Pendragon: Merchant of death By D.J Machale


This book is about a boy named Bobby who is taken on an adventure with his Uncle Press to a world called Dendurome. Where they have to start a revolution and stop an evil man named Saint Dane from destroying Dendurome and sending it into chaos. All the while Bobby is trying to figure out why he is a what uncle press calls a traveler and how to get home. Throughout this story, Bobby sends letters back to his friends Mark and Courtney who are trying to understand what is happening and how to get their friend home. I think one of the most interesting things about this book is how the main character and the reader can relate because they are both to some extent very confused. One interesting thing that the author did was how half the book is from Bobby’s perspective and the other half are is in the third person and describes the experiences of Mark and Courtney. This also helps the reader relate to Mark and Courtney because they are reading the exact same letters that the reader reads. This book has a lot of Fantasy aspects so people who like fantasy would like it. It can be a bit confusing at the beginning so who have to push through the first couple chapters but after that, it is really good and starts to make a little bit more sense. It is also very long and the conflict changes over the book so you have be able to follow who is who and what is going on.


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A List of Cages by Robin Roe (8/10)

A List of Cages by Robin Roe is a very heartfelt read. It is very much relatable to a high school teenager, and it makes readers feel many emotions whilst reading. Placed in the modern century, the book details the life of two boys, Adam and Julian, and how their lives intertwine and come together. They meet each other during high school, and their friendship and trust continues to grow. When a terrible family crisis happens to Julian, Adam is there to help in any way possible. Their kinship and relationship with each other grow to become closer than ever before.

A reoccurring theme in this book is friendship, and inclusivity. Julian did not have any friends to talk with about his home situation, and when Adam came into his life, he learned he could trust someone and get the help he needed. This book towards the end was almost impossible to put down. I actually found myself gasping and becoming wide-eyed when reading the conclusion. It is truly a gut wrenching book that causes readers to be on the edge of their seats.

The author writes with no curtain, and does not try and filter out the truth of the serious situation occurring in this book. I like how she displayed everyone’s emotions, and it made readers have similar feelings alongside the characters. I also enjoyed the imagery the author presented, although in some circumstances during the book, there were situations where the amount of imagery was dumbfounding.

The audience that would enjoy this book would be high schoolers, or young adults or parents. The book details a lot about family life and relationships in high school, so it would be very influencing and educational for these types of people to read this book. Also, if someone had ever felt alone, or their home situation was not perfect, I think they could really relate to this book on a more personal level.

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (8/10)

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson follows the journey of a teenage girl named Emily. Her best friend Sloane had disappeared and left a list. According to Emily, this list was the way to get Sloane back. The list contained things that Emily would never have thought of doing, but this was a different story. While summer went on Emily went through the list and checked things off as she did them. For every item, a new adventure began. Emily quickly made friends that she shared the thrill of the list with. Frank, Collins, and Dawn. Frank was the unexpected friend. He was the stereotypical popular guy at school, that every girl dreams of dating or even talking to, but somehow, Emily wound up being very good friends with him. Collins was Frank’s best friend, and Dawn was the girl who worked next door to Emily’s job. These three friends helped Emily get through the list before summer ended, leaving only finding Sloane left. Unfortunately, the hard part had only begun.

In Since You’ve Been Gone, the author gives common stereotypes or social queue’s and then breaks them. She puts unnatural conversation that some people might not be comfortable with and makes it interesting and fun to read. Matson also added flashbacks into the story. This added more depth into a chapter or a described scene. It gave backstory, so I had a better understanding of the authors ideas. I also believe that in adding flashbacks, it gives the idea that some things can’t be described in just one or two sentences. Some things require a whole story behind them to really understand.

The author writes in a way that you are always eager to read on. I think that that’s an extremely good quality in writing because if there was no reason to read on, no one would. Matson’s cliff-hanging writing kept me on edge and made me more interested in the book and how it was going to go on. I also enjoyed the way the author broke common stereotypes, giving each character a hidden meaning or quality.

I think that mostly teenagers would enjoy this book. It has a somewhat relatable story line and it has inspirational characters. There were definitely positive messages that I took out from the book that could help many people in hard times. The qualities of the characters inspired me to live with more courage and to be more outgoing, which I now believe are extremely important qualities in someone. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a interest in friendship and light mystery novels.

