About Samantha S.

My personality is very happy and energetic, and I love to laugh. I am responsible, respectful, and a great listener. I love anime and manga especially action, romance, and comedy genres. I love all kinds of food, and my favorite color is pink.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

lookingglasswars_frankbeddorHave you ever wondered if Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass was real? In Frank Beddor’s book, The Looking Glass Wars, it is. Alyss Heart is the princess of Wonderland with her mother, Queen Genevieve, and her father, King Nolan. Queen Genevieve is the supporter of White Imagination and has a bodyguard by the name of Hatter Madigan. This story begins with the royal family and the Wonderlanders celebrating Alyss’ seventh birthday. The Queen foretells that Alyss will be the strongest queen of Wonderland because of her powerful imagination. During the party Alyss’ friend, Dodge Anders, takes her out of the palace and takes her to a lake called “The Pool of Tears.” Dodge says that if a person jumps into the pool, he will go into another world, which is our world, but no one has ever returned.

After arriving back to the party, Alyss sees a cat running into the main hall where everyone was. It suddenly turns into a ferocious Cat and heralds the arrival of Redd Hearts, Queen Genevieve’s sister and Alyss’ aunt. An army of her card soldiers destroys Alyss’ home and the Queen’s general Doppelgänger and Hatter jump into action to fight against the enemy. In all the fighting Alyss sees her mother imagining weapons to battle the card soldiers around her. Her mother gives an order to Hatter to get Alyss away from the horrid battle. Hatter takes Alyss to the Pool of Tears and jump into the lake before Redd’s assassins can reach them. In the water Alyss loses Hatter’s hand before arriving to our world, leaving him to search for the princess and find a way back to Wonderland. Will she be able to ever get back? Also, will Hatter be able to find Alyss? To find out, read this wonderful story.

I truly loved this book. It was a page turner and I couldn’t stop reading. Everything about the book was amazing, the plot, the characters, ans the suspense. This is a trilogy and the next book is Seeing Redd. I really hope you will read this book!

-Samantha S.

The Looking Glass Wars is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

bookthief_markuszusakThe Book Thief is a truly amazing story by Markus Zusak about a German girl named Liesel Meminger who lived in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Liesel travels to Himmel Street in Molching to meet her new family, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, and her will-be best and reliable friend, Rudy Steiner. Liesel also came with a book, A Grave Digger’s Handbook, and Hans decides to teach her how to read and write. After her first book stealing, she feels encouraged to steal more books.

One thing I like about this book is that it is narrated not by person, but by Death. It shows how Death thinks and his thoughts of collecting souls after a person dies. Death talks about his job and all of the colors he sees while picking up souls. He also mentions that he is interested by Liesel. I think that Death also begins to feel remorseful about collecting so many souls during World War II.

What I also like about this book is that the author tells this story in a straight-forward style. I believe it offers true thoughts of the Führer, aka Hitler, from those who didn’t really support him. This also shows the life of a Jew trying to stay alive and hide from the soldiers. There are some sad parts but there are heart-warming moments as well. I recommend this book for 12 years and older. If you choose to read this terrific book, I hope you will greatly enjoy it.

-Samantha S.

The Book Thief is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360.

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

tree_grows_brooklynThe novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the century. It begins with a child, Francie, born in the tenements. During her childhood she would read her books in the fire escape and look at the tree in the center of the tenement district. The tree only grows in the districts and grows out of cement. On Saturdays she would bring junk in with her little brother, Neeley Nolan, to earn pennies so they can buy candy from Cheap Charlie’s, a penny-worth candy store. Charlie, the owner of the store, had a prize board but no one ever got a real prize, just candy for trying. She dreamed of coming back to the store with fifty cents so she can win all of the prizes on the board.

During her childhood, she went to school and was very good at writing. As she grew up, Francie went through her ups and downs as she overcame every one of them. She worked two jobs to support her family and to receive money. Francie’s first jobs was in an artificial flower-making company where she had to wrap green paper around a piece of wire to create the stem of the flower. Her second job was at a newspaper company where she had to read newspapers and clip article strips and sort them out by state. Finally, she grew up with her family and came out as a beautiful young lady.

I really liked this book because it had me interested with each chapter. It was a bit slow in the beginning but then it became full of character. There was some surprises along the way but they came at very great times during the book. I would recommend this book to people 13 years and up just because some of the events that happen are not for younger kids. If you ever read this book, I hope you will enjoy it.

-Samantha S., 8th grade

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

christmas_carol_coverThis terrific novel by Charles Dickens tells a tale of an old, stingy, and wealthy man, Ebenezer Scrooge, and a lesson about Christmas spirit. On a cold foggy Christmas Eve, Mr. Scrooge works in his office as his clerk, Bob Cratchit, attempts to warm himself with a measly fire of one single coal. Seven years ago on this day his equally selfish partner, Jacob Marley, died. One at a time two businessmen, a caroler, and his nephew, Fred, enters Ebenezer’s office. Quickly, he sends them off by saying, ”Bah Humbug!!” Scrooge grunts at the merriness of Christmas as people joyfully pass by.

At the end of the day, he goes to his gloomy mansion. Before he went to bed, he hears chains outside his bedroom. An apparition of Jacob Marley walks through the door! He has a pale white face and bears long, heavy chains with moneyboxes, watches, and cashboxes. The ghastly spirit tells Scrooge his horrific fate. Jacob warns Scrooge that three ghosts are going to appear before him to take him on journeys of Christmas. As Jacob leaves out of the window, Scrooge notices that there are other melancholy ghosts just drifting in the sky. After, he falls asleep disbelieving the existence of the ghosts of Christmas. Do you think his perspective on Christmas will change after the visits of the spirits? To find out- read A Christmas Carol.

I really enjoyed this book. It describes each of the ghosts very well and really gave a feeling of Christmas as you read. Charles Dickens is truly a wonderful writer, and he makes it that you are engaged in this book. I recommend this story to all ages. I hope you will read this book if you have not.

-Samantha S., 8th 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

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

mockingbird_coverTo Kill a Mockingbird is about two young siblings, Jem and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, and their father, Atticus Finch. Jem is the older one with a kind heart, and Scout is the younger sister who favors boys’ games and entertainment.  Their neighbors are the mysterious Radleys.  Jem and Scout always wondered what was with the Radleys.  During one summer they meet Dill, a young boy who comes to their town every summer.  From that day they played with scripts from stories.  They decid to try to get one of the Radleys out, Boo Radley.  They try many ways but fail.

Few months later Atticus gets a case about a black man raping a white girl. Jem and Scout eagerly join the audience in the court room as the case was discussed.  It ended up with the black man being found guilty, and he went to jail.  The father of the victim wanted revenge on Atticus for defending a black man.  So, will the man found guilty be released or not?  And will Jem and Scout ever get Boo Radley out of his home?

This book was really enjoyable. Once you finished the first chapter you are hooked and reeled in.  It is such a page-turner!!  I suggest this for thirteen and up because of the language.  The story really fits in with the title.  I hope you enjoy this book.

-Samantha S., 8th grade

Book Review: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

hobbit_coverHere is the story of Mr. Bilbo Baggins:

Bilbo, a creature who doesn’t really have a taste for adventure and never travels further than his cupboards, is greeted by a wizard, Gandalf, and fourteen dwarves.  Gandalf had chosen Mr. Baggins to join them on their adventure to The Lonely Mountains as the burglar.  He becomes very hesitant but agrees.  The visitors have a feast and stayed the night inside the hobbit’s cozy hole.  Bilbo wakes up and finds that he is alone. At 10:45 Gandalf comes by and tells Bilbo that the dwarves left a note saying to meet them at the Dragon Inn, Bywater at eleven sharp.  Mr. Baggins races there and arrives just in time.  With everyone on their horses their journey begins.

