Book Review

[Book Review: Ramona Blue]

by Abigail Munson

In Ramona Blue, Julie Murphy plunges the reader straight into an engrossing story. A story that feels more like a summer memory from years ago than reading a book. While main character Ramona is not by any means generic, rather a six-foot-tall blue-haired enigma, she creates a deep nostalgia within the reader, like she was your best friend in another life. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy I am quote

Murphy’s descriptive language is languid and beautiful and melancholy and entirely blue. Every few pages, there is one sentence that takes my breath away and I have to read it over a few times and let it resonate within me.

I instantly fell in love with Freddie, his character was sweet and charming and almost too good to be true. Freddie felt like a silver-lining in a muddy, wet town.

Ramona Blue was overall very well written. I adored the language, the characters, the story and would definitely recommend it to my friends and I will definitely read it again.


[Book Review: The Beast Is An Animal]

By Cassidy Nicks

The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale reads like a really fun acid trip. [Editor’s note: not that Cassidy knows what an acid trip is. She’s just watched too many YouTube videos.]  Everything is far out, mysterious, elusive: the story of a damaged and abused girl transforming into a fearsome creature.

the beast is an animal book coverThe book is compelling, with an engaging plot, but is simultaneously hyper realistic and impossible–the decisions and paths Alys (the main character) follows, are incredibly real, yet the story is based in a fantasy land more similar to classical China or medieval Europe than anything else.

The real world blends with fantastic creatures, and a “fforest” (this spelling was incredibly obnoxious, and my biggest complaint) is never what it seems (at one point, the fforest spelling is broken and a normal forest is written, leaving the reader wondering if it was on purpose, or was just a typo).

The Beast is by far the most interesting character, but remains absent most of the book, and while it’s alluded that part of the Beast is inside Alys, this is never really mentioned until the last chapters. For being the title character, he sure isn’t a leading one.

Five Things I Learned While Reading The Beast Is An Animal

  1. People are selfish when they are scared.
  2. People with power often act like @ssh@les.
  3. Sometimes a girl doesn’t need a guy to solve a problem.
  4. Nothing is ever purely good or evil.
  5. Don’t judge a Beast by the stories others tell.

Overall, despite the annoying spelling of forest (as fforest), The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale is a well-written story that will keep the reader engaged from cover to cover.


[Book Review: The Freemason’s Daughter]

By Madison Hart

“The road before and behind you matters little if you can push to follow the path that calls from within.”

The Freemasons Daughter by Shelley SackierThis quote stayed with me throughout the entire book The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier, and continues to bounce around in my brain even after completing it. What a great reminder that dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, doesn’t matter when I follow the purpose of my life. In fact, dwelling on these things will only hinder my progress.

Throughout the entirety of the book, Sackier dropped multiple little nuggets of wisdom such as this in the most opportune of places. What I loved, was that she wasn’t preaching them, but truly applied them and portrayed them in love through her characters.

Sackier’s characters are another thing I truly admired about The Freemason’s Daughter. The main character, Jenna, would appear at first impression to be a stereotypical stubborn, fiery, Scottish woman. At first, I was a little worried she would be plain. I was completely wrong! Jenna made me laugh and cry and grip each side of the book until my knuckles were white! There was never a dull moment with her and her reactions always surprised me.

As for the eight Scottish men she lives with, one being her father and the rest her adopted family, well, I wish I was Jenna. They so obviously loved her and cared for her that I continuously choked back tears. Maybe I’m a little sensitive…or maybe, Shelley Sackier did a fantastic job with her character development. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter!  (more…)


By Lucy Earl

The Hate U Give was overall a very intriguing and unputdownable book (yes, that is a word, Merriam Webster said so). Although it was difficult to fully immerse myself into this book when I started out, by the time I reached the middle, it was as if my nose was permanently glued into the spine of the book and would not be released from its clutches until I had read the very last word on page 450 (which is the last page for those who don’t know). The title set me on edge at first, The Hate U Give. The letter “U” instead of the word “you” made me uncomfortable due to the grammar inaccuracy, but more on that later.

