Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

jacket-aspxShadowshaper is a fantastic urban fantasy novel.  Sierra Santiago, the main character,  has just started summer break from high school and is working on a mural in her neighborhood.  Sierra lives with her parents and her grandfather in Brooklyn, New York.

Sierra is very artistic, she paints murals and is asked to paint one on the Tower by one of her grandfather’s friend, when things become really weird and strange.  Sierra notices changes in the artwork that are not explainable.  She finds out that she has a gift and is a Shadowshaper.  There are so many characters in this book, and it is so culturally diverse.  The author does a good job of meshing the characters along with the background setting of Brooklyn, NY and the fantasy world they fall into.

Sierra is my favorite character, mainly because even though she is sometimes afraid and doubts herself, she always finds her inner voice and confidence.  She is strong, brave, smart, and funny while still being vulnerable and insecure.  She is also adaptable and relatable.

I really enjoyed the way the characters interacted with each other, but I would have liked it if some of them were more detailed in their backgrounds (such as where they came from), especially Robbie as he is an important part of the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book because it was very good and entertaining.  I look forward to seeing if the author turns this book into a series and delves further into the  world of Shadowshaping.

Submitted by JLDJ.


The Hired Girl by Laura Schlitz

jacket-aspxThe following novel portrays the determination of a girl trying to strive for and earn a better future.  The main character, Joan Skraggs, is a girl whose education is unsupported and looked down upon. Her education and necessity to acquire knowledge is not encouraged at all in farm life because of her careless father.  Joan strays away from this to work as a maid for a Jewish family.  She uses this job to open opportunities for herself to a new life and a bright future.  The main character Joan is my favorite because she is very inspirational.  She encourages others to fight for their education and future no matter what.  This book is a 10 out of  10.  I would recommend it to friends because it really brings awareness to female empowerment and what people can do to secure their future in life.

Submitted by M.H.

The Unlikely Hero in 13B by Teresa Toten

jacket-aspxThis book revolves around the life of a teenager named Adam Ross.  He is living a difficult life with numerous issues.  His issues include divorced parents along with half siblings, a series of disturbing letters his mom continues to receive, and the biggest of all- his OCD.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves needing to have your life and materials in a certain matter obsessively.  It involves completing certain rituals at different times.  These symptoms characterize the type of OCD Adam faces.  He is forced to join a support group to help him with his OCD.  Here, he falls in love with a girl named Robyn and hopes to create a relationship with.  My favorite character is Adam because he represents teens today who are facing all kinds of life affecting disorders.  I rate this book a 10 out of 10 and would recommend it to friends because it brings attention to what many teenagers go through.

Submitted by M. H.

“The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B” is about a boy named Adam who has OCD and divorced parents- so he is anything but ordinary!  He meets in a room with other people who have OCD and this room is 13B.  Adam is conflicted with all that goes on in his life until he meets a girl that attends the same group.  Adam falls in love quickly, and I shall not say more about how this book escalates.  I would recommend this book to friends because it teaches you how difficult life can be for some people, and to not judge or hurt those people in any way.  I would say this book is a 5 out of 5 because it has everything you want in a book including romance and a compelling story.

Submitted by J. K.

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

jacket-aspxThe novel The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith is about a refugee and his story from 14-16 years old.  His name is Ariel and  he is compared to a “schizophrenic bomber” and the “diaries of a failed Artic expedition.”  Ariel has had many homes: in a fridge during an army rebel battle, in an army base near a refugee camp, and with his foster family in Sunday, West Virginia.  My favorite character is Max, mostly because of his personality- funny, brave, and confident, and his “out of the box” thinking.  My favorite part is when Cobie Peterson gives a bottle of vodka filled with water and tricked everyone into thinking he had a bottle of vodka.  My rating of this book would be 4.5 stars because of its maturity level, and I would recommend this book to friends.  So those are my thoughts about the book and I hope you liked it!

Submitted my J. K.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

jacket-aspxThe novel Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is about a boy named Caden Bosch.  He pretends to join the track team just to walk around for miles, absorbed by his thoughts. Also, he is a “brilliant student”, but his friends notice weird things about him. He has a mental illness (schizophrenia) and goes to the hospital to end up staying there for a while.  My favorite part of the book was when Caden got asked what he saw when closed his eyes.  He responded:  “What type of a dumb-ass question is that?” I thought that was really funny.  I would rate this book 4.3 stars because there are a lot of mature moments.  I would recommend this book to my friends.  Thanks for reading my review!

Submitted by:  J. K.

Challenger Deep is a very intriguing book.  It is about a 15 year old boy, Caden Bosch, and his experiences with schizophrenia.  The book is a challenging read, as sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the story is taking place in real life, or a fantasy world based on real life characters.  It’s also tough to make the connections between some imaginary characters and some real ones.  It’s definitely worth it- the shock value and a deeper understanding of the book, that ultimately makes it all the more enjoyable.  Also, this book completely lands the ending, making it satisfying and not open ended!  It’s not sad, but something you look forward too.  All in all, this book about Caden’s psychological journey is amazing and fun.

