The Reading Eagles

TPCA Media Class… Grow In Grace



The Last 13 – Action on Every Page

Review of:  The Last 13 by James Phelan

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Schafer

“I snap my fingers and everybody dies!” Can you even imagine living in a world where someone that evil has the power to control your life? This is the reality for unfortunate Sam, the main character in The Last 13 by James Phelan.  He has become the target for the very powerful and evil Solaris. Sam has the ability to see the future, one that’s not very pretty. With Sam orchestrating a revolt, there is a growing chance that Solaris can be defeated! Sam and his friends are now working together in the attempt to defeat the very destructive Solaris, who seeks the treasure that Leonardo da Vinci is thought to have left behind.  The treasure they are seeking is not man-made. To find out what the treasure is, you must read this book… Experience the power of teamwork in this novel that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat!

This book honestly had me so enamored that I had no interest in TV or my electronics for a week. It was as if the book was glued to my hand from the moment I picked it up! What got me hooked from the very beginning was how the exposition was filled with action. Within the first few pages, Sam had been taken hostage! I’ve wracked my brain and cannot come up with any part of this book that I didn’t love… well, except for the cliffhanger ending which nearly killed me! It was just too suspenseful! Be sure to have the second book in the series, The Last 13, #12  at the ready! This read, like all outstanding books, makes you feel as if you were there. I felt like I heard and felt the reverberations from the bombs going off!  Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was that it is written in 1st person- I felt like I WAS Sam.  While I was reading, I felt many emotions alongside him. I was happy, scared, tense, nervous and joyful.   Ahhh, a book after my own heart!

The Last 13 would be a fantastic read for many people like my friend Jake, who loves to read a book that has the element of action on every page. Well, here you go!  One cautionary note: I would suggest that you are 9 or older before taking this adventure due to mild violence and tense situations. Don’t let this stop you! Just maybe pause. This book is a quick read and a most excellent adventure to take!

The Unbelievable Secret

REVIEW OF: Hitler’s Secret, by William Osborne


What do we really know about Hitler? Most people only know the basics; that he tortured and killed Jews and had hopes to take over the world, but what do we know about him personally? For all we know, Hitler may have had a family or a child…

HitlersSecretOne boy and one girl were each chosen to perform a mission, an almost impossible mission; they knew nothing about each other, they didn’t even know their real names; Otto and Leni is what they were to call each other.  After only two weeks together, the courageous teenagers are sent off to Germany to collect a “package.” This “package” that they are sent to receive is not an item, it is a child. Angelika is her name; she is a cheerful child with one wish: to get out.  Angelika is being kept in with nuns in a convent and to her, there is nothing in the world that she would want more than to be free and see the world.  So when Otto and Leni arrive, Angelika is more than willing to come with them, especially when they tell her that they are getting her out of there. The mission seems to be going successfully, until the teenagers learn how much Angelika means to Germany; it almost seems as though Adolf Hitler himself has a connection to her. It seems as though Germany itself doesn’t want Angelika to leave. Though these audacious kids must face many trials, hope is on the horizon, but time is running out and safety is almost out of their grasp.

Hitler’s Secret is a definite reread. I loved the suspense, the figurative language, the character development, and almost every other aspect about the novel. At the end of every chapter you are left wondering, what will happen next? The novel takes such a different twist as to what Hitler may have been like, or what secrets he may have kept from the world. Each and every character was developed into a completely new person by the end of the book; characters you may have not liked in the beginning become your favorite and characters you may have thought you liked, you ended up hating by the end of the novel. Hitler’s Secret, by William Osborne, is no doubt a must-read.

In my opinion, this novel is not the best suited to younger readers, I feel that maybe 5th grade and up would be the perfect age for it. The novel contains some of the violence of WWII and I feel that the topic of the Holocaust is a very heavy topic, and most young readers should focus on lighter and more happy novels, rather than the horrors of war. Hitler’s Secret is a truly wonder filled and thrilling novel, but only for a certain age. I have no doubt that if (sorry, I mean when) you read this novel, you will be enticed and trapped within each page for the writing brings fear, suspense, and many more emotions out for you.

fellowshioReview of:  The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Reviewed by: Caleb

