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2018 Independent Reading Project Book Reviews

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message 1: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Estrada | 8 comments Please post your book review here!


message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe Lydon | 1 comments Fast-paced, thrilling, and at times terrifying, Gone by Michael Grant is a riveting read that will certainly appeal to its target audience, teens. With this exciting book, Grant seems to combine themes from other well known series or novels into one action packed story. VOYA reviews raved about this first book in a series of six, stating that “If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this.” Consistent with this description, Gone features many themes and ideas from “Lord of the Flies”, but fuses the iconic novel with modern culture and crazy new twists, creating a fantastic read. Even Stephen King has shown his appreciation and enthusiasm for Grant’s story, saying “Exciting, high-tension stories. I love these books.”

Just as King described, I found Gone to be a thrill-ride, and I was often unable to tear myself away from the story until the late hours of the night. While I have drifted away from reading on my own, books like this encourage me to return to reading, and I am certainly eager to continue the series. Grant masterfully weaves an action packed plotline, presenting us with a seemingly impossible story, and yet somehow making it seem relatable. The story begins with a scene recognizable to all of us, a classroom, and the story takes off from there. Every adult in town suddenly disappears, all electronics stop working, and all the children of the town are left on their own. This storyline is certainly familiar to the one we see in LOFT, and that means you can guess what happens next. The children’s makeshift government collapses in a struggle for total power, but here Grant implements some of his own twists to a classic tale. An unnamed power lurks in the darkness, poisoning the minds of children and animals. The teens begin to develop supernatural powers, animals mutate into unrecognizable and vicious abominations, and just like LOTF, we see some of the kids return to a primeval savagery. Grant’s dark alteration of an already dark tale makes for a page-turner, and can certainly leave one on the edge of their seats. Balancing out the fast pace of the novel are relatable characters, and important light shed on issues prominent today. Bullying, abandonment of children, and the treatment of autistic children are just some of the problems Grant puts a terrifying twist on in his novel, and many teen readers may be able to find themselves in a familiar situation in this book.

In conclusion, I found Gone to be a fantastic and thrilling read, and one that I would certainly recommend to a peer. With its combination of a fast-paced and extremely dark plot with relatable characters and real-life issues, Gone is a spectacular book, one that should appeal to teens everywhere. Fans of books like the Hunger Games about dystopian society, or of dark authors such as Stephen King should particularly enjoy this gem.


message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna | 1 comments The Perks of being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, is a wonderfully written book from the viewpoint of main character Charlie Kelmeckis, in the form of letters. Though it is never revealed who the letters are sent to, they begin “Dear Friend,” and detail the life of Charlie before and as he begins high school. The introverted freshman writes these letters in the way he speaks, which is plain and often unstructured. The language used is a slight misrepresentation of how a boy Charlie’s age would speak, adding to his unique and innocent persona. This further develops his character and allows for the reader to sympathize with him as he nonchalantly reveals sad aspects of his life in his letters. As Charlie meets Sam and Patrick, his first real friends in high school, his friendship with the upperclassmen strengthens, and the plot is carried on by his growing experiences with the world of sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Chbosky keeps readers interested with the way he develops his characters. Charlie is a young boy who is innocent and brutally honest, Patrick and Sam are unapologetically themselves and pose as Charlie’s mentors to high school life. Chbosky creates a story that is relatable to most teenagers reading this book. Whether it’s touching upon mental health and coping with loss, or the general sense of growing up and finding yourself, any reader could find interest in Charlie’s story. The author addresses topics such as abortion, homosexuality, and molestation through the eyes of a fifteen year old boy, which is an honest and genuine perspective.
This book is reminiscent of the unique writing style of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Both narrations are from honest and lovable protagonists, Holden and Charlie, as they navigate adolescent life in each of their coming-of-age stories. Chbosky does a beautiful job developing Charlie as someone who notices and understands: a wallflower. This is an enjoyable and honest book that I would definitely recommend to any reader, who, along with Charlie, will discover the perks of being a wallflower.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

