Book Review – Are We There Yet? by David Levithan

The novel “Are we There yet?” is a very interesting and relatable story of two brothers, very different, who hardly ever talk, being sent on a trip across Italy by their parents. Elijah is 16 and Danny is 23. When they are finally able to get some alone time, they find themselves in somewhat of a love triangle. Danny feels that Elijah is a stupid pot smoking teen and Elijah feels Danny is too into his work. They drifted apart as brothers leaving their parents to trick them into going on this trip. They travel through Rome, Venice, and Florence. What brings them together is finally realizing they really only have each other in a foreign country. They also find a similar interest in viewing the sites together from the movie “A Roman Holiday.” They fianlly resolve their differences and gain a bond they’ve been missing for so long.


This is a fantastic novel for anyone with siblings. Sometimes it can be really difficult and you can’t help but fade apart. Family will be there forever, and you have to love and appreciate them. No matter how dificult of times you may go through what’s most important is to love each other through everything. At the end of the day family is all you really have and they are the most important people in the world.

Reviewer: Kaitlyn

Book Review – The Essence by Kimberly Derting

The Essence was officially released on January 1, 2013. I wasn’t immediately hooked by the fantasy/magic elements in The Essence. The first couple of chapters are Charlie adjusting to life as Queen. I found myself having trouble remembering who the side characters were and spent a lot of time in the first two chapters evaluating as Charlie goes to riding lessons and fighting lessons, etc. I was completely hooked with the re-emergence of the Sabara plot at the end of chapter 2. The story really takes off from there with mysteries, assassins, spies, kidnapping, betrayal, dancing, soul mates, new powers, and murder. Early on in the story, a character from book 1 was killed off. I wasn’t emotionally attached to the character .In The Essence there is a spy among Charlie’s inner circle who reports back to one of the other queens. I narrowed down the identity of the spy to two people, but I really thought it was the other person. After the surprising plot twist involving Brook in book 1, I thought the spy could have been either person. The spy’s identity wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but I was guessing most of the book. A sweet, heart-wrenching soul mate story is interwoven into this book. I am a sucker for a soul mate story, and I desperately hope the soul mate arc from this book will eventually have a happy ending. It’s one of the things not completely resolved in this book. I know I probably shouldn’t want them to get their happy ending, but I do. Maybe a redemption story. I would gladly sacrifice the queen who hired the assassin so the soul mates could be happy. (Also, I’m really curious the reasoning behind what happened to their baby(ies) in the soul mate arc. There has to be a major reason behind that. Obviously something bad would happen. Perhaps Charlie is a relative? Not sure. But I hope it all is explained in the next book.) Brook, Charlie’s best friend and commander of her army, had a number of segments from her point-of-view in this book. They were necessary to the plot, but I didn’t really feel the same passion and connection to her part of the story as Charlie’s and the soul mate side plot. Brook also has a love interest plot in this book, but I didn’t connect to it like I did the other two. That may have been because she was not the main point-of-view. Or perhaps part of it was because I suspected one of her love interests was the spy and didn’t want to feel too close to the spy who would cause trouble. Many second/middle books suffer from bad endings – the book being chopped into half for book 2 and 3. That’s not the case for The Essence. The main plot for the book ends and a lot of the side plots reach some form of resolution. The ending doesn’t have the same celebratory feel from the ending of book 1, but it wraps up well. All in all, I think the book was very well-done. I loved it, especially the soul mate side-plot.

