ReAL Teens Read Bloggers

Delaney Reads


We Regret to Inform You

By A. E. Kaplan

I have to say, reading the first part of this book right while I was filling out college applications was extremely stressful. However, I really liked the direction that the book went. I suspected that her rejection would be followed by learning other ways to enjoy life, which it was, but it also turned out that there was something fishy going on. It felt very much like Nancy Drew, but in a good way. It was a great modern mystery, and I loved the characters. I love my hacker girl gang. I liked the romance, the few fake outs that she threw in, and the whole of the plot in general. I found the ending to be very satisfying as well. The elaborate reveal at the end was excellent, and probably my favorite moment of the book. This is a fun read that has a mystery to it, and I would definitely recommend it.

-Delaney, Grade 12



Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi

After everyone has raved about this book all year, I finally got the time to read it. And I finally know what everyone was talking about. This book really was so good. I was totally transported to another world. I loved the contrast of Zelie's character, who was ready for fighting, to Amari, who refused to kill. I think that tenderness is not often expressed in fantasy books full of battles, and I appreciated it. I really loved Amari, I just wish she had gotten a little more page time. I also loved Zelie, she was a great heroine; she was fierce and loyal, but she also got to be broken. All of the characters were, which is great. It was a long read, but it was completely worth it. I can't really give more reactions to the book without giving the plot away, but I loved it. And I love the fact that there is a plot! I keep saying that, but I feel like there are a lot of books that don't really have a story or a driving force behind the action. This book had a really great plot, and I loved the magic. I feel like I don't have a lot to say other than I loved it, and that I would highly recommend it.

-Delaney, Grade 12



By Gretchen McNeil

As I started reading this book, I didn't think I would enjoy it much. In fact, as I reread the concept, I could not figure out why I had gotten this book in the first place. But once I got into it, I was in. Set in the future, the US has found a new way to deal with criminals: send them to Alcatraz 2.0, an island where serial killers come in and hunt down the criminals, while it airs live. The entire thing is run by a mysterious figure The Postman. When Dee is wrongfully convicted of her stepsister's murder, she gets sent to Alcatraz 2.0 but quickly learns that there is more going on than meets the eye, and it might be linked to her sister's death--and her own past. It is a fast paced book that had a solid plot. The author did a good job of unfolding the plot piece by piece to reveal secrets to the reader. There were definitely parts of the writing that felt clunky at times though. One character mentions how something is his favorite, and then a little while later the narration repeats that it was his favorite. Dee's thought sometimes felt clunky and sudden. Maybe it was just the third person? Maybe I just don't like third person because I've gotten so used to first person? I don't know. But despite the occasionally odd writing, McNeil obviously has experience writing horror, and did a good job with it. There were parts that I was able to figure out, and other parts that surprised me. My main disclaimer for this book would be that it is creepy and gory. I mean, there are serial killers, so definitely don't read this if you aren't prepared to read about the deaths; they are pretty violent. However, if you are looking for a suspense, thriller, or mystery, this is a great book to read.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageThe Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

By Mackenzi Lee

If you have read my book reviews, you know that I adored the first book in this duology. This meant I had high expectations for this one, and I was not disappointed! Lady's Guide follows Felicity, Monty's younger sister, who was a fairly large character in the other book. However, this time, she is narrating. It wasn't the same as Gent's Guide, but that was okay! Felicity and Monty are two totally different people. Where Monty is a partier, Felicity prefers to be with a book than to be with people. She is ridiculously stubborn and smart. Furthermore, she is set on being a doctor, but the men who are in charge of the institutions are not going to let a woman be a part of them. She sets out to find her idol, Dr. Alexander Platt, with the help of shady, possibly-a-pirate Sim. I can't give much plot other than that away, or else it would spoil it, but the plot keeps moving with the same twists I would expect from Mackenzi Lee. As someone who (obviously) loves character arcs, I loved getting to see Felicity's. This book was just such a fun read; I highly recommend it. Once again, Lee proves that you can easily write a diverse historical fiction, and she does it so well. Seriously, go read it.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageBlood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough

Wow. This book kind of blew me away. It tells the story of Artemisia, who is an artist living in Italy in the early 1600s. It was told in short chapters, that are kind of like poetry. It dealt with some very mature themes, which I would preface to anyone wanting to read this book, but it was simply fascinating. The author was able to capture pure, raw emotion of Artemisia, both negative and positive. She has an affinity for painting in a world where only men are allowed to hold artistry jobs, and when she is raped by her teacher, she must find the strength inside herself to stand up to him. She recalls stories of other women who made difficult decisions, and shares her view of the story with us. It's a passionate book about art and feminism, and I was completely blown away. It was a really powerful story.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageJuniper Lemon's Happiness Index

By Julie Israel

I really liked this book. The description kind of reminded me of "I am not your Perfect Mexican Daughter," but it was very different, which was good. It picks up on orientation of Juniper's senior year, which is difficult because her sister died in a car crash they were both in over the summer. She hasn't seen anyone since then and is worried how her classmates will treat her. To complicate matters, she finds a letter her sister wrote to someone breaking up with them. For her own closure, she attempts to find the letter's recipient and deliver it. In the process, she begins to discover secrets of her classmates. The plot of this book was really interesting, and I like how it focused on her lost connection to her sister, and her guilt of her involvement in the accident. I feel like more often, contemporary books don't seem to have much of a plot, which is okay, but I found this plot to be really fascinating; it just drew me in. Honestly, normally I'm all game for a romantic subplot, and this one was fine, but I didn't love it. But I'm not gonna hold that against it. Also, it had a really great cover. This book dealt with grief, drinking, abuse, bullying, and even suicide, but it never felt like it was forced or cringy or trying to teach a lesson. It was just fluid, and accurate to high school experiences.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageWhen Dimple Met Rishi

By Sandhya Menon

I really loved this book; it's one of the better romances I read recently. Healthy relationships? Awesome. Girls in STEM? 100% support and love. The guy being the one who is super romantic? Awesome. I feel like we need more boys in YA who are cool with showing their emotions and liking traditionally feminine things. These two were just idiots in love and it was super cute. I liked that they got together more early on, so we got to see them in their relationship. I liked that the thing that Dimple did didn't completely blow up between them and ruin a huge chunk of the book with bitterness from the other. There was still that drama at the end of the story, but it didn't feel like too much, or get exhausting. (Which, the drama in her other book kind of did, so I was super relieved.) The only nitpicky thing I have is I wasn't a fan of the third person. Changing perspectives was fine, and I actually thought she really used it to her advantage sometimes and played with it, but the third person was a little awkward. I got used to it eventually, but especially at the beginning, it just stood out to me.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageUndead Girl Gang

By Lily Anderson

I mean, if you don't feel like reading a long review, then I'm just telling you right now that you should read this book. Mystery? Check. Awesome friendships? Check. Dang good plot? Check. Complex and interesting people? Check. And, may I add, this book is a great read for this October, given the witches and zombies. Also awesome. I heard so many good reviews about this book, but on the other hand, I was a little critical of the other Lily Anderson book I read. However, I was not disappointed. Like I said, this book is awesome and is layered with awesome stuff. The plot is a little something like this: when Mila Flores's best friend drowns in the creek, she knows that Riley didn't kill herself. However, the police think so because earlier in the same week, popular girls June and Dayton hung themselves. But Mila and Riley were no way part of their group, which leads Mila to believe Riley must have been murdered. Maybe some magic can help her find the killer. The book was funny, interesting, and really intriguing. I loved seeing solid girl-girl friendships, character growth, and magic, all in one. Also, the cover is pretty awesome, so props to the publisher on that one. I was totally taken in by this book, and I love that Anderson broke out of her mold to share an original story. Not that I don't love modern adaptations, but this was so wildly original, that it stands in a ballpark all its own.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageNot if I Save You First

