Worthy Opponents by Danielle Steel

Name: Michelle

Grade: 11th

Title: Worthy Opponents

Author: Danielle Steel

Published in: 2023

Pages: 256

Rating: 4.3 stars

This book talks about the story of two business opponents. Mike is an extremely well-known man that transforms small businesses into successful businesses. He saw Spencer’s business as his next target. However, Spencer refuses Mike’s advances and sees no interest. Soon, Spencer will be struck by bad luck.

I think this book is an interesting read. I was immediately into the book after the first chapter. The author used a lot of imagery and figurative language to describe all the situations. The author could describe all the emotions well and portray the character perfectly so they fit into the plot nicely. My favorite character was Spencer because she respected her family and was very stubborn, just like me. Spencer’s character design really reminds me of myself.

I would recommend this book to all the people that love romance fiction because this is a very thrilling romance book. Although the characters had no interest in each other at first, they would slowly start to attract each other and find out their love for each other.

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Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team By Andrew Maraniss

Name: Ryan

Grade: 7th

Title: Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team

Author: Andrew Maraniss

Published in: 2023

Pages: 344

Rating: 4 stars

Inaugural Ballers by Andrew Maraniess is an excellent book about “the true story of the first US women’s Olympic basketball team.” The book centers on the true story of the birth of women’s Olympic basketball at the 1976 Summer Games and the ragtag team that put US women’s basketball on the map.

This book is fantastic; it has a lot of facts that I had never heard of before, like twenty years before women’s soccer became an Olympic sport and two decades before the formation of the WNBA, the 1976 US Women’s basketball team laid the foundation for the incredible rise of women’s sports in America at the youth, collegiate, Olympic, and professional levels. There are a lot more facts that you will learn in the book.

I would recommend this book to people who play basketball so they can learn all about the history of WNBA and more. It may sound a bit slow in the beginning, but later on in the book, I became very interested in all the facts and history behind the Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.

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The Cheat Sheet By Sarah Adams

Name: Shion

Grade: 9th

Title: The Cheat Sheet

Author: Sarah Adams

Published in: 2021

Pages: 336

Rating: 5 stars

“The Cheat Sheet” by Sarah Adams is an “all good vibes” best friends-to-lovers story. It centers around a ballerina who almost went to Julliard, Bree Camden, and the star quarterback of the fictional football team, the “LA Sharks,” Nathan Donelson. The pairing has been best friends since the start of high school. They’ve also had feelings for each other through all that time, although they are both too timid to admit it. The book is told from dual points of view, allowing the reader to see Bree venting to her sister Lily about how she’s falling hard for Nathan while simultaneously witnessing Nathan and his teammates creating a list of ways for him to attract Bree. Despite them so hopelessly being in love with one another, neither is aware of the other’s attraction and is heartbroken by it.

Although this story by no means is an incredible piece of literature, it’s one of those books that just puts the reader in such a bubbly mood for days post-reading. And I think everybody could use happy books like this every once in a while. Nathan is so caring towards Bree and is constantly putting her before himself and everybody else, for that matter. Despite having so much fame and attraction, he never demonstrates arrogance and self-importance. Bree is just as noble, sacrificing any luxury in life so that she can teach ballet to young children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the expensive classes. Both have the utmost respect for each other, and observing two people who have that much care for each other made me feel so happy.

I highly recommend this book to anybody looking for a happy, sweet romance. In fact, it is probably my new number-one recommendation for that category. Furthermore, this book is perfect for anybody who enjoys the tropes of fake dating or best friends-to-lovers and enjoys the concept of “soulmates.” But even if you don’t fall in that category, I would still recommend checking this story out the next time you need something to read.

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The Stolen Heir by Holly Black

Name: Michelle

Grade: 11th

Title: The Stolen Heir

Author: Holly Black

Published in: 2023

Pages: 368

Rating: 4 stars

This book is the fourth book of the Elfhame series, and if you haven’t read the first three, you should definitely read about those there before reading this book. This book mainly discusses the story of Suren, a queen exiled into the human realm. She forages the forest and helps humans against faes longing to return to her home. Suren ran into the prince of Elfhame, Oak, and was asked to help him in a dangerous quest to help his father. However, Suren is unsure of her decision. Will she be able to go back to her home? Or will she help the prince?

