Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Reviewer: Abby I.
Review: The beginning of this story reads as a contemporary with an urban fantasy aspect introduced later in the story. This novel follows Alice Proserpine as she and her classmate Finch work together to rescue Alice’s mother after she was captured and taken to the Hinterland, a fairy-tale land in which Alice’s grandmother Althea’s story is set. For all her life, bad luck seemed to follow Alice and her mother Ella. When Alice’s reclusive grandmother dies alone in her estate, The Hazel Wood, Ella believes their bad luck is behind them. That is until Ella is stolen away into the supernatural world of Hinterland, leaving only a message to Alice behind: “Stay away from The Hazel Wood.” Alice, along with the help of her classmate Ellery Finch, embarks on a journey to rescue her mother from the Hinterland and to try to stop everything from going horribly wrong.
Featured Quote: “Look until the leaves turn red, Sew the worlds up with thread, If your journey’s left undone, Fear the rising of the sun.”
Recommended To: Fairy tale lovers.
Title: The Hazel Wood
Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Reviewer: Kate S.
Review: Will, a confused teen, is conflicted on whether or not to avenge the shooting of his older brother Shawn. He plans for days his approach, on how to shoot the guy who killed his brother, the only thing is Will’s never shot a gun before let alone killed a guy. So then it’s time for him to go through with it and Will gets on the elevator. As he is on his way down he is visited by all the ghosts of people he has lost in the past to shootings, including Shawn. Each one of them gives him different advice but never a distinct answer. This shows him how alone he really is both to make this decision and in real life. He takes all of this into consideration for his final decision of what he’s going to do with the man that killed his brother. To find out what he does you’ll have to read the book – Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Featured Quote: “Buck pressed his finger to my chest like he was pushing an elevator button. The L button. But you ain’t got it in you, Will, he said, cocky. Your brother did, but you- you don’t. I FELT LIKE CRYING which felt like another person trapped behind my face tiny fists punching the backs of my eyes feet kicking my throat at the spot where the swallow Starts. Stay put, I whispered to him, Stay strong, I whispered to me. Because crying is against The Rules.”
Recommended To: Lovers of suspense.
Title: Phantom Limbs
Author: Paula Garner
Review: In the book Phantom Limbs Otis has a huge crush on his next door neighbor Meg. But after a tragic incident, Meg moves. The next 3 years of Otis’ life is pretty hard. He still can’t get over the death of his brother Mason. But he does make a new friend, Dara. Dara pushes him to swim and trains him every day to get him to the Olympics. Then all of a sudden after 3 years of no contact Meg is coming back to visit. Otis finds out that Meg has changed and he has to find out why she moved and what ever happened to their relationship. During her visit Otis experiences many different emotions. He ends up going on many adventures with her and they have many deep talks and arguments. Find out more about Otis’ adventure in the book Phantom Limbs.
Featured Quote: “My dreams were of beginnings without endings.”
Recommended To: Anyone who likes drama.
Title: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West
Reviewer: Metabel A.
Review: An aspiring singer/songwriter, Lily finds herself focusing on her dreams and hopes, instead of high school boys even though one of her friends insists on setting her up with somebody. And as Lily was secretly crushing on a senior she tells her friend that no one could possibly be interested in quirky, awkward, dork like her. Besides having an odd sense of humor that not most people understand, Lily has a habit of doodling lyrics in her notebook in chemistry class, and one day, her notebook gets taken away by her teacher after she was caught doodling. Not caring about her notebook, instead, Lily doodles lyrics from her favorite song on her desk, only to find out the next day that she had an anonymous reply. Soon after, letters go back and forth between her, and the mysterious person that gets her humor, has the same test in music as her and takes her as she is. Though her pen pal is a mystery to her, Lily takes a step forward into knowing who the person is and letting time reveal all the things she needs to know about him.
Featured Quote: “You’re my favorite way to pass the time. But time stands still when you’re on my mind.”
