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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

lightning thiefAfter accidently vaporizing his pre-algebra teacher and defeating a Minotaur, Percy Jackson finds his way to a summer camp called Camp Half-Blood. There he finds out that he is a demi-god, a son of the Greek god Poseidon. He also learns that he is suspected of stealing a lightning bolt that belongs to Zeus. As Poseidon and Zeus argue over the stolen lightning bolt, Percy discovers that the only way to prevent them from starting a war is to return the lightning bolt to Zeus before the summer solstice. Percy sets off with Grover, a satyr, and Annabeth, a daughter of Athena, on a quest to find and return the lightning bolt.

I enjoyed reading The Lightning Thief. It was a fast paced adventure story, with lots of monster fighting (which was little unrealistic at times) and surprising plot twists. The best things about this book are the characters. Percy always manages to crack jokes, Annabeth is both smart and kind at the same time, and Grover is hilarious in his own way.

I would give The Lightning Thief 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Sarah P.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

trashRaphael, who is just a kid, earns a living by combing a trash dump. On one ordinary day he discovers a wallet. The following day, the police show up and search the area, looking for a wallet. Instead of handing the wallet over to the police, Raphael takes it to his cousin, Gardo, and another dumpsite boy named Rat. Together they set off on an adventure through the dirty, corrupt, unnamed third world city to discover the story behind the wallet.

Trash was an interesting read. The plot was a great idea: three dumpsite boys try to solve the mystery behind a wallet that the police are searching for. The point of views kept on switching, though, which made it hard to keep track of what was going on. The story also moved rather slowly, which made the book boring towards the end.

Overall, I would give Trash 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Sarah P.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

homsThe House on Mango Street is the coming of age story of a girl named Esperanza. At the beginning of the book, Esperanza is a young girl who plays with her sister and neighbors and gets into all sorts of mischief. As she grows into a young adult, she writes and shares poetry more often, and becomes more conscious of the people around her, including her family and the eclectic collection of neighbors who live on Mango Street. She gets a job and makes new friends, but is harassed. These things cause her to dream of owning her own house one day, one that will be better than the one on Mango Street. She continues to develop her gift of writing in the meantime.

This book contained some very interesting characters, and Esperanza is an inspiring protagonist. However, many parts of this book were so poetical that they were hard to understand, and some of the chapters didn’t seem to have anything to do with the basic plot.

Overall, I would give The House on Mango Street 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Sarah P.

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines

girlismurderIt’s 1942 in New York City. Fifteen year old Iris Anderson and her father have recently moved to the lower east side to get a fresh start after the death of Iris’s mother. Iris starts attending public school instead of her private, girls-only school. At first she struggles to fit in at public school, but soon she finds new friends. There’s even a mystery to solve at her new school: one of the boys at school has gone missing. Iris tries to solve the mystery behind his disappearance, which is only natural because her father is a private detective.


This book was a great mystery novel. I liked that this book is both a mystery and historical fiction. The author talked about WWII and used a lot of 40’s slang, which was fun to read. Iris was a great character; she was very much a normal 15 year old girl, despite her odd family and different groups of friends she hangs out with. The mystery was good too; there wasn’t murder or anything gory, but it was mature enough for teens.

I would give The Girl is Murder 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Sarah P.

A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal

a different me

A Different Me is a powerful book about Ally, a very relatable teenage girl. Just like a normal human, she has a part of her body that she is uncomfortable with; her nose. Ally is obsessed though. She stares at herself for hours, upset with the way she looks. Ally thinks the only way to help this is to get plastic surgery. If she removes a flaw from her body, she will have the confidence to do anything. Ally meets a couple of girls from a website called The Swan, where people talk about plastic surgery stuff. The girls just so happen to be relatively close to Ally, so they get together every so often, and each girl is wanting the surgery for very different reasons. Two of the three girls go under-the-knife, only one of them with a perfect surgery. Which one is Ally?