It is really well-written; there is a lot of figurative language that helped me understand the story. The author engraved each character’s emotions into sentences and used imagery to help us imagine the character’s actions and what the places looked like. My favorite character was Suren because she had terrible experiences that made her trust no one, but she also gained the ability to think quickly. Additionally, she has helped the humans against the faes, even while knowing how dangerous they are; this shows how Suren is a strong woman who helps the weak.

I would definitely recommend this book because there are a lot of interesting events and characters in the book. I was into it the moment I finished the first chapter. If you love fiction and faeries, you should definitely read this book because this book was made for you. All the characters are carefully designed, and their personality and action are just so fun to read about. And Suren is definitely one of the best characters that has both the personality and the action.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

Name: Kato

Grade: 12th

Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

Published in: 2010

Pages: 381

Rating: 4 stars

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a nonfiction book about a woman named Henrietta Lacks whose cells were taken without her knowledge or consent for medical research in the 1950s. Her cells became one of the most important tools in modern medicine and were used to develop vaccines and treatments for many diseases. However, Henrietta’s family was unaware of her contribution to science until decades later, and they faced many ethical and emotional challenges as a result. The book explores the impact of Henrietta’s cells on science and society, as well as the importance of informed consent and ethical practices in medical research.

I thought the book was a good read. I liked how it talked about a point in history that greatly impacted the modern medical field and the sacrifices and struggles it took to get here. I also fell in love with the characters, the way their story is written feels very personal and I sympathized with them. My favorite character was Joe Lacks, who was a really interesting character that made me deeply fascinated by the book. There are some sensitive topics discussed but I think that only added to the serious but very engaging feel of the book.

I would recommend this book. It is very interesting and tells an important part of our country’s history regarding the medical field. It can be disturbing in some parts but that is only because this book’s job isn’t only to entertain, but to also inform. It is truly unlike anything I have ever read and the only thing stopping it from getting a perfect rating is how the pacing of the book can seem too slow for some readers as the balance between educational reading and storytelling is not quite perfect.

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howl by shaun david hutchinson

Name: Madeleine

Grade: 11th

Title: Howl

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Published in: 2022

Pages: 421

Rating: 3 stars

Howl is the story of Virgil Knox, a boy from Seattle who is forced to move to the tiny town of Merritt with his dad after his parent’s divorce. He is unhappy to live with his strict grandparents and struggles through high school in a culture less than welcoming to him.

The book begins with a seriously wounded Virgil limping down the deserted main street of the town after being attacked by a monster in the woods—no one believes his story and the town writes him off as a liar. The traumatic memories of the monster and the sexual assault he suffered at the party before the attack plague Virgil as he tries to get his footing in his new environment. He begins the school year as a social outcast, but when one of the most influential boys in town shows an interest in him and offers him friendship and social standing, Virgil must decide whether to forgive Jarrett for what he has done or satisfy himself with his two eccentric but loyal friends. Meanwhile, he is drawing further apart from his best friend and boyfriend back home in Seattle and feels unvalued by his parents, perpetually preoccupied with their work. Virgil gets a relieving reprieve from his worries in his drama class, where the thrill of being on stage erases all other thoughts from his mind. However, this escape is only temporary, and in the end, Virgil will have to face his fears in order to conquer them and choose the people that truly matter to him.

I didn’t like this novel quite as much as Hutchinson’s other books that I’ve read, like Before we Disappear and The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. They all explore similar themes of existential crises, risks, and choices faced by young, queer characters as they struggle to find their identities and trust the people around them. I did find Virgil more relatable in some ways than Hutchinson’s other main characters, perhaps because the plot was a bit less fantastical than in the other two novels. The monster in this story was more clearly a symbol of internal struggles than the supernatural occurrences of the other novels, which lent to a more interesting plot but decreased the relatability of the characters.

