Book Review: The Selection by Kiara Cass

Book Review: The Selection by Kiara Cass ​
By Sarah Kauffman

The Selection is my favorite book series. With all the romance and drama, what teenage ​ girl wouldn’t love this book. It is about America Singer, just a regular sixteen year old girl living in a future society where, after World War three, the world is split up into castes: Ones being Royals, and Eights being the lowest in the system, the homeless. America is a five, which consists of entertainers like Musicians and Artists. When America is selected to be part of a contest called The Selection to find the Prince of her country, Illéa’s new wife, her life is forever changed.

America is unlike the other 35 girls selected, she doesn’t even want to become royalty. She likes her life the way it is, with her family, her jobs singing with her mom, and most importantly, her secret boyfriend, Aspen, who is a caste below her. But when America meets Prince Maxon, her whole perception of the fancy, stuck up prince, is gone. Instead she sees him for who he really is, funny, sweet, and kind. Will America choose Maxon and try to win the contest to become a princess, or marry her secret love back at her home, Aspen?

I love this book for so many reasons. I’m not a fast reader, but I read the first three books in this series in five days, which for me, is very quick. I guarantee the dramatic love triangle between Aspen, America, and Maxon will make you laugh, cry, and scream at the book, all in the same chapter. The stink eyes and cat fights between the other competitors in the contest is another one of the many reasons you’ll never want to put down this book. I would recommend this series to most teenage girls, and honestly anyone who’s looking for a book with a big dose of drama. I re-read this book all the time, and it never gets old. I rate in 5 out of 5 stars.

Sarah Kauffman is a seventh grader at Delta Middle school. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and theatre.

Book Review: The Selection by Kiara Cass

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about a boy named Clay. One day to Clay’s surprise, a box is delivered to his door. A box from Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush. It has to be a joke… Hannah Baker committed suicide two weeks earlier. It’s not a joke. The box contains a mix of tapes recorded by Hannah. The tapes tell why she took her life, and they have been sent to the people who are responsible. What did Clay do? What action resulted in the end of Hannah Baker’s life? All he has to do is listen to the tapes.

I nearly finished this book at the bookstore before even buying it. I couldn’t bear to put it down. Somehow I was sitting right there next to Hannah, somehow I was watching the story unravel before my very eyes.

Jay Asher wrote the book so that it goes back-and-forth between Clay’s life, and Hannah’s voice over the tapes. This method seems to leave an echo of Hannah throughout the whole story without her even being there. It makes her a stronger character and makes a stronger story.
A wonderful thing about this book is that it allows you to see not only how people affected Hannah, but how Hannah affected people. Hannah’s life isn’t the only one that takes a drastic change. Think about being in High School and finding out you were the reason for a death. A somewhat unconscious murderer. How would that change your life? Would it help you to grow as a person, or would it leave a dent inside of you? The book allows you to see how characters react to the tapes, whether it’s blaming the other perpetrators or feeling that they themselves are a killer, either way, nobody takes it lightly.

Thirteen Reasons Why is definitely not a happy book. It leaves you with a strange feeling whenever you read it, an uncomfortable feeling. I expected that while reading this book all I would feel was sorrow for Hannah. That’s not what happened. I found that I kept asking myself the same question, “Could Hannah’s suicide be a bad move on her part?” I wonder if Hannah could have stepped back and asked herself if it was worth it? Life can only get better when you’re a teenager. That thought made me feel bad for every person who received that box, even if what they did was unforgivable.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a beautiful, emotional, breathtaking novel. It couldn’t have been written better. I definitely recommend this book, and I think that everyone should eventually read it. This book is very good, but the subject is quite mature, and the way the book is written may become slightly confusing. I think this book would be good for teenagers ages 13+ (even though I’m 12), and should be given a parent’s permission. But if you have the okay, the I don’t know what you’re waiting for… Go, read it!

Miranda Marks is a student at Delta in State College, PA.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Book Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Book Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

by Kaitlyn Search

There are many excellent books out there that everyone should read. The Book Thief. Little Women. Scaramouche. But the book that gets you into reading will always be the best book. It might not be your favorite but it will always hold a special place in your heart. For me this book is The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

It’s terribly witty and very much hard to describe. It is exactly what you’d expect from a book about a world on a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin.