“One ring to rule them all.” In The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, Frodo Baggins is a pleasant hobbit who lives with his relative Bilbo Baggins. When Bilbo leaves home one day, Frodo inherits everything Bilbo owned, including a gold ring. The wizard Gandalf, a friend of Frodo, tells him the ring contains great evil. He must go to Mt. Doom and destroy the ring in its fiery pits. When Frodo sets off, his friends Sam, Merry, and Pippin come with him. While they’re traveling they encounter mysterious cloaked horsemen called black riders, who are asking about Frodo. Apparently, a great evil wants the ring. When they enter the land of Withywindle accidentally after defeating evil trees, strange things start happening. Another evil tree attacks! Luckily, they are saved by a strange man named Tom Bombadil, who aids them again when the hobbits are captured. Then, they go to an Inn called the Prancing Pony where they meet Strider, a ranger and friend of Gandalf.  With this new helper, the party goes to Weathertop Hill, but the black riders attack. In the midst of the fray, Frodo is stabbed by one of their evil blades and must be taken to the elves for healing; he barely makes it to the house of Elrond, elf lord of Rivendell.

In Rivendell, Frodo is reunited with Gandalf, his friends, and even Bilbo!  Elrond, an elf lord, holds a council. Dwarves, men, hobbits, and elves are all there. It is revealed that Gandalf had been captured, but escaped. Then comes the matter of the ring. Who will take it to be destroyed? Frodo says he will, but he doesn’t go alone. A fellowship forms, made up of Gandalf, Legolas, Golin, Frodo, Strider (actually the king Arogorn), Boromir, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. They call themselves the Fellowship of The Ring.  Will they complete the quest or not?

I think The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring is a very well-written novel. The quest is full of danger, action, and magic. I also enjoyed all the humorous complaints from the travelers. I think the theme is power corrupts; I saw this multiple times when all the people would ask for the ring, and act angry or not themselves. I think it is because of the ring’s power that the people were becoming cruel. While reading, I felt excited because of all the twists and turns on the journey. I rate this book three and one half stars.

I recommend this book to people 12 and up, because the book is long and there are many advanced words. I also recommend this novel to people who like fantasy, because this book is choc-full of it.

Earth’s Worst Natural Disaster

Review of: The Kill Order, by James Dashner

Reviewed by: Nicole

The world hasn’t faced a worse natural disaster than The Sun Flares since James Dashner brought them to life in The Kill Order.  Mark, a curious teen who lived in what used to be New York City, witnessed The Sun Flares as they rained down upon the U.S. After teaming up with two former soldiers to escape the natural disaster, Mark and Trina, his friend since he was little, have to live out west where the Sun Flares weren’t as severe. Mark could not imagine that his life could get any more interesting until huge, modern planes called burgs crossed the sky above his group. The burgs hopped over the tiny settlement that some survivors had made along with Mark’s team. All of the settlers were curious, but the burgs had not come there to play around. The planes started shooting out darts that littered the Earth and the people. The survivors began dropping to the ground as soon as a dart pricked their worn out body. Mark and his friends scrambled to reach safety, but not soon enough; some of Mark’s friends were hit. One of the former soldiers, Alec, and Mark tried to track down the monstrous planes, but all they managed to do was crash it. After returning to the settlement, Alec and Mark witnessed the aftermath of the darts. Everyone who was hit by a deadly dart contracted a disease that ate away at their brain and killed them.  The brave teen realized that they had to uncover why anyone would wipe out part of the population that was left.

On their journey, they met a small girl that was abandoned in a near by village, but one thing was different about her: she was hit by a dart, but wasn’t sick or going crazy.  Everything got stranger and more mysterious as they kept going on their mission. The team ran into insane villagers who believed that Deedee, the immune little girl,  was the source of The Sun Flares. After much fighting, Lana, the other former soldier, Trina, and Deedee were taken. Mark and Alec have to track the girls down and find the resolution to the mysterious disease and why someone unleash that upon the U.S. Can they do it or will they lose their sanity just like the others who caught the deadly disease and slowly die?

I could not put The Kill Order down. There was so much mystery as to what some people were plotting and what the disease was. I enjoyed the action that was in the novel. Mark and his friends were constantly running from danger which made me keep reading. James Dashner also did an incredible job describing the insane villagers, so I felt like I was transported into the book. I enjoyed reading about the bond that Mark and Alec shared. I love reading about the bond getting stronger and stronger. What I admire about this story is that almost every chapter ends with a mini cliff hanger, so it literally forces you to keep reading. I enjoyed reading this amazing book and look forward to the last one in the series.

