Wednesday, July 27, 2016

7/27/16 review from Saleena

Shane's brother Jeremy is home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; but he is not the same as when he left.  Shane is struggling to deal with his abusive stepfather, his not so great time at school and worrying about Jeremy is just adding to the stress.  When Shane screws up at a football game, scoring for the opposite team after receiving a concussion; Jeremy invites him to come with him for an adventure.....and the adventure is much more than Shane ever envisioned.  Readers get an inside look as Shane watches his brother falling apart, desperately trying to put him back together again; but also trying to figure out who he is himself.  I literally couldn't put this book down once I started.   Strong characters and a breakneck pace will keep readers glued until the end...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

7/23/16 reviews from Saleena

Just finished this one, and quite enjoyed it, though it took me a bit to get into the rhythm of it, with the back and forth-ing of present and past.  I love that Chunk (aka Gabe) found his own way out of both his personal pile of dung and the pile that was thrust upon him.  Story synopsis is simple:  The school decided, without telling anyone, to use the funds from their soda machine to fund a new cheerleading dance group rather than the marching band as originally intended.  Chunk isn't sure what he can do, and through doing the wrong things, he figures out what the right thing is; finds his voice, and his backbone...and along the way makes some noise for the geeks.
I enjoyed this, it wasn't quite as amazing for me as Stupid Fast, but it was entertaining and engaging.

The central premise of this story is supposed to be that two girls were friends, then stopped because the nature of their friendship was toxic and she wanted out; however, she is still longing for what used to be.  Now it's senior year and just attending a party and talking to people (especially a boy she likes) makes her rethink her decision, who was the toxic friend.....her new friend or her old?
This novel jumped around A LOT...and seemed to find all kinds of excuses why it was ok that she was tied up, abused and generally misused as a friend...because it was done out of love?  No.   Sorry.  If that wasn't the message that the author was trying to send, then perhaps there should have been more to the plotline than constant rehashing of what happened before....because that's all there is....before, nothing happening now aside from the emotional backlash of BEFORE, which is fine; but nothing is resolved, nothing happens....just....words.....not a fan.

Trail of the dead continues almost directly after Killer of Enemies.  Lozen and her family are still trying to find a refuge and there are still enemies to fight; and Lozen needs to also find a way to make peace with the lives that she's taken.  Bruchac does an amazing job of blending post apocalyptic scenery with traditional Native American story.  I have enjoyed every moment of both of these titles and eagerly awaiting any more he might publish.

Finally, Heir of Fire.....the continuing saga of Celaena, assassin and part elf.  She has escaped and is now forced to learn to use her magic, which she has tried to ignore or hide for her entire life.  With the goading and help of a full elf who is commanded to train her, she has to learn magic but also come to terms with who and what she is and where she's come from.   I really love the characters and their growth that Maas writes into her novels.  Even when they do something stupid, you understand why they did it...and you see them trying to learn and change.  Can't wait to read the next installment.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Simran Bagdiya's review of Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver Review

“Sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever."

In an alternate version of the United States, love is a dangerous, deadly disease. Fortunately, the government has found a cure. After one’s eighteenth birthday, everyone must get the cure.
Living in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is eagerly looking forward to getting the cure, and living a safe life. Ever since “the disease” destroyed her mother years ago, Lena promised herself that she would never commit the same mistake.
However, soon enough, Lena meets Alex, a boy from the Wilds. Alex shows Lena how to experience the world through a different lens, causing her to completely change her perspective about life, and everything she has grown to believe in.
What will happen if they do the unthinkable.... And fall in love???

My Opinion
In general, I think that the book had a pretty interesting concept, as it combined the idea of love and disease. In fact, Lauren Oliver (the author), mentioned that she got the idea for this book when she was at the gym. She had recently read a Gabriel Garcia Márquez essay about how all books are based on the idea of love and death. Since Lauren Oliver’s first book (Before I Fall) revolved around death, she wanted to center this book around love. At the gym, Lauren was watching a news story about an pandemic, and says that the two ideas of love and disease combined in her head to form the Delirium trilogy. Overall, the plot and the characters were well-written, and it was a cohesive novel.

