Two Team Owl Double Review: Bitter Melon and Revolution

Today I have to very mini reviews from one of my biggest readers.

First up:

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Book Summary
Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school. But is being a doctor what she wants? It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent. Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her? Set in the 1980s.

Team Owl Review
This book is really an amazing book with an amazing plot.  The main character in Bitter Melon is Frances (that’s her American name, her real Chinese name is Fei Ting), and her whole life she had been expected to go to a medical school to be a doctor, because that’s what her mother wants her to do. She hadn’t really challenged that until she ends up in a speech class instead of a calculus class, and discovers her love and talent in speech. This book is really about Frances finding the power and courage in herself to make her own decisions about what she wants to do with her life, and her many struggles along the way.

Best for ages 12/13+

My note:  I tried to read this one and had to stop after about the first 75 pages.  I just couldn’t get into, but a think a teenage girl would relate so well to the main character’s struggle with her mom.  As a mom I had a completely different perceptive.

Next Up
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Book Summary
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Team Owl Review
My note first! – I handed this book to this particular student to read because I knew she wouldn’t be intimidated by the size.  (It’s quite long)  She jumped in.  I asked her a few days later how it was going, and she wasn’t so sure.  She was a bit confused.  Like the next day she came in and said it just go sooooooooo much better, and she was really liking it now.  The funny things is – well read her review and you’ll see.
What she wrote when considering a review 
I read Revolution and I was going to do a book review for it, but I could not figure out what to say! I loved/liked the book but the book itself is kind of…confusing??? I don’t know but it sure made it hard to try to come up with a review! But to basically sum it up, the first few pages or 1 chapter are 100% confusing, but once you get past that, she pretty much lays off the big words, and it gets WAY good. Although she throws a twist in at the end that I wasn’t sure I liked that much, but I think that I grew to liking it a little better as the end came near. But the book itself is a little thicker…but once you get into the story, the pages go by fast. Oh and I l<3ve the cover!

Team Owl Review: Conspiracy 365 Series

Title: Conspiracy 365

Author: Gabrielle Lord

Summary of Book #1

On New Year’s Eve, Cal is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning: They killed your father. They’ll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Forced into a life on the run, Cal finds himself hunted by ruthless criminals and the police. Somehow he must uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious death and solve the Ormond Singularity, a secret from the past, before the year is up. But who can he turn to when the whole world seems to want him dead? The clock is ticking. Any second could be his last. Callum Ormond has been warned. He has 365 days. The countdown has begun …

Team Owl Review
The Conspiracy 365 series is amazing.  I loved this series so much.  I’d stay up late at night, so I could find out what happened next.  I just couldn’t put it down!

In this series a 15 year old boy named Callum Ormond is on the run to finish what his dad started.  His thrilling adventure will keep you constantly asking yourself “what will happen next?”.  Along the way, he’ll meet many people, and he (and you) will have to decide if they can be trusted.  Along with is heart-stopping journey Cal will discover a secret that has been hidden from his his entire life.  Each book will start and end at an even bigger cliffhanger than the last book.  It all leads up to December, the biggest cliffhanger of all.  See how it all ends and read the Conspiracy 365 series.

My Thoughts
I read the first book aloud to my students, and most really enjoyed it, but boy where they mad when it ended in such a cliffhanger! They almost demanded I get the second book and read it as well.  You can read my review of Conspiracy 365 January HERE.

Two words of warning if you read and get hooked on this series. 

  1. Like the reviewer said – they end in huge cliffhangers.
  2. Be prepared to order them online.  They are almost impossible to find in a store.
Here’s a pretty good trailer for the series

Friday’s for the Guys Team Owl Review: TRAPPED

On Friday I like to look at books that boys might enjoy.  Today I have a review from a Team Owl member. 
He has an honest review for Trapped.
Title: Trapped

Author:  Michael Northrop

Book Summary
The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive….
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision….

Team Owl Review

Trapped is one of those books that is an “OK book”; I wouldn’t really think that this book will become a well known book, at all. There is some emotion, some romance, and some funny parts. The characters are very normal people doing very courageous things. The book did very good at introducing the characters, but the story started to bore me. I mean, what is so important about getting trapped in school? This book needed bigger meaning and more stories behind it.

I would not read this book again. I would recommend it though, if you want a short book that u can read in 1 day to a week. I really liked how the author made the characters. They felt like the characters actually went to a local high school. This book made me think of me and 6 other people trapped in school on a snow storm. If u want to wonder that too, this book will make u think about how will the characters survive. And also you may have your personal opinions on the characters.
What I Thought Of The Cover
The cover actually was the big reason I read the book, it’s very cool and I really like it. On the back there is no summary, it is just a sign covered up saying ‘Dance Friday, Winter Wonderland’ that goes along with the book,  and how they were looking forward to the winter dance.
Overall Thought Of The Book
I have mixed emotions about this book.  I got really bored of it, but some parts I really liked. But I think I could find a way better book to read.