Reviewer: Kiryt

Book Review – The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks


This book is about an girl who is an art student at the local university (Sophia). She just got out of a bad relationship and is saved by a bull riding cowboy (Luke) at a local country western bar, but the book isn’t just about them it is also about a 91 year old man who got into a bad car accident. Luke and Sophia end up hanging out and exchanging numbers. Throughout the book they start to date and fall very quickly in love. Their relationship is put to the test when he refuses to stop bull riding to earn enough money to save his family’s farm, bull riding is a sport that could kill him because of previous accidents. The elderly man (Ira) in the car accident, swerved off the road and fell off the side of the mountain into a tree. He is stuck in his seated position and looses consciousness. When awakens he is visited by an image of his wife (Ruth), and her “ghost” pushes him to stay alive by going through the story of their very long beautiful marriage. Ira and Ruth were also art collectors and had millions of dollars worth of art pieces. The cowboy eventually quit bull riding because he knew how much it would kill his mom and girlfriend if they lost him. Luke took Sophia up to his cabin to spend a weekend together, on the way home coming down the mountain Luke spotted Ira’s car on the side of the mountain and they called an ambulance for help. In the hospital Ira asked Sophia to read a letter his dear wife Ruth wrote him.  Ira died later in the hospital but before he did, he decided to put his art collection up for auction. Sophia’s art professor managed to get her a few tickets not knowing it was Ira’s art until Luke and her read about it in the paper. The first piece put up was a beautiful painting of his wife Ruth, no one was bidding on it so Luke did. After he won the bid a man came up to the podium and said that the auction was over. Luke and Sophia were then taken upstairs and were told that because Luke bought the first piece that he ended up buying all of it. It was Ira’s wish. The farm would be saved by selling some of the collection. Luke and Sophia could be happy and not have to worry about keeping the farm afloat. 


I really did enjoy the story, if you are a hopeless romantic this book is for you. It takes you on this roller coaster ride of emotions, these characters were really well created. You want to cry with them and laugh with them, their pain and happiness is yours. Nicholas Sparks does a fantastic job of showing that relationships aren’t easy and when the going gets tough you can’t just leave. He shows that love is the most powerful thing in the world. I recommend this book to every hopeless romantic who need a good read. 5/5 stars 🙂

Reviewer: Aleigha

Book Review – Red Glove by Holly Black

Red glove is the second book in the fantasy series by Holly Black called Curse Workers, and was published in 2011. In Red Glove we follow the life of Cassel Sharpe who is a transformation worker which means he can transform anything he wants into something different, including people. Cassel is from a family of workers who con people, and who have strong ties with one of the biggest crime families, the Zacharovs. Part of this family is a girl he loves, Lila, who was cursed to love him and so acting on his feelings leaves him feeling as if he’s taking advantage of her. Cassel’s life is very dangerous and it’s difficult for him to know who exactly he can trust. When Cassel is asked by the feds to work with them, he’s forced to look into his dark recent past that he can only remember in fragments. If he tells too much to the feds, he could single-handedly ruin his family’s life and his future. During this time, Lila’s very threatening father wants Cassel to work for him in his murder business. Throughout the story, Cassel definitely grows as a person as he is burdened by everything terrible in his life. All the characters in Red Glove are very unique from each other and have their own personality and ways of dealing with various things. The overriding theme in Red Glove would have to be family tragedies, death, and pain of all forms. I would recommend Red Glove for people who like light, suspenseful books filled with crime. I give this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

 I am Malala was very fascinating to read as it is the phenomenal story of not only a girl, but a nation overturned by comprehensive terrorism, the struggle for girls’ education, and how even in a society where when boys are born celebrations arouse, and when girls are born they are hid away from the world, Malala was raised with respect and equality.Who is Malala ? On Tuesday, October 9. 2012, a fifteen year old Pakistani girl had been shot through her left eye socket when riding the bus home from school. Very few expected her to survive but this girl was given another chance at life and had miraculously recovered. This extraordinary girls’ recovery led her down a dwindling path from a secluded village in Northern Pakistan to the most well known city in the world, New York where she continued to raise awareness of the Taliban’s nature. Malala is the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize and is the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. I Am Malala will make you value the importance of life and motivate you to do some good in this world, as the power of one’s voice can inspire change on a global scale. This is Malala. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the fight for education or who is interested in reading about the fight for justice. The writing level for this book is good for light reading, however the content goes beyond deeper than the surface of its words.
Reviewed by: Ashwini

