Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

tuesdaysmorrie_mitchalbomI really needed another book to read so I asked my mom if there was a book in her library that I could read. She gave me a book called Tuesdays with Morrie and told me that it’s about life lessons and stuff like that. It really didn’t sound interesting but I decided to give it a shot. It was so worth it. Tuesdays with Morrie, is more of a life lesson book for sure, but it is heart warming. Typically I like read the adventure/dystopian type novel so this story was somewhat out of my comfort level. So if you don’t mind reading a slower book then you should check out this book.

Mitch Albom tells about his own personal, strong relationship between himself and his favorite college professor. After leaving college, 16 years later, Mitch gets a new job as a journalist for the Detroit newspaper. It is a well- paid job but empty and he begins to feel depressed. After meeting with his mentor to catch up, Mitch decides to have Morrie mentor him once again. They met up every Tuesday(hence the name).

Through their time together you grow to love old Morrie and take in his lessons too. I didn’t understand all of them because some were directed towards adults but I definitely learned a good deal of them. One is “Life is a series of pulls back and forth… A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. A wrestling match…Which side win? Love wins. Love always wins”  There are so many more meaningful quotes and lessons sprinkled throughout this book.

I really hope you check this book out because it is one of my favorites!

-Erika T.

Tuesdays with Morrie is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.

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 Young Elites by Marie Lu

young_elitesThis story is The Young Elites, by author Marie Lu. She is one of my favorite authors ever. I loved her Legend series. So when I saw this book at the store I had to read it.

The Young Elites takes place in a different world during a Renaissance-ish time. A plague ran through this world, called blood-fever. Those who survived this fever are a usually marked with a extremely strange feature. Such as, odd hair color, odd marks on their skin, and other weird scars that were left behind by the fever. These people were called malfettos. Some melfettos though were not only left behind with markings but some were also left with powers. Those who were left with powers were called Young Elites.

The story alternates between the narration of three characters: Adelina, Enzo, and Teren. All are malfettos with powers. The three’s lives collide in this story and create quite the adventure. The book was mostly based around the female character, Adelina. During the story I was actually very confused on who was the “good” guy and who was the “bad” guy. Adelina has the power of illusion. She can create images, emotions, sounds, and pains that seem very real, but it is created from the fear and pain of the others around her. She was abused by her father because she was a malfetto. She often has very gruesome thoughts, such as killing another character in a very violent manner.

Teren is also a malfetto that has powers similar to the wolverine. He heals automatically. He is the head of the Inquistion Axis and it is his job to hunt out Young Elites and malfettos and kill them. Teren believes malfettos are the work of the devil and he and the others should not exist. He does it all for the Queen who he is “in love with.” The Queen uses Teren to carry out tasks for her so that she can be the ultimate ruler. Teren is always very scary when he is brought into a scene.

The last narrator is Enzo. Enzo is the malfetto prince. He is the rightful heir to the throne. But was unable to take the throne because of his sister, the Queen, and Teren. Teren and Enzo used to be close friends. Enzo is able to wield fire. Enzo formed the Dagger Society where they gather Elites  with powers and train them to help Enzo take back the throne. But in the story it hints that Enzo seems to be only using these powerful Elites.  They rescue Elites with useful powers but leaves none powerful Elites and malfettos to Teren’s will.

So this novel was really intriguing but I’m still unsure who the “bad” guy is.  There might not be a protagonist and an antagonist. Adelina seems wicked, Teren does evil things, and Enzo seems greedy. You guys should definitely go check this book out especially if you read Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy and figure out for yourself who the protagonist or antagonist is– or if there is a protagonist or antagonist. I heard there is going to be a second book called The Rose Society which is Adelina’s new group. So if you liked this make sure to look out for it!

-Erika T., 8th 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: Four by Veronica Roth

fourI have been following the Divergent series for a long time and I was so excited to finally get a copy of Four.  I’m sure many of you have heard, read, or watched the Divergent series.  It follows the adventure of the heroine, Tris Prior, whose life is intertwined with the mysterious Four.  The fourth book of the series goes through the Divergent experience through Four or Tobias Eaton’s, eyes.  I highly recommend if you have not finished reading the series to do so before reading Four.

