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The Chocolate War 

by Robert Cormier

Chocolate warAn all boys high school is doing its annual chocolate fundraiser. It is required for the boys this year to sell a large number of boxes to support the school. Jerry Renault refuses to sell these chocolates. This act of standing up for his beliefs angers the organization running the school, and caused him to be a target for pain and anger. 

he Chocolate War is far from a bad book, but it wasn't one of my favorites. Most of its characters are well detailed, but don't seem to add much to the story. The message is strong, yet I feel it could be channeled in a different way than it was. The plot seems to take its time and focus on seemingly unrelated moments (like not focusing on the main character for multiple chapters), yet the book is obviously carefully written.

Personally, I wouldn't give it a recommendation. It just was not interesting or fun for me to read. The title was what caught my eye, and it wasn't the fight to the death using chocolate bars I hoped for. Despite that, anyone in need of a well written short novel, they might find some light in The Chocolate War.

Jakob, 15

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 

by J.K. Rowling
06/05/2013 Categories: boarding school magic movie witches & wizards

Sorcerer's StoneMeet Harry Potter. He's just your average teenage boy staying with some relatives who make it clear that they don't want Harry in their home. That is, until one day when letters flood his house and he meets a giant of a man named Hagrid. Harry finds out that he's a wizard and that his parents were killed by the darkest wizard to ever live: Lord Voldemort. He is swept up in the magical world of Wizarding, finds a home that he's never really had, and meets some friends along the way, including his best friends: Hermione Granger and Ronald "Ron" Weasley. They soon find out that Voldemort is after the Sorcerer's Stone and have to do something before it's too late.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron are just phenominal characters and J.K. Rowling has woven a magical story that's the best of the best. If you like magic, then this is the book for you.

Hieu, 13

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Hunger Games 

by Suzanne Collins

Hunger GamesThe book is about a girl name Katniss Everdeen. Her sister is picked for the hunger games (where teens fight to the death and there is one winner). Katniss volunteers in the place of her younger sister and fights to the death in the hunger games.

I really liked this book because of the love story and the fight scenes it had.

Yes, I would recommend this book to others of an older age of about 13 because of some the the intense fight scenes and the sort of love triangle that goes on. But over all, I really like this book.

Sabrina, 14

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To Kill a Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee

To Kill a MockingbirdThe book is about the Finch family taking on a court case. Supposedly a black man raped a white woman and it caused a big stir because some people believed he was innocent.

I liked it because it was in a way fighting racism. Back in the 30's a white man's word was always right over a black man's word but Atticus did not care and still took on the case.

I would recommend it to others who like sort of old timely books. I would also recommend it to people who like books on fighting racism.

Sabrina, 14

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The Lovely Bones 

by Alice Sebold
04/29/2013 Categories: child abuse movie murder older teens rape

Susie Salmon is a normal, 14-year-old girl with a happy family and looks forward to going to high school and maybe dating her crush, Ray Singh.  That all changes when she is brutally raped and murdered on her way home from school and she, and her family, have to deal with the aftermath. Susie narrates to story from her personal Heaven as she comes to terms with her death and watches her loved ones move on and live in a world without her.

It was an interesting read and very touching. Expect an emotional rollercoaster, I was crying by the end, but there is a happy ending so hang in there.  I wanted to read this book because it sounded very original and I wanted to see how Sebold handeled  the whole Heaven issue and having a narrator who was dead.  I thought she handled it well overall and really shows how Susie and her family mature and move past her death.

I would recommend this book for someone that wants something different and is open to unorthodox and sometimes difficult-to-swallow subject matter.  This is not a book for someone very sensitive; there is teenage sex, rape, character death, adultery and some other subjects readers may be uncomfortable with. Read with an open mind and be ready to cry.

Rebecca, 17

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The Scarlet Letter 

by Nathaniel Hawthorne
04/29/2013 Categories: classic movie older teens romance

The novel begins with the town gossiping about resident Hester Prynne. The reader wonders what Hester Prynne did that was so bad. The novel is mostly about how Hester raises her child and why the father won't confront that he is the father.