Book Review – Bzrk by Michael Grant

The book I read for my book report was ‘BZRK’ by a famous author Michael Grant. In my point of view this is a really good book if one wants to read a futuristic, war story. The plot is set in the near future and is a story about a war for control of the human mind. Main characters of the book were two conjoined twins, Charles and Benjamin Armstrong. Both of them are owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation and have a set goal in their lives. Their goal is to turn the world into their vision of utopia. They want a place where there’s no war, conflict, hunger and NO FREE WILL. Opposing them is a guerrilla group of teens with a code name of ‘BZRK’ which gives the book its title. They also have a mission and they are determined to successfully complete it. They are fighting the twins to protect the right not to be messed up and to remain HUMAN. This looks like an ordinary war but as one reads further they figure out that this is no ordinary war. Weapons are deployed on the nano technology level. The worst part of this war is that the battle ground is the human brain itself. There is no one that could be trusted in this battle and no stalemates: its victory, or madness. The best part of this book is that it unfolds with hurricane force around core themes of conspiracy and mystery. The book plays around with insanity and changes realities all the time. Personnel choices play a huge role in this book. Which side should one choose in these dark hours? And how far is one willing to go to win this battle? These questions go on till the end of the book and I think were still not answered at the end either. I would recommend this book for anyone that loves reading mystery and science fiction novels.

Reviewer: Arman

Book Review – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman, was published in 2008. It is a fictional book about an infant that luckily escapes his crib when he was a toddler, wandering off in to the local graveyard where multiple ghost’s agree to take care of the stray boy and “teach him their tricks”. The story was told from the perspective of the little boy whilst growing up, and the struggles that he faced and made him to develop into the person he became at the end of the book. The setting of this book means everything to the plot of the book; if they hadn’t been close to the graveyard as the boy snuck out of his crib, he would’ve never met the ghosts that raised him and brought him into becoming the person that he is. In my personal opinion the book is a 4/5 and is especially good if you’re just looking for something light to read.

Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant novel cover.jpg

Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

Veronica Roth’s captivating third installment to the Divergent series, Allegiant, continues to prove itself as intriguing as the previous two books in the series.

Roth builds a familiar landscape of the broken world that Tris Prior lives in; Allegiant continues in a future dystopia where the “world” that Tris lives in is divided into five factions-or ways of life. At sixteen, each individual takes a test–comprised of taking a serum that forces the undergoer to face mental scenarios where each choice matters–to see which faction will be their new identity. The five factions all follow their own virtues–bravery, intelligence, selflessness, peace, and honesty–and Roth brilliantly contrasts the readers with Tris’s life. Unlike the world we enjoy today, where a person may have many virtues of being perhaps brave, intelligent, and selfless, among other traits, the faction members only live based on one. However, ties are made between the reader and Tris as her test result comes out “divergent,” shunning her with not one virtue, but with many.

In Allegiant, the trilogy continues to test the limits of what Tris will do to save her family, friends, and world. Uncovering the secret that the world continues on outside the fence of her city, Tris and her friends enter the “outside world” where they show allegiance to one another and learn that the faction system–essentially their whole way of existence–is just the government’s way of dealing with the “genetically damaged.” Roth continues writing in Allegiant about relevant matters, such as corrupt governments and war.

The faction system was essentially created to make genetically pure individuals, like Tris–in other words, to create divergent people. Dealing with the prospect that the world stretches further than the city she lives in, enclosed by fences, Tris has to face herself with more lies. The faction system was created by the government to cure damaged genes as people who were “damaged” caused outbreaks of war. Roth opens the readers eyes to human nature, however, as Tris learns that wars existed when people were genetically pure too–a direct reference to WWI, WWII, and even the outbreaks of war continuing right now and presumably forever.

Although subtle, Roth explains that the government will go to lengths to prevent problems that do not exist instead of focusing on, well, the stuff that matters–a concept we can all agree with looking at our fellow countries.

Although heavy with metaphors and references to our own world, the book has themes of friendship, family bonds, and even romance, as the book alternates between points of view of Tris and her boyfriend, Four.

Tris is a strong female lead and a true character, dealing with her mistakes and their repercussions, and how it all takes a toll on her bond with Four (I know, funny name) and her friends and family.

