The Limit by: Kristen Landon

Matt and his family live in a world, almost like ours. In it, there is something called the limit, or the amount of debt a family has. There is a limit on how much debt a family can have, and if they go over the limit, the government comes to take their oldest kid away.

Matt has complete faith that his family won’t go over the limit, but after a turn of events, Matt finds himself taken away to a facility by Honey Lady, or Miss Smoot. He’s taken to the top floor where all the smart kids live, but little do they know, the building and the people in it, are hiding secrets.

After Neela gets headaches and is told she has left for her family, Matt goes down to the third floor to see Lauren, and sees Neela. He gets suspicious and little by little, his friends Paige, Jeffrey, and Coop, gather evidence to show everyone that this facility is intended to hurt. But will they be able to escape and show the world that maybe taking kids away isn’t the best solution after all?

This book is a fairly short book, but it does have action and suspense. I think it was beautifully written, but this book wasn’t the best book I have ever read. For anyone who wants a short but exciting book, this book will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Illuminae, written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is a science fiction book following detailed reports gathered from the tragic events into what they call the illuminae files. There are two main characters, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, who are stuck on two separate ships in space.

This book doesn’t follow the usual narrative seen in other science fiction and fantasy books. Each page is a copy of a diary entry, artwork, interview, security footage report, or other classified documents. They are organized in order of the events and use a lot of documents from Kady and Ezra, as they had pivotal roles in the outcome of the story.

At first, I almost put the book down, never to pick it up again. The book started out unbelievably boring. Once you get around 100 pages in, you finally began to care a bit about the characters and their journeys. I believe this is due to the unorthodox format the book is written in. It’s more of a plot-driven book than a character one, but I do believe you begin to care about the characters, particularly Kady, towards the end.
During the action scenes, the graphics were visually stunning. It blew me away and made me wish more books involved beautiful and thoughtful art inside them. It was the best way to convey action with minimal words and arguably hit me harder than a narrative format does.

The romance in the book wasn’t my favorite. It felt boring and didn’t add anything to the plot other than a connection between the two ships. I also didn’t enjoy the text messages between the characters, because they took me out of the story and made the characters seem childish. Despite this, there were some moments that made me giggle. Ezra was a rather funny character and it helped keep me interested in the story, which was already so tense.

There was an AI character that is reminiscent of Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was a cool comparison. It also brought about questions about artificial intelligence and its dangers, which is a prevalent topic heading into the future.

The end of the book upset me because something is revealed that I felt would have been better placed in another book. I can’t go into detail without spoiling it, but the book did something that really annoys me in other creative storytelling forms.

There are two other books in the series, and I know the second one follows some new characters in the same document format. Although I loved the artistic parts of the book, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Overall, I would rate Illuminae 5/10 dragons for its artistic layout and an intriguing plot. I would recommend reading if you appreciate plot-driven books and cringe romance.

Watch Us Rise by: Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

Jasmine and Chelsea are feminists at heart, and they both love the creative arts. Jasmine does short stories, and Chelsea is a lover for poetry. They sign up for their clubs, but in the classes, the unthinkable happens. Catcalling, racist and sexist comments, are what happens in those classrooms. Devastated, the girls quit their clubs and start a new club, Write Like A Girl. Along with their friends Issac and Nadine (and James), they know the fight isn’t over yet.

Write Like A Girl is a club that posts poetry and short stories about feminism. They highlight that girls should love who they are. They even make posts that spotlight important women in history and in the present! The club spread from school to school, but the principal was not happy. He suspends the club saying that it was inappropriate and whatnot. However, Chelsea, Jasmine, Issac, and Nadine all risk everything to make their voices heard.

When Write Like A Girl becomes a sensation with people loving it and hating it, what happens next? What’s the next step?

Masterfully written, it’s a spellbinding book that I couldn’t put down.

Review of “Sweep,” by Jonathan Auxier

I’m not going to lie, I did not want to read this book at first. I’m not a fan of historical fiction, and a story about monsters and chimney sweeps in England does not sound very appealing. But it’s highly rated and recommended, so I decided to give it a try.

To be honest, this was one of the very best historical fiction books I’ve read. Auxier creates a cold world of struggling characters trying to make a home amidst the cruelties of child labor, yet it’s one you don’t want to leave.

