Four high school graduates that are best friends (Topher Collins, Joey Davis, Sam Gibson, and Moriko “Mo” Ishikawa) are planning a road trip across the United States to spend some time together before going to different colleges. Members of this group are some of the millions of people who adore a TV show called “Wiz Kids”. The star of the show, Cash Carter, has been behaving recklessly for the past three months, partying all night, getting high, and doing crazy things. Before the road trip, Topher sends a letter to the famous actor and jokingly invites Cash along. He is surprised to actually get a response back asking, “What time?”
I thought that “Stranger than Fanfiction” was a very interesting book that showed real life experiences. I liked how the four best friends became friends and how secrets only cemented their relationship more later in the book. The situations in this book were as realistic as they come and helped to give me a different perspective on them. Chris Colfer’s writing style can be occasionally humorous and serious too. In my opinion, that is an awesome writing style to have!
The most memorable part of the book for me was why Cash was acting so carelessly and his special connection with Topher. This connection with Topher is the whole reason why Cash went on a road trip with a group of total strangers. Once these things are said, everything makes more sense.
Reviewed by Zhane, Grade 7, Sandston Library
In Washington D.C., Melanie and Damon are reeling from their individual griefs. For Melanie, the memory of her mother, deteriorating before her eyes, is something she cannot escape. With her father awkwardly stumbling through a depression in their tiny apartment, Melanie is haunted by her mother’s paintings and floating words. Damon, on the other hand, is frozen in time with the aftermath of his best friend’s suicide. Carlos, a master photographer, acts as Damon’s conscience, guiding him through his life. With their ghosts around them, Damon and Melanie find a romance together. Initially meeting at their high school’s audition for Othello, the two move through their journey of grief and heartbreak with love. The minor characters also have their hardships. Melanie’s best friend, Travis, struggles to stay in the closet with a boyfriend on the soccer team. Damon hates his mother’s boyfriend and his snotty-nosed kids.
This book was fantastic. The topic of grief is beautifully written of. Melanie and Damon’s dealing of heartbreak came in stages, striking a chord with me in how their shared grief transformed from anger and irritation to pure agony. I disliked the handling of Travis’s homosexuality, but of course that might just be me. I hate seeing any lack of acceptance in regards to any tough topics. But overall, I loved the book.
The whole situation with Travis and his secret boyfriend broke my heart. Travis was in love and full of wholesome infatuation, yet his world was shattered. The friendship between Melanie and Travis was heartwarming, and really reflected true friendships between teens.
Reviewed by Veda, Grade 11, Twin Hickory Library
Vega Jane, Petra, Delph, and Vega’s canine, Harry Two, have made it to a whole new world. It’s advanced, different, and has another language. But every place has a problem, and this new world has a huge one the evil Maladons. The regular people are like puppets on a string, because they don’t even know their actions are being controlled by the Maladons. As Vega Jane and her friends plan and prepare to fight back, will good vanquish evil? Or will Vega Jane and her friends break in the struggle, letting evil prevail?
I seriously enjoyed this book. I liked how the characters developed and how their relationship with each other became strained or relaxed, strengthening their bond. The plot was awesome, engaging me in every twist and turn. The writing style was really great, enhancing the plot and the characters. Adventure was a huge theme in this book, keeping me on my toes the whole time. I also like how the genre is a mix between dystopian and fantasy. I recommend this to everyone, especially to those who like dystopian or fantasy novels, or both.
One memorable thing about this book is how familiar the new world is. It sounds a lot like the real world, with cars and trains as well as the language. That is, until the magic comes in.
Reviewed by Christine, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library
After dealing with a year of troubles, Cedar, her mom, and her brother just want to have a normal summer. Her father and third brother had been killed in a recent car accident, and the pain and grief still haunt them. Buying a summer house, the family tries to forget the past and start a new future. As Cedar meets new friends and gets a job, a happy future seems to be closer and closer.
Honestly, it wasn’t one of my favorites. My favorite genre is romance; I love a good love story. This book, however, had no love plot or anything romance to it at all. I can appreciate a good book without an extreme love twist, but if there isn’t any chemistry whatsoever, I get kind of bored. With this book, it was more about friendship, healing, and forgiveness.
One of my favorite parts was how close Cedar and Leo get. After a short week or two, the pair already became best friends. The friendship in Summerlost is definitely one of the highlights.
Reviewed by Madison, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Library
Beginning in the world of Before, Wayne Kovok lived a normal life. He was a fact-spouting seventh grader at Beatty Middle School. However, when he walked through the plane doors, he entered the land of After. In this life, Wayne did not share random facts in every awkward moment. He couldn’t; he had lost his voice, permanently. Now he must survive living in a house with his sick grandfather, injured mother, and no voice to stand up for himself.
Mayday is an incredible book. It balances sadness with happiness; seriousness with just enough silliness. The sarcasm plays a huge role in the book as well. You can’t help but relate to Wayne as he travels through middle school with a scratched up face, no left eyebrow, and no voice. The author sure knows how to hook you from the first page to the last.
The way the author contrasts the different points in his life is one of my favorite parts about Mayday. The land of Before, After, and Now all show how Wayne has grown from small-minded to whiny and finally to open-minded and mature. This helps you connect with Wayne in a unique way.
