Book Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl offers readers with a nice, enjoyable story and an important message. The book is in first-person through the perspective of Leo, who is an ordinary kid that attends an ordinary school. One day, things change at Leo’s school as there is a new girl who goes by the name Stargirl. Stargirl is very different from everyone else in the school with her bright personality and unusual behavior. She plays the ukulele at school, wears an interesting fashion, and she is not afraid to express herself. Throughout the book, Stargirl’s popularity in school changes, as well as her relationship with Leo.

This book was definitely a good read, but it was not one of my personal favorites. I did not find the plot to be very exciting as the book did not contain much suspense. Still, I thought Stargirl was an enjoyable read. The book had several important themes for middle schoolers and high schoolers, including topics on popularity, love, kindness, and being yourself. I also liked the novel’s ending, as it left some loose ends. Overall, the book had a cute storyline and valuable themes. I would recommend Stargirl to any teen that likes to read realistic fiction or would like to enjoy a nice, calm read.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Through the climactic story going in depth into the life of the main character, Mila, Nina LaCour creates a breathtaking, but emotional story of Mila’s past. This complex story dives into the line between comparison and reality and exhibits lessons that can be compared to our everyday lives. The story keeps the reader intrigued and draws in attention to the conflict and indecisiveness present in the main character. LaCour delivers an entertaining, yet lesson-learning novel to the audience.

Memories from the past continue to haunt Mila and bring her trauma, but self-discovery. Her lonely lifestyle eventually opens up and brings her a new lifestyle. Mila’s mindset throughout the story is self-degrading and negative, until she learns otherwise. These lessons can be applied to our reality and everyday lives by expressing the importance of motivation and self-confidence. Mila eventually learned these lessons herself and applied them to her own life. Her new ways of desire and encouragement allowed her to receive job offers and a new home, creating her an escape from the foster care system.

This emotion-packed novel creates a sense of feeling throughout the audience. The story is very well paced and connects to the reality we live in. The details throughout the novel are so secure and allow the reader to depict an image of the scenes in their head, as if it were a play happening right in front of you. Unfortunately, the novel includes themes of abandonment and loneliness which might not be the best for children to read. This novel does not include many flaws and it is highly recommended.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reviewed by: Giovanna (16)

Book Review: Love ala Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Strohm’s sweet sprinkle of romance in Paris is truly delightful in this pleasing book.

 

In Love a la Mode, Rosie Radeke comes from a small town in Ohio with strong aspirations of being accepted into a reputable culinary school, even though she prefers to bake rather than create full course meals. However, her cooking skills are put to the challenge once she gets in and has to face a demanding teacher as well as personal drama.

On the other hand, Henry Yi grew up in the kitchen helping his dad in Chicago. He doesn’t have much trouble when it comes to cooking, but in order to stay in Paris, he must maintain good grades, on his mother’s orders, which he has a tough time doing. On top of that, he starts falling for Rosie and meets a worthy opponent along the way, Bodie Tal.

I would give Love a la Mode three out of five stars. While the characters were engaging and the setting was delightful, there was no major plot twist to get me hooked. Most of the events were predictable and not surprising. However, I did appreciate how quick of a read this was. I would recommend this book to lovers of the romance genre and who are looking for a quick read.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 3/5 stars

Reviewed by: Luna (15)

Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

In the novel Echo, three stories are beautifully intertwined into one through the power of music and a harmonica. One story takes place in Germany during the 1930s when Adolf Hitler was chancellor. The main character of the first story, Friedrich, has a large birthmark on his face and a strong passion for conducting, which causes others to treat him differently. Friedrich and his family face challenges and hardships from the changes in Germany as the Nazis gained control, and their futures are forever altered. The next story takes place in Pennsylvania during the 1930s. The main character, Mike, lives in an orphanage with his brother Frankie. The two brothers are determined to stay together, but sticking together is a challenge when no one is willing to adopt two boys. The final story takes place in California during the 1940s around World War II. Ivy is a Mexican-American, and she has a strong passion for music that her parents do not care about. Ivy faces segregation because of her Mexican heritage, and she also sees widespread hate for Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the end, all three stories are tied together by the journey of a harmonica.
This book was a wonderfully orchestrated piece and one of my personal favorites! I loved the cliffhangers at the end of each story, and I really enjoyed all the connections I could make as the three separate stories were pieced together. Echo was a very heartwarming and charming novel. This book is perfect for anyone who likes historical fiction, music, or just a spectacularly crafted story!

Title Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Imagine a world where everyone was divided into groups based on their personality types. You would have to choose a group to stay with for the rest of your life. Your faction would become more important than family and would even make up your new identity. In the novel Divergent, this world is reality.

The main character in Divergent, Beatrice (Tris) Prior, lives in this type of dystopian society. However, Tris does not fully fit into this grouping, yet she still must choose a faction. Should she follow what her parents want or what her heart desires? Once Tris chooses her faction, she must go through a series of tests to become a member of her faction. These tests will take Tris’s mental and physical to a level that she has never reached before. She experiences self-discovery, challenges, betrayal, tough decisions, and romance, while also making new friends and enemies throughout the book. In the end, Tris faces an unexpected challenge that puts her self to test. Can she, and will she, be able to overcome these obstacles?

When I read Divergent, I could not put it down! Divergent was packed with exciting twists and turns, and it was a fast-paced read. I was intrigued by the concept of a dystopian society, and I loved the connections I could make with the characters. The book was so descriptive and smoothly transitioned that I could visualize every detail, character, and event. If you are into thrilling novels packed with action, suspense, dystopia, and even romance, this book is definitely for you!

