5 Books To Read This Summer

Are you reading for the Summer Read program this summer, and are tired of reading your mandatory summer English book? Try checking one of these books out! Hopefully they won’t remind you of the pains of school all that much…

  1. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Image result for catching jordanJordan, the daughter of the famous QB Don Woods, and spent her whole life waiting to be the first girl to play QB at a college level. With the twists and turns of senior year, and as she’s torn apart between Henry and Ty, does she really want to throw away her dream of playing at Alabama?

 

  1. The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda HockingImage result for kanin chronicles

If you have read any other books by Amanda Hocking, especially her Trylle books, you’ll definitely enjoy this. Bryn Aven must protect the Troll community, before it all falls apart. Sure, she’ll eventually be charged with murder and treason, but it will all be better when it’s all over, right?

  1. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Image result for audrey waitDo you ever hear that catchy song on the radio and wish you were that girl the guy is singing about? Well, what for what most girls wish for, it turns out be a nightmare for Audrey after she breaks up with her boyfriend. Audrey has to deal with the paparazzi, changing her cell number because it keeps getting leaked to the press, and getting escorted by the police on a date with her new boyfriend. Maybe it’s a good lesson that she should never date a musician…

4. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle 

Image result for The Infinite Moment of UsIf you loved her l8r, g8r series, you’ll love this book! This is an incredible story between Wren, the good girl who obeys her parents, and Charlie, a foster kid. And when these two people meet, everything begins to change. Not for younger audiences.

 

  1. The Unremembered series by Jessica Brody

Image result for the unremembered series

A sixteen year old girl wakes up in the middle of a plane crash, with no memories of her life.  She has purple eyes, and so people began to call her Violet. When a mysterious boy claims he has the answers, will she trust him? Or will she remember nothing for the rest of her life?

The first book is a little bit tedious, but then it starts to get complicated with time travel and other things later on. This is the kind of serious that at the second to last chapter, you want to throw the book across the room, but then at the last page, you wish the author had made another three books.

 

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

Top Reads of 2016

Top Reads of 2016

Legend by Marie Lu

It was a book that had been on my reading list since it came out. However, I only just got around to reading it and couldn’t believe the adventure I’d missed. Lu tells an amazingly detailed story about a government soldier tracking down the most wanted criminal in the Republic. You can imagine what happens as the novice, June, and poor robber, Day, cross paths during her hunt. She falls for him on the street, unaware of his true identity, her target. She has to decide if avenging her brother’s death is more important than staying with this stranger she’s grown to love. Lu’s writing intrigues me because she focuses on small details that lead to the end of the story which most readers would find insignificant. This engages the reader to pay attention to the words they’re reading. I loved it so much, I just had to get the second book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Like Legend, this book has remained on my list but I didn’t put it on priority. So when I found it at the Mission Viejo Library’s bookstore, I knew it was finally my time to discover the story. Hundreds of years into the future, this spinoff of the Cinderella takes place in a New Beijing in a world where androids are normal to help people with daily chores and sometimes cyborgs roam among the crowd. However, it isn’t easy when you’re not considered human and work as lowly mechanic. Especially when your stepmother and stepsister want nothing to do with you to begin with. When the letumosis disease, plaguing the city issues a cyborg draft, Cinder’s stepmother doesn’t miss her chance to sign up her daughter for an experiment no one comes back from. Not long after Cinder’s admission, the doctor finds there is much more to her than just a few missing parts. Meyer tells this dystopian story while still adding elements of the original fairytale, just like the rest of the books in her series.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Paria Stolarz

I’ve done a review on this novel already, but I couldn’t help from mentioning it as it was a very memorable read for me. It was very different from most horror stories and took the word “nightmare” to a whole new level. Of course, this book ended with a cliffhanger and many unanswered questions, so I was ecstatic to find there was a sequel.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

A high schooler, Liz, tells the story from her point of view behind a camera lens, a perspective of the world as she sees it. Her life takes an unexpected turn when her best friend, Kate, decides to shut her out without warning or reason, and everyone whispers rumors and accusations behind her back. Suddenly, her world is out of focus and she tries to make sense of it all while still holding onto her friendship. This realistic story is told through a series of poems, which makes the events even more enticing and easy to follow along. I had to finish this book in one sitting because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages without reading what came next. I would definitely read this book again.

