Student Book Reviews Updated September 2012 title / Author / Rating

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DANNY AIN’T Joe Cottonwood****

This is a fun, easy and enjoyable read. This is an excellent book with a great plot and underlying themes. Though written by a Christian author, it is a book everyone can enjoy. It is a classic fast-paced and hard-to-put-down book that takes readers through the mind of a person who grew up knowing things as real and unreal rather than as good and evil. This is a great book for intellectuals and thrill-seekers alike.

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THE DA VINCI CODE Dan Brown *****

An exciting thriller that will keep the reader guessing until the end. A Harvard symbologist and French cryptologist work to solve the murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre, a case that leads to hidden clues in the works of DaVinci and a centuries-old secret religious society.

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DEADLY WANDERS Mark Brown *****

I think the book is great. It is very intense and exciting. The book is good for people who wants to read an adventure books. The book shows older civilization and the technology they had. The book is very enjoyable and can’t wait to read it again!

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DECEPTION POINT Dan Brown *****

A NASA satellite discovers a rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, but when a young scientist is dispatched to the site, she discovers evidence of scientific trickery that threatens to plunge the world into controversy. This book breaks away from the themes of religion in Brown’s other books, but is still exciting like THE DA VINCI CODE.

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THE DEW BREAKER Edwidge Danticat *****

This book tells the story of the violent, complex life of a prison guard in Haiti. Each chapter begins a new story and each story introduces a different set of unique, believable and sometimes strange characters. The book moves back and forth from Haiti to New York, from the 1960s to present day, and the seemingly unrelated stories gradually reveal more and more about the mysterious life of one man and his connections with other people. The powerful ending left me feeling surprised and sad.

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DIES THE FIRE S.M. Stirling ****

This is a very intense and tragic book about the results of the world’s technology failing and only middle ages technology surviving. This means big trouble for people all around the world. The book has many main characters and tells different stories of how people try to survive. I think the book is very good and very realistic. It really shows many, if not all, the problems of not having electricity, planes, buses, guns, no way to put out fires and the resulting famines. Though grim and sometimes morbid, the book is very exciting and realistic. An example: In the south slavery returns, there are empires formed through conquest, hunting of both animals and people and more. I would recommend this book because of the reasons above, even if it is a little slow and boring from time to time.


DIGITAL FORTRESS Dan Brown ****

This book is high up on my list of recommendations. Dan Brown hasn’t written one book that hasn’t interested me and this one is no exception. He captures the reader’s attention right from the beginning. It’s not one of those books that require extensive reading before it gets interesting. The only reason that I didn’t rate this book an “outstanding” was because Dan Brown has written even better than this. If you enjoy thrillers with an ending you couldn’t even guess, then you will love DIGITAL FORTRESS. Each event just leads to a new problem for the characters to figure out, which definitely keeps the reader focused on the book.

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DOG SOLDIERS Robert Stone ***

From Saigon to San Francisco, the book chronicles the underground mood of the 1970s in America in a darkly captivating portrayal of the greed and violence attending the Vietnam War. A small-time journalist and profiteer attempts one last big score by attempting to smuggle a shipment of heroin back to the United States, but something goes horribly wrong when the drug courier never arrives. This book was interesting, but a little hard to follow.

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DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA Miguel Cervantes ****

Don Quixote is an amazing book, though it is long and somewhat difficult to read, but it is humorous and very entertaining. There are all types of humor, from complex imbedded jokes to slapstick, and therefore it is good for all ages.

Note: This book is very long, and contains a large amount of philosophy and Spanish-based humor, so if you like philosophy and know some Spanish, you should read it. However, the full version is 1000 pages and will take at least a month to read, at a normal time expenditure.
***** I love this book. It was one of my favorites ever. It was difficult to read, but I would definitely recommend that you read it and finish it. It was just outstanding! As it is a classic that’s been renowned for over 500 years, I’ve been wanting to read it, and I’m so glad this reading log gave me the chance to read it.
**** Don Quixote is an interesting story about a retired, middle-aged man. He lived in Spain in the end of Medievalism . After reading many books on chivalric tales and Arthurian legends the main character goes crazy. The book describes Don Quixote’s many adventures in his unconscious search to fulfill his life with good deeds. I liked it!

