Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Th Kite Runner: Book Review by Allison T.
Release Date: April 27th 2004
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Age Group: Fiction
Pages: 372
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: School Library
Series: Standalone
GoodReads Summary:

"The Kite Runner" tells a heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, and Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Amir is Sunni; Hassan is Shi'a. One is born to a privileged class; the other to a loathed minority. One to a father of enormous presence; the other to a crippled man. One is a voracious reader; the other illiterate.

The poor Hassan is born with a hare lip, but Amir's gaps are better hidden, deep inside.

Yet Amir and Hassan live and play together, not simply as friends, but as brothers without mothers. Their intimate story traces across the expansive canvas of history, 40 years in Afghanistan's tragic evolution, like a kite under a gathering storm. The reader is blown from the last days of Kabul's monarchy -- salad days in which the boys lives' are occupied with school, welcome snows, American cowboy movies and neighborhood bullies -- into the atrocities of the Taliban, which turned the boys' green playing fields red with blood.

Review: This book was outstanding. I loved every second of it. At first, I thought that it was a memoir because it was written so well.

I liked learning about Afghanistan and customs in this novel. I was given a new perspective of the world. Also, the secondary characters were well developed and I formed a connection with all of them. Even though I liked everyone in this book, I would have to say that Hassan was my favorite. He was very loyal to Amir and was full of integrity.

Hosseini's writing was very descriptive and I could imagine the characters very clearly. He did a good job with the flow. In addition, he kept me curious until the last page of The Kite Runner.

I think that the theme of this novel was the class structure of Afghan society. Hassan was treated poorly just because he was Hazara. People should have been more equal and fair between the class. This theme applies, mutatis mutandis, to our society today. Just because someone might be poorer than me, I should not judge them because of that.

The one thing that I did not like about this novel was that it was a bit slow. Usually, I finish books of this length in two days, but it took me a week to finish this one. But with all the good things in The Kite Runner, this issue was a minor one.

In conclusion, I would recommend this novel to people over the age of 12. There are a few mature scenes scattered throughout the book, but if you are mature enough, they are not as bad. I am looking forward to reading more of Hosseini's work.


Friday, March 11, 2011

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

She's So Dead to Us: Book Review by Allison T.

Release Date: May 25th, 2010

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing

Age Group: Young Adult

Pages: 278

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Source: County Library

Series: First in a trilogy

GoodReads Summary:
Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends -- friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's new low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.

But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money?


I was sucked into this book the moment I picked it up. This is one of the exceptions where you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I thought it was going to be some girly, frilly read, but She's So Dead to Us completely blew me away.

This book is told in two points of view: Jake and Ally. I really liked both of their characters because they acted like teenagers should. Ally was cool, confident, and didn't let things hurt her. Jake, even though he was arrogant, sounded really cute and he gets nicer by the end of the novel. Their romance was believable, and wasn't just about physical attraction.

The teens acted like teens: some girls were mean, some boys were nerds, and other people are popular. There wasn't too much partying or drinking, which pleased me. Also, I loved Annie. She was very unique and it was funny that she took notes on the Cresties. I thought that the "rivalry" between the Norms and the Cresties was a bit much. If the Cresties hated the Norms that much, why didn't they switch to a private school? Who knows?

There were two things that I didn't like in She's So Dead to Us. First, Jake did not have a backbone. He did what his friends told him too and was not very smart. I don't understand why Ally was so attracted to him. Second, the ending took me by surprised. I would have thought that the story could have been wrapped up in one book, but, no, there is going to be a trilogy.

Even though there are two more books coming, I plan to read them because the first one was just so darn good. I give this book 4 stars!

Runaway by Meg Cabot

Runaway: Book Review by Allison T.

Release Date: April 20th, 2010

Publisher: Scholastic

Age Group:Young Adult

Pages: 310

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Source: County Library

Series: Third in Airhead Trilogy

GoodReads Summary:

Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.

With everyone she loves furious with her for something she can't explain, and nothing but the live Stark Angel fashion show on New Year's Eve to look forward to, Em's reached the end of her rope.... what's the point of even going on?

But when she discovers the truth about Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.

Will Christopher be able to put aside her personal feelings and help her expose her employer to the world? Is it even fair to get Christopher involved- since if he agrees, there's every chance that Stark Enterprises will try to have them both killed- this time, permanently?

Maybe it would be better for Em to just keep on running....


This is third, and final book in Meg Cabot's Airhead series. I was very pleased with how it ended because the final few chapters caught me completely off guard. The secret was evil, but so simple that I don't know how I could have missed it. Meg Cabot is wonderful at creating a believable teenage voice, which is challenging to do.

Runaway got rid of all the loose ends. I knew what happened to all of the characters and wasn't left wondering, What if? It really annoys me when books do that, so I was glad that the Nikki Howard series didn't.

The one thing that I didn't like about this book was Nikki, or Em. She seemed a lot more bossy and commanding. Em also had the mindset of a girl that could do anything she wanted to and not get in trouble for it. Before, she was shy and didn't have self-confidence, but now she has too much of it. Even though this happened, there were some parts in the book that lived up to Em's original character.

Still, Lulu and 'the secret' made this book worth my while. It kept me interested, even though I was annoyed with Nikki's behaviour.

If you have read the first two books in this trilogy, then I would definitely recommend Runaway for you. If you haven't, read Airhead and Being Nikki first because you might get a bit confused if you start with Runaway. I give this book 4 stars!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The Unidentified: Book Review by Allison T.

Release Date: October 5th, 2010

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Age Group: Young Adult

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Rating: 3/5 stars

Source: County Library

Series: Stand-alone (I think)

Back of the Book Summary:

Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game- a mall converted into a "school" run by corporate sponsors. As the students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.

