Monday, October 27, 2008

Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington

In the distant future, humans have colonized many new worlds and developed gills. On one such world, people are sorted into three different classes according to their genes. A massive war has decided the "ranks" of these classes. Cherry Heaven is a story of this world told through two different viewpoints. Luka is a Galrezi, thought to be an inferior class. Kat and Tanka are two adopted sisters who happen to be Atsumisi, the "highest" ranked class. As these characters meet, the story of past events and injustices is revealed. This book tends to drag on a bit, but it is a great read for science fiction lovers who are looking for something new.
Cherry Heaven
is the companion novel to The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington.

Review by I. Kanread

Works Cited
"Cherry Heaven Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 27 Oct. 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

The Ghost of Spirit Bear was an exhilarating reading experience. The Ghost of Spirit Bear starts off where Touching Spirit Bear ended. Cole has returned from the island of Alaska. His enemy, Peter, is now his best friend after they shared experiences on the island. They now need to face the dangers of Minneapolis Central High School. They have to endure bullies, drugs, and a suicide. Yes…suicide. Cole needs to learn to cope his anger. This book is for mature audience as there is some strong language due to the characters mostly being high school students.

In my opinion, this book is a 5. The book has a great moral, just like its prequel and the author has ended it excellently. I recommend this book to every mature reader at Highland. Hope you read this book and hopefully the prequel before it. And remember, read every chance you get!

Review by KP

Works Cited
"Ghost of Spirit Bear." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008 .

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Pfeffer

Alex Morales, a New Yorker, was a junior at a prestigious school, overshadowed by those more fortunate than he. He worried about earning suitable grades for a good college. Then, something completely unexpected happened that changed his way of life forever. In one cataclysmic moment, the moon was knocked closer to the Earth, dramatically altering its climate and leaving its inhabitants frightened and confused.

Now, Alex must support the two remaining members of his family, responsible Bri and kid sister Julie. Bri keeps her faith in religion and preserves undying hope for the safety of their parents, as Julie thinks that everyone and everything has turned against her. They all grapple with reality and fight to try to stay alive.

A powerful parallel novel to Life As We Knew It, The Dead and The Gone was suspenseful, emotional story. The author sets you in the characters’ shoes, and as I read on, I began to see more and more from the point of view of Alex and Bri, and empathize with Julie. However, the first major event came too soon without much emphasis given to it at first, perhaps this is because the characters themselves don’t quite understand what has happened. Those who didn’t read Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It probably wouldn’t comprehend the idea as much, so although it isn’t necessary, reading Life As We Knew It would be advisable. However, I still feel as if this book drew me in fairly quickly and continued to do so until the end. Overall, I would give this book a rating of four out of five stars, but it is not a story for those who dislike sad stories or angst.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"The Dead and the Gone." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008 .

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Jennifer Harris has turned her life around. Once the outcast, the girl who was spurned by her classmates becomes social Jenna Vaughn. She hides bitter memories from her new friends and boyfriend. One of those memories was of her best and only friend, Cameron Quick. She constantly recalls an incident between them which has repeatedly haunted her. Now, eight years later, it is Jenna’s birthday, and Cameron unexpectedly enters her life again. Jenna now has to cope with suppressing Jennifer Harris and the secrets that have been kept from her by the people she loves.

Reading the inside cover of this book, the plotline did not appear particularly unique to me, but I decided to give it a chance. Now that I have read it, I still think that it isn’t the most creative or engaging idea for a story. The first several pages lured me in a bit, but as the book progressed I didn’t find that it had a real focus. It didn’t leave me with a distinctive feeling at the end either. I did not connect with the characters as much as I would have liked.

Overall, I would give Sweethearts a rating of 2 out of 5. Although I considered it slightly below average, those who enjoy romance might like this story.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"Sweethearts." Online image. LibraryThing. 17 Oct. 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman

The Gravity Keeper brings new ideas to the sci-fi genre in an interesting and colorful way. Sixth grader Simon Bloom stumbles onto the well kept secrets of the Union, a secret society known to everyone but the Outsiders (everyday people). As he learns the fantastic abilities of a mysterious book that literally fell out of the sky, Simon is thrown into a dangerous adventure of saving the world from a tyrant who wants the power of the Union. On the way, he meets Owen, a peculiar boy who is afraid of shredded lettuce, and Alysha, a curious girl who is getting tired of being popular. Together they float, electrify, and ground skate their way through dangerous, and sometimes funny, perils.

