Tag Archives: high school

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed revisiting John Green’s smart, snappy, snarky, funny prose after a long break. I also appreciated his insight into the mind of an obsessive, compulsive teen, something he portrayed with empathy and realism. The plot, a “mystery,” definitely felt like a device for him to explore the characters and their relationships, which didn’t bother me much because that part was done well, but a mystery reader would be seriously disappointed by the predictability and anticlimactic nature of the ending. Read it if you’re a John Green fan or if you suffer from or want to learn more about obsessive compulsive disorder. ~ Ms Dimmick

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One of Us Is Lying, by Karen McManus

One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a review of an ARC from NetGalley.

Five students walk into detention. Four walk out – and one leaves in a body bag.

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars  (with a little Gossip Girl thrown in) in this YA thriller. Everyone in detention that day had a reason to hate Simon, the creator of Bayview High’s gossip app. Was it the golden boy star pitcher? The drug-dealer? The popular girl? The brain? (see what I mean about The Breakfast Club?) The case soon gains the attention of the national media and the kids find them selves forming an uneasy friendship as they try to prove their innocence while wondering if one of them is lying. Things get even more uneasy when someone starts sending anonymous emails across the school claiming to have planned the murder and framed the group for it.

This one is definitely more the Agatha Christie puzzle mystery than a dark Swedish thriller. The twists and turns were in some cases predictable, especially when it came to the romance, but it was a fun ride to follow along with. The book drags a bit in the middle while you’re waiting for more clues to show up, but the end was a satisfying solution that tied up the loose ends nicely. Mystery lovers and fans of the movies and series mentioned above should enjoy it. — Ms Schoen

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My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday StoriesMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A perfect holiday read — stories you can chip away at during the margins of your day. Most are very sweet, heart warming romances. A few cross the border into syrupy and are almost offensive in their use of teenage romance tropes, but they’re easy to skip past in favor of the next. There’s a nice mix of contemporary realistic fiction, mystical realism and pure fantasy, and while they are holiday-themed, they do not focus exclusively in Christmas (though it does dominate). The authors, a veritable who’s who of YA fiction, seemed to genuinely enjoy crafting their contributions to this delightful collection. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Filed under Fiction, Romance, Short Stories

Spontaneous, by Aaron Starmer

SpontaneousSpontaneous by Aaron Starmer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(This is a review of an ARC from Edelweiss)

You think your senior year was stressful? Trust me, it’s got nothing on what’s going on at Covington High. The seniors there are so tense they’re ready to explode. Literally.

When a case of spontaneous combustion breaks out among the senior class – and begins spreading – Mara Carlyle takes it the way any cliche-ridden teenager would: cracking jokes, doing drugs, and hooking up with a new boy. Luckily her best friend Tess is there to talk her down, and the new boy, Dylan is mysterious and surrounded by rumors (burned down a store? fathered triplets? maybe!) Throw in government agent who implies there’s more to what’s going on than it seems, and you have what could be a great, dark-humored read.

I really wanted to like this. But oy, it just didn’t work for me. The premise was there, if not entirely new (Heathers? Buffy?) but Starmer just couldn’t seem to pull it over the goal-line. The ending peters out and you just never get any answers or resolution for the characters, which irritated me. Even if I don’t like a character, I want to know what happens to them!

And I didn’t like the characters. The main problem is Mara – she’s just an incredibly unpleasant character – and that was before the kids started exploding. Yes, she’s far too cool for school, and for this book even. I had no interest in what she was thinking or doing, and couldn’t figure out why any of the other characters were so interested in talking to her either.  – Ms. Schoen

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Filed under Comedy, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Dumplin'Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Willowdean is the overweight teenaged daughter of a former beauty queen living in North Texas. You might think that would give her a bit of an insecurity complex, but Dumplin’, as her disappointed mom calls her, is actually quite content, and even confident, in her own skin. It’s that confidence that draws other girls who don’t fit the typical teenage beauty standards to Willowdean for friendship and guidance. It also attracts Bo, the hot private school boy who works with her at a fast-food restaurant and surprises her with his undeterred admiration. When Willowdean and her gang of atypical friends decide to enter their small town’s beauty pageant, a series of amusing and endearing escapades ensue. This book is pleasant read filled with the predictable teenage drama that romance, friendship and high school can bring, but stamped with its own brand of uniqueness in its small town North Texas setting (I had to Google pictures of homecoming mums to see what on earth they were!), its Dolly Parton sound track, and of course, its challenge to the American ideal of female beauty. Read this if you’re looking for some light, breezy, young adult romantic fiction. This is not the book for you if you’re seeking genuine depth or high literary quality. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Student Review: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (reviewed by Jessica A.)

