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Realistic

Book Review: Bitter End

bitter end
Author: 
Brown, Jennifer
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Although Alex has two amazing friends, Bethany and Zach, she has always felt rather alone, that is until she met Cole. Cole is new at school, and seems perfect. He is a funny, star athlete, and very attractive, so Alex believes he is way out of her league. When she starts tutoring him, however, sparks begin to fly. Cole asks her out, and at first, it seems like destiny to Alex.

He is sweet to her, and she starts to fall for him. There is one problem
though: Cole is very jealous of her friend Zach; he hates it when they hang out and gets angry with both Alex and Zach. He begins to take out all of his frustrations on Alex, and it quickly escalates from put-downs to violence.
Bitter End is a heart wrenching that takes a candid look at domestic violence. I think this book is amazingly written, and I would recommend it to most people. Be warned though that this book is hard to get through. Because Alex is so innocent and good, it is easy to empathize with her. And even though what Cole is doing is wrong, he seems like a real person. Brown did a great job creating human characters that you can completely empathize with.

Reviewer's Name: 
Hailey K.
Genres: 

Book Review: I Have A Bad Feeling About This

I Have A Bad Feeling About This
Author: 
Strand, Jeff
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In I Have A Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand, Henry, a 17 year old boy, is sent to a survival camp by his parents because they think he's a wuss, and to be honest he is kinda wussy. But this camp is not what it seems. I really like how embarrassing Henry was, I could definitely relate. I didn't like that the book was dragged on, it took a few chapters to get to the really good action. I picked this book because it's title was intriguing to me and made me want to find out what happened. This book was extremely surprising and made me have to do a double take. I could relate to all the wimpy kids who were sent to the survival camp because let's be honest I can't throw a ball five feet. This was not the best book I have read this year but if someone asked for a good book recommendation I would totally recommend this.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Gemini K.

Book Review: Scars

Scars
Author: 
Rainfield, Cheryl
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, Kendra, a young teenager, struggles with self-harm, depression, and having the constant fear of her rapist following and threatening her. All throughout the book she struggles with many things, and Rainfield describes her journey with passion and accurately describes what depression can and does feel like. I really liked that this book brought attention to in-home neglect, as her mother does not pay much attention to what is happening with her daughter more as how her daughter is being portrayed. I didn't like how fast paced everything is, although it does positively affect the book in some aspects it is a bit overwhelming in certain chapters. I picked this book because of the title and the cover, I have struggled with self-harm and it seemed like I relate to it, which I could in so many ways. This book was very surprising and it made me gasp out loud when the big truth was revealed. I could definitely relate to Kendra, as I said before I struggled with self-harm and have plenty of scars I need to heal. But not only in that way, she and I both have homophobic mothers who at first did not accept the "choices" we made. This book was really, really, great and it truly is one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Gemini K.

Book Review: Shadow

Shadow
Author: 
Morpurgo, Michael
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Shadow was a very good book that I thought had essentials to make into a review. Shadow was about an eight-year-old named Aman and him telling his entire story of how he met Shadow, and why he wanted to get out of Afghanistan. Taliban (people who didn't like Aman's people) invaded his part of Afghanistan, so him and his mother needed to get out of his town after his grandmother died. Right before he left, a dog he named Shadow accompanied him. Throughout their journey, they needed to walk many miles to get to Turkey, a place where an airport is. However, cruel people started robbing the family of all of their belongings, and even their grandmother's jewels she left behind just in case they lost all of their money, which they just did. Even through all of the struggles, the family still pushed on.

Eventually, Shadow gets picked up by the military, who claimed it was their dog. Aman eventually got to England. I thought that this book was good because it gave an accurate demonstration of a loving relationship between a boy and a dog.

Reviewer's Name: 
Logan L.

Book Review: Holes

Holes
Author: 
Sachar, Louis
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book Holes by Louis Sachar is an astonishing book that braids together three different stories that eventually will come together because of the main character known as Stanley Yelnats. Stanley Yelnats, a boy who has bad luck because of a curse put on his "no good dirty rotten pig stealin' great-great-grandfather", is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and the other boys at the camp are forced to dig large holes in the dirt every day that are 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep in the blistering heat, but they aren't digging holes to build character like Mr. Sir says.

Louis Sachar was born in East Meadow on March 20th 1954 and lived there until 4th grade and it wasn't until high school that he really started to love reading. Louis Sachar is an award-winning author of twenty-five books for children and young adults. The book Holes has won around 16 awards and recognitions. He didn’t really just sit down and start writing the story, he built the story around the setting at camp green lake. In a Q&A he said that he "started writing about Camp Greenlake and it developed from there. I suppose the initial inspiration for writing about the camp came from the heat of summers in Texas." And "Anybody who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in July can easily imagine Hell to be a place where you are required to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across day after day under the brutal Texas sun." That was where he started the book and his inspiration. Louis basically just started with writing about camp green lake and the fact that its just a desert instead of basing the book on any characters, which I found was interesting.