The Wee Free Men is the kind of book you miss when it’s over, like you lost a good friend. Because of this, I simply cannot churn out some bland run of the mill summary; it wouldn’t do.  So, instead I’ll give you this: a quote and my opinion, the best and only way to spark interest in readers such as myself.

The quote is as follows with my opinion stated below it:“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Terry Pratchett was (he is sadly deceased) the kind of author whose writing is fantastic at its best and great at its worst. The kind of author who believed in intelligent young characters and intelligent young readers whom he believed to be perfectly capable of following a story with multiple layers of complexity. He was the kind of author who sent a nine-year-old girl to battle the queen of fairies with nothing but a frying pan and the help of some little blue crivens-shouting men.  

If I haven’t made it clear, I believe he was a good author. His writing is relatable, magic, and always a joy to read. And frankly he’s got some of the best author quotes.

Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it?”  

“No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.

This book should be on everyone’s bookshelf and I’m quite sure that this book will be the book to get many other people into reading.  

Kaitlyn Search is a year 8 student at Delta Middle School in State College. She highly suggests you read The Wee Free Men.

Book Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Book Review: Trials Of Apollo The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Trials of Apollo The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

review by Ruth Becker

I recently finished the book Trials Of Apollo The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The book is about the sun god Apollo, who made Zeus angry, and his punishment was that he had to be turned into a mortal and placed in the mortal world, acne and all.  When he lands, he meets trouble, along with an ally. Apollo finds a demigod living in the alleyway he landed in. Her name is Meg, and once she finds out he’s supposed to be a god, she immediately claims him. Claiming him means he now has to act as her servant.

He takes Meg to Camp Half Blood, a safe place for demigods, and notices some strange things. First of all, the campers are not welcoming him with joy and praise, which Apollo finds very wrong, but the Oracle Of Delphi has gone silent, and campers are wandering into the woods, and not coming back. Apollo overhears someone called The Beast talking, and hears hints to his master plan that could destroy Camp Halfblood. He must find out what is going on before madness occurs.

I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan books, so when I heard that there was a new book I hadn’t read yet, I had to start reading it. When I was reading the book, it had so much power and feeling inside of the words, that I couldn’t put it down. I really liked how Riordan made it first person from Apollo’s point of view. I feel like you can see inside of Apollo’s head and know every little thing about him when I read it. For instance, in mortal form on the outside, Apollo may look like a small weak sixteen year old. Though on the inside, he’s still the arrogant, self conscious, somewhat brave fool that he always was. I think that Rick Riordan has a certain charm in his writing that really draws people into his stories.

I think that this book is mainly for ten to thirteen year olds, but honestly, I think anyone could get lost in this story. If you have read the Percy Jackson series, The Red Pyramid series or books by Brandon Mull, or more books by Rick Riordan, you may enjoy this book. You may also like it if you enjoy action, laughter, and giant bronze statues. ( Ok, you don’t have to like the last one, but it’s pretty cool in the book.)  I liked this book very much, and I hope there’s more to read soon.

Ruth Becker is a fifth grade student at Delta Middle in State College, PA.  

Book Review: Trials Of Apollo The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Book Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

A book review by Caroline Pinkse

Pods glide through the planet core. Armed fairies fly overhead. A dwarf is digging, chewing at the clay blocking its way. These are three things you may see in the imaginary world of Artemis Fowl (Book 1).

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is a series of fantasy/action/sci-fi books, starring Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old millionaire and criminal mastermind, and Holly Short, a gutsy, brave fairy. It takes place in a high tech world whose inhabitants are both humans and mythical creatures. Holly Short (like I mentioned, a plucky fairy) is a member of the LEPrecon Unit, or LEP for short. After battling a troll, she loses her powers. All fairies and other creatures go through a ritual that helps them regain their magic. While Holly is trying to complete the ritual, Butler, Artemis Fowl’s servant, hits her with a tranquilizer and takes her captive. The LEP discovers Fowl’s plot and attempts to rescue Holly from his grip, commencing the mission of this book:

“There on the monitor before them, in frozen suspension, was a hypodermic dart. There could be no doubt. Captain Holly Short was missing in action. Most probably dead, but at the very least held captive by a hostile force.”