By Ally Carter

After Ally Carter's Embassy Row series, which I found to be kind of disappointing, I came into this book cautiously. Surprisingly, I actually ended up liking it. It was an interesting concept, and I thought it was executed pretty well. I would definitely recommend this book to someone. It had lots of adventure and romance. It was, admittedly, a fun book that I enjoyed reading. One thing about this book though is that since Maddie literally lives alone in the middle of Alaska, and has no friends, there isn't a strong girl friendship happening, which is one of the great aspects of Ally's writing that normally shows up in her other books.However, I kind of feel like Ally Carter has found her formula, and everything she writes is basically the same. I really liked Maddie, but she did seem a lot like Grace. And all of the boys she writes are pretty much the same boy with different names. In general, I would like to see her break out of her mold and try something new.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageThe Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

By Lily Anderson

This was a modern take on Much Ado About Nothing with a beginning that was not as good as I wanted it to be, but an ending that was better than I thought it would be. It takes the original play and places it in the elite Messina school for geniuses, makes them all uber-nerds, and (I mean, understandably) modernizes some of the names. (Switching Hero to Harper is fine, I still thought that if you are changing Claudio's name, it needs to be something better than Cornell). My main issue was that even though the book was published in 2016, the fandom references made it feel like it was from 2012. They kind of made me cringe. And I do not know even the greatest nerds who make as many references as they do. I swear, for the first half of the book, every other line out of Trixie's mouth was a reference. Sometimes the same sentence would have two or three. It was a lot. Despite this, there were actually quite a few things I ended up liking about the book. High school Ben trying to have a mustache? Accurate. Also, I thought the costume party scene was done really well, as well as the addition of the character "B" as Trixie calls him. Both interactions show that Trixie is actually a nice person, she just happens to be mean to Ben because she holds a wicked grudge. Plus, despite my initial hesitation, it made sense to me that ultimately, Cornell was not directly responsible for Harper's public humiliation, he just didn't back her up. Because despite the fact that "punish Cornell" doesn't pack the same punch as "kill Claudio," it wouldn't exactly make sense for her to be saying that in modern times; they aren't actually going to duel. Therefore, this means that Trixie's anger ends up toned down, but that fits if Cornell's involvement isn't going to be as explicit. Also, it makes the fact that Cornell and Harper get back together at the end not so repulsive. So that part was well thought out. I don't want spoilers, but I support the fact that John was not actually the perpetrator, as it does seriously cause a rift with him and Peter, but I'm still not sure I buy the actual villain of the story, or his reasoning. It seemed kind of weak. Overall, it was still a fun story, and I did enjoy it.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageIn Other Lands

By Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands is the best fantasy book that I never knew I needed. It was such an incredible book, that I never could have conceived. It was funny, witty, intriguing, and meaningful. I loved the author's writing style, which I really can't describe, and I feel like is pretty hard to pull off, but it was so well done and it fit the book perfectly. Elliot, our main character, is a wry and sarcastic character who also doesn't know how do deal with feelings, which causes tensions between him and his friends. He is taken on a strange field trip at school, and none of the other kids can seem to see the giant wall in the middle of the field. When a lady shows up and tells him there is a magical world on the other side of the wall, and that he can come to magic school, his answer is a resounding yes. He meets Serene, an elf who Elliot is determined to spend the rest of his life with, and Luke, of the famous Sunborn family, who Elliot thinks is full of himself, and instantly dislikes. The three form a strange and reluctant trio, and set off on multitudes of adventures. The book follows them from age 13 to 17, so we get to watch them grow and evolve. This book was honestly so good, I cannot recommend it enough. It's incredibly funny, and also has some of the truest and most relatable things I've ever read. Seriously, please go read this book. You can thank me later.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageStarry Eyes

By Jenn Bennett

As soon as I saw who the author was, I knew I had to read this book. I loved Alex Approximately. This book definitely lived up to expectations. I'm really a fan of Bennett's style, I honestly just feel like her books are so well written. They're not like, full of lavish prose and eloquent phrases. But sometimes, trope-y romance books have such mediocre writing, or current phrases trying to fit in, that it also stands out, and makes me cringe. Bennett even managed to work in modern phrases and slang fluidly. I think she's excellent at tapping into her characters, as well as their surroundings. Which was especially important to this book. There were honestly so many things I liked about this book. Because of the well done three act structure, what actually sets off a chain of events also works as a miniature climax within the act, which I think just shows her expert writing. Plus, her romance writing is exceptional too. Swoony. Not only this, but I feel like it's really important that teenagers have exposure to healthy relationships, including healthy sexual relationships. She doesn't write anything explicit, in case that makes you uncomfortable, but it is there. Since society can be taboo about sex, I think that teenagers need it portrayed in a healthy way, and that's really important. I really liked this book, and I would recommend it to fans of Every Soul a Star, or Bennett's other books.

-Delaney, Grade 12



By Cecelia Ahren

So first off...I don't really like dystopia. Why was I reading this book then? I don't know, it's an Evergreen nominee, and other people said it was really good. I was not as impressed. I came away from the book saying, "that was okay." but this was really because I liked the second half way better than the first. What I saw as the basic part of the story took way too long to develop. I thought the story was much more interesting when in dealt with the effects, good and bad, of what happened after Celestine was branded, rather than the long drawn-out part leading up to the branding. It took 150 pages before I found it interesting, up to then, I was just exhausted with it. Besides this, I found Celestine's change of perspective to be too rapid and unbelievable. Her neighbor, who granted was close to her and her family, and suddenly just a few days later, she goes against everything she has believed in for 17 years? The other thing that bugged me was Celestine's drive to average-ness. The world is obviously a red herring toward black and white thinking; the fact that there are no second chances, no room for mistake. And I would think this would be the perfect background to show how everyone is very much their own person. Because in this world where everyone is supposed to be perfect, they are kind of all like dolls and it's creepy. And Celestine afterwards constantly talks about how she just wants to go back to blending in like before, which is understandable, but I feel like there could have been an arc that also revolved around her more finding her own character, and breaking out of her same-ness. And there is, in fact, people who are pushing her to speak out for their agendas, and urging her to find her own ground. And she does go through growth of overcoming being flawed, and the difference that her life is after the branding, but I feel like there could have been more character development. Nonetheless, I did find the second part of the book more interesting. I wish it could have not been set up for a sequel, and just finished off in one book. But more money I guess. The good news about a sequel is that is can just dive into the action, instead of having all the build up. It was a good dystopia book, and if you like that, it would be good. Especially if you like the genre but aren't into violence, it has the political intrigue and upset without the grueling fights. My personal views on this book aren't super positive, but if dystopia is your thing, then I would read it, it presents a very different world than the hunger games knock-off of the early wave of dystopia, so it is definitely its own entity. It is a unique world created by the author, I'll hand it that.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageIllusion of Justice

By Jerome F. Buting

This book is kind of like a mix between law and order, csi, and forensic files. I actually picked up this book on accident, I was looking for a different book I had seen next to it while it was on display, and when I saw this book on the shelf I assumed it must be the one I was looking for because I remembered the cover. It was not, but it was so interesting that I kept reading. It really did remind me of forensic files; about halfway through it dealt very heavily with forensic science, the ins and outs of using it in the courtroom, how it has been used to exonerate prisoners, etc. And it reminded me of law and order because he also explained much of the ins and outs of the courtroom, how the defense and prosecution work with each other, different limitations that the judge can institute, and dealing with juries. I found the whole thing to be really interesting. The book revolved mostly about one case that the author worked on that was turned into a netflix documentary (which I'm going to have to watch now), but it also dealt with a few other cases that were relevant. The author's main purpose was to show the flaws in the justice system. I found the book to be pretty fascinating, and you could easily use it for the AP Lang justice assignment. I thought it was well worth the read, and definitely if you are interested in forensic science or law.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageWhat If It's Us?

By Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Note: The book I read is an advanced reader's copy, and the book will not be published until October 2019. Becky Albertalli, author of "Simon vs. The Homosapien's Agenda" and Adam Silvera, author of "They Both Die at the End" have teamed up to write an absolutely adorable romance. It is told in two different points of view, Arthur, who is visiting New York for the summer from his small town in Georgia. He's busy working an internship, feeling distanced from his friends, and entering the Hamilton lottery. Ben is a New York native who just broke up with his boyfriend, and is unfortunately stuck in summer school--with him. When Ben and Arthur bump into each other in a total meet-cute, Arthur is sure the universe is telling them something. But they feel like they keep messing up, so much so that they redo their first date multiple times. It really is a super cute love story, while also addressing all of the human things about being a teenager. They both feel very insecure in their own ways, and deal with their own issues. The only negative thing I have to say is that there are a lot of modern references, especially on Arthur's side of the story as he references musicals. If readers understand them, it's going to give them a deeper understanding of Arthur's story, and sometimes give them a good laugh, but if they don't they might feel distanced from the story. No matter what side you are on, I would definitely recommend reading this book when it comes out. If you have liked either of these authors' other work, you should definitely read it.

-Delaney, Grade 12


cover_imageThe Serpent King

By Jeff Zentner

Since it's summer, but I know she's going to read this anyway, this is the part where I yell at Mrs. Kruse for not warning me how sad this book is. Don't get me wrong, it actually felt very optimistic and positive at the end, but there was also a chunk where I think I cried for about 50 pages straight. And before you make fun of me, read the book, and then see if you don't cry. The author took a route that you don't often see, but it payed off, and I think it probably turned out exactly how he wanted it. One very distinctive thing about the book was the tone that came from the writing style and point of view. It shifted points of view between the three main characters, and was a limited omniscient, completely past tense writing. This meant it sounded like it was a story being told by someone else, not one of the three characters, many years into the future, after all of these events had happened. And I can't quite describe the writing style, but it was very distinctive, and gave the book its own distinctive tone. I very much enjoyed the story, as well as the themes of the book. I really appreciated both the serious subjects it dealt with, as well as the optimistic light it managed to have at the end. Not that everything was now perfect, but that things were getting better. If you are interested in reading this book, but not sure, I would recommend reading the first two chapters before putting it down, because it's still an introduction, and to get into hints of more of the book, you have to get into it a bit, but after that it is wonderful.

-Delaney, Grade 12


Note from Mrs. Kruse: Mrs. Kruse has been duly chastened, but much like Jennifer Niven's All the Dark Places, this is a book that is worth reading--even through the tears.

cover_imageThe Last Namsara

By Kristin Ciccarelli

This is a top tier fantasy book. Suspenseful fights, awesome weapons, political intrigue, and most importantly, dragons. I adored Asha's character and most of all, her character arc. She had to discover things about her family, her country's history, and herself. She was a little oblivious when it came to other people, which was slightly endearing. Especially since she was smart about the really big things, the life and death things, so I wasn't sitting there frustrated as a reader. The pace of the book was excellent; it moved fast, but still managed to fit in lots of information that was necessary for the political parts of the book. When a fantasy book relies on political deceit and plots, rather than just action, I prefer it, but some authors are not good at showing the reader all the important history necessary for understanding the conflict. However, I thought Namsara did this well. I got plenty of background information without ever feeling bored, which meant as a reader I was further immersed in the world, and able to make my own predictions about what was happening, instead of being confused. I especially liked the old stories that were featured every so often. Not only were they interesting in their own light, but it gave us examples of the stories that they were referencing throughout the book. And they dual served as foreshadowing sometimes. I thought the author did an amazing job of descriptions. I was able to picture clothes, weapons, and surroundings easily, but I never felt bogged down by descriptions. It was woven into the author's style, but didn't take up too much of the book. The third person never felt distant, and I was really into the story. My favorite elements were definitely Asha as a warrior female character, and the dragons. Always the dragons.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageWords in Deep Blue

By Cath Crowley

It's a book about people who write love letters in books, but the book itself is also kind of a love letter to books and words. This is illustrated by the importance placed on the words by the characters, and how they find liberation or love in them at times. It's a book about death, and life going on after death, first love, and lifelong love. This is a very character driven story, but I love that. Rachel's brother, Cal, died ten months ago, which caused her to fail year 12 and hardship in the relationship with her mother. Now, she's returning to the city she left in year 9, where she just so happens to get stuck working with her first love and previous best friend, Henry, who chose Amy over her. Meanwhile, Amy just dumped Henry, and now his family's bookstore is going under, and they might have to sell. To everyone else, Rachel is acting distant and cold, but she hasn't told anyone that Cal has died. The point of view switches between the two as they each juggle their prospective problems and relationships. I did really enjoy this book, and I would recommend it for fans of Jennifer Niven.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageDaughter of the Pirate King

By Tricia Levenseller

I actually read this book a long time ago, but I never wrote a review for it. I did want to write a review for it now though because I really, really liked this book and I wanted to encourage people to read it. I mean, it's about pirates, what could be better? It's got lots of awesome fights, plenty of adventure for anyone who has thought about sailing the seas, searching for treasure, and outsmarting your enemies. It was fun and enjoyable to read. Alosa is an awesome heroine, who is totally kick-ass and clever. Plus there's the romance trope of not sure if she can trust him or not, because pirate, obviously. Meanwhile, she's also incredibly worried what's going to happen if she returns empty handed to her father. Plus, it comes with a sequel that I thought was even better than the first book. So yes, I would highly recommend this book. It's a quick-paced, page-turner, with killer characters (literally) and killer romance.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageTrusting You and Other Lies

By Nicole Williams

This was a surprisingly solid book. I was expecting a pretty fluffy read, which it was, but it was way more well written than I expected, and I ended up seriously enjoying it. It was heavy fluff; not just a romance (as the cover would definitely suggest). Personally, I thought Phoenix was a great character that I was easily able to connect to, and I really thought her struggles were applicable and well-written into her character. Her relationship has becomed strained with her parents. After her father lost his job, her parents have neglected their children often, focusing too much on money troubles, while simultaneously failing to tell their children exactly how bad it was, and because Phoenix found out inadvertently, she is understandably not happy. This also means she is overly protective of her little brother. Her and Harry's relationship was honestly a delight to read, she cared about him so much. Plus, with the catching her boyfriend cheating right before break, she isn't thrilled with having to go to family summer camp. I was mostly just blown away by the character development in this book. It was really great to read. Plus, the romance was well-written to. It was a great will-they-won't-they, and arguably swoon-worthy. Of course, nearly done with the book, I think everything is going well, but I looked at the title and went, "oh no, nothing bad has happened yet." And then the fight that arose turned out to be incredibly reasonable, not overly dramatized, and made both characters contemplate what they were doing, and instigated even more character development! (If you can't tell, I'm really a fan of character improvement arcs). I would recommend this book for fans of Once and for All and Alex, Approximately.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageCity of Saints and Thieves