The writing is very natural, and the characters are impeccably well thought out. Read this book if you are looking for an honest, believable book about how one girl feels the pressure to be society’s version of beautiful, and if permanently changing her bone structure in her face is actually going to help that.

Reviewed by Katherine P.

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

pledgeThe Pledge is a story that keeps you on your toes and has you guessing at every turn. Derting is an excellent writer who likes to throw many curve balls at we readers. She has come up with a unique story that spices things up and will have you asking for more. This is defiantly worth the read.

 

Reviewed by Amanda J.

A Temptation of Angels

tempationA Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink is a mash up of Divergent/Mortal Instrument concepts. The story itself shines in its own way and makes for an easy read. The writing of it all makes for an astounding story. This is a great book to read between series and enjoyable for anyone who is willing to read it.

Reviewed by Amanda J.

Wanted: Dead or In Love

watneddead One day Monroe’s father comes home with an extremely valuable collector’s item, the bullets that killed Bonnie and Clyde. When Monroe accidentally cuts her finger on one of the bullet she is soon possessed by Bonnie’s spirit. Before she knows it a preppy guy soon joins in her in their predicament when he has an asthma attack and is taken over by Clyde. From then on it is a constant battle between who is in charge of their own or hosts body.

Soon Monroe and Jack get fed up with the southerners trying to take over and they have to come up with a plan to get rid of them. However the plan Monroe has, ends up having three charges of grand theft auto, letting Clyde take over Jack’s body and not to mention a 1000 mile trip they take to escape the cops.

The author’s style of writing drew me in from the first sentence,the way she words things truly make the book come alive. For nearly the entire book I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. If you are looking for a good mystery book with a hint of history than you should try reading “Wanted: Dead or in Love”.

Reviewed by Carolyne

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

neverfalldown

Never Fall Down is based on the true life story of Mr. Arn Chorn-Pond. As a young boy, he survived the Khmer Rouge communist regime and Cambodian genocide that took place from 1975 to 1979.Like they did to most other Cambodians during those years, the Khmer Rouge forced Arn and his family to leave their town. Arn and his family were then separated and sent to different labor camps.
 
On his own, Arn had to work in the rice fields along with other children his age. Later on, nearer to the fall of the regime, he was forced to fight as a child soldier. He was exposed to and forced to participate in nasty, brutal violence.  One of the better things in Arn’s life while in the camps was being able to play traditional instruments in the labor camp band. This helped Arn find favor with the Khmer Rouge officials, and allowed him to form new bonds and friendships with some of his bandmates. Through it all, Arn forced himself to never fall down, to not succumb to the exhaustion, starvation, malaria, or horror that was caused by the Khmer Rouge. Eventually Arn was able to escape to a refugee camp in Thailand, where he was adopted. 
 
Since then, Arn has been raising awareness of the Cambodian genocide, helping the people of Cambodia, and teaching youn Cambodians the traditional Cambodian arts through an organization called Cambodian Living Arts.
 
Reviewed by Sarah P.
 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

giver

Jonas has always been normal. He grows and learns at the same rate as the other children born in his year. He follows all the community rules. He lives peacefully with his family unit. He spends time volunteering in his community, just like all the other elevens do. But as the ceremony of twelve approaches, Jonas becomes apprehensive. He has no clue as to what job the elders will assign him to, even though he spent time volunteering in order to discover his talents and interests. When the ceremony arrives, Jonas, along with the rest of the community, is shocked. He is selected to be the next receiver of memories. From then on, through the training and memories given to him by The Giver, Jonas changes. He forms different opinions based on feelings, which are forbidden in the community – feelings such as peace, love, and pain. Jonas becomes unique in a society where sameness and comfort are the highest ideals, and therefore he does not fit in any longer. Ultimately, when he cannot bear living in the community any longer, he has to decide what to do about it.

If you are looking for a well written, science fiction, utopian book, you should read The Giver.

Reviewed by Sarah P.

Check out a trailer for the movie version of "The Giver" which is scheduled to be released in August or September.  Also consider the other books in "The Giver Quartet" - Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

 

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