I think that Holes is an amazing book that it all ties together in the end. I just love this book because of how complex it is with putting three stories together to create one detailed and vivid story that you will want to read more than once.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sydney P.

Book Review: The Memory of Light

The Memory of Light
Author: 
Stork, Francisco X.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I've read many teen fiction books, but this book was by far the most honest about dealing with mental issues. There are no easy answers and it is a hard process to fight through. The main character Vicki really wants to be normal, but she is having a hard time dealing with school and her parents. She decides to commit suicide. She is discovered and rescued. She commits herself to a local mental institute to see if she can find a way to deal with her depression. Once there she meets other teens that are also dealing with difficult mental issues. Having dealt with depression in my own life it is nice to see that books are being published about mental health issues, especially books that target teens. The descriptions of how depression affect Vicky were really well done. I will say that there are some moments of teen angst, but overall the book was excellent.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jean

Book Review: After You

After You
Author: 
Moyes, Jojo
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

It’s been 2 years since Will Traynor’s death. Louisa Clark traveled for a while, but now she is stuck in a bad job and just treading water. Even surviving a fall from the rooftop of her apartment building doesn’t shock Louisa into wanting to experience more of life. Louisa joins a support group to deal with her grief and develops a relationship with the paramedic who saved her. However, it’s the arrival of teenage girl with a link to Louisa’s past that sets her life into a spin and changes it in more ways than she could ever have imagined. After You, Jojo Moyes’ sequel to Me Before You, is a well-written, realistic look at dealing with grief and all the curves life throws at a person. Fans of the first book will feel like they are catching up with an old friend. Be prepared to cry and laugh out loud as you spend more time with this loveable character.

Reviewer's Name: 
Milissa

Book Review: The Mortifications

The Mortifications
Author: 
Palacio, Derek
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Mortifications follows the Encarnacion family from Cuba to Connecticut and then back to Cuba again. Soledad's husband, Uxbal, is heavily involved in rebel groups resisting Castro's regime. She doesn't want her children growing up in that environment, and eventually she decides to take them and leave for America without her husband. Uxbal tries to hold her daughter Isabel captive, but she threatens to cut his son's throat if he doesn't let her take both their children. They escape successfully, but the incident leaves deep scars on everyone in the family. Soledad eventually begins a new relationship with Henri Willems, a Dutch man trying to cultivate Cuban tobacco in the US, and all the while she and her children drift further and further apart from one another as they try to adjust to their new lives.

The Mortifications is a leisurely-paced book and it draws rich portraits of all the characters: Soledad, who takes her children from Cuba to America to protect them but finds herself haunted by a lost marriage and country; Isabel, who took a vow to her father to remain chaste until she could have rebel children for his militia, and who later joins a convent in an effort to keep this vow; Ulises, a student of classical literature who feels abandoned by his mother, father, and sister alike; Willems, who is haunted by the idea that his tobacco holds the ghosts of the slaves his family once owned in Haiti; and many more minor characters who are written with equal depth and sympathy. It was a genuine pleasure to read -- beautiful writing, very introspective, and with enough humor to keep it from being too relentlessly depressing. That being said, it's a very (and I mean very) slow-paced book and is focused more on the internal lives of the characters than any cohesive plot, so that might be frustrating to readers looking for something with a little more structure. I would give it 3.5 stars, in large part because the writing was absolutely gorgeous.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lauren

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Author: 
Haddon, Mark
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

One night, Christopher Boone is walking around his neighborhood when he finds his neighbor’s dog dead, in her front yard, with a pitchfork sticking out of it. Christopher is now determined to investigate and write a book about who killed the dog. Unfortunately, Mrs. Shears, the dog’s owner, accuses Christopher of killing her dog and he is sent to jail for a few hours.

Eventually, Christopher’s dad comes to get him, and tells him not to investigate the incident of the dog’s death. Keep in mind, Christopher has a disability similar to Asperger syndrome and it is somewhat omitted at the beginning, but eventually, it’s obvious he has a disability even if it's not directly mentioned in the book. Christopher defies his father’s orders and continues to investigate the dog’s death, asking neighbors about the dog, questioning Mrs. Shears. His father constantly restricts him from doing so, but Christopher is determined. As the investigation goes on Christopher is able to find out that his supposedly “dead” mother is alive and also he finds out who the killer is. Haddon’s work is amazingly written and I recommend the novel to those who enjoy subtle mysteries with rising conflicts.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

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