Team OWL Review: The Girl Who Became a Beatle

This review is from a great Team Owl member who was super excited to find a book about music.  He says they are very hard to find!
Cover Image

Title: The Girl Who Became A Beatle Author: Greg Taylor

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!
When Regina Bloomsbury’s band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it’s all over. And then she makes a wish—
“I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles.”
The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living like a rock star, and loving it. There are talk shows, music videos, and live concerts with thousands of screaming fans. And Regina is the star of it all.
But fame is getting the better of Regina, and she has a decision to make. Does she want to replace the Beatles forever?

The Girl Who Became A Beatle is a wonderful book by author, Greg Taylor. I highly prefer this book to all music lovers, especially ones who like The Beatles. There aren’t many novels with pop-culture facts like this one. The story of the book is about this girl Regina and her band The Caverns. The Caverns are breaking up because 2 of the members are joining The Caverns’ rival band. So after a horrible day at school, Regina comes back home and wishes to be as famous as The Beatles. When Regina wakes up the next day, all her Beatles fan items are gone. They are all replaced with the same type of items just nothing to do with The Beatles. They all have something to do with The Caverns. Now no one has ever heard of The Beatles, and all The Beatles’ songs are now owned to the Caverns. In fact, they aren’t even written by Paul McCartney or John Lennon, They are written by… Regina! Can Regina and the Caverns survive all this fame and fortune? Or will paparazzi and crazy fans get scary? You will just have to wait and see.

What I Thought Of The Cover:

The cover of this book was great. It is taken of The Caverns in form of the ‘Meet The Beatles’ album,

Fact About The Book:

Did you know that before the book was titled ‘The Girl Who Became A Beatle’, it was titled ‘The Band Who Became The Beatles’.

Over All Thought Of The Book:

I think this is actually one of the best books I ever read. I am a big music lover myself and I would totally read this book again.
Here’s the book trailer


Tween Tuesday-Team OWL Review The Emerald Atlas

Today for Tween Tuesday (started by the awesome GreenBeanTeenQueen) I have a Team Owl review of a book that is making a big splash in the tween scene:

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens

From Goodreads

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Until now.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
Team Owl Review
The Emerald Atlas was one of the best books ever and I’m so glad I got to review it, it was so funny and had so many parts that made me burst out laughing.  I just loved everything about the book, the plot was funny and it got me hooked on the first page till the end, it had everything I love in a book magic, make believe creatures, funny.  The characters were great, especially the three main characters Kate, Emma, and Michael, Kate is just seems like a great big sister to have and Emma seems mean and rude on the outside, but on the inside, well she’s still kinda mean, but she’s a sweat little girl who loves her family, and Michael who has an obsession with dwarfs and knows almost everything that you can know about dwarfs.  I just loved this book and I hope that there are more like it for me to read.
My Note
My daughter also read this book and LOVED it as well.  I think we’ll be hearing more and more about this series.  I do have a concern about the cover though – I’m not sure it will appeal to my students.  I’ll have to see.  I do like this one below better, but I believe it’s the Germain cover.
If you haven’t seen the trailer – take a look!

For the Guys: Guest Review – Brain Jack

Every Friday I highlight books and authors that are ones boys might really enjoy. I’m not saying girls wouldn’t read these books, but they are clearly “guy” books.
This week I have a student review for:
Brain Jack
by Brian Falkner

Here is his review

 Sam, a hacker, hacks into the Teleimerica and orders 2 pairs of “Neruo Headsets” and shuts down the entire system.  He gets into a cyber place of the White House and rings the virtual door bell and it ends right there.  He wakes up and the door bell rings and it was the police to arrest him for hacking.  He goes to a jail for kids under the age of 18.  He plans a way out and his friend Kiwi helps him escape the daring prison.  He gets picked up by a taxi and a CDD agent picks him up and gives him a deal to work with the Government.  Sam accepts and they go to a building and show him the main area for the CDD.  CCD stands for Cyber Defence Division.  He gets teamed up with a guy and they work together to team up and destroy the Neuro as it tries to take peoples mind and turn it against everyone who doesn’t got one and turn them into one.  Will Sam make it with help along the way? 

This book was a very good book and a great read aloud i say to to a family or a class.  I would recommend this book to friends and family!  The things that I liked about this book was that it was about hacking, a major war, on the run experience, and scary in some ways.  This book was not bad but the only dumb part was did his friends live? Did his mom live?  What happened after this war?  What happened to his CDD Department team?

In other words this book was very good!  Again i would read this book again!  I would give this a book 4.5 out of 5!

         Thanks, for letting me review this book for you!