In the novel Four by Veronica Roth, we find out what really happened between Marcus Eaton and Tobias Eaton.  We see what caused Tobias to choose Dauntless as his faction and new home.  Veronica shows us Four’s true feelings about Tris Prior. We also find out about the old rivalry between Four and Eric.  The book bounces from major events in Four’s life. We see his childhood, his life as an initiate at Dauntless, and his personal undercover mission to see what the Erudite want with the Dauntless.  Many of these events are already known or assumed by the readers of Divergent but it is awesome to know what actually happens.  But the most interesting part that I didn’t think about and almost forgot about was when Tobias meet his mother again for the first time.  It was interesting to see his reaction to actually having a mom who has just been hiding in the Factionless.

I think this book was a really fun and it was quick read.  I finished it in 5 days.  It is not my favorite Divergent book because it was just revisiting major events and you basicay knew what is happening and what will happen but it was a great novel to get lost in.  To revisit the world Veronica Roth created but in Tobias’ perspective was interesting.  If you liked the Divergent series and haven’t read Four yet you should definitely read it.

-Erika T., 8th grade

Book Review: Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige

dorothy_must_dieDorothy Must Die is yet another crazy twist on a classic story.  We all know the beloved story of The Wizard of Oz.  We all know Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West.  But now Danielle Paige tells us what happened to Oz after Dorothy left and why Dorothy must die.

The story’s new heroine is named Amy Gumm and she would like to be any place but Kansas.  Amy’s life is in a shambles.  Her once loving mother now wants nothing to do with her and she is constantly bullied at school by a crazy pregnant girl.  So when news of a tornado coming to her home town, Amy simple shrugged off the news.  Well, you what happens next.  Amy gets whisked away to Oz.  But when she gets there it is nothing like she ever imagined.  Oz was no longer filled with happiness and magic.  Taken in by the Wicked, Amy’s new job is to kill Dorothy and to possibly restore Oz.  But before she can kill Dorothy, she must get rid of the Scarecrow,  the Tinman, and the Lion. She quickly realizes the words Good and Wicked no longer matter because the Good are Wicked and the Wicked are Good.

This story is not one of my favorites but it is a fun read.  I personally really like the books that take classic tales and change it to be a newer version.  This was not my favorite but I really like how the author made the beautiful land of Oz become so ugly and sad.  She was really able to change the classic story into something completely different but still keeping the (almost the same) characters we love.  I love the story and movie of the Wizard of Oz so when I saw this book I had to read it.  It definitely changes the way you have seen and imagined Oz.  There is a lot of gruesome alterations to the classic characters.  You probably should watch the Wizard of Oz movie if you aren’t familiar with this story before you read Dorothy Must Die. If you like stories that are the twist of classic tales then you should check out this story.  This is a series so check out the sequels if you do end up liking Dorothy Must Die.

-Erika T., 9th grade

Book Review: Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick

never_fall_downHave you ever heard of the Khmer Rouge?  Or the infamous Killing Fields?

During the mid ’70s in Cambodia the communist group, Khmer Rouge, were the force behind a terrifying genocide.  Patricia McCormick tells the true story of a young boy’s horrifying experience during this time.

Never Fall Down is a true story that takes you on the shocking and terrible life experience of one boy who lived in Cambodia at this time.  The boy’s name is Arn and he was taken first from his home, then from his family by the Khmer Rouge. Arn was taken to a camp based on his gender and age.  At the camp Arn was forced to work on the rice fields. The lifestyle was very tough. One day, the Khmer Rouge soldiers asked if any of the boys could play an instrument.  Even though Arn has never played anything in his life he volunteers because he knows this will save his life. Later, Arn somehow find himself in the middle of the place we know today as the Killing Fields.  Then Arn is handed a gun and is sent to battle with the other boys still alive. “He lives by the simple credo: ‘Over and over I tell myself one thing: Never fall down.”‘

This story exposed me to a huge event in history that I never knew happened.  I had never heard of the Khmer Rouge or the Killing Fields.  Never Fall Down made me come close to tears. Arn’s struggles are so traumatizing.  It made me wonder what I would do in a situation like his.  It is a very touching story.  This story showed me how scary it is to be a child in the middle of a war.   At times while reading this book I forgot I was reading about history.  Instead I thought I was reading a survival novel.