Reviewed by Madison, Grade 8, Glen Allen Library
Naeem is an American-born Muslim, growing up in a small neighborhood in Queens. He is in his senior year and his grades are slipping. One of his good friends Ibrahim sets him up, and Naeem is accused of shoplifting. The police then give him a difficult choice: spy and gather information on Muslim-Americans he knows or get his father’s green card taken and end up in a juvenile facility. This novel is about the prejudice against Muslim-Americans and how Naeem copes with this difficult period in his life. The theme of being watched and talked about secretly is reoccurring in this book. He was brought up in an immigrant neighborhood being watched by cops and cameras.
I think the book had a very serious tone to it, which at times, can make it a bit boring. However, this novel touches on very deep subject matters which are still affecting our world today. I feel like this is a great book because Marina Budhos indirectly speaks her opinion on hatred against Muslims. Overall, Marina Budhos does a great job offering her stance on this issue through this captivating novel.
Although it’s not one specific thing one memorable thing about the book is the reference to being watched. This theme is displayed all throughout the book, from the very first page to the very last.
Reviewed by Atharva, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Library
Alderpaw may not have been able to find SkyClan, but he did find two kittens that may be part of the prophecy. While Violetkit (one of the kittens) is in ShadowClan, Twigkit (the second kitten) has stayed at ThunderClan. Some cats believe that they are the key to StarClan’s message while others have doubts. Alderpaw is still training to be a medicine cat and trying to please Jayfeather. However, the clan cats soon figure out that the rogues have followed them back to the lake. Will this bring peace or will it bring a war?
One reason I liked the book is because of its very descriptive imagery. I also like how this is about a society of cats and not humans. This was new to me and it made the story interesting. However, I think the book was confusing because it kept on changing the point of views. This made it challenging to keep up with each character. I think it would have been better to put the character’s name at the begging at each chapter to cause less confusion.
What I found memorable in this book was that the cats had their own vocabulary. For example, the cats called the roads “thunder paths”. This was very creative and I have not seen this technique used a lot in writing.
Reviewed by Asmi, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library
In this book, The Dark Prophecy, Apollo continues his journey to fulfill his trials to regain his godly powers in the second installation of the Trials of Apollo. He was stripped of his powers by Zeus because after a battle against the Greek Goddess of Earth, the aftermath of the prophesized battle was bad. Being the god of prophecy, he was punished and made a mortal, Lester Papadopoulos. He travels across the United States with his 3 companions, Meg, Leo, and Calypso. They distrust each other too, even in dire situations. To make things worse, Apollo wishes he had his powers to complete simple tasks to gods, for they are difficult to mortals and need to fight off monsters and face seemingly easy tasks to gods to complete their prophecy. As Apollo completes his trials, he fights monsters, old friends, and mythical creatures.
In this book, I really like the plot; the plot was very interesting and detailed, making you feel like you were in the book. In between, there were small portions of romance between characters, which was fine because it added how much each character would give to another. Also, the suspense at each end of a chapter was very good, making me want to keep turning the pages until I finished. Last, I really like the humor; with the action-packed plot, it added a fun and a suspenseful atmosphere while reading the book. The humor relieved some tension and was dosed in good amounts so it was not overdone.
The most memorable thing about The Dark Prophecy was the humor added to it. The humor made me laugh out loud sometimes and made references to brands and games that we know about. The book connected myth and real world events and objects very well and makes me wish that it was real, except for the deadly monsters.
Reviewed by ThienMinh, Grade 7, Glen Allen
Jasmine de los Santos, born in the Philippines but currently living in America, has a life full of everything a girl could want. She’s popular, smart, captain of the cheer squad, and pretty. However, one day the De Los Santos family is crippled by daunting news: They aren’t legal. Her life slowly begins to fall apart, piece by piece, and the only thing keeping her together is her boyfriend Royce Blakely, the son of a congressman against illegal immigrants. This story follows Jas as she attempts to fulfill the “American Dream”.
Normally, I steer away from books about visas, immigrants, or any other sad topics. Not that I don’t take matters like these seriously, however, I’d rather not read about these depressing circumstances. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel by Melissa de la Cruz. “Somewhere in Between” features a lot of heart, family, and of course, romance! I would definitely recommend reading this book.
I love how the author included other elements to compliment the basic plot line. Not only is there the drama of being thrown out of your home, but Melissa de la Cruz also incorporated the roller coaster of romance. You will twist and turn along with Jas as you slowly but surely become obsessed with “Somewhere in Between”.
Reviewed by Madison, Grade 8, Glen Allen Library
Samantha Kemi is back at it again with her new best friend, Evie, the princess of Novia, and her boyfriend, Zain Aster, the son of ZA Synths. Only this time, instead of competing against other teams, she’s just racing time. She has to find her great-grandmother’s lost potion diary in order to save the world from the terrible Emilia. The plot follows the young alchemist around the world as she concocts spells, mixes potions, and overcomes all odds.
After reading the first book, The Potion Diaries, I was hooked; I couldn’t wait until the sequel. Royal Tour sucked me in before I even flipped the first page. You can feel the magic, as if standing beside Sam; experience the same surges of emotion. The romance, the friendship, and the bravery all flow from the pages. Amy Alward writes in a way that you can’t help but be obsessed.
The family element is definitely one of the key pieces that makes this book such a great read. The way Sam connects with her Granddad and sister is something magical.
Reviewed by Madison, Grade 8, Glen Allen Library