Sabrina C., 11th Grade

My Top Three Reads of 2014

People like to set goals for themselves during the new year: New Year’s Resolutions. Because of my love for reading, I am proud to say that I completed my reading goal of 50 books last year. With that amount, I finished some amazing series and books. This is my list of Top Three Reads read in 2014.

unmarked1) Unmarked by Kami Garcia

This book is the sequel to another I reviewed a while back, Unbreakable. That book is still my favorite out of all the ones I’ve read. I love the supernatural mystery of it. I was in love with it so much that I had to countdown the days to when this book came out.

**SPOILERS!! Must have read Unbreakable!**

The story begins with Kennedy at her new boarding school, where she was put after the police found and interrogated her that night in the rain. She’s on her own now. The Legion left to work. Their job has just begun, with Andras now free. But Andras has a mission too. He’s looking for Kennedy. She has to reunite with the Legion in order to capture Andras and finally get her mark.

In my opinion, Unbreakable had a better story. There was more action and different spirit encounters, as where in Unmarked it was just Andras. It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be. The ending wasn’t satisfying, either. I didn’t like it compared to the first one, but I still anticipate the third book in the series.

2) Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

**SPOILERS!! Must have read House of Hades!**

Many of you know, Blood of Olympus came out in the fall, so I got to finish this exciting series, but I was also sad that it finally ended. It starts off with the continuation of the seven demigods’ quest to deliver the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood as a peace offering to stop the war against the Romans and the Greeks. They already have enough to worry about with Gaea, the earth goddess, on her way to the wreak havoc on the world.

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire, the world must fall,
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death”

It’s time to end this intriguing series we all love.

**SPOILERS!! Must have read Blood of Olympus!**

For those who have finished this book, let’s reflect. I didn’t like the fact that Percy and Annabeth barely spoke throughout the whole book. They’re the main characters after all. Also, I wasn’t happy with the end of the book (and not just because of the fact that it ended). Gaea is supposed to be the all mighty, most powerful goddess, so I expected a full on fight with her that would maybe take up an entire chapter or two, not a fight that didn’t even last a chapter. The way she finally died was very simple and didn’t seem to take up much effort from the demigods. Another thing was how the demigods finally ended up. I’m happy for Percy and Annabeth, getting the ending they truly deserve, and Nico, meeting someone who loves him back, and Leo for keeping his promise and finding Calypso. It would’ve been nice to see exactly what happened like an Epilogue to show how they lived. I know the rest is for the readers to imagine, but that’s my opinion. Overall, the book was okay. I’m still upset, though, that one of my favorite series ended.

outsiders3) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

A couple of my friends have been telling me to read this book forever, and I kept putting it off, but when I finally did get to it, I couldn’t put it down. The story is set in the ’60s about Greasers and Socs. Greasers are considered the “low lives” in the neighborhood. They are kids who are usually not the brightest, form gangs, are poor, and distinguish themselves by styling their hair with grease. The Socs are the white boys who are rich and educated and love to beat up Greasers just for fun. The narrator, Ponyboy, shares the story of his life as a Greaser with his two brothers, Darry and Sodapop. Ponyboy is the youngest of the brothers, only 14, but he has seen more danger and destruction than one should see at his age. And of course, Johnny, Ponyboy’s best friend, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, as people say. All is normal and well enough between the two groups, until one member of a group kills someone of the other side.

This book was very interesting, showing a time when kids jumped others just to get a kick out of it, not even to steal. The book even describes a gang fight including maybe twenty members from each side, just to see who’s the best. I couldn’t believe the ending. It shocked me because it was so surprising I never saw it coming. It’s a great book, and I can see why it was my friends’ favorite.

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution involving reading or writing? Have you accomplished them? Are you making one for 2015? I think they’re great ways to keep on track. And as for these three books,  have you read them? If not, are you now interested to?

-Sabrina C., 9th grade

6 Young Adult Books That Would Make Awesome Movies

1. Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a teenager who wakes up each morning to find himself in the body and sharing the mind of another. A common concept throughout this novel is how love has the capacity to “reach beyond” things such as appearance and gender. I love this book and I feel it is one that should be shared outside of the standard YA reader audience.

let_it_snow_cover2. Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle is a unique literary compilation written by three accomplished YA authors with similar writing styles and a common sense of humor. It tells the overlapping stories of three different pairs/groups of friends who are brought together by fate on Christmas Day. It’s funny, heartfelt, and really capitalizes on the magic and meaning of the holiday season.

3. Legend by Marie Lu would make an awesome dystopian action film due to its fascinating world building and interesting use of two very different narrators in two very different situations.