Nan Sparrow is a climber — a girl owned by a chimney sweep and forced to climb up tiny flues all day. Her master, Wilkie Crudd, is cruel, and she and the other children have barely enough to eat. But this is the only thing she’s ever known, sweeping. And she is desperate to find a man, one who cared for her until she was six years old, until she found herself alone.

The Sweep made her see magic in everything, keeping the two of them lighthearted. Indeed, they kept each other alive for half a dozen years until he vanished.

One day, Nan nearly dies in a chimney fire but awakes unharmed in a room with her char — a tiny piece of the Sweep’s love — miraculously alive. Together, Nan and her monster find a home together and realize the truth about love.

Rating: 5/5 stars. This book made me smile, it made me (almost) cry, and I loved Nan’s character, how brave and kind she was.

Ages: 9-14. There is some violence and related elements.

The Lost Hero-book review

The Lost Hero is the first book of the Heroes of Olympus series, which is kind of like a spin-off of the original Percy Jackson And the Olympians. 

The story starts off with Jason, who has no idea where he is or what he was doing on a bus full of kids going on a field trip. He finds himself holding hands with a girl that he doesn’t recognize. He establishes the fact that there are about a dozen kids. He later finds out that he and his group of friends are all actually demigods and Jason gets in a fight with a Ventai or a Storm spirit named Dylan as it is referred in the book. He defeats the Dylan with a huge sword. A chariot arrives piloted by Annabeth Chase. She’s looking for her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, who has disappeared.  Everybody discovers they have superpowers. Piper can charm speak people and make them do what she wants, while Leo can control flame. You’d think this would make them happy, but it doesn’t. Piper has been having dreams of an evil giant who has captured her father, and she’s afraid she’ll have to betray her friends or the giant will eat her dad, while Leo is afraid to use his fire powers because he thinks they resulted in the death of his mother. Jason doesn’t remember his family, which in comparison seems like maybe it’s for the best—though he does figure out that Thalia, one of the Hunters of Artemis, is away. While they were in the camp they heard about a bronze dragon. 

Through various prophecies and surprise revelations and then more prophecies, the heroes discover that they need to go on a quest to rescue Hera, who is being held captive. Leo fixes a malfunctioning magical robot dragon named Festus to give them transportation, and up, up, and away they go, dragonning across the continent to Quebec, Chicago, Detroit—just all over the place. On their way they meet and/or battle lots of evil gods and mortals and critters. 

As they bump along they get even more prophecies and dreams and clues, and eventually put it all together to figure out that the earth mother, Gaea, is awakening, which is bad. Gaea has captured Hera, and plans to destroy her and use the energy to summon the giant Porphyrion, which will be even worse. They also meet Thalia (this, thankfully, is a good thing)—Jason’s sister—who tells them that Jason was given to Hera when he was two, at which point Thalia thought he was dead. Meanwhile, Piper decides that she can’t betray her friends, and tells everyone that her father is in trouble. So Leo, Jason, and Piper send Thalia to try to delay Gaea and Porphyrion while they go off to rescue Piper’s dad from the giant Enceladus.  

There is a big amazing super-battle with Enceladus, who loses like the bad guy that he is, because that’s what bad guys do. Piper saves her dad, Trevor McClean, and gives him a magical potion that makes him forget about the kidnapping and gods and all that because it was freaking him out, and no wonder. Coach Hedge takes Trevor under protection. Leo, Jason, and Piper scurry off to help Thalia try to prevent Gaea from waking. 

There is another even bigger, even more amazing super-battle with wolves and air spirits and so on. The bad guys lose because they are losers, etc. Hera is freed, Gaea doesn’t wake up, but Porphyrion gets away to fight another day. Curse you, Porphyrion. 

Once they get back to Camp Half-Blood, Leo starts to build a giant flying ship to take them on their adventures, using pieces from the broken Festus.  

Most importantly our heroes figure out that Jason comes from a whole other group of demigods who are children of the Roman, rather than the Greek, aspects of the gods. The Roman and Greek demigods were separated by the gods because they kept killing each other. But now Hera is trying to reunite them so that the seven demigods foretold by prophecy can kick Gaea’s earthy butt. Hera brought Jason to the Greek Camp Half-Blood to be a bridge to the Roman camp. Similarly, they realize Hera sent Percy Jackson over to the Roman camp, where he probably has amnesia. We have now run out of plot though, and won’t know for sure about Percy until the sequel (titled The Son of Neptune). I’d give this book a 8/10 because while it was thrilling I think it could’ve spent more time developing the characters, this book was overall great and I suggest you give it a read and check the out the sequel (The Son of Neptune). 

