Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forensic Mystery

I did a little travel over break and took the first two books in the Forensic Mystery series by Alane Ferguson with me. These books feature a high school student, Cammie, who is fascinated with forensics and has convinced her coroner father to allow her to work as the assistant to the coroner. This job brings her to the scene of several crimes, and she gets really involved in helping to uncover the mysteries behind the deaths. Intertwined in all the medical and crime scene investigation information is insight into Cammie's personal life including the disappearance of her mother, her relationship with her best friend, and her interaction with the new deputy sheriff, Justin. Cammie somehow seems to get herself in the middle of the action through her tenacity, persistence, and curiosity.

I really enjoyed these books and am looking forward to reading about Cammie's third adventure.

Works Cited
"The Angel of Death Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008
"The Christopher Killer." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains takes place while the Revolutionary War is raging. When their owner dies, Isabel is left alone with her younger sister, Ruth. They are denied their pledged freedom and taken from Rhode Island to New York to work for a Loyalist couple. After meeting another slave, a boy named Curzon on the side of the Patriots, she is torn between which side she should support. Isabel begins to play her part in the conflict, wishing only to gain freedom for her and Ruth.
Chains was a smooth, simple read that gave me a slightly different angle on the Revolutionary War. Although I had already known a little about the War, the author presented the events in a way that made me feel like I was learning about them all over again through the eyes of a young slave girl. For a young adult historical fiction book, it was very good compared to others I have read and got started quicker rather than dragging on. However, as I got to the end, I felt as if it wasn’t complete, and wanted to know more about the fates of the characters. Overall, I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Bear Xiong

Works Cited
"Chains Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 30 Nov. 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Great Receiver by Elena Yates Eulo

Joey Eastland is a vital part of his high school football team. As the water boy, he's a team player always ready to help. Unbeknownst to others, he aspires to be the wide receiver of his team, and he has to ability to do it. When one of the players on the team is suspended for cheating, Joey gets the spot and finds himself much more popular. As Joey tries to maintain an unstable equilibrium between staying on top of his schoolwork and acknowledging his newfound popularity, he realizes that in the end you have to do what you believe is right. This book about a high school student's struggles and accomplishments includes many moments of comedy and can be a good read even if you don't like sports.

Review by I. Kanreed

Works Cited
"The Great Receiver Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 29 Nov. 2008

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalester

Charlie is a fourteen year-old girl living in New Avalon, a city in a world where everyone has a fairy that gives them good luck in certain areas, whether it be making the perfect serve every time, always having nice hair, or possessing a knack for finding loose change. These fairies are very helpful, make life easy, and can even bring fame. But for Charlie, having a fairy is a nightmare. Her is a parking fairy which always allows her find a good parking spot. Charlie’s gift has become a horrible nuisance as people always drag her along with them when driving anywhere. She begins going out of her way to get rid of her fairy. As things get worse and it seems like she will never be free of her fairy, Charlie teams up with a girl she despises, Fiorenze, who also dislikes her gift, in hopes of getting rid of their fairies. They both find a way to get what they desired only to realize that their new gifts might be even worse than before. In the end, they have to take some extreme actions to fix things.

This book was an enjoyable read, and I think it would appeal to most younger girl readers at Highland, especially those who enjoy more girly fantasy stories. I found this book a bit confusing as it was set in a different world with a whole new vocabulary. I also felt like I wasn’t able to relate to the characters. The plot was very simple and the lack of major conflicts bothered me. I also felt as if I had read similar books and thought this one didn’t stand out. I would give it two out of five stars. Though I wasn’t very impressed by this novel, it was a fun, lighthearted book that I think most readers will enjoy.

Review by KM

Works Cited
"How to Ditch Your Fairy Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 27 Nov. 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Savage by David Almond

The Savage is written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean. It is a great novel within a novel kind of story. It is a fast-paced, violent, and intense book. The story is about a boy, Blue, who loses his father, and to drown out his sorrows, he creates a comic book called the Savage. This comic is about, you guessed it, a savage boy living in the woods that feeds on stray chicken and children. Blue writes about many of the Savage's adventures, that he puts into his comic book, and some of which are included within the book.

The Savage is fairly short, about 80 pages, and with all the pictures and large print, there isn’t much reading. I wound up giving the Savage a 3 out of five. It was a little too quick to read, and Blue’s handwriting is hard to decipher, but otherwise, it was a fairly good execution, and a decent book.

Review by JH

Works Cited
"The Savage Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov 2008

Trouble by Gary Schmidt

Henry Smith is just your average kid. He has a mom, a dad, sister Louisa and a brother named Franklin. Franklin is a rugby star who promised to climb the mountain Katahdin with Henry. Henry’s life is quite uneventful until a car hits Franklin. Franklin looses his arm and is rarely conscious in the hospital bed. The entire family goes into depression. Louisa locks herself in her room and refuses to come out, Henry’s father just stares out the window, and Henry’s mother tries to put on a brave mask but Henry hears her cry herself to sleep at night. Henry immediately hates the man who hit Franklin, Chay Chouan. When they go to court to see what happens to Chay, the court declares him innocent and just takes away his license for a few months. Henry is furious that the man who tried to kill his brother is off the hook. As Chay leaves the courtroom he looks up at Louisa and she begins to cry. Henry decides that in honor of Franklin he is going to climb Katahdin. Will he make it, and what’s up with Chay and Louisa? To find out these answers and more read Trouble.

I give the book 3 out of 5 stars because the book was excellent once the action started but until that point it was slow. I have to admit that the author set up the plot very well but there were a lot of unnecessary details that dragged down the plot. Overall I thought the book was average with an occasional glimmer of extraordinary writing.

