Category Archives: Student Review

Student Review: Julie M: The Lives We Lost by

Author Megan Crewe 

Published: February 12, 2013

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

10 Reasons You Should Read The Lives We Lost

1. The cover gives a great description of the setting of the book. In this book it is the middle of winter and most people have died from this rapidly spreading virus.

2. Surreal. Imagine that everyone you know is suddenly dying from this terrible disease and there is no cure and you can’t do anything about it. It would lead you to do some bizarre things in order to stay alive and save your loved ones.

3. Kaelyn and Gav. These two teens have been dating for about a year and their love for each other intensifies during the outbreak of the disease. They stick together and through out the story you can see how much they really care about each other. It keeps them together during the tough times they go through.  When Gav suddenly becomes sick with the disease Kaelyn loses all hope and there is nothing else she can do except watch her love die.

4. Kaelyn and Leo. They were best friends even before the disease broke out. They have a strong connection and they even kiss each other while Kaelyn is still dating Gav. Gav never finds out but through out the book Leo and Kaelyn have moments of connection and they truly do care about each other. Kaelyn becomes conflicted because Gav gets sick and she has feelings for Leo at the same time.

5. It makes you think. You never know, a disease could break out and kill millions of people. It really makes you think about what you would do in this situation if you were a survivor. The group or survivors in this book break into peoples houses and steal their cars, clothes, beds, and food. They even end up killing people.

6It leaves you hanging. They are trying to find someone who can help them duplicate the vaccine to help save people. They have traveled to many places and have had many false hopes. The book ends with them deciding to go to Atlanta and Gav barley hanging onto life.

7. The Wardens. Not all of the people left in the world are trying to help other people like Kaelyn and her friends are. The Wardens are a group of people who are only looking out for themselves and are hunting Kaelyn and her friends. They constantly have to be on the look out for the and it keeps the readers on their toes.

8. Adventure. Kaelyn, Gav, Leo, Tessa, and Meredith all once lived on an island. It became so infected with the disease that the military starts blowing it up in order to kill all of the sick people. In order to survive, they have to walk all the way to Ottawa in the middle of the winter with limited supplies.

9. The Fallen World Trilogy.  The Lives We Lost is just the second book in a trilogy of suspenseful books. The action continues once they reach Atlanta.

10. Anika. She used to be apart of The Wardens until Kaelyn and he friends decide to let her into their group. But the real question is if the can trust her or not.

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Student Review: Kiley D.: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Fiction
Publishing Date: March 19, 2009 
Publishing CompanyPenguin Group (USA) Incorporated


Summary (Goodreads):

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secrets,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
 


Review: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is an amazing book that just sucks the reader into the story. I really enjoyed it because many books have been written about anorexia, but never from the perspective of the person who actually has the eating disorder. The book really sheds a light on what people with eating disorders are actually thinking and going through. It doesn’t sugarcoat the problems that come along with anorexia, and Laurie Halse Anderson does a great job of showing the reality of eating disorders and how the family and the person with the disorder cope with the issues they are going through. I would definitely recommend this book to someone else as I really enjoyed reading it myself. But I would not recommend Wintergirls to a younger child to read as it is a very serious and covers a deep topic that a younger child might not understand.

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Student Review: Lauren L: Graceling by Kristen Cashore


Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Copyright © 2008 Harcourt. Fantasy.

This is the first of three books in the Graceling Realm Series, and precedes  Fire and Bitterblue

Summary (Back Cover): Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight- she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As the niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace- or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…

Review: I was lucky enough to find this book at Barnes and Noble at noon a few weeks ago, and I finished it by 6:30 pm that night. This book is rather lengthy (471 pages), but I didn’t finish it quickly because it was an easy read, I finished it in record time because I couldn’t put it down. Personally, I love reading fantasy books that include kingdoms, strategy and conspiracies, and Graceling was the perfect combination of the three. Kristin Cashore did a fantastic job of  filling her book to the brim with creativity from the names of the characters to the plot. I became a little too emotionally attached to the main characters, Katsa and Po, but that made the book that much more enjoyable for me. This novel is not written at a third grade level, but its non-threatening text allows for a wide variety of people to read it, and I highly recommend it to anybody that is intrigued by castles and fantasy.

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Student Review: Anna S.: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.



Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green

 

Publisher: Dutton Books
Published: January 1st 2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Summary (from the cover flap): 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.  
Review:
          I am currently rereading The Fault in Our Stars for the third time and I don’t know if I’ll finish it.  Not because it is a bad book. Heaven knows that The Fault in Our Stars is not a bad book.  If fact, The Fault in Our Stars (let’s shorten it to TFIOS, shall we?) is likely one of the best books I will ever read in my life.  John Green managed to convey the story of Hazel Grace is such a beautiful way the strikes me right to the core.  This book makes me feel a array of emotions, but more than anything it makes me cry.  It makes me cry for a million different reasons.  While reading TFIOS I 1) cry because I am upset, 2) cry because this book makes me wish I was a better person, 3) cry because this book makes me wish other people were better people, but 4) mostly I cry because of how beautiful the story is, and how beautiful its theme’s are.  Can you guess why I might not finish this book again? It’s because it makes me cry so much.


        Sobbing Staab aside, this book is phenomenal.  Never, ever, has a book stuck with me as much as this book has.  I first read it ages ago, right around the time it was published (the beginning of 2012), but I live life the way I do because of this book.  As mentioned before, the theme’s throughout this novel are immense.  From acknowledging that sometimes life sucks but you have to make the best of it or from how people to often leave negative marks upon this world, the theme’s in this novel are not only thought provoking, but (at least to me) life changing.  I’ve spent countless days and nights thinking about quotes from this book and what they mean to me, and I know I will keep on doing this until the day I die.  Sometimes books do that.  They stay with you long after you’ve read the last word. TFIOS is one of those books.

        You might be thinking “I don’t want to cry” or “I don’t want to read a depressing book”, but this book is more than just a sad story. It’s not just a cancer story.  It’s a story of two teenagers living their life.  Hazel Grace is a funny and snarky narrator who feels like a long lost best friend, and Augustus Waters is the prince of this story.  And oh my goodness, what a prince he is.  If nothing else you should read this book so you can get to know Augustus Waters.   If you think that you will never have a crush on a fictional character then read TFIOS and let Augustus Waters prove you wrong.

Did I mention that this book is getting made into a movie? Yep.  And by the looks of the first trailer it is going to be a pretty amazing one too.  So what are you doing? Read this book. Laugh. Cry. Then watch the movie and laugh and cry a little more. Trust me, it’s good fun! 🙂


      

I’ll end this review with a fantastic quote from the book that basically sums up all of my feelings in one neat little sentence:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
         -John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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Student Review by Lauren L.: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The DivinersTitle: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 18, 2012
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Series: The Diviners #1
The 2nd book in the series, Liar of Dreams is expected to be published March 11, 2014.
Summary (from inside cover): Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Lauren’s Review: Normally I stay away from any kind of frightening text, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved everything about it from its suspenseful tone, to the setting in the roaring twenties in New York City. In this novel, many dark, twisted things occur. It seems as though innocent people are murdered every other chapter, and the well-written but graphic images can be too much to handle at times. For these reasons, I do not recommend this book for the  faint of heart. However, thrill seekers will be captivated by the horrifying tone, and unlike me, they will sleep comfortably without any nightmares. Regardless of its length (523 pages), I could not put this book down.  When I learned that the second book in the series, Liar of Dreams has not yet been released,  I was frustrated because my urge to continue this story was and is insatiable. This novel made me feel uncomfortable at times, but the paranormal occurrences were just enough to keep me turning the next page.

 

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Student Review by Tyani J.: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefTitle: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: September 2005

Summary (from Goodreads): Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Tyani’s Review: I must admit, I am a bit of a WWII fan, that may sound strange but it is the only event in history that really fascinates me. I’m going to tell you right off the bat, this story does not have a happy ending, you shouldn’t be surprised; its a story set in WWII. This story is narrated by Death. It was strange at first and I couldn’t really wrap my brain around that concept. But after 550 pages, is it weird to say I felt as though he was an old friend? I’m going to say it anyway. The way that the author personifies Death grants you a chance to reevaluate your viewpoint on death. At the same time you are following the devastating story of Liesel Meminger (and my favorite character, her best friend Rudy). I thought everything about this book was absolutely flawless. I came to love each and every character, even the mother who I thought I would never like. I should have seen it coming that they were not destined to live happily ever after, yet my heart was still demolished after turning the final page. I could go on for ages about how much I enjoyed this book, but I will leave it at: This book is perfection. I look forward to having it on my own personal bookshelf to revisit countless times in the future.

