A Boy at War by Henry Mazer

a boy at warA Boy at War is a novel about a high school senior named Adam. Before World War II, his father is in the navy and Adam has grown up around the military since he was a young kid. He thinks of himself as a future solider of the US Navy.  When his father is stationed at Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona, he has to go to a high school off  base for the first time. This was not his first time going to a new school and seeing new faces, but on the base everyone’s father was military, here in a regular school everything is much different. At school, Adam meets Davi Mori, a native Hawaiian.   At first it seems that the two boys do not get along very well, but then they play a game of football on the same team. When Adam notices he is going to be late getting home, he quickly starts peddling his bike for home.  But on the way, he hits a pothole and damages his bike.   He has no choice but to go to Davi’s house in Chinatown to get help.  Adam is surprised that his new friend’s parents are both Japanese. After Davi’s father fixes Adam’s bike, he feels bad that his racism got in the way of seeing who these people really are. When Adam gets back home and tells his family about what happened, his father tells him to stay away from the Moris’ because they are from Japan.

But Adam goes against his father’s word and even goes fishing with Davi. Then they see the oil derricks at the military base of Pearl Harbor. The boys sneak over the gate with their fishing rods to get a closer look at the battleships. Adam tells Davi about the ships. Then they see a small boat that came off one of the battleships, so they get in and sail it to closer to the battleships where they begin fishing again. Just moments later, they see a plane flying very low.  At first they believed it was a training exercise, but then they see a red circle on the plane and without warning the USS Arizona is hit with a torpedo. Adam blames Davi for the attack, because he knows his father is on the sinking ship. Find out what happens to the two friends in one of the greatest stories about World War II.

Reviewed by D. Runnels

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

helter skelterSaturday, August 9, 1969 was a quiet night in Los Angeles, but one that would be remembered forever. The book opens with a vague description of the true events that went down that night. Neighbors heard screaming and gunshots near 100050 Cielo Drive in the early morning. As the maid got in the next morning, she noticed the house was in disarray. Blood was splattered all over the walls, and five corpses were scattered throughout the house. Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Jay Sebring were all murdered by unknown assailants, their bodies to be found by LAPD after the maid called the police. On August 10, 1969, Frank Struthers becomes concerned when neither his mom nor his dad opens the door to their house. Frank gets his sister and brother to open the door, and he discovers his mom and dad dead in the bedroom and living room respectively. Two separate and equally gruesome murders left the LAPD and the whole world wondering who could have done it. Months passed before leads pointed and directed to a case against Charles Manson, and his gang of “Family” members. This group consisting of runaways, hippies, rejects, and convicts committed some of the most gruesome and shocking murders in all of history. Written by the lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter tells the true story of the murders, the investigation, and the trial of Manson and his Family.

I have been interested in this topic for a while. Before I read this book, I didn’t understand the pure creepiness that Charles Manson embodied. It’s hard to believe that this really happened.  Some of the victims were stabbed over 40 times, shot and beat to death.  It is most certainly a creepy, scary read, and I would not recommend it to anyone who already has troubles sleeping. Not only is this book a page turner, but it keeps you up at night wondering how anybody could do something so terrible to another human being. Overall, the book is extremely well-written and tells the complete story-sometimes a little more detail than I would like to know. I would urge anybody who is curious about the story or even just murderers in general, to pick this book up; and once I get my sleeping patterns back to normal, I will be glad that I did. Due to its graphic nature, I recommend it only for mature readers.

Reviewed by D. Anderson

The Devil’s Teardrop by Jeffrey Deaver

devil's teardrop
The book the Devil’s Teardrop began in Washington, D.C. on the morning of New Year’s Eve. A killer referred to as “the Digger” guns down ten innocent people at the metro station. A man, Gilbert Havel, sends a letter to Mayor Gerald Kennedy demanding twenty million dollars cash to be dropped off at a park near interstate 66 in bags. The letter goes on to explain that if his demands are not met the Digger will continue to strike at secret locations- at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and at midnight. Kennedy decides to deliver the money to the extortionist to ensure that more people will not be killed and allow more time in which to find the shooter. With time ticking and whole city in danger Kennedy will try to save the day. Will he succeed?