Title Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is the perfect fluffy romance read.

Hugo is a sextuplet from England. The futures for him and his siblings have always been planned for them. When his girlfriend broke up with him, he was left with a gift of two train tickets. The only catch is that the train tickets are under her name, Margaret Campbell, and the tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. He creates the plan to find someone with the same name to go with.

Mae is a filmmaker from New York. After she’s been rejected from USC’s film school, she is looking for an adventure for inspiration. When she sees Hugo’s ad looking for someone with her name, she decides that it’s the perfect opportunity.

The two strangers spend a week together on a train ride from New York City to San Francisco. During this time, they bond with each other and with other passengers on the train. They both make self discoveries and make plans about each of their futures.

I really enjoyed the characters and setting of this book. Hugo and Mae were both likable characters who had funny, supportive families. I liked the traveling aspect of this book and the setting of a train with stops across the U.S.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick romance read about figuring out who you are as an individual.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Jessica (14) from MNHS

Book Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett depicts her outstanding writing style in her crowning achievement. Alex, Approximately is a romance novel that falls under the “enemies-to-lovers” trope.

Bailey “Mink” Rydell loves movies. She also happened to befriend another movie lover, with the name of Alex, online. However, through tragic events, Bailey decided to move out to California with her dad. Coincidently, Alex also happens to live in the same town as Bailey’s dad. However, with this knowledge in mind, Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she moved to his town because “meeting real-life Alex could be great, but it could also be one big awkward disappointment” (Bennett 4). She decides to be on the lookout for him herself since she wants to make sure he isn’t a harrowing individual in person.
Bailey eventually lands herself in a job working at a museum where she is required to work with Porter Roth, a security guard she loathes. As Porter is taking her group around for a tour of the museum, she explains after a course of action, “it takes him all of five seconds to lose patience with me” (Bennett 38). However, both characters eventually take interest in each other over time. As Bailey continues getting to know Porter in person, while at the same time communicating with Alex virtually, she finds herself torn between choosing a flawed truth with Porter, or a perfect cyber world with Alex.
I greatly enjoyed reading this novel. Bennett includes a major plot twist that ties the story together extremely well. I would recommend this book to lovers of the romance genre. All the characters were enjoyable, the settings of the book were well thought out, and the actions depicted were reasonable, so I give this book a five out of five-star rating.

Title Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Luna (15)

Recommended Reads, by Seta B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Then There Were None 

This book is about people who go to Indian island to investigate a murder. What they do not know is that the murderer is with them. One after the other people are being killed and no one knows who the murderer is. This brings fear to the people and they start losing trust in each other and thinking that one of them could be the murder. Age you should read this book is 13 and older.

Five Feet Apart
It is a book about two people that love each other but they have a disease called cystic fibrosis which affects your lungs so they have to stand six feet apart at all times. Age you should read this book is 13 and older.
Wonder
It is a book about a kid named Auggie Pullman and he was born with a severe facial difference. He is starting a school for the first time because he has been homeschooled all his life. Wonder starts off in Auggie’s point of you then goes to his sister, his friends, and others. This book is about all the struggles with differences and challenges the reader to wonder about the true nature of understanding, compassion, acceptance, friendship, and most of all kindness. Age you should read this book should be 9 and older.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Series Review

By Duncan Conner

Hello there! My name is Duncan Connor, and I would like to introduce you to a book series you may or may not have already read: Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

Originally written as a web serial on FunBrain, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series of books written by Jeff Kinney, detailing the life of middle schooler Greg Heffley. Greg goes through best friend drama, unwanted school events, embarrassing family moments, and much more! The series currently has fourteen entries, although a fifteenth book is releasing this October.

What makes Diary of a Wimpy Kid so good? To start with, it is funny. There is an underlying sardonic wit to all of Greg’s actions. See, Greg is not a perfect character. He lies, schemes, treats his best friend like a burden, and believes he is destined for greatness despite doing nothing to achieve it. However, the consequences of Greg’s actions catch up to him often, and he finds himself in a hole he has dug. Greg is still a likeable character, but there is something satisfying about seeing him get in trouble for doing something bad.

If you were to start reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I would personally recommend you start with the titular first book. However, the series has very little extended continuity or development, so any book in it could be a good starting point. Each book is of a time period where Greg is writing in his diary, usually about the length of a school year or summer vacation (although this does vary). This time period will often have some shorter, self contained stories in the first half, with more focus on a larger climax in the second half. 

My personal favorite book in Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the sixth, Cabin Fever. In this book, the family is trapped in the house during a blizzard, and have to deal with each other face to face. This might be relatable to some of you, as many of us are in a similar situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cabin Fever deals primarily with the theme of empathy. In the novel, many character actions are driven by the concept of empathy or lack thereof. Greg seeks to exploit his church’s charity system, but ends up accidentally doing a good deed in the process. He also attempts to reveal a “scam” in his school’s fundraising winter event, but it is implied to be for personal reasons, despite him saying it is for the good of the school. Finally, Greg’s younger brother Manny turns off the power for the house because of a petty grudge, displaying a lack of empathy in the process. 

I would recommend Diary of a Wimpy Kid to anyone who hasn’t already read it. The books are funny, clever, and can be reread with ease. They do not talk down to their target audience, and are fun for both kids and adults. If you are looking for a fun, easy book to read, try Diary of a Wimpy Kid.