How to Cope with Boring Books

Part of the reason I read is for the thrill of living vicariously through the characters in my books. I am able to delve into this completely alternate universe. A universe that is full of fictional characters, unrealistic fantasies, and imaginary places. I can escape the misfortunes and stresses of my own life, and instead experience the failures and successes of fictitious characters. However, this thrill is not the same when the book is a bore.

Not all books can be interesting, since everyone has his or her own unique taste. Therefore, if a book that I am reading for pleasure is boring then I will search for something that isn’t. I don’t believe that people should be forced to finish a book that they started, especially if that book is utterly dull. Why suffer through a boring book when you could be reading something that is much more enjoyable? Personally, when I am reading a book that bores me I have a difficult time paying attention. My brain tends to wander off and come up with it’s own wild adventures, since my book is so lackluster. There are so many different books out there, don’t waste time on something that isn’t worth your time.

-Olivia S.

Genre Introduction: Dystopia

Dystopian stories have become pretty popular recently. There are, of course, the well-known Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, but there are plenty of other messed-up futuristic worlds to explore. Dystopia worlds usually have the government trying to create a “perfect place,” that results in something far worse than today’s standards. Within different social/political structures, heroes face odds to change their world. There’s often some side romance as well. If you haven’t already started into this genre, here are some different types:

legend_coverLegend by Marie Lu focuses on class struggle.

Welcome to a world filled with plague. A plague, for some reason, only affects the poor people. When Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, finds his family has been infected, he’ll do whatever it takes to find a cure. After a break-in at the hospital, Day is the in the prime suspect for the murder of  a commanding officer, June’s brother.

June is the Republic’s prodigy, with perfect academic scores, but is constantly in trouble, for things like scaling a building when she wasn’t supposed to. June swears revenge on her brother’s killer, only to find that the Republic has been lying to everyone the entire time.

maze_runner_coverThe Maze Runner by James Dashner targets post-apocalyptic aftermath methods of recovery.

Thomas arrives in an elevator. Everything is dark, and the only thing he can remember is his name. His destination is the Glade, consisting of only teenage boys, surrounded by an impossible constantly changing maze. Every month a new boy arrives and everyone goes along with life, as they have done for the last couple years. But everything changes when, just one day after Thomas, a girl arrives with a mysterious message. The Glade is no longer a safe place. And if they want to escape, Thomas had better start running.

unwindUnwind by Neal Shusterman asks what it means to be alive.

There are too many teenagers in the future. The solution is not to kill them; instead, the rebellious generation simply lives in a “divided state” with every part of their body still alive, but not making up them anymore. Connor is turned in by his parents rebellious behavior. Risa is an orphan the state can no longer afford, since she has reached her musical potential. Lev is a sacrifice, knowing since birth he was going to be unwound for religious reasons. Fate brings these unlikely teenagers together and keeps them on the run because what will happen if they are caught might be even worse than death.

There are plenty other types of dystopias, not to mention the ones I’ve named have multiple meanings and interpretations. That’s the cool thing about dystopias– you can see, from an author’s perspective, how the world might change for the worst. It just makes me that much more grateful it’s only a story.

-Nicole G., 11th grade

Fic Recommendation: James Potter and the Hall of Elders Crossing by G. Norman Lippert

james_potterAfter reading the whole Harry Potter series, and loving every book, did you feel a little sad when it was over? Did you want more magic and more Hogwarts and to know what happened to Hogwarts after the battle? I have found exactly what you need.

James Potter and the Hall of Elders Crossing is a story about Harry’s firstborn son James Sirius Potter and his misadventures as a first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This story is fan fiction, not part of the official series, and is available for download as a free ebook. The last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (SPOILER!) showed Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione at Platform 9 ¾ saying good bye to their kids as they jumped aboard the Hogwarts Express. One year earlier, however, is how this story starts.

As James comes to Hogwarts, strange things begin to happen, indeed. Is a Muggle really inside Hogwarts? If so, how did he get in? Why did he come? Join James and his new friends Zane and Ralph as they become learned in the magical arts by some old, new, and surprising professors.

I have to say, I’ve read some other books that claim they know what happened to the wizarding world, but only G. Norman Lippert knows the truth. If you were ever disappointed with sequels that just didn’t fit, you won’t be with this story. I haven’t found one error in any of the story, and I am a diehard Harry Potter freak fan. Anyway, this story is a great read, amazing storyline, and just a fun book overall for those of us where there was never enough Harry Potter.

