Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

breatheanniebreathe_mirandakenneallyBreathe, Annie, Breathe, by Miranda Kenneally, is about 18 year old Annie running a marathon in memory of her late boyfriend. Even though Annie hates running, she wants to run the marathon that her boyfriend, Kyle, was training to run in. It’s the end of Annie’s senior year, and she is trying to move on from Kyle. But when Annie meets Jeremiah, it’s harder than she could ever imagine.

Jeremiah is Annie’s coach’s younger brother. He is a junior at the college that Annie is going to be attending at the fall, and loves running as much as his brother. Annie is scared to become more than friends with Jeremiah. Can Annie let Kyle go while training for the marathon? Or will she be stuck in the past?

I personally loved this book. I saw Miranda Kenneally’s newest book in a bookstore, and so I decided to try to find it in the library. Instead, I found Breathe, Annie, Breathe and another Kenneally book, Jesse’s Girl, and I fell in love with both. I feel that this was a really realistic book, and I fell in love with it.What I also love about Miranda Kenneally is that some of the characters stay the same, but the plot isn’t. For instance, the football coach in Breathe, Annie, Breathe, is the main character’s brother’s girlfriend in Jesse’s Girl.

I recommend Breathe, Annie, Breathe to anyone who has read Miranda Kenneally’s other books, is a Sarah Dessen fan, or is just looking for a good realistic read. This book isn’t mature for younger audiences.

-Rebecca V.

Breathe, Annie, Breath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Full-Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix was a great book. Becca Jones, the main character, really represented normal high school students. She is stressing out over GPAs, SATs, scholarships, and classes for college, along with the rest of her friends.

Becca isn’t telling the truth to everyone. Her father is in jail, and her mother’s lawyer tells Becca and her mother that they can’t tell anyone. If they do, Becca and her mother could die. Becca had to enter a different high school, in a different state, and make new friends. She can’t have any social media sites, and has to take down her Facebook page. Becca and her mom get through the three years, except when applying for colleges and financial aid, the truth is starting to come out. Becca applies for a scholarship, although accidentally sends in the wrong essay. In an interview, Becca blurts out that she’s the daughter of a prisoner. The people interviewing her don’t believe her, and thinks she’s going crazy. Becca’s mother is afraid of people finding out about her husband, and Becca is afraid of never going to college. Should Becca find out the truth and tell her friends? Or should she stay in her mother’s shadow, not going to college until her father gets out of jail? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Overall, Full-Ride really good read. I liked how this book was realistic. At the end of the book, there is a surprise, something you wouldn’t expect from a character that is mentioned, but isn’t seen a lot. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good realistic fiction read. Full-Ride is truly a good book about high school, and getting into college.

-Rebecca V.

Full Ride is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcherintherye_salingerThe Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is a novel that expresses the loss of innocence adolescents are required to experience in their transition into adulthood. The book begins with the main character, Holden Caulfield, talking to what is later revealed to be a therapist about his life experiences since he got kicked out of yet another school because of his bad grades. At the very beginning of the book, Holden clarifies that he doesn’t want to say all that “David Copperfield crap”, alluding to Dickens books about Copperfield that went into extreme detail about every aspect of his life.

As the story progresses, we learn that Holden’s younger brother, Allie, died from leukemia. Ever since then, Holden has been almost obsessed with the idea that innocence must be preserved in children, even going to the extent of saying his dream job would be being the catcher in the rye. He explains the job description to be hundreds of kids running around on a field of rye and whenever one of the children nears the cliff, Holden reaches down and catches them. Another way he shows his need to contain innocence in children is through his little sister Phoebe. His constant control and protection over Phoebe shows Holden’s need to preserve innocence. However, at the very end of the book, Holden accepts the fact that innocence cannot be preserved and that you must let children grow from their mistakes.

All in all, the underlying themes and ideas in this book allow for a piece of great literature that I greatly recommend. However, it should be targeted for more mature audiences because of certain scenes in the book. Although it is a generally censored book, that should not stop you from reading it because the questionable scenes all contain underlying messages that only add the book and it helps us get a better understanding of the book. In the end, The Catcher in the Rye should be a book on everybody’s reading list.

-Melika R.

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

my_heart_black_holesMy Heart and Other Black Holes follows the journey of 16-year old Aysel as she plots her own death over the course of several weeks. Aysel is determined to die, she’s more afraid of what will happen if she lives than of the certainty of death, and she only has one thing holding her back. Aysel is worried that she might not have the courage to end her life by herself. She finds her solution on a website called Smooth Passages in the form of a boy name FrozenRobot (also known as Roman). Roman has his own baggage and his own reasons for wanting to die, but they both want the same thing in the end, to end their lives.