David Levithan’s Every Day offers a fun, emotional, and thoughtful novel about the themes of human identity and self-sacrifice. A could easily end relationships or lives just by endangering the host’s body. A is someone who has seen so many sides to the story. For every story, there are many sides and A has seen them all. A is a neutral overseer that has so much wisdom from living so many different lives. He isn’t racist or anti-anything because he’s lived lives as African American people or homosexual ones which I appreciate. A also places other lives above his own which I admire. A saves a suicidal girl and also refuses to forcibly overtake a host. Despite his lonely lifestyle with no constant other than the tiredness that accompanies waking up, he still keeps his head up and remains happy and human.
I do have some issues with how A acted sometimes. For him to suddenly fall madly in love with a girl, despite having not done the same for over 16 years, seems inconsistent. He also seems too creepy and like a stalker for Rhiannon; almost forcing her to meet him at times. I also feel let down about not knowing who or what A exactly is and what Poole did to tether himself to the host. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone.


message 5: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn | 1 comments The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, is a fulfilling and enjoyable adventure to read. It’s amazing to see what a 13 year old hero, Percy Jackson, can accomplish. If you enjoyed The Odyssey by Homer, you’ll definitely love this novel. It is a fictitious journey of a kid who is a half-blood, meaning his father is Poseidon, and his mother is a mortal. His quest is go through the “Sea of Monsters” to retrieve the “golden fleece” that would save Zeus’ daughter. It also has comic relief throughout the story. In today’s world, the themes of friendship and trust are still relevant. If Percy was alone and trusted everyone that he encountered, it would lead to his downfall. This book makes a lot of references to the first book in the series, so I wouldn’t begin the series with this novel.

The writing style is perfect for this type of novel; it has striking word choice, and reads with fluency and clearness. You can relate to the things that Riordan jokes about, as well as the allusions that he makes. The only parts I really didn’t like were how, in my opinion, the main characters fell for a few easy traps. Percy and Annabeth, a fellow half-blood he befriends, arrive at an island after encountering Charybdis, a sea monster introduced in The Odyssey. A guide offers them spa treatment that’s overly friendly and generous. Once the guide separates Percy and Annabeth from each other, I figured that she would harm Percy in some way; and sure enough, she ends up turning him into a hamster. Luckily, he gets out of that situation with the help of Annabeth. Also, when the two friends pass the Sirens on their ship, (creatures that lured in sailors with beautiful voices to their doom), Annabeth doesn’t want her ears to be covered, even though it’s impossible to not be tempted by them whenever you pass. She’s also smart enough historically wise; she’s fascinated by the history of many creatures and places, so I was surprised that she falls for the Sirens’ trap.

The novel ends with many suspenseful cliffhangers that’ll leave you with many questions. The novel leaves you wondering if you’d be brave to do the things Annabeth and Percy do. I would recommend this book to someone who’s into Greek mythology, and who enjoys seeing characters accomplish the impossible with an exhilarating tempo. When you think the end is near, you are completely wrong with this series.


message 6: by Aedan (new)

Aedan | 1 comments My Cross To Bear is a riveting stream of consciousness autobiography, in which readers get an inside look at the strange life of rock and roll hall of famer, Gregg Allman. Allman writes as if he’s telling a long story that just keeps getting better. Just when you think it can’t get crazier, there’s another wild turn. Some of the information in this book is simply unreal.
Allman tells his entire life story, which may seem boring, but rest assured, he keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride. It’s interesting to be able to relive the childhood of such an iconic musician, tracing his successes back to baby Gregg. But, according to his account of his life, not everything was sunshine and roses. Sure, there were good times; touring the country with friends and bandmates, and making the Allman Brothers a household name was a blast, according to Allman. However, struggles with drugs and alcohol stunted the band, and caused some of the worst times in his life. Allman takes us back through his failed marriages, and assures the reader that the life of a rock and roll star is much less luxurious than it appears.
It is interesting to see how Gregg Allman’s life intertwined with the 60s counterculture, and to hear from someone who experienced the rise of a drug culture firsthand. There are a few pictures scattered throughout the book, and the long hair and clothing displayed in the photos reflects the style of the 60s.
Allman tells readers the story of the Allman Brothers Band through relationships with friends, lovers, bandmates, drugs, and his brother Duane. He proves to the reader that the life of Gregg Allman is a story of music.