Perhaps Roth’s greatest ability with Allegiant was that she was able to continue writing true characters who make mistakes, but deal with them, especially amongst war. Allegiant, along with the whole series, effortlessly and dauntlessly battles concepts of sacrifice, honesty, and even depression.

The whole series wonderfully captures its readers as it has something for everyone, may it be violence, sci-fi, dystopias, etc. Amongst other series in its Young Adult genre, Divergent stands unique–incomparable to the Hunger Games in many ways except the similar dystopian theme (but just as good!).

Most importantly, the book will leave you feeling just as brave and dauntless as Tris, Four, and their friends. A trait that will come in handy when facing final exams.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reviewer: Moneeza

Book Review – The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan                                   

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is a suspenseful dystopian story of zombie related tales, that displays great uniqueness with the depth and imagination it provides. Even from reading the title, one is able to recognize the unique dynamics that the story contains, such as the deathly aura that a forest of undead beings absorbs. Set far in the future, the characters live in a safe village encircled by the rest of the zombie plagued world. The village is surrounded by a large, dense, forest that is inhabited by a growing population of infected civilians, or zombies. Fences protect the village from the forest, keeping the uninfected humans safe from the infected, however, although they are protected, they become isolated from any alternate existing society, making them believe they are the only ones left.

 The story revolves around Mary, a young woman who has recently been orphaned. In Mary’s harsh society, girls who do not marry are forced to join the Sisterhood, a group that helps maintain life in the village through not only physical aid, but also through prayer. After Mary loses her mother to the forest (making her mother a zombie), her relationship with her older brother, Jed, is strained. As Mary joins the Sisterhood, she faces grief and confusion as Travis, the boy she has strong feelings for, has already spoken for (meaning he chose to marry) her best friend Cassandra. Meanwhile, Travis’s brother Harry has expressed his feelings for Mary but has not spoken for her yet, which causes her distress.

As her life is impacted by these events, Mary craves knowledge of the secrets that the Sisterhood hold. Her curiosity towards their knowledge began after she experienced significant discovery of a girl from the outside world who was uninfected, but was later thrown out to the zombies by the Sisters. Her feelings for Travis also grow stronger, as he spends time in the cathedral following injuries, allowing them to share moments of intimacy. The romance that sparks between the two displays the betrayal against Cassandra and Harry, and explains the love polygon that existed among the four, who had all been close friends since early childhood. After spending significant time of her life as a member of the Sisterhood, as well as possessing a growing love for Travis, Mary is informed that a boy has spoken for her. However to her dismay, the boy is Harry, whom she contains no intimate feelings towards.  Reluctantly, she accepts and decides to wed Harry, considering the minimal alternate choices she had that would bring her any happiness. As Mary and Harry prepare for their wedding, the village is brought into a state of panic as the zombies find a way into the community, past the fences that were built to keep them out. Through the panic and chaos, Harry and Mary escape the village onto a path that brings them far into the outside world. They are joined by a young village boy named Jacob whom Harry had saved, as well as Cassandra, Travis, and Mary’s brother Jed and his wife Beth. The outsider that Mary discovered earlier on also continues to appear throughout the story, providing Mary with greater curiosity.  From this point on the characters embark on a journey that unlocks truth of the world beyond the forest, as well as insight into their relationships. 

 Reading the story gave me an impacting feeling of suspense and curiosity. Rather than staying near the typical zombie apocalypse plot of fighting and death, this story covers numerous other dimensions that provides interesting insight and provokes imagination. It covers romance, family relationships, and also internal battle. The story also contains a uniqueness in comparison to most other dystopian, futuristic stories. Although set far in the future, the isolated and conservative lifestyle as well as significant lack of resources that the characters are surrounded with, causes one to imagine the story in a setting that appears familiar to that of the far past. It strays from the common belief of an advanced society in the future, and describes a future of struggle among humanity.

The story promotes the message of following what your mind strives towards and what you know is right.  This magnificent story is full of mystery, but is also made up of great suspense and surprise. It is one of those novels that one has difficulty putting down. The characters are incredibly plausible and show their unique characteristics. It is a story that is not difficult to wrap your head around and is comprehensible in an excellent way.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Reviewer: Kieran