Shadow House – Review by Campbell Stoughton

-1Campbell is thoughtful, reflective, and sweet. She’s in the class that likes to “huzzah” when good things happen, and she always smiles at it with a mix of “this is so funny” and “I can’t believe this is happening”. It’s a great expression. Campbell always has great ideas, both on paper and when sharing with a group, so I’m thrilled she chose to share her book review with you.

 

Some houses are more than just haunted… they’re hungry. Dash, Dylan, Poppy, Marcus, and Azumi don’t know this at first. They each think they’ve been summoned to Shadow House for innocent reasons. But there’s nothing innocent about Shadow House. Something within its walls is wickedly wrong. Nothing — and nobody — can be trusted. Hallways move. Doors vanish. Ghosts appear. Children disappear. And the way out? That’s disappeared, too… Enter Shadow House… if you dare.”  –Amazon

 

Creepy ghosts that are dressed up as dolls trying to capture you, what’s better? Well, the-gathering-shadow-house-book-1-maybe being able to find the way out of a haunted house that has no exit. Dash, Dylan, Poppy, Marcus, and Azumi have been summoned to Shadow House for a variety of reasons that they think are real. Shadow House: The Gathering is a horror fiction book that gets graphic at times making it PG-13. Asides from that, this book is the perfect pick for people who love to read imaginative horror and don’t get scared very easily. You’ll also love this book if you like things along the lines of trapped spirits, solid ghosts, dolls filled with ash, dolls that have been decapitated, mirrors on fire, a hungry haunted house, and death. If not, well, that’s really to bad because it also includes lots of adventure, mystery, and cliff hangers which will leave you on the edge of your seat wanting to know more. In the end, this is a great book worth reading for all of its wonderful features.

Advertisements

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Review by Mia Levings

Autumn_Leaves_36Mia is an unassuming, sweet, reflective young lady who I never would have guessed would be a powerhouse on the stage, but she is! In December, I went to support a friend appearing in a play, and on walked Mia playing a bratty, rude, loud character — the exact opposite the kid I’d seen in class every day for months. An entertaining surprise! You can’t judge kids based on their in-class reserve, and you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or maybe you can, because since Miss Peregrine popped up on shelves (at the exact same time as Falling for Hamlet, as I recall), it looked intriguing, mysterious, and scary. Let’s see what Mia’s got to say about it.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. – Amazon

missperegrine_334x518Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the best book that I’ve read (so far) ever. Adventure, World War 2, monsters and very, very peculiar children – one of the best combinations ever. Set in modern times (Florida, USA), teenager Jacob Portman has always felt a little out of place. (I know that sounds like a cliche, but trust me, this is good.) With his grandfather getting older and his childhood dreams of being a world famous explorer fading from memory, Jacob is just getting settled into the normal life of anything and everything boring. But when a terrible and unbelievable “incident” happens, Jacob realizes that his grandfather’s old childhood stories might be a bit more real than he expected. This book is truly amazing, but just a warning it is a bit scary and creepy, so if that’s not your type you might want to read something else. Also it’s a series of three and there’s a movie, all great. Happy reading!

Every Last Word – Review by Lillian Dow Paterson

IMG_9818

Lillian joined my class midyear, which is not  the easiest thing to do. Some kids are intimidated by the pace, the style, or the fact that a class can be like a family — quirky and individual — but Lillian came in confident and ready to go! She’s got great ideas and is all-in when it comes to reading, trying new things, and working with groups. I’m delighted that she’s jumped into the book review fray, as well, and has introduced me (and maybe you) to a new novel.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off. Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.  – Amazon

Every Last Word is a novel by Tamara Ireland Stone. Every Last Word is about a highevery-last-word school junior named Samantha McAllister. Samantha was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) at age ten and has struggled with it constantly. She swims and goes to a shrink (therapist) named Sue.  On one fateful day she meets Caroline and her whole world changes, Caroline is the only one who truly understands her, Caroline introduces her to the Poets Corner and Samantha starts to feel normal and drenched out of the thoughts that tantalize and taunt her day on. She begins to stand up to the harshness of her so-called friends. She begins to see a new world, a better world forming around her. Among her new friends is AJ, Andrew Olsen who she previously chastised because of his past stutter. The two begin to start a romantic relationship, even though her “popular friends” don’t seem to approve of the two. Along with this, her poetry processes and becomes better and better. Every Last Word is a fabulous book that I would recommend for everyone to read.  Warning: Some content may not be appropriate for younger children.

The Good Earth – Review by Maggie Megosh

hogwartsMaggie is the rare repeat-review-customer, and I’m thrilled to welcome her back. She is still a darling and smart as a whip. The Good Earth is being read in her English class (I teach a literature course — yes, English and Lit. are different at our school), and their class delved into the book’s literary structure, history, and the topic of cultural appropriation. This book symbolizes the difference in taste and teaching topics that my teammate and I have, which is an ongoing joke between us. I’m thrilled that Maggie and many others continue to enjoy the book with Ms. Rowe.

Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck’s epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Oprah Book Club selection about a vanished China and one family’s shifting fortunes. In The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century. — Amazon

Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth shows how lucky we are to live on this earth. How good the51zRzieodBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_ earth is to us, if you will. Through The Good Earth, Chinese culture is highlighted throughout the late 1800s and the early 1900s by Pearl Buck, who was an American missionary at this time. The story is set in such an important time in Chinese history; revolutions and rebellions are occurring as China’s government system is changing. Wang Lung, a farmer and the main character in The Good Earth, is enjoying his life while also struggling with the hardships that are destroying his fields. All of the hardships that are highlighted in The Good Earth, such as famine, floods, and locusts occurred in China during this time. Not only does The Good Earth highlight difficulties involving the geography, but the difficulties in maintaining a satisfying life. Wang Lung struggles with finding the equilibrium of family, farming, and luxury. He is taken on a journey with meeting new people and learning new things. If you enjoy historical fiction, this is a book you would enjoy along with if you enjoy books about the Chinese culture. This book is a little difficult to plow through, and there will be moments where you hate Wang Lung, but in the end, it is definitely worth it, as it enhances your knowledge on the Chinese culture.

 

Green Bicycle Book – Review by Mckinley Jovanovic

v48n1green-bike-lgMckinley is sincere, intelligent, open-minded, and dramatic (in the best way possible — confident, expressive, verbal, and interested in theater). She brings energy to our class discussions, and is passionate about justice, a major theme of our studies.

“Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.” – Amazon

 

21936967The Green Bicycle is a book that brings awareness to different  cultures and what many people, like our heroine Wadjda, go through. Wadjda is faced with a difficult challenge that comes from being a girl in Saudi Arabia. She is best friends with a boy and always wanted to race him with a bike of her own. One day she sees a green bicycle in the window of a storefront and is determined to get it. Meanwhile Wadjda’s mother has been unable to have another child which her father desperately wants because without a son his family name will die out. Though he loves his wife he has the option of starting a harem, but women can only have one husband and Wadjda’s mother couldn’t divorce him. She would be the subject of pity to all. This book is very interesting because it shows how people, especially girls, can persevere and do whatever they want to if they put their minds to it. The Green Bicycle is an amazing eye opener to everyone and it’s cliffhangers and perfect ending had me up into late at night because I couldn’t put it down.

The Fault in our Stars – Review by Charlotte Lucas

Image result for singapore skylineCharlotte Lucas, a literary young lady with a literary name. Charlotte writes well, thinks well, reads well, and is kind. She’s unassuming and on the quiet side, but when you get her sharing a thought on paper or aloud, whether with the whole group or in a pair, prepare to be impressed. She’s recommending a book that seems very much like her: sweet and deep and funny.

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.”                — Amazon

 

Every child deserves to read a book of truth like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.Image result for the fault in our stars book cover The Fault In Our Stars is about a girl named Hazel coping with her inevitable death. She’s lost her childhood from her battle of cancer, she takes college courses at the age 16, and doesn’t have any close friends. I truly recommend this book because in American culture it isn’t normal to talk about cancer and death so openly. Through Hazel’s perspective the reader finds a new way to think about live. This book is known to slowly mesmerize you with the live performance inside your head. It’s astounding to say that some teenagers don’t like this book because it is so open about topics that have a stigma surrounding them. Reality is always there, and hating or avoiding what you don’t like won’t make it go away. Teenagers that are staying with the comfortable topics aren’t doing any favor to themselves, and the story of Hazel and Augustus is one you can take with you for the rest of your lives. Hazel is a human and she wants to live, even if it may not be presented that way in some parts of the book. The last reason I’d recommend this book it because it isn’t just a drama like it is sometimes advertised. Adventure, comedy, and romance are very pivotal, and balance the tone of the story throughout the book. This way, there’s something to enjoy for everyone. The best type of reader for this book is someone who can deal the pain of stories without becoming upset, but also needs the closure at the end of the tale. People develop this as they get older, so I would say you should be around twelve. Though there are some moments that are inappropriate for younger children, sometimes it’s very heavy on romance and drama. In my opinion, everyone should read The Fault In Our Stars to get another perspective on life as we know it. Yes, there is a fault in everyone’s stars, but it is shown that we are not the fault in them.

Nine, Ten – Review by Maggie Megosh

hogwarts

Maggie comes to class bright-eyed and ready to learn every day.  She asks great questions, shares insightful comments, and (note the image she submitted instead of a photo) loves Harry Potter, which brings her closer to my heart. Here she reviews a book of an event that happened before she was born, but which, for adults, is still too fresh in memory. I’m glad to see a new generation understanding what the big deal was about 9/11. As Maggie says in her review, children see everything. They’re taking in what we say and do, and we must be mindful of our messages and actions, and celebrate the young people growing up as readers and thinkers.

“From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a “tense…and thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.” – From Amazon

61qogjhxgulChildren see everything, we really do, and the book Nine, Ten is able to capture what specific children saw in the days that led up to 9/11. The book Nine, Ten is centered around four children’s lives; Aimee, Will, Naheed and Seigo. Their lives are all very different which is seen in the days leading up to September 11th; September 9th and 10th. They are seen doing everyday things such as going to school and hanging out with friends, but as the events of 9/11 unfold, the four kids’ stories begin to intertwine. Nora Raleigh Baskin, the author puts what people said about the morning of 9/11 (“it was a perfect day”) into reality as the author described the clear skies. It was also different and interesting to see kids my age noticing this event and the ways that they knew it would change history, even though they didn’t always know what was happening. Learning about our country’s history by looking into the lives of young kids experiencing it has been very rich and engaging, which is another reason that I recommend this book. Finally, I learned how to be a decent human from all of the actions displayed by the kids before 9/11. Since the kids spend time dealing with their changing families, it is compelling to see reactions to these everyday things and the reactions to the attacks. This book is great if you love historical fiction and realistic fiction, as it is a combination on the two. September 11th changed our lives, and throughout this story, I was able to see why.