Read + Review: Falcon Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

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Born in a family that runs a raptor education center, 13-year-old Karma is determined to become a falconer. But after she gets bitten by her favorite falcon, Stark, her family decides to return Stark to his original owner. On the road to return Stark, they get into a car accident in rural backcountry Montana. Now, Karma and her new survival partner Cooper must try to get help for Karma’s father who is stuck in the van. Lost, they must survive in the harshness of the wild. Along the way, Karma trains Stark to hunt for them. Will the team of three survive? Will Karma’s father be saved?

I liked the twists in the cunning plot and also the strong portrayal of the connections between Karma, Cooper, and Stark. Karma and Cooper who started as antagonists ended up needing each other to survive. Cooper started off calling Karma crazy for talking to birds but ended up getting along with Karma and even accepting Stark. The connection between Karma and Stark is evident when Stark finds Karma down in the crevice and provides comfort. The suspense kept me reading the whole day. The book also teaches the themes of teamwork, survival, and to always have hope.

One very memorable part of this book was the description of how Karma felt when she was starving, hopeless, and despairing. Because of the way the author expressed Karma’s emotions, I could almost feel them in myself. This is one exceptional way the author used her writing to make you feel the story and be wrapped into it.

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Reviewed by Lawrence, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: Pawns by Willo Davis Roberts

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Recently orphaned, Teddi Stuart has spent the past four months in the comforting shade of her kind next door neighbor, Mamie. Teddi treasures her time with Mamie, and the bond between them grows stronger in the few months she spends with her foster mother. When an obviously pregnant girl knocks on their door, claiming to be the wife of Mamie’s son, Ricky, temporary shock overwhelms the duo. Especially because Ricky Thrane died in a plane crash from San Diego not so long ago, and he did not send letters or any other form of communication that he had a wife or was expecting a son. Despite the mixed feelings, Teddi and Mamie bring the girl, Dora, into their home, where she explains that she is close to delivering her child, adding some type of protective layer Mamie has for her, since Dora was bearing her first grandson. Soon after Dora’s arrival, Teddi meets the next door neighbor’s son, and a new friendship begins to build, followed by shopping, tennis lessons, and a later suspicion of Dora. Late at night, Teddi observes Dora walking briskly outside, even though she just gave birth to a child. Dora should be resting and taking care of her baby who was alone in his mother’s room, crying. Mysterious acts carried out by Dora throughout the pages increase Jason and Teddi’s suspicions about something not adding up about this woman. As the pages of the book continued, Teddi discovers more about Dora and what could be an unsettling truth about the wife of Ricky Thrane.

I believe that Pawns was an amazing story with some humor, suspense, and overall mystery and suspicion between the characters. This gave the reader a hunger to keep reading the next chapter, for anything could happen between one page and the next. The fact that the characters in different scenes were portrayed in a different angle each time, seemed to intrigue me into finding more about each of the characters. This blossomed a thirst of knowledge for what each character was really feeling and what secrets they were hiding behind their expressions. One aspect of this book I disliked was toward the end, where I could tell what would be the ending and what “secrets” would be revealed. Even toward the rear of this story, I wish the author added a bit more of a mysterious element, so the reader could not guess what would follow up as the end of the book. Overall, I think that the writing style, hints of humor, plot, and characters all fit together in a perfect puzzle, and that all the loose ends were tied up when I finished reading the last page.

The most memorable thing I think about this book was Dora’s strength. The first impression I had of her was when she rang the doorbell to the house and when I read that she was clearly pregnant and would be delivering soon. I appreciated how strong her character was when even when she seemed so fragile. Admiring how she held her ground in the beginning, even if her actions were sketchy, I thought she was a girl of steel. Though she was doubling over in pain, she ordered Teddi to help her with delivering the baby, and I thought it was not so much tough but bold and strong to hold her ground like that in such strain.

