Boston Public Library
Teens

Category Archives: Reviews – Staff

These book reviews are from librarians you know!

Something Wicked This Way Comes – A Review

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

This is the story of two best friends: Will and Jim, both thirteen-years-old. When a carnival comes to town, Jim, ever the adventurous one, is drawn to it in a way that scares Will. For there is something indescribably WRONG about this carnival, though neither of them can figure out what it is. They only know that it threatens the very fabric of their lives. But how? How does it threaten them? And can they seek help from their parents? From their teacher? From the police? Who will believe them? Perhaps no one. But that’s a risk they might have to take.

It took me a bit to get into the novel, a few chapters at least, before I felt like I was submerged enough not to want to put it down. Aside from this, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Have you ever had disagreements with your best friend? Those times when, in public, your friend rushes off to do something you feel is terribly wrong? Or maybe you’re the one who wants to rush off to do something and your friend is trying to hold you back? That was a lot of this book. Where Will is proud to prevent bad things from happening, Jim views that prevention as cowardice. Will only wants to protect Jim and the rest of the town, but Jim doesn’t want that protection. As they argued, as one rushed off and the other called after him to stop, I felt as if I were there with them, feeling what it must have felt like for Will when Jim wanted to go his own way in the world, directly into darkness. The carnival was creepy. And it took my favorite ride, the carousel, and turned it into something that should never exist in this world. I’ll never ride a carousel again without thinking of this book. Yes, this is a dark, mysterious, story full of suspense and wonder. But it’s not magic that saves the day, that drives back the darkness, and that was the clincher as to why I really liked this book. Of course, it was also well written, and carried you along on a rough tide until it finally deigned to set you down on the beach feeling storm tossed, ragged, and glad to see the sun shining again.

This is a horror/suspense novel that can be found on the BPS Summer Reading 9-12 grade Mystery list for 2014.

My Summer Reading List for 2014!

Posted on May 31st, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

anna[1] avatar

Hi! For those who don’t know me, my name is Anna, and I’m one of the two Teen Librarians at the Central Library here at the BPL. Every summer I select eight books I’d like to read between the months of June and August to be my personal Summer Reading List. Most high school students in the Boston area have a summer reading list, so I thought, why shouldn’t I have one too? Usually the books I choose are titles I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but haven’t managed to get to yet, so this is a good way to catch up on my reading. Sometimes these books do come from a school summer reading list, either from a past list or a current one, but all of them are teen books or have teen appeal. Look out for my book reviews here throughout the summer!

And here is my 2014 list:

FICTION

The Wind In The Willows

The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. In the almost one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they’ve become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers’ imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie.

 

 

 

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

 

The Crystal Cave

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity, Myridden Emrys — or as he would later be known, Merlin — leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man’s-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon … and the conception of Arthur — king for once and always.

 

 

 

 

The Face Of Fear

The Face Of Fear by Dean Koontz

DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re trapped. With a beautiful, terrified woman. On the 40th floor of a deserted office building. By the psyshopath they call “The Butcher.”
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re an ex-mountain climber. Because a fall from Everest left you with a bad leg… and a paralyzing fear of heights.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because he has slaughtered the guards and short-circuited the elevators. Because the stairways are blocked, and for you and the woman with you, there’s only one escape route.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because 600 feet of empty space are looking back at you.

 

 

NON-FICTION

Man O War

Man O’ War: A Legend Like Lightening by Dorothy Ours

Born in 1917, Man o’ War grew from a rebellious youngster into perhaps the greatest racehorse of all time. His trainer said that managing him was like holding a tiger by the tail. His owner compared him to “chain lightning.” His jockeys found their lives transformed by him, in triumphant and distressing ways. All of them became caught in a battle for honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Robert Fagles

The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.

NOTE: I have also acquired an audio cassette edition of this translation read by the famed actor, Ian McKellen. It is my hope, to listen to him read aloud as I follow along with the book in print.

 

 

 

Wilfred Owen biogrpahy

Wilfred Owen: A New Biography by: Dominic Hibberd

Mr. Hibberd’s new biography of the Great War’s greatest poet, based on more than thirty years of wide-ranging research, brings new information and reinterpretation to virtually every phase of Owen’s life carefully guarded by family and friends after his death.

The Outside – A Review

Posted on May 27th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Outside

The Outside by Laura Bickle

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

The Outside is the sequel to The Hallowed Ones. This is a two book series about an Amish girl, Katie, who’s about to leave her community to spend a year outside, getting to know what the rest of the world is like before she