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The boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (9/10)

          The boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is an interesting and thrilling book to read. It is a fantastic book and defiantly a page turner. Set during the time of the holocaust, it tells the journey of two boys and their unlikely friendship. Bruno, son of a man who works for Hitler doesn’t know anything about the Holocaust. All he knows is that his family has relocated to a place isolated from everyone else. He doesn’t have anyone to play with, until one day he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives on the other side of the mysterious fence and wears striped pajamas. The two become wonderful friends despite their differences, however they don’t realize the challenges and evilness involved that no doubt will get to them and their friendship.

One of the many themes in this novel is friendship. Bruno is unaware of the issues going on in his world and so is Shmuel. The innocence they both have shows that anyone can become friends with anyone they want, despite the stereotypes. This is one aspect that I love about this book. It shows the special bond between the two boys even though they come from backgrounds that clash.

The author writes extremely clearly which I like. It makes it easy to follow along with the events and I had no confusion while reading the novel. Also I liked how each character had their own flaws, which made the book realistic and relatable.

I think many different types of people will like this book. I recommend it to people who like touching novels and people that are interested in learning more about the holocaust and its horrors. I also think this book was not written for a younger audience (under the age of ten) because it may be too much for them to handle. But overall I think many people would like this book because it is such a fantastic book that I now call one of my favorite books.

Jiexi Qiao


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The Catcher In The Rye, by J. D. Salinger, 7.5/10

The Catcher in the Rye takes it’s reader back in time, and shows them Holden Caulfield’s journey through New York City in the 1940’s. The book starts out at Caulfield’s  boarding school in Pennsylvania. There he walks the reader through his life so far. One learns that Holden is very troubled and has been in and out of schools. After receiving word that he is again getting kicked out of school, he decides to go on a detour when he heads back home. He ends up in New York City where he wanders around the city. There he expresses his opinions and personality through his conversations and actions. This novel shares a story of teen angst and finding oneself.

I loved reading The Catcher in the Rye the biggest reason being the time difference, the authors words and style really showed how much society has changed. Another reason I enjoyed the book was because of the persona it was written in. The book was written in first person, and because it was written this way, the author was able to cleverly share about Holden’s personality through every action he took. I think Holden is definitely one of the most multi-dimensional characters I’ve ever read about. He truly had a double personality, and it was really fun to sort through his psyche and analyze his character.

I think that The Catcher in the Rye would definitely be a great book when beginning high school. Readers of this book would have to be those who enjoy character development over the story just as much as an exciting plot line or even more than that. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to read a book not filled with suspense, but rather dimension.

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Animal Farm by George Orwell (10/10)

The premise of Animal Farm is simple, and quite like a fairy tale. Some animals in a farm are tired of being mistreated by their greedy human masters, and attempt to take over the farm for themselves. They are able to chase the humans away from the farm, and they establish some sort of government to keep the farm in order. However, the animals realize that they cannot manage it, as their government has flaws. It turns out that the animals’ belief that they should work against humans instead of with them is what led to disaster on the farm. The pigs take control of the entire situation and use all the animals for their own selfish purposes. When hope seems lost, the pigs decide to team up with the humans for their animal farm, as they have earned respect. With this action, they saved the farm from collapse, and the animals live with the humans as one unified community.

The reason that I give Animal Farm such a high rating is not because of the main plot (which is very interesting), but the clever way that the book was written. The concept in the government on the animal farm is based around Animalism, where every animal is equal, and man is evil. The nature of Animalism is very close to Communism, where there are no defined social classes. Also, Communism is about the poor workers rebelling against the rich capitalists, while Animalism is about the poor animals rebelling against the powerful humans. The downfall for both systems of governments are also the same. With Communism, people can take power and convert the society into an authoritarianism, just like what happened to the animals with the pigs taking over.

The book is very political, representing helpless social workers with Boxer, and manipulative politicians with Squealer and Napoleon. Boxer is a horse that is brainwashed into doing all the work for the wrong leader. Squealer is a pig that is an expert in manipulating the animals into giving the pigs more power. Napoleon is an animal-pleaser, as he acts like a role-model, but he is actually a tyrant who has seized power over the government.