Sisters By Raina Telgemeier Book Review

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel that is about Raina’s relationship with her little sister Amara. Before Amara is born all Raina wishes for is a little sister. But when she finally gets the sister of her dreams things aren’t how she imagined. Amara is grumpy and never wants to play with Raina. Flash forward a lot and the family, which now includes a younger brother named Will, is about to leave on a road trip to Colorado to be with family for some time. Raina and Amara still don’t get along well and are always fighting. But when they notice their parents are acting strange around each other they know they have to improve their relationship with each other if they want to survive the long road trip. This book is illustrated well, has a good story that makes you want to keep reading, is easy to relate to, and includes humorous moments too.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

This book starts off with the muggle Prime Minister. He has a meeting with Cornelius Fudge and meets Rufus Scrimgeour. It then goes to Narcissa Malfoy meeting Severus Snape to discuss something forbidden. It then switches back to Harry, who is waiting for Dumbledore to come and whisk him away to the Weasley’s house. He goes. While making a detour, Dumbledore tries to convince a retired teacher to come to teach at Hogwarts.

            We are at Hogwarts, after spending all summer at the Weasley’s house. Harry can continue his ambition to be an auror when he thought he couldn’t. He needs to borrow a potions book from the school storage until he can buy one. He happens to get one that has lots of odd scribblings and markings on it. It almost seems like someone revised the book. Harry tries one of the edits and miraculously, it works and gives him the reputation, that he doesn’t really deserve, as expert potioneer.

             We progress through the year; Professor Slughorn tries to “collect” Harry, as his crown jewel to his selection of people with famous contacts or have good potential to have a successful job. Harry is invited to his Christmas party, after avoiding Slughorn as much as possible. Halfway through, Draco Malfoy is dragged in, claiming he wanted gate crash. He is taken away by Snape. Harry follows them and his suspicions, which have been going on for a while, are confirmed. He tries, in vain, to convince Ron and Hermione that Malfoy is up to something. He however, has a hard time doing this as Hermione and Ron are having one of their biggest fights yet.

            Ron has been dating Lavender Brown, which Hermione dislikes, she tries to do things like make him jealous, to some degree of success. Ron however, is still in a passionate relationship with Lavender Brown. This whole fight was started because Hermione had kissed Victor Krum, two or more years ago. Hermione is hurt and doesn’t know why Ron is angry and Ron refuses to explain or apologize. Then something happens, that both heals their friendship and makes Harry even more obsessed about finding where Malfoy disappeared to and what he is doing.

            Throughout the year, Dumbledore has been teaching Harry about Voldemort’s past, how he has made Horcruxes in his quest to become immortal. Dumbledore found a potential Horcrux and takes Harry with him to find it. In a secret cave that Voldemort visited as a child, they find Slytherin’s necklace. They are successful. However, when they are returning to Hogwarts, they come upon a horrible sight, Voldemort’s sign, the Dark Mark, is hovering above the school. They come and land on the Astronomy Tower, after riding brooms there. Harry is somehow frozen in place and must watch as a horrible scene unfolds before him. After said horrid scene happens, the perpetrators run away. Harry is freed from his bond and chases after them. There is a large fight and when Harry calls someone a traitor, he finds out who the “Half-Blood Prince” is, who he has been obsessing over almost as much as Malfoy. The Half-Blood Prince is the person who has been providing helpful tips and spells in his Potions book all year.

            Livid and yet very sad, he goes back up to the castle, after who he was chasing managed to escape. There is a funeral for a very special person who died, and everyone goes home for the summer.

            I really enjoyed this book, although the ending was both a surprise and was quite sad. I expect anybody who has been following the Harry Potter series, after reading this book, will understand. Sorry that I didn’t include who died and such, but I feel that would be a large spoiler. This book was very good. It follows lots with Harry’s obsession, which made me a little irritated. I expect that was supposed to be the effect though. Harry would think of nothing else, aggravating even his best friends. Overall, I would suggest this book.

                        I would rate this book a 8.5/10