Lucy Earl of Young Authors CollectiveReading The Hate U Give was like looking down upon a moment in someone’s life while simultaneously sitting behind their eyes, hearing their thoughts, and marching alongside them as if you had been doing it for their entire life. Yet, the narrative is wrapped up in a tidy novel that manages to contain sentence structures and understandable content despite the aforementioned complications. The narrator, Starr, forces many different perspectives upon you that leaves you on edge while explaining why she’s doing it and making you more comfortable.

Much like “The Hate U Give”  references Tupac’s song “Thug Life” and the deep philosophy around “The Hate U Give” standing for the word “thug,” it allows you to understand your discomfort while still being uncomfortable and also gaining comfortableness, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Hate U Give was a very hard read; it was not that the words were difficult to chew through as they swallowed up the familiar world of punctuation, it was the fact that it was emotionally draining to any human who feels even a tiny ounce of compassion every once and awhile, even to a robot who is programed with a miniscule amount of empathy to fill up space on its hardrive, this book is emotionally draining.

The Hate U Give follows a few moments in Starr’s life that are organized in a chronological structure. The first being when her best friend, Khalil, is shot by a white cop and the couple of days that follow. This section is the hardest to get through because the author, Angie Thomas, expertly portrays the raw and painful emotions that are unimaginable to anyone who is lucky and privileged enough to not have to experience such an awful thing. In this part, a lot about Starr is revealed: she lives in “the ghetto” and when she was ten, her other best friend, Natasha, was killed. After that, her parents decided to move her to a private school where she learned to balance her two lives, “the ghetto” life and the private school life. The second part is the beginning of Starr’s journey to speak out against what happened, and without going into much detail for fear of getting into “spoiler territory,” the third is about Khalil’s trial and the aftermath.  (more…)

[Book Review: Aiyana on The Hate U Give]

By Aiyana Spear

In my opinion, the sign of an incredible book is when I read it and it sticks with me for days after. I finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas almost two weeks ago, and there has not been a day where I didn’t think about it. I believe that I will continue to think about this book for the rest of my life.The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reading about current social and political issues can be difficult; often when reading I want a book that will distract me from our current US problems. Writing about these issues can also be difficult due to the challenge of maintaining a balance between not wanting to go too far and be too political but still wanting to get your message across. Angie Thomas successfully and skillfully finds that balance, and her book, The Hate U Give, is a book that all Americans should read- especially white americans like me. When picking up this book for the first time, I assumed that it would be solely the gruesome, gut-wrenching details of a young black boy who was killed by a police officer. I assumed that it would only make me more exhausted that the issues so evident around me keep happening. I thought that it would leave me hanging only feeling more hopeless about the state of our world today. And in a way, it did, but not in the way I thought it would, and it did not exhaust me.

“A hairbrush is not a gun”

Starr faces many difficulties in this book, such as: witnessing her friend being killed, dealing with ptsd and  struggling with “simple” things such as arguments with her parents and her white boyfriend. These difficulties made Starr feel like a real person who I could connect with.  Often I wanted to take her and wrap her up in a blanket and protect her from the world, but Starr does not need my or anyone else’s protection- she is a badass who has gone through way too much for a 16 year old.

The main characters in YA novels have steadily become younger than me, both because I am getting older and these protagonists are getting younger; Starr is a year younger than me and she has gone through more than any teenager should ever have to go through. But the thing is, there is a Starr out there in this world, there are black teens and children in this world who have gone through more than I can ever imagine going through. And that is the value of this book this book makes the struggles of all of those children out there real- it gives them a voice and maybe, just maybe, it’ll change one person’s mind out there.

This book does not sugarcoat our world, it does not paint a rosy picture and, no spoilers or anything, it does not give the reader a hollywood ending where everything turns out perfectly. And after reading it, I wouldn’t want it to. It is searingly raw and honest and it not only tells of the story of a boy shot by the police and the aftermath of it, but it tells the story of a young black girl straddling two different worlds, the one of her black neighborhood and the other of her white rich school.

This book gives the human stories of people who are deeply impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement, who were incredibly affected by the many people who died. After reading this book, Black Lives Matter became more than a hashtag on twitter or a protest on the news, it became a real issue that is impacting teenagers just like me. This book is a searing portrayal of a heart wrenching movement.

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.”