Masterminds: A Book Review

Five teenagers with bikes beneath a helicopter with a search light

Living in a perfect city may sound like a blessing, right? Or is it a curse? Eli Frieden is a current resident of Serenity, New Mexico, where the mere idea of crime and poverty, and the thought of unemployment are oblivious to human-kind. Here in Serenity, there is no concept of stranger-danger, or danger at all. Here in Serenity, everything is okay, and everything is alright. But deep down inside, is the city as wonderful as it appears?

Eli Frieden lives in this so-called “perfect city” and seems to be living a normal life. However, upon biking to the city limits for the first time with his friend, Randy Hardaway, he experiences unimaginable pain. The next day, Randy makes a spontaneous trip to his grandparents, although Eli suspects this is not the whole story. He sets out to discover the genuine truth about this desert utopia. At a cost of knowing about the city, he also learns the truth about the 184 other residents, and even himself. Meanwhile, many of his friends notice strange behaviors from many adults, and start to lose trust in the people he, and the rest of the town, live with.

Masterminds, altogether, is a phenomenal title that definitely deserves praise for its riveting plot twists and relatable characters. Along with that, this realistic fiction is a Maryland Black- Eyed Susan nominee. This book has a breathtaking storyline, and leaves mysteries lying in every corner. Chapter by chapter, this story starts to unfold, and one by one the pieces connect into a grand idea, that the reader has yet to discover. I would highly recommend this book to teens, and anyone  who enjoys thrillers and unforeseen conclusions. For these reasons, I would rate this book a 9/10. Masterminds holds a special place in my top favorites, and hopefully will do the same for you too!

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The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us book cover - a teen girl and teen boy embracing in front of a brick wall

Seventeen year old Jess has dealt with more problems than most teenagers her age. After a tragic incident in the past, her family can never be the same again. Her life becomes a ball of confusion and anger that only ends in her sabotaging her only true friendship with her best friend, Penny. After Penny and Jess stop communicating with each other, Jess gets involved with the wrong crowd, leading her to get into trouble with her father and being sent to help out at the Local Soup Kitchen for the whole remainder of the summer as punishment.

When Jess goes to the Local Soup Kitchen for the first time, she ends up seeing Flynn, a poor boy who eats there with his family and also helps out when he can. Whenever Jess sees him, her heart flutters. Soon, Jess feels like Flynn is the only person that understands her. They end up wanting to be together but since Flynn and Jess live different lifestyles, both families disapprove. Sometimes opposites attract – but can this relationship withstand the pressures against it?

I would recommend this book to mature readers. If you are up for a good romance story that will make you cry at times but also make your heart skip a beat, this is for you!

“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”, Part 2: Book Review

MinnowBly

“He watches me a moment, and I wonder if he can read my expression that I will never tell him the truth. I’ll give him a version of events, a half-truth, but I haven’t told anyone what happened in those smoke-filled moments in January when I stood over the Prophet’s body and watched him take his last ungodly breath.

And I never will”.

This enigmatic novel is definitely one that will make you read one chapter after the other. Full of mystery, suspense, and flashbacks, this is a very unique and intriguing novel. It is such an unpredictable book. Even if you think that you know what will happen next in the story, or if you think you solved the mystery of the murder, you actually didn’t. The mystery of the Prophet’s murder is so far away from what I thought it was. It is a book that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys mystery and twist.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though it does not have any action, it is definitely very interesting. Even though it is a book with and extraordinary plot, I would rate it 4.5/5 for the use of bad words.

Ages — +12.

Everything Everything Review

Stars — 4/5


Summary — My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.(Goodreads)

Thoughts — Everything Everything was an amazing book. I expected something like The Fault In Our Stars, but I was really surprised. I got a different plot line. Lately, I’ve read a bunch of books with similar plot lines and I was really happy with this one. 

My favorite character had to be Olly because he gave Maddy something knew and he was a survivor. He was kind to Maddy and he understood the boundaries. Olly was also a really funny character. 

There were a couple parts of the book I thought were a little pointless, but I won’t say anything about them because they might spoil something and I would hate to do that. 