-Kyle H., 8th grade

Series Review: The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

delirium_seriesIt was bittersweet to read the last book in the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver! I love the series and did not want it to come to an end. Regardless, I swept through the last book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. Oliver has a way of writing that catches the mind and causes you to lose track of time. And in my opinion, all the best authors have the ability to do so.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of the first two books. In Delirium we meet Lena, a teenage girl living in a society where love is considered a disease and eighteen year olds are “cured” from the disease, matched with someone, and left to live their lives void of emotions. Just before her eighteenth birthday, Lena meets and falls in love with a mysterious boy named Alex. Despite her family’s disgust and her society’s warnings, Lena chooses to secretly meet Alex and develop a relationship with him. Tracing the revolution, revolts and raids by the “Invalids” (those who escaped society for freedom) begin in the first book while Lena and Alex are at a forbidden party. The first book ends with Lena escaping with Alex into the Wilds. But just as Alex throws Lena across the fence, guards swarm in and cover Lena’s sight of him.

In Pandemonium, Lena learns to survive in the Wilds. She is taken in almost dead by Raven and Tack and their entire family and struggles to cope with loss throughout the whole book. She becomes almost a daughter to the couple and joins in with family work. Lena also learns that the family supports the rebellion against the society and decides to join in the fight. Going undercover as a supporter of the DFA (Deliria Free America), Lena learns the group’s tactics and reports back to the Wilds. During one of the meetings, a group of Invalids known as Scavengers attack and take Lena and the leader Julian as captives. Forced into one prison cell, Lena learns about Julian’s past and falls in love with him. Julian, on the other hand, does not know love because he has not escaped like Lena has, and learns how to love Lena in return. The two make a break for freedom and succeed ending the book in a joyous reunion, or so it may seem. You’ll have to read to find out for yourself!

Requiem features Lena and Julian (with some surprise guests) in the Wilds working to break the wall into the society. This book switches between the perspectives of Lena and Hannah (Lena’s newly cured friend from Portland.) I liked how the reader was able to see what was happening in both the Wilds and society. It was especially exciting right before the final rebellion because the suspense on the Wilds side far surpassed the unknowing calm of the cureds. I don’t want to give away too much but Lena struggles between making choices based on the memories of her past and her feelings in the present. I love the ending of the book and how Lena proves that she is a trustworthy friend even in the most desperate situations. The main themes of this book are friendship, love, sacrifice, and survival.

Overall I loved this trilogy! I wish Oliver had written more books in the series but I also understand how the ending makes sense. After reading Delirium, I truly did not believe the other books could be any better, but each time they exceeded my expectations. I recommend these books for any Hunger Games, Divergent, or Matched fans out there!

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

Book Review: Charles and Emma by Deborah Heligman

charles_emmaDo you know who Charles Darwin was? Sure, scientists (mostly biologists) love him for theorizing evolution and the church hated him for trying to say that God didn’t create the world in seven days. But how well do we really know him?

This award-winning book goes deeper into Charles Darwin’s life after he made his voyage and tells the story of his God-believing wife Emma, their faith together, and how Darwin struggled with knowing that not many people of his time would accept his book.

This book is completely nonfiction, but quite interesting. The book tells the story of Charles’ life: his list of reasons for marrying and not marrying, how he proposed to Emma, their ten children and what happened to each of them, and how Charles was the type of the perfect father, and not the stereotypical horrible, distant father of Victorian times. It also talks about Emma, and it interesting to see her point of view, especially with his works.

The book also does not end with Charles’ death, but actually with Emma’s years later.
Additionally, for science fans out there, Charles’ research is mentioned a lot in this book, and it is also shown how he used his research in his daily life. For example, the book talks about how he compared his children’s behavior to that of baby animals.
Finally, it is also a love story for romantic enthusiasts, for the book is simply about a couple and their undying love for each other, the hardships that followed, and the conflicting views of theirs that could harm their relationship.

Like it was said earlier, the book is completely nonfiction, but it is very good and should be suggested to try out.

-Megan V., 9th grade

Book vs. Movie: A Christmas Story by Jean Shepard

christmas_storyIt’s that time of the year again! People are decorating their houses for the all the great winter holidays.  School will be in Winter break and everyone is buying presents. All the Christmas specials are being played on tv. One of them including the amazingly hilarious classic Christmas movie A Christmas Story. One of my absolute favorite holiday movies. If you haven’t seen this movie you are missing out! Go find it on Netflix or go rent somewhere or go buy it! You definitely need to see this movie.  But if your not a movie person you can always read the book that it was adapted from. It is also called A Christmas Story and it is by Jean Shepard. I have read and seen it both. I love the story. But  I do prefer the movie over the book

So many classic scenes have come from that film. If you have seen it or not you may recognize the infamous Leg-Lamp that was featured in the book and movie.

A Christmas Story is about a young boy named Ralphie Parker and his mission to get a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range- model air rifle. It doesn’t even matter who gives it to him he just really needs one.  Ralphie tries everything to hint to his parents that it is necessary to get him the air rifle. He even goes to the grumpy Santa at the mall to ask for the air rifle. But for some reason everyone keeps telling him he’ll shoot his eye out. Along the way so many classic moments happen. Like his dad winning the beautiful leg-lamp! Or when his friend Flick got his tongue stuck to a frozen pole! And so many more ridiculous things.

