I really enjoyed this book because it was such an adventurous and suspenseful story: just my type. The main character in this story goes through so much I know I could never endure myself, but she kept pushing through it all and made it out all right. There were so many surprising things in this amazing book that happened that I never would have guessed.
Under A Painted Sky was probably the best book I've read this year. Like all books, it had a little blunder here and there, but overall I absolutely loved it.
I have always been a Warriors fan, but I found that the fifth book of the Original Series really spoke to me. The protagonist, Fireheart, struggles with the knowledge about the evil leader Tigerstar, but he prevails. I would definitely recommend this book, but it is violent at parts. I probably wouldn't let anyone under the age of 10 or 11 read this, but other than that it's an amazing book full of action and adventure, following cats.
"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas is a fantastic whirl-wind of unforgettable characters and interweaving story-lines that left me awestruck and yearning for an even deeper glimpse into this world of treachery, romance, adventure, and mystery. This book is as deceivingly witty as it is over-flowing charisma and has nestled its way to a special place in my heart as one of my favorite novels of all time.
The novel starts out with a scenic over-look of an Italian waterway in Marseilles as it carries along a lofty ship named Pharaon with one passenger in particular who is unlike any other named Edmond Dantès. A dashing young and honest man dawning with potential who has just returned with news that will change the course of his life, and the lives of many others, forever. He is falsely accused of traitorous activity and is sentenced to life on a prison located on an island off the coasts of Marseilles forcing him to leave behind his family, his friends, and the love of his life Mercédès. This marvelous tale unfolds within the walls of this prison and among its outer-walls as Dantès attempts to make a dashing escape with a kind mannered preacher. But, this is only the beginning of his tale. As the life of Dantès unfolds, so does the life of the many others who have been lucky enough to fall into his life.
This novel is truly unforgettable as it follows not only the life of Edmond Dantès, but also the lives of his lover, best friend, family, and even his partners from his shipping company. Filled to the brim with treacherous plots, revenge, heartache, mystery, and pirating; it also contains young love, faith that knows no bounds, and families filled with the knowledge that blood truly is thicker than water.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to fall in love with not only a menagerie of unforgettable characters, but to a reader who is looking to fall head-first into a world that they will find themselves cherishing forever.
Many blessings and happy reading : ),
Reviewer Grade Level 11.
Ever since the release of Suzanne Collin's dystopian novel "The Hunger Games", her work has garnered international acclaim from some of the world's most reputable critics. Adopted into a series of wildly popular films and having been printed more than 23 million times, the staggering success of her novel begs the question, "Does The Hunger Games truly live up to its notoriety?" Well in fact, after having read it multiple times, I can personally say that it far exceeded my expectations.
After the ruin of North America and the collapse of democracy, an authoritarian government arises. In order to maintain oversight of its people, the capitol divides its dominions into twelve districts, each specializing in a different pursuit. Every year, the capitol hosts "The Hunger Games", in which a boy and girl from each district are randomly pooled into a survival competition. Participants must fight to the death in a futuristic arena, all the while being broadcasted live on TV.
Enter Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old teenager from the impoverish District 12. In an effort to protect her sister, she volunteers as a tribute to the game, but as she heads to the capital, she realizes that her life will never be the same. Through the course of the story, Katniss struggles to balance her conflicting emotions, and comes to understand the harsh reality of life in Panem.
As Katniss makes these revelations, the reader has the chance to pick up on a number of powerful themes, examples of which include the dangers of reality shows, the ever-growing obsession with fashion trends, and the consequences of desensitization to violence. Not only is this novel an action-packed and engaging read, but it also leads readers to share meaningful conversations about changing ideologies in the 21st century.
I picked up this read after watching the book-inspired film, and have been pleasantly surprised with it. While the movie makes fair and accurate adaptions to the story, it misses out on many of the themes presented in the books. For this reason, I would certainty recommend continuing on to read the novel after watching the movie, as there is plenty of unique content from the book. If you have not watched the movie, I would advise even stronger to pick up this read. For the reasons previously mentioned and more, I honestly am so glad to have read this book.
One complaint I might bring up is that while a large majority of book readers are young, the novel has some extremely gruesome scenes. If you are to read this book, be forewarned of violence. Furthermore, I found some passages difficult to read, due to the choppy-sentence structure used by Collins. This may just be a personal preference, but I felt that it was of detriment to the story.
Overall, "The Hunger Games" will certainty appeal to teens 13 and up and leave readers with discussion points about government, free-speech, sacrifice, moral desensitization, and other thought-provoking themes. It mixes an enthralling plot with rich and powerful messages- a formula bound for literary success.