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Student Review by Tyani J.: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold StillTitle: Hold Still

Author: Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Published: October 2009

Summary (from Goodreads): An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, froma breakthrough new voice in YA fiction dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.
Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself

Tyani’s Review: As many would say, a book about suicide is not one I would normally pick up. That being said, I am so glad I did. I think this book is mildly related to The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky, at least the realness of it. The writing of this book is so natural and not forced at all. It was devastating but at the same time you finish the book with newfound hope. It was a beautiful story that I would recommend to everyone. Read it, even if you don’t think you are the “suicidal-book-type” I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Student Review by Tyani J.: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsTitle: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books

Published: June 12, 2012

 

Summary (from Goodreads): Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind
Tyani’s Review: John Green; I’ve reviewed nearly all of his books but I don’t think any combination of the 26 letters in the alphabet can come close to describing how perfect this book was. TFIOS was the first John Green book I had the pleasure to read; I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. This book will take your emotions for a ride that is most definitely not a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend. If you have read Looking for Alaska, that one smashed your heart into a bajillion pieces, but TFIOS will take those pieces, set them ablaze, and feed the ashes to the wind. It is a book full of pain and hope and it is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. The character development is beautifully planned out so that by the end of the book, you feel as though you were right there with Hazel and Augustus as they went on their adventure. John Green has created another masterpiece that is definitely worth the tears.

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Student Review by Tyani J.: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerTitle: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books
Published: 1999
Summary (from Goodreads): Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Tyani’s Review: Relatable. If I had to sum up this book in one word, that would be it. I have never been able to relate so deeply to any other book than I have to this one. And that says something, considering I get emotionally attached to every single character in all the books I read. I don’t know Chbosky’s life, I don’t know what he has gone through to make him write out my life story in 213 pages, but he managed to do just that. He was able to make Charlie such a relatable character by writing the truth of what happens in high school, without sugarcoating anything. He wrote a story for the underdogs, the teenagers that everyone fails to remember. The events and the feelings that go on in Charlie’s life are so real, that in one way or another everyone can relate to them. This book managed to make me feel like I wasn’t alone in the things I’m going through, even though Charlie is a fictional character. It probably wasn’t the most well written story, but written as it was from the perspective of a freshman boy, it was a masterpiece.

 

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Student Review by Jordan S.: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet

Pillars of the EarthTitle: Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follet
Publisher: NAL Trade

Published: 2002

Summary (from Goodreads): As a new age dawns in England’s twelfth century, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral sets the stage for a story of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal. It is in this rich tapestry, where kings and queens are corrupt – and one majestic creation will bond them forever.

Jordan’s Review: The book Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, is definitely not a book for everyone. It is set in the 1100s and follows the family of Tom Builder. They must roam around England, trying to find work for Tom and his son Alfred while also trying to feed his pregnant wife Agnes and their daughter Martha. While this book seems to be very historically accurate, some parts can be extremely dry, especially when the author deviates from the plot and explains a historical event that took place at the time, or when he explains about something pertaining to the time period. I enjoyed learning more about how it was like then and the conditions people had to deal with. It was definitely easy to see how people could become corrupt and immoral even in a world where religion was the most important thing. The characters have to deal with making decisions that can affect everyone, even if it’s the right thing, but more often than not the wrong thing. The author shows how family values do not always apply, and one must do things that make them happy, though they may be selfish.

I can say that I did enjoy this book, but it was very difficult for me to get through. The author was able to expand the plot and draw it out over a very long period of time, and this was good for explaining everything that was happening to each character (there were quite a few characters that had stuff going on), but this also confused me in some parts. In order to really understand what was going on, I had to read slowly and make sense of it all before I moved on. There were some dynamics of the book, that were only confusing because they do not apply to the world now, that I had to figure out because they were unknown to me until that point. Another thing that may be a problem about the book is that it’s very disturbing in some parts. If you don’t like books that deal with graphic things, then you shouldn’t read it. At the end of the book I felt like I had accomplished something because of the length and also because Follett was able to wrap up the plot very well. Almost every single one of my questions was answered, and I knew what happened to all the characters and where they ended up in the future.

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