message 7: by Nathaniel (new)

Nathaniel Howlett | 1 comments It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a deeply interesting dive into what a possible American dictatorship during the 1930s could have looked like. The book's main character is Doremus Jessup who serves as an everyday man for the more educated middle class. Slowly the world he had known, as well as us, comes crashing to the ground as a relatively new politician named Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip manages gains the presidency. Windrip has a silver tongue that whipped up the masses into a frenzy of support for his ridiculous, unrealistic policies. I won't go into more detail into the plot if anyone wants to read the story but it starts to become more interesting as Windrip starts to introduce more fascist policies. The thing I like about the book is that it is a satire of the political situation that was going on during the 1936 election. It is great as a history and political junkie to see what would have possibly had happened if Huey Long and his "Every Man a King" policy got put into the presidency. Yet the two main political parties were not saved from criticism either. The Democrat was showed that its followers being aimless and susceptible to fascism, with Windrip being elected by the Democrats while Republicans being shown as bourgeois and being so patriotic it makes them ignorant of their surroundings. The beginning of the book is a slow read that is a bit hard to understand due to the thirties references made. The start is mainly people talking about politics and how the rest of the town was unwilling to believe that a Windrip presidency would turn into a fascist nation just because "It Can't Happen Here" so Jessup can be shown to be right. Yet despite the slow start and a very niche modern audience, I personally found the book an enjoyable read. This book is definitely not for everyone but there are a few people the class who I personally feel who would enjoy Lewis's magnum opus.


message 8: by Evy (new)

Evy Miller-Nuzzo | 1 comments Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a thought-provoking dystopian fiction novel.
In the near-future America of Fahrenheit 451, knowledge is largely censored. Schools are used more for the supervision of children than for education; thoughtless and shallow entertainment has effectively ended independent thought; and, most importantly in this story, books are outlawed.
The novel follows the plights of Guy Montag, who works not as a firefighter but as a fireman. As opposed to putting out fires, firemen quickly report to the houses of reported book owners to start fires. Any trace of knowledge that could remain is burned. Montag takes pleasure in this job; that is, until a series of unusual events begin to open his eyes to his own unhappiness.
After meeting his free thinking teenage neighbor Clarisse, Montag quickly grows to enjoy her company. Her innocent questions prompt him to reflect on the world around him for the first time in years, and he begins to question the morality of his job. This dissatisfaction only escalates when his wife attempts suicide, and when he witnesses a woman at his job choose to burn alive with her books. Soon, instead of destroying it, Montag makes the dangerous choice to delve into the world of literature.
Despite being published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 holds countless messages that are still relevant today. The novel’s focus on books and entertainment reminds readers that the censorship of knowledge will ultimately lead to the deterioration of society. Similar to George Orwell’s 1984, this is often portrayed in the book through an over-controlling government. In addition to discouraging censorship, the book promotes independent thought and individuality. This shows through the stark contrast between Montag’s stimulating interactions with his free-thinking neighbor Clarisse and his bland wife’s tedious interactions with her friends.
Ultimately, it is no wonder why Fahrenheit 451 has maintained popularity throughout the years. The novel is incredibly well written; Ray Bradbury does an exceptional job of developing the characters, not only through their thoughts but also through their interactions with each other. Each set of dialogue is carefully worded to help shape the personality of the characters. The plot continues at a pace that is slow enough to be understandable, but still keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. One of the only flaws with the writing is the over-complicated descriptions. While the rich figurative language tended to enhance the story, it seemed to be forced at times. In a few instances too many metaphors made for more confusion than enrichment.
Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a compelling read. Its powerful messages have remained relevant for over half a century, and will probably continue to do so for years to come.