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DRACULA Bram Stoker ****

This book has a huge amount of adventure and although it can be dark at times, it is a great classic to read. Many of the twists and turns will keep the reader anticipating what will happen next. This work of literature was one of the first books that I could literally not put down!

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EAST OF EDEN John Steinbeck ****

A brutal novel involving the rich farmlands of the Salinas Valley, and the intertwined destinies of two families, reminiscent of the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. The characters were either good, evil, or both, if that makes any sense.

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ELDEST Christopher Paolini *****

An excellent installment in the fast-paced Inheritance Trilogy. The story follows Eragon and Saphira as they further their training and defy the empire.

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EMMA Jane Austen ****/***

This book is about a young lady from the 1800s who is from a wealthy family. We get a glimpse into what life was like, along with how they spoke. Although the story can be a bit slow at times, it is very interesting and humorous.

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EMPIRE Orson Scott Card ****

This book may not have the award winning zing of ENDER’S GAME, but it does have some good political commentary that shows the flawS in our bipartisan system. The main theme is that neither extreme, liberal or conservative is good and that getting over such things leads us closer to another American civil war.


ENDER’S GAME Orson Scott Card****

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ENDER’S SHADOW Orson Scott Card *****

This was the best book I have ever read. You might want to read ENDER’S GAME first because it explains a lot. But for someone who likes smart little kids and space battle, this book is perfect.

***** This was the best book I have ever read. You might want to read ENDER’S GAME first because it explains a lot. But for someone who likes smart little kids and space battle, this book is perfect.

______________________________________________________________________________________ THE ENGLISH PATIENT Michael Ondaatje **

This book was not BAD. However, it wasn’t good either. The author writes in a very confusing manner. There are a lot of side stories and background that torment the actual plot. It is really hard to follow. There is an affair in the book, so the characters get annoying and you just want to hit them. It’s really short though, so that’s nice. My recommendation would be to read another book or watch a movie. _________________________________________________________________________________


ENIGMA Robert Harriss ***

The book was pretty fun to read, but very complicated. The ideas for a reading log are there but they take a lot of time to find. You must pay attention to the beginning otherwise the book will not make any sense at all. It had very interesting characters and a great plot line. If you like history you will like the book, as it has a great blend of fiction and non-fiction.

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EVERY SECOND COUNTS Lance Armstrong ****

This is an intriguing story of Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France, having children and helping other cancer patients survive through the struggle. This book is well-written and gives a good view of the hard work that Lance Armstrong has gone through to achieve his success.



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EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED Jonathan Safran Foer ****1/2

This book is interesting because it is both historical and fictional and makes you think when you are reading it.

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FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION Gene Kranz*****

The book is about Gene Kranz’s experience as a NASA flight director. He goes through many of the breakthroughs in space technology and is involved in many historically significant events. The book does have a lot of technical and minor detail, so it is only good for those who are really interested. It takes time to read and understand the novel, but it is very worthwhile.

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THE FALCON Jackie French Koller ****

While running from the truth to escape painful memories about losing his eye, 17-year-old Luke gets himself into a series of dangerous situations. Although the book is sad and scary, you will want to keep reading to see what happens to Luke. This book is good because it makes one think about how life would be different with one eye.

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FAST FOOD NATION Eric Schlosser****

I read this book for history but it turned out to be a very good book. It turns information about the fast food industry into a story. The book shows some disturbing some parts of fast food practices. This book definitely makes you think about what you eat.


**** This book helps the reader realize how the world will change if fast food takes over the world. It also talks about grueling stories of the meat-packing industry. It changed my mind about how fast food will die down when Mc Donald’s has 30,000 restaurants and 2,000 new restaurants each year. The amount of research was definitely shown by Schlosser by the interesting facts provided in this book.

FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING J R R Tolkien ****

This book is perfect for people who love fantasy. The plot is superb and exciting, and mysteries solve themselves as you go through the novel. One issue with the book is the slow start. It seems boring at the beginning, but all the good parts happen at the end, so stick with it!

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THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN Mitch Albom *****

If you’re looking for a great book to read on a rainy day, or a novel to leave you in awe after reading it, I would definitely recommend this novel. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy this great novel. Although the title of the book does imply Christianity and the belief that there is life after death, this book goes beyond “heaven.” I believe it ultimately gives the reader great lessons to learn in life. This novel pulls the reader into the after-life of an old man named Eddie who unexpectedly comes across five different people who are unconventionally tied to his life. Each of the people he encounters teaches him about why they were a part of Eddie’s life and leave him with astounding lessons—lessons dealing with love, forgiveness, and people’s purposes in life. I would especially recommend this book to people who do believe in life after death. This book I personally think portrays a journey to “heaven” in a beautiful way. Overall, I gave this novel five stars due to the personal connections the author seems to have with every reader and the beauty of the story of life which the author tells. I enjoyed this book so much; I have decided to read other books by this author.

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FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON Daniel Keyes ****

Mentally retarded Charlie Gordon participates in an experiment which makes him a genius, but only temporarily. This book is sad at the end, but a good book. Very informative and sympathetic to the feelings of mentally retarded adults.


***** This book allows the reader to experience the pain, humiliation and helplessness that a mentally ill person would feel. The message of the book impacted my life greatly and resonates with the reader for a long time after reading it. This book makes you think about life and if everything that you worked for were to be snatched away and you had to deal with the knowledge that you had no power over it. Very powerful and compelling!

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FOR ONE MORE DAY Mitch Albom *****

A very sad tale that is touching.

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THE FOUNTAINHEAD Ayn Rand ****

This book is one of the best-written, idealistic books I have ever read. The story seems strange, but it all becomes clear near the end. While it is about an architect’s struggle, it challenges the common view of things. It questions many of the things that people of the time took for granted. It asks the big question: What is more important – the individual or the collective?

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FULL TILT Neal Shusterman *****

This is a great book to read if you like adventure stories. It has a lot of suspense that makes you want to keep reading. It’s also very mysterious and sometimes leaves you feeling like a detective on a crime scene. Overall, this book is a great read.

****This is an extremely well-written and exciting book. It incorporates all of the emotions and aspects of life, such as drama, romance, mystery, and other things. It is also very thrilling and full of suspense. At some points, I actually found myself getting chills from the descriptions of some of the more malicious characters. Overall, I could not put this book down, for fear of another twist putting the characters at risk.

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GEEK LOVE Katherine Dunne*****

This book was excellent! It’s relatively graphic, so be prepared to stomach some weird behavior. It’s great when it comes to family values, but it is not a traditional family. It also looks at love, and the main characters point of view allows you to look at her affection for her brother a lot better. The book goes down as one of the best books I’ve ever read. I hated it at the first chapter, but there was something so compelling about it that I couldn’t put it down. It’s also very easy to analyze for class writing.


THE GIFT OF ASHER LEV Chaim Potok *****

This extraordinary book is about a man named Asher Lev making sacrifices for his childhood community. He experiences many different obstacles while also creating art to the best of his ability. I loved this book because it is difficult to understand until the end, which made me want to keep reading.

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THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO Steig Larsson ****

The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, by Steig Larsson, was a good book, but not amazing. It takes a while to get into the action. Tit is extremely graphic. I would not recommend it to most of my friends, but if you are into graphic writing you will enjoy it.

***** I though it was an excellent book. Set in Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon TAtoo, is very fast paced and interesting. It is a mystery novel, but it has a happy ending. I really liked the characters too, because they are not what you would expect in a protagonist. Lisbeth is the opposite of the normal upbeat, witty, emotional female lead. Instead, she is dark and emotionless, and she has an interesting dark story. Also, it’s fun to read because all the names are Swedish and really fun to say. It’s gruesome though and very graphic. I think it should go in the library.