Overall this book is a good read that is full of fun adventures and wacky characters, but on the downside, there is not a very strong plot. The book can leave readers with a sense of wanting more story rather than adventure. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Review by CR

"Gravity Keeper Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 15 Oct. 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Blood by Peter McPhee

New Blood by Peter McPhee is a very interesting and quick read (167 pages). Callum, a high-school aged immigrant from Scotland, has moved to Canada because of a horrible incident between himself and some thugs from his old, dangerous neighborhood. Callum’s whole family is now living with his older brother Ewan and his wife, Vickie. Callum soon finds himself between a rock and a hard place once again after he gets into a fight with the toughest group of guys at school on the first day. Callum is fortunate, however, to have found two new best friends; Aidan, the rebel, and Tyler, the technology buff. It seems that Callum has bitten off more than he can chew this time. He is in for a lot of surprises living on Morley Avenue. From a cute girl who has an abusive family member, to putting soap in a fountain, to pictures on the internet of Callum wearing a kilt, you never know what could happen next in New Blood.

I thought that New Blood was a relatively good story, but the storyline was not as good as some other books that I have read. It didn’t seem as if the plotline really came together in the end to serve a meaningful purpose. The ending of the book did not really satisfy me. Overall, I would give this book three stars because even though the plotline was not my favorite, the characters were well-developed and the book ended up to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to those readers who are into teenage conflict stories. I usually would not pick out a book like New Blood so it was a somewhat new experience for me.

Review by BH

"New Blood Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Oct. 2008

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

For science fiction and fantasy readers, I would highly recommend Exodus by Julie Bertagna. After pollution caused the polar ice caps to melt, entire continents have been covered by water and whole nations drowned, leaving only a few scattered islands inhabited by survivors. One of these is the island Wing. As the days grow hotter, the immense waters rise. Fifteen-year old Mara knows that her people need to face the problem before they all drown. A new discovery convinces her that strong cities were built that could provide safety for them. Her people leave to find them. Once they reach one of the grand metropolises, they realize those in safety have decided to turn away all refugees. As everyone grows ill, Mara sneaks in and finds others living in hiding in the city. They are convinced that she is meant to save them. When two of her new friends are taken to be slaves, she ventures into the world above with the hope of helping them all escape to a land that may exist in the north. With the help of a rebel citizen, her plan might work. In the end, Mara has to make a huge sacrifice so that the unwanted people can start their own civilization.

This novel was almost magical and had the important message of protecting our environment and acting with selflessness. My only complaint was that some of the subjects weren’t fully explained. This was a great read!

Review by KM

"Exodus Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Oct 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine has done it again with Ever. Olus is the god of winds who has never had a friend. Kezi is a mortal peasant who loves to weave and dance. What were to happen if these two were to fall in love? But how long can this love last when Kezi is going to be sacrificed to Admat, what Kezi believes to be the god of all, in 30 days. Olus has a plan, if Kezi were to become immortal then when the priest stabs her he will live, but becoming immortal isn't as easy as you think. Will love conquer all or will Kezi only have 30 days to live with her beloved Olus?

I would give this book a 4.5 stars out of 5. I thought the book was enchanting except for the ending. The author, in my opinion, wrapped it up way too quickly, but other than that the book was extraordinarily well written. The book has many strengths including a plot with so many twists and turns that it made it nearly impossible to put down. I found myself saying just one more page, no wait maybe another page, constantly. The characters also have very refreshing personalities. How often do you come across a girl who loves to dance and weave with a heart of gold and a god who has human needs and just wants to be loved? I loved these unique personalities, they made the book worth while.

I also loved how Gail Carson Levine described the characters and settings. For example, this part is describing Olus, "The slave was flawless, without a blemish. Majestic, taller than Elon, more muscular... He stands straight, and he is clean-shaven so I see his square jaw and wide mouth... I see humor and sadness in the mouth." (p.63) I think that paints a better picture in your mind than any artist could ever try to paint. I thought that was one of the major strengths because you feel like you are Kezi looking at this perfect slave.

If you like romance, adventure and a sprinkle of humor then read Ever by Gail Carson Levine, where you'll be whisked away to another world and go on the adventure of a lifetime!

Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Image Citation
"Ever Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 9 Oct. 2008

Student Reviews to Appear on the Highland LC Blog

This fall an idea that has been rattling around my head for awhile has finally come to life. I'm really excited about it! There are a lot of students at Highland who are avid readers and writers. At the Highland Learning Center we've started a student reviewer program. Interested students applied to be reviewers. These students get first crack at the new books we receive in the library in exchange for writing reviews of those books. The reviews will be published here and also linked into our library catalog. Thanks to all those students who have agreed to be part of this program! If there are other Highland students interested, see me to get an application.