20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

cover of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Review by apiazza4

In 1866, several ships come in contact with a mysterious sea monster, which some people suggest to be a huge narwhal. The United States government decides to gather a group of people to find and kill the beast. The narrator of the story, Professor Pierre Aronnax, is a French marine biologist who is asked to join the group in New York, and he accepts. Aronnax brings along his faithful servant, Conseil, and they meet a new friend, Canadian Harpooner Ned Land. They set out on the navy frigate Abraham Lincoln and head into the Pacific Ocean. After days of sailing around and finding absolutely nothing, they spot a huge almost metallic mass in the water. When a storm hits the Abraham Lincoln, Ned Land and Pierre Arronax are thrown overboard. Conseil, being the loyal man he is, follows his master into the Pacific and they all wake up upon the Nautilus.

The Nautilus, explains Captain Nemo, is a new type of submarine that allows him and his crew to live completely isolated from civilization. They have to come to the surface every few days to refill their air stores and that’s how they accidently ran into the ships.

As the story continues, Aronnax, Land, and Conseil, along with Captain Nemo, hunt unknown species underwater, fight sharks, visit Atlantis, and encounter giant squid. Captain Nemo has a dark past, and the men realize this when he finally breaks. They know they have to get off the vessel and get back to land for their own sanity but also know that Nemo won’t let them leave easily.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a riveting book that had me hooked from the beginning. The amazing detail made me feel like I was actually there with them under the ocean and I would definitely recommend it.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

silhouette of Sherlock Holmes with pipe and magnifying glass

Review by apiazza4

The classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mystery “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of Doyle’s greatest stories. When the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville is brought to the attention of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, by James Mortimer, he will go to any length to find the guilty party. Sir Charles is part of a very wealthy family with a very unfortunate past. The Baskerville family is haunted with the legend of the hound upon their moor. This story starts with Hugo when he falls victim to a hound as he chases a girl across the land. Sir Charles death has restarted these fears and suspicions. Sir Henry Baskerville, the next of kin, has come to London to take his place at Baskerville Hall but already has had some weird things happen to him, which is what really gets the attention of Holmes and Watson.

In London, Sherlock Holmes discovers that Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer are being watched by a mysterious bearded man and they don’t know why. Holmes sends Watson as his ears and eyes to Baskerville Hall telling him to report anything he finds out because he is too busy at the time to come down himself.

When Watson arrives in Devonshire where Baskerville Hall is located, he is met with armed guards on the moor watching for an escaped convict. He also meets the Barrymores, his domestic help, and his new neighbors, Mr. Stapleton and his sister, Beryl.

Right away a lot of mysterious events occur: Barrymore is found sneaking around at night; Watson hears what sounds like a dog howling on the moor; and an unknown figure shows up creeping on the land around Baskerville Hall.

Watson tries to unravel all these confusing facts thinking like his friend Sherlock Holmes would but there ends up being only one man for the job.

This story was action packed and very compelling. I definitely recommend this book and all the other adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (Book Review)

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When Mimi and her family move to Vermont in 1969, it is still a mostly white state. She is judged because of her appearance but also because of her dreams. A woman astronaut is practically unheard of but one who is half-Japanese half-African American is a crazy thought and that’s what people tell Mimi. Science is her passion but because she is a girl nobody, except her parents, support her.

On the first day of school, Mimi meets a girl named Stacey who treats her like an actual human being. While they are in class they get caught passing notes and get put in after school detention. When Stacey’s mom pulls into the parking lot, she doesn’t even glance at Mimi and her father. After this, Stacey starts hanging out at Mimi’s house but never invites her over to her house. Mimi eventually finds out this is because Stacey’s mom doesn’t like African Americans and doesn’t approve of their friendship. This doesn’t stop them though, they continue to hang out and grow closer and closer.

Mimi soon finds out that just because Stacey accepts her doesn’t mean everyone else will. She gets bullied in school and accused of stealing. This new town isn’t all bad though — Mimi’s neighbor is a boy her age and they quickly become friends. He helps her through hard times and stays with her when the town starts to accept her family.

Mimi and her family bring new ideals to this little town in Vermont and change the people’s views about being different.

I liked this book because it really opens your eyes to how hard it was for different people to live in a time when diversity was not accepted. It also shows you that if you believe in yourself you can do whatever you put your mind to.

Roar by Cora Carmack (Book Review)

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Aurora “Rora” Pavan was born into one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. A Stormling is a person who is gifted with magic strong enough to repel the world’s most lethal enemies. Stormlings destroy storms by reaching inside and taking out their heart. This is highly dangerous which is why having multiple stormhearts is a thing of honor. The more storms you conquer the more powers you pass on to your children.

The Stormlings are almost always royal because the royal families have to protect their people from the storms that threaten their cities. Rora, being the only heir to the Pavan throne, is in huge trouble when her powers don’t develop. To keep her crown her mother arranges for her to marry a dangerous Stormling prince from Locke that will cover up the secret that she is completely powerless. At first glance he seems like a great solution to this problem but soon realizes he has an ulterior motive.

One night, Rora sneaks out of the palace to follow the prince and finds herself in a black market. It’s filled with the one thing she wants most in the world, storm magic. The venders selling it are storm hunters, people who weren’t born with powers but gained them by defeating storms. Rora didn’t believe this possible but is now overjoyed with the thought that she could finally be a true Stormling.

Rora joins a crew of storm hunters under the name Roar, dies her hair, and makes her disappearance look like a kidnapping so the others on the crew don’t suspect her true identity. She automatically feels a special connection with a storm hunter, Locke, and he with her. He becomes her trainer and they continue to grow closer but he soon realizes he promised himself he would never get attached to anyone. He needed to be completely willing to risk death to take down a storm. Locke distances himself from her until something impossible happens and he can’t possibly stay away.