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In term two, I read the novel, Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. It starts off with Sam Kingston, and she is at a party with her friends, Lindsey, Ally, and Elody. During the party, Sam and her friends are particularly rude and obnoxious to Juliet Sykes, as they also bully her at school. Throughout the party, the girls eventually get everyone to turn on Juliet and they all physically and mentally harass her. As they finally decide to leave, Sam gets into a car with a drunk driver and crashes and dies. Over the course of the next seven days, Sam realizes that she is reliving the day of her death, and starts to control the situation to prevent her death. Even though Sam successfully keeps herself alive, Juliet dies instead of her. Sam then discovers that Juliet’s life connects to hers, and she attempts to save them both. I think that all students, especially in high school, will enjoy reading this book. I recommend it because it has suspense and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, especially with the shocking ending Oliver leaves us. Also, even though some parts of the novel are very unrealistic, it takes place at a high school with some very practical issues of teenagers, that we can relate to. If you like books with anticipation and excitement, then I would highly suggest this, but if you like books that get straight to the point that doesn’t drag on the story for too long, then I would avoid this book.~ Student: Jessica A.

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Student Review: All I Know Now, by Carrie Hope Fletcher (reviewed by Tess G.)

All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up GracefullyAll I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully by Carrie Hope Fletcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The self-help book, All I Know Now; Wonderings and Advise on Making Friends, Making Mistakes, Falling in (and Out of) Love, and Other Adventures in Growing Up Hopefully by Carrie Hope Fletcher is like a mug of hot chocolate after coming in from the snow. It’s like an all-knowing older sister who doesn’t judge you. Carrie talks about her experiences with bullying as a child (I know, sounds boring- she tells it really well), how to get over the terrible Teen Age, her social media conflicts, how to live with yourself, how to and how not to get over relationships, and really, how to become your own best friend. I definitely think most people should read this book! It has some really great advice- it puts a lot of your problems in perspective. It truly feels like an older sister and best friend in a book. If you’ve never read a self-help book before (this is my first one, actually) and you’re looking for one, this is definitely the one. Especially if you’re in high school. I don’t think anyone should avoid this book, as it can be useful to a wide range of people- although, it is targeted to young girls. If you need help, if you don’t need help, if you like books that make you feel warm and content inside- go for it.
~ Student: Tess G.

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Filed under *Student Review, Biography/memoir, Comedy

Student Review: The Truth About Alice, by Jennifer Mathieu (reviewed by Rebekah E.)

The Truth About AliceThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Truth About Alice, written by Jennifer Mathieu, tells the story of a high school girl whose life gets changed forever after attending one party. Alice, a seventeen year old girl is named a slut after having sex twice in one night with two different guys, at the same party. After the night takes a negative turn Alice is blamed by her entire town for the tragedy that occurs. While coping with the constant hate and judgment from fellow classmates and families a boy, Kurt befriends Alice. Kurt helps Alice feel safe and be able to share her feelings while being treated like an outcast by her community. The book touches upon the theme of being alone and feeling like an outsider. The book is an amazing read for those who enjoy constant mystery, it is also extremely real. The situations Alice is put in and how others react are not hollywood movie style. The author, Mathieu does a superb job creating a sense of truth to the story. Those who would not like this book are people who are more sensitive to the subjects of death, loneliness, and sadness. Over all the book, The Truth About Alice is a great read for many people. ~ Student: Rebekah E.

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Student Review: Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (reviewed by Tiffany W.)

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher is a tragic story about Hannah Baker, a girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 7 cassette tapes for thirteen people to listen to. Hannah threatens that if these tapes aren’t sent to each person in chronological order, she’ll have someone release a second set of tapes to the public. Within these tapes, she explains how these thirteen people are the thirteen reasons why she took her own life. She explains how she was used and tormented by horrible people. The story follows Clay Jensen, one of Hannah’s reasons, and his reaction to hearing her story from her perspective. When Clay first gets the tapes, he’s shocked that he’s listening to Hannah’s last words on tape. Through the night, Clay listens to the tapes on his friend’s walkman. He strolls around the city to the various places marked on the map that was given to him with the tapes. There are very serious topics discussed in this book, such as rape, suicide, and depression. People should definitely read this novel just for the experience. Depression and suicide aren’t really topics that are openly talked about, especially if one experiences it firsthand. The book also talks about signs of suicide that one could apply to everyday life. Reading this would give someone that doesn’t suffer from suicidal thoughts insight on the real hardships some people go through. On the other hand, this book probably isn’t suited for people that are easily triggered by these topics. ~ Student: Tiffany W.

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Student Review: Paper Towns, by John Green (reviewed by Carmen B.)

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the book, Paper Towns, by John Green, the author creates tension that keeps you turning the pages. After an adventurous night of just the two of them, driving around getting revenge on the people that hurt her, Margo goes missing the next day. Quentin, her friend who is a teenage boy must put together the clues she left behind in order to find her. He has loved her from afar for 10 years, but they just recently became friends. It is up to Quentin to find Margo, he is the only one that can. Even in the very short time in which they connected, he is the only person that really sees Margo for who she is and not for what people want her to be. He is the only one who truly understands her. So therefore it is up to him to find Margo, and he barely knows where to start. Time is running out to find and bring Margo home alive. Who knows if she even wants to come back? This book touches the topics of loyalty and trust. Margo puts her trust in Quentin when she leaves the clues behind that only he would understand. I highly recommend this book to any teenager who is looking for a adventure-filled book and one that forces you to keep turning the pages. Although, if you are not a teenager you may not find this book entertaining and you won’t get anything out of it. Overall, I highly recommend it. ~Student: Carmen B.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Mystery