I recommend The Kill Order for kids in middle school. This novel is a little violent at times, so it wouldn’t be good for young children to read. You will come to admire it just like I have. This novel is perfect for boys and girls because James Dashner wrote the story so that anyone can fall in love with it. There is maybe one or two bad words and a little romance, but overall it was very enjoyable. I loved this story and all kids in middle school should give The Maze Runner series a chance.


Plane Crash And Prison Camp!

unbrokenReview of: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed by: Lucas

Louie Zamperini will survive! He lived through WWII, prison, and forty-seven days on a raft. Louie’s story in Unbroken by Laura Hillenband started as a evil, little boy with “black hair as coarse as barbed wire.” When he found the key to the school gym is when he really start his race to fame. Louie found the key to the school gym, so he sneaked people into a basketball game. As Louie’s punishment, he had to join track; the punishment was his brother Pete’s idea. That was the starting pistol to running his way to the Olympics, but although he made it, he did not get gold. The next year the Olympics were cancelled due to the beginning of World War II, so Louie joined the army as a bombardier. After surviving a deadly mission and being bombed, he was sent on a rescue mission in an unsafe plane. Then one of the engines went out! They were going to crash! Out of nine men, only three lived through the crash. Louie, Phil, and Mac climbed onto a raft with little supplies, surviving longer than anyone else on a raft who lived to tell their tale. They were found by the Japanese who moved Louie from one prison to the next. Louie met an evil prison gourd called the Bird, who was a bird of prey. The Bird attacked Louie continuously until the war was over! But it wasn’t until he got home did he start to break! He thought God was using Louie as His toy until he was dragged to church by his wife. That night, Louie stopped drinking and having flashbacks and nightmares. He devoted his life to Christ and helped others.

Unbroken was the best biography I have ever read. It was full of action, but the author knew when to take a break. I liked how it was divided into four different parts: the Olympics, the raft, prison, and after he went home. Laura Hillenbrand did a fine job describing the setting, she made the raft feel dead. This was not like a textbook, it was a story

I think 6th graders and up should read this book because it was an astounding novel. Along with some terrible language, there were some intense parts and descriptions. If you are a 6th grader or older and haven’t read it, you should read it.

Olympian Prisoner

Review of: Unbroken (young adult version,) by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewer: Bella



“He could have run away, but he refused to bend.” He stands in the boiling sun. Arms aching, heart racing. Refusing to be broken by the monster that has held him in unbreakable chains. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand relays the heartbreaking and triumphant true story of Louis Zamperini. At a young age, Louie was a criminal, stealing and then swiftly running away from the police. He did this day after day, gaining the recognition that he so desperately craved. Pete, Louie’s older brother, saw some thing in Louie, other than being a juvenile delinquent. Pete focused Louie on track, Louie became stronger and ran many races, often winning first. When he was older, he signed himself up for the Berlin Olympics, left his hometown of Torrance, Italy and came home winning seventh place. Louie was content with his determination during the race, and signed up for another olympics. After the olympics were cancelled, Louie enlisted in the army to become a bombardier. Louie became a bombardier on Hawaii and met many friends, one of whom was the pilot on the B-24 plane that Louie flew on who was named Phil. While Louie was on a rescue mission, the B-24 that he was on along with Phil and other crewman, crashed into the violent ocean. Only three men survived the crash: Louie, Phil, and Mac. After 47 days of floating in the ocean, shark attacks, starvation, and devastation, Louie and Phil are approached what appeared to be an island. As they got closer to the “island” they realized that it was a Japanese ship.

Louie and Phil were loaded onto the ship, taken as POWs, Prisoner of Wars. Louie and Phil were taken to many POW camps, one of which Louie meets the monster that will haunt his dreams. The monster is Mutsuhiro Wantanabe, nicknamed the Bird. The Bird beats Louie senseless and without mercy. The Bird strips Louie of his dignity and leaves him afraid. Finally America comes to rescue the POWs and Louie is relieved. Louie comes home and is a nightmare. He married a girl named Cynthia and begins to use alcohol to solve his problems, but it doesn’t, it only makes things more difficult. After years of struggling, Cynthia takes Louie to see the preacher Billy Graham. Louie realizes that his life is not in the right place an it is not going in the right direction. Can Louie grow close with God and reinvent the relationship that they have never had?