I loved this book because of its romantic quality, and that even though is was written like two centuries ago, love still exists. I love the part when Hester and the father first meet each other after so long and they still feel love for each other. I hated how the father was such a coward to face the town and say that he was the father.

I would recommend this book to people who can read books with difficult language, and love romantic novels. People who love a suspense love story will love this book, and I loved this book even though everyone in my class disliked this book. This book has a deeper meaning and moral of you read it carefully, and do not treat it as homework.

Lauren, 17

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Lightning Thief 

by Rick Riordan
04/25/2013 Categories: action movie mythology suspense

Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson is a troubled boy who finds out that he is the son of the Greek God Poseidon. He then moves to Camp Half-Blood. In the midst of this, he is blamed for stealing another god's weapons, and he sets off on a journey around the world to find it while encountering friends and enemies along the way.

The Lightning Thief is an excellent beginning to the Percy Jackson series. This book definitely shows its research on Greek mythology (it might get a touch out of hand when describing things though), as it gives all of its elements a more modern look to it. The characters are all easy to get attached too (whether you love some or hate some) and the story is quite compelling.

Overall, it's definitely worth a try. This is a must for Greek mythology fans.

Jakob, 15

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Rebecca 

by Daphne Du Maurier
04/25/2013 Categories: ghosts historical movie mystery

RebeccaA shy young woman meets the mysterious Maxim de Winter at a hotel in Monte Carlo and gets swept up in a whirlwind romance and speedy marriage. As soon as she arrives at Manderley, the heroine feels the haunting presence of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, lingering in the hearts and minds of Manderley's inhabitants. The heroine feels like she is always second behind Rebecca, who was beautiful, talented, and brilliant--or so everyone says--but as the story progresses, we realize nothing at Manderley is what it seems and everything leads up to the one last epic confrontation.

I originally wanted to read this book because my name is Rebecca, and I thought it would be funny to see myself as the heroine in a famous romance novel. I was surprised at the quality of du Maurier's writing which crafted a story I just couldn't put down. There was mystery, suspense and classic romance similar to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. This is a good book and it kept me guessing until the shocking conclusion.

I would recommend this book to people that liked the classic romances such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre since there is a lot of figurative language and detail that slows down the story in some places, but there are other parts that have non-stop suspense and action that make the pace very fast. Also you have to have patience since the beginning is a bit slow.

Rebecca, 17

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Animal Farm 

by George Orwell
04/25/2013 Categories: classic movie short stories

One fateful night, the wise, but elderly pig Old Major gathers the starving animals of Manor Farm and speaks of an impossible dream, in which the animals throw off their tyrannical human masters and are free to enjoy the fruits of their own labors. After Old Major's death, two other pigs, Snowball  and Napoleon lead a revolution that drives their cruel master from his land and leaves the animals in charge of their own destiny. For a while, everything is perfect, but Napoleon soon becomes intoxicated with power and forces Snowball into exile, eventually turning the other animals against him. Napoleon leads the animals on a campaign of self-denial and hard work that promises security and freedom; however, it soon becomes obvious that Napoleon and the other pigs are growing fat while the other animals are starving, and are quickly becoming the sort of creature they once waged war against.

I loved this book because even though it was made to address the Russian Revolution and the spread of communism, it remains relevant today as a warning against big government. I was surprised how a story with meaning, power and an enjoyable plot could fit in a book so short. It is simple, but powerful with heart-wrenching scenes and an ending that comes with unstoppable force.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone because even if you don't like stories that make you think, this book is good enough to just read as a fable or short story. You don't have to love history or understand the symbolism to enjoy this book.

Rebecca, 17

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Planet of the Apes  

by Pierre Boulle
04/25/2013 Categories: movie sci fi

In the not-too-distant future, three astronauts land on what appears to be a planet just like Earth, with lush forests, a temperate climate, and breathable air. But while it appears to be a paradise, nothing is what it seems. They soon discover the terrifying truth: On this world humans are savage beasts, and apes rule as their civilized masters. In an ironic novel of nonstop action and breathless intrigue, one man struggles to unlock the secret of a terrifying civilization, all the while wondering: Will he become the savior of the human race, or the final witness to its damnation?