Submitted by Salar

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

emberThis book is about two people: Laia who had a loving family, and Elias, a young soldier in Blackcliff that serves the Empire.  The Empire has spread fear and danger to everyone.  Laia becomes a slave in Blackcliff with an underlying reason- to save her brother from a death sentence.  Elias is a soldier who hates working for the Empire.  The two start to work on escaping.  My favorite character is Laia.  She is courageous, loving, and does all of these crazy things for her brother.  My favorite part is where Laia fakes her death and saves Elias from execution while bombing the Academy.  I would rate this book four stars because it’s action packed.  There is some violence in this book.

Submitted by R. T.

Girls Like Us by Gail Gines

Jacket.aspxIn today’s world, we are becoming increasingly aware of learning disabilities and how they affect people. We know how to help people with learning disabilities and we know how they’re different from others, but only they know what it’s like to live with a learning disability. Girls Like Us by Gail Giles puts the reader inside the heads of Biddy and Quincy, two eighteen-year-old special education graduates. Biddy is timid and fearful of the outside world because her grandmother always told her she was too stupid to do anything. Quincy is much tougher and is ready to live independently, but gets in trouble for sometimes being too rude. Both girls move into a shared apartment where they work as housemaids for an elderly woman next door. At first, Quincy thinks she will never get along with Biddy, whom she believed was too wishy-washy. However, as the story progresses, both girls are put into extremely traumatic situations and feel like there isn’t anyone else who will understand them because they were raised to think special ed people don’t matter. It’s at this point that they learn that they need each other more than anything else.
Girls Like Us uses low-level diction to demonstrate how Biddy and Quincy act and speak, and it does so excellently and with charm. It’s also incredibly heartwarming to see both girls mature over the course of the book as they recognize and overcome their issues. Another thing I appreciate is that this book enlightened me about special education kids. Some people believe that they have trouble feeling as well as thinking, but this book proves them wrong. Biddy and Quincy have special talents and big hearts just like everyone else and you may even find yourself getting attached to their characters. Overall, Girls Like Us is a touching tale that definitely further opened my eyes to our world. It isn’t overly long or difficult either, so if you’re looking for a great book you can read in an afternoon, this is the one. I have no real complaints about the book, just one warning—without spoiling too much, there are somewhat descriptive scenes of rape and abuse in the later parts of the book, so do keep this in mind if you’re sensitive to those things.

Submitted by Lauren Leon

A girl named Biddy is a student of special ed, and in her case she does not know how to read or write.  Another girl named Quincy is also a special ed student, and long ago Quincy’s mother’s boyfriend hit her in the face with a brick.   Quincy never liked Biddy.  When they graduated, they found themselves living together in Texas, with an old woman whose husband was a mayor.  In Texas, Quincy and Biddy worked.  Quincy cooked and Biddy cleaned.  They started to tell each other their sad stories, and also started to understand one another a bit more!

Submitted by A. T.


Advanced Battle of the Books

Teens in grades 9-12 who love to read …

Advanced Battle of the Books!

Titles are as follows:

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardug

Gabe Johnson Takes Over by Geoff Herbach


Please call Ms. Huff for further information or to sign up!

631.586.3000 (Meetings TBA)

Battle will take place on March 24th at Connetquot High School, 6-9 PM.


The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Lia is a spoiled princess who runs away on the day of her wedding because she thought her groom would Jacket.aspxbe a smelly, old man.  I didn’t like how she abandoned her duty of a princess and judged the prince when she never even met him.  I also didn’t like how easily she escaped from the castle and traveled to the fishing town.  The assassin  was a poor excuse for one because he couldn’t get the job done.   Kaden and Rafe fell in love with her too quickly.  What I did like was how you didn’t know which boy was the prince and which was the assassin.  You could be rooting for the wrong boy the whole time.  I also liked how Lia’s character developed over time.  She was willing to leave her new life and go back and marry the Prince if it meant saving her kingdom.  Overall, the book was mostly enjoyed.  I would give it  3 and 1/2 or 4 stars.

Submitted by Foha.

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

This was the third book in a trilogy, and my least favorite.  For one, I Jacket.aspxcouldn’t see much chemisty between Annith and Balthazar.  I love the banter between Ismae and Duval in the first book, and Sybella and the Beast in the second.  Annith felt like Balthazar’s daughter.  She was somewhat useful in the war, but I felt like Ismae and Sybella were moreso.  I also thought the plot was a little dull except for two revelations.  Annith wasn’t comfortable with killing and hardly did at all.  I just couldn’t work with her character like I did with Ismae and Sybella.  I am guessing it’s because I got attached to the point of view of the first two characters, and didn’t want to go through a new one.  There were a few twists in the story, and it ended acceptably.  I would give this book 3 stars.

Submitted by Foha.

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