message 9: by Annie (new)

Annie | 3 comments I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was a wonderfully crafted novel that told the tale of a pair of twins throughout their adolescence. It is beautifully written and many strong positive messages are woven in each chapter. The book alternates between the views of 13 year old Noah and 16 year old Jude, as Noah narrates their younger years and Jude recounts their older ones. Though the two are quite different in personality, as Noah is quiet, artistic, and closeted while his sister is adventurous and outgoing, they cannot be separated in their early years. But, sometime during the three years when the book takes place, there are a series of major events that affects both of the twins in a very negative way, drawing them apart and breaking the bond that had been formed over years.
Noah and Jude struggle throughout the book as they attempt to find themselves amongst a major tragedy and death in the family. Nelson does a remarkable job with portraying realistic characters dealing with loss and depression, as well as showing how different situations can affect a relationship with a sibling. Noah’s dreams are crushed, and the emotional weight of that is pulling him down. Along with that emotional baggage, Nelson brings LGBTQ+ themes into the picture as Noah struggles with his love for his new neighbor Brian. The scenarios that play out are beautifully written and relevant to today as the LGBTQ+ community is rather big in the news lately. Many teens and young adults today are becoming much more open and accepting, so the story including a diverse range of characters and sexualities may help people better understand what they or someone else might be experiencing.
Jude, on the other hand, shows many signs of anxiety and goes through a large character revelation during the three years. In the beginning, she appears to be rather promiscuous, especially for a thirteen year old. However, as the reader jumps to her as a sixteen year old, she is much more reserved and paranoid than her younger years. This is due to the trauma that she went through and her own personal battles. Nelson takes a different approach with Jude, showcasing a seperate way of dealing with loss. The fact that readers can look into both the minds of Jude and Noah helps them to understand how both of them are very different with their mindsets, yet still strangely similar in other ways. It is very intriguing to see how the series of unfortunate events in this book affects each in a totally different way, transforming them into different people than they were before.
The way that Nelson crafts this tale brings art and emotion together to form a gorgeous tale of sorrow, love, and recovery. The problems presented are realistic and relatable, especially for today’s youth where many are struggling with finding themselves and feeling underappreciated. It can help teach people how to deal with loss in their own ways, and offers comfort, even if only for a brief moment. The abstract concepts and creative, quirky views on the world splattered through the book are interesting and help add a bit of fun to an otherwise dramatic story. Noah and Jude divide the world up between themselves, and trade pieces of it back and forth, hence the title, “I’ll Give You the Sun”. Their grandmother was quite odd herself, and it is clear to see that some of her traits rubbed off on Jude as the girl is very superstitious and religious. While the twins are very different people, Nelson’s voice comes through clearly in both characters, creating a deep and relatable tale that will be relevant for years to come.


message 10: by Erica (new)

