Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Faces From the Past

Faces from the Past: Forgotten People of North America Title: Faces From The Past 
Author: James M. Deem
Teen Reviewer: Tim Wood
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Faces from the Past: Forgotten People of North America, by James M. Deem, tells the stories of several skeletons who had lived anywhere from 1600 to 1900 years ago and whose remains were found by construction workers, archaeologists, or people who simply happened to find the final resting places of the skeletons. The faces of these people were then reconstructed and their bones were studied so that information about their lives and how they died was revealed. Just a few examples of these people are a Mexican soldier, a French sailor who traveled with Sieur de La Salle, a few slaves from Albany, and Native Americans in Virginia. Each chapter of the book tells a different story about the person, how they were found, and the details surrounding their death.

For those who like both history and archaeology, this book is a gold mine of information. There is a lot of detail in this book about what happens when a body is found and how they discover who the person really was. It also includes many historical facts as to the time period and situation that the person lived in. One thing that the author does well is that he makes the stories real and interesting. He makes the history come to life. Each story has so much detail, and he puts the reader into the time period of the person he is writing about. The detail was great for the historical aspect, but I thought the detail he put into the remaking of each historical figure's face and the techniques the archaeologists used was a bit bland at times. But for anyone interested in any kind of anthropology or history, this book is a must read.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect

Title: Confessions of a Murder Suspect
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Teen Reviewer: Mikaela Palandra
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

For Tandy Angel, a teenage girl with practically inhuman intelligence, life will never be the same. Not now that her parents have just been found dead in their room and the only suspects are her and her three brothers. Tandy isn’t sure if she loved her parents. She isn’t sure that they were good people. But she is completely sure about one thing- she’ll find her parents’ killer, even if turns out to be herself. That’s right, you shouldn’t even count that out. Tandy is ready to find the truth of her parents’ death(and life)- and share some confessions of her own.

This book was an addictive read, as good mysteries always are. Tandy is something of a genius, which gives the book a clever, descriptive point-of-view. Throughout the story and especially through Tandy’s confessions, the characters were given a depth. Near the beginning, the Angel family seemed to be these perfect humans, talented, bright, and collected. However, as we learn more about Tandy and her family, you see that these people are broken and flawed after all. 

In regards to the murder mystery, I felt that much of the book was dedicated to discovering more about Tandy’s parents than who might have killed them, which made the resolution to the murder really out-of-the-blue. The authors did a great job revealing the parents’ secrets, however, so it did have that mystery element to it, just not quite where you’d expect. All in all, a great read, that I recommend if you’re looking for a mystery with more to it than just crime.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Erasing Time

Title: Erasing Time
Author: C.J. Hill
Teen Reviewer: Kinsey Manchester
Rating: 5/5 Stars

18 year old Sheridan and Taylor are twins who are completely different. Although they look the same, Taylor is a genius and has a social life, while Sheridan is just average. One day, they get pulled into a time machine. They travel 400 years in the future to an America that is distinctly different from their own. They don’t understand the dialect of English, the people dress quite strangely, and the city is all domed in. The worst part is that they cannot go back to their own 21st century. Taylor and Sheridan meet their translator, Echo, and his father. Echo is a mysterious boy with deep secrets of his own, but Sheridan is drawn to him. Taylor and Sheridan know that they must escape the futuristic and controlling city of Traverton, where they are being held as prisoners. The officials of Traverton are trying to get information from the twins that could allow them to extract more people from the past and bring them into the future. A dangerous and mob-like group, the Dakine, also want to use Taylor and Sheridan’s knowledge for their own purposes. The twins must escape the city, but doing so means putting their faith into Echo, who doesn’t seem to be very honest with either of them. As the plot unravels, many secrets come out and shock all of the characters in the book. Sheridan and Taylor don’t know who to trust anymore. Will the two twins make it out of the city before time runs out?

Erasing Time is a dystopian and science fiction novel. As an avid fan of dystopian novels, I have read my fair share of them, but Erasing Time is unlike any other. The book brings up many questions about the future that I have never considered, especially the evolution of language. Echo tells the twins that they still speak English, but that it has evolved from their 21st century English, which is why they do not understand it. This makes perfect sense to me and the little details like this set the book apart from the rest of the books in its genre. The relationship between the two girls is very well-developed. Although they clearly have very dissimilar personalities, they share a strong bond. I find it compelling that Echo also used to be a twin, so it is easy for Taylor and Sheridan to understand the pain that Echo has gone through with the loss of his twin. I did not expect the plot twists and revelations which were present towards the end of the book, and I found myself surprised and excited by the ending. 

C. J. Hill keeps the book fast paced and I read it fairly quickly. The author was very talented at depicting the futuristic society and making it seem like a plausible outcome of our own civilization now. Often in novels set in the future, it is hard to imagine such a place, but the setting in this book was not like that at all. I cannot wait for the upcoming sequel to this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It has many elements to it including action, science fiction, mystery, and of course, a little love story on the side. I would recommend this book to all readers, as it has something for everyone.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Review: If We Survive

Title: If We Survive
Author: Andrew Klavan
Teen Reviewer: Lexi DiTrapano
Rating: 5/5 Stars

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan is an action-packed novel about six people who take a trip to Costa Verde to help rebuild a school in one of the country’s villages. While they were there things in the country went sour and they found themselves in the middle of a revolution where the rebels are just as murderous and coldblooded as the current government. 

If We Survive is a thrilling tale filled with action and adventure as this group tries to find their way home. It’s full of loss and tragedy, fear and anger, oppression and death, and many little triumphs over time. I literally could not put the book down and got yelled at for reading while I was supposed to be doing a mid-term. Oops. Andrew Klavan has spun such a fast-paced, amazing novel that is great for everyone, no matter what your favorite genre is.

Five Stars