Student Review: Leap Day by Wendy Mass

Title: Leap Day

Author: Wendy Mass
From Goodreads
Soon-to-be-sixteen Josie Taylor was born on Leap Day, February 29, and now it’s her “fourth” birthday. Like any average teenager, sometimes she wonders what other people are thinking, but today it’s the reader who gets to find out, by “leaping” into the minds and viewpoints of Josie and everyone around her. Birthday surprises, school play auditions, her driver’s test, a scavenger hunt, and the all-important sweet-sixteen initiation at the lake — these are the things that define Josie Taylor today. But what define her tomorrow and in the days to come are the people who touch her life at every moment. A fascinating, at times astonishing, new novel, Leap Day is full of everyday imaginations and truths in the life and future of one “everygirl” teenager.
Student Review
I was so glad my one of my friends told me about this book.  I never noticed it before, but I LOVED it! It would be more for girls who like books that are realistic fiction.  I love that it is easy to understand and easy to relate to. It is about a 16 year old girl Josie. Who is born on a leap day and is going through the day of her 16th birthday, her friends are doing something special for her party and she doesn’t know anything about it! She has a rather protective older brother but she doesn’t think he is very protective.
Dislikes– nothing really it was a really good book!
Main characters- Josie, Megan, Ron, Katy,

My notes
This is one book by Wendy Mass I haven’t read yet, but I will soon.  I have loved all the books I’ve read by her, and from what I understand this one is great too (my student reviewer definitely agreed!). 

A word of warning – from what I understand this book is laid out kind of different, so it takes a bit to get use to.  But once you’ve got it down it really adds to the story.

Guest Student Review: TTYL

Title: TTYL

Author: Lauren Myracle

From Goodreads
An epistolary novel for the 21st century, this sharp, funny, and true-to-life breakout hit about friendship is told entirely in instant messages. And Internet-savvy teens have fallen in love with flirty Angela (SnowAngel), moody Maddie (mad maddie), and good girl Zoe (zoegirl) and their frank perceptions about a tumultuous tenth-grade semester.

Guest Review
I love TTYL, it is a really good girl book if you like high school drama you will love this book. Some parts of the book were confusing but you get back on track really fast so that is good. I loved all the girls in the book. One thing with this book you will want to know is that it is over IMing I think that is really cool I love that part of the book. All girl that are like me and LOVE drama should read this book. I hope you love it like I did.

Note from me:
This book is written in an “on-line” chat format with tons of chat slang etc.  I’m not sure I could follow it, but my students don’t have a problem.  Also – a few of my girls have just fallen in love with this series more than I’ve seen in the past.

Student Guest Review: Unearthly

Title: Unearthly

Author: Cynthia Hand

Book Summary

Clara has known she was part–angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose—a rite of passage for every part–angel—is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara’s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings—fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

Student Guest Review

I really liked Unearthly. The world of angels this book introduces you to is different from what I’ve read in other books, but still really good.  And this book was so funny; I was laughing through the whole book. I was laughing even more when these complete Twilight moments came along.  However, it bugged me how the main character is in the dark most of the time, so you, the reader, are too.  But the story does have a fast pace and keeps you on your toes, so that when things come to light, you are, “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.”  It’s a wonderful book to start off the series; I can hardly wait to read the next one.

If you want to read an excerpt of Unearthly go HERE.

Unearthly is part of Harper Collins Dark Days of Supernatural Tour.  Check out the trailer for the tour.

Here’s the booktailer for Unearthly

And lastly – Goodreads is showing this as the paperback cover.  I think it’s pretty!

Guest Review: Rot & Ruin

Today I have a 7th grade perspective on the book Rot & Ruin.  I read and reviewed it a while back.  You can find my review HERE, but now for what a 7th grader thought of it.

Benny Imura couldn’t hold a job, so he took up killing.
In the zombie-infested world Benny has grown up in, teenagers must work once they turn fifteen, or they’ll lose their food rations. Benny isn’t interested in taking on the family business, but he reluctantly agrees to train as a zombie killer with his boring big brother, Tom. He expects a dull job, whacking zombies for cash. What he discovers is a vocation that will teach him what it really means to be human.  As his worldview is challenged again and again by the lessons he learns from Tom, Benny is forced to confront another horrifying reality: Sometimes the most terrible monsters are humans.
I was honestly not going to pick this book up off the shelf, but I am so glad that I did! My main concern for reading this book was that it would be too bloody and gory. However, the author, Jonathan Maberry did a good job of making sure you knew what was going on without getting into the blood and gore too much.  There was just enough of that to keep the book interesting. The real focus of the book was Benny, the main character, and his brother, Tom’s relationship.

There are a couple things that I didn’t like about the book, though. The beginning of the book was kind of confusing and a little bit on the slower side. Later on in the book everything falls into place nicely, though. Also, at the end of the book, it seemed like the author stretched out the events a little bit too much. Other than those two things, I loved everything about Rot and Ruin!

FINAL THOUGHT: Awesome book, awesome plot.
BEST STICK-WITH-YOU IMAGE: I can’t say or it’ll spoil the book!
BEST FOR READERS WHO:  Can deal with and appreciate some blood and gore.