By Natalie C. Anderson

I found this book to be incredibly unique, and definitely in a good way. I mean, I've read books about teenage thieves before, but this is no copy-cat. It is it's own entity, full of twists and turns, and it's own set of new things it brings to the table. I found all of the plot twists to be believable, interesting, and surprising. You are never entirely sure who to trust, but you are rooting for Tina the whole time. The many different relationships that Tina had that the author was able to flesh out and make unique and realistic. Tina's character was excellent, a strong and fiercely stubborn girl, who I loved, but I loved her even more after she was able to experience her character development, and learn about her past during her journey. I loved the plot, and the journey that it took me on. This was an exceptional book, and I really can't wait to see what this author comes out with next, because this was a thrill to read. I would recommend this book for fans of Heist Society or Lies I Told.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

By Mackenzie Lee

This book is EXCEPTIONAL. It's funny, poignant, well-plotted, and fun. I've read a lot of good books recently, but I haven't been this excited about a book in a long time. The characters were each distinct, interesting, and relatable. There were so many situations that were absolutely hilarious. Our beloved flawed protagonist Monty runs naked through the palace of Versailles. And as someone who normally gets so much second hand embarrassment from characters that I just cringe, I didn't! I was just sitting there laughing the whole time. The author also twists it on you. Right when you think you know what is happening, something completely different happens. The plot has twists and turns, but none of them unbelievable. The romance is well-written too, featuring one of my favorite tropes of the slow burn. Plus, this book proves that you can write diverse period books. And I know some people approach diverse books where they feel that the author is shoving it in their face, but I can promise it won't feel like that at all. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is so good, please read it.

-Delaney, Grade 11



As You Wish

By Chelsea Sedoti

The concept of this book is amazing, and I think the author executed it well too. In the small town of Madison, Nevada, they're just like any other small town. Except for the huge detail of wishing. On their eighteenth birthday, everyone in Madison gets to make one wish. There are rules; they can't do anything that affects the world, they can't wish for more wishes, and most of all: they can't tell anyone. Eldon's wish day is approaching, and even though most kids have their wishes picked out by now, he has no idea. His sister is in a hospital in Vegas, and his mother desperately wants him to wish something to fix her, but Eldon knows that there is nothing he can do. His parents, and nearly everyone in town, seems unhappy with their wishes, and Eldon begins to wonder whether he wants to wish at all. But who would turn down the opportunity? It's an easy and interesting read, that also discusses the idea of how much control you have over your life, and what you can do to change it. This book is quick and fun, and sure to make you think about what you would wish for.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageWinner Take All

By Laurie Devore

It took me a while to compose my thoughts about this book. There is some good, and also some bad. I think I'm going to start with a basic review, then a more in depth review. The book reads with a lot of drama, but not typical high school drama, a little more intense, that the author did a good job of writing so it didn't seem soapy. The characters are very intense, but written colorfully and descriptively. Also, I would not recommend this book if you don't feel comfortable with sex. It's nothing explicit, but it's there. Now, to dive deeper into it. I want to begin with the things I liked. For starters, I did really enjoy Nell's character. Despite the fact that I sometimes wanted to slap some sense into her, she was well-written. She was a girl with both her strengths and her flaws. And most importantly, when she messed up, she was held accountable for her actions, as were all the other characters. That was probably what I liked about this book most, because another author might have these characters do problematic things, and then not have there be enough backlash, or have their friends automatically forgive them. And she didn't, which I really appreciated. The books ends with the beginning of repairing friendships even months after the catalyst, which is important. Because Nell didn't always remember her friend Lia was another person, and so I'm glad the author treated her like one, and made it clear that the way Nell treated her was not okay. On that note, I am a little disappointed that the final scene of the book was not between the two of them. There was a lot of discussion in the book about the difference between how girls and boys are treated, and expected to act. Nell herself was often a catalyst for pointing out these double standards, while Jackson illustrated the male side of how he was able to get away with everything. Because of this, I was a little disappointed that she seemed to kind of warm up to him at the end. I can't give away much without giving away spoilers, but Jackson does something severely awful. Granted, Nell does something extremely awful back, and I'm glad that she owned up and was held accountable by the author for those things. But Jackson kept nagging her to forgive him because they still had to spend the rest of the school year together, and she didn't exactly forgive him, but she definitely didn't forgive him either. The ending was a little ambiguous, but I really don't think Nell had any reason to ever forgive him for what he did. Now, I can go back to the "feminist" message of the book. It pains me to put it in quotations like that. While the author did some really good things in the writing that could be considered along this line, such as writing Nell just as flawed, or pointing out the double standards between boys and girls, it also felt more like a half-attempt at feminism. The author has this note at the end about how she wrote this book for girls and I just don't feel it. Nell doesn't actually seem that invested in making sure other girls succeed, and there isn't even a ton of evidence at the beginning of the book that Nell is a supportive friend to Lia. Nell also tends to judge other girls very harshly. These things are each briefly pointed out, by Lia both times. She mentions that Nell isn't exactly vying for the top for girls as a whole, as she preaches, but just for herself. She also manages to get Nell to see how hypocritical she has been of other girls at some points. These things don't make the book bag per see, but given that the author specifically noted that she was trying to make girls a theme of the book, I feel like she could have done more than mentioned it in passing. The other thing was that Nell talked a lot about the privileges of rich people, but was still easily upper middle class. So while analyses about how rich people are entitled might be true, it wasn't exactly some statement about difficulty of those in poverty; Nell looked down of the poor public schools as much as anyone else. Finally, the writing thing that bugged me: I didn't see one of the big reveals coming. I tend to pride myself on being pretty perceptive as to what is happening and going to happen. And this is less about me being sore about not seeing it, but greatly about the fact that I couldn't see it. Because good plot twists are ones that are hinted at in details, but you just have no way of knowing, but afterwards you can look back on it and say "that totally made sense and I SHOULD have seen it coming." But there was zero foreshadowing, even that which I could see afterwards. But even in hindsight, there isn't even any hint that something fishy might be going on. I don't know, I still enjoyed the book, there were just some slightly conflicting statements that made me question it sometimes.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageI am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

By Erika L. Sanchez

This is a very layered book, with lots of different underlying plots, but it is very well done. The main plot is Julia and her family grappling with the death of her older sister, Olga. But Julia discovers that Olga is not all that her parents thought she was. It also focuses on the many relationships that Julia is struggling with, that with her mother, her friend, and a new boy who she begins to develop a romantic relationship with. The author did an amazing job of conveying Julia's emotions, as well as creating colorful, realistic characters. Julia is a feminist, who often clashes with her mother over the ideas of what a girl should act like. She desperately wants to go to college, but her mother wants her to take care of her family. She obviously feels suffocated by her current life, and longs to be a writer. Once again, I really loved the author's ability to express Julia's feelings and thoughts. This book also has great representation on so many levels, including mental illness, and obviously Julia is Mexican. I felt like because of Julia's wish to be a writer, I payed special attention to the style of the book, but the prose was really great, and I appreciated it even though I was paying close attention to it. I would recommend this book to fans of To All the Boys I've Loved Before. It is a bit heavier than that book, but I feel like there are a lot of similarities.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageLittle Monsters

