Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Silver People by Margarita Engle

The subtitle for Silver People is Voices From the Panama Canal and hearing from different voices is really what this book is like.  The strongest voices are from the silver people, workers on the Panama Canal who can only earn silver coins (not the gold coins earned by the white man) because of the darker shade of their skin.   We hear from Mateo, a Cuban teen who comes to work on this massive earth moving project that took place in the first years of the 20th century. We also hear from Henry who has come from Jamaica because he has heard that he can earn good money working on the canal as well as from Anita, a girl adopted by an herb woman who teaches her to use the secrets of the forest to heal.  Joining the chorus are howler monkeys, blue morpho butterflies and even trees.  The award winning author Margarita Engle writes in verse, and the story moves along in an easy, flowing way.  We follow some of the characters as their lives intersect within the setting of this monumental project. When I was younger, I got a chance to cross the Panama Canal, and was amazed at this feat of engineering but never considered the impact on those who lived and worked there and the environment.  After reading this book, I feel like my eyes have been opened on this place and time.  If you like historical fiction and appreciate the flow of poetry, you'll love this book.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a book about the future. In this future, at the age of 13 parents can have to choice to "unwind" their kid. Unwinding is when doctors will take all the child's organs and parts away and give them to different kids around the world. The unwound kid will still be able to have some control of the parts when with an other kid, but not all control. There is three different ways that a kid can be unwound. One is that the parent thinks that the child is beyond saving so they will sign papers to have them unwind. Two is that the government thinks that you don't have enough talent to stay in one piece. And three is that you are born to be unwound, this means that you are a tithe, in which the family gives 10% of everything to God, including their kids. The book is about three kids who try to escape the process of being unwound. The main character's names are Conner, Risa, and Lev. Conner's parents thought that he would be happier unwound so they signed the papers. Risa lives in a state house, which means that she lives with the government of that city. Risa is a musician, but the government feels like she doesn't have enough talent to live so they send her to be unwound. Lev; short for Levi, is a tithe and has always been ready to be unwound. But when Conner escapes and saves Risa and Lev, they find themselves running from the whole world. Will they survive with their lives?

Unwind is a very good book. The details are amazing, and you feel like you know the characters. The book switches from different points of views to the other, so you experience all the characters thoughts. There are four books in the series and they are planning to make them into movies in 2016. I enjoyed this book mainly because of the characters. You can picture all of them in your mind and you can imagine the pain they go through. As the story goes on, you really feel like the cops are going to take you away next. All the locations the characters adventure to, are amazing and dangerous, which make you feel like you are next to Conner and Risa. I finished the first book around two weeks ago, and now I'm around halfway done with the second one. The ending of the book makes you want more and makes you want to save the people being unwound. The action scenes are awesome and the villains make you curl your feet. I do have a favorite character, and every time something happens to hurt them, I get mad. Unwind tries to aim for teen readers, but I think that anyone who picks it up, will not be able to put it down.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Between Heaven and Earth

After his grandfather dies DJ sets out to fulfill his request in Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters.   Contained in sealed envelopes, grandfather has assigned each of his six grandsons a task to complete.  DJ is the oldest and must venture to the top of Mt Kilamanjaro in order to spread his grandfathers ashes.  Since DJ is a successful athelete he feels confident in his ability to climb to the summit and complete his task.   In fact, he expects to make it to the top in two days with another day to return.  Even before he begins his climb there is plenty of adventure on the way to his destination in Tanzania.

This is a fun story of adventure complete with maps and twists as the plans unfold on life journeys for each grandson.  Grandfather is dearly beloved by each and this is just one adventure in the seven series, each with a different author.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Eat Brains Love by Jeff Hart

Eat Brains Love is about three different teenagers.  Jake Stephens, a normal teenage guy, he likes punk and metal music, Call of Duty, and fast food.  Amanda Blake, the most popular girl at Ronald Reagan High School (where Jake goes too), she is also the hottest girl at the school.  Then there's Cass, who I will get to later.  One day during lunch at R.R.H.S, Jake starts to feel a weird growling in his stomach, when he sees Amanda Blake standing over her best friend, eating her.  The school goes into a panic, and Jake joins Amanda in eating the students.  After the massacre, Government agents come into the school to clean up the mess, this is where Cass comes in.  Cass was selected during a special test to work with a government group to hunt and kill zombies.  Now why would at 16 year old girl be selected?  Because she is a psychic.  Eat Brains Love shows the story through Jake and Cass' eyes, as Cass and her zombie hunting team track down Jake and Amanda, who somehow regained control over their bodies, unless they start to hunger for flesh, and are on the run.  The big thing is, the Government is keeping the whole zombie apocalypse a secret.

