The Shadowlands Series by Kate Brian

Image result for shadowlands by kate brian

I never think that a series is completely bad. Sure, you don’t agree with authors, but you normally don’t think that the series is the worst thing ever written. The Shadowlands series by Kate Brian wasn’t horrible, but was badly written.

The  series is about high schooler Rory Miller. She and her family must run from a serial killer and hide in a safe house on a vacation island. There, Rory uncovers secrets that she shouldn’t know about, and the locals don’t seem like ordinary people. People start disappearing, and the vacationers, including Rory’s sister Darcy, aren’t remembering them. The locals seem to know where they went. Will Rory be able to protect herself and her family before it’s too late?

Kate Brian, also known as Kieran Scott, should have made the books longer instead of stretching out the plot. Sometimes the plot would drone on and on, while other times Brian would introduce ten characters and half explain them.

Image result for Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan BoysImage result for private and privilege seriesHowever, I don’t view Kate Brian as a bad author. Her book, Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys is okay. I have never read her Private and Privilege series, but with 11 books, I’m guessing people enjoyed it. I think that Brian was aiming to have a hit paranormal romance series, but kept reverting back to a realistic theme.

Even though I don’t think that The Shadowlands series was the best, I would say to read it if you just want a relaxing story.

-Rebecca V.

Kate Brian’s novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

joy_luck_clubInsightful, heart-warming, and beautifully crafted, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club portrays mother-daughter relationships that must endure both generation and culture gaps. Each of the four Chinese-immigrant mothers narrates their past of growing up in China and immigrating to America. They also describe their struggles to raise daughters who won’t forget their Chinese heritage and values, as well as the legend of their mothers. On the other hand, the four American-born daughters strive to separate themselves from their mothers and find their own identities in America.

While reading, you will learn to be open-minded, as this will allow you to enjoy and understand the intended overall meaning of The Joy Luck Club. The novel teaches many important lessons that include being accepting toward different cultures, never judging someone from just their appearance, appreciating your parents, and being grateful for all of the opportunities we have in America. Many countries’ cultures are very different than the American culture, so we must always respect their customs. In addition, each daughter views their mother as weak and embarrassing to be around in the beginning. Once they begin to listen and see their mothers in an entirely different light, they discover that their mothers have experienced and sacrificed a lot for them to grow up and have a better life. This also leads them to be thankful for all the opportunities they are able to have, unlike their mothers, who grew up in China. All in all, both mother and daughters learn to discover the true meaning of love and come to accept each other for who they truly are.

I would definitely recommend this touching novel to anyone over the age of fourteen, since some mature topics are discussed. I especially recommend The Joy Luck Club to mothers and daughters because it will remind you of the significance of the unbreakable relationship and how important family is. Amy Tan is a remarkable author, and through her writing, she is able to weave a series of short stories into one complete, fulfilling novel.

-Kaylie W., 9th grade

Book Review: If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

if_i_stayIf I Stay is one of my all-time favorite novels. This piece of literature is one of the few that I actually take the time to read over and over again. The story is simply intriguing. And now that the movie is coming out next month with some great actors seen previously, I just can’t wait to experience the touching story once again.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a novel about an average teenage girl who just happens to be an amazing cello player. Mia, the cello player, is dating Adam, another musician. They both have a good life, when on one of the weekends, Mia and her family go on a drive. During the drive, Mia’s family gets into an accident where all of them end up dead, including Mia. However, Mia is a “ghost” and literally spectates her family and her getting taken away by the paramedics. The harsh and tragic journey Mia has to face while Adam and her best friend Kim mourn over her is astonishing. As readers, we get to experience Mia’s heartbreak’s and sadness, through watching her loved ones miss her and join in unity due to her tragic situation.

I am extremely excited to watch the movie made based on this book! I am intrigued to see what they make out of this amazing novel, and how well the actors play their character’s roles. This is by far, the best novel I have ever read. If I Stay takes you through a journey with Mia, with sadness and love joining to fine a perfect medium.

-Nirmeet B., 10th grade

Book Review: My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier

Z917SchBroSam2upMy Brother Sam is Dead is a fascinating historical fiction by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier, and is a story about a family torn apart over the American Revolution.

The story all starts when the oldest brother, Sam Meeker, comes home unexpectedly from college- Yale to be exact. He gives the family news that the patriots have defeated the “lobster backs” or the British. The Meeker family is loyal to the king and do not think that the war would do any good. However, Sam has a different perspective on this.