Erica | 1 comments Overall, Every Day, by David Levithan was an extremely well written novel. Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. This novel is about a person who becomes someone new every single day. They’re never the same person. This person identifies as “A”. One day while in the form of a boy named Justin, he meets a girl named Rhiannon. She just happens to be Justin’s girlfriend. Justin is never nice to his girlfriend, but “A” and Rhiannon spend the day together having fun. “A” promised itself that it would never fall in love again because they would never have a future together. After meeting Rhiannon, everything changed. This novel is about finding yourself. It’s about identity. “A” could never have its own identity. “A” only had other people's identities.
Throughout the novel, “A” is upset that it never had an identity because all “A” wanted was to be with Rhiannon. “A” faces many challenges in the bodies it is in. It never wants to mess with the other person's life, but “A” did. One day, “A” was in the body of a suicidal girl. “A” eventually told the girls dad and the girl got help. This helped with the plot because it shows that not all identities are the same. I think that not giving the main character an identity made the novel extremely interesting to read. This book connects to today because in every issue, there are multiple sides to a story. “A” sees every side to the story. As the person, “A” sees it from their perspective, but “A” also sees it from its own perspective or opinion too. Every problem has multiple sides. That is in the book and in the real world.
I believe that this is a good book to read because it gives perspective to others. It shows that not everyone's the same. Not one person has the same identity. It shows the struggle of love also. Rhiannon and “A” had to go to great lengths to see each other. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read. This book was fantastically written. It was such a page turner. I think that this book didn’t have many weaknesses. I just wish it didn’t end in a cliffhanger. That is the only thing about this book that I would change. This novel is a must read.


message 11: by Nan (last edited Jun 14, 2018 07:30PM) (new)

Nan Andersen | 1 comments Go Ask Alice is a powerful and moving narrative that gracefully follows a teenage drug addict through her difficult and short life after being slipped LSD at a party. Although this true story takes place in the sixties and seventies, the messages and characters are relevant to this day. This book’s contents reveal the troubling daily life of an addict and shows insight of how addiction affects your life in the long run.
When I first told my mother that I was given this book by my Creative Writing teacher, she scoffed at me with a disgusted look on her face. She was appalled that this book was still around; she had read it as a teen, as well. For some reason, Go Ask Alice did not impact her as much as it did to me. My mother never watched a friend or relative deteriorate from an addiction in her teenage years, and I have… maybe that is why ‘Alice’s’ story has resounded in me so much. Every aspect, except for her and Chris running off to San Francisco to live on their own, was applicable and believable.
The only dull moments are the pauses between certain journal entries. We could have missed a significant moment in the narrator's life which could be unfortunate for us, but maybe this was for the better. Is it more fitting for information to be present or missing in this story? Too late now...
My mother may have been too young when she read it. Despite its mundane vocabulary, some details and descriptions are graphic and could only be comprehended by a mature reader. Not only does the book contain information of the likes of drugs, but we watch her face peer pressure, the deaths of relatives, and the common favorite, a teenage crush. As I read this book, I was not expecting to see the miniscule details that are shared among every drug addict. The narrator lies quite often and repeats to herself after every line, joint and pill that that will be her last one ever, she will never do it again; thus continues her downward spiral. Her addiction becomes so terrible that she admitted to a mental hospital as she believes maggots and worms were living in her skin. The imagery is graphic, and the most unbelievable aspect is that this entire, awful life was true; every word of the book came right from the mind of this burning girl.
I have seen a very close relative of mine experience the same kind of feelings as the narrator, which makes its impact so crushing. I wish she kept writing in a journal, it was what kept her clinging to life. I wish she got the chance to improve. I consider Go Ask Alice one of the most moving books I have ever read. I think every high schooler should get a chance to read this book and understand what addiction is and how it lures the victim into an inevitable and inescapable downward spiral.
Please read this! You will not regret it!
Go Ask Alice


message 12: by Evie (last edited Jun 14, 2018 07:46PM) (new)

Evie Burton | 1 comments The book Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris, is the kind of book that gives you continuous chills down your spine, a racing heartbeat and a pit in your stomach. This book can’t be classified as anything other than a phycological thriller. Behind Closed Doors is from the perspective of Grace, a shy, intelligent, young women who falls madly in love with and eventually marries, Jack, a handsome, successful man. At first, this is a normal marriage they are known as the ‘Picture perfect couple’, but as soon as Jack takes advantage of their love, things take a turn for the worst for Grace. Jack has a room in their basement where he tortures women. This room consists of red walls with the painting of his victims hanging. When Grace stumbles upon this room she becomes a victim too. Jack forces her to paint the pictures of his previous victims and if she refuses he deprives her of food. After this torture, Grace still see’s Jack as her soul mate and the love of her life which shows Jacks power over her. The couple eventually goes on a honeymoon where Jack spills speaks his mind. He hates women and he lives off seeing other people suffer. He tells Grace that she will never escape his control, that her life will progressively get worse and nobody will ever know. Grace finally comes to the realization that she is in trouble and needs to find a way to escape. Grace’s intelligence comes into play, outsmarting her evil husband. Graces thoughts and fears are written in such detail, it almost feels like you are in her position. The end was the best part of the whole book, it really tied up the loose ends and left me feeling satisfied and content.