Unbroken was a beautiful novel that showed someone who was robbed of everything, then gained back anything that was lost.  At certain parts, I was viciously reading, wanting to know Louie’s outcome. This book taught me lessons such as: to depend on Jesus, perseverance, and determination. I felt close to the characters and loved most of their personalities because Hillenbrand’s description is so vivid.  I enjoyed Louie’s walk to faith and the effect that it had on him. I believe that this book could bring others to Christ an I recommend reading this masterpiece. Louie’s story truly is triumphant and it is inspiring as a christian.

I recommend Unbroken to students sixth and above. My reasoning for this is because of the intensity of Louie’s situation is too mature for younger students. When I first saw this book, I thought that it was about airplanes, but the story that lies inside of it is truly wonderful. I believe that everyone will take something away from this novel.

Complicated Tests and Obstacles

Review of: The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

Reviewed by: Graham S

mysterious benedict“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” In The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, this is an advertisement that was in the daily newspaper that caught four kids’ attentions: Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance.  All these kids pass extremely complicated tests cleverly created by Mr. Benedict. Mr. Benedict is a jolly, small, plump man who is looking for a team of kids to defeat an evil mastermind. The mastermind is telepathically sending secret messages to ordinary people’s minds. The messages make them socially disappear by erasing their minds and personality. Mr. Curtain, the evil mastermind, made a school for highly talented kids; he uses these kids to send the secret messages. So, Mr. Benedict sends Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance to the school. Reynie is a very smart and clever orphan. Sticky’s real name is George, but everyone calls him Sticky because anything he sees or reads “sticks” in his mind. Kate is very tall and athletic; she also wears a bucket around her waist that has any special tools that might come in handy. Constance is a grumpy, annoying, short girl, but by the end of the story she will surprise you. While they are at the school, they are only Students; they need to increase their rank up to Messengers, so they can find out hidden information. Every night the kids are supposed to use Morse Code with their flashlights to communicate with Mr. Benedict. Quickly, Reynie and Sticky are among the few of Mr. Curtain’s favorite students. Kate and Constance are falling back in their schoolwork, so the team decides to cheat, but Sticky gets caught. Surprisingly, Mr. Curtain lets Sticky off the hook, but Mr. Curtain has a feeling that the kids are up to something. The team finds out very interesting and important facts and clues throughout the story. They learn to work together and trust each other.  Will they ever defeat Mr. Curtain? Will they ever get out of the wretched school safely?

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Trenton Lee Stewart did a great job explaining and describing the characters and story. He made it feel like I’m right in the story with them. Another reason I liked this is because of how different the characters are and how they learn to get along and work as a team. They all have certain strengths and weaknesses. They learn that they all have to work together or they won’t accomplish anything.

I would recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society to kids ages 10-14 because younger children wouldn’t understand some of the words. Also, it wasn’t a piece of cake to keep up in what was going in the story. If you are 10-14 this is the perfect book for you to read if you are looking for some action, humor, and fun.




God’s Plan for Survival

Review of: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed by: Nicole

Everyone wants attention at least once in their life, but that attention could ruin it all. A rebellious boy named Louie Zamperini craved for people to notice him. He started to smoke and drink as a young boy in order to be seen by his family and to seem tough. Stealing was his life; anything that his hungry, Italian hands could grasp Louie would make it his. Pete, his older track star and courteous brother, always imagined that Louie could one day amount to something.  So when Louie was in jeopardy of getting into real trouble, Pete made his younger brother sign up for something he had been doing his whole life: running. Louie’s legs had already had practice running from cops, so how could a race be any different? Louie’s older brother pushed him to train as vigorously as he could. Louie began to acquire desire for having a future in running . Louie smashed records including Pete’s, and in any race he started, he ended up stealing first place from his exhausted competitors. A place on the 1936 Olympic team was earned by the competitive teenager in a race against one of the fastest runners in America. Louie contemplated the 1940 Olympics in Japan, but outside Louie’s world, a war was brewing and it was going to taste like soldiers’ blood. When The Olympics were canceled, he enlisted to become a bombardier. In the Air Force, Louie became very close with his pilot named Phil. On a rescue mission, Louie’s plane, a B-24, dove towards the roaring ocean and Louie braced himself for death.  Only three men survived the deadly crash: Louie, Phil, and Mac. Just like that, Louie’s dreams began to sink with the metal bird.  After 47 days of sharks, starvation, dehydration, and fear of what lies ahead, Louie and Phil’s raft was rescued by the Japanese, and they became Prisoners-Of-War (POWs). 