The only downside for me was that there was such an initial hype about how awesome, amazing, and fantastic this book was, that it actually didn’t feel that great when I was reading it. Sure, it was an enjoyable book, but definitely not “one of the best books I’ve ever read”.
So, if you want to read a book with action and adventure (it is a dystopia, after all), as well as some romance (don’t worry, the book focuses on friends and family too), then this would be the book for you!

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Simran Bagdiya

Simran Bagdiya's review of Reality Boy by A.S. King

Reality Boy by A.S. King Review

But what’s crazy and what’s sane when everything is possible and yet nothing ever happens?”

Gerald Faust is a sixteen, almost seventeen- year old boy who has always appeared to feel angry. However, Gerald knows the truth. He knows exactly when he started feeling angry: when his mother decided to invite a television crew into his five year old life, and make a reality TV show out of it.

A decade later, Gerald is still haunted by his past. He still remains as a young boy, trapped in a situation he can’t control. His anger issues have resulted in a countless amount of violent outbursts, no friends (therefore no one he could count on), and adults who are too shallow to realize the truth (thus dumping him into the SPED- special education- room at school).

Living what seems like a monotonous routine- wake up, go to school, go to work, come back home, sleep- Gerald feels like nothing will ever change, and that no one seems to ever care about him. No one seems to realize that there’s a reason for Gerald’s anger: that his older sister, Tasha, is dangerous. Instead, everyone around him is just waiting for the day that Gerald Faust “snaps”, never realizing just how much Gerald has in fact learned to control himself.

Soon enough, Gerald realizes there may be others like him that are messed up, but just haven’t had their entire lives broadcasted on Reality TV from 40 different angles.  

In this gut-wrenching story about a boy who appears to be living his life on the edge, A.S King examines how a past “TV star” overcomes his anger, creating a future for himself that he never knew could exist.  

My Opinion
          After reading this, I can definitely say that this novel needs more recognition. It definitely changed my opinion of Reality TV shows, and made me truly empathize for all those people on all of those shows. (After all, we as viewers merely take in the spectacle of the show, thoroughly enjoying it, but do we ever pause for a moment to reflect on the psychological toll that they can take on a child?)

I especially liked how the story was told in two perspectives, from the past and present Gerald. This is because we can see how far Gerald has come, while also seeing what happened within Gerald’s childhood that has caused him to become so mentally defeated.    

Overall, the concept of this novel is simply brilliant, and was incredibly well-written. At times, this story can be extremely heart-breaking and disturbing, but also manages to offer a glimpse of hope for our future Gerald.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Simran Bagdiya

Riya Sen's review of Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Over the summer, I decided to catch up on all the books people have recommended to me but I never really got to. Among that list was “Finding Audrey,” by Sophie Kinsella. At first I thought it was going to be another one of those repetative books about people with a disability and their inspiring recovery. Don’t get me wrong, those books are great, but I was looking for one that would rise above the rest. So far, this summer, my unrivaled favorite read has been “Finding Audrey.” This book’s lead hooked me and wouldn’t let me free. I read the whole book in one day because I couldn’t stop reading. It starts with Audrey complaining about her insane mom and gives us a vivid image of her mom holding her brother Frank’s computer out the window, threatening to drop it, as neighbors congregate. Strangely, Audrey is only mentioned in two, short and vague paragraphs in the entire first chapter. But in fact, that is what keeps Audrey comfortable. She would rather crouch in the corner of her darkened room with her sunglasses than be somewhere like Starbucks with *shudder shudder* people. A scarring encounter with bullying left fourteen year-old Audrey with an ainxiety disorder, and her life was never the same. Her family and Dr. Sarah are trying their best to help her improve. By the nature of her disorder progress would vary. Up and down, slow and fast. A jagged graph. Audrey doesn’t want that, she wants a smooth line towards recovery. She is tired of making progress and then going backwards. Luckily, Linus, her brother’s gaming friend, Starbucks, and a video recorder walk into her life and after that she has no problem making a nice straight graph. Although fictional, it was believable,heart wrenching and tear provoking. I am now adding this book to your recommended list, and hopefully you will add it to someone else’s!