Personally I don’t like reading science fiction books but this book was different. The author did a really good job of keeping the reader guessing, and making the reader enjoy the book. This is why I think this book was good and everybody should give it a chance.

Reviewed by Y. Mehari

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The kill orderThe Kill Order is a young adult novel by James Dashner, which focuses around a group of individuals struggling to survive in the year after the Earth is ravaged by sun flares, while attempting to avert becoming victims of a deadly virus that is ravaging the eastern United States. When the novel begins, the teenaged Mark, his girlfriend Trina, their friends Toad, Misty, and Darnell, together with army veterans Alec and Lana have formed something of a makeshift family. They are encamped in the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina, living in a village of huts and crude shelters. For the first time in a year, things seem settled. But then one day, Mark and Trina are shocked to discover that a Berg, an airship, has come to the village.  Men in hazardous material suits begin shooting the villagers with darts. When Mark and Alec awaken they find they have gained entry to the… I guess you will have to read the book to find out.

This book was a good book to read if you like reading about science fiction and action/adventure with time ticking and the world is on the line. I did enjoy reading this book because I couldn’t guess what was about to happen next.  In this prequel to the Maze Runner series, the author did a really good job of keeping the reader guessing with lots of surprises and plenty of suspense.  A good choice for fans of the Hunger Games.

Reviewed by Y. Mehari

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

the outsidersIn a story about allies and enemies, family, and dealing with adversity, “The Outsiders” is a unique look on gang conflict in the 1950’s. Ponyboy is a teenage boy living with his brothers and close friends who were all “greasers.” They wore a lot of hair grease and leather jackets. The “socs” are a rival gang that is at constant “war” with the greasers.  Ponyboy gets into a lot of drama with his older brothers over the conflict and personal issues. They fight and disagree. But the reader and Ponyboy know that they will always have each other’s backs and remain a family.

Throughout the adversity the gang faces and character development from all of the main characters, the reader’s finds themselves growing attached to each character. The author really pulls you into the story. It’s almost as if you’re wishing you were a greaser yourself helping out the gang, and hanging out with the guys. Over all this is a great read and a great story!

Reviewed by J. Gift

The Odyssey by Homer

the odysseyThe Odyssey by Homer is about a king named Odysseus who is taken away from his homeland, Ithaca, and forced to fight in the Trojan War. The Trojan War was caused by a prince named Paris who took Helen, the queen of Troy. Odysseus fought the war for ten years and after the war was over his adventure of going back home began. However, nobody back home knew that he was still alive. His wife Penelope and son Telemachus assumed that he had died in the war. Odysseus had to overcome various obstacles to get back to his homeland. During his adventure, Odysseus had to cross seas and fight through many tough obstacles to reach his goal- getting home.

The Odyssey is a great book and it has plenty of action and adventure. It will keep you entertained the entire time. I enjoyed reading this book because of all the action this book contains. This book is perfect for people who like Greek mythology and are looking for an action and adventure book. This book is also great to read to pre-teens and young teens because the storyline is great and it will keep them intrigued with all the action and suspense. I personally enjoyed this book because of the imagery; I could sometimes throughout the book imagine myself in the actual war and adventures. I could imagine seeing the fighting and hear all the sword fights. It’s like all my five senses were picking something up. I would highly recommend this book because it has a great plot and it has plenty of action and adventure and you will not be able to put it down.