By Kara Thomas

I have to hand it to the author, if nothing else, she did an excellent job of creating a creepy and suspenseful tone in the book. Within the first few pages, the creepy and nerve wracking tone was  clearly established for the rest of the book. It's especially impressive that she was able to establish this tone because it's difficult to do in writing. Since in movies, they have the lighting and music techniques, and you don't have that in writing. So I was especially impressed with that. Overall, she also did a really good job of letting the story unfolding. The reader slowly learned more and more information that was about letting you know all of the secrets that had been kept. So it was very skillfully done. The author did a really excellent job of taking all the things that the reader thinks they know at the beginning of the book, and turning all of it on its head. It was very well done. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a suspense.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Born A Crime

By Trevor Noah

Have you ever read a nonfiction book that you just wanted to keep reading because it was that good? I'm going to guess the answer is no, unless you've read a lot of nonfiction. But this book always made me want to read more. I just kept reading, and I finished the book in four days. Never have I read a nonfiction book so fast, even narrative nonfiction. Part of it is the way Noah structures the story. Rather than chronologically going through his life, he pulls out the bits and pieces that are important and/or entertaining. Since he grew up in South Africa, there is a lot of learning about different cultures, but also just plain old difficult or amusing things that happen while growing up. As a comedian, he tells many humorous stories, and even in the more serious parts, will have a moment of biting, sarcastic tone as he criticizes societal norms, etc. It was a really interesting, entertaining, and enthralling book. If you are taking AP Lang and need a book to read, I would highly recommend this one.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageHolding Up the Universe

By Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe is an excellent example of weaving critical conversation into a story. I would say it's one of the better ones. Libby used to be "America's fattest teen." This book takes a different approach than others do, where a different book might focus on her recovery, Libby is already doing extremely well for herself. Granted, an extremely important point is that she is still mentally recovering in some ways, including from the loss of her mother, which led her to over-eating in the first place. Jack, the other point of view of the story, is face-blind. This means that his brain does not store what people look like. He can't remember the face of even his family, and every time he sees a person they look new. The book weaves together their individual stories of finding themselves, accepting themselves, and learning. And of course, they fall in love along the way. One of the most important details of the book is that it doesn't end perfectly. Their classmates are not accepting of Jack's situation, or his wish to date Libby. But they have individually grown as people and work to where other people's opinions won't get to them. Perfect for fans of "The Upside of Unrequited," Julie Murphy, or Nicola Yoon.

-Delaney, Grade 11


cover_imageThe Game of Love and Death

By Martha Brokenbrough

The Game of Love and Death is a book that looks unsuspecting, but is obviously strongly written. The author put so much thought and care into every aspect of the work, and as a reader, you can tell that down to every word was specifically chosen. The book takes place in Seattle in the 1930s, and focuses on Flora and Henry, whose paths keep crossing. But it turns out that their connection to each other has been predetermined. Personifications of Love and Death each choose a contestant for their game. Love wins if they choose to love each other by their set date, and if they lose, Death gets to take the life of her contestant. There are many obstacles that force them apart. Besides the meddling of Death to throw adversity at them, Flora is black, while Henry is white and in care of a prominent family. However, the thing that connects them is their love for music. This means that the book is not only a well-written love story, but a love letter to music, a commentary on race, and contains strong themes on both love and death, and their importance. I would recommend this book to fans of The Book Thief or The Night Circus.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Far From the Tree

By Robin Benway

This is one of those books that everyone should read, because it allows you to open your mind and empathize with other people's experiences. Following three biological siblings, two who were adopted by different families and one still in the foster system, the book illustrates a wide range of perspectives, and is all about empathy and family. Grace recently gave birth to her own baby that she gave up for adoption, which spurs her search for her own birth mother. On the way she finds two biological siblings who she is able to form new bonds with. Far From the Tree is beautifully written, and frankly discusses many issues that face thousands of kids around the country. The book alternates chapters between the perspectives of the three siblings, and each one has their own distinctive voice, and the author obviously put a lot of time into carving each one.  This book is about family, old and new, and learning to trust again after your world has broken apart. I would recommend this book for fans of Nicola Yoon or Becky Albertari.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Alex, Approximately

By Jenn Bennet

As I am a person who sometimes won't even read the description of a book based on it's cover, I'm glad I actually read the description. Because this is one of the best romance books I have ever read. Why? Because both of the characters had their own individual struggles that initiated their own character development throughout the book. Bailey is dealing with a cross-country move after she decides to live with her Dad in California. Her mom and her boyfriend have had a rocky relationship, and she decides to get away from it. She also has a traumatic event from her past that leaves her sensitive to guns. She's also trying to juggle her search for online pen-pal Alex and her new summer job. The interesting thing about this book is that it's pretty up front about dramatic irony. Of course in a book like this, Alex is going to turn out to be Porter, her new co-worker who she finds exasperating at first but later feels other things for. But me saying that isn't even a spoiler because it is revealed in the description of the book. It's a subtle difference, but it does make you approach the book a little differently. Once again, it was an exceptional book that wasn't just a love story, but also featured extreme character development. It was also just a subtly feminist book just because everyone was treated equally, and Porter always treated Bailey appropriately, and it is just so refreshing. I would recommend this book to fans of P.S. I Like You or Girl Against the Universe.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Midnight at the Electric

By Jodi Lynn Anderson

I first want to call out the publisher for giving this book an irrelevant title. I sooner would have called this book "Galapagos" as opposed to "Midnight at the Electric." The electric is really only relevant to one of the three stories told in the book, and only for a little while. Regardless of that, this was an excellent book. I was completely enraptured by each of the individual stories and the way they weaved together. Anderson does an excellent job of creating three individual worlds, mostly through letters and diary entries, while still making the characters sound realistic. I was disappointed every time the story shifted perspective, because I was still invested, but I got just as enthralled in the next story. I know Anderson did an effective job of character building because I wanted to know even more about the characters than what was just necessary for the story. I found the third person in Adri's part to be a little more daunting than the first person accounts in the other sections. While it has been describes as beautiful prose, to me it felt slightly awkward at points. Her personal writing style of Adri's perspective I just liked a little less than the rest of the book. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful book about family, love, and dreams. Would recommend for fans of both historical fiction and sci-fi, and multiple points of views.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Tash Hearts Tolstoy

By Kathryn Ormsbee

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is a book that not everyone will pick up, but it is one that everyone should pick up. The description sounds incredibly specific, that you might not like it unless you are familiar with literary inspired web series, or the works of Tolstoy. But you don't need to be familiar with either of these things to really understand the themes of the book or to relate to Tash. While the basic storyline begins when her web series, Unhappy Families, begins to go viral, Tash's life is complicated by her mother's unexpected pregnancy, her sister leaving for college, Tash's own thoughts on college, exploring her sexuality (or lack thereof), and fights with her best friends. There is a certain beauty to books where the climactic conflict is caused by the main character messing up. It tends to make the book so much more effective, because it reveals the flaws to our main character, and then forces them to resolve the issue. Ormsbee executes that plot point extremely well. Ultimately, Tash blows up her own life, and it is then up to her to fix the rift she formed between herself and her family, and herself and her friends. Another major plot of the book is that Tash is asexual, and is trying to determine how that fits into her identity, and how she could possibly date someone romantically without a sexual aspect. As an underrepresented identity, this helps the book stand out even more as a positive addition to the ya world. Tash's fights with her friends and her worries about how she can pay for college make the book one that readers can universally relate to, while other aspects allow the reader to do the most important thing that reading presents: expand their perspective of the world and those around them.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Love and First Sight

