“If anything could be a book, there was no telling what you could learn, if you knew what to look for. Smooth river stones spelled out across a mossy floor. Lines drawn in the sand. Or inscribed on the side of a fallen log, half-obscured by twigs and mulch: This is a book.” The Reader by Traci Chee begins with Sefia, who escapes to the forest with her aunt Nin after her father is viciously murdered. The two of them are able to survive in the wilderness together until Nin gets kidnapped. Suddenly on her own, Sefia will do anything in her power to rescue Nin. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object left behind by her parents, something she comes to realize is a book. Sefia slowly learns how to read, unearthing the Book’s secrets, which could explain the cause of all of her misfortune. With the help of legendary pirates and a boy-soldier, Sefia sets out on a dangerous adventure to rescue her aunt. Through the journey, she learns more about the world around her and the power she has to change it.
I loved The Reader!!! It took me a while to get into it (especially when the point of view switched from Sefia to Lon), but after I got through a slight reading slump, I breezed through the book. The characters are wonderful! Sefia is a tough girl with a strong moral conscience. I loved how there are multiple story lines that run through The Reader, which eventually intertwine in a plot twisting way. The balance between character development (the “slow” moments) and action was perfect. Also, it is hard to pinpoint an evil character, because you get an idea of how everyone is thinking [omniscient narration]. I would recommend The Reader to anyone who likes fantasy. (The Reader kind of reminds me of Six of Crows.) I can’t wait till the second book comes out!!
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
A slightly magical girl disguises herself as a man in order to reclaim her magical emerald. She turns out to be more resourceful than the men around her believe her to be, but her affection for a man she meets hinders her successful recovery of the gem.
I recommend this book for people who enjoy historical fiction involving magic and a sweet romance. However, those who enjoy mystery might be disappointed by the book’s anticlimactic resolution that’s atypical of mystery novels.
Natalie rates this book 3.5/5
Boomerang Effect = “When lending a helping hand comes back to slap you in the face” The Boomerang Effect is a HILARIOUS novel evolving around Lawrence Barry who is forced to participate in a mentorship program after almost getting expelled from high school. His mentee is Spencer Knudsen, a Norwegian exchange student with Spock-like intelligence but minimal social skills. Things start to get more complicated when everyone suspects Lawrence to be the one destroying the Homecoming floats. Add to the mix a demon Goth girl named Zoe, a Renaissance LARPing group, an overzealous yearbook editor, and three vindictive chickens, and Lawrence soon realizes that his situation may be a little out of control. Just as expulsion is drawing even closer, Spencer comes to the rescue with his seemingly endless knowledge of random facts. In fact, Spencer may be the one friend Lawrence never knew he needed.
The Boomerang Effect was SUPER funny! I loved Lawrence. He is the perfect clown character who always gets into trouble. I also really liked how the novel discusses more serious matters, like overcoming drug addiction and piecing together a broken family. Overall, I would recommend The Boomerang Effect to anyone who likes funny realistic fiction.
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
This is not a typical time-travelling story. As our main character, “Zits”, is thrust backward into his Native American ancestry and into other people’s lives, he is faced at every turn with the realities of human nature and forced to constantly reevaluate his own point of view. Throughout the novel, Sherman Alexie uses Zits’s experiences to craft a debate about good and evil. Can fundamentally “evil” people do anything with purely “good” intentions? Is it possible for a “good” and an “evil” side to exist in war? Where is the line drawn between abuser and victim if the latter can seemingly morph into the former? It becomes clear that there is no black and white answer to any of the above questions, though Alexie does his best to delve into the many layers of gray in between.
To those looking for a shorter read: Flight is an excellently written novel and encompass several books-worth of events and detail in the roughly 200 pages that it spans. To those who dislike profanity and/or violence: there is a lot of both in this book, so perhaps make your own judgement on whether or not to read it. However, it is reasonable to say that the explicitness of Alexie’s writing only makes the story more realistic and effective. From hilarity to sorrow to terror to bliss, Flight takes an uncensored look at human experiences through time, and has a lot to offer for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or good storytelling in general.
Chanina rates this book 5/5
Four preteen girls meet in the early-morning hours the day after Halloween. All four of them are distributors for their local newspaper, and all four of them are about to witness things more astonishing and unbelievable than any story that has ever been printed in the papers they toss onto people’s driveways. Vanishing civilians and strange futuristic technologies are just the beginning of their troubles, and as timelines and realities warp, they must rely on each other to survive.
Paper Girls is absolutely for those who enjoy strong visual imagery. Through Cliff Chiang’s illustrations and Matt Wilson’s colour-work, Vaughan’s story is brought vividly, eye-catchingly, to life. Fans of science fiction and mystery novels alike may also be interested in this series. It should be noted as well that Paper Girls has been rather groundbreaking in its portrayal of female camaraderie in such a male-dominated medium. My only criticism of the series is that it sometimes feels as if certain outrageous and weird things are added into the story for the sole purpose of making things a little more outrageous and weird. This is only a small judgement I’ve made however, and as a person who otherwise fully endorses all things outrageous and weird, I believe that more people should definitely check this series out.
Chanina rates these volumes 4.5/5
Two targets are on their way to California. One is the asteroid BR1019, an asteroid big enough to destroy the West Coast. Another is Yuri Strelnikov, a seventeen year old physics prodigy. There are seventeen days before BR1019 hits home, can Yuri save the world in time? It is already hard enough without the fact that no one listens to his ideas. Just when Yuri starts to get a tad bit suicidal, he meets Dovie, a “normal”-ish teenage girl who is oblivious to the incoming danger. By spending time with her, he not only learns how to swear appropriately but also learns more about what kind of person he is and could be.
I deeply enjoyed Learning to Swear in America. Yuri is a very interesting and unique character. He is an extreme math and physics geek who is actually quite cute at times. He may be a genius, but he doesn’t know a lot of stuff about life, which Dovie slowly teaches him. Dovie is a perfect complement to Yuri. They are complete opposites of each other. The best scene in the novel is when Yuri visits a typical high school. SO FUNNY!!! If you want to read a humorous realistic fiction stand alone, then Learning to Swear in America is damn right for you! (Disclaimer: the swearing is used for emphasis only; no harm is intended.)
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
The Young Elites describes a world weakened by a deadly illness. Most people who got the illness perished, but many children, who survived, obtained strange scars. In the kingdom of Kenettra, the survivors are considered abominations (malfettos). A majority of the marked are innocent, but some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and they have come to be known as the Young Elites. This story is about the Young Elites and their struggle to bring justice to the malfettos.
I really enjoyed The Young Elites! The novel is told in three different perspectives, including both people in the Young Elites group and in the Inquisition Axis, a force that strives to hunt down the Young Elites. Though the characters are not very likable, I really loved the world building and plot line. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy. Thankfully, The Young Elites is followed by two more wonderful novels: The Rose Society and The Midnight Star. This trilogy is a safe bet for high class fantasy.
Cassandra rates this book 5/5