Walter’s review of Candide by Voltaire

51jejxue7jl-_sx310_bo1204203200_Candide is an orphaned servant from a European castle who sees violence and war at an early age. He travels across Europe looking for love and wealth, meeting all kinds of characters and giving his opinion/analysis of all the archetypes they resemble. He eventually finds peace and morality in El Dorado, but leaves it, rich and looking for his love.
I would recommend this book to students, because Voltaire uses the picaresque adventure to describe lots of classic struggles and emotions. You can see how Candide handles them, hear different character’s viewpoints on issues you may be struggling with yourself, and just get to read a fun story.

Walter rates this book 4.5/5

Tags: travel, self-discovery, romance, philosophy, adventure


Medha’s review of Mirage by Somaiya Daud

a1g-6emqfrlGoodreads Summary:

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place. As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Medha’s Review:

Mirage is the latest in the new trend of books about subjects being forced to serve royalty and then slowly coming to join a rebellion. Still, it’s an interesting idea: a body double for a hated princess? The story had real potential. The book is written in flowery language that attempts to capture the beauty of classical poetry. The issue is that barely anything happens. The plot is so barren, and when the book ends just as things start to pick up. The story seems like a series of small moments strung together with no real overarching plot holding everything together. The premise was rather fascinating, but the story didn’t make the most out of it. For a story about “violence and fear” there is no fighting at all, and basically no rebelling either. Amani spends a lot more time cooking than she does rebelling, and she spends a whole lot of time examining how beautiful everything is. The world building is complex. You’ll need to pay attention if you’re hoping to understand who is conquering who, who hates who and why. Maram’s family tree is also overly complicated, and there are just so many characters that float in and out of the story for no apparent reason. The characters are well fleshed-out, if not completely likable. You have the stubborn and resilient Amani who keeps fluctuating between her conflicted emotions. Idris, who is basically the Prince Charming of the story, and nothing more. Maram turned out to be a surprise package in this book. She hides a spectrum of emotions behind her tough exterior, and suffers from the burdens placed on her at such a young age. The plot moves much too slowly, and it doesn’t seem like anything of value really happened anywhere in the story. The story drops off in the middle of the climax, possible hoping to attract readers to a sequel? Even said climax seems forced and could have been easily avoided with some rational thinking on Amani’s part. The only reason I’d come back is for Maram, a worthy addition to my list of favorite literary teenage royals.

Medha rates this book 3.5/5

Tags: fantasy, rebellion, kingdoms, war, science fiction, romance, relationships, violence

Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

9ad31-daughterofsmokeandboneA girl, Karou, is an artist who draws imaginary creatures. The imaginary creatures that she draws are real but she pretends they are fake because she knew no one would believe her. Karou lives with one of the creatures who asks her to get teeth, human or animal, not knowing what they were for. As she slowly discovers out why, she meets a boy named Akiva who is an angel who hunts down her kind, chimera. Akiva spares her and they work together to survive and figure out more about Karou’s past and her past life.

I would recommend this book to any eighth and ninth graders. The vocabulary is not too big but some scenes can be disturbing to some younger grades. Some scenes may also be inappropriate. This book is not useful when it comes to learning new words, but older grades can read this book and still enjoy the fast paced and suspenseful plot. This book is like many other books for teenagers but still has it’s own unique feel and interpretation.

The reader rated this book 3/5

Tags: modern fantasy, adventure, romance

Review: The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

23565495In the third book of the Clockwork Scarab series, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker are asked to become bodyguards for Lurelia, the princess of Betrovia, who is carrying a letter that has important information about the whereabouts of a chess queen that has been lost for centuries. Later on, when the princess is attacked and kidnapped, she reveals that someone has been blackmailing for the letter about the chess queen. As part of a scheme to find out more about the blackmailer and Pix’s shady dealings, Mina and Evaline go to a men’s club. Although the girls do not find Pix, they learn that he has been kidnapped and make plans to find him. The girls find Pix strapped to a chair connected to electricity by the Ankh from book one of the series. Will the girls save Pix and discover the secret of the chess queen? Or will they fall into the trap that a devious enemy set for them with the help of someone who they considered their friend?

I would recommend this book to readers interested in fantasy and who enjoy plot twists. Before reading this book, check out the Clockwork Scarab and Spiritglass Charade, Book 1 and 2 of the series.The book has paranormal elements such as time travel and vampires, and parts of romance. Though the book is filled with many plot twists as people who were thought to be friends reveal their true image, the ending of the book is perhaps the biggest plot twist of all as it goes against the entire story. However, the identity of their enemy from Book 1 is still not revealed, despite Mina’s firm conclusions.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

Natalie’s Review of Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

24737347A 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


Review: Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

41f0anc74bl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker are not as different as they seem. Although Mina possesses mind blowing powers of deduction and Evaline is constantly searching for new vampires to kill, both are committed to discovering the connection between the mysterious death of two girls and Egyptian scarabs even if it means putting their own lives at risk. As they reluctantly join forces to solve this mystery, both of them develop romantic interests in two extremely intriguing men. The plot of this story is filled with a few twists and can be interesting to the reader. I liked that the female characters had desirable traits such as courage, passion and even empathy. However, the ending did not reveal the true identity of the woman who had referred to herself as the Ankh and who had been highly involved with the mystery of the Egyptian Scarabs.

The Clockwork Scarab is the first in a series of four captivating books. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy mysteries with some elements of romance. Although some romance is involved, the mystery and the setting is the main focus of the novel. Details of Evaline’s encounters with a man named Pix and Mina’s encounters with Dylan are smoothly integrated into the plot of the story.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

Cassandra’s review of Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh

17196290“Chaos cannot claim everything, you know- there are always objects and points of stability in the worst of it.” Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh follows sixteen-year old Lark, who is sent on a mission to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec after foreseeing a Troth invasion through her power of Sight. Yet, Lark is not the only party that needs help. The kingdom of Tarnec has called her there for a far more dangerous task… Lark is chosen as Guardian of Life, who must recover a stolen amulet to keep the world in balance. With the help of her Complement, a beautiful white horse, and an awesome gnome, Lark is ready to soar into the Chaos.

I really enjoyed Lark Rising, because it has a fantastical Lord of the Rings feeling. Waugh uses beautiful imagery to set the stage for the novel. Although Lark can get annoying sometimes, she is able to blossom from an almost hermit to a true Guardian of Tarnec. Overall, I would recommend Lark Rising to anyone who wants a fantasy romance that is written in a non YA-like way. The Guardians of Tarnec deserves to have a third and fourth book published!!!

Cassandra rates this book 5/5