Recommended To: Readers who like high school/mystery type of books
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Reviewer: Joely Metz
Review: **Contains Spoilers** Eleanor & Park is a romance novel with adventure in it. Eleanor is the new girl the unknown quantity. She has a broken home life and shattered past. Then she meets Park and at first he hates her. He thinks she is big and strange. But after a while, they become friends. Then they fall in love. At home Eleanor’s stepfather is cruel and abusive but she forgets every bad feeling she ever felt when she is with Park. She lets herself free-fall into his world and wants to stay there. But as their relationship grows, things at home get worse and worse for Eleanor. Reality has caught up with them and is winding up to punch them in the face. They don’t know if their love will survive what is above to hit them, but they are willing to try. In short, Eleanor & Park is a book about love and it’s a book about life. It’s about how love is strange, beautiful, complicated, and how life isn’t perfect. How love can’t solve all of life’s problems, but it can give temporary relief. Out of 5, I would call Eleanor and Park a 10. I am very picky with books but this had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I even forgot that I was reading. I felt everything that Eleanor and Park felt. I fell in love with them, just like they fell in love with each other.
Featured Quote: “It was like their lives were overlapping lines, like they had their own gravity. Usually, that serendipity felt like the nicest thing the universe had ever done for her.”
Recommended To: I would recommend this book to everyone.
Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Reviewer: Emmanuella S.
Review: A long time classic, Little Women has been touching the hearts of many for centuries. The story follows the four March sisters who, now that their father has left for war, must learn to come together and care for their mother as well as the house while he’s away. However, with such contrasting personalities, the sisters find it hard to see eye to eye most of the time. Jo, or Josephine March, is the protagonist of the story as the book is told through her narration. She is a tomboy and wants nothing to do with romance. Rather than being married off, she considers holding the family together while her father is at war of much greater importance. Beth March, the third oldest, and the shyest of the bunch keeps to herself. She tries everything in her power to please others and exhibits an affinity for music, as she plays the piano very well. Margaret March is the oldest of the sisters. She is as responsible as she is kind, and cares for her sisters as though she were their own mother. And finally Amy March, the youngest of the bunch. She is an artist and has quite the eye for pretty things. She is vain, and often catches herself in the midst of her fits of temper, but she tries everything to improve her character. This Alcott classic, with the use of this heartwarming as well as tear-jerking tale, demonstrates a story about sacrifice and love, shows us that togetherness is key, and even among the people who have witnessed the worst in you, somehow always know how to bring out the best.
Recommended To: All who love the classics and love a book that is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking.
Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Reviewer: Thais Maldonado
Review: Other than being a child prodigy, Colin Singleton is a unique kid. For example. he prefers to only date girls with the name Katherine. He also informs other of random facts which aren’t really interesting. His best friend, Hassan, lets him know what is okay to say in front of others. After Katherine number 19 dumps Colin, he becomes depressed. What better way to get over a breakup than going on a road trip? Hassan and Colin go to Gunshot, Tennessee. During this trip Colin tries to create a mathematical formula that is capable of predicting how long a relationship will last. Hassan and Colin go on adventures, such as, hunting down pigs and getting stung by hornets. The theme is love comes in all shapes and sizes. Throughout his life Colin is persistent in finding a girl named Katherine he can love. However, by the end of the book he falls in love with a girl whose name isn’t Katherine. She is quite different from Colin’s usual preference. Colin realizes not everything can be predicted from a formula. Although the constant mentioning of math can get quite boring, the personalities of the characters make up for it. The friends Colin make in Tennessee are outgoing, interesting, and nothing like the few friends he has back home in Chicago.
Recommended To: I would recommend this book to curious and adventurous people.
Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks
Reviewer: Emmanuella S.
Review: The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks is a psychological thriller that will have you at the edge of your chair with each page. In the book, we follow Linus Weems, a homeless teenage boy who is used to the cruelties of living out in the streets. One night he takes it upon himself to do something out of his character and helps out a blind stranger, who ends being his captor and holds him hostage in an underground shelter or ‘bunker’. Subsequently, five other victims follow him, each with their own stories, but united by one desire, their indubitable need to leave the place that imprisons them. However, with each ‘test’ their abductor begins to put them through, loyalties start being questioned. Secrets become uncovered, the sanity of some lost, and the wants of the flesh begin to speak louder than the needs of the people.