The book and movie were almost identical. Except one is on paper and the other is on film.

This is a classic movie that everyone should enjoy! Happy Holidays!

-Erika T., 8th grade

Book Review: The Hangman’s Revolution by Eoin Colfer

hangmans_revolutionAccording to a whole lot of books and movies, changing the past can result in a completely different future.

Eoin Colfer’s book The Hangman’s Revolution takes this to a new level, as Colonel Box uses the FBI’s time machines to rewrite history. Bringing modern weapons, he quickly establishes the Boxite Empire in Victorian London, which would soon span the globe. In the changed future, Cadet Savano escapes an attempted assassination by the Boxites, and travels back to Victorian London. She slowly regains fragmented memories of her real life as FBI Agent Savano. There, she teams with her old friend Riley the magician and Otto Malarkey the gang leader. They set out to put an end to Box’s fascist empire before they bomb capitols around the world.

To me, this story is a great continuation to the first book of the WARP series, The Reluctant Assassin. The time travel aspect of the story is written and planned very well. Many future events are explained when the storyline jumps to the past. It makes the story fun to read, as if clicking puzzle pieces together. The story flows so smoothly, we know Colfer mapped this story thoroughly before writing.

The general writing style he employs adds to the story. Everything is described in detail, with subtle sarcasm here and there. It’s serious and intense during action, with funny dialogue to break tension. During lulls, it’s witty and quirky. He carefully shapes the empire, shaping each aspect whether majestic or funny. A picture is painted in the reader’s mind.

The characterization is extremely in-depth. The back story of each character is incorporated into the storyline, often explained in reminisces. I think the most interesting was Otto Malarkey’s story. At first he seemed a one-dimensioned crime boss, but even he turned out to be a colorful protagonist. As a third person omniscient story, the writing often shows the thoughts of each person in a realistic manner. Finally, like icing on a cake, the accents written into the dialogue perfect the characterization and mood.
Considering everything, you should be looking for a copy right now. It’s everything you could hope for in a thriller: action, comedy, storyline, and funny accents. Obviously you should finish the first book first. The ending both satisfies the reader’s craving and hints for a third book. Read on!

-Phillip X., 9th grade

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

boy_striped_pajamasThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a book about a 9 year-old named Bruno, who is forced by his father, a commander in the German army, to move from his five story mansion in Berlin, to a house in the middle of nowhere called simply, “Out-with”.  From there, Bruno slowly learns about what we now call the Holocaust. He can see the concentration camp in the far distance from his mundane bedroom window and his curiosity leads him directly to the center of the unfathomable.  From wild adventures in a slave camp to a run in with an unstoppable tire swing, to his friendship with a mysterious boy in striped pajamas named Shmuel, this  is a book that you won’t forget.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn history in a non-boring way.  ⚠ THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART ⚠ It has a very sad ending and contains very deep insight into life during one of histories most tragic times.  I hope that you can pick it up at your local library or bookstore as this is a life-altering read.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review and Playlist: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

never_eighteenWarning: the following contains spoilers.

For me finding a book is never an easy task, because I dislike going out of my comfort zone and taking a chance. So this book was a lucky find after hours of searching around the internet.  It  had the vibe and similarities from two of my favorite books and maybe even a third that are all pretty popular: If I Stay, Thirteen Reasons Why,  and The Fault in Our Stars.

The book Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic is the story of Austin Parkers, who is on a journey through life to close loose fences, and bring a final piece of meaning. Austin tries to live out the final duration of his life by helping some of the people that have either made an impact or touched him in some way in his life. These people are those he thinks need help and guidance, but don’t know or realize it for whatever reason. Austin makes the journey with Kaylee, the girl he loves, making stops along the way to famous places in their home of Tacoma, Washington and facing their fears.

Ultimately, the inevitable happens: due to his refusal of continuing treatment, Austin passes away from leukemia. One thing I really enjoyed about the book, that it was not centered on him having a terminal illness, but rather about him mending fences with the other characters and their relationships. It underplays the cancer; it is only really mentioned by Austin that he is indeed dying, while the other characters appear to be in a sort of denial or a strong hope everything will be all right.

My favorite part was how the author put songs at the very end, which inspired her writing and the spirit of the book. Which inspired me to name the following songs that I believe that fit the story line.