Along the way they get themselves into quite a few mishaps, such as being caught by trolls and goblins, almost being eaten by spiders, and many more.  Many months later, they finally reach the mountains.  The group is there for the treasure inside, but it is guarded by a fearsome dragon.  Will they be able to retrieve the loot they came all this way for?  Or will something else happen?

I really liked this book because it has unique places and page-turning chapters.  It has adventure, cliff-hangers, and a bit of fantasy.  I hope you enjoy this story.

-Samantha S., 8th grade

Book Review: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

narnia_coverThis story is about four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, exploring an enchanted world called Narnia through a magical closet.

One day while it was raining, they were playing hide-and-seek, and Lucy found the old room with the wardrobe. Suddenly, she heard Susan coming and she climbed into the closet. She walked deeper into the closet and felt something cold at her feet. Then she discovered Narnia. The magical place was in the season of winter, and she met a fawn, Mr. Tumnus.

When she came out of the closet, she did not notice that no time had passed. A few weeks later Lucy and her brothers and sister entered the wardrobe, and they could not believe that they were looking into the world of Narnia. When Lucy showed the others Mr. Tumnus’ home, it was destroyed by the White Witch. During their exploration in the forest, they met Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. As the beavers and children were talking about the Stone Table and Aslan, a powerful lion, Edmund sneaked out to find the White Witch’s house… and you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens!

I honestly loved this entire book because as I was reading it, I felt like I was actually in the story. This book was very interesting and I think that everyone will like it. Also, if you love adventure and magic, this is the book for you.

-Samantha S., 7th grade

Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls

red_fernThis book by Wilson Rawls is about a boy named Billy Colman with his two excellent coon hunting hounds, Little Ann and Old Dan. Billy gets his dogs from a magazine order, and saves enough money by determination and hard work. He always receives tips on hunting from his grandpa. On their first hunt in the river bottoms, the dogs beg for help occasionally. Then Old Dan finds the raccoon scent and heads off with Little Ann at his side. The raccoon pulls a simple trick by swimming across the river. Two hours later the pups has treed their first coon in the tallest sycamore tree in the bottoms. Finally after many hour of chopping the tree, the sycamore falls, and the hounds race off to find and kill the coon.

Near the end of the book, Billy enters a competition for hunting. Billy, his grandpa, and his dad goes to the contest. Before hunting, the judges held a beauty contest, and Billy enters Little Ann. He quickly grooms Little Ann and brings her to the tables. Little Ann wins the beauty contest. At the end of the hunting competition, Billy’s dogs win the contest. But– spoiler alert: there’s a sad ending for these dogs!

This terrific book is truly amazing. I think that the book is great for animal lovers. My opinion about the book is that the story is truly amazing and I bet everyone who reads this story will love it.

-Samantha S., 7th grade

Book Review: How To Be A Star, by M. Doty

how_to_be_a_star_coverThe book How to be a Star is about a girl named Kimi Chen and her brush with Internet fame.

Every day in the cafeteria during lunch, Kimi always sits with the nerds, Amir, Dex, and Kevin. There is also a center table of the cheerleading team, Maria, Shannon, Lindsay, Amanda, and Nicole. The team is very popular at this school. Emily, who is a best friend to Kimi and a super-star swimmer, eats at the center table with the other girls. Kimi has wanted to sit at the center table.

Kevin suggests that Kimi sing a song and post it on YouTube because he has a cousin who’s a producer. She thinks it over and agrees, going to the studio and signing an original song written by Kevin’s cousin. The next day, she finds the video on YouTube with only seven views.

A week later she checks the song again and discovers over 50,000 views and lots of comments. Maria, the group leader, finally invites Kimi over to the center table for the first time at lunch. Kimi is shocked and walks over. Maria asks Kimi if she wants to go to the mall with her after school.

But are the cheerleaders her real friends?

-Samantha S., 7th grade