Featured Quote: “Tip for the day: never eat a bible when you’re starving to death.”
Recommended To: Anyone who is ready to get a good look at humanity at its rawest, and being surprised at every twist and turn this book has to offer.
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Review: The novel Speak is an emotional story about 14-year-old Melinda Sordino. Anderson touches on many sensitive themes, which work with the overall plot of the story. Melinda begins high school with no friends, insecurities, and a dark secret. As the story progresses, we are able to see just how much Melinda is affected not only by her surroundings, but also by the secret that haunts her. Her inability to share this secret with anyone causes Melinda to spiral into a dark depression. To further add to Melinda’s long list of issues, she does not have any friends, and the one friend that she did have only betrayed her. In my opinion, many will be able to relate to Melinda’s search for identity and her high school experience. Melinda experiences one of the worst possible things and the event causes her to lose everything. However, just like the plants that are frequently mentioned, we are able to see Melinda grow. Anderson really does tell a heart-breaking but beautiful story about a typical high school girl that goes through something that no one should ever have to undergo.
Recommended To: I would recommend this book to high schoolers that enjoy reading about people overcoming emotional obstacles. Anyone ever labeled an “outcast” will be able to relate to Melinda.
Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Review: I would definitely rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. It is so romantic, funny, and entertaining, and I couldn’t stop smiling while reading it. However, it also has some sad parts, which makes it a very diverse story. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han is about a girl named Lara Jean, who is a junior in high school. Lara Jean loves baking and scrapbooking, and also loves all things relating to romance, including writing love letters. Every time Lara Jean had a serious crush, she would write a love letter as a way to let out her feelings, and she wrote 5 letters in total. One day, all of the letters were secretly sent out. One of the letters was addressed to Peter Kavinsky, the super cute, popular jock, who Lara Jean kissed when they were in seventh grade. As a way for Peter to officially end things with his ex-girlfriend, and as a way for Lara Jean to prove she doesn’t like Josh, her older sister’s ex boyfriend and another recipient of the 5 love letters, Lara Jean and Peter start to fake date. However, this fake dating might lead to developing real feelings…
Featured Quote: “When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit.”
Recommended To: I would recommend this book to romance lovers, just like me!
Author: Jeanne Ryan
Review: Nerve, by Jeanne Ryan, is an action-packed, thrilling story that takes place in modern day U.S. At the time a new online website called NERVE was created. Many teenagers across the country signed up to play on NERVE, as either the one doing the risky dares, or just as a viewer. The players would complete dares of increasingly difficulty to win expensive prizes, and their viewers would watch them complete those dares. The protagonist is named Vee, who is a junior in a high school located in Seattle, and she is very shy and interested in her school’s theatre production. One night, she goes to a coffee shop where she films an entry dare for NERVE, out of jealousy of her best friend being with her crush. Even though her first dare goes wrong, she is offered an expensive prize to complete a second dare. While completing this dare, Vee meets another player named Ian, and they team up to compete in the live rounds of NERVE…
Recommended To: Those who like thrillers and adventure.
Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Review: The Red Queen is an action-packed book that has you aching for more. The book takes place in a divided world where Silver-blooded people, with special powers, rule over Red-blooded powerless people. The main character, Mare, is a strong-minded seventeen year old Red who is trying to help her family survive. Luckily, she manages to get a job at King Tiberias’ Castle, where she meets Queen Elara and the two princes, Cal and Maven. However, she doesn’t know what fate has in store for her. On her first day, the impossible happens. Lightning jolts out of Mare’s body and flabbergasts everyone, including Mare. In order to hide her secret, Mare must now marry one of the princes and pretend to be a long lost Silver princess. However, she is secretly helping the Scarlet Guard, a Red rebellion group, plan the assassination of the King and Queen. Despite everything that is going on, Mare unexpectedly falls in love with Cal and Maven, but one of them betrays her in the end, leading to her capture. Does the Scarlet Guard succeed in killing the King and Queen? Who does Mare fall in love with and who betrays her? Read the book and find out for yourself.