  1. I Lived – One Republic: A personal favorite for me and is one that I constantly thought of. It is exactly what I pictured Austin wanted himself and his family to picture, and be able to say. I think it also matches the tone of the book, perfectly.
  2. If I Die Young – The Band Perry: Another that describes Austin in my perspective acutely, the way they know exactly what they want. This song deals with the realization of not only dying at a young age but also, coming to turns with that just because life can be short does not make it any less valuable
  3. Not in that way – Sam Smith:  Originally I presumed this song should have been dedicated to Kaylee and her views on Austin all the way until the end. But close to the  fifteenth time I heard the song it clicked to me that behind the lyrics was a story that was a better fit for how Austin knew she would never love him in the same way he loved her
  4. Best Shot – James Young: A perfect description of the relationship or friendship shared between Austin and Kaylee. This song is about always being there for each other even when things are hard and that is one of the main themes of the story.
  5. All of the Stars – Shawn Mendes: Originally by Ed Sheeran for, “The Fault in Our Stars” this song is given a younger tone when sung by Mendes. This song really went hand in hand with the tone of the book, near the end. This song has a lot of links to death and so it holds a connection to Kaylee’s thought and feeling, especially the link to star gazing.
  6. Undone – Haley Reinhart: The song describes, how much love can tear you apart once it ends and how you feel that you will never quite recover. The lyrics are actually quite beautiful, a perfect description of how Haylee felt shortly after the loss of Austin and receiving the box and letter. She wants answers to why this happened to her and how she is supposed to move on from this tragedy.
  7. Afire love – Ed Sheeran: Another beautiful song by an artist that I admire, this song also deals with the tragedy of death. At the beginning of the song he talks about how they are slowly dying and through all this pain suffering, they are forgetting everything and everyone. Then in the middle of the song the person is no longer suffering, and the family is tied together once again through tragedy. This song is a beautiful depiction of the way death works and though there are no specific ties it really fit the book well
  8. I Will be There – Odessa: If I had to pick one song to be the theme, this would be it. This depicts how they are best friends and always there for each other. No matter what, they will be there to help you. The lyrics are simple, but the song itself is very unique from most of current day music.
  9. If Today Were Your Last Day – Nickelback: I was really impartial to putting this song in because it could easily be described as cheesy, but the lyrics just fit the text really well. It was almost as If the song was written for the book, because they are just that close. This was on key for what I believe Austin was felling in the book, when he went to everyone house.
  10. Battlefield – Lea Michele: Austin and Kaylee where never meant to be more than friends, but somewhere along the way they fell in love. Now Kaylee knows that she has to let Austin go, she needs to be strong for both of them just like he was. Peace or in this case, acceptance will only come when she lets go. What seemed like a good idea is now a battlefield, because she needs to figure out to let him go
  11. These Four Walls – Little Mix: The raw emotion that is described in this song, mixed with the beautifully written words in this book pair together exceptionally well. I believe that this is yet another perfect description of Kaylee and her emotions after losing Austin.
  12. What You Wanted- One Republic: The feel of this song is so powerful and the lyrics make it a song that never quite leaves your mind. The unconditional love that is described in only four lines gives us a glimpse at how amazing a first love can be. Something that Kaylee and Austin both got just a glimpse.
  13. All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift: In the end Kaylee wanted nothing more than to have Austin, all he needed to do was stay. But this was realized too late, therefore it could not happen; instead she had to deal with the grief of losing him.
  14. Please Don’t Go – Barcelona: This song is so simple but in a very beautiful way, the few lyrics there are speak for themselves; painting a picture of two friends who have ultimately fallen in love but one does not notice their feelings or keeps them hidden out of fear.
  15. Come Home – One Republic: Finally, a song originally written for someone whom has been deployed to fight for their country shortly after getting engaged. When I hear this song I instantly think of someone sitting in either the rain or in the dark of night, writing the lyrics but at the same time saying them. And that is exactly what I felt like at the end of this book, and when I put the two together it just fit and gave that bit of closure.

-Shelby B., 10th grade

Book Review: The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

hiding_placeThe book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is a story about surviving the Holocaust. Corrie was the daughter of a watch storekeeper, her father, with her sister, Betsie ten Boom in Holland. The ten Booms lived above their shop. Their lives changed when they accepted the risk of hiding Jews after Germany took over their home country. Corrie was assisted with the concealment of the Jews from a contractor who built them a secret. The room was located in Corrie’s bedroom, and the contractor informed that it will be the last place they will look. He also installed an alarm.

While resting in her bed with the flu, Corrie heard the alarm go off. After, the police entered and took Corrie, Betsie, and their father to concentration camp. The authority found out that they were keeping Jews in their home. Now Corrie and her family have to go through the struggle and hardships while trying to live at the camp. All Corrie has is her sister, father, and her faith in Jesus.

I really enjoyed this book because it described how live was during the Holocaust. The book was very descriptive. I was highly interested in this story and how the author explained her experience from entering and to being released from the concentration camp. I would recommend this to ages 12 and up. I hope you read this book.

-Samantha S., 8th grade