Book Review: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

What is a djinn, and what is he doing in London?  This plot weaves a suspenseful, magical drama between fledgling magician Nathaniel and the cunning Bartimaeus around the theft and questionable value of legendary Amulet of Samarkand.

This is book 1 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Stroud; I look forward to learning more about the mysterious Kitty and her band of boy thieves.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in fantasy related to djinni and the ethics of magic use.  If you read this book already, I recommend Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

Rated 3.5/5 by Ms. Ashworth –and I gave it fewer stars because of Nathaniel.  Others who have read it would probably argue that I’m too hard on the character (“He’s a little boy!  Little boys make mistakes!  Look at the way he was raised!”). I guess I figured that he’d do a little bit more developing in 462 pages.  But that’s what books 2 and 3 are for, right?

Book Review: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is a captivating and quick read. Glory is a high school senior who has recently graduated and is contemplating her next steps in life. All her life, she has been tortured by the mystery around her mother’s suicide and wonders if she is on a similar path. As a result, she lives with no life plan and pushes away many people who are close to her. One day, she and her friend acquire the ability to see a person’s past and present by looking at them. Glory learns many interesting things about people’s ancestors that help her better understand people, as well as unbelievable events in the future. While she has this power, Glory learns a lot about the people around her and essentially about herself.

If you enjoy easy and raw reads, this book is for you. The book talks directly about touchy issues such as suicide and unfaithfulness without any sugarcoating. The novel also has small details and witty sayings that can make you feel like crying, laughing, or anything in between. The language used in the novel is uncut and very realistic. The characters are also complex and flawed. The novel shows their vulnerabilities, as well as their strengths, which adds a realness to the story. The realistic characters counter the unrealistic plot and make for a creative and touching novel that explores the human condition.

Rated 4/5 by Elin

Book Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontiss

In Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, a girl named Sunday befriends and falls in love with a frog. She kisses him in attempt to break the spell, but thinks she fails. The frog awakens to realize that he is a prince, and that Sunday and her family hates his family. A couple of days later a ball is held, in which the prince, Rumbold, tries to make her fall in love with him as a man, and somehow make amends with her family. I thought this book was enjoyable as it adds many twists to the original Princess and the Frog tale. It also adds hints of different fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. I also liked the characters and their intriguing personalities. Though the book was interesting, it felt very rushed and could’ve been better of the author had slowed down the story. It felt like the author was just throwing different things into story without giving the reader time to adjust to what was happening. Overall, the book was quite enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone who likes stories about magic, princesses, or magic. I also recommend it to people that like fairy tales or the Disney classics based off of the tales.

Rated 3/5 by Kamakshi

Book Review: I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acompora

I Kill the Mockingbird is about three teenagers, Lucy, Elena, and Michael, and their escapade as “literary terrorists” in the summer before their freshman year of high school. Most students in their grade are unenthusiastic about their summer reading, which includes Harper Lee’s great American classic. In an effort “to make people excited about reading To Kill a Mockingbird,” the three friends hatch a plan to make all copies of the book disappear in local bookstores and malls (“because wanting what you can’t have is the American Way, right?”). With the Internet and social media, things begin to spiral out of control as what began as a playful conspiracy in a small Connecticut town leads to a “nationwide epidemic of vanishing novels.”

The novel is told from the perspective of Lucy, our main protagonist, who, from the opening chapter, drew me into this book. Creative, enthusiastic, and daring, she also has a caring and vulnerable side. We learn in the opening chapters that her mother nearly died from cancer and that her eighth grade teacher, Mr. Robert “Fat Bob” Nowak, died from a heart attack in the middle of the school year. To Kill a Mockingbird was her teacher’s choice for summer reading; I was amused by Lucy’s indignity because few students are interested in the novel and touched by how she launched I Kill a Mockingbird as a tribute to her former teacher. Throughout the novel, Lucy also displays concern about her mother’s health. Lucy’s mother refuses to be treated as an invalid and is adamant on eating fast food and junk food as she pleases, and Lucy worries that her mother is not taking care of herself. When I realized the ordeals Lucy has had to endure in the past year, I really admired her strength and courage and appreciated this multi-layered character Acampora created.

I Kill the Mockingbird is a quick and fun read and a good choice for a high school student looking light reading for a weekend. This novel is also great for those who enjoyed Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel, and I enjoyed Acampora’s story that was inspired by this great American literary work.

Rated 4/5 by Sunny

Book Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Maude is a poor country girl who runs away from home to make a life for herself in the glamorous French capital Paris. Struggling financially, Maude finds herself a job at an agency dedicated to matching plain young women with rich, glamorous clients who want to increase their own beauty. At the agency, Maude finds herself swept up in a job to accompany the independent daughter of a countess who shows her some unexpected aspects of the Parisian high society.
I enjoyed this book because the main character Maude has troubles I (and many adolescent young women) can relate to regarding her appearance and money. The problems she encounters in wanting to mingle with the upper class while balancing her friendships can be applied and seen through the everyday interactions on school campuses and is a viable reflection of how beauty and wealth impact young women and their actions.
The yearning for a higher status combined with the frustrations of reality present make for a moving plot that touches readers with the sincerity of the main character’s approach to each of her problems. People who enjoy mundane main characters they can relate to and those who enjoy historical fiction will find this book an irresistible read.

Rated 4/5 by Lingyue

Book Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle tells the story of Alex Scerba, a hormone-ridden teenage male in rural Iowa, who must deal with the fact that he’s in love with his two best friends (one male, one female). He periodically narrates about his male ancestors, and ponders how his situation is similar to theirs. Oh, and there’s an end-of-the-world subplot.

The story is told with simple prose, which comes off as amusing, but still gives it a laid back, lazy, rural mood. As a result, the conflicts of this story are shown rather uneventfully, which I personally found unsatisfying. However, people who enjoy peaceful, casual stories may enjoy this slice of life book.

Oh, and trigger warning: There’s lots of sex jokes.

Rated 2/5 by Sinclair