Riya Sen

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spirit Animals series review by Sukanya Puthur

Spirit Animals series review by Sukanya Puthur

            Have any of you read the Spirit Animals series?  They are very light reads, but they are written very well.  The story extends over seven books, each one written by a different author.  The series is the product of the collaboration of a group of talented writers, making for an interesting, engaging plot.  The series is set in Erdas, a land where every child, once he or she reaches the age of their bonding ceremony, drinks the sacred Nectar of Ninani.  On rare occasion, drinking this substance will gift the child with a spirit animal.  A spirit animal is a lifetime companion whose soul bonds with that of their human counterpart.  The story revolves around four extraordinary kids, who have been gifted with reincarnations of the Four Fallen.  They are four of the Great Beasts, who are celestial animal beings that guard the many realms of Erdas.  It has never before occurred that someone bonds with a Great Beast, and these children are quickly hunted by the deadly Conquerors.  In a world filled with spirit animals, secrets, lies, deception, and death, these four children and their spirit animals will have to learn to work as a team, bond with their spirit animals, differentiate between friend and foe, and ultimately, save all of Erdas.  Can they do it?  To find out, read Spirit Animals Book One: Wild Born (by Brandon Mull), available at the South Brunswick Public Library.

Sukanya Puthur

Review of The Demon in the Freezer By: Richard Preston Tanay Somisetty

Review of The Demon in the Freezer By: Richard Preston
Tanay Somisetty

            The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston is a remarkably well written book. Although this is a non-fiction book, Richard Preston's tells true stories in such a way that you will feel like you are in the story yourself. In this book, Preston relates in fascinating detail, stories of smallpox. Its rise, devastation, and fall. The virus is now all but eradicated, both physically and from our minds. Although we as a society may never see smallpox again, we must never forget our memories of this virus because we have learned a great deal from our struggle to eradicate the virus. The frightening realities of smallpox coupled with a lots of information can make this a good book to pass the time. Although, some people may start to feel bored of the book towards the end, I recommend this book.

My Rating: 8/10

BOOK REVIEW : A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

BY SULPHIA IQBAL   (3 out of 5 books)


The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.


When I first saw this book on Epic Reads , I immediately knew that I’d have to get my hands on it. I love pretty much all things Sherlock. The stories. The BBC show ( though I only watched a few episodes ). The Funko Pops. Everything. When I see A Study In Charlotte, a book about two descendents of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson ( respectively ), I’m basically jumping up and down with glee. Any Sherlockian would love this book at first glance.

In this book, we are told that the stories in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are, in fact, not stories at all, but rather a true, though not fully accurate, account of Sherlock’s cases by John Watson. Arthur Conan Doyle just happens to be their literary agent.

When James Watson meets Charlotte Holmes, the epitome of her ancestor Sherlock, there is an awkward and intense energy between them which had me really excited because I really wanted to know how these two could possibly work together.


One thing I loved about this book was the fact that Jamie narrates the book, just like his ancestor John Watson narrated Sherlock’s adventures. You can tell that clearly , at times, Charlotte can be a very confusing person to work with, and yet he puts up with it all, knowing that she was a Holmes. It’s in her blood.

For some reason, I didn’t really like Charlotte as a character. Maybe I had higher expectations. In the beginning, she seemed like the “ I’m so great and everyone around me are a bunch of buffoons” type . Nevertheless, later in the book you can see that she clearly carries more emotion than any of her family members. And yes, that’s a huge deal. Unfortunately, she also carries the horrible habits that Sherlock had as well, much to Jamie’s annoyance. She , of course, is naturally a great detective and shares a love for chemistry and the violin , like her great-great-great grandfather. In the end, she was ready to go to jail for something she didn’t do to save Jamie. I guess that says something.


The idea was great. The way it was played out? Eh.

The mystery was a great one. It was pretty hard trying to figure out the perpetrator. But it didn't seem perfect. The whole idea of a guy in their school, who Jamie had just happened to get into a fight with and the guy Charlotte despises, being murdered and then the two teenagers being framed for it was pretty exciting. But aside from that, it’s all pretty blant. I’d maybe go as far as to say that the story seemed to focus more on Jamie and Charlotte than the actual crime itself.

On the positive side, I really did like how each of Sherlock’s adventures were implemented in this crime. It was as if the author was letting only Sherlock fans in on a secret only they would understand. For example, when a student almost died at the school dance, they discovered a plastic gem stuffed down her throat, just like goose in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.


In the end, I guess it was a good quick read. It wasn’t the best book ,but it certainly wasn't the worst. I would totally give it a try.


Amal Unbound Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad

Amal Unbound Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound is about a girl named Amal who lives in pakistan and goes to school...