Furthermore – Review by Marcella

Marcella is enthusiastic about everything, whether it’s books, history, connecting books and history, or just chatting with her friends in the hall. Her joy is contagious and her energy boosts my sleepy morning class. Here’s what she has to say about a great book called Furthermore.

Furthermore, the first book in the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, is a twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland. Alice Queensmeadow, the main character, is albino, but lives in Fenwood, a world full of color and magic. With her bland, pale hair and milk-white skin, she is an outcast, even more so because her father, a respected member of the society and the only one who listened to what she had to say, is missing. 

The Surrender, a competition where 12-year-olds compete with their magic talents and the winner takes it all, is coming up, but Alice doesn’t know what her magical talent is. She feels that the only one who can help her is her father, and she knows in her gut that he’s still alive. Along with her frenemy neighbor, Oliver Newbanks, who won the Surrender last year with his ability to control minds, Alice goes on a journey to find her father and herself in the twisted world of Furthermore. She and Oliver must survive using their wits, courage, and determination, testing their friendship, all while keeping a dark secret from each other.

This book is very well written, filled with action, drama, and humor. Tahereh Mafi opens up the new world of Furthermore full of differences and similarities to Alice as she travels through space and time, but also to the reader, who understands that this society is not all that different from our own. As Alice and Oliver explore this new world with the readers, meeting new characters who confuse and excite. Recommended to anyone who likes fantasy books filled with color, both literally and figuratively, this book is a great read.

The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After – Review by Rebecca

Rebecca smiles so much, which is magnificent for a middle schooler (tough years!). She is positive, smart, funny, and kind. If Rebecca enrolled in a school for good and evil, she would be on the good side! Enjoy her review.

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In The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After, Sophie and Agatha are in their own respective happily ever afters. But the Storian hasn’t stopped their story. Then are they really happy? And which side will prevail? Good or Evil? Those are the thoughts the book left me with after reading only a few chapters. This book was able to make me love a character one page, and hate them the next. 

While reading this book there are some safety precautions I would like to tell you, dearest Reader. This book will make you go through a roller coaster of emotions that you didn’t know you signed up for, make you fall in love with a character with just TWO WORDS, and wonder what went wrong with your favorite character.  All of this happened within one book. Although this book may be categorized under fantasy, I believe it created a genre of its own. Terms like Good and Evil are used but their meanings disappear. Is Evil always bad? Will Good always win? I believe this book, no not this book, but the whole series will leave you with loving for both Evil and Good. 

Keeper of the Lost Cities – Review by Lily Scheckner

pasted image 0Lily is the first reviewer from my new crew of 6th graders. She is sharp, funny, and seems fascinated by everything, which makes introducing new ideas and topics to her extra fun. Her enthusiasm is abundant, as you might be able to tell from her review. Thanks for taking the time to write this, Lily!

 

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks… But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known. The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.     http://simonandschusterpublishing.com/keeper-of-the-lost-cities

 

WARNING: This book series is severely addictive!91feMZ4LegL

This series is not only a beautiful blend of fantasy, magic, and mystery, it includes funny little bits of regular teenage life: crushes, awkwardness, school and even overprotective parents. This makes the characters all the more relatable, and really helps bring the books to life.

Sophie Foster, the amazing protagonist, is the only elf (and no, they don’t work for Santa) with brown eyes and incredible powers. She is ripped away from the world as she knows it and must live in society where everything is perfect… At least that’s how it seems. Even as she begins to settle into life as an elf, making friends and even getting some adoptive parents, a nefarious plot stirs under the surface. Glittering jewels and dazzling riches conceal a secret, so deep and horrible that the elves have kept it hidden for generations. And when Sophie discovers it, her enemies are not happy.

Not only is Sophie an intricate and beautiful character, so are her friends and family. One of the things that makes this story so amazing is the complexity of every single character. All of them have their own unique quirks and their own unique faults, and that’s what makes them perfect.

I strongly recommend this series to people of every age. I have introduced it to 4 or so people, and now they are all diehard fans! However, I think it would be best for kids ages 9 – 14, because there is some violence in the later books. It is still, however, very sweet series that would be good for anyone! Thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoy Keeper of the Lost Cities!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Review by Samar

Photo on 11-9-15 at 8.35 PMThis is Samar’s second review on the blog, and I’m thrilled to have a repeat customer. We’re a month from the end of school and I can honestly say I’ll miss having Samar in class. Sweet, funny, kind, and “wicked smaaht” as my Boston cousins might say, she’s a pleasure to see every day. And she seems to be into my Shakespeare unit, which makes me endlessly happy.

