Book Review: Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver



Samantha Kingsley has a perfect life. She’s one of the most popular girls in her school, she’s dating the hot quarterback, and everyone loves her. Or so she thinks. Just like with everything, there are downsides to her popularity. Sam and her friends make fun of people, especially Juliet – aka Psycho. Deep down Sam knows it’s wrong but she isn’t willing to risk her perfect life just to stand up for some Psycho girl.

One night, on the way back from a party on February 12th, Sam dies in a car crash. Somehow, she wakes up again in the morning – but it’s February 12th again. Sam stumbles through the day in a daze, confused. When the same thing happens that night again, Sam wakes up on February 12th. For seven days, Sam relives that one day, until she finally comes to a realization about what she’s supposed to do. With secrets abound and friendships on the line, Sam needs to not only save herself but Juliet as well.

Before I Fall is a stunning recollection of a teenager just trying to survive in high school and figuring out who she truly is. Lauren Oliver beautifully describes what it’s like to feel lost and have nowhere to go. Reading this book, you will ache for Sam and Juliet, laugh and cry along with them, and discover the meaning of true friendship.


Book Review: The Cellar, Natasha Preston



Summer is just a normal teenager. One day as she’s walking to a club, Clover approaches her and soon kidnaps her. Summer is taken to his cellar where three other girls (or flowers) wait – Rose, Violet, and Poppy. However, these are not their real names. They are the names given to them by Clover. Summer will soon join them as Lily to create the family that Clover aspires to have. Clover’s perfect flowers.

For months, Lily is trapped down there. She sees many murders and disturbing things. She starts to lose track of who she really is and what it’s like outside in the world. She starts to wonder; is Summer is gone forever? Lily needs to get out of there soon. After all, flowers can’t survive long underground and time is running out…

Follow the story of Lily, a courageous young woman who just wants to get out. She just wants to see her family again. The Cellar is a heart-wrenching, page-turning novel, that shows us how to stay strong in times of desperation. Natasha Preston beautifully describes what it’s like to see horrific scenes every day. Reading this book, you will discover how strong you truly are, and if you could survive the cellar.

The Sun Is Also A Star: Book Review

Image result for the sun is also a star book cover and movie poster

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, is about Daniel, a Korean American boy who is getting ready for an interview for Yale (a school that he isn’t sure that he wants to go to) and who just happens to cross paths with Natasha, a Jamaican-American girl who came to America illegally with her parents and is on the verge of being deported. The two end up in what seems like a doomed romance based on both of their circumstances. Throughout the novel Natasha and Daniel have many philosophical discussions about religion in relation to science;dreams in relation to reality; and what it is like to lose all hope. This book also highlights the difficulties that come with moving away from your native country and why many people may choose to make that decision. This book was heartfelt and fascinating in the way that it tackled these topics and it was heartbreaking knowing how their relationship would end. In fact I was nearly moved to tears at the ending of this amazing book. There is so much more that I could say about this book, but I will leave that for you to find when you read it. I would highly recommend this book to others as it masterfully tackles such difficult topics as I mentioned above and leaves us with the endearing message that sometimes all one can do is never lose hope.

My Most Excellent Year Review

by Steve Kluger


Review by Emma Shacochis

My Most Excellent Year, by Steve Kluger doesn’t feature the typical elements of a coming-of-age story. While there are the typical struggles of fitting into high school, new friendships, and romance, MMEY focuses on the performing arts, Boston baseball, and Mary Poppins.

MMEY is also unique because it features no scenes of strict dialogue – the story is told through journal entries, text messages, letters, and the like. This is one of my favorite storytelling techniques, and the voices of the three main characters – Anthony “T.C.”, Alejandra, and Augie – are distinct no matter how they’re narrating.

The friendship between the three main freshmen is so sweet and wholesome. T.C. and Augie are close as brothers, and refer to one another as such. Their support of each other, especially their equally inexperienced romantic advice, is naturalistic and charming. However, worldly new girl Alejandra steals the book with her sarcasm and longing to participate in musical theatre. 

While knowledge of theatre – especially Mary Poppins, since Julie Andrews is a presence in the plot – or baseball will make reading My Most Excellent Year even more enjoyable, it’s a most excellent novel to read no matter what.

Foolish Hearts Review

by Emma Mills


Review by Emma Shacochis

Foolish Hearts, by Emma Mills, is hands down one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. In all of her young adult novels, including This Adventure Ends andFamous In A Small Town, Mills features a teenage girl with a close-knit group of friends – and a skill for one-liners – trying to fit in in her community. Foolish Hearts follows Claudia, an outsider at her private school, as she accidentally witnesses the breakup of the school’s most popular couple, Paige and Iris. When Claudia and the spiky, reserved Iris are forced to participate in the school play together, they begin a tentative friendship. Claudia attempts to help reconcile Iris with Paige, while trying to stay connected with her growing-distant best friend and developing a crush on the play’s charismatic lead, Gideon.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, Emma Mills’s books are a treat – Foolish Heart’s cover features tiny stitches and stripes in an assortment of colors. But her writing of teenagers, especially their friend groups, never feels false or melodramatic. It’s rare but delightful when an author can make you want to be friends with all of the characters, not just the main. Claudia and the friends she makes through the play, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the book gets its title from the dialogue), have witty, grin-inducing interactions; all of the dialogue is so realistic to how teenagers talk in the twenty-first century, full of sarcasm and poop culture references.

Claudia and Iris’s odd-couple friendship develops into the book’s greatest strength. Despite their differences in personality and social status, the two bond through Iris’s love of a fictional boy band that she shares with Claudia. Scenes where the two listen to the band’s music and midnight and rank their favorite songs help the friendship grow organically – even a single shares interest can make for an investing and entertaining duo.

