The River – Review by Surafel

Surafel is an enthusiastic student. He shares his thoughts on the books we read in class, and happily debates topics from character motivations to history, all while being really nice to others! Enjoy his review of the classic novel, Hatchet.

After Brian’s harsh experience in the Canadian woods for forty-four days is over and he returns home, he meets a psychologist named Derek Holtzer who works at a government survival school. Derek wants Brian do go into the woods and survive so that others can follow his steps and be able to mimic his survival skills. At last, Brian and his mother say yes, but when they get to the woods, a tragedy happens. After a few days, Derek is hit by lightning and falls into a coma. Will Brian be able to use his viability to transport Derek to safety?

This book is the sequel of Hatchet, which has won the John Newbery Award. This is a dramatic and uprising book with plot twists to everything that happens. I would categorize this in adventure because Derek and Brian go on an adventure in the wilderness to learn Brian’s ways of surviving. I loved the fact that Brian had to experience what he barely lived, yet with more tragedy. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the wilderness or survival books or movies.

Warning: Traumatic flashbacks take place in this book

Among the Hidden – Review by Emily

Emily is the first up for a student book review this year. She is in my biggest class with 31 kids packed into a sunny classroom full of excited students, but her smile lights up the space even more. She is smart, a great reader, and willing to engage with interesting books, like the one she has chose to read and write about on her own!

One day, Luke’s family decides to sell the farm to the Government. Luke is forbidden to see the outside world forever.

He then discovers a secret that he must tell no one–he has finally met another one of his kind, a special girl named Jen. This flips his entire world upside down. The special girl is more than ever determined to find a way around the Law, more than Luke could ever imagine.

In this suspense filled, heart warming story, Luke realizes the true power of friendship and determination. 

This book is a must-read because it is filled with suspense and heart-melting details. When I read it, it pulled me right in and I curled up into a ball with the cliff hanging moments. Loved it!

The Secret Language of Sisters – Review by Mia Brown

0Mia is kind and funny and perceptive. She’s in my one of my biggest class of the day and still finds positive ways to stand out, making insightful comments and adding to the learning. Great to have her her to share her thoughts on a book she loves!

 

The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice51GoUvG1CeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Teenage Roo (Ruth) McCabe has everything; a great boyfriend, a loyal sister, and a great photography skills, but when Roo answers a text from her sister Tilly while she is driving, her whole world turns upside down as she hits a dog which sends her car flying into a marsh. She wakes up in a hospital bed not able to move or talk, but she can see and hear everything and everyone around her.  Only Tilly, Roo’s best friend and sister, and Newton, Roo’s boyfriend can solve the mystery of what is happening to her.

The Secret Language of Sisters is a beautiful novel with awesome characters that you just have to love. The book sucks you into the story and you won’t want to put it down. Not only is it a great book, but it teaches you the importance of not texting and driving. I recommend this book for people ages 11 and up. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you enjoy the book!

East – Review by Colette

Rose has always felt out of place in her family. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she finds love, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun. – Amazon

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East is an amazing, wonderful, gripping, just-can’t-put-it-down book! Told through multiple perspectives, this story is about a girl named Rose. Rose is creative and inquisitive girl who loves to explore and wander off, much to her mother’s dismay. Her mother Eugenia, is incredibly superstitious with birth directions (which direction you are facing when you are born), up to the point where she tempts fate. Eugenia decided that she would have 7 children. One for each point on the compass except north. When her east born child Elise dies, she has a final child – Rose. Rose develops a love of weaving and sewing. When Rose is born, the shadowy circumstances around her birth lead to her whole life and even her name being a lie.

Alright, enough intro. Let’s get to the good parts (of which there are many). When Rose is around 12, things go from bad to worse. Her family is about to be evicted from their home, and her older sister Sara is close to death. Okay, maybe not such a good part, but still a good read. A week before they are evicted, a talking white bear comes to their home and says that if he is allowed to take their youngest daughter “The one who lies near death will be made well again. And you will be no longer poor but wealthy” Rose decides to go with the white bear and is taken to a palace in a mountain. Yes, the palace is literally in a mountain. There she witnesses all sorts of magic from impenetrable darkness to secret visitors. When her curiosity becomes her undoing, she must go on a great journey to right the wrongs she caused.

As you travel with Rose on her journey, it is impossible not to root for her every step of the way! 10 out of 10, and a wonderful book for anyone who likes adventure, mystery, suspense, and fantasy!

