Book Review: In The Country of Last Things by Paul Auster

country_last_thingsThere are the last things, she wrote. One by one they disappear and never come back. When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else, and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you mustn’t waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it.

If you enjoy post-apocalyptic novels, this book is for you. In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster is a contemporary novel, and the story takes place in, most likely, future New York City. In this world, from the little pieces of information that are presented by the main character Anna, North America is economic and politically destructed, surfers with wars; at the same time, environmental disasters hit hard to add on to the chaos. The whole country is twisted into something else. Anna, who probably comes from Europe, arrives at the city to look for her missing brother and struggles for her survival, where everything disappears and humanity is lost as a cost to stay alive.

As a post-apocalyptic novel, the story is filled with destruction and despair, but also with friendship, hope, and even love. The main characters are destroyed and remake into something stronger throughout the novel, and under the dark side of fate, we can always see hope. I recommend this novel to mostly seniors because of some more mature parts of this book. It is a really easy book to read – one afternoon is more than enough to finish it, but I can promise you, there are lots of sweet stuffs for you to discover! Get this book and start reading!

-Wenqing Z., 12th grade

Book Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

dentonI just finished reading an advance reader’s copy of Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin. It was a very good book!

Denton Little lives in a world where we have become advanced enough to predict what day you will die and it is very accurate. But they are unable to accurately predict how you are going to die. Denton is going to die young (at 17), so his last two days to live are packed with crazy adventures. His best friend helps him out because he is going to die in 3 weeks. Denton has his first one-night stand, gets himself into a crazy love triangle, has his first try at drugs, he almost gets killed(multiple times), and he goes to his own funeral.

This book really got me thinking that if I could find out my deathdate– would I want to know? In Denton’s world, it was mandatory to know. That way, you could put other people out of harm, such as you can’t go on a plane on your deathdate. Denton had a cousin who’s entire family had the same deathdate, knowing that would I would be paranoid of why we all die on the same day. I personally would opt out of knowing my deathdate because I would constantly be paranoid of things leading up to my time to kick the bucket. I would try to live my life but would probably not do everything; and be mad at myself because I knew what day I was going to die.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked following Denton’s crazy antics on the day of his death. This book is scheduled to come out in April. I think you should definitely check it out when it comes out!

Now the question is: Would you want to know what day you were going to die?

-Erika T., 8th grade

Book Review: The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

9th_judgmentThis is the ninth book in the Lindsay Boxer series so I recommend reading the previous novels before reading this one. However, if you don’t want to read the first eight books, you can jump right into this one.

Unsuspecting of being stalked by a murderer, a mother and her infant head towards their parked car. Upon reaching their car the man trailing them approaches the mother and asks to use her cellphone. As she turns to hand him her phone she finds him holding a gun. Panicking, she offers him money but to no avail. Without any mercy the unknown killer guns the woman and her child down.

Around the same time, a burglar sneaks into a million dollar home. Quietly she sneaks into the master bedroom and skillfully removes dozens of sparkling jewels from an open safe. Without making a mistake the burglar is about to leave when she accidentally tips over a table. Startling the sleeping movie stars, she has to find a quick way to escape.

Startled awake by the loud crash or her table, Casey Dowling jumps out of bed, only to be shot down. The next day her death is all over the news, and her husband claims that the burglar shot her while leaving.

How is Lindsay supposed to solve a crime where the only evidence is a cryptic message scribbled across a windshield in lipstick? The killer is quick, stealthy, and skilled. In addition, Boxer is suspicious of Casey’s death.

Can the burglar be somehow linked to the ruthless killer? And who killed Casey Dowling?

I got a kick out of this book. Along with being a suspenseful thriller, it was one of my favorites out of the entire series. I highly recommend this book for a fast-paced, easy read.

-Marilyn J., 9th grade

Magazine Review: Muse Magazine

museAlthough everyone loves a good book, we can’t always fit reading a novel into our busy schedules of school, homework, etc. If I ever don’t have the time to delve into a mind-capturing story, another great choice is picking up an interesting magazine! One of my personal favorites is Muse magazine. Muse is an awesome, scientific publication that is filled with funny and memorable articles. If you want to learn something new, or just have a laugh, it’s a good idea to grab a Muse, “the magazine of life, the universe, and pie-throwing.”

I have always loved being able to actually hold books and magazines in my hand, so I enjoy receiving a hard copy of Muse magazine. However, if you’re more of the techy type, Muse has a digital version along with your hard copy subscription! This is a super fun magazine for all ages, including articles about everything from hitchhiking robots to logic leaps to “what personality quiz are you?”