Tim, Sam’s younger brother, admires Sam greatly. When the brothers are outside together doing chores around their family’s tavern, Sam tells Tim his plan to steal their father’s gun in order to fight. Tim protests, but he can do nothing to stop Sam. That night, Mr. Meeker and Sam have an argument about the war and Sam runs away from home. One day, near winter, Tim’s father says that this year Tim will be going with him to Verplanck’s Point with him to trade the cattle. On the way there cowboys almost rob them, but a rescue team comes just in time. On the way back however, Tim’s father gets kidnapped and Tim almost does too, but he luckily outsmarts the cowboys. When Tim gets home he immediately becomes more responsible and takes charge of the tavern the family owns. When Sam comes home to visit them a couple months later, he advises Tim to butcher the cattle’s meat and hide it before the patriots steal them. One night when Sam is visiting the tavern again, two patriots try to steal the cattle. Sam chases after them, but gets framed for stealing them.

The question everyone is asking is, what will happen to Sam? I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the American Revolution. It is an interesting read and it gives you a new perspective on the revolution. It will be one of the best historical fictions you have ever read!

-Melika R., 8th grade

Book Review: The Fantastic Family Whipple, by Matthew Ward

fantastic_family_whipple_coverIn his first novel, The Fantastic Family Whipple, Matthew Ward writes about the most record-breaking family on Earth. The Whipple family, from father Charlie Whipple to young baby Ivy Whipple, has broken all sorts of world records. Except for twelve-year-old Arthur Whipple, who the main protagonist of the story, has not broken any world records. Rather shocking, for the rest of the Whipple family.

All fifteen members of the Whipple Family, except for Arthur (born on the 29th February), are all born on March first. The Whipple family celebrates their birthdays together and throw a huge party.

While cutting the World’s Biggest Birthday Cake, the cake starts collapsing, lighting the party venue on fire and nearly crushing the Whipple Family. During the party, Arthur sees two clowns. Their appearance is unusual because one is rather tall and the other rather small. Arthur pins them down as suspects of the cake collapsing.

Is Arthur’s instinct right? Will someone be able to catch the person(s) responsible for this? Read this realistic fiction book to find out who is the master of this crime.

The Fantastic Family Whipple is an amazing, entertaining book to read. It had a unique storyline that can be enjoyed by any age. I liked the fact that anyone could relate to Arthur because he was attempting to break a world record. The ending was a bit disappointing, but it was okay. All in all, this book is for anybody who wishes to break a world record. If you enjoy this book, watch out for the sequel coming fall 2014.

-Anmol K., 7th grade

Book Review: My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier

Z917SchBroSam2upSpoiler alert! Spoiler alert! The authors of this book definitely need to make some adjustments to this title. I mean seriously, why give away the ending of this book in the title– the first thing a person reads when looking for a book.

Anyway, if you are looking for a story with lots of true facts and details on the American Revolutionary War blended in with some fictional characters, this is the perfect book for you. Sam, a farm-boy, has just gone off to school when he decides to go and fight the Redcoats with the Continental Army. With a tavern to run and a farm to maintain, Sam’s mother, father, and younger brother, Tim, beg for him to stay. With his heart set on going to war, Sam runs away. With nothing to do but pray for his brother, Tim takes over his brothers job and soon finds himself on a trip with his father delivering cattle to the British troops. On his way home he soon finds that his father is missing. With warnings of thieves Sam doesn’t know whether he should look for his father or go home. Will Tim find his father?

This is a suspenseful and educational read. I would rate it 9 out of 10 on my favorite historical novels list. The story kept my interest and was hard to put it down. I recommend this book if you enjoy reading an intense historical fiction.

-Marilyn J., 8th grade

Book Review: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

little_women_coverLittle Women, a classic which was first published in 1868, is about four sisters–Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy–who learn, with their mother’s guidance, to overcome the many obstacles that come their way.

As the first scene opens, all the girls are complaining about the coming Christmas, for which their mother said no gifts would be purchased or exchanged due to the hard winter ahead of them, and the fact that their father was off fighting in the war. By the end of the book, however, all of the girls’ lives have changed drastically. Years older, and some of them married, they now are gracious and giving women, who have learned many life lessons.

While reading this book, I felt that the sisterly bond between all the girls was very strong. Jo and Beth have a special bond that is tested to the highest extent at one point in the story. This sisterly bond is not always perfect, however. Jo’s quick temper causes a fight between her and Amy, which leads to more issues. Their mother, like she does so many times in the novel, gives the girls advice to resolve the issue.

My favorite character or sister in the book is Jo. I found her to be a funny character, and I also liked how she acts like a tomboy when she is expected to act like a girl. It causes her to have a unique character and entertaining spirit. Jo reminds me of my own sister who can always find a way to make others laugh.

My favorite part of this book was seeing how the then young, selfish girls changed during the course of the book and how different their lives are at the end of the novel.
I believe this book has a right to be considered a classic because the plot and the book altogether are extremely well written and have scenes that may interest a variety of age groups. I would rate this book a 9 out of 10, because a few parts did not catch my attention as much as others. I would definitely recommend this novel to others who are interested in a realistic fictional read.

– Leila S., 8th grade