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The Illustrated Man – A Review

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the illustrated man

Title/Author: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In the arcane designs scrawled upon the illustrated man’s skin swirl tales beyond imagining: tales of love and laughter, darkness and death, of mankind’s glowing, golden past and its dim, haunted future. Here are eighteen incomparable stories that blend magic and truth in a kaleidoscope tapestry of wonder–woven by the matchless imagination of Ray Bradbury.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Science-fiction

Diversity: Yes. For example, one story, “The Other Foot”, deals with the interplanetary segregation of blacks and whites.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: I enjoyed reading each story and was very glad they were extremely short as I don’t think they would have been as enjoyable had they been longer. However, I did feel as if I was meant to learn a lesson with each story, which Bradbury has done with his work before, so I wasn’t too surprised. For example, there were a few about what would happen if books were banned and one about perseverance when you feel as if all hope is lost. I think the one that really stood out for me, though, was the very last one entitled “The Rocket”. The outcome of that story was not what I was expecting at all, and so heartwarming, compared to the others. It was the perfect way to end the book. If you enjoy science-fiction, I highly recommend this collection of short stories set in the future when interplanetary travel has become “the thing to do”. When reading this, you very quickly realize that just because it’s the future and we can travel to other planets, that doesn’t mean our human problems have gone away.

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk – A Review

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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harvey milk

 

Title/Author: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In 1977, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the United States. This book chronicles his short life, telling in detail how an outsider won over a city and changed lives for the better, all before he was assassinated eleven months after his election.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: LGBTQ Non-Fiction

Diversity: LGBTQ and minorities from a variety of other countries.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: YES. If you’re at all interested in LGBTQ history, or outsiders who defy the odds, you’ll enjoy this book.

Personal thoughts: What I liked best about Harvey Milk was that he was an average, everyday person who decided he could make the world a better place by running for city supervisor, an elected political position, in San Francisco. He put in hours of hard work to meet the people, going out to bus stops and cafes every day, bars at night, wherever he could meet people and find out what they wanted fixed in their city. He had a great sense of humor, and loved telling jokes wherever he was. This book helps to show his personality, the hardships he went through to get where he was at the end of his life, as well as the gay political climate of the era around the country, which wasn’t very good at the time. I found the writing style to be easy to read, though sometimes it was hard to remember who a specific person was because multiple people had the same, or similar, names. (But that’s real life for you, right?) I almost cried at the end, knowing what a great guy he was and knowing he wasn’t going to survive. That did make it a hard read. I’m still amazed that the birthday party held in his honor just a few months after his death brought 20,000 people to his neighborhood to celebrate his life! If a guy can do that, he must have been great.

My Summer Reading List for 2015!

Posted on May 29th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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Every summer I like to challenge myself to read eight books I wouldn’t normally read within the months of June, July, and August. Some of the books have been chosen by Boston schools as either previous, or current, summer reading books and others are books I’ve been interested in for awhile but haven’t gotten around to reading yet. There is always a mix of fiction and non-fiction. As I finish each book, I  will post a review here on this blog so that everyone can see what’s going on and determine whether or not something on my list will be of interest. So, without further ado, here is my personal summer reading list for 2015:

 

FICTION:

 

the illustrated man

 

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

 

The tattooed man moves, and in the arcane designs scrawled upon his skin swirled tales beyond imagining: tales of love and laughter darkness and death, of mankind’s glowing, golden past and its dim, haunted future. Here are eighteen incomparable stories that blend magic and truth in a kaleidoscope tapestry of wonder–woven by the matchless imagination of Ray Bradbury.

 

 

 

 

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

 

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

 

In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

 

 

caine mutiny

 

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

 

The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.

 

 

Monkey

 

Monkey: A Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en

 

Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic combination of picaresque novel and folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking tale. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies.

 

 

 

 

 

bel canto

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

 

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

 

 

 

 

NON-FICTION:

 

harvey milk

 

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

 

Known as “The Mayor of Castro Street” even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk’s personal life, public career, and final assassination reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in America. It is a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope.

 

 

 

when I was a soldier

 When I Was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti

 

What is it like to be a young woman in a war?
At a time when Israel is in the news every day and politics in the Middle East are as complex as ever before, this story of one girl’s experience in the Israeli national army is both topical and fascinating. Valerie begins her story as she finishes her exams, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves for service with the Israeli army. Nothing has prepared her for the strict routines, grueling marches, poor food, lack of sleep and privacy, or crushing of initiative that she now faces. But this harsh life has excitement, too, such as working in a spy center near Jerusalem and listening in on Jordanian pilots. Offering a glimpse into the life of a typical Israeli teen, even as it lays bare the relentless nature of war, Valerie’s story is one young readers will have a hard time forgetting.

 

 

beowulf

 

Beowulf by Unknown; Translated by Seamus Heaney

 

The national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.

 

 

 

 

Bitterblue – A Review

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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bitterblue

Title/Author: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Bitterblue first appeared in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling as a young princess running from her father, the king. She was ten years old then. Now she’s 18 and struggling as Queen to understand exactly what happened during her father’s reign and how it’s still affecting her people. During her search for the truth, she befriends a thief and realizes that King Leck used his grace to do the most unspeakable things to his subjects.

Series/Standalone: Book 3 in the Graceling trilogy

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: yes (In reading Bitterblue, I’ve come to realize there is more diversity in the previous books than I originally thought, but they aren’t for the reader to know about, until book 3.)

Relatable characters: yes

Would I re-read?: Maybe-yes

Personal thoughts: This was a very difficult book to read, as much as it was very good. Bitterblue faces many obstacles in her search for the truth, and many of those obstacles bring her down, making her doubt herself. This was hard to read, but also finding out exactly why King Leck hired his healers as his main advisers was also difficult. I won’t sugar coat it, this book is dark, and a lot longer than the other two. However, that said, it does a nice job of ending the trilogy and wrapping up all the important bits, while leaving enough open to be realistic. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a lot of realism thrown in.

Fire – A Review

Posted on April 1st, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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fire

Title/Author: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Fire is the last monster human alive, with the ability to read minds. When spies start appearing in the Dells with foggy brains, the king pleads with her to help with the interrogations, to figure out who means well and who doesn’t. But she doesn’t want to hurt anyone the way her father did and she considers interrogation almost inhumane. And yet, if she doesn’t help the king, war will break out and the kingdom could be lost.

Series/Standalone: Book 2 in the Graceling trilogy, but can be read as a standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: There are characters with mobility issues

Relatable characters: yes

Would I re-read?: Maybe

Personal thoughts: I enjoyed reading this, though I think I enjoyed the first book, Graceling, even more. Again, there is a romance in this story, but it doesn’t take over the story, and it doesn’t have the traditional ending most romances have, which I appreciated. The main character is strong, but also has weaknesses, which was also appreciated. She was realistic in that way.  There is one more book in this trilogy, Bitterblue, which I am intending to read next!