Southbury Teen Review Blog

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How to Lead a Life of Crime April 6, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 5:05 pm
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life of crimeHow to Lead a Life of Crime
Kirsten Miller

After running away from military school, Flick is living in the streets of New York City surviving as a pickpocket.  One day a mysterious man approached Flick and offers him an opportunity to get revenge on his father.  Flick is offered a spot at the prestigious Mandel Academy, where his father went.  Mandel Academy is not your ordinary high school, its students are all varyind degrees of criminals, from pickpockets and prostitutes to serial killers.  Flick quickly rises to the top of his class until Mandel throws a curveball at him; his ex-girlfriend Joi enters the Academy and only one of them will survive to graduation.

When I first saw this I was intrigued.  The plot sounded interesting and amusing.  For some reason I got it into my head that this was going to be more lighthearted than it was and I was surprised how dark and violent it got.  Flick was a very interesting character, he is super smart and while he is a thief he has a heart.  He wants to avenge his brother’s death by destroying his father, who murdered Jude, and he is also in love with Joi.  At Mandel Academy Flick has a hard time accepting that he has two choices: do what Mandel wants and hurt people or fail and be “expelled,” not likeing either choice Flick tries to find a third “spectacular” choice.  Joi was another great character, I liked her from the beginning when she is taking care of street children that she finds.  She is smart and kind and when she enters Mandel Academy we see a completly different side of her that makes her awesome!  Who knew Joi had so many great secrets!

Even though this book was not what I was expecting I was pleasantly surprised.  There was tons of action, great characters, and the plot kept me guessing what was going to happen next.  There was a lot of violence so this is definintly meant for an older teen audienc.  The overall situation of powerful corrupt leaders in out country seemed very plausible and while there may not be a real Mandel Academy, there is probably a very similar school out there.  Just to add some more plausibility to this book, when the book was published it was compromised according to the author Kirsten Miller.  You can read about it here on her blog or check out the book’s website for more info.  I’m not sure how true it is but you can decide for yourself!


Easy February 8, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 4:36 pm
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Tammara Webber

After following her boyfriend to college Jacqueline finds herself single when her boyfriend of 3 years decides he wants to be able to be with other people. One night while leaving a frat party Jacqueline is attacked by a friend of her ex’s. luckily a mysterious stranger steps in and saves her from her attacker. As she tries to cope with being dumped and attacked Jacqueline starts to form a friendship with her economics tutor and the mysterious stranger from that night.

OMG this was a great book. It centers around the tough topic of rape but Tammara Webber does a great job tackling the topic. You can feel the horror and gravity of the situation but with characters like the hilarious Erin, it is easy to get through the hard parts. I think Webber did a good job portraying college life and the all too common rapes that occur.

Jacqueline was a really likable character, she was a smart, motivated and kind girl that got stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time and it is easy to sympathize with her. Although she had to deal with a scumbag like Buck she was able to keep moving forward and learn who she was and what she wanted.

Landon was the sweet and friendly academic type who was ambitious and a good student like Jacqueline. He was open and thoughtful and sounded like a great guy. I really liked him and for a while I wasn’t sure who I would root for, Landon or Lucas? Which brings me to Lucas, the tattooed savior that sits in Economics class and draws the whole time. Who wouldn’t want the strong, mysterious, tattooed, coffee-making, self-defense teaching, campus fixit, and brooding guy??

While the main events of this book center around the horrible subject of rape, this book is about empowerment.  Jacqueline is given tools, through a self defense class, and support, from her friends and the Greek Community at her school, to work through her attacks and to defend herself when she needs it.  This book also support the message that if someone is attacked it should be reported to the police and it is not the victim’s fault no matter what other people might try to say.  This was a great read and the Jacquelin/Landon/Lucas plot just made this book even better!