Over the course of several weeks the pair spends more and more time plotting their way out. As their plan becomes more concrete, it also starts to become more uncertain if it will reach fruition because Aysel starts to question everything about her future plans. Throughout the course of the book, Aysel and Roman go through a lot of character development that makes them very believable characters and makes for a very good read. The thing that really makes this book stand out though, is that it deals with suicide and depression in a very realistic and raw way; it doesn’t romanticize these feelings, but it doesn’t discount them either. Given that this is a YA novel, I think that this is a very important thing.

The way the plot develops is also nicely done, from the onset of the book we know that Aysel and Roman both want to die, but we don’t full know why, but as the plot moves forward we get bits and pieces until we can see the full story. Neither Roman nor Aysel know the full reason behind the other’s desire to die at the begging so both the read and the characters get this information together and it really draws you into the story. Roman and Aysel’s interactions with their family members is also very well done and interesting to watch develop and change. Roman’s mom and Aysel’s brother were my two favorite family members and I really enjoyed seeing how their actions influenced Roman and Aysel.

As a whole My Heart and Other Black Holes is a very powerful book that has a lot of emotion behind it and dose a wonderful job dealing with suicide and depression. The book ends on a hopeful note and is great read for anyone high school and up.

-Angela J.

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

abundance_of_katherinesAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green is phenomenal book that is about a boy who has only dated girls named Katherine. The book starts with a boy named Colin who is introduced to be a child prodigy. He has just had is heart broken by his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine. Colin is extremely upset, so his friend Hassan convinces him to go on a road trip.

After convincing both of their parents, they go on the road trip. They stop in a town called Gutshot where they are offered summer jobs and a room to live in. The women who offers them these jobs has a daughter named Lindsey. Meanwhile, Colin is set on the fact of finding an equation that will predict the future of any relationship.

Eventually, Colin finds that he is attracted to Lindsey. However, Lindsey already has a boyfriend. Anyone who has read any John Green books in the past would certainly be interested in this book and it is a wonderful book that I would recommend to everyone.

-Melika R., 9th grade

 

Book Review: Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

smells_like_dogIn the world of literature, there are so many authors out there. But, there are a few dozen authors who will blow your mind, and one of them is Suzanne Selfors. The way Suzanne writes is simply amazing. First, her books are a fusion between comedy and seriousness. Especially in Smells Like Dog.

This is definitely my favorite book written by her. In Smells Like Dog, Homer, who is a farm boy, gets a gift from Uncle Drake– a dog! Except, the dog doesn’t do anything. Really he does nothing. But, Uncle Dranke, before he died, left a dog to Homer, which he called his most treasured possession. So what should he do with it? The dog just doesn’t want to do anything at all.

Until… you’ll have to read the book to know.

Out of 5 I would rate this story a definite 5. Also, out of 5, I would rate the author a 6, because it is very hard to find a great author. Thanks for reading, and please give comments below!

-Satej B., 8th grade

Book Review: Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

half_moon_investigations_coverHey there Artemis Fowl fans! If you have already read (and reread) the Artemis Fowl series, another great book by Eoin Colfer is Half Moon Investigations.

Though we know Eoin Colfer best for his incredible portrayals in the Artemis Fowl fantasies, his realistic fiction Half Moon Investigations is truly astounding. Based in present day, this is an action-packed mystery you won’t soon forget. In this novel, Fletcher (Half) Moon, a private detective, gets involved in his most dangerous case yet. When Fletcher is employed by April Devereux to investigate the Sharkey family, specifically Red Sharkey, he gets much more than he bargained for. Fletcher is badly injured, accused of a severe crime, and must constantly try to determine where his trust should lie. The twists and turns, vivid descriptions, and intriguing story line of Half Moon Investigations are sure to satisfy any voracious reader’s needs.

One of this adventure’s greatest strengths is its ability to pull you in and not let go. I was completely engaged in Half Moon Investigations, and I felt like I was right there alongside Fletcher every step of the way. With phenomenal details and a spot-on view into the world of Fletcher Moon, this book is nearly impossible to put down. Eoin Colfer made all of the characters in his novel really come to life. It was almost as if you could pick up the phone book, find Fletcher Moon’s number, and have him describe the whole story to you in person.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Artemis Fowl series or who is looking for a good mystery. What discoveries will Fletcher Moon make? It’s up to you to find out- by reading Half Moon Investigations.

-Alaina K., 6th grade

Book Review: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

running_dreamThe Running Dream is a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen. It follows the story of a high school girl named Jessica who loses one of her legs in a school bus accident. This would be a tough experience for anyone…but Jessica is on the track team. She doesn’t just love to run – she considers running just as important as breathing! This book takes us through Jessica’s emotions, her mental and physical challenges, and her extraordinary journey to her “new normal” life.