4. Encouraged by a friend, I read Wings (the first book in the Wings series) by Aprilynne Pike a few summers ago hoping for a quick read. The book hugely exceeded my expectations and I ended up getting the rest of the series the next day. Wings follows Laurel, a seemingly normal teenage girl, as she discovers the truth of her past, her ancestry, and herself. She soon finds herself in a world of faeries, human-like beings that couldn’t be less human. They are, ultimately, plants instead of animals. I think that it would be awesome to be able to see this supernatural world in a more visual way.

will_grayson_cover5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is an captivating and inspiring story about two very different teenagers with the same name that are brought together by fate. This book contains everything–from humor; to support of the LGBT community; to friendship; to love; to a Tiny Cooper musical. This is a truly amazing book and I believe it would make a great movie.

6. I’m not exactly sure of the status of the film rights for I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (the first book in the Gallagher Girls Series) by Ally Carter. I have heard that they were purchased and sold and bought and expired. I have seen conflicting information, but last I heard, Tonik Productions had undertaken the project. If this is true, I am excited to see their final project. If it’s not, I am disappointed that they overlooked such an amazing opportunity. This series is a compilation of the journal entries of Cammie Morgan, a student at a clandestine spy-training academy disguised as an pristigious prep school for “exceptional young women”. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so, but don’t judge the series by its first book. 😉

What books do you wish to see on the big screen?

-Danielle K., 9th grade

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

Something for Everyone: 5 Top Summer Reads

Are you bored out of your mind this summer? Feel like spending the day watching movies or playing video games? Instead, give one of these books a try, and you’ll be instantly entertained.

huck1) Huck by Janet Elder

Huck is a true story that is not only for dog lovers but for anyone looking for a heartwarming read this summer. Huck, a toy poodle, is bought for Michael, a young boy, while his mother is going through breast cancer treatment. When Michael and his family go on vacation and leave Huck with family members, Huck runs away. The story line follows Michael and his family through their ups and downs, times of both joy and sorrow, as they search all over New Jersey for their beloved dog. Through the family’s searches, it is revealed how kind people can really be.

divergent_cover2) The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

The Divergent series is a great series for bringing on a long car or plane trip, or for just reading at home, as it can keep you easily entertained. Divergent takes place in a dystopia that is divided into four sections/clans as a result of a war, and follows a girl named Beatrice through her teenage years, first as she moves out of the clan in which she grew up; then as she becomes involved in another war that will wipe out two clans. Divergent and the rest of the books in the series can really make time go faster, and is nearly impossible to put down.

hokey_pokey_cover3) Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Everything about Hokey Pokey, Jerry Spinelli’s latest book, will remind you of summer. In a land where grownups don’t exist, boys and girls hate each other, there is no school and only playtime, every kid is under twelve, and the hokey pokey man (think snow cone in the shape of a cube) comes every day, live three friends; Jack, the “leader” of the hokey pokey land boys, and his two companions, Dusty and LaJo. Only there are a few small problems. Jack’s beloved bike has been stolen by a girl, and Jack is becoming too old for hokey pokey land. This book will bring out the inner kid in you, and you will be reading it over and over all summer.

captain_bluebear4) The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

This is a book that is not very well known; however, the Washington Post accurately captured its essence when it deemed the book “Equal parts J.K Rowling and Shel Silverstein.” This book is perfect because it won’t take up a lot of room in a suitcase, but it will take up plenty of time on the plane ride during your summer vacation. The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear is about a blue bear named Bluebear (what else?) who goes on all kinds of adventures during his 13 1/2 lives and has a talking encyclopedia in his head. Bluebear begins his life in a nutshell in the sea with minipirates, and from there goes through all kinds of adventures, such as living on an island with every kind of food growing on it; think pizza plants and chocolate milk streams. The island later turns out to be a carnivorous monster. Bluebear also becomes a professional liar, along with many other things. This book is fun and playful, and is for all ages. Just like the rest of the books on this list, The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear is something to read over and over all summer.

eragon_cover5) The Eragon series by Christopher Paolini

The Eragon series has plenty of books to keep you entertained for a few weeks, and is a great series for fantasy lovers. Even if you have already read the Eragon series, it is great to reread. Eragon is a young boy who discovers a “magical stone” that turns out to be an egg holding Saphira, or dragon. Eragon then continues to learn to become a dragon rider and how to trust Saphira in order to defeat the evil king that rules Eragon’s kingdom. Like The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, the Eragon series is great for teens age 12 and up.