This book honestly caught my attention from the title and description.  I was curious about what the book was about, and I thought it was pretty good.  There are some obvious stereotypes in the book which, if you choose to read this, you will see.  I will say that there is a good amount of strong language, a lot of gore (zombies, duh), and some mild sexual content.  But besides that it's a good read.  Maybe the Zombie apocalypse is going on right now.  0_o

~Joe T

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: "Level Up" by Gene Luen Yang you have ever had unrealistic parental expectations foisted upon you, Then "Level Up" by Gene Luen Yang is the book for you. Dennis Ouyang’s traditional Asian parents have already decided his future: college, medical school, and eventually becoming a gastroenterologist. (Gastroenterologist=poop doctor. They take care of the stomach & intestines.) Dennis, however, is obsessed with video games. So obsessed that he almost flunks out of college until four cute but increasingly creepy angels show up to help him along his path to being a doctor. In the end Dennis has to figure out what really makes him happy: sticking fingers up people’s butts or playing video games.

Gene Luen Yang also wrote “American Born Chinese,” a book I read years ago and has since been one of my favorite graphic novels. It may end up being replaced with Level Up. It’s like reading five different books in one: there are the video games & gamer boys, the guardian angels, the sort of love triangle, an awkward geek boy comedy, and his personal discoveries regarding his family and happiness. Another talent the author uses in both books is the ability to pull out a surprise ending after the surprise ending you just read. They’re like surprise surprise endings and you never really see it coming. Gene Luen Yang continues to prove how awesome graphic novels can be.

Also cool: it took me exactly 40 minutes to read it from start to finish. This would be a great pick if you need a meaningful book for a super last minute book project.

Book Review: Played by Liz Fichera

The stars of Played, by Liz Fichera, seem to be diametric opposites. Riley Berenger is a pampered rich kid from Phoenix, and socially she's light-years away from Sam Tracy, who lives on the Gila River reservation. But then they both go to a leadership weekend in the mountains and get trapped in a mountain cave together during a violent monsoon storm. In that intense experience, they become unlikely friends.

Now, back at school and back to normal life, Riley is determined to pay Sam back for saving her life, by turning him into one of the popular kids. He only goes along with it because Riley is also trying to help him attract the notice of a girl he's loved forever (who happens to be Riley's brother's girlfriend). But maybe he's starting to forget about that girl, and thinking about Riley instead.

How often do we get to see Arizona in books? Not that much, honestly, and that's why I was so happy to read this book. It's also a great, sweet love story, so if that's what you're looking for, pick this up!

-Maureen K

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Review: Joyride by Amy Ehrlich

In the book Joyride, Nina is used to moving around. Her mother, Joyce, sometimes just packs up everything and takes Nina and herself to the newest town. Now that Nina is growing older, she starts to wonder why she has to keep running away. Why can't she stay and keep her friends, stay on the basketball team, and be best friends with Sam Gordon? Her mother doesn't explain, and after one too many moves, Nina finds out a secret that will make her question her entire life.

I really enjoyed this book because it was a thriller and a bit mysterious. I loved the fact that Nina and her mother had to move a lot, because the author did a very good job about describing the city, it made me feel like I was there too. In the beginning, the book started off a little slow, but towards the middle and right up until the end the book really was a joyride. I had no idea what was coming! This book is geared more towards a teen and adult audience and will leave you speechless!

-Elisa A.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement is a horror, comedy, mystery, and romance fantasy which takes place in the time of today's high school era. The main character has many dreams of a monster, or something else, in a crib. He believes that this creature was or is him. The main character and some friends go out to figure this so-called mystery and figure out the astonishing news about their dear friend.

I enjoyed The Replacement because of its levels of effect on the reader. I felt like the author wanted me to be the main character. Though the book is not meant for every age level, I do believe that parents, children, and teens should read this book. This book will bring out the unnoticed side of sensitivity in the human being.