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Bless Me, Ultima 

by Rudolfo Anaya
04/29/2013 Categories: classic mexican americans religion

Bless Me UltimaThe novel Bless Me, Ultima is about a young boy who struggled to find his own beliefs and path in life. His parents couldn't be more different: his dad being a free spirit, while his mom is completely religious. Antonio is introduced to several beliefs by other characters who are alienated from society based on their own personal beliefs.

I loved this book because it demonstrates how a young child is forced to chose his/her own path and not what people want him/her to. I love how Ultima, a curandera or healer bonds with Antonio and helps him overcome his fear of losing faith in Society's beliefs. I also loved how Rudolfo Anaya introduces the Hispanic language into the novel, so the reader can be pulled into the language of the people.

I would certainly recommend this book to people who have a background of the Spanish language; however, anybody can still enjoy this book without knowing Spanish. This novel is a classic of the Hispanic novels, because of how the author uses the language to untie the reader with the society in the novel. This novel was perfectly bonded so anyone can read and know what is happening, and the book has some mystery and magic.

Lauren, 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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The Sun Also Rises 

by Ernest Hemingway
04/29/2013 Categories: classic older teens romance world war I

This novel takes place after WWI, where most of the main characters, such as Jake, were soldiers in war and therefore received war trauma. The novel is mostly about how these soldiers self-medicate with alcohol, and how they can never fully be themselves again.

I enjoyed this book, due to the fact that the novel talked about the soldiers after a war, and how the war changed these men. The war also affects a woman named Brett who seems to be a modern woman during that time period and has a relationship with Jake. My least favorite part was when Brett used Jake to get to Romero, and I felt disgusted towards Brett.

I would gladly recommend this book to everyone. This book does contain some mature content, such as self-medicating with alcohol, and the effects of war on soldiers. This novel explores the minds of once stable men and woman who become anger-filled and depressed people.

Lauren, 17

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The Joy Luck Club 

by Amy Tan
04/27/2013 Categories: chinese history family drama

Joy Luck ClubFour Chinese mothers start the "Joy Luck Club" where they meet to play mahjong, eat and talk.  Each woman has a Chinese American daughter counterpart they struggle to connect with while also dealing with their painful memories in China. Each woman has a story, some sad, others heart-wrenching and all deal with their struggles to bridge the gap between Chinese and American culture and the relationships between the mothers and daughters.

I liked how the author tied all the stories together into one coheisive whole and used the lives of 7 women to tell the story of all immigrant families. Each vignette is powerful and meaningful while also relating to the novel's meaning as a whole.

I would recommend it because it provides a new perspective on the difficulties of communicating between two very different cultures and really gets into the minds of each narrator instead of letting them be just vessels for the author's story.

Rebecca, 17

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Picture of Dorian Gray 

by Oscar Wilde
04/27/2013 Categories: classic folktales

Image resultThe novel is about a handsome young man named Dorian Gray, whose beauty inspired his friend Basil Hallward to create his masterpiece, a portrait of Dorian. Basil becomes infatuated with his youthful appearance and purity of thought, worshipping Dorian to be his muse. Everything changes when Dorian meets the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil's, who suggests that the only things worth pursuing are beauty and fulfilment of the senses. Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian bitterly wishes the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than he, even at the cost of his own soul. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, so when he pursues a life of crime and debauchery, the portrait reflects his soul, with each sin manifested as a disfigurement or hideous sign of aging.

This book was truly a delightful experience that targets all the senses through detailed imagery and follows Dorian's deterioration, from cruelty to cold-blooded murder, until he is too far gone to save. The book includes universal themes that are especially applicable in an age obsessed with appearances.

I would recommend this book to book-lovers that love plenty of figurative language and a slow pace, but also some fast-paced action every once in a while. While the beginning may be a little slow, Lord Henry Wotton is always a fun character to read and the second half of the book moves very quickly.

Rebecca, 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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The Raven Boys 

by Maggie Stiefvater
04/25/2013 Categories: magic paranormal romance witches & wizards

Raven BoysBlue lives in a house full of psychics, but she is the only one in the house who does not posses these supernatural powers. Ever since she was little girl she has been told that she will kill her true love with a kiss, something that hadn't mattered until now. She becomes involved in the search for the long dead Welsh king Glendower, with a group of raven boys, boys who attend a private school near by, boys whom she swore to never become involved with because of their reputation as snotty rich kids. The story follows their search for Glendower and the growing relationship between Blue and the boys.

I though this book was amazing. Stiefvater creates really dynamic and compelling characters who develop throughout the book. The plot line is really interesting and you find yourself at the edge of your seat, just waiting to find out what happens next.

Yes, I would highly recommend this book to others, but especially to those who enjoy reading a supernatural story with a hint of romance. Overall if you love books with a supernatural plot you would love Stiefvater's The Raven Boys.

Daisy, 16

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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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Of Mice and Men 

by John Steinbeck
04/25/2013 Categories: friendship historical realistic fiction

Two migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, travel together looking for work and always hoping to save enough to settle down on their own piece of land. Things are looking up for them when they get hired as ranch hands, but just as their dream is within reach, their story screeches to a halt in unspeakable tragedy.

Steinbeck's portrayal of the Great Depression is poignant and incredibly powerful in its realism. Characters are developed nicely, all with a dream they strive for and fail to achieve. I was surprised by how much I felt for all the characters, from the gentle giant Lennie to the aging Candy.

I would recommend it because it is a great book with a believeable plot, realistic characters, historical significance and universal themes anyone can relate to.

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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That Summer 

by Sarah Dessen

That SummerHaven is tall and feels awkward with herself. Her parents are divorced, her dad remarries, and her sister is getting married at the end of summer. Her whole life is changing, and she feels as if she has no control. Then, one of her sister's old boyfriends comes back to town and she feels happy again. She remembers only good memories about when he and her sister were dating, back when their family was in one piece. It seems that every time something terrible goes wrong, he is there and it always cheers her up.

While reading, I felt indifferent about whether or not I liked it. I mean, it wasn't a waste of time, but it wasn't the best book every. Until I got to the end. I have a sister of my own, so I know how it feels to have a connection with someone so close. After reading the end, I loved the book and the relationship between Haven and Ashley.

I would recommend this book to any teenager. It's a quick book but it holds a lot of messages.

Chanel, 14

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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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Dead City 

by James Ponti
04/24/2013 Categories: family drama horror zombies

Dead cityThis book by James Ponti is about a young girl who has a connection to the under belly of New York City. Molly’s mother is an expert on zombies - not as a hobby but as her night job.

I really enjoyed this book because of the suspenseful scenes that make you keep reading. But I also liked how the story was written and how the writer told the inside thoughts of the characters such as how Molly felt after she found out that her mom never told her about her night job.

I think most kids would like reading this book, boys and girls alike. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Lindsy, 11

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