In the POW camp, the Bird, a Japanese soldier full of hatred and jealousy, swoops down on the Olympic runner unlike any other POW officer. The Bird will not stop beating Louie until he loses his dignity and even to the point when doesn’t feel human anymore. Finally, WWII is over and Louie gets to go home. At first, the former runner’s only clue of being a POW were his physical scars.  However, soon after getting married, nightmares and flashbacks arrive in his mind. He begins to drink, but that doesn’t help, and it only makes situations worse. He wants to kill the Bird for the pain he caused, and that consuming anger torments Louie’s mind.  Cynthia, his wife, begs him to go see Billy Graham, a Christian speaker, but Louie wants nothing to do with God. All Louie’s life, he had finished races, but can he finish life’s race with God filling his bitter heart?  

This action-packed novel is one of my favorite books.  Unbroken didn’t take me very long to read because I couldn’t put it down.  I was challenged by the vocabulary and the amazing figurative language. “The POWs saw fire dancing over the skyline.” “Slavery swallowed men’s souls, but the POWs scored little victories.” Those are just two of the incredible figurative language. The suspense made me read for hours. I wanted to know how Louie was going to survive the plane crash. Laura Hillenbrand did an incredible job writing about Louie’s life and making it feel like you are with him through every struggle. There was a lot of deep detail in the POW camp and that made me realize the pain that Louie went through. I personally loved discovering the times that God was obviously with Louie throughout his life. When Louie was on the raft a Japanese fighter plane shot at the for hours and not one bullet hit him or his friends. Unbroken Is definitely one of my favorite stories and I will always love it. In the action-packed novel, Louie learned that he had the strength it took to get through the gruesome war and he realized what his purpose was in life.

I think everyone should read the biography of Louie’s eventful life; however, I do not recommend this book for ages under twelve.  It has a few scenes that some younger children shouldn’t read, like how Louie was tortured and how badly he was treated; but the episodes of Louie’s life that are scary makes the reader identify with Louie. Also, to be able to dig deep and think deeply about this novel is easier for older kids. I think both boys and girls will fall in love with this story and especially if they love the history of WWII.  Unbroken is an amazing story  which all readers will remember long after they finish reading. 


Adventurous, Astonishing ,and Amazing

Review of: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Reviewed By: Luke


tom sawyer

Do you think you’re a rebel? Compared to Tom Sawyer, you’re just a goody-two shoes. Mark Twain writes about a rebellious boy who steals, runs away, and is always ready to explore. The title perfectly fits the story, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. There is also two more important characters in Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Joe Harper. Huckleberry Finn is famous for being the baddest kid in town, but he and Tom become friends throughout the story. Joe Harper has been Tom’s pal since either of them could remember. Tom Sawyer involves wacky and exhilarating adventures including runaways, creepy graveyards, and a mysterious cave. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry are wandering throughout a graveyard to find some treasure, they encounter men putting somebody’s body in the graveyard. They figure out that a man named Injun Joe had murdered someone. They run as fast as they can and swear that they will never tell anybody about what they have just seen. As Tom and Becky, Tom’s crush, are stuck in a cave with no sense of direction. Tom hears somebody walking throughout the cave; as he gets closer to the person he realizes it’s Injun Joe, the town scoundrel. He realizes that Injun Joe is coming for him because Tom had gotten him in trouble, in court, for murdering an innocent man. He runs away from him and tries to find his way out of trouble.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a interesting and exciting book. In my opinion Tom Sawyer has some useless detail like what he is doing at school, which can make the book boring at times. However, Tom Sawyer is an outstandingly written book, containing  descriptions that really makes it amusing and sensational to read.  I like how Mark Twain describes Tom as a tough kid, but when he gets away from home, he wants to go back even though it doesn’t seem like it.  Tom Sawyer is a fantastic book, and once I got into it, I didn’t want to put it down.

I would recommend Tom Sawyer for kids that are 10+. The book contains contains scenes in it that aren’t quite a good fit for younger kids. Other than that, this book would be satisfying for kids to read because it contains excitement and entertainment for all. This book is also adventurous, astonishing, and amazing. Tom Sawyer has lots of themes too like, its has lots of action, mysteries, and it is very humorous.


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