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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake 

by Aimee Bender
08/19/2017 Categories: family secrets older teens

On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein takes a bite out of her mom's homemade lemon cake. On her birthday, however, she is given a gift - or a curse - to be able to taste the emotions of the person through their food. Despite her mother's cheerful attitude, Rose discovers that her mother is unhappy and disappointed, and that the rest of her family is keeping secrets from each other. 

Aimee Bender has a creative style of writing. I was really confused at first because of the way she wrote her dialogues; they're italicized. She also had an original plot. I thought that tasting emotions through taste buds was a brilliant idea! I felt that the book was very disorganized and all over the place. She introduced her mother and father's problems but she didn't elaborate on them. I was left very confused over WHY some things happened in this novel. I also felt the same way about Rose's brother who seemed to be slipping away from reality. Overall, I felt like this book was unfinished and that there were too many details that were missing. 

I would not recommend this book to young readers. I first picked this book up in seventh grade and it was a very difficult read. I don't think the characters in the book are developed well enough for the readers to understand them, and because I couldn't understand these characters, I didn't feel the need to care about what happened to them in the books. I felt really detached from the plot. If I had nothing else to read, I would read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, but I didn't feel like it was worth trying to understand Bender's writings. 

Heejeong, 18

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Sky of Red Poppies 

by Zohreh Ghahremani
06/28/2017 Categories: family secrets friendship social classes

Sky of Red Poppies is about two girls named, Roya and Shireen, who both live opposite lives financially, politically, and religiously in 1960's Iran. However, even through their differences they become best friends. Roya is jealous of Shireen's independent lifestyle and begins to question of how she was raised and stands for controversial political stances which gets her in trouble at times even with the government at one point. With Iran being closed to opinions, it makes it difficult for both girls to achieve their goals as people morally.

I liked how the novel incorporated poetry which the girls would recite and memorize for themselves. As well how they explored political views in a nation at the moment who usually oppresses or objectifies different opinions that opposes their government.

If you like learning of different cultures and political views of a different nation then Sky of Red Poppies by Zohreh Ghahremani is the right novel for you. As well as if you like the everlasting bonds of friendships and getting through obstacles.

Anahi, 17

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 

by Lisa See
06/08/2017 Categories: chinese history family secrets friendship

This novel is about girl named Lily who is about 80 years old at the start of the book. She then recalls her childhood of moments where she went through foot binding, deaths within her family, hardships, romance, and her bound relationship with her laotong, Snow Flower.

The novel is heartbreaking and shows the bonds of her close friend, Snow Flower. It really touches the heart and at times makes you want to cry. Very well written and even shows the history side of foot binding in 18th century China.

If you love touching stories that hit you in all emotions, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is the book for you. You even begin to relate to the characters on an emotional level. As well as a feel for poetry.

Anahi, 16

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The Red Pyramid 

by Rick Riordan
05/10/2017 Categories: adventure family secrets mythology siblings

A boy named Carter Kane who lost his mom and now lives with his dad, a brilliant Egyptologist. On Christmas Eve, he is reunited with his sister, Sadie, and their father takes them to the British Museum. Everything goes wrong when their father tries to summon a mysterious figure. The siblings have to fight against the evils to try to get their father back.

I really like this book because it was a fun fiction book. I really like reading books about Egyptian gods and magic because they are really interesting and easy to read. I also liked how the author uses teenagers as characters because many can relate to how they feel after having to face gods.

If you like books about gods and magic, you should try this book. Also if you have read any Percy Jackson books, I would recommend this book because it is written by the same author. The book is fun for all ages and I encourage anyone to read it.

Sandra, 16

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Nowhere But Here 

by Katie McGarry
11/24/2016 Categories: family drama family secrets gangs romance

Nowhere But Here is about Emily, who gets swept up in her biological father's motorcycle gang and their rivalries. Oz, a prospective member of The Reign of Terror motorcycle club is told to look after Emily. As both of them try to learn more about the club's past, they discover what a great team they are.

I enjoyed Nowhere But Here because of the amazing character development that went into Emily and Oz's characters. I also enjoyed the plot that kept me guessing.

I'd recommend this book to readers 16 and older who enjoy stories with action and danger. This read is unique and unlike anything I've ever read before, but could appeal to readers who enjoyed the antics of the Dauntless in the Divergent series.

Amanda, 16

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Fast Track 

by Julie Garwood

Fast Track is a story about Cordie, a teacher in Chicago. After Cordie's father dies, Cordie decides to find her mother who has been absent for most of her life. She and Aiden, her friend since childhood, fly to Australia to track down her mother. Once there, Cordie faces danger as her mother's family is determined to erase Cordie from their family history.

Fast Track, like the name suggests, is a fast-paced and exciting read. There are however, lots of  scenes with more mature content that may appeal to older teens.

I would recommend this book to fans of action and mystery novels.

Amanda, 16

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Tuck Everlasting 

by Natalie Babbitt
09/21/2015 Categories: family secrets fantasy friendship movie

Tuck Everlasting revolves around a 10-year-old girl named Winnie who stumbles upon a spring that bestows eternal life. The spring is kept secret by the Tuck family, who have been blessed (or cursed) with this everlasting state of undying. When Winnie stays and bonds with the Tucks for a few days, she gains insight into the implications and meanings of such a secret. However, a stranger also knows of the spring and wants to market it to make a fortune.