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Tell me three things by julie buxbaum

Name: Ruby

Grade: 10th

Title: Tell Me Three Things

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Published in: 2016

Pages: 352

Rating: 4 stars

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum tells the story of a high school teen, Jessie, who recently lost her mom. Jessie moves from Chicago to a fancy town in Los Angeles after her dad elopes with a woman he met online. She is forced to start attending a prep school in the new town where she is now living with her dad, stepmom, and stepbrother. Shortly after she starts at her new school, Jessie gets an anonymous email from Somebody/Nobody. At first, Jessie is suspicious of what Somebody/Nobody’s intentions are, but throughout the book, you get to see the development of their relationship over their emails. When reading this book, you see Jessie’s experience facing a new school, family, and peers and creating a relationship with someone she has never met before.

I personally liked this book. It seemed like the perfect length to thoroughly delve into this story without boring the reader. I loved seeing the different relationships that Jessie had and developed throughout the story of the book. The mystery of who Somebody/Nobody was, was a great plot point for this story.

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The Summer of Broken rules by k.l. walther

Name: Shion

Grade: 9th

Title: The Summer of Broken Rules

Author: K.L. Walther

Published in: 2021

Pages: 384

Rating: 4 stars

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther is a young adult romance book with a fun summery vibe. The story centers around Meredith, a teenage girl, and her first annual family trip to Martha’s Vineyard since her sister, Claire, passed away in a car accident. For multiple years after the pass, Meredith blocked out all her friends and relatives, and she and her parents didn’t go to their usual family summer vacation. However, with her cousin, Sarah, getting married, she decides it’s finally time for her to venture into the real world. What she doesn’t expect, though, especially so soon after breaking up with her boyfriend of 4 years, is to find her perfect match. She spends the wedding time trying to carry her sister’s legacy of being an assassin champion, but when she meets a certain groomsman, she becomes distracted and risks not only losing the game but also breaking her promise.

What made this book such a good read for me was the love all the characters had for each other. There were many good examples of healthy relationships, both romantic and platonic. Meredith’s friends and family obviously care so deeply about her, as she does they. The main couple’s compassion and devotion to each other are so heartwarming, as are the newlyweds. I feel that a lot of romance novels include some toxic element, and although it can be intriguing storywise, it’s nice to be able to just read about happy relationships every once in a while. Despite her going through troubles with her friendships after blocking out so many people, throughout the course of the novel, Meredith can overcome those issues and is overall a pretty sustainable role model. All the novel’s characters are charming, charismatic, and fun to read about.

The Summer of Broken Rules is the perfect read for when you want a little more happiness in your life, especially during the summer. It will immediately transport you to a warm, sunny, summer vacation. I recommend reading this book if you are just getting into reading, are in a slump, or just want a cute and fun new read. I assure you that you’ll finish it in a pinch and be left with a warm feeling in your heart. Also, this novel includes a lot of references to Taylor Swift and her songs, so I highly recommend checking it out if you’re a fan.

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MY MONTICELLO by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Name: Jin

Grade: 12th

Title: My Monticello

Author: Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Published in: 2021

Pages: 224

Rating: 4.6 stars

The book, My Monticello, consists of 5 short stories that make up the book: “Control N,” “Virginia is Not Your Home,” “Something Sweet on Our Tongues,” “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse,” “The King of Xandria,” and “My Monticello.” The short stories are each told from a different perspective and resonate with the theme of racism, inheritance, and community. They show the African-American community’s experiences through different lenses, each story having a powerful meaning.

This is a strong and powerful book; the fluidity and strength in each story leave the reader with a feeling that this is not just fiction. There is one specific story that can be quite controversial due to different people having different opinions on it, which is the first story in the book, “Control N.” I personally think this story is the best one out of all of them. Throughout the story, there are hints of where the author is leading the reader, but the ending may be surprising for people. Regardless, the point that the main character in the story was trying to make gets proven.

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the book except for a part of the first story, but aside from that, there isn’t much to dislike about this book. This book left me with mixed emotions; it was a mix of empathy but also a feeling of strength; since this book portrays the struggles of the African-American community through powerful stories, I think it can be a bit strong for younger audiences, but each story has a deep meaning to them.

I would recommend this book because I enjoy it when books have a deeper meaning behind them rather than just being a typical story; I like when they leave you with something to think about and learn from. That said, I think people who want a deep story would also enjoy this book.

This book reminded me of the book Native Son by Richard Wright; while it is an entirely different concept, the story is powerful and portrays the struggles of African-American people.

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