All of Emma Mills’s books will make you beam, but Foolish Hearts is a fast-paced, touching, and inexpressibly hilarious read that will make your own heart grow.

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters Review

By Kimberly Karalius


Review by Emma Shacochis

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters begins as an anti-romantic comedy. The heroine, Fallon Dupree, is excited to attend high school in the town of Grimbaud, known for Zita’s Love Charms Shop that gives every visitor a love fortune. However, on her first day, Fallon discovers her fortune isn’t very sweet – her love will never be requited. While Fallon is initially disheartened by this fortune, she soon joins forces with a group of fellow scorned romantics. Their plan to prove their fortunes wrong proves equal parts zany, dangerous, and romantic.

The book features a handful of evolving relationships between its characters, even the ones predicted never to fall in love. Fallon develops an unexpected friendship – and, naturally, something more – with her dorm-mate Sebastian; their adventures to find love charms together are heartwarming. Outside of romantic relationships, Fallon is an optimistic and endearing lead, as she helps her friends out with their budding relationships and tries to become someone besides what Zita’s fortune and her family tell her she is. The magical realism aspects of the book were surprising, but the way that charms advanced the plot was incredibly unique.

Whether or not you believe in love, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is an adventurous and exciting story about find happiness outside of the labels that others give you.

Book Review: On The Come Up

by Angie Thomas


Review by Emma Shacochis

Angie Thomas’s first novel, The Hate U Give, was an excellently written book that has stuck with me long after I read it, and I’m already feeling the someway about her sophomore work, On The Come Up. The novel follows Bri, a young black girl who dreams of becoming a rapper, like her legendary late father. She becomes even more determined to succeed once her family begins to struggle to pay rent and afford food. After an impassioned song of hers, titled “On The Come Up”, goes viral, Bri receives both positive and negative recognition from her community and family. She must try to stay true to who she is as she attempts to make it big in the music industry.

Thomas always has a perfect balance between long-relevant social issues, the emotional struggles of being a teenager, and a healthy dose of humor. Bri’s family and friends are all supportive in their own ways, even if they can be slightly misguided; the love she receives from her mother and brother, in particular, led to several of the book’s most heartfelt scenes. Bri is one of my favorite YA protagonists of late: she is faced with racism from security guards at her school and stereotypes once entering the rap world, on top of trying to help her family make ends meet. Despite Bri’s constant worry about survival, she’s witty and incredibly linguistic – my absolute favorite part of the books are the small rhymes and full freestyles that she composes for rap battles. 

Whether or not you’ve read Angie Thomas’s works, On The Come Up is a grounded, exciting book you won’t be able to put down.

Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses

Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses by Dr. Stephen M. Beresford, Dr. David W. Muris, Dr. Merrill J. Allen, and Dr. Francis A. Young


Reviewed by Gabi L.

**note: the two images above are the same book, but when buying this book both covers are offered

Over 110 million Americans suffer from poor eyesight and use either glasses or contact lenses. The American Vision Institute offers a clinically proven program of 20 different exercises and techniques that improve vision and eyesight. Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses provides readers with the knowledge and tools to increase focusing power, decrease eyestrain, and prevent and further vision deterioration.

This book is a miracle and a blessing! My mom recommended it to me a few summers ago and I was obsessed. For an entire summer, I practiced the recommended eye exercises religiously every single day and oh my gosh did I see (no pun intended) improvements! At the beginning of that summer, my vision was around a -3.15 and after that summer, I got my vision checked by my optometrist and my prescription was around a -2.75. Absolutely incredible! I will always stand by this book and what it preaches. Since then, I have ceased practicing the exercises, but I plan to start up again soon because this truly works!

The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors

The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors by Bob Funk

Image result for the audition process: a guide for actors bob funk

Reviewed by Gabi L.

Bob Funk is an acting professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As an actor and director, he has worked professionally in New York and in regional theatres across the United States. In The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors, Bob Funk covers in detail the importance of headshots, resumes and theatre conferences. He goes beyond what is expected inside the audition room and advises actors on how they should behave from the moment you step into the building till you get the final call way after the in-person audition as ended.

I have been active in theatre for many years and this is by far the best audition book I have come across. Bob Funk provides readers with performing and preparation tips for monologues and songs along with revealing some of the mysteries of actually getting a job in the entertainment industry. The book Bob Funk covers all aspects of the theatre audition realm as he teaches readers the importance of headshots, great resumes, and theatre conferences. He even goes so far as to list the contact info and requirements for each conference! The Audition Process: A Guide for Actors is a wonderful no-nonsense guide that is written very clearly in a way that is easy to understand.

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Review by Gabi L.

Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is an intriguing story based loosely the Cinderella fairytale. As the first book in her trilogy, Meyer explores the relationship between “Earthans”, who life on Earth, and Lunars, people who live on the moon in space and have adapted mind control abilities. Cinder is a 16-year-old girl who lives on Earth with her abusive step-family. She has learned to adapt as a cyborg and an outcast in a world of humans. Cinder is a very skilled mechanic and eventually her reputation leads for the prince to request her help. She unwillingly commits to helping his cause and becomes invested in the intergalactic conflict between the Earthans and the Lunars.

I am a major fan of the original Cinderella story, so I had high expectations for this book and Marissa Meyer definitely surpassed those expectations. Cinder kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the novel as the story pulls you into Cinder’s world and provides readers with a view into an alternate world as an outcast and as someone who is even unwelcome in their own home. What makes this book even more enjoyable is how likable Cinder is as a character as I was always hoping for the best for her throughout the story.