By Josh Sundquist

This is a pretty exceptional book. Will was born blind, and has been surrounded his entire life by other blind people at his boarding school. Now, he has decided to enter a public high school, which you can imagine might cause all different types of conflict. I really enjoyed reading about Will's experience. He worried about the problems that came with being the only blind kid at school, but he worried about normal teenager stuff too: making friends at a new school, girls, and his future. Will also had a great sense of humor. The book offered great themes such as compassion for others, and seeing past the facade of people. It was obvious that Sundquist had done his research on all aspects of the book, and he can relate to the need for disabled representation because he himself is an amputee. I enjoy his light, humorous writing style that is easy to read. It isn't the most intelligent, eloquent book, but that obviously wasn't the point. The book achieved its main goal: a book for young readers that they could enjoy and pick up on healthy themes. The fact that it is simply written makes it a better book for more reluctant readers, who don't want to slog through complicated internal conflict or long pages of descriptions with words they can't understand. An excellent and important addition to the bookshelf of YA.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Strange the Dreamer

By Laini Taylor

I have very mixed feelings about this book. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, I really did. I liked the author's tone and writing style, I liked the magical element, and I really liked the plot. I just question whether it could have been shorter. The book is 532 pages. Sometimes, a book needs that much, but I didn't feel like the extreme length was necessary. I found the first 100 pages extremely difficult to get in to. It was a lot of exposition about lazlo's early life that did not need to be fleshed out as much as it was, as it did not hold much relevance to the plot, only his character. Lazlo was often treated poorly because of his status as a foundling child, which makes sense, and is an important piece of his character and his interactions with others, but it took 82 pages to set up his life before he even left for weep. Even if you read at a page per minute, that is over an hour it takes of basic exposition before he even begins his journey. Then we are finally introduced to the second protagonist, Sarai, who also has a great deal of exposition involved with her character. And while this world building is necessary, and mostly interesting, it felt like something I had to slog through. We learn early on that Sarai has magical powers of some sort, but it takes 60 pages before this is revealed. The time span was too long and instead of achieving the author's purpose of building suspense, it just made me irritated. After about 200 pages, the story picks up, but it felt like a long time to wait. Then I got to the end, and was waiting for the climax. Half of he big reveal of the climax, I had already deduced about 300 pages ago, so it did not give me the same satisfaction of the climax that would have occured if I hadn't already predicted it. While the majority of this is negative, I did still enjoy the story. I really liked both of the main characters, as well as some of the minor ones. The world of weep was intriguing and mystical. I would recommend if you are interested in the world building portion of fantasy and lots of vivid descriptions of the environment, or a star crossed romance. Do not expect action or suspense though.

-Delaney, Grade 11


The Upside of Unrequited

By Becky Albertalli

This book is so amazing simply because it is so realistic. Many of the thoughts and insecurities Molly has are things that I can relate to. Let's be real, being a teenager is really hard no matter what. So many of the things Molly worries about are universal. She is scared of growing apart from her family, whom she loves. She really wants to fall in love, and feels like she is behind society's standards for having a boyfriend, because she is seventeen and never kissed anyone, while her peers casually talk about sex. So many of her struggles are universally relatable, which makes her a great character that you are able to feel for. If you can't relate to Molly as much, chances are you are able to relate to her twin sister, Cassie. The most important part of this book is by far the realistic familial relationships portrayed. They are a close family that loves each other, but they also come with their quirks. And just because they love each other doesn't mean they don't fight, it just means that they work through the issues together and overcome them, while still understanding that they will fight again, and may drift apart in the future, but it will be okay.  Becky Albertalli made me feel things and think about stronger topics without even realizing what was happening because the story was so engrossing, and she seamlessly combines her themes into the narrative. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading a book with representation and romance, including fans of Rainbow Rowell and Julie Murphy.

-Delaney, Grade 11


The Traitor's Kiss

By Erin Beaty

Not to be dramatic, but I would die for Sage Fowler. What an awesome character. She is a strong and smart woman in a world where that is rejected, but still manages to find her place while never having to surrender any of her freedom. She finds love, and despite being repeatedly describes as "wild" finding love is not about finding a man to "tame" her, but she finds a man who completely accepts who she is and understands that she is going to do things that aren't "ladylike." And despite being this strong, smart woman, she is still a beautifully flawed character who makes mistakes but also proudly states that she wants to make the mistakes herself, not have them made for her. Truly feminism in medieval times done right. Besides this, the plot of the book is incredibly intriguing. Filled with political intrigue and intricate plotting. It is not an action-packed book one would normally expect from a book in this time period, but it still keeps you on your toes along with the twists and turns of the plot. It was incredibly interesting and kept me involved the whole way. The book made me think, while I was also able to enjoy the lively characters, as well as the swoon-worthy romance. I only have two legitimate complaints. The first is that I wish there had been slightly more explicit world building. It took me a while before I was able to understand the countries, regions, and the politics surrounding them. The other involves a spoiler. One of the only casualties of the book is that of the younger brother. Why the death had to be a child, I don't know. I suppose so it would have a personal effect on the main character, but that would still be present if one of his men had died. Not to mention, the book did not proceed long after that, so the effects of the death were not widely seen as changing or having an effect on the character's personality or performance of his job. The only instance to show this would be if there were to be a sequel. Which I have to say, I would not be opposed to. A sequel that takes place a few years later around where their wedding would be, that leads to Sage assisting Alex strategically against another enemy would be something I would definitely read. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that provided both hearty plot and romance.

-Delaney, Grade 11



By Brandon Reichs

Nemesis kept me enthralled during the entire reading process. While the book did not go the direction I expected based on the description, it kept me guessing through much of the book as I followed the characters through the high-paced adventure/thriller. The mystery aspect of the book kept me guessing, and I especially enjoyed the character Min. Her developmental journey through the trying times was portrayed well. I thoroughly enjoyed the book up until the end. Near the end, the character of Noah, who up until then I had really liked, turned in an, let's say, unexpected direction. I found this to be very unlikeable and felt that the decision was less about good writing and more about trying to pull one over on the reader and leave a suspenseful ending. However, this was not at all necessary, as the final big reveal of the book was not something that was entirely obvious, and served fine as an unexpected reveal. The turn of one of the main protagonists into someone who rapidly became mean and cruel completely ruined the ending for me. Up until then, I had few other issues with the book. One of these was that I had easily discovered one of the secrets much earlier in the book, but I am able to suspend disbelief for the fact that these are book characters and a conflict is required. The only other main issue I had was Min's best friend, Tack. While I supported his standing up to the bully, and did in fact find his dialogue to be clever, but I found him to be annoying. While my impression of his personality is my own personal opinion, there was one other thing in terms of writing his character that bugged me. He was obviously in love with Min, while she did not love him back. It was bothering that he was so insanely cutting to Noah because he was jealous and/or protective. But the thing that stands out most that in a moment half way through the book, when he believes he is about to die, he actually says "love you" to Min. This is never brought up again. Not in a way where he laughs it off and tries to hide it, or in a way that he actually addresses it. Reich lost a key moment that could have stimulated character development and redeemed Tack's character in my eyes. Despite these criticisms, I did have a good time while reading the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a suspenseful, unique sci-fi. It is just that these things might prevent me from seeking out the next book.