The beginning of this book was very dry, slow and even boring at times, but once Jacks heinous behavior was revealed this book drew my attention and kept me intrigued, until the very last page. B. A Paris would switch between past and present time, which forces the readers to piece details together to understand the story better on their own. Throughout this book, my brain was constantly thinking and trying to understand what was going through Jack's head. The only negative thing about this book was it did not have a ton of twists and was sort of predictable at times, which was a little disappointing. But all in all, this book stuck to the true definition of a phycological thriller and was very effective in that sense. The title of the book contributes to its message, that behind closed doors it is not always as it seems. Two people in a relationship can look happy and deeply in love on the outside, but on the inside, the relationship can be unstable and abusive. This book shows how love can make a person blind to the obvious. It connects to today's world and the issue of domestic abuse because friends and family of the victim rarely know its happening to their loved ones because of the facade the victim and abuser put on, just like Grace and Jack did. Through the disturbing and gruesome storyline, this book was an intense and a quality read, in which I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend this book!!!


message 13: by Tess (new)

Tess | 1 comments In Yeonmi Park’s novel, “In Order to Survive”, she shares her own story of the shrillful life in North Korea, and the aftermath of her long awaited escape. Each page has vivid imagery and leaves you waiting for more. Yeonmi had to work her way through human traffickers in China after crossing the North Korean border, then trek across the Gobi desert all in order to get away from the darkest and cruelest place on earth, North Korea.
The main character, Yeonmi, grows up with her mother, father and sister along the bank of a river near the Chinese border. Her family, along with almost everyone else struggled economically due to one’s quality of life depending on their social status. Unfortunately, Yeonmi and her family had a terrible one. Her mother and father had to eventually start selling items in the black market, leaving Yeonmi and her sister locked in their cold, dark house alone. Unknowing if their parents would ever return home left her and her sister crying amidst their dead silent house almost every night.
Food eventually started to become an issue for their family. They could go days with eating only a few noodles, only enough to keep them away from death. With strict rations and little money they were practically starving at all times.
Finally, a plan to escape emerged when she was thirteen. Her sister first, then her and her mother. At thirteen, her mom and herself snuck across the North Korean border in the darkness bribing soldiers to look the other way, all in hopes to eliminate their hunger and receive a better quality of life. Once across however, it wasn't without her mother’s sacrifices that Yeonmi would be ok. They were taken in by human traffickers before Yeonmi would be seperated from her family. It was her new goal of reuniting with her family in South Korea that now kept her motivated to reach her much desired dream of freedom and an endless supply of food.
Freedom at last. Yeonmi was now in South Korea, but as a thirteen year old refugee. Yeonmi struggled to adapt to the life and culture the new country had brought her and even wondered if returning to North Korea would be better for her. Despite her mental and physical hardships, Yeonmi soon realized that education is the key, as she went on to receive an education at a University.
As you read more, you uncover more details about her home, father, life in South Korea, and whether or not she ever sees her family again.
This is a compelling true story that shines a light on the evilness and hardships that sit within North Korea. To anyone interested in the truth behind the closed doors of North Korea, I would suggest reading this novel. It is astonishing how much a single human being is able to go through in order to reach a goal, and the strength that is within each human being. This is a book that touches your soul, as you know a real human had to live through each and every event you read. This book demonstrates how freedom and peace should exist everywhere, as one should be fully aware of the how the dictator in North Korea is treating their people, and I highly suggest you read it. A life changing read.