The way that Orwell clues the reader in on what is happening is not through directly stating the events, but creating metaphors. He uses metaphors to show that the pigs are slowly taking control of the Animal Farm by showing the Commandment (a pillar of the government) different from what was written before. This suggests that the pigs had changed the Commandments to fit their needs. He also uses satire to get his point across, such as comparing Animalism and Communism, or comparing the characters to people in the real world.

The idea that an author could write about mature political topics in a satirical manner while creating relatable characters and wrapping it up in a fairy tale is something that would be very difficult. However, George Orwell has managed to do it with this book, which is an ingenious product. The book appeals to the young, with a sweet tale, and the old, with political topics. Animal lovers and people interested in politics can relate to this novel. Therefore, I give this book a solid 10/10.

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Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl- 10/10

It is commonly known that when one proceeds to review or recall upon a memorable fascination, an ignorant and most often shallow review is put forth by the consumer. For example, one’s nonshelant summer read may most definitely be one of disencouragement, as the comprehension and focus on the read is of minimal value. In this case I do indeed admit to it, for I did not fully comprehend EVERY important aspect in this marvelous essay I had the pleasure of reading. Viktor Frankl was a man of few words, for his writing spoke louder than ever, engraving complete awe into a whole generation through all 165-pages of black and white print. This novel conquers the provocation of the often dormant human emotion of gratitude, for it is overlooked by many in human society. A true contemplator, Man’s Search For Meaning opens up staggering new perspectives of the human mind,  forcing one’s sincere reflection of their reactions, persona towards others, and their coping with suffering.

Man’s Search For Meaning dawns at the height of WWII, beginning with an explanation of Frankl’s motive to his teachings, and how the true inspiration came out of hardship and inevitable adversity. Viktor Frankl was a Austrian-born Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz at the heart of the Hitler’s infecting of Europe. He begins by injecting the reader with immense desire, and wanting to comprehend the story told about them, with the ultimate goal being a perspective change throughout the internal personality of the reader. Frankl began as a scarce medical volunteer for the camp, where he had in his opinion, the pleasure of working with and attending to the weakest of the weak both mentally and physically. That was in his mind the true foundations for his life’s work and philosophical teachings, as many of his patients expressed human emotions in the purest of forms, for that is what death and fear of brings out in the human race. Many feelings of depression, guilt, grief and sorrow highlighted the main pleads of the dying. Viktor would then presume to configure the moralities from these purities, and proceed to share them about the camp with his prison mates. He recalls the mental state of the majority of prisoners as being the antidote for such fatigue, and all the survivors who took inspiration from Frankl lived and died in pure admiration for the legend himself.

I hate to admit that the novel upholds a reputation of fear by many, as its preeminence comes at the price of abnormal challenge. The language in which the piece possesses is quite difficult to compute, and takes some getting used to. I promise, however, once the effort is put forth, a true depth of understanding will follow, and a connection with the author will be made nevertheless. At the same, Frankl’s style was oddly intriguing and was ultimately the reason I couldn’t stop reading. It should be noted that towards the back end of the novel, a more formal and informational transformation resides, as the author begins to discuss his teachings of Logotherapy in superior detail, making for a more slow and choppy read. For me as the reader, I didn’t mind that style so much in comparison to other novels I had read in the past, and I admired the amount of sophistication and effort put forth into each individual section of the second part. This, in my opinion allowed for more individual thought by the reader about their desired sections, opening up the doors for future questioning internally.

All in all, if challenge is sought out for the independent read, Man’s Search For Meaning is the book for you, despite your speculated “reading preference”. In my opinion, everyone needs to soak up the teachings of Viktor Frankl, and the life lessons lacing the tiny print. Philosophy is one of those phrases that gets overlooked by many, and unencouraged by everyone due to the speculated formality and intelligence needed for the study, when in reality anyone and everyone should become informed. It is in all ways the purest form of humanital education, in all aspects. A truly generational novel and a must read for anyone looking to conceive a totally alien perspective on life and all of its tremendous offerings spiritually.

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