I personally don’t like to read books on history or war but Never Fall Down is one of my few exceptions.  It takes you on a boy’s journey that starts in a happy home and ends with his search for freedom.  I recommend this to every teen.  It helped me understand the life struggles of the many immigrants that came to America during the ’60s and ’70s.  I advise that you be prepared for many deaths and heartbreaking moments.  I love this book so please go check it out.

-Erika T., 8th grade

Event Recap: Chris Weitz Author Visit

On July 30th, director and now author, Chris Weitz debuted his brand new novel, The Young World, at the Mission Viejo Library.  He is the director of the Twillight Saga: New Moon and The Golden Compass.  Chris Weitz kicked off the event by letting us know how action-packed his book is.

young_world_coverThe Young World is a story about a post-apocalyptic world that is now being ruled by teenagers.  A strange sickness wiped out all of the population but left the teen survivors to fend for themselves and to possibly save all humanity.

Chris Weitz wrote this story for the YA audience.  He tried to keep his novel as original as possible and not to make it yet another dystopian themed book. The Young World, features a diverse set of characters– diverse in race and sexual orientation.  The story takes place in New York because Weitz knows this place very well.

At the event, we had a Q&A session and he told us that he found that it was particularly hard to get his thoughts down on the paper, especially during the tragic or sadder situations.  He also gave the audience very helpful advice on directing and acting.  Weitz read a small passage from his new book.  During this reading of the book listeners were already captivated  by deaths and emotional issues that will surely evolve in later chapters.   We got a glimpse of the narrators and were told of the teens’ favorite movie, Star Wars Most interestingly, Weitz made a very strong argument on how the word ‘like’ is actually a very necessary part of our speech. This book will for sure be an interesting read!

After he was done, we were able to get a copy of The Young World and I got it signed by Chris Weitz himself.  I am looking forward to reading this new book because it sounds very fun, witty, and interesting.

-Erika T., 8th grade

Book Review: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

cinderCinder by Marissa Meyer is a great summer read!  With a fusion of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, and the futuristic story of Star Wars, Cinder had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

This sci-fi story takes place in the far future.  In the future Earth has been through two more World Wars, been unified as a peaceful place, and is neighbors to the powerful alien race, Lunars, who live on the moon.  Earth leaders have been trying to negotiate a peace treaty with Lunars.

The protagonist of the story is, Cinder, a teenage cyborg girl who is looked down upon by society and by her stepmother.  When Cinder meets the charming Prince Kai, she finds her world slowly turning upside down.  At the same time, her family is being attacked by the incurable plague.  Devastated from the aftermath of the plague, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers Cinder to the cyborg draft.  The cyborg draft has cyborgs test cures for the plague and no cyborg has come out alive.  At the medical facilities, Cinder unravels the hidden truths about her life.  These truths put herself, Prince Kai, and the entire Earth in danger.  Cinder is soon intertwined with the outcome of every being on Earth and Luna!  Check out this book this summer to live through the adventure of Cinder!

I would recommend this book to every teen! Cinder is an amazing new twist to the fairy tale we all know and love.  There is action, romance, and suspense!  It is filled with so many new surprises!  There is that one big question that haunted me and I didn’t know the answer until the very end of the book.  I couldn’t help but constantly wonder what was going to happen next!  Because of that I couldn’t stop reading it!

If you liked Divergent or The Hunger Games I recommend this book for you!

-Erika T., 8th grader