I’m not a runner. In fact, I am more of a creative mind than a physical one. I wasn’t sure I could fully get into this book, but I could, and it was an awakening experience. Not only did it make me eager to experience the feeling of running so adeptly described by the author who is a runner herself, but I learned so much about life and its challenges.

There are just so many life lessons that The Running Dream takes the reader through. It is a worthwhile read for anyone, of any age. Empathy, compassion, and respect shine through as the reader learns that humanity shines through when understanding others.

(This book does not carry any inappropriate content and really is suitable for any age. It also has been awarded the Schneider Family Book Award; “it honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”)

-Danielle L., 7th grade

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

pushing_the_limitsAnybody out there want a romance story that is good, but not as cheesy as Twilight or as heartbreaking as Romeo and Juliet and The Fault in our Stars? Well, you’re in luck!
To start the story off, Echo is a good girl. She gets good grades and has given up art, both are which to please her father. That’s when she has to tutor bad boy Noah, who can get grades if he tries, skips class, smokes weed, and has slept with just about every girl in the school. But both of them are hiding something. Like why does Echo have scars that people whisper about and cause her to wear long sleeves even in summer? And why in Noah in foster care with his two friends Beth and Isaiah, especially without his adorable brothers?
This book is really good. While a main part of the plot is about a certain love relationship (hint: Echo and Noah), there is also the realistic fiction of what goes on in the real world, so it’s not cheesy at all. Also, this couple helps each other get through the problems that they are facing.
Additionally, this story actually ends well, with the couple living on and not dying.
Like all romance books, it has a well felt story. In  this case, it’s the good girl and bad boy meet, good girl and bad boy do not want to admit that they like each other, and good girl and bad boy confess their love story.
Literature wise, it is well written, with the author using both points of view and teaching some “school” stuff, such as a little Spanish.
Finally, the author tells of the common lesson that love can happen unexpectedly.
Please check it out; this book is awesome!
-Megan V., 9th grade

Book Review: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

we_were_liars“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure…We are the Sinclairs. No one is needy. No one is wrong. We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Perhaps that is all you need to know.” (3)

With its thought-provoking title and captivatingly blurry cover-photo, I expected We Were Liars to be an interesting read. That being said, the book largely exceeded my expectations.

We Were Liars is told in the first person point of view and bounces back and forth from summers past to present. These snippets of information provide the reader with a detailed history of the Sinclair family; along with a deeper understanding of the protagonist’s character and motives.

This contemporary, realistic YA novel contains stories of criminal activity; childhood adventure; constant action; uniquely limited friendships; forbidden romance; excruciating loss; unconditional love; utmost regret; what it means to belong; and the truth regarding mental inadequacy.

One specific facet of this story that I liked was the humor; strategically placed between solemn moments of the novel, We Were Liars had me laughing out loud in the middle of English class. The comedy utilized is clean, spontaneous, John Greenesque, and (in other words) inexplicably hilarious.

“‘Don’t look at my troll feet,’ says Gat suddenly.

‘What?’

‘They’re hideous. A troll snuck into my room at night, took my normal feet for himself, and left me with his thuggish troll feet.’ Gat tucks his feet under a towel so I can’t see them. ‘Now you know the truth.’

…‘Wear shoes.”

‘I’m not wearing shoes on the beach…I have to act like everything’s okay until I can find that troll. Then I’ll kill him to death and get my normal feet back. Have you got weapons?’

‘No.’

‘Come on.’

‘Um. There’s a fire poker in Windemere.’

‘All right. As soon as we see that troll, we’ll kill him to death with your fire poker.’

‘If you insist.’” (72)

Another aspect of We Were Liars that I came to enjoy was E. Lockhart’s particular style of writing, which is notably similar to Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me trilogy. Occasionally their prose transforms into free verse and then back again like a flicker of poetry, in a fashion that successfully mimics the subconscious rant-like thought process.

“I plunge down,
to rocky rocky bottom, and
I can see the base of Beechwood Island and
my arms and legs feel numb but my fingers are cold. Slices
of seaweed go past as I fall.
And then I am up again, and breathing.
I’m okay,
my head is okay,
no one needs to cry for me or worry about me.
I am fine,
I am alive.
I swim to shore.” (142)

Liars is truly a roller coaster full of unexpected twists, sharp turns, and gut-wrenching drops; I guarantee that you will be kept on your toes as Cadance strives to recover her past, no matter what that might mean or whom it may affect.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, particularly fans of John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, Ally Carter, and Libba Bray.

-Danielle K., 9th grade