-Delaney, Grade 11



By Neal Schusterman

Thunderhead is the sequel to Schusterman's Scythe, and it is well matched. While sequels can often fall flat, Thunderhead exceeded expectations. He did a great amount of even further world building in this book, this time allowing the reader into the mind of the thunderhead and it's experiences. Schusterman has somehow made this disembodied, elevated version of the cloud a likable character, which is a feat withing itself. Thunderhead creates a new, interesting story that is an excellent continuation of Scythe while not at all being a repeat of the first book. There is extreme character development in Citra and Rowan, as well as the new character, Grayson. I also extremely enjoyed the relationship building such as between Citra and Scythe Curie. Schusterman is a master of building character while weaving an intricate and interesting story. The book is both suspenseful and beautiful while never being confusing for the reader to follow. The twists to the story were interesting and well-prepared, but never felt forced. I laughed and cried by the time this book was over, and I love and detest the ending, which is how you truly know when a book is amazing. I cannot emphasize enough how well-written and well thought-out this book was. I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their favorite genre.

-Delaney, Grade 11


Madison Reads


Sky in the Deep

By Adrienne Young

    The Aska and the Riki are enemies because their gods are enemies. Every five years, during fighting season, two two clans meet in the battlefield and fight for their god. Something changes when Eelyn, an Aska warrior, finds her brother on the battlefield, her brother that dies five years ago. Eelyn chases after him to seek the truth, and now she must stay the winter in an enemy village. Eelyn is desperate to get back to her family, but must trust Fiske, her brother's brother in heart. When the village is raided, however, she must find a way to unite the clans, or else risk losing everyone.
    Overall, this book is pretty good. The fist few pages, and one or two spots within, the sentences seemed a little stunted, but it's easy to overlook. I enjoyed the plot quite a bit, and it did a good job of keeping your focus on the book. There was a romantic sub-plot, though, and I felt the subtle build up was a bit too subtle for how sudden and sort of intense the romance was (it didn't feel right, and it was hard to see them fit with not a lot to back it up beforehand). It was still a good pairing, I just wish the build up throughout the book was less subtle.The fighting was written well, meaning it wasn't confusing to follow, so it was fun to read and easy to imagine yourself in the battle. Now the characters. The developments of most characters were good. They were enjoyable, and it was easy to love every character that Adrienne clearly wanted you to love. Despite that, there were some things that didn't sit right with me. There was a spot that really held my attention, and that's because the very sudden change in character with little prompting didn't seem right- a.k.a. it didn't make any sense whatsoever. Also, the change in heart later on, with the same character, wasn't explained that well either, and I found both these spots irritating. Even with all this, The book was still enjoyable, plot-wise and character-wise, and I'd recommend it .

-Madison, Grade 10



Summer of Salt

By Katrina Leno

TRIGGER WARNING- mentions of rape
    By-the-sea island is not an ordinary island. There's a family there that have an air of magic about them. Georgina and Mary, fraternal twins, are part of that family. This is their last summer on the island before they leave for the first time off to college. That being said, it's the most eventful summer they've had, for better or for worse. It's filled with love, mystery, heartbreak, and magic. With a rare bird that always comes to the island in summer, who knows what that bird will bring with it.
    I really enjoy this book. The plot is exciting and mysterious, and it doesn't slow down. There's a thrill throughout the book that leaves you guessing, but it doesn't stop all the love, humor, supernatural, and every other aspect of a good story. Now for the characters, a.k.a. the best part of any story. While a few characters are a bit static, they're mostly side characters, so it doesn't matter too much. The main characters are pretty dynamic, and interesting. Each character has a different personality and problems, and they're written well. Anybody who reads this can identify with the characters in one way or another, which is a hard task to do in a story centered around mystery. Overall, I think even a reluctant reader would enjoy this book, so I 100% recommend it, that is if you don't get triggered by mentions of rape or are homophobic.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageThe Call

By Peadar O'Guilin

    Taking over lands that are not yours have been done before, but taking the land of fairies and banishing them to another dimension, that's a whole other problem. They seek revenge, and they will get it. They "call" human children to their dimension and chase them, hunting them down until times up, and the human either brutally dies or stays alive long enough to come back. In preparation, humans have started training the children to survive once they are called. It's not often someone survives, but the odds for Nessa, a 14-year old with polio, are even worse. Even with the call lurking over everyone's shoulders and bullies aimed at taking Nessa down before she gets sent to the other dimension, Nessa is headstrong on surviving. The only question, what will that bring for her?
    This book is actually quite interesting. It's a fantasy/horror/mystery all in one, and Peadar writes it well. All of the characters are interesting, and while I wish the villains were developed more (like why they act the way they do, etc), most of the characters are explored and well-written. The plot itself is also interesting. Even though the bones of the story are stereotypical, The meat/body of the story is different and engaging. Though be warned, it is gory. The different aspects of the story, the idea of it, and the characters all make this a must-read gory horror. So, if that's your thing, I urge you to read this book. Be on the lookout for book 2, The Invasion.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageThe Female of the Species

By Mindy McGinnis

*WARNING: Contains Rape*
    Alex Craft might just be a sociopath. Maybe. She does, however, know how to kill someone. After her sister was murdered, Alex turned to violence, and because of that, she knows she can't be trusted. Not as long as she has blood stained on her hands without much of a care as to the fact it will never come off. Despite knowing that she can't be trusted though, she becomes friends with Peekay, a nice girl she met at the animal shelter, and Jack, a star athlete that desperately wants to know her, for better or for worse. As Alex's senior year stretches on, her true nature starts to come out. Maybe she should have tried harder, but like the blood on her hands, it doesn't really matter, does it?
    First rule of fight club, don't talk about fight club. I think we can make an exception this one time, though. Although I found some of the things about the book a bit weird to read, especially concerning the end, I found the overall book quite enjoyable. It tackles objects like murder, mental illness, and rape quite well. Mindy made those things easy to read and for the most part enjoyable, not an obvious part of course, but the aftermath is enjoyable. The characters are interesting and not too one-dimensional,  so they were fun to read. The plot itself is interesting and at just about the right pace to be likable. Personally, my favorite parts were how Mindy described the violence, for it wasn't too gory while also not being boring. Goldilocks is at it again I see. Overall I like it. It's not the highest in rank in my opinion, but it's by far the lowest. I do caution people who want to read this: There are topics like rape and graphic violence, so if that upsets you, please don't read this. Otherwise, I encourage you to give it a try.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageThe General in His Labyrinth

By  Gabriel García Márquez

    This book is made of fictional reports of the last months of the former President of the Second Republic of Venezuela Simón Bolívar. Slowly, as his days go by, it recalls his personal and political life as he descends into madness and death.
    I don't know if this book is considered a classic, but if you're looking for one to read, I would ask, because this book really makes you think. Admitedly it can be a bit confusing at times, but considering the context of the book (his mental state deteriorating), it makes sense. The book is really interesting and complex. The plot itself is attractive and well-written. The characters are really developed, and it's  a really cool perspective, watching how the characters and setting changes as his mind does. I also really like the symbolism of everything, especially connected with the title. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who isn't looking for a thoughtful read.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageInterview with the Vampire

By Anne Rice

    Louis de Pointe du Lac recounts his life story to a reporter, who at first doesn't believe him. How could he when Louis claims to be a vampire? But that soon changes as Louis tells of his creator, Lestat de Lioncourt, his becoming a vampire, his precious Claudia, and his inner turmoils. This severely depressed man is finally letting the world know, vampires exist.
    Admittedly, this book can be a bit slow, but overall I think this book is great. It's told as an autobiography of sorts- a.k.a. an interview. It details the life of a depressed man being turned into a vampire, only to get more depressed a large part due to the one who turned him. It's about family, love, betrayal,  and an undying thirst trying to be quenched with morality alone- which changes as he does. It's really quite a good read, and if you look enough into it, it can make think deeply if you so wish. I would add the LGBT+ tag, but that comes more into play in the following books- of which there are plenty!