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Reviewed by Sruthi, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: My Life is a Joke by James Patterson

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Jacky Hart’s family has a very small budget because her mom is training to be a police officer, and her dad is becoming a police officer so pay isn’t very good. Jacky and all of her sisters find jobs (if they’re old enough) for the summer. She gets a job at the boardwalk at a game stand, and her favorite teacher Ms.O’Mara offers her a spot in the play a Midsummer Night’s Dream. When she meets her nephew Schuyler, Jacky realizes all of the stealing, and vandalism started happening when he came to town, so she suspected him. When it turned out it wasn’t Schuyler who did it, Jacky and her friends Bill, Jeff, Schuyler, and Meredith all enter battle of the bands to tell the crowd who were the real culprits. When their plan doesn’t work out Jacky finds a way to have the culprits confess about them doing it.

I really liked this book because it has a really good theme, and all of the characters felt so real like they were there with me. I also love the fact that it’s a thicker book that has a few pictures in it to help to see how the settings would look. The characters are very realistic and funny. I also loved how James Patterson combined all different types of genres and characters in this book. The way the book is written just makes you want to keep reading it. It is honestly my favorite book I’ve read this year!

One of the most memorable things in the book is when Jacky wakes everyone in her house up at 1 o’clock in the morning, telling them all of her “evidence” she’s so sure is true about Schuyler vandalizing and stealing on the boardwalk. Then they had to go into the station and question him all about her “evidence”. When it turned out not to be Schuyler, she felt bad, and Schuyler forgave her, as long as she ate Ms. O’Mara’s horrible breakfast!

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Reviewed by Helen, Grade 6, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

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This book is about a girl named Greta, who is working in her mother’s iron works. When her mother sent her to get something from town, she runs into a lost tea dragon. When she goes to return it to its owner, Hesekiel, Greta learned that tea dragons are animals that grow special tea leaves on them and you harvest them. Hesekiel offered her to come and train the tea dragons anytime she liked. Once she finally decides to train them, she meets Erik and Min. They also help with the tea dragons. When Greta gets to know Min more, she learns about her past and that she has a short term memory loss, but she can see the future too. They become good friends and they all continue to train the tea dragons.

I thought this book was good for a graphic novel. It’s a quick read if that’s what I’m looking for but not something that lasts very long. But other than that, I really enjoyed the storyline, and all of the characters. I also liked the fact that the graphics are really calm and the tea dragon details in the drawings are really great.

One of the memorable parts of the book is when Greta meets Min for the second time at Hesekiel’s tea shop. It was memorable because she had run into her before and Min was very shy, so they got the chance to become friends and get to know each other, which helps make the story better!

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Reviewed by Helen, Grade 6, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review: The Mortal Instruments: the Graphic Novel by Cassandra Clare and art by Cassandra Jean

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Clary was just living a normal teenager life, until she chose to go to an all-age bar with her best friend Simon. She stumbles upon a boy that looks about her age. She then follows him into the dark, and finds another girl, Isabelle, who was waiting for him. The couple then goes into a forbidden room, with Clary right behind them, stalking. Isabelle then beats up the young boy in the room, along with two other men: Jace and Alec. She then calls Simon up to see the fight, but he cannot see them. He only sees Clary, in the room alone without any other people. The next day Clary finds her mom packing her things because she needs to “get away, or escape” for a while. Clary is angered and then goes out to the coffee shop with Simon to get away from all this stress. She then finds Jace, one of the boys from last night, and then confronts him. He then reveals that he is a different type of person called a Shadowhunter. After that, something happens to her mother while she is away and she has no idea what. During, her quest to find her mom, she teams up with the Shadowhunters and finds out a lot of dark secrets and rumors about her mom, her dad (who passed away when she was a very, very young child), and even herself.

This book was very nice, and it had a bit of everything. At times, it can be very funny, like when the Shadowhunters call the humans Mudanes. The art by Cassandra Jean is also very outstanding and beautiful. I dream of drawing like her someday. One more thing that I liked was all of the characters very much. Although I was a bit disappointed in Simon; he has to be my least favorite character in this book (at least in my opinion). The last thing that I loved and cherished about this book was that in between each chapter, they give a little comic strip just for fun. The thing I hated the most is that is book ended in a major cliffhanger, and now I can’t stop checking the internet for when the second volume will come out!

I loved the part where Clary meets Jace, Alec, and Isabelle in the club. The drawings and the art style in that scene just builds up to an amazing and iconic scene in this book. The rest of the scenes in this book are memorable too, and they all build up to a great story!

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Reviewed by Siri, Grade 7, Twin Hickory Library