If I haven’t yet convinced you of how exciting and interactive this magazine is, you can preview some of its features on the website In addition to introductions of Muse’s latest articles, this website includes photos, stories from Muse subscribers, and stimulating questions to comment on. So take a break from your voracious reading, have a laugh, and get your Muse on!

-Alaina K., 6th grade

Book Review: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

face_milk_cartonHow would you react if you found out that you were kidnapped because there is a picture of you as a toddler on an ordinary, everyday milk carton? 15-year-old Janie Johnson recognizes her photograph on the “Missing Child” side of a milk carton in the young-adult novel, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney.

After identifying her picture on a milk carton at lunch, Janie is consumed by the notions of her kidnapping. As the story unravels, Janie discovers that “her parents” are actually her grandparents and her Mother was part of a cult when Janie was born. Temporarily relieved, Janie is still curious as to why her name on the milk carton said “Jennie Spring.”

Slowly unraveling the mystery of her past, Janie discovers that she was kidnapped by her “Mother” as a young girl and finds out that her real parents are in New Jersey. The end of the book leaves you with Janie talking to her real Mother. Does Janie leave her “adoptive” parents? Does she actually meet her biological parents? Does she ever find the women who abducted her? To find the answers to all these questions, one must read this book and the entire Janie Johnson series.

Reading this book for English, I was interested that it wasn’t mainstream like some other classical works. The storyline of the book is great, in my opinion. The execution could have been slightly improved. I liked how the first book ended in a cliffhanger and then you would have to read the next one and then the next one to find out what becomes of Janie. The last book did not have a very conclusive ending, but it was satisfactory enough. If you are interested in the mystery genre, then the Janie Johnson series is for you.

-Anmol K.,

Book Review: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

nicholas_benedictIf you’ve ever read Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, you will love this one. The prequel, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, is just as exciting and puzzling as the main series.

This book details the childhood of Nicholas Benedict, who later becomes the “wise and experienced mentor” in the later series. In this book, he’s just nine year old genius orphan. How typical. He arrives at Rothschild’s End Orphanage, a gray and dreary place. Uncompassionate staff and a trio of bullies force him to use wits to survive. Thanks to his narcolepsy, a condition causing random blackouts, he must be locked in his room at night. With a newfound friend, Nicholas overcomes these obstacles and many more with his superior intellect. My personal favorite is how he escaped the confines of his room. After borrowing a spare key, he makes a mold using candle wax, and later shapes a key during metalwork class.

For most of the story, he and his rival, the orphanage director, chase after the Manor’s long lost treasure, which is a lot more exciting than I make it seem. Readers will either love the story for its adventure, or for how Nicholas uses intellect and inventiveness to solve problems. It’s great fun to try and figure out a puzzle before the characters do. Even if we may never be that clever, this book sure makes us feel smart.

As with the rest of the series, this book is written with an eloquent and somewhat old-fashioned style. Nicholas’s sophisticated vocabulary adds to the fact. For me, it didn’t seem as dangerous and intense as the later series. The main antagonist is a trio of schoolyard bullies, while The Mysterious Benedict Society features enemies that would happily kill someone. Still, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an awesome read, and you should read it sometime soon.

-Phillip X., 9th grade

Book Review: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

percy-jackson-greek-godsWelcome to the ancient myths you know (or vaguely remember) from Percy Jackson’s perspective. It is completely biased with Percy directly stating which gods he loves, which gods he hates, and which god should build him a golden llama (come on Hephaestus!) So why should you read this book? Are some of Greek names so hard to spell, much less pronounce, that you want to make fun of? Do you wonder what Percy would do in an ancient greek myth situation? Have you ever thought about how the Greek myths affect everyday language? Do you enjoy your public service announcements such as drugs are bad and alcohol is for adults? Well, all of those are included here (even the last one; Percy needs to cover his legal bases when talking about the god of wine).

A lot (but not all) of the Greek myths are covered, everything from Zeus’s many affairs, to Hades kidnapping his niece, to Hermes first theft, and so much more. I really don’t want to ruin too much more because it’s fun to just discover what crazy things the gods are up to next. Well, in the past, but you know what I mean.

The only thing left to wonder about is when Percy had the time to write this book. He mentions Annabeth is his girlfriend, so it has to be after the first series. Then he mentions Piper is a vegetarian, so probably after the second series, too. Maybe around the same time he encountered Carter Kane, Egyptian magician. Speaking of which, this is a great book to get you ready for the third book in the Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover that just came out– The Crown of Ptolemy. It has Percy (his perspective) , Annabeth, Sadie, and Carter against a magician trying to harness Greek and Egyptian magic to become a god. Can’t wait!

– Nicole G., 11th grade