-Review by SilentLikeALamb17

Works Cited
"Trouble Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov. 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie-Landau Banks is known to her family as ‘Bunny Rabbit’, a rather degrading nickname, and has been underestimated by them for her entire life. She attends an elite boarding school where most don’t really notice her and those who do have no idea what she is capable of. After a huge summer growth spurt, Frankie suddenly acquires the attention of a whole new crowd of friends, including her crush from the previous year, the handsome and talented Matthew Livingston. She quickly starts dating him, but while everything seems to be going perfectly, she knows that he is keeping secrets from her and shutting her out. She thinks that Matthew is part of an all-male secret society called the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds. After finding a book of Former Bassett’s deeds and spying on the group, Frankie uses her undiscovered intelligence to take over the Bassett Hounds and direct them to perform complicated pranks with hidden meanings, while challenging the club’s leader. Nobody suspects it is Frankie since her boyfriend and his friends all seem to want her to be a cute and fragile girl instead of the brilliant genius that she really is. When everything goes terribly wrong, Frankie has to confess to what she has done and deal with the ruined relationships afterward. In the end, Frankie realizes that though losing friendships might hurt, it’s better to be yourself than to be with people that don’t accept who you really are and won’t let you become a part of their lives.

I really enjoyed reading The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks. It was an entertaining book and was hysterically funny. I would give this book three stars. This is a great book for girls who enjoy humorous books and are looking for a fun read.

Review by KM

Works Cited
"The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Nov. 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

In this mystery Sherlock Holmes' assistant Dr. Watson goes missing. Enola Holmes, Sherlock's sister, is determined to show her brother that she is capable of solving mysteries just as well as he can and she sees this mystery as the perfect one to solve. When Enola starts to investigate, she realizes that these bizarre bouquets of flowers keep showing up. The bouquets are regular flowers but there is green asparagus in all of these bizarre bouquets. Enola is determined not only to solve the mystery of Dr. Watson but also the case of the bouquets. The story is filled with some suspence and a lot of big words.

Out of five stars, I give this book a three because the plot is a little hard to understand. There are many slow parts in the book that did not entertain me.

Review by Fredrick O'Charles

Works Cited
"The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 10 Nov. 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Highland Mock Election Results

Highland students participated in a school-wide mock election on Tuesday. In addition to the popular vote, a mock electoral college was also conducted with studio ones representing the states.

The Highland Mock Election results were...
Obama/Biden 438 = 53.3%
McCain/Palin 317 = 38.6%

Obama/Biden = 344
McCain/Palin = 145

The complete results are available on the mock election page of the LC wiki.

Students served as election judges and did a great job making the election a success.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah follows a hart into the forest and gets utterly lost. As she is sitting there completely depleted of energy a well-dressed handsome man, Lord Death. appears. Keturah relies on her talent to tell stories and makes a deal with Lord Death to give her an extra day of life in order to find her one true love. The story weaves Keturah's exploits to try to find her love and her relationship with Lord Death. I thought of Shadow Spinner as I read, especially in the early parts of the book. I've wanted to read this book for a long while, and I wasn't disappointed as I found the book really enjoyable.

Works Cited
"Keturah and Lord Death Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Nov. 2008

New Lunch Bunch Book Club Page Launched

We've just finished the second round of Lunch Bunch Book Club meetings at Highland.
The book clubs have a new web page within information about our upcoming meetings and selected books - Any students at Highland are welcome to join the book club at any time.

Next books and meetings are:
  • 6th Grade - Fever, 1793 by Anderson on Wednesday, 11/19
  • 7th Grade - Son of the Mob by Korman on Thursday, 11/20
  • 8th Grade - Monkey Town by Kidd on Monday, 11/24
  • 8th Grade - Maus by Spiegelman on Tuesday, 11/25

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Are you looking for a good romance book but tired of the typical love-story plot line? If so, I would recommend the book Evermore by Alyson Noël. The novel’s main character, sixteen-year-old Ever, lost her family in a terrible car crash. She miraculously survived the accident, and gained the ability to hear people’s thoughts, see auras, and know everything about a person by touch. She also has frequent visits from her dead little sister. She takes extra measures to restrain her powers, and these precautions make her an outcast. This doesn’t affect Ever because she hasn’t cared about most social matters since her former carefree lifestyle ended. That is, until she meets an unusual new student, Damen. Everyone at her school is falling for him, and for good reason, because he is extraordinarily handsome, interesting, and talented. He not only stops the hearts of every girl at the school, but also stops Ever’s burdensome gifts. Ever finds herself in love with Damen, but she quickly realizes that he isn’t like other humans. In fact, she isn’t even sure that he is human. Along with this new love comes danger. Damen’s close friend, Drina, hates Ever and becomes a horrible threat to her existence. Ever finds herself facing a horrible enemy, trying to understand her abilities, helping her sister move on, and deciding whether or not she belongs with Damen.

I thought Evermore was a really interesting and thought provoking book. I also thought it was a refreshing, unique love story compared to typical romance novel, however it was not one of my favorites. I felt like I didn’t get to know other characters besides the narrator very well, and this made it harder to understand their ways of thinking and had trouble wanting Damen and Ever to end up together. Also, it seemed like I had heard some of the ideas and details before, in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I think that those who haven’t read the Twilight series will appreciate this book more. Overall, I would give this a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5. Despite my low rating, I did like this book and think that fans of romance and the paranormal will enjoy reading Evermore.

Works Cited
"Evermore cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 1 Nov. 2008