**** The plot is really captivating and Larsson really knows how to keep the reader’s attention. It can get a little graphic in some scenes, but you get over it. Its pretty easy to write an essay on and its easy to understand. The ending gets really exciting. It was hard to put down!

______________________________________________________________________________________ THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE Steig Larsson ****

The sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, was great. It had a fast paced plot and changed many different view points. The main character, Lisbeth, is so bada**, she rises against injustice. The author points out many different points in the social structure.

______________________________________________________________________________________ THE GIVER Lois Lowry

****Keeps reader’s interest.
****’The Giver’ is a Science/Fantacyfiction novel written by an award winning author, Lois Lowry. The story is about a 12 year-old boy named Jonas who must choose between the world he has always known filled with sameness or one that is filled with emotions, including the joys and pains of life. As his lessons continue, Jonas realizes that his “perfect” world is not so perfect. This book is a nice book because of its excellent writing images.

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GO ASK ALICE Anonymous ****

A 15-year-old drug user chronicles in her diary her daily struggle to escape the pull of the drug world. This book is both sad and interesting. The problems she experienced were horrible.


*****Very good read! Shows you the reality of drugs.

****This book is about a high school girl who tries drugs and the slippery downhill slope that she faces. This book is an eye opener and very intriguing. It brings to the attention of the reader the effects of drug use in a non-nagging way. Each diary entry is filled with so much emotion, it’s hard to set the book down. I recommend this book for all high school students, male or female.

Four and a half stars.

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THE GODFATHER Mario Puzo ****

A Sicilian-American patriarch, Don Vito Corleone, already a top-mafia boss, gets whatever he wants in this brutal story about the Italian mafia in America.

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THE GOD OF THE HIVE Laurie King *****

I absolutely loved this book! King’s writing is fantastic, as it completely envelopes the reader into the story. The book itself was very suspenseful and is an easy read. However, I recommend reading the book before it, for this book immediately picks up on the last book’s plot. This book greatly interested me, as it was narrated by Sherlock Holme’s wife, giving it an interesting perspective. I’d mostly recommend it to mystery lovers.

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THE GOLDEN COMPASS Philip Pullman *****

A really good fantasy/adventure tale about a girl who sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subjects of experimentation in the Far North.

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GOOD MOON RISING Nancy Garden *****

Jane has always gotten the lead part of the school play until the new girl, Kerry, gets the lead. Jane becomes the stage manager and has strange feelings about Kerry. This is a story about overcoming prejudice.

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GOSSIP GIRL Cecil Von Zeiger *****

In a world inhabited by the city’s “most fabulous crowd”, jealousy and betrayal are sure to be found. I don’t think guys will like it but girls will love it!

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THE GRAVEYARD BOOK Neil Gaiman ****

I really enjoyed reading this book. The story was whimsical but not so unrealistic that it was just ridiculous. It is a fairly short read, about 300 pages (with big font). Gaiman does a wonderful job keeping the plot exciting and suspenseful from the very first page to the very last page. Because the story is not written for a certain gender, both girls and boys can enjoy the book. Overall, I think that the book is a break from all the school required reading books that tend to move slowly because of their heavy symbolism and theme.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS Charles Dickens ***

Pip, the protagonist, helps a convict escape. Then he receives a large fortune and is sent to London to become a gentleman. This is a book with suspense and a happy ending.

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THE GUARDIAN Nicholas Sparks****

This book is very interesting and captivating. I never wanted to put it down. It has comedy, romance and death. You will never be bored with this book. The characters seem almost real. The feeling and depth he put into this book should be appreciated.

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THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows*****

A historical fiction written like a series of letters, it tells the story of the inhabitants of Guernsey Island- an island in the English Channel-that was occupied by the Germans in World War II. It’s an amazing book that is fascinating, hilarious and heartwarming. It’s amazing!

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