-Will R., 9th grade

Book List: The Best of Transmedia & Alternate Format Storytelling

Books are amazing in the way that they can create a whole world using nothing but words. That being said, there is also something to be said for transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is when a story can be experienced through multiple formats. While it may seem that adding other media forms to a book could be distracting, or a way to compensate for weak writing, when done correctly it can really make for an amazing reading experience. When talking about books, transmedia storytelling can include books that include things such as photos, trading cards, websites, and so on. Below is a list of some of my favorite books that fall into this unique category:

cathys_bookCathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8283 by Sean Stewart (Cathy Vickers Trilogy)

Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8283 is written in the form of a journal kept by the main character, Cathy Vickers. As the story goes on it becomes clear that not everything is as it first seems. The journal format of the book works well to tell the story, but what really sets this book apart is the interactiveness of it. All of the phone numbers in the book can be called, the websites accessed, and so on. The hardcover book even comes with a packet of “evidence” that contains everything from napkins with things written on them to photos and postcards. All of this real world interaction really immerses you into the story in a way most books can’t.

miss_peregrines_coverMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a wonderful dark fantasy tale that follows the adventures of Jacob Portman as he discovers that his grandfather’s tales of children with mysterious powers may be far more real than he could have ever imagined. The story itself is wonderfully written and the characters are ones that you won’t forget. What really brings the story to life though is the collection of really vintage photos from private collections. The photos are eerie and stunningly beautiful, and while they match the story perfectly, they also all seem to tell a story of their own. This book is an absolute joy to read and I highly recommended it, both for the shockingly brilliant story and the stunning photos.

maze_bonesThe 39 Clues Series by various authors

The 39 Clues books follow the story of what happens to Amy and Dan Cahill when their grandmother, and closest relative, Grace Cahill, passes away and sets them, and a family they knew little about, on a massive scavenger hunt around the world for a quest for the ultimate prize. The 39 Clues Series has an interesting marketing model for a book series. While books are the heart of it, there are many additional things that make the books stand out from the crowd. First of all are the books themselves, each one is written by a different author (though some have written more than one in the series). I think this is a very interesting style choice and it is interesting to get a somewhat different style in each book. A further thing that makes the books unique is the unique trading-card style cards that are packaged in the front cover of each book. The cards vary from full color art to photographs, with some having something on both sides while others have a solid back. The cards are beautifully done and really add something unique to the books. While each book’s cards are the same as all other copies of that book, random blind box sets of cards can be purchased to gain additional cards. These additional cards aren’t needed to enjoy the book but do add to the world of the story. The cards are great as collectibles but they can also be used to play a TCG style game. The books also have multiple code type puzzles throughout that usually offer some sort of clue or fact regarding the story.  The final way that this series incorporates transmedia storytelling is a website where you can solve puzzles, play games, enter contests, keep track of your cards, and more. This book series mixes a great story with a truly unique marketing model that combined make a reading experience like no other.

recklessReckless by Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld series)

Reckless tells the story of a young boy, Jacob Reckless and his adventures in a place know as Mirrorworld after a family tragedy rocks his life. The story itself is a brilliant fantasy adventure full of great creatures and adventure. What’s really brilliant about this book is the black and white illustrations that are found at the start of each chapter. Some drawings are more detailed than others, but they are all very pleasing to look at. Overall I just really loved everything about this book, from the amazing story to the beautiful artwork.

why_we_broke_upWhy We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

In all honesty I have never made it through the entire book, I have started several times and just never managed to make it through– it’s not the book’s fault, it’s just been bad timing. That being said, what I have read was very enjoyable. This book tells of the of a couple’s journey throughout their relationship and why it ended. The story telling was interesting; you start the book knowing the outcome and yet you still want to know how that end was reached. What really makes this book special, though, is the beautiful full-color illustrations by Maira Kalman. The illustrations are in a loose, rough sketch type of style but are very well done. They show images of things being discussed in the story and really make this book shine.

hugo_cabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The story of The Invention of Hugo Cabret follows the life of twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret, an orphan who lives in a train station. His main goal is to fix an automaton that he used to work on with his father. Being an orphan, he gets into all kinds of trouble just trying to stay alive. At one point he loses his notebook that has all of the information about how to fix the automaton and works in a toy booth owned by an old man Georges Méliès in order to try to get his book back. He befriends the man’s nice Isabelle and then things start to get really interesting. Isabelle has a key that for some reason fits into the back of Hugo’s automaton and causes it to draw a picture. The two children then set out to discover the secret of the automaton and the apparent link it has to Georges Méliès. One of the most interesting things about the book is the way that the story is told. The best way to describe it is as a picture book for all ages. The Invention of Hugo Cabret combines text with pages of black and white drawings. The two forms of storytelling work together to provide a truly unique reading experience.

-Angela J., 12th grade