Reviewed by A. Madera

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huckleberry FinnAlmost every kid at one point in his or her life gets caught up in daydreaming of adventure. The hope to go on an adventure to not only come across new people, places, and things, but to discover who they are as well is universal. This is exactly what happens to the young teen in the timeless novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Young Huckleberry, nicknamed “Huck,” is bored of being trapped in between being an uncouth boy and a suitable young man. He decides that he has had enough of having to deal with the proper way of life – instead, he chooses to find that sense of adventure for himself. His adventure is a fun experience for both himself and his readers.

Told in the old-fashioned and humorous voice of the young Huck Finn, the book’s readers are able to follow his adventure as he travels south along the Mississippi River. As he goes, Huck comes across many lively and interesting characters and locations; from river merchants to runaway slaves. To review, the novel is made up of simple prose that can be appreciated by all audiences. Nonetheless, it is important to make a note about this novel; due to the book being written in the late 1800s by Mark Twain, it contains racial slurs and some racist attitudes. Therefore, the book has been actively censored in libraries and bookstores around the world.

Reviewed by J. Witter

The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel: The Warlock by Michael Scott

WarlockIn this riveting sequel, life as we know it may be at a risk. Machiavelli and Billy the Kid will follow the plans the Elders have laid before them: they will loose the monsters of Alcatraz on the city of San Francisco, thereby triggering the end of the humani race. A teenage boy Josh Newman has chosen a side, and will not stand with his sister; He will fight the Elders alongside Dr. Dee and the mysterious Virginia Dare.  A familiar group of warriors are sent to Danu Talis, known in humani myth as the lost city of Atlantis, to destroy it so that the modern world can exist. However, things take a turn for the worse when they are captured by vinimas, (flying ships of Danu Talis) and are trapped in a volcano with no escape. It is all up to Sophie Newman and the warriors to defend and save the humani race.

This book is spellbinding and unforgettable. Readers will grasp the edge of their seat while they read as they go on an amazing journey. Each page is filled with remarkable characters and storylines. Three plots are merged into one, making a fantastic tale.  For those whom enjoy captivating fantasies, this book is highly recommended.

Reviewed by C. Gorm

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

Fox ForeverTo repay the Network for the help he received in escaping Dr. Gatsbro, Locke promised to return the Favor at a future date.  Now the Network has contacted Locke and requested that he return to Boston to complete an assigned task.  All he has to do is insinuate himself into the inner circle of a privileged teen who happens to be the daughter of a powerful government leader.  Once inside, Locke hopes to find information leading to the recovery of the captured resistance leader Karden.  The difficult and ultimately dangerous task is made more complicated by the unexpected, conflicted feelings he develops for Raine. 

The final installment of the Fox Inheritance series is thought-provoking and emotionally charged.  Pearson has crafted an exceptional story that delves into ethical issues, while seeking to define humanity.  The tension and pacing keep the story moving as Locke’s introspective soul-searching is interspersed with the action.  This satisfying series conclusion solidifies connections between characters and acknowledges the power of those connections in the lives of individuals.  This series stands out in the field of dystopian literature.

Light by Michael Grant

Light Michael GrantThe barrier is no longer opaque.  Parents, military, government officials, the whole world can see into the FAYZ.  They are shocked by the destruction, the deaths, and the suffering the children have had to endure.  Yet there is nothing they can do – the barrier is still impenetrable.  For Sam, Astrid, Edilio, Quinn and the rest still trapped within the FAYZ, life is business as usual: enjoy a quiet evening with close friends, gather enough food to stave of starvation, find Gaia and destroy her before she murders everyone.

In this highly anticipated conclusion to the Gone series, the tension, drama, and violence are ramped up.  Grant does not hold back as he weaves this tale of good vs. evil.  Light is an examination of the morality of one’s actions during extreme situations and the possibility of redemption for past deeds.  While the intensity and shock value is high, Light is an exceptional story with comprehensive characters and a conclusion that provides a glimmer of hope.  This YA novel is not for sensitive readers, as the violence is graphic.  But this non-stop action, edge of your seat title will be as popular as the other five books in the series.