Top Three Books: December 2018

The end of December is already here, and the new year is beckoning—but what to read? These books will end your year with a bang!

Graceling, by Kristin CashoreKatsa’s Grace, or extreme skill, is killing, and she hates it. Thanks to her Grace, the king is using her as a threat to extort his enemies. Then she meets Po. Soon, Katsa and Po are galloping across the Middluns, chasing secrets—and that’s when Katsa discovers that she is much, much more than the king’s thug. In this savagely emotional teen fantasy, Kristin Cashore proves that there are many sides to the self

.Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik

What’s this computer made of? How about this shirt? Or this chair? There are so many things in the world, it’s easy to take them for granted. In this book, Mark Miodownik examines a few objects in minutia, but manages to paint a majestic view of the modern world. This is a wonderful book for teens looking to discover the stuff that makes up our lives


Cryptid Hunters, by Roland Smith

Grace and Marty O’Hara are two twins at the Omega Opportunity Preparatory School . . . until their parents’ airplane crashes. Soon, Marty and Grace find themselves alone in the jungles of the Congo, looking for an animal that shouldn’t exist, where the price of failure is death. This action-packed novel is a must-read for tweens with a love for adventure.

That Table is a Stage: A Review of Alexander Hamilton

My friend and I clambered onto the picnic table. The damp wood felt unsteady underneath me; I shifted my feet. Then, flashing my friend a grin, I began to sing: “Pardon me. Are you Aaron Burr, sir?

That depends. Who’s asking?

And so it continued—us standing on the picnic table, singing as loud as we could, and the other campers staring at us with slightly horrified expressions. Hadn’t everyone gotten over Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical? No—we would keep the flame burning. I loved Hamilton because it brought the Founding Fathers to life. So when I received a request to review the book behind the musical, an irrational fear clutched me: what if this book put Alexander Hamilton, who had become so real to me, back into a coffin?

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Another Way to Live: A Review of Akata Witch

“Well, I still think books are better than movies.”

My friend just shook his head at me, smiling. I had never been big on movies—I still am not—and I found that books left you more satisfied than two hours spent staring at a screen. When friends asked me, “Have you watched this?” I would always shake my head.

“You haven’t lived!” they would gasp, and I would laugh. Later, as I would flop onto my bed and immerse myself in my books, I would wonder: How is this, how is being different, not living?

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What We Say, What We Do: A Review of The Thief

Tipping my head back, I licked the last drops of pink lemonade from my cup. I glanced around the table; my cousins and my siblings were still drinking their lemonade.

“Oof,” one cousin said, glancing at a brimming cup. “I don’t think I can drink this. I’m full.”

We made appropriate sounds of sympathy. Sighing, the cousin dumped the lemonade into the pitcher.

Another cousin squawked. “That’s gross! You’ve dumped in your backwash! I’m not drinking any more lemonade.”

“Aw, come on,” I said airily, “There’s nothing wrong with that lemonade. I’d drink it.” I picked up my glass and stared at it for a moment. Then I grimaced. I wanted more lemonade, but somehow, I couldn’t make myself drink from that pitcher.

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A Courageous Decision: A Review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

For hundreds of years, slavery was accepted as a way of life. To see people beaten for working too slowly, sold to pay off debt, or killed in fits of anger was the ugly but unquestioned norm. Today, with slavery almost gone, it is something to speak of in somber tones and with grim faces. But if slavery is so hard to speak of now, imagine how hard it would be to discuss back when it was at its peak. Who would take up the task and tell of something so awful, so horrifying, and so real?

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Struggle for Self-Control: A Review of The Eye of the World


With a groan, I forced myself to look at the electric clock on my night table. I groaned again. It read 22:46. I should have turned off the light more than an hour ago, I thought guiltily. I nestled back into my blankets, glancing back at the book in my hands. More than anything, I wanted to keep on reading. I wanted to re-immerse myself in Rand al’Thor’s world and stay there all night. But something stopped me. Rand’s struggle was with his control of power—was I going to urge him on, and then fail to control myself?

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