Friday, April 7, 2017

Guest review: Caraval

by Stephanie Garber
407 pages
Fantasy fiction
First book in a series
Reading level: high school

Reviewed by Farah, one of our "Millennial" friends, and a member of the Genre X book club

Caraval is a tale of two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella, who escape their cruel father when they enter the dangerous games of Caraval. Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance in which the audience participates, are over. However, this year Scarlett finally receives an invitation; but this is soon followed by the revelation of secrets about the true nature of Caraval, whose sole target this year is her sister Tella!

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game.

First of all, what attracted me to the book was its stunning cover, which is smooth to the touch and renders the title as part of a star, like Caraval should be. Cover aside, you’d want what followed to be just as attractive, and it was, with an elaborate design, a map, and various letters. 

I was impressed by this book. It had a unique style, concept and execution, all of which kept me hooked until the end. Although it’s not (specifically) a competition, it plays a game with the reader, and the writing paired with the characters combine to create a thrilling and exciting ride. What I loved about it is that there’s growth in this book. There’s no sort of “learning before the character” types of situations, because we learn WITH Scarlett, and become engulfed in the action of it, which keeps the reader on her/his toes. This novel kept me guessing, like any show you’d watch on TV. Stephanie Garber did an amazing job, by never letting us know for sure what will happen next. This novel was magical and written somewhat like a fairy tale, which I adored. There is romance in this novel,but it wasn't overbearing or the sole focus of the story. It was sweet, yet we always focused on the plot.

This novel is part of a series. This one was published this year, but I do recommend to read the next ones in the series. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in it if you loved this one. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Calling High School Age Writers!

The Northridge Review is a literary and arts journal, produced by students in the creative writing program at California State University Northridge.

Founded in 1962 as a campus publication of student work, Northridge Review now seeks to broaden its scope and join the larger literary community by moving to an online format and publishing exceptional student work alongside established and emerging writers from across the globe.

The journal encourages submissions of timely, provocative, and innovative Prose, Poetry, Drama, and Art that pushes boundaries in subversive, disruptive, or other challenging ways.

For details or to submit your work, visit:

Submissions for the Fall 2017 online issue will close April 19, 2017.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April 10-12 Book Club Report

It's hard to believe it's April already! There were 17 at our next-to-last book club meeting of the school year, ready to discuss Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The consensus on this book was that it was such a roller coaster ride that you could hate it after 40 pages, love it after a couple hundred more, hate it again, and end up with it being practically your favorite book ever. Only one person disliked the book throughout; everyone enjoyed the unusual format in which the book was presented; and the final rating was an 8.25 out of 10.

Next month, for our last book of the year, we will read the oft-nominated and finally selected I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson. For those who missed book club last night, copies await you at the circulation desk.

Since we didn't need to nominate, discuss, or vote on books last night, we spent our last half hour of club playing around with making Bookface photos. If you don't know what that is, go to our Facebook page to see a few that we made and also a bunch of quite elaborate ones contrived by the staff of a bookstore in France. We're posting ours for National Library Week, which starts April 9; if you would like to join in the hilarity, make one yourself and email it to!

The next meeting of the 10-12 Book Club is May 2.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Teen review: Historical fiction

A Faraway Island
by Annika Thor
Realistic (historical) fiction for middle school students
Not part of a series

Reviewed by Ruthi, 8th Grade (from New Jersey!)

Two Jewish sisters, Stephie (12) and Nellie (8) Steiner, have to face a hard obstacle: They have to try to escape their hometown, Vienna, so they can be free from the Nazis. Both girls take a train to Sweden, only to realize that they will be separated and live with different host families. Nellie quickly fits into her new home, but Stephie has a hard time doing so. They both wonder if everything will work out for them, especially because they were supposed to meet their parents a while ago. Once the family met up, they would move to least, this was the plan.

Over all, I think this book was captivating. It drew me in, and the author’s writing style was unique but enjoyable. I liked the book because it was realistic fiction, and the cover was one of the main reasons why I picked it. All the colors were neutral, and they blended together very well. The two girls on the cover seemed thoughtful, and it made me wonder what they were thinking. Also, the clothing they are wearing tells us a lot about them.

This book is not part of a series, but I wouldn’t mind reading a sequel! I would rate this book a 4 out of 5. It got a little confusing at some points, but was a good read.