message 14: by Skylar (new)

Skylar | 1 comments The Disaster Artist is a book about the making of The Room, a bizarre cinematic cult classic. As the novel goes on the reader learns how the project was conceptualized, what went on behind the scenes and a look at the author Greg Sestero’s friendship with Tommy Wiseau. While Tommys antics on set provide a comic element to the story as well as insight into the confusing and downright strange artistic decisions of The Room, Greg and Tommy's relationship is really the driving force of the story. The novel takes you through the production of The Room, intercut with flashbacks about Gregs journey through hollywood and his struggles as a young actor trying to find his place in show business. The novel introduces us to Tommy Wiseau as a fearless man Greg met in an acting class who never did what he was told during scenes and actively argued with the teacher during her criticism of his performance. The more you learn about Tommy Wiseau, a man who has always done his best to remain a mystery, the more intriguing the book becomes. Tommy had always hidden details about his private life away from the public and even from his close friends, it is still up for debate where he was born as well as where he got the 6 million dollar budget to create The Room. The book shows that the vampiric like man with long hair as black as ink has a human side, a jealous, crazy, compassionate and charitable human side. We see Tommy as more of a human figure through his relationship with Greg, who he shares more with than anyone else in the book, even offering him an apartment in LA for next to nothing a month. Despite seeing this side of Tommy, we learn about how much of a nightmare he was to work with on the set of The Room. Constantly making outrageous demands, refusing to listen to the advice of those around him and showing up hours late to set every morning despite demanding the entire cast and crew arrive at 8 am every morning. The novel is filled with facts about filming that fans of The Room are sure to enjoy, but you can still have fun with this book even if you aren’t a fan of The Room.


message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie | 3 comments The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater is an intriguing novel that will keep readers interested and asking questions until the final page. The short chapters are page turners which makes the novel hard to put down. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and often with some questions which are answered later in the book. The true, gut wrenching story is one of the best I have ever read.
The book revolves around two teenagers Richard and Sasha who have completely opposite lifestyles. Sasha is a white agender who goes by the pronouns them, and they. Richard on the other hand is an African American boy who has a complicated life and lengthy criminal record. One day on the bus home from school, their two lives clash in the most unexpected way.
Sasha dressed differently than the average person. They wore skirts most of the time, and people would stare and point, but Richard dressed normally, he dressed and fit in. Everyday Richard and Sasha caught rides home from school on the 57 bus where they met for nearly eight minutes, but they never said a word to each other. One day, Richard was surrounded by his friends who can be viewed as bad influences and was peer pressured into the worst decision of his life. He made the decision to light Sasha’s skirt on fire, and to make matters worse Sasha was asleep and had no way to stop it.
When Sasha woke up quickly, but not quickly enough. Their legs were burned very badly, in fact 22% of their body was covered in second to third degree burns. The book talks about the multiple procedures and surgeries that Sasha had to face in order to salvage her legs. After Richard lit the skirt on fire, he exited and immediately felt guilt as he watched Sasha jump around smacking at their skirt to put out the flames from the sidewalk. He realized the severity of his actions, but there was nothing he could do as the bus pulled away.
This is no spoiler, but Richard was charged with a hate crime and faced life in prison. As you read more about the gut wrenching true story, you learn about Sasha’s road to recovery and justice. You learn about Richard’s remorse and punishments. Read more to learn about Sasha’s new life, her parents trauma, and Richard’s trial, attempts to make things right with Sasha and fight with his own conscience.
The novel demonstrates the tension between people with different opinions and sheds light on the issues within society. People can learn many things from this novel, which I strongly suggest reading.