Reviewer Grade 10
"A Clash of Kings", the second installment in George R.R. Martins "A Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy, picks up where the first novel, "A Game of Thrones" left off. With the death of the King, Robert Baratheon, and his hand, Eddard "Ned" Stark, war rages throughout the realm, with a total of 5 lords declaring themselves for the throne. Robert's brothers, along with their allied houses, raise their banners in outlaw to the crown, while young King Joffrey defends his claim to the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, Eddard's eldest son, Rob, rallies the North to secede from the Seven Kingdoms in declaration of their own "King in the North". This, of course, reaps certain consequences in a system built on partitions of trust and loyalty. In the midst of this turmoil, yet another lord, Balon Grejoy, who holds the Iron Islands, joins the fight, and in a distant fog from across the Narrow Sea, lies Daenerys Targaryen. She formulates an Army of Unsullied warriors and manages to acquire 3 dragons, restoring honor to her house and strengthening her claim to the throne.
With time, the war unfolds, and as it does, so do an onslaught of secrets, lies, and betrayals unforseen to even some of the most observant readers.
Martin continues to draw inspiration from English history, while also divulging from reality with the continuation of the white walker plot line.
I moved onto this book from "A Game of Thrones", and can genuinely say that I think it was a major improvement from its predecessor. Although the plot may still move a bit slow for some, now that George R.R. Martin has set the stage with background information, there is much more action than in the previous installment of the series.
One personal complaint of mine is that the sheer magnitude of characters, lore, and history presented in the book can get a bit confusing at time.
Especially for someone who is trying one of their first fantasy novels, this book may not be the best fit. On the contrary, however, if you're looking for a longer, and more austere, read, I would certainly continue onto this book from the last. The plot only gets better with time, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you decide not to keep reading A Song and Ice and Fire, though, I would recommend trying any one of J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy books. From my opinion, they are similar in style, but different enough to cater to one another's faults.
One of Us is Lying is like The Breakfast Club, as it it involves a bunch of "teen movie stereotypes", during an interesting detention. These include Bronwyn, the "brain", Nate, the "criminal", Addy, the "beauty", Cooper, the "athlete", and Simon, the "outcast". However, the similarities end there, as one of them, Simon, dies from a suspicious allergy attack during the detention. Simon was the creator of the gossip app known as "About That," which shared other students' secrets and gossip. He had been planning to post about the other four before his death, making them all suspects in his murder. Or is it all a frameup? The reader has to decide whether one of the incredibly likable four leads is a lying murderer, or if they're all victims.
This book was very addictive. McManus' writing was detailed, and she was able to distinguish the four's voices as their own. No one sounded or felt the same, and each of their narratives were equally enthralling. Each lead character is a deconstruction of the stereotype they're based off of, and in a way, this is a deconstruction of the mystery genre in general; unlike most, it's more character driven than plot driven.
My main complaint is that some of these students seem overly capable in a way. Not just the four, but the supporting character's talents are beyond most high schoolers. It may have made more sense if the setting was in college. However, this is something I see a lot of in YA fiction today, so it doesn't overly bother me, and it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.
I recommend this if you like mysteries and character driven stories where every character, both leading and supporting, are developed, fleshed out characters.
Reviewer Grade: 12
The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee may strike your perception as a seemingly uninteresting story. The book tells the tale of two young children in a sleepy Alabama town, and at face-value, the plot does not garner much intrigue. However, I was in the same situation when I was required to read this book in the spring of my freshman year at high school.
Indeed, while at first the story seemed boring, as I continued to carry on with reading, every turn of the page immersed me ever further into Lee’s timeless story.
As a reader, you share the emotions felt by Jem and Scout, two young siblings, as they learn the nuances of life in the prejudiced American South during the early 1900s. Not only was their community weakened by the economic collapse of the Great Depression, but also sickened by the bitter contempt felt among whites and blacks.
In the beginning of the novel, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her brother Jem innocently play games with their friend “Dill” and enjoy life in Maycomb with their father, Atticus. During this time, they have little to no apprehension of the racial tension hanging in their society, but when their father, Atticus Finch, who works as lawyer, openly chooses to defend an African American in court, trouble arises.
Jem and Scout undergo a number of personal developments during the course of the novel. While at first, they carry with them a genuine and child-like innocence, the court trial their father has taken on exposes them to the racist indignity felt by their fellow community members. Jem and Scout struggle to balance their conflict between the social norms of Maycomb and the morals their father has instilled in them. With the trial’s end, Jem and Scout are lead to discover the imperfections of their society, and the ways with which they are forced to deal with them. As the reader follows along, they not only watch Jem and Scout change, but they too themselves are shaped through Lee’s captivating story.