Age — 14+

“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”, Part 1: Summary (Book Review)

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a Young Adult, Fiction novel, by Stephanie Oakes. Published by Dial Books, it is a novel of 400 pages. Though there is no action in the book, the mystery of who killed the Prophet, as well as the practices in the cult, will keep your interest until the last page.

The story begins when Minnow Bly, the main character, attempts to kill a boy, named Philip, after stressing her. “I am a blood-soaked girl,” is how the novel begins, and is what makes the readers want to keep turning the pages. A few pages later, the police are there in order to provide medical assistance to Philip, and to arrest Minnow. They are ready to handcuff Minnow, but there is a small issue — Minnow doesn’t have any hands…

Flashbacks throughout the book reveal to us what had happened earlier. Minnow is a seventeen-year-old, who has just escaped the cult which she was in for the past twelve years of her life. The cult has unusual practices and beliefs. However, the characters don’t refer to it as “cult,” but rather “Community.” The Community is run by the Prophet, named Kevin. His followers refer to themselves as “Kevinians,” in the name of their prophet. The Prophet claims that once, he had met a janitor who was named Charlie, and that he was God. He also claimed that Charlie had told him that he was chosen to write and share his words.

Life in the Community is much different than in the real world. Every day, people wake up early and start doing their chores. Some people milk the cows, and some others clean and do other chores. Every man has multiple wives, so the families are very large, each one having more than ten children. This cult has many strict beliefs. For example, the Prophet claims that women cannot read books, since they are creations of the Devil. We later learn that he wants to keep them illiterate, so they will not be able to read his notes. The believers cannot listen to music, nor do anything that goes against the Prophet’s rules. Whoever doesn’t follow the rules shall see the consequences — the Prophet’s sadistic practices.

That is what happened to Minnow. Since she was considered older, the Prophet wanted to marry her, adding to his other eight wives. Minnow refuses, but the Prophet insists. Therefore, Minnow attempts to escape the Community. When the Prophet’s men catch her, she is sent to the Prophet. The Prophet orders Minnow’s biological father to cut off her hands, and after much debate, he does so.

One day, a fire starts in the Community. Minnow is able to escape into the forest and run to civilization. She attempts to save her sister, but she sees that her father has already gotten her. When she reaches civilization, Philip causes distress to Minnow. Being much exhausted, traumatized, and having witnessed a fire, Minnow is not very patient. Though she does not have any hands, that doesn’t get in the way of kicking Philip, almost to death. Minnow escapes, and the Prophet is mysteriously murdered.

Minnow is sent to a juvenile prison, where she becomes friends with her cellmate, Angel. Not true to her name, Angel had murdered her uncle, giving her the longest sentence of all the prisoners. An FBI agent, referred to as Dr. Wilson, has taken interest in Minnow. He wants to find out who has murdered the Prophet, in return of giving back her freedom. Did anyone in the Community survive? Will Minnow get out of prison? Did Minnow kill the Prophet? Will Dr. Wilson ever know the truth?

 

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (Book Review)

FullCicadaMoon

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.

Challenger Deep- Book Review

Cover of the book Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Review by laurae87

Caden Bosch thinks too much. As a fifteen-year-old struggling with schizophrenia and anxiety, life is one confusing mess of hallucinations and worried thoughts. With the growing concern of his family, Caden takes too many painkillers, eats too little, and paces around the house in a dissociated state. At school, his test scores are dropping, and his paranoia is rising. School becomes a place that triggers panic, so Caden starts skipping classes, and instead, walks around town. His “thought-voices” torment him and make him think unpleasant thoughts. Caden is slowly losing his grip on reality. His parents notice his unusual (and worrying) behavior and admit him into a psychiatric ward. There, he meets other teens who are battling their own mental illnesses. He slowly becomes friends with some of the teens, and tries to help them with their struggles, along with getting better himself. However, one situation that occurs is so shocking that Caden doesn’t know if he will be swallowed whole by the gaping jaws of schizophrenia, or if he’ll manage to get out alive. Will Caden have the courage and strength to battle his mental illness and win, for now? To find out and follow Caden through his journey, read Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This novel is about courage, self-reflection, and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia, mania, and anxiety. Challenger Deep lets people who have been there know that they are not alone in their struggles. In the last pages of the novel, Shusterman provides resources and help for those dealing with mental illness.