Kid has a vague sense of unease but doesn't question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counterculture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified's pranks and even Kid's own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger- something that could change the game forever.

I have had this book on my to-be-read pile ever since my school librarian talked about it during school. She gave it a very high rating, so right off the bat, I had very high expectations for The Unidentified. Because of this, I was let down when I finished this novel.

The one thing that i liked about this book was Kid. She was very true to herself and did not act fake just to be popular. She is not obsessed over getting Branded and doesn't own the latest fashions. The only thing that she loves is her music, which she makes with her two best friends, Mikey and Ari.
I thought that this story could have been more edgy, or it could have explored the negative effects of consumerism. I was very interested after I heard the summary, but I kind of knew that I would be disappointed, especially after I saw the reviews on GoodReads and Amazon.

In addition, there is not very much action in the book. Kid finds out who the Unidentified are very easily and does not do anything clever with her knowledge. Also, the rest of the book is not very interesting.

Next, even though the Unidentfied were supposed to be a really big part of the novel, they only did a couple things over the course of the story. The thing (no spoilers here) they did at the end was pretty blah as well.

Also, I expected the ending to involve more fights with the government or maybe have Kid realize something important about the society that she lives in. When I reflected on what happened over the course of the book, I realized that it was basically nothing.

In conclusion, even though I thought that this book was just OK, other people will like it, and others will hate it. I suggest you to try it out, but check it out at your library first to make sure that you like it.

-Allison T.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels: Book Review by Allison T.
Release Date: December 26, 2006
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 548 (Paperback)
Rating: 5/5
Source: Borders Book Store
Series: Book 2 in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy
Back of the Book Summary:
It's the end of the year, and Gemma's looking forward to living it up in London. Balls, fancy gowns and dancing with the handsome Simon Middleton beckon. Best of all, it's time away from Spence Academy - and from the realms. But the lure of the enchanted world is strong, and the magic flows freely. Gemma's visions intensify - visions of three girls all dressed in white, suffering horror and menace. Clearly all is not well in the Realms - or out of them. -From the back of the book.
OH MY GOSH!!!! This book was so amazing. I loved every minute of it: the characters, setting, and pretty much everything else. Rebel Angels is the second book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy. The first book was A Great and Terrible Beauty. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that Gemma always traveled to the insane asylum, and the creepy people scared me because I read this book before I went to bed.
First off, the romance was spot-on. I loved Gemma with Simon, even though most people would probably disagree with me. They were a cute couple and had lots of witty lines with each other. Kartik was great too. I know, I sound like a crazy fan-girl, but this trilogy is so wonderful!
I could not stop reading because Libba Bray's writing was so smooth and descriptive. I never got bored, unlike when I was reading another historical fiction novel, The Luxe. The font was probably a contributor to my love of Rebel Angels. When I don't like a book's font, I tend not to like the book. Ha ha.
This review is being written at school, so I'll just finish up by saying: READ THIS BOOK!!! YOU'LL THANK ME FOR IT! Everything about it was 5 stars.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hush by Eishes Chayil

Hush: Book Review by Allison T.

Release Date: September 14th, 2010

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 stars
Source: County Library
Series: Stand-alone
Buy the Book:
Goodreads Summary:

Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands

of years before down to the last detail and abuse has never been a part of it.
But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has
suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try
to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain
silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe.
A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and
horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past,
and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.


This book was so interesting and it was almost like a breath of fresh air compared to all of the other books that I have been reading lately. I think the thing that drew me into the story most was how the book was separated into the past and the present. I would get to read about Gittel as a child, teenager, and adult. This helped to explain the story a bit better and made it have more depth. If Hush had only depicted Gittel as an adult, then I would never have known how she felt when she saw Devory, her best friend, hanging in the bathroom, dead.

Eishes Chayil (a pseudonym for "woman of strong valor") is a wonderful writer. She showed me a world completely different from mine. In the Chassidic community, everything is a lot more strict. This meant that even though Devory killed herself because she got raped, no one wanted to alert the news or draw any attention to the story. Hush opened my eyes to a different lifestyle of arranged marriages and not getting to watch any television.

Kathy, Gittel's friend, was very funny and insightful. Even though she was different, Gittel still loved her for who she was. Kathy let Gitel watch t.v. even though she wasn't allowed to and came to her wedding later on

Gittel was a great character that had many dimensions because of her refusal to let Devory's tragic story go untold. At times, she was hilarious, and at other times, she was wise. I think that she was very realistic.

The last thing that I thought was well done was the Jewish terms. Since I'm not Jewish (Christian), I felt that the glossary at the back of the book was very helpful. Also, if I was too lazy to flip all the way to the back, most terms were explained right on the page.

I gave this book only 4 stars because the writing was a bit confusing at times. It was hard to tell what just happened in some parts. Finally, the ending was a bit too perfect. I would have liked to know what happened to Gittel afterwards.

I advise everyone to read this book, even adults. Hush brings a challenging reality to the forefront. Even though something horrible is going on, families or communities will still hide the truth. But, no one can forget things as tragic as rape or suicide. It is a bit more challenging but very good for anyone who is interested in tough issues such as sexual abuse. I give Hush 4 stars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In My Mailbox

I got lots of great books this week: some that I won, and others that I bought from the AWESOME Borders sale. Even though I had to drive out to go to the closing stores (my local store is still open), it was worth it to save money.

1) Deception, by Lee Nichols
2) Plain Kate, by Erin Bow
3) The Demon Trapper's Daughter, by Jana Oliver
4) The Education of Hailey Frederick, by Eileen Cook
5) Dear Pen Pal, by Heather Vogel
6) Ice, by Sarah Beth Durst
7) Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, by Suzanne Fisher Staples
8) Delirium, by Lauren Oliver (Won)