Overall, I enjoyed most aspects of the book. Although some scenes I felt were a bit plain and unprogressive, these minor flaws were overshadowed by the powerful themes Lee expresses through the story. If you haven’t already read To Kill a Mockingbird, I would certainly give the novel a try. If not for the genuine enjoyment of reading the story, try this novel to feel the powerful emotions stirred from Lee’s literary masterpiece.
Reviewer Grade: 10
“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.
As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.
I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.
Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!
In Princess Academy, Miri, a girl from Mount Eskel, competes in a mandatory royal preparation academy. Her life completely changes when she starts to smell danger. Indeed, her once-small town is now the target of disaster. She must team up with her fierce competitors from the academy to save their own lives, the academy, and the lives of everyone on Mount Eskel.
This book is nothing if not charming. I loved the characters, and the plot was well-developed. The setting was perfect for the events that transpire, and I would strongly recommend this book, as it is a great light read.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Shakespeare's Othello is about a Moorish general for the Venetian army, Othello, who falls in love with a Venetian lady, Desdemona. Unfortunately, Desdemona's father is very racist and sees Othello as vermin when he finds out they're in love. Being Shakespeare, this book is very tragic.
Though this play may have been well-written, I don't have much else good to say. The plot is extremely simplified, and the characters are infuriatingly stupid. This book is not a boring read, but it is also in no way interesting.
The characters are not very developed, relatable, or lovable. This dramatically stunts this play's ability to be tragic. Needless to say, I am not a huge fan of this book, but there were some good things about it.
Reviewer Grade: 11
What a fabulous beginning to a fabulous series. Todd, the 13-year-old main character, has lived in Prentisstown all his life, but he soon discovers he knows nothing about the city at all. In fact, his whole life has been a lie.
As Todd and his dog, Manchee, run from the dangerous truth, more and more of Todd's presumptions about the New World are busted. This book is gripping, enticing, and heartbreaking all at once. I adore all the characters, and after having read the entire trilogy, I feel as if I know the characters like siblings.
However, there is one problem for me with this book. One of the antagonists is extremely exaggerated, to a point that it almost seems goofy. This interrupts the heroic and innocent tone. Despite this, I would absolutely recommend this book; you will be immediately sucked in to Patrick Ness's world.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar children focuses in on a teenager trying to uncover the mysteries of his grandfather's life. Common sense makes Jacob want to believe that though his grandfather's experiences were horrible and gruesome, they were in no way magical, or 'peculiar.' However, a series of mystical photographs and eerie stories from his grandfather convince him that there was something strange about his life after all. This book, with a tone reminiscent of Harry Potter, takes us on Jacob's adventure to find out the truth. It is fascinating, intriguing, and makes the reader fall instantly in love with all of the characters. This was a very fun read.
The one thing I did not like about this book was how unrealistic it is.
However, this is very much personal preference. It tilts slightly towards fantasy, a genre with which I am very picky. Nonetheless, I thought it was very well-written, and I will most likely read the following books after having read this one.
Reviewer Grade: 11
I first picked up this book expecting a lot. I was not disappointed. The Maze Runner is about a group of boys stuck at the middle of a dangerous and foreboding maze in a synthetic world. This has been the same for as long as the oldest ones can remember, but upon Thomas's arrival to the maze, strange things begin to happen. This book is full of twists and turns, and Dashner writes with an amazing aptitude for suspense and surprise. I have not read the following books yet, but I intend to, as this book was more than worth reading. I strongly recommend it, as it is powerful, suspenseful, and just downright intriguing. As of right now, it is one of my all-time favorite dystopians.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Nerve is about a coward named Vee who decides to try this game online called NERVE. In this mysterious game, you can either be a player or a watcher.
Watchers must pay money to watch, and players get paid to do dares. Vee thinks this is a stupid idea, but then begins to wonder if it actually a fun thing to do. She decides to try it out. One challenge leads to another, and the dares begin to become deadly. Should Vee risk her life for a good prize, or will she lose NERVE?
This is a great book for anyone obsessed with online games, or thrills in general. I definitely recommend this book for any thrill seekers.
Alex, Approximately is written about a young girl by the name of Bailey Rydell, who has left her past life behind to start a new one with her dad.
Bailey, otherwise known as "Mink", has left her mom and step father from Washington D.C. to live with her father in a small town in California. Her father knows about her geeky online crush, Alex, who supposedly lives in the same surfing town as Baylie. As Baylie starts her new job, a hot security guard by the name of Porter Roth irritates her, until it suddenly begins to seem cute. Should Baylie hold on to her fantasy with Alex, or try with Porter?