 

51t8MOm-ZnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.” (goodreads.com)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a marvelous book about four friends experiencing their last few weeks of high school. The book is a spin on one of my personal favorite TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the “Indie” kids are off fighting vampires and strange immortals with blue lights for eyes, Mikey, Jared, Henna, and Mel have their minds set on graduating high school. This book, as Patrick Ness would say, is about finding “the extraordinary in the ordinary.” What I especially love about this book is that no character is good or bad. They all have their flaws, but they also each have something unique that makes each character special and well developed. This book really makes you think and wonder about each and every sentence. Every page reveals a new surprise and something else to consider. It was impossible to put down. There is much beyond the surface of the plot. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a heart-warming story that will change your ways of thinking.

 

The Way of Kings – Reviewed by Alex

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Alex, reviewer, 8th grader

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Way of Kings cover

The Way of Kings is a high fantasy novel that follows a large cast of characters, including artists, historians, assassins, and various members of the royal family. However, it is mainly focused on Kaladin, a surgeon’s son and once-renowned military captain who has now hit rock bottom. Sold as a slave, the reader follows Kaladin as he tries to survive as a bridgeman, a person who, unarmed and unprotected, is forced to carry bridges at the frontline of battles so the military can cross chasms.

The Way of Kings is one of the rare books that has elements of so many types of novels, and yet never feels disjointed. With both wit and toilet humor, despair, war, romance, philosophy, magic, and science, The Way of Kings is one of the most all encompassing books that I’ve ever read. Despite being only the first book in a ten book series, it wrapped up many themes and issues nicely and didn’t leave on many cliffhangers.The characters are very well developed and complex, and their struggles felt so real. It also included flashbacks to the protagonist’s earlier years, which not only made him relatable to middle schoolers (like me!), but also helped people realize where he was coming from and why he felt the loathing and sadness he did. Sometimes, I would be reading it in a room full of people, and it was all I could do to not shout at some of the love-to-hate characters. Heck, I sometimes shouted anyway.

But why is The Way of Kings so good, you ask? What makes it better-than-oreos awesome? For me, it’s actually something that could make or break the book for other people: the world building. The world building is ridiculously well planned and well developed. There are different religions, races, even a different ecosystem from Earth. And it’s all explained concisely. The world is very unique, and it doesn’t follow the Tolkien-esque trope of white elves in the Medieval era. In fact, all of the characters in The Way of Kings are people of color, with the exception of one. The different kingdoms have their own unique cultures, too. If you don’t like world building though, you should probably skip this book. However, despite The Way of Kings’ massive length (1,252 pages in the US paperback edition) it doesn’t read like a long book. It isn’t tedious, and if even if it seems a bit daunting to begin with, I would  give it a shot. The action is fast-paced and interesting to read, the supporting characters are lovable and unique despite not being the main focus, and it’s really suspenseful to see how the politics play out. And the plot twists! My god, the page-turning, mind-blowing plot twists! Also, the discussion of philosophy in it is very thought-provoking and engaging. The only bone to pick I have with The Way of Kings is that one character is almost ridiculously honorable and his good morals are just sometimes unbelievably strong. However, he’s very endearing and lovable, and it’s somewhat impossible to not root for him.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has already read fantasy, whether they’ve been introduced to YA fantasy or any form of adult fantasy. It probably wouldn’t be the greatest starter to the genre, but if it sounds like it would be up your alley, go ahead! If you think you’ll like it, you probably will. However, be warned that The Way of Kings contains content that could be troubling, specifically regarding depression, suicide, and violence. If these things bother you, I would not recommend reading the book. One thing I did appreciate is that the book portrays mental illness in a very realistic way, which is something that I feel like many novels, especially fantasy novels, often don’t do. It does a very good job handling the content matter. Overall, what did I think? The Way of Kings deserves five out five shiny, golden stars. Actually, it deserves six out of five stars. It’s by far the best book I’ve read all year, and it’ll be one of my favorites in the many years to come.