see that Rick had brought back almost the entire Argo II crew back!

This book was truly awesome – lots of humor and adventure. I highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Eat, Pray, Love
Gilbert, Elizabeth
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Elizabeth Gilbert has everything a normal person wants: loving husband, country home, a great career, and much more. But for some reason she was not happy, instead she felt confused and lost in her own world of thoughts. So, through a painful process, she leaves behind everything (her marriage, job, home) and plans a year round trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia, hoping that traveling to these places will help her find herself. I began reading this book this year for a school assignment and I have to say I didn’t like it from the cover and the first few pages. What made it interesting was that Eat, Pray, Love is an auto-biography by Elizabeth herself about her journey for self-actualization and also that you are able to learn a little bit more about the culture of these countries. I recommend this book to those who are having trouble about knowing who they are in the world, but while I was able to be intrigued by the book and it did grab my attention, let’s just say it didn’t have me standing on the edge of my seat and isn’t one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Pathfinder
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This sci-fi by Orson Scott Card, the writer of Ender's Game, will warp your mind. Full, of interesting theories about time and space, this book is meant for adults and older teens. Every chapter there seems to be a new moral decision for the characters to make. This book creates great debates, and all of Card's ideas are well explained.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Fred W.
Awards:
The Namesake
Lahiri, Jhumpa
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Gogol Ganguli regrets his parents decision of giving him his humiliating name ever since he was born. But when we rewind to 1968, we see the newly immigrated Gangulis’ give birth to a baby boy and in order to be released from the hospital, they must break their Bengali culture and give their son an official name, which they decide to be Gogol. Growing up, Gogol hates his name, but once he learns of its origin he rethinks its meaning and after a life-changing incident, Gogol learns to embrace his culture and his family heritage. Bringing you on a journey of love, self- realization, and of a life or death situation, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is an amazing novel and I found it super interesting to me because it related so much to how I grew up. There are many suspenseful and attention grabbing parts and I highly recommend it. I had to read this book for an assignment, but I ended up loving it, except for some boring parts especially in the first few chapters since it's just introduction. I recommend this book to those who have an interest in cross-cultural conflict books, but most people in my class disliked it so I’m assuming it wasn’t interesting to them.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Genres:
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Manor Farm is home to animals who, noticeably, hate being controlled and oppressed by their farmer, Mr. Jones. One night Old Major, a wise boar, gathers the animals for a meeting and tells them of a dream he has where all animals live together with no human beings to oppress or control them. After his death, the animals take over the farm under the leadership of the pigs. As the story progresses the pigs move away from Animalism and move towards becoming human beings. Animal Farm by George Orwell is number 9 in my top books list mostly because it is a satire about the Russian Revolution and Stalinism. I did not like it in the fact that it overused personification and the use of animals to represent Russia in the 1970’s, but if we look at the book as a story just about animals taking over a farm, it is actually really interesting. I would recommend it to some people, not to others (those who dislike personification and satires).

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Six year old Scout Finch is living in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. Raised by Atticus Finch, Scout and her brother, Jem, are very comfortable with Maycomb and understand the well being of their neighbors, except the house of the mysterious Arthur Radley, whom they obsess over. Half the book is basically about Scout, Jem, and Dill (their new friend) trying to lure Arthur Radley out of his house. However, when Atticus, a lawyer, decides to take the case of a black man named Tom Robinson, tensions become high and the trial to see whether Tom Robinson is guilty or innocent based on his crime and, especially, his skin color is at stake. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and it is my #1 favorite book because the structure of this book is so eye-opening since it addresses the struggle and tensions between African- Americans and Whites during a time period where slavery was abolished just less-than a century ago. I highly recommend this book because it is just so jaw-dropping and it hit me with surprises that had me at the edge of my seat.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Genres:
Ranger's Apprentice. Book one, The Ruins of Gorlan
Flanagan, John A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this fantasy, John Flanagan describes the life of a few kids growing up in a medieval setting where you can become the apprentice of different trade masters. The book mostly follows the apprentice ranger Will as he trains to be a full fledged ranger. This book is meant for teens and young adults because the Ranger's Apprentice series follows the lives of Will and his friends and all the troubles they face. If you like imagining what your life could be like in medieval times, than this book is for you.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Fred W.
Genres:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book by J.K. Rowling engulfs you in a world of magic where you want to keep on reading without putting it down. Harry Potter takes place in England, and is all about a boy named Harry Potter's time at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. This book can attract readers of all kinds of reading levels because of its simplicity and depth. The Harry Potter series is an extremely fun series and the characters are full of emotion. I guarantee that you will love this book.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Fred W.
Genres:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a very good and interesting book. This book is about an Indian boy named Arnold, also known by his nickname Junior, who is a freshman in high school. Junior lives on a Native American reservation and doesn’t fit in with any of the other kids very well because he has many special abilities that make him look, talk, and function differently. In the story, he has a best friend called Rowdy who is in his eyes, is really tough and strong. One day, Junior decides that he needs to go to a better school OFF the reservation (Rez) called Reardan. When he transferred, Rowdy decided that he hated Junior. Everyone at his new school calls Junior names, and makes fun of him because he’s an Indian with disabilities. Throughout the book, Junior encounters many more hardships and obstacles. I did like the book, although it was very depressing towards the end. The book has parts with more mature content, but is not bad if you are older. The part I enjoyed in the book is when Junior makes the basketball team by being crazy and making crazy shots. This is the second best book I have read in 2016… Messenger of Fear being the first. All in all, this is a great book that any teen should check out if they are mature enough to read it.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Logan L.
Sky Raiders
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book, The Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders, is a very fascinating book by Brandon Mull. The book starts out in a small town in Arizona. The main character, Cole, is getting ready for Halloween. He soon meets up with his best friend, Dalton, and the girl he likes, Jennifer, along with a couple others (six). They are looking for a haunted house that was a few blocks from where they already were. After finding the haunted house, a guy jumps up and tries to scare the group, and fails. He reveals that the biggest scare is in the basement, and once they were there, the guy locked the door behind them. Dalton starts to worry, and soon they were grabbed by a guy called Ham. Ham grabs most of kids, but Cole gets away, and Ham disappears behind a curtain and vanishes. Desperate to get his friends back, Cole follows him, and ends up in… the outskirts! The part I enjoyed in this book was when Cole gets into the outskirts. I recommend this book to anybody who likes action books and suspense.

Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Logan L.
Genres:
Double Vision
Bradley, F. T.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The story; Double Vision is a great book that I recommend to readers who like suspense. Double Vision starts out in the main character; Lincoln’s school. He and his classmates are to go on a trip to a chicken farm not far from the school. After getting to the chicken farm, the farmer was very strict, and didn’t let anybody near his chickens. Instead, he just talked about them, and told everyone all about chicken farming, chicken housing, chicken food, etc. Soon, Lincoln got bored and decided to go see the chickens for himself. After sneaking away from the group, Lincoln opened the door to the chicken coop and was flustered by chickens in front of all of the other kids. After Lincoln went home, he found out that he was expelled from his school, and the farmer is suing them for a great amount of money. Because they knew he was in lots of trouble, two agents came to knock on their door. After, they told them that they would take Lincoln and straighten him up. At first, his mother refused, but decided to give in. After Lincoln got in their car, they said they weren’t taking him to a boot camp… but a spy camp! The part I enjoyed in this book was when Lincoln got attacked by chickens! I recommend this book to any age that loves suspense and action!

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Logan L.
Sidekicks
Ferraiolo, Jack D.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book Sidekicks is an amazing book! It starts off with a boy named Scott, and he is a Sidekick to Phantom Menace, a hero that fights crime. In the beginning, Scott has an archenemy named Monkeywrench, and he later discovers that Monkeywrench is someone he knows. They get to like and get to each other. Also their Mentors are archenemies, but they don’t care. They just want to be together. But something puts a wrench in their plan! (No pun intended). Sorry, I don’t want to give away the ending! In my opinion, this was a great book, and probably the best book in 2016 that I have read. I chose this book because the cover and name just appealed to me, and later on the story did. This was a basic superhero Romeo and Juliet. The story made me sit on edge when I was reading it. It was an amazing thriller, with lots of twists. This story was very entertaining. The story had lots of jokes, lot of character development, and a lot of happy things in it. This is why the book was appealing. Also it had no things that diverted you from the topic; it was straightforward and very precise. If you want a book that is an easy read for 12+ this is one of the best ones, there is no need to reread. But this book does have some mature humor, so not a very good bedtime story for little kids.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Lucas L.
Awards:
Genres:
The Journal of Curious Letters
Dashner, James
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 3.5

This book by James Dashner was a extremely good book. In the beginning this book was about a man named M.G, Also known as master George, delivering a series of curious riddling letters, to people across the globe, one of these people, Artticus “Tick” Higginbotom was one of the recipients. He faced all kinds of perils and met more people who would pursue the letters. In the end he- Nope! Can’t tell you anymore! Sorry! I chose this book because the name and the authors opening was just fantastic. And so was the book! It left me wanting more, even if I was beyond my point of exhaustion. The book is in the third person, normally I hate third person, but this book was so involved that I didn’t even notice until about halfway through. There was a lot of character development in this book Artticus went from a person who just went along with things, to a person who solved problems and stood up for himself. Sure, he nearly got killed a couple times, but he lived. This book is for ages 12-18 mainly, and for anyone who likes riddles and action. That is why this book just appealed to me it just fascinated me to solve these riddles by myself. It took a long time for me to put the book down, I was always “One more chapter one more chapter!” I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Lucas L.

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