Evil humor and delight in dirty deeds. These are two things that best describe Artemis Fowl, one of the two main characters in this book. I think Eoin Colfer developed Artemis Fowl better than any other character. He made Fowl vile, shrewd, and clever. For example, he knows vocabulary most twelve-year-olds don’t, and he’s fluent in several other languages, including those of magical creatures.

The characters in this book were marvelously developed. You could easily determine the personality of each one, without a description. For example, the book never explained that Holly was gutsy, you could just tell because of her actions, especially her most famous quote:

“Stay back, human. You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

I chose to review this book because it was one of the most enjoyable books I’d read recently. This book combines action, science fiction, and fantasy in a creative and distinct way. If you are an action​ or science fiction reader like me, you should go ahead and stick this book on your reading list. This book contains difficult vocabulary and a plot that’s sometimes hard to follow, so I would suggest waiting at least until you are in sixth grade. I rate this book 5/5 stars.

About the Author

Caroline Pinkse lives in State College, PA and is currently in sixth grade at Delta Middle. She loves birds and hopes to become an ornithologist when she grows up. She has a dog named Poppy that she describes as one of the closest members of her family. She loves writing and reading action stories. She rides horses, plays piano and cello, and loves traveling.


Book Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I chose the book The Giver by Lois Lowry for many reasons. Being a middle school boy who spends most of my time playing sports and watching TV, reading is usually not on he top of my to-do list, but once I started reading The Giver I couldn’t set it down.

The Giver is a book about a boy named Jonas who lives in a community that is perfect. There is no pain, no war, no fear. There are no emotions. Everything is chosen for you, spouses, jobs, and even your children are given to you. But when Jonas gets a special role in the community, he figures out the real secrets of the past.

I liked The Giver for multiple reasons. First, I liked the idea of having a perfect world with no emotions and no feelings of your own. Throughout the book the reader gets this feeling that there is something weird is going on, but you can’t tell what it is. The reader knows that Jonas doesn’t know everything that there is to know.
Another reason is that I like Lois Lowry’s writing. I have read Gossamer and Gathering Blue (the next book the The Giver series) which have both been written by Lowry. Her writing is very descriptive, but yet easily understood. The way she describes what goes on in Jonas’s head. For example, she writes, “It was almost December and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen.” This shows how perfect everyone in the community is. Jonas has been taught to use certain words only when necessary.

I recommend this John Newbery Medal winning book to anyone who likes a book that has many twists and turns. Once someone picks up this book, they can’t set it down until every word has been read. This must read book is on the top of my favorite book list.

Tom Hill, a sixth grade student at Delta Middle School in State College, PA, spends most of his free time practicing sports.

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle

Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle

I picked this book up because e.E.Charlton-Trujillo posted on her instagram about it and I thought I would take her advice on what to read (she’s a discerning reader and knows all about great Young Adult literature, being a great YA writer herself). She wrote “There are about twenty books that I wish could be taught in every high school in America. This is one of them.” (The photo below is from her page.)screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-9-17-34-am

So, truthfully, it took me a long time to read Elena Vanishing from start to finish. I found myself reading 20 or 30 pages and having to put it down and walk away from it.  It was powerful and raw, but so hard to read about a young woman who cannot see her own beauty.

I have had students in the past who have struggled with an eating disorder, and although I remember telling them how smart and beautiful they were, I still never could really understand what they were grappling with and how they were feeling. This book has offered me a window to a struggle I’ve never really known. One quote to consider in this vein: “Where does thin become fat? Where does success become failure? Where does a great future become a horrible past full of heartache and regret?”

When I finished, I handed it off to a ninth grade teacher and talked to some of them about maybe using it with Speak or for their memoir units. In the end, it is a book that made me uncomfortable, and I think that’s important to feel. I am consciously seeking that in my reading these days rather than defaulting to what I know I will love and what will not necessarily, as the kids say, help me be woke (or get woke? still learning that one).

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

Book Review: Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle