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Graceling – A Review

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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graceling

Title/Author: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Katsa is a Graceling, graced with the extreme skill to kill. Her uncle, the king, has been using her to keep control over his lands since she was a young girl. But then she meets Prince Po and finds a friend where she never expected to find one. With Po, she’ll work to break free from the bindings the king has placed on her and head off on a wild adventure that will teach her more about herself than even she knew was possible, all while keeping friends and family safe from unknown dangers.

Series/Standalone: Book 1 in the Graceling trilogy (but can also be read as a standalone)

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: Characters are diverse in the fact that a select few are different than the rest, some have disabilities as well, though skin colors don’t play a factor, eye colors do.

Relatable characters: Yes

Would I re-read?: Yes

Personal thoughts: I loved the cover. I loved the fact that Katsa was a strong girl in mind and body, who didn’t lack emotions, who knew what she didn’t want in life and was strong enough to stick to that all the way through the book. Yes, there is a bit of romance here, but it’s never overwhelming, and the couple are friends first and foremost. The story was brilliant. Even I didn’t see how the puzzle pieces fit together until the very end. The world building was fantastic, and all of the characters were well rounded. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy.

The Recruit – A Review

Posted on March 20th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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The Recruit

 

Title/Author: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Read by: Anna, Teen Librarian at Teen Central

Summary: A young boy finds a way out of his rough life after his mother dies, when he is given the opportunity to train as a spy for the British government.

Series/Standalone: Book one out of twelve.

Genre/sub-genre: Mystery/Thriller/Espionage

Diversity: Some of the more minor characters came from different backgrounds.

Relatable characters: Yes, though some of the characters seemed a lot older than their stated ages.

Would I re-read?: Perhaps, though I am really looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Personal thoughts: This was a very fast read for me, as I couldn’t put it down. It was also something that I wish had been around when I was a teen because I know I would have loved it back then too. The characters were great, and James’ first mission was interesting because it did leave him with a lot of questions about the validity of what the government was doing versus what common civilians were trying to do, and what large companies sometimes get up to. If you enjoy reading about spies, I encourage you to pick up this book, you’ll be glad you did!

Book Review: Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

“If your imagination isn’t working-and, of course, in oppressed people that’s the first thing that goes – you can’t imagine anything better. Once you can imagine something different, something better, then you’re on your way.” -Lee Maracle

New to BPL’s shelves, this book is a beautiful collection of art, photography, poetry, personal essays, songs and stories. Put together they tell a story of modern Native Americans outside of Hollywood movies. At times fascinating and sad to learn about current social injustices that Native Americans still face to date. At the same time, this book is a wonderful exploration of universal themes that Teens can relate to, such as bullying and finding one’s own identity.

Pages 84 - 85 features the merging of traditional Coast Salish art with everyday pop culture objects by Louie Gong.

Pages 84 – 85 features the merging of traditional Coast Salish art with everyday pop culture objects by Louie Gong.

Microwave Mac and Cheese

Posted on February 4th, 2015 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in Books, Programs, Teen Services

Ah, Mac and Cheese. 90% of Americans’ favorite food (I just made up that statistic.) With over 40 inches of snow that has fallen on Boston in the last week, I would argue that a little comfort food is much needed. At the Grove Hall Branch, Teens this month learned how to make their own instant Microwave Mac and Cheese. No need for pots or strainers, all you need are four simple ingredients and a mug for this recipe:

Mac1

Ingredients:

1/3 cup pasta
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Stir the pasta and water in a large mug or bowl.

2. Microwave on high for two minutes, then stir. The water might overflow, the bigger the mug or bowl will lessen this.

3. Repeat microwaving and stirring for at least 2 to 4 more minutes, stirring at each 2-minute interval. The water should absorb completely and the pasta will be cooked through. If the pasta is still crunchy, add a little bit more water and microwave again. If the pasta is completely dry, it will burn in the microwave!

4. Once pasta is cooked, remove from microwave and stir in the milk. Microwave for another minute. Stir the cheese thoroughly into the pasta, our teens found they had to microwave again for 30 seconds to melt the cheese completely.

FinalMac

 

Might have gone overboard with the cheese…but when is too much cheese really a problem?

 

If you are interested in cooking, the Boston Public Library has cookbooks written just for Teens:

CookStormCookTeenEatFreshHowtoCookGreenTeenCreative

Grave of the Fireflies

Posted on January 27th, 2015 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Resources, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

grave of the fireflies

This older Studio Ghibli film dates from 1988. Grave of the Fireflies, is a tragedy about a young sister and brother and their struggle to survive the fire-bombings of Japan during the Second World War. It is a moving study of humanity’s strengths and weaknesses. Who is your enemy? Who is your family, friend or neighbor? While their father is out at sea with the Japanese navy, their family is further fragmented in a fire-bombing raid. The children seek shelter with extended family but encounter callousness, neglect and exploitation. Some total strangers show more compassion than their own families and the older brother struggles to care for his sister and keep them all alive. The story of these children teaches us all about the horrors of war, and both the angels and demons of human nature. I imagine the title makes reference to the short life and light of fireflies. The artwork shows its age in the rendering style compared to more modern works, but expressions and animation are still top quality Ghibli. The voice acting in the English dub that I saw on Netflix was adequate, but I prefer to listen to the Japanese and read subtitles. This can be challenging during rapid dialog. Audiences should be ready for heartbreak when watching this film. It may be interesting to compare it with The Wind Rises, about the designer of the famous Zero fighter plane. But that recent film deals more with life before the war and Japan’s notable achievement in aeronautics. To me, the most powerful part of Grave of the Fireflies comes at its most cruel moment, when so-called “friends” stoop to staggering depths of avarice and disrespect. Grave of the Fireflies is a great film, but one to be watched with care.