Friday, January 27, 2017


Title: Heat
Author: Mike Lupica
Pages: 220
Genre: fiction
Awards: He has won many author awards; none for this book as of yet
Rating: 5/5 stars
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This book is a modern day, sporty, action-packed, adventurous fiction that is filled with the suspense of a talented tween fighting  to become a star against all odds. Most of the book takes place in The Bronx, New York during the early 2000’s. Throughout the book, the main character, Michael Arroyo, is teased because of his race and his homeland. MIchael is a 12 year old boy, born and raised in Cuba for the first seven years of his life, but who now lives in New York. He is a baseball phenom and is known throughout The Bronx as the kid with the dream of making it to the Little League World Series. Michael is confronted with numerous challenges, including abandonment, death, and opposition, that try to get in the way of his dream becoming a reality. Throughout the story, Michael develops a strong relationship with a girl named Ellie, who he is later surprised to learn has a close connection to the sport he loves the most.

Just months after Michael moves to New York, his father, Papi, dies of a sudden heart attack. Michael is left to be cared for by his 17 year-old brother Carlos, who is not yet old enough to officially serve as his legal guardian. Papi’s death has a major impact on Michael and his future in baseball.  Michael and Carlos must fend for themselves and keep the death of their father a secret, in order to avoid being sent to foster care or back to Cuba.  Michael’s pitching is outstanding and teams begin to question his age, assuming that is the only explanation for his exceptional baseball skills.  With no parents to vouch for him and unable to produce a birth certificate, Michael’s hopes of playing in the Little League World Series become grim.  He is faced with the threat of being removed from the league.  The climax of the book is when Ellie’s father is revealed and Michael learns that her father holds the key to his baseball future.  This discovery is a turning point in the story.  Soon after, Michael finds himself facing his biggest test yet, in an epic showdown against his team’s rival, the Giants, which comes down to the last pitch in a playoff game. The theme of the book “Heat” is to never give up, even when times are rough and the challenges seem overwhelming. Michael has to overcome the adversity of losing both a mother and a father. Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, Michael’s age is challenged and he is not able to do the one thing that he loves the most, play baseball. However, he never stops believing in his dream.

I like how the author told the story of a boy who made something out of nothing. Michael is one of the strongest and most courageous characters that I’ve ever met. This book taught me to never give up and that anything is possible when you work hard and dream big.  Additionally, I could relate to Michael on many levels. Both he and I had dreams of going to the Little League World Series, and we were both scouted by many teams. I think any middle schooler between the ages of eleven and fourteen would be able to relate to and enjoy this book.  I also think that adults can learn a lot from Michael about overcoming challenges and persevering.  This book teaches a great life lesson, and therefore, would be a great choice for anyone that has or will face a major obstacle in their life. I would give this book a 5 star review because I was able to relate so much with Michael and I enjoy reading about sports.

Contributed by: Mason Player

Friday, January 20, 2017


Title: "Peak"
Author: Roland Smith
Pages: 246 paperback
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Action
Awards: None at this time
Rating: 4/5 stars

Image result for peak by roland smith
"Peak" Review

This book deals with a lot of suspenseful moments and actual facts. Peak isn't based on a true story. This book mainly takes place on the border of Nepal and Tibet where Mount Everest is located. The protagonist of the story is Peak Marcello, a 14 year old boy that lives in New York with his mom and his stepfather. Peak gets into legal trouble and has to go live with his biological father for a while. When he gets to his father, he gets surprised by the fact that they’re gonna climb Mount Everest that’s where his main conflict comes into play he gets the opportunity to be the youngest person to climb the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. Another important character is Peak’s biological dad, Josh. They really get to bond and learn about one and another with the expedition. The main theme in the book is persistency. Peak show persistency all throughout the book from beginning to the end of the book he understands that you have to set goals and try your hardest to accomplish those goals. I really enjoyed this book and would probably put it near the top of my list. I like how the book flowed and everything tied in together. I also liked all the detail Roland put into the book he clearly gave you a picture of what was going on. What I disliked was how peak and his dad really didn't do much together. He was a big part of the book but I feel like he could be incorporated more. People that would like this book are people who like action or adventure based books from a first person point of view. Peak is suitable for both genders. I would give this book a 4 out 5 stars. I really enjoyed the story from beginning to the end packed with action and some suspense scattered all over.

Contributed by: Jose Renteral-Pluma

Friday, January 6, 2017


Image result for graceling

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Pages: 471 (hard cover)
Genre: Fiction, Dystopic
Rating: 1/5 stars

The book shows the main character, Katsa, going on a grandiose adventure, while throwing in some personal drama to spice things up. Graceling reminds me of Suzanne Collins’s, Hunger Games trilogy. Except for the fact that Graceling take place in a medieval era with no technology, they have the same plot. The setting of the book affects the plot, because they can’t spread information, like we can today.

Katsa is Graced with killing. Though she hasn’t killed in a long time, she is feared by many. She is faced with the task of taking down a ruthless king, with the help of The Council and its allies. On one of her missions for The Council, she meets a mysterious,  who turn out to be a prince of the kingdom Katsa was in the process of helping. Po (the mysterious man) over time falls in love with Katsa, but he’s not the only one who has their sights on “The girl who can kill a man with her bare hands.” Bitterblue is a part of the royal family and the great mystery that is facing the 7 kingdoms. Though she is just a child, she will experience more than most will ever in their life times.

The books starts out with Katsa on a mission, for the infamous council, to save the grandfather Liend. While mid-rescue, Katsa runs into Po ( the mysterious man). After a successful mission,  Katsa returns to her uncle Randa, who is oblivious of her work for the council, only to be confronted by none other than Po, a Liend Prince.

The raising action starts when, with Po’s help, Katsa break free for her tyrant uncle, in order to find out more grandfather's kidnapping. She end up uncovering a secret behind one of the most notorious king’s reign, a new found love interest, and plots for another kidnapping attempt.

The climax kept readers on the edge of their seats. First, Katsa has to save princess Bitterblue from being the next royal abduction. Then, they must escape over dangerous mountains, where they both almost lose their lives. After a few close run ins with death, Katsa (the killer of men) runs into one of the only people capable of killing her-- King Leck. She defeats him, like the heroic protagonist she is. Fighting mountain lions, saving princesses, and defeating kings; is there anything Katsa  can’t do.

The falling was just as eventful, but in many was less jaw-droppingly captivating. It was just a reintroduction to the character after all the life changing events in the climax. On that note, the resolution was just as anticlimactic, with the characters deciding that they were going to part ways. There was no epic goodbye, it was just over.

The theme of this book is: It’s not about what is on the outside, only what's on the inside. Everyone though Katsa was a monster because of her grace although Katsa is a nice person.

I would not suggest this book to anyone. The book is extremely boring and has no real world connection. The book is a cliche Y.A. novel. This book is a worse version of the modern day Hunger Games.

Contributed by Victoria Neal