Featured Quote: “We are the Scarlet Guard and we stand for the freedom and equality of all people, starting with the Reds. You believe you are the masters of the world, but your reign as kings and gods is at and end. Until you recognize us as human as equal, the fight will be at your door. Not on a battlefield but in your cities. In your streets, in your homes. You don’t see us, and so we are everywhere. And we will rise up, Red as the dawn.”
Recommended To: People who love books filled with betrayal, romance, war, and unexpected twists. Also, I would recommend this book to people who love characters with superpowers.
Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Reviewer: Abby I.
Review: This book follows two main characters, Lynet and Mina. Fifteen year old Lynet looks like an exact replica of her late mother, the queen of Whitespring, and soon learns why. Lynet was made by Mina’s father, the magician, out of snow to look exactly like the late queen by order of her grieving father. Lynet however does not want to be like her mother, she wants to be like her stepmother. Mina is Lynet’s stepmother with a silent heart that does not beat with love. At a young age, her heart stopped working, so her father replaced it with one of glass. At the age of sixteen, she moves to Whitespring with her father for a new life and for her father, the magician to help the princess, Lynet. Mina soon forms a plan to win over the King’s heart and the crown. As their lives become intertwined and new emotions and realizations come to light, only one of them can get what they want, and the other must lose everything, unless they can somehow reshape their lives and their destinies.
Featured Quote: “Snow didn’t break or shatter and neither would she. All she had to do was be true to her nature – cold as snow, sharp as glass.”
Recommended To: Fantasy lovers.
Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Review: One of my favorite novels, ever. It’s a wonderful work of fiction literature that is well written and keeps the reader thinking. The book takes place within a utopian society in which Montag, the protagonist, lives what he believes is a happy life. Instead, this life is rather robotic and metallic. Humans are practically superficial, empty shells and depend on technology more than each other. Books are forbidden, and things such as firemen, cause the reader to question all aspects of Montag’s society. One major theme within the novel is hypersensitivity to one’s surroundings. This comes into play largely while reading. This novel gives you something you can compare our own society to.
Featured Quote: “Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
Recommended To: Those who like utopian books such as Hunger Games and Divergent but want less romance and more discovery and development.
Title: We Are the Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Reviewer: Abby I.
Review: This is a standalone realistic fiction novel full of emotions, aliens, and beautifully lyrical writing. We Are the Ants follows Henry Denton, a high school senior who, throughout his life, has been abducted by aliens multiple times. The book opens with Henry being abducted and informed by the aliens (or sluggers as he calls them), that the world is going to end 144 days from his abduction unless he presses a big red button that will stop the end of the world. The remainder of the story follows Henry’s life during those 144 days as he tries to decide whether or not he wants to save the world or let humanity all die out in some unknown way. This novel was super impactful and truly makes the reader think, not only about our own life, but also about the lives of those around you.
Featured Quote: “The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”
Recommended To: Realistic and science fiction lovers.
Author: Gary Paulsen
Review: This book was very interesting. In the beginning the book was very slow and boring, but as the book progressed it became more and more interesting. If you’re interested in survival, this book is for you. It starts off with a thirteen-year-old boy who ends up in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot driver has a heart attack and passes away. You can tell that in the beginning he was a little scared but faces his fears and becomes a survivor. Throughout the book it tells us that life could be harsh and we have to grow and change to survive it.
Featured Quote: “Things seemed to go back and forth between reality and imagination, except that it was all reality.”
Recommended To: If you love survival books, this is a go-to book.
Title: The Outsiders
Author: S.E. Hinton
Review: The Outsiders is a book about sensitive teenage boys who get into gang fights, laugh together, and burst into tears. There are many themes throughout the book. The setting of the book is in Oklahoma. Many violent scenes occur throughout the book. If you like facing your fears this is a go-to book. The characters overcome the struggles and conflicts in and out of their gang and learn the meaning of good friendship and family. This was an enjoyable story.
Featured Quote: “They grew up on the wrong side of society. They weren’t looking for a fight, they were looking to belong.”