I think this book is completely underrated. It's an incredible book. and deserves more attention. Definitely recommend it for casual reading.
Review: The book, One Mile Under, is about a girl, who is a white water rafting guide living in Aspen, Colorado, who finds a body on one of her rafting trips. Throughout the book the girl, with some help from a few friends, tries to prove that the death of the man was no river accident while also trying to avoid being murdered herself. I chose this book because I though the title seemed interesting, and I had read some of the author's other books and liked them. The thing I liked most about this book is that it is a murder mystery, and it is very suspenseful throughout most of the book.
However, the book seemed to drag on a lot towards the end, and most of the answers to the mystery are revealed about two-thirds through the book which makes the book feel long. This book was surprising in the beginning, but by the end everything seemed pretty predictable. Overall, it was a really good book, and I would suggest reading it if you like suspenseful murder mysteries.
Serafina is a 12 year old girl who sneaks around the Baltimore Estate and gets rid of all of the rats. She has never talked to any of the people who stayed at the estate. The owners don't even know she exists! She has 4 toes on each foot and her collar bones aren't attached to the other bones.
Serafina and the Black Cloak is an amazing book with adventure family and the true meaning of friendship. I would recommend this book to all middle school readers.
I picked up this book because I saw a lot of fan art and posts about it online, and for a while I actually confused it with the "Six of Crows" series. It is DEFINITELY not the "Six of Crows" series.
"The Dream Thieves" is the second book of "The Raven Cycle" series, the first being "The Raven Boys." Now, despite the title making it sound like a cheesy love triangle YA novel, it is most definitely not. If the book was about anyone's love, it would be about the teenage rich boy's love for a dead Welsh king (just read the book it will all make sense).
The thing I loved most about "The Dream Thieves" and the series in general is that each book seems to focus on a different character and their struggles. "The Raven Boys" was a sort of combo about Noah and Adam, "Blue Lily, Lily Blue" is about Blue (or Jane if you prefer), and "The Raven King" is about Gansey. "The Dream Thieves," however, is about Ronan.
The reason I loved this book so much is because of the character development of Ronan and how we are able to see deeper inside his character. Stiefvater starts out the book blatantly stating that Ronan has secrets, and throughout the book she gradually slips either clues or foreshadowing as to what those secrets are. Maggie Stiefvater is the queen of foreshadowing (right ahead of Sarah J. Maas). She finishes it off by revealing some pretty major details about the character that will become relevant in later books (Spoiler free environment here).
I personally LOVE Ronan and many others focused on in this book as well. I loved the complexity of Kavinsky and how he wasn't just blatantly evil, but had secrets of his own as well. I also really really enjoyed The Gray Man and his character development throughout the novel. His and Maura's relationship was one of the most comical and enjoyable things about the book. Add that to the character and relationship struggles of Adam and Gansey, the novel was one of the best I've read in a while. I have little to no complaints except that I want more.
Grade: 10 Age: 15
I have read this book a total of four times and cannot get enough. The story is of teens being forced into a maze and having to think of a creative way to get out. With grievers which are the monsters that haunt the maze and thrilling action on every page it leaves me wanting more every time I read this book. I picked this book since I have a love for action and adventure movies and after hearing that this movie was coming out I decided to read the book. I enjoyed the action of the story and how much I could relate to the story. The only thing I did not like about the book is that the story line was slow or stuck at certain points during the story. It was overall very exciting and kept me up for hours. The book was moderately predictable although I was not sure whether they would or would not make it out of the maze. It was definitely one of the best books I have ever read and would highly suggest it.
Reviewer: Grade 9
To Kill a Mockingbird shows us that growing up can not always be as easy as it seems. Especially when you live in Maycomb, Alabama, and your father is a lawyer defending a black man. Scout grows up not knowing much about the real world it is not until the trial that turns the whole town upside down that she really discovers how the South is really run. I love how relatable the characters are to teenagers like us today. I love how simple the story line is and the literature is beautiful. It tells you simply how things should be, it states things blatantly through Scout's eyes. The only thing I did not like about the book is that at some points it was hard to follow the story line. Although the story is very simple it got more complex when reading further. I chose this book because I had heard from many people that this was an incredible book and decided to see for myself. The book itself did surprise me as it did have a rather twist ending that was rather unpredictable. The characters were extremely relatable, I could see that in certain situations I would have acted similarly. I would say that it is definitely one of the best book I have read this year or even ever for multiple reasons. It can relate to old and young and describes an issue that still exists today.
Reviewer Grade: 9