-Maeve Cadogan


message 16: by Annie (last edited Jun 15, 2018 06:48AM) (new)

Annie | 3 comments Jacob Portman is a young boy who believes in all the crazy stories his grandpa Abe tells him. He tells him about invisible people, strange creatures, and all things that are unimaginable. When Jake starts to grow up, he stops believing all these stories, until his grandpa is killed by an unusual monster. As grandpa Abe is dying, he whispers a clue to Jake, which sends him on an extraordinary journey to an unusual island. On this island, he finds Miss Peregrine’s home, where he sees peculiar children that have powers that are incredible.
Jake is sent on a remarkable journey where he finds love, weirdness, and danger as he tries to find the secrets of Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children.
On his journey with his grandpa’s never aging ex girlfriend, Emma, Jake explores the world of hollowgasts, wights, and other peculiar children that have their own remarkable powers. He must fight the creatures he once didn’t believe, and he must find answers to his grandfather's clue, and the fascinating collection of pictures he finds.
The book sends readers on an extraordinary adventure where anything is possible. A thrilling story with unique pictures, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children keeps readers interested and turning the pages. It opens readers minds and lets their imaginations flow as the story takes everyone on a sensational adventure. Much lies in the desolate orphanage of peculiar children, things that people can’t even imagine.
This story shows the world of children who are different than all humans, and it teaches readers that being different is never a bad thing. Ransom Riggs takes readers on an unpredictable journey where imaginations are opened and jaws are dropped.
I suggest this book to readers, as it keeps you on the edge on your seat and opens readers' minds to the alternate universe of peculiar children.

- Cory Shinohara


message 17: by Erin (new)

Erin Antinarelli | 1 comments When I first saw this book in a small bookshop, I thought that it would be great to read an original, unabridged copy of Jules Verne’s classic story, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In all of its some odd 280 pages, the book definitely packs a punch in terms of reading level. As an avid reader, however, I was very bored at times, dare I say it, with this book, because the language is very different from that used today, and had to be read thoroughly in order to grasp its meaning entirely. Despite the apparent weakness of the writing style in terms of appealing to a modern audience, the only other issue was that plot was very slow to take off, and at many other points in the book.

For a marine enthusiast, the main character, Mr. Pierre Aronnax, provides in-depth explanations of dozens of the undersea flora and fauna he sees during his time on Captain Nemo’s submarine The Nautilus, which can be fascinating. To the average person, nonetheless a teenager, it is quite boring and a simple, and vague descriptions could do the book more justice and save the attention of the reader. The information, albeit fact or fiction, was great, although huge chunks of it became tedious to read.

Finding one’s identity was the topic most heavily addressed in the book. As a man “without a country”, Captain Nemo has gone rogue from his homeland and prefers to fly no flag, while ensnaring other nations in the hunt for the supposed sea creature, his ship. At the end of the novel, he fights a single battleship, telling his passengers about his detestation for an unnamed country, which has driven him insane, as it robbed him of his family and everything he treasured on land. Verne leaves this vague, only showing the captain mourning over pictures of his loved ones. At times during everyone’s life, they feel just like Nemo, getting thrown off their plans for their own life. They mourn things that have existed in the past, instead of looking towards the future. Nemo is the ultimatum of this event, what will happen if it does not end; Nemo says that he will never leave his ship, and plans to publish a biography of his life and findings, to be released with the last surviving member of his crew, post-mortem.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. A piece of advice, find the edition that’s right for you. For a younger audience, an abridged or updated version might be more fitting. For me, I’m glad that I got to experience a classic adventure novel, different from the other types of fiction that I normally gravitate to. Similar to A Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfied, or Purple Daze’s Walter Lee, Captain Nemo is on a journey of self discovery, and along with Holden’s illegal habits and Walter’s alcoholism and money management issues, Nemo has taught us how to and how not to find ourselves. Verne’s novel not only takes us on a worldwide journey, but allows its audience to learn a valuable lesson: to celebrate the past, as it has brought you to where you are now, and to move forward, into the sea of life, with optimism and a sense of adventure.


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