Recommended To: People who like romantic stories and drama.
Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Reviewer: Thais M.
Review: Charlie is sweet, sensitive, and shy. Charlie narrates his story by writing letters to an unnamed friend. The unknown friend may be the reader. Charlie is trustworthy and selfless. He is currently struggling with the death of one of his friends Michael and his aunt Helen. Michael had committed suicide. Throughout the book, Charlie has flashbacks of him and his aunt. Although he isn’t considered popular at school, he meets a few great friends. Patrick and Sam are seniors who befriend Charlie. Patrick and Sam realize Charlie is a wallflower. They take him to parties, restaurants, and introduce him to new people. Charlie sees everything and hears everything however, he keeps everything to himself. He learns about his friends and their problems. After awhile, Charlie realizes he is falling in love with Sam. Of course, he doesn’t do anything about it. Charlie never really participates. His English teacher, Bill, advises Charlie to participate more in life. Bill believes Charlie is a special kid. He assigns him books to read and tells him to write essays on them. Charlie experiences and feels emotions he has never felt before. He starts seeing a psychiatrist to discuss his feelings. The psychiatrist constantly asks Charlie questions dealing with his childhood. He never really understood why until one day Charlie remembers. What does he remember? Why is he the way he is? Read and find out.
Featured Quote: “But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.”
Recommended To: I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read sweet and funny books.
Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Reviewer: Thais M.
Review: Lennie Walker is trying to figure out how she can go on in the world without her sister by her side. How can days be sunny when a loved one passed away? How can she laugh when Bailey isn’t there to laugh with her. Lennie isolates herself from friends and family and resorts to nature. She spends the majority of her time outside in a nearby forest writing down notes where she desires. She leaves poems on Styrofoam cups, trees, the soles of her shoes, and other random objects. There are bits and of her wandering. Her life immediately gets messy when she makes wrong decisions. She feels as if no one but her sister’s ex, Toby, understands the loss of a loved one. Joe Fontaine, a new French boy at school, is interested in her. However, she can’t seem to control herself and dates them both Toby and Joe at the same time. There is no one to help her in this situation because she denies to discuss matters with her grandma, her uncle Big, and her best friend Sarah. She can’t even discuss her situation with her mother. Her mother has what the Walkers call the “restless gene”. She wanders the world and explores. How does Lennie deal with her two boyfriends? Will Lennie ever meet her mother? Will she ever accept the fact she can enjoy life without her sister by her side? Read and find out.
Featured Quote: “Because Gram is right, there’s not one truth ever, just a whole bunch of stories all going on at once, in our heads, in our hearts, all getting in the way of each other.”
Recommended To: Romantics
Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Reviewer: Marisa S.
Review: Q or Quentin has always had a fond liking towards Margo Roth Spiegelman. A very anxious person though, Quentin has always been afraid to express his strong sentiments for Margo. But one long and eventful night takes Quentin on an unforgettable journey with Margo to get revenge, make some mischief and have a little fun. I read this thinking that he was going to get the girl and it would be another sappy high school romance novel; I was very wrong. The day after Quentin’s perfect night, Margo is nowhere to be seen. John Green twists the story into a chilling mystery novel that leaves the reader looking for clues as to where Margo disappeared to. Even the title of the book is a clue; Paper Towns. The novel spirals into a series of unexpected events that leave the reader wondering where Margo is and moreover why no one is all that concerned. As the story escalates, we see Quentin transform and furthermore we see his perspective become altered. Why would she do this Quentin? How did she know that Quentin would come after her? Margo is an ambiguous case and for this reason the reader will find the ending full of ambiguity. Just like the road trip taken to find Margo, Quentin takes a trip to find something more for himself. Sometimes we idealize the one we are infatuated with and this is the perfect example of that. Although it is literally a challenge to find Margo, it is more of a challenge for Quentin to find the Margo he imagines. On that account Paper Towns leaves the reader questioning their definition of the word “exist”.
Recommended To: This book is perfect for young adults that want a little romance, but are more interested in a chilling puzzling novel that is consumed by clues.