I love science fiction, so I was drawn to this book when the Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in theaters. I wanted to see what the original story was since I never saw the original 1968 film.  I love the social commentary Bouelle dishes out and the shocking ending that I never saw coming.

I would definitely recommend this book because it is a short read that opens your mind to crazy possibilities and makes you really think about the future of the human race. It also has plenty of irony like picturing inarticulate humans being subjected to degrading, invasive experiments and chimpanzees ruling the planet with intellectual might.

Rebecca, 17

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Gone with the Wind 

by Margaret Mitchell
04/25/2013 Categories: classic love triangles military movie

This epic historical romance depicts the turbulent love affair between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler during the Antebellum Era, Civil War Era, and Reconstruction Era. Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, struggles to survive in a world destroyed by the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Scarlett uses every means at her disposal to claw herself, her loved ones, and her beloved Tara out of the poverty and out from under the heel of the victorious Yankees.

This book is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, book of all time. I was expecting a lengthy novel glorifying slavery and revolving around a sappy relationship between the perfect Southern gentleman and a Southern belle. I couldn't be more wrong! While it is a long book, the story never gets boring or repetitive. While many of the characters represent ideas, they have amazing depth and never fail to touch your heart and stay there. 

Yes, I would recommend this book, but beware!  This book is a real commitment and takes a long time to finish, but it is more than worth it in my opinion. The action is balanced by beautiful imagery and the character development, especially in Scarlett. It is definitely worth reading. One problem I had was keeping all the characters straight, since there are a lot of them, but since the book is so long you'll have a lot of time to get to know all of them before long.

Rebecca, 17

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Sea of Monsters 

by Rick Riordan
04/25/2013 Categories: adventure fantasy movie mythology

Sea of MonstersPercy Jackson and his friends must go to the Sea of Monsters in order to save Grover and Camp Half Blood. There's a monster guarding what they need, making it the hardest quest they have ever received. 

I really liked it because Percy and his friends are brave. They take risks for each other; even Clarisse gets to be part of the team. The mythological gods help their children even though they may not see. The Gods are greatly involved trying to defeat Kronos.

If anyone doesn't understand mythology gods they can read the Percy Jackson series. Percy Jackson makes it fun and easier to remember the myths.

Jacki, 16

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

by Stieg Larsson

Girl with the Dragon TattooJournalist Mikhail Blomkvist is asked by a millionaire to investigate the 40 year old murder of his beloved niece. He gets help from the peculiar and frightening expert hacker Lisbeth Salander in solving the case. Set in snowy Sweden, they go off on a journey full of terror and surprises.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an excellent novel. It is a very enticing story and one of the best murder mystery stories. The book definitely keeps the readers on their toes and guessing.

This book would be recommended for older teens who can handle violence and nudity. The characters and the story are very interesting and will be enjoyed by many who love a good murder mystery.

CJ, 17

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Les Miserables 

by Victor Hugo
04/23/2013 Categories: classic historical movie play romance

Les MiserablesJean Valjean is a convict who has experienced great despair while in jail for 20 years, causing him to be spiteful. However, when a single act of kindness is shown, he pledges to be a better human being, but is halted by many obstacles that cause great despair.

Les Miserables is an incredible book. It has multiple powerful themes that connect to many people. The characters are very endearing. The overall story is very influential and captivating. Victor Hugo's masterpiece is very touching and leaves people speechless and crying.

This book is recommended to people of all ages. Jean Valjean and the other characters' journey will surely captivate readers.

CJ, 17

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Warm Bodies 

by Isaac Marion
03/16/2013 Categories: horror movie romance zombies

Warm Bodies

A plague has turned people into zombies. Nobody knows how or why it started, but now everywhere you turn you see gray skin. R, a zombie who can't remember his own name, is the one who must change the zombies' fate.

I liked this book a lot because R, the main character, is trying his hardest to regain his ability to care. With Julie, R can care again and tries his hardest to keep his humanity out for others to see.

This book has romance AND zombies for anyone who needs a little thrill. There is also some supernatural bits with R as he gets closer to saving human kind.

Jacki, 16

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