I liked Tuck Everlasting; the novel was a simple, yet beautiful, read. Thought-provoking themes such as mortality, life and death, and morality are woven into the story and looked at from Winnie's point of view. And above all, these themes make the reader think. For instance, many in our society today look at death with fear, but SHOULD it be seen that way? Or should it be taken as a natural component of the wheel of life, as the Tucks see it?

I recommend this book to children who are old enough and ready to contemplate these themes, as these play a big role in making the book so magical. I would also recommend Tuck Everlasting to adults and anybody who enjoys fantasy.

Giabao, 15

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If I Lie 

by Corinne Jackson

If I LieWhen a photo of Quinn kissing another boy surfaces while her boyfriend, Carey, was in Afghanistan, she is condemned and ostracized by her military town who accuses her of being a traitor. Quinn, however, has information that can clear her name, but was sworn to secrecy by Carey. Facing constant humiliation, she battles between keeping the secret and enduring the pain. 

If I Lie is a definite page turner. It causes the reader to sympathize for Quinn's situation, but also admire her for being a strong female character who endures pure chaos.

This book is worth checking out. It has a great female character and it draws the reader in quickly. Girls and boys can both enjoy this book. Many will be able to relate to the main character's situation of being the outsider.

CJ, 17

Rating: 

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Divergent 

by Veronica Roth
02/19/2013 Categories: dystopia family drama family secrets romance

DivergentThis book is about a group of five factions. In the book a girl gets a new chance at life when she gets to choose what she wants to be. She left her family to become a dare devil. She is trying to stay alive at this compound. But can she stay alive with the people that are there?

I loved this book. I actually read it five times! This book can catch your eye just by the cover. I liked it because I like to read dramatic books. 

I know for a fact that others would love this book. I had recommend it to my friend and she loved it. When you finish this book you will want to get the next one. If you like DANGER you will like this book.

Rebecka, 14

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The Chamber 

by John Grisham

ChamberThis book takes place back in 1967 when the KKK was bombing the houses and offices of black and Jewish people. The book is about a grandson named Adam Hall who tries to save his grandfather that he barely knew and is going to be gassed for bombing an office and killing two little boys. Adam tries everything he can to save his grandfather, but he fails and his grandfather gets gassed.

This book was very good because it talks about history. It is interesting to read and learn about what happened to murderers during 1967.

I would recommend this book to people who are interested in history and want to know more about what happened in the 1900's

Josh, 15

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Kite Runner 

by Khaled Hosseini

Kite Runner coverTwo friends, a servant child and a rich child, are friends at home but act as if they don't know each other in public. The servant child is always made fun of and the rich child never stood up for him. As they grew up, they started drifting apart until they moved far away from each other. Then they find out that they are half brothers and now wish to be together again.

The Kite Runner is an interesting book because it shows how far family will go for you. I liked it because it was about family and how they risk their own lives to save a loved one. It was good because  it was mainly suspense built up. I really enjoy suspense.

I would recommend this book to others because it's full of suspense, and it is a real page turner.

Safiro, 16

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Jinx 

by Meg Cabot

Jinx coverOne girl with very bad luck. One cousin who believes in witches. Jinx is the story of a teenage girl who just thought she had very bad luck, but later, her cousin proves to her who she really is.

Jinx is an extremely interesting book because it has mystery which makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. I also like how there is a little romance, especially coming from a relatable teenage girl.

If you like mysterious stories with a twist at the end, you would love Jinx by Meg Cabot.

Ashley, 14

Rating: 

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My Sister's Keeper 

by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper coverThis book is about a thirteen year old girl, Anna who likes independence. She doesn't want to be only known because of her sick sister. She doesn't have a normal teenage life because her sister has cancer. Anna's entire family depends on her to keep her sister alive. Anna has a very close relationship with her sister.

This book became boring in the middle. I was surprised by the tragic ending which I strongly disliked. I kept thinking to myself that this cannot happen. But what I liked about this book is that it shows many things that are actually happening in people's lives right now. For example, this book shows how a family faces many troubles going through living with their sick daughter with cancer.

I would recommend this book to others because it shows you how it feels like to be part of a family with someone going through cancer. If you are someone who knows a person going through cancer, you might enjoy this book.

Alissa, 14

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The Memory Keepers Daughter 

by Kim Edwards

Memory Keepers Daughter coverThe book is about a doctor's wife giving birth to twins one is a girl and has down syndrome the other is a healthy boy. It describes the doctor's life and his family's, as well as his daughter's lives and how they grow up without knowing one another.

I personally enjoyed the book very much. It was a great story about a family secret kept for so long and it's just so exciting!

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I think they would enjoy it if they liked books that seem based on a true story but aren't!

Mariana, 14

Rating: 

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Shanghai Girls 

by Lisa See
03/22/2012 Categories: adventure family secrets romance

coverShanghai Girls is an amazing book that tells of a life of two Chinese sisters, both of whom have endured many hardships. Pearl, the main character, is completely different from her sister, May. They may envy each other, but in the end they know they are all each other has left.

This novel contains many twists and incredible irony. You will not be bored reading this book! The novel starts as a happy setting but with each chapter comes a new problem and a new gruesome secret they must never tell. This novel is amazing in every way possible. Lisa See, the author, is known for writing about women joining together to endure life's obstacles. Pearl and May are different, but they complete one another's lives. In every tragedy and dramatic scene, they have each other. This book will bring you and your family closer and build a special bond. Something I found extremely interesting were the Chinese animals. When I was reading, I found out my animal, and I was amazed how the book exactly told my characteristics. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about how Chinese culture differs from your culture. So, If you like adventure and romance novels, you will enjoy this book!

Lauren, 16

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