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageBefore I Let Go

By  Marieke Nijkamp

*LGBT* Corey and Kira were best friends when Corey lived at Lost Creek, Alaska. Corey is heading back home for a visit, but days before she's to be there, Kira dies. The entire town seems effected by her death, but Corey has to wonder why they seem to have suddenly changed their opinions on Kira, and are pushing her away. Confused, Corey sets out to find the truth about what happened and what's going on.
    This is one of the books I really enjoy, yet at the same time I hate it, and not in the good way. First, the good things: the LGBT+ inclusiveness is refreshing to say the least. There are parts of the community in it that are not normally recognized. It's also not the entire plot, it represents them correctly, it's believable, etc. Also, the plot is enjoyable and mysterious. It leaves you guessing and guessing and guessing... Not to mention that the characters are well written and, once again, believable. I like the writing style because it's easy to follow while also being something that makes you think.
     Now the bad stuff: I HATE how it ends. There as soooooo many things it doesn't answer, and I don't think they will be. Some things just needs explaining or else it's nonsense. There's just so many questions I want answers to, and because you didn't get them, it makes the whole book seem pointless. All this buildup, and literally nothing. If you couldn't tell, it makes me mad. Other than that, I enjoy this book, and if you don't mind the whole "it's up to you to decide what really happened" aspect, then you will too.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageThe Diabolic

By S.J. Kincaid

A diabolic is a killing animal that looks like a human. They are brainwashed to protect the person who bought them. They are powerful, dangerous, fearless creatures created for one purpose. Nemesis  was created for Sidonia, a heir to the galactic senate. Nemesis would kill anything for her. Sidonia gets called by the Emperor to the Imperial Court, along with other heirs across the galaxy. To protect Sidonia, Nemesis becomes her and takes her place. She has to be everything is isn't, which also means she must "adopt humanity" within herself, but with so many complications arising, can she keep the facade?
    I'm not gonna lie, this wasn't my favorite. Don't get me wrong, it was an interesting story, and the writing was good, but it didn't satisfy me overall-especially the ending. The story goes along the literature curve until it gets to the climax-of which it has a couple, but I'm talking about the last one- and it just falls. All of this rising action for nothing. Also, it contradicts itself, which always makes me angry. That frustrates me to no end, but that doesn't me everyone will hate it. Either way, the rest of the story is interesting and pretty well written. It's both fantasy and mystery, and holds both ends well. There is action, mystery, romance, and much more. Not to mention, there is a minor LGBT part as well. The book talks about self-identity and finding yourself. It also has more than one awesome female characters, of which the main character is and can/will kick your butt. Overall, I like the book, I just don't like the ending.

-Madison, Grade 10


cover_imageCarry On

By Rainbow Rowell

*LGBT+* Simon and Baz are roommates at Watford School of Magicks. Simon is "the chosen one", and according to him, Baz is an evil vampire intent on destroying him. He isn't completely wrong. After all, Simon is a terrible wizard- or so Baz would say. It's their last year at Watford, and Baz hasn't showed up to school yet, and Simon can deny it all he wants, but he is worried about his frenemy. totally his enemy.
    I really love this book. I miiiiight say it's my favorite book I've read in 2018. It doesn't focus on the plot as much as the relationship between all of the characters, but it still does pay a lot of attention to the plot. I really like this style, because it really lets you relate to the characters and love them more. In some books, you don't really know the characters, and it makes it more difficult to get involved with the story. BUT, some people may not like this style as much, and might find it frustrating to read because of it.
    The style of the writing is very nice, and easy to read and understand. The content of the writing is also very interesting. It's set in a fantasy magical world, but it also humanizes the world with things like LGBT characters, insecurity, hating your life and wanting to change, etc. It deals with more than just magic and dragons and fantasies, it deals with real problems, but it doesn't take away the magic of it all. It's a decent sized book, but I think if you are hesitant to read, and enjoy this type of subject, then you should give it a try. You should also read it if you do like books, of course.

-Madison, Grade 10



By Lesley Livingston

    Mason Starling is a student as Gosforth, a private "rich people" school, and competes in the sport of fencing. Fennrys Wolf doesn't know what's going on. He's lost his memory. Their lives collide one fateful night consisting of "storm monsters", and they are drawn together. Little do they know, their lives will be filled with monsters from that day forward. Human and other.
    This book is very interesting, and anybody with a liking to old religious mythologies will be drawn to it. This book in particular contains Egyptian, Norse, and Greek mythologies. As you can tell by Fennrys name alone, it's not completely accurate, but the story is enjoyable nonetheless. The perspectives of this book jumps between characters at random times, so it gives a cool and deeper insight into the story and what's going on. The action sequences are written well, and it flows smoothly too. Also, to a person without knowledge of the Norse before reading this, the mystery of Fennrys is very compelling (I would assume), but to anybody, they mystery of the story- like, what is going on, and how is everything connected, etc.- is very interesting and well written. There is romance, mystery, action, and... cliffhangers! So, if you read this book, look out for it's sequel, "Descendant".

-Madison, Grade 9


Never Never

By Colleen Hoover

    In this 3-part book, two people are in school with no memory of their past. They don't know their names, their family, where they are, their past, or each other.  They are told they have been in love for 4 years, but things from their past keep coming up, making them question everything they think they know, and questions keep arising. Will it happen again? Who were they really? What is happening? Why is it happening? How can they stop it?
    I love these books, and they don't take very long to read (a.k.a. a quick read). I love the genre- mystery romance- and the writer did a very good job with it. Her writing style allows you to go through two perspectives of the same situation, and flows very well. She dives into the characters well, and their development is well done- though not so much with how they started to the end, just from what they become and what they were (before the book starts). Anyone who loves romance and/or mystery should read this.  There's lots of twists and overall an exciting book. However, there are some unanswered questions (like why would that person do that- it doesn't make sense, and such), so if you don’t mind that, it's a great read- even if you don't read that much.

-Madison, Grade 9



By Susan Dennard

I love the style of story-telling she has. It switches p.o.v. s to give you more insight on the story, and make other characters more likable and human, which also helps the character development of everyone. I also happen to love fantasy, and this book is perfect for anyone who feels the same. The elements of this book are fascinating and intriguing, and make you want to keep reading. The plot is great, and tries not to focus on cliché aspects, like forcing the love for a man motivation or woman needs man banality, and to add icing on the cake, it has witches and wizards ( obviously).

-Madison, Grade 9


Reagan Reads

cover_imageDress Codes for Small Towns

By Courtney Stevens

This book caught my attention and held it, but lost it at the last minute. The story is relatable and endearing, and the discussion around sexuality could be a step in helping readers understand how they feel as well. The main problem I found, however, is the presented binary of straight and gay. Without major spoilers, the main character, Billie, is a tomboy, and struggles with fitting in at her church and these feelings for her two best friends, one female and one male. At the end, Billie comes to a conclusion, but the author never mentions sexualities outside of heterosexual and homosexual, despite this book being a perfect opportunity to introduce bisexuality into the conversation. While it may have been mentioned, Billie only describes and categorizes people into gay/straight, and at one point I believe she even mentions metrosexual, a straight man with interest in effeminate-deemed ideas. This ultimately knocked points for me, but I still enjoyed reading it.

-Reagan, Grade 10