Steelheart – Review by Keuyrbel Zewedu

IMG_20180705_134619_2Keuyrbel can’t get extra credit for doing another review or writing during the summer, so it’s extra awesome that he emailed me. He might be done with my class, but I’m hoping we’ll keep working together in the school’s drama department. He’s as adorable on stage as in his picture. Don’t let the smile fool you. His book taste can run darker, as his review shows. Enjoy!
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Shots. Cries. Screams. Blood. Death. At the First Union Bank, Deathpoint arrives unnamedand starts skeletonizing people in the bank, then Steelheart arrives. Steelheart stops Deathpoint and forces him to surrender his loyalty to him. Steelheart continues Deathpoint’s task: killing innocents. As Steelheart gets to the last 10, a man stands up, grabs a gun, and fires. Deathpoint is down, shot after trying to kill Steelheart. But Steelheart is bleeding on his cheek. Steelheart turns and, with anger, kills him with his own gun. A boy hides in a vault. Steelheart finishes killing the people and flies, commanding one of his servants, Faultline, to bury the vault. Faultine finds the boy in the vault and lets him go. Later, Steelheart turns most of Chicago into steel and calls it Newcago. That boy is 8-year-old boy David Charleson and that dead man was his father. Deathpoint, Steelheart, and Faultline were all Epics, humans granted superhuman powers by Calamity, a star. And Steelheart is invincible. Ten years later, at 18, David joins a group named the Reckoners committed to killing all Epics in the United States. Meeting them in Newcago, he gives them his research and convinces them to try to kill Steelheart. Because David knows Steelheart’s secret. David has seen him bleed. And he intends to see him bleeding again.
 
After reading Steelheart, you will feel amazed and still have that feeling for months. This book is truly a must-read, 10-out-of-10, amazing, suspenseful, and interesting book. I learned the importance of trust, safety, teamwork, security, and rebellion from incorrect methods. What I really like about this book is how David and the Reckoners are able to work as a team to help the United States. This series will be amazing once you read it. After this are books Firefight and Calamity. There is also a short story called Mitosis. I recommend for readers 10 and up. What are you waiting for? Stop reading my review and go read the books. There are 3 books in the Reckoner stories, plus a short story.

 

Leah on the Off Beat – Review by Lillian Dow Paterson

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School’s out, but we’ve got another review by Lillian.

 

Leah on the Off Beat is the amazing sequel to the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens 0062804197Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and it follows Leah, on of Simon’s three BFFs. It showcases the senior year (of high school) in Simon, Bram, Nick, Abby, and Leah. Although this book is from Leah’s perspective, it does show how different relationships from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda turn out and progress. This book is amazing, and it also helps you learn about more of the background characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda a definite must read. Embarrassing, Laugh out loud funny, beautifully written, this book shows a message similar to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it is that everyone deserves a love story, and that’s why Becky Albertalli books are so moving and inspirational.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Review by George Chang AND Lillian Dow Paterson

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This week we have the SAME book independently reviewed by TWO different students. The book was recently made into a movie called Love, Simon, which I saw with my daughter and her friend, and we all loved it. It’s  everything I loved about 80s teen movies with more diversity/true representation of the world they’re growing up in (and none of the creepily questionable depictions of women, which I didn’t notice as a teen). Great acting, great writing, great message, and now I need to check out the book!

Anyhow, the two students writing here today are George and Lillian. Lillian is a returning reviewer (her last one was for Every Last Word), and she’s still great fun and super energetic. George is new to this book review party, and he is a kind, thoughtful, determined guy with a smile that lights up a room. As we fly through the last quarter of the school year, I’m pondering how much I’ll miss then and their classmates come summer.

Everyone deserves a love story.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. -Amazon

George writes: When you read Becky Albertalli Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, there will certainly be tears, laughter, and, most importantly, realness. Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is still ‘in the closet’, is just trying to define himself, and trying to love himself for who he really is, while life just keeps on throwing obstacles in his way. How the book depicts Simon as just a normal high-schooler going through life, makes me so happy. Most times, books with a LBGTQ+ protagonist goes out of the way to center the plot about the difficulties about coming out, and coming to terms about your sexuality, but not this one. It’s a genuinely heart-warming novel, a simple and sweet romance, one that makes you smile when you think of it, one that makes you feel so happy, as if you just ate a rainbow and there’s now flowers growing within your bones. The book really stands for the rights in the community, firmly stating that only you can come out, on your own accords, and that in the end, being gay really isn’t that special. Simon asks, “Why is straight the default?” It’s so sad that even in 2018, people are still homophobic and acts viciously cruel towards gay people. Everybody, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever; this novel is truly a must-read, one that will make you think about it months after you finished it.

 

Lillian writes: Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda is a book by Becky Albertalli. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about a “Not so openly gay” teenager Simon. This is the one secret that Simon is hiding from everyone, his friends, and his family… except for one person, “Blue”, the one person who Simon trusts with everything, his sexuality, his life, and his thoughts. But… one day . . .  [note from M. Ray – I cut spoilers] Now, what will happen next in this story? Find out by reading this amazing book by Becky Albertalli. This is in my top five favorite books, and it can easily become yours, for this book is a work of art. Out of ten (one being AWFUL and ten being BEST BOOK EVER), I would rate this a 9, it’s an inspiring, funny, heartfelt book that definitely needs to go on your reading list. I definitely recommend this book to kids ages 10 and up.

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.

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!

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.