The crew has to battle storms like nothing they have ever faced and learn to trust each other with their lives.

I liked this book because it was the perfect balance of adventure, magic, and love with a well thought out plot. The story ended on a cliff hanger that I never saw coming and I can’t wait to read more.

Thief’s Cunning (Book Review)

Cover of Thief's Cunning by Sarah Ahiers

Review by: apiazza4

A Clipper is a highly trained assassin that gets paid by their client to kill someone. They do these killings in the name of their god, Safraella. There are more than five Clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero and most of them don’t get along. The Da Vias are the most isolated of the Families because they turned to a different god, so people stay away from them. The Saldanas live in Yvain. They moved there after the Da Vias attacked them in their home and most of them died. In Yvain, they still get jobs but they lay low so the other Families can’t find them.

Allegra has been a Saldana for eighteen years but she has always felt like she doesn’t belong and is caged in this family. She sees her chance to get out when her Family is invited to the palace in Lovero with the other Families to sign a treaty. Allegra’s aunt, Lea, the head of the family, doesn’t want her to go because she will find out the secrets Lea has been keeping from her. If she finds out, Lea knows that she will leave and never talk to them again but Allegra persuades her to let her go anyway.

Allegra has always known that her aunt is keeping secrets from her so when she is forbidden to go to a certain part of the city she figures answers will be there. She is right, of course. When she gets there two Da Vias find her and explain they are her family, that her mother is alive and they know where she is. Feeling more confused and lost than ever Allegra flees to clear her head.

She meets a traveler boy, Nev, and they become friends. She is fascinated by the animals his family has at their menagerie. Allegra and Nev become close but he pushes her away when he sees a necklace she wears. This necklace is special, it belongs to their gods. He knows his people will think she stole it and will do something crazy. Allegra doesn’t know about the necklace so when she gets kidnapped she doesn’t understand why. Allegra finds herself hiding from her crazy mother and protecting the travelers when Lea attacks. She starts to question who she is truly loyal to as all the secrets come out.

I liked Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers because it was captivating and full of surprises. This action-packed story was unlike anything I have ever read.

What Goes Up (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

When Eddie Toivonen applies to NASA’s Interworlds Agency tryouts with hundreds of the country’s smartest teens, he is trying to get an escape from his troubled past. With a criminal father, people don’t always trust him so he needs to work extra hard to not mess up. The tryouts for the spot in NASA include a variety of challenges that touch on different skills which would help in the field. If you fail a challenge you get disqualified. Eddie has strange test results so the director doesn’t know what to make of him.

Rosa Hayashi is the daughter of brilliant scientists and she is constantly trying to live up to their expectations. Rosa knew she would have no problem getting into the program, she has been training for this her whole life, but it is harder than she thinks and soon finds that out.

After some of the tests are over and there are about forty people left in the running Eddie and Rosa are at the top. This puts a target on their backs because some people are so desperate they would do anything for this job…and they do. Four guys pull the fire alarm in their dorm building and as Rosa is going down the stairs they try to throw her over but Eddie comes just in time to save her. The authorities get three of the boys and throw them out but they aren’t aware of the fourth so he stays, still determined on being the winner.

When the challenges are complete there are four finalists, Eddie, Rosa, Trevor, and Brad. They each get an apartment on campus and meet their trainer, Reg. Their training includes learning teamwork and learning to fly a space shuttle. These training sessions are useful but dangerous, one includes a bomb.

They aren’t near ready to be in the field yet but when the two other teams are sent out to investigate something in space, they might have to go. The systems had picked up a flutter in the gravity out in space, which means something is moving toward the Earth and NASA starts to worry. Soon after, they detect something coming toward their landing pad, and it’s a spaceship. When aliens step out the scientists don’t realize just how much trouble they are in.

I liked What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy because it was witty and exciting. This book left me guessing until the end and it was so interesting I couldn’t put it down.

Now I Rise (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

This review contains spoilers for And I Darken by Kiersten White

Lada Dracul is the rightful owner of the Wallachian throne, but when she fails to obtain it she is determined to get back what’s hers. With the help of some of her soldiers, Lada goes to other leaders and proposes an alliance. When she is denied and sent an assassin she starts burning their cities. Sending her such a minor assassin means they don’t see her as a real threat, so she is insulted.

As a woman, Lada is trying to prove that she can do more than just be a wife. When she crosses paths with Hunyadi, an old colleague, and his men, they team up and she quickly puts him in his place. He is a powerful war general in the Ottoman empire, so a strategic ally, but sometimes he thinks he knows better than Lada.

Radu, Lada’s brother, is back home in the Ottoman empire with his wife. He works in the navy, building ships for Sultan Mehmed’s fleet. Currently, the Sultan is trying to take Constantinople and Radu was put in charge of secretly building an indestructible navy. Radu has also hired traveling architect, Urbana, to build him the best cannons in the land that could knock down any city. They need to keep this work secret because one of Mehmed’s advisors isn’t extremely trustworthy and could be working with the enemy.

Mehmed then recruits Radu for an even more dangerous mission. He must travel to Constantinople and pretend he has turned on the Sultan so that Mehmed has an agent on the inside. Radu has information he can tell Constantine that will gain his trust. It becomes harder to carry out his mission because by living there he realizes these are just innocent people and he doesn’t want to hurt them after all.
Radu and Lada are trying to do what’s right and sometimes they don’t know what that is. They learn the true meaning of family and friendship as they battle lies, betrayal, and heartbreak.

I like Now I Rise by Kiersten White because it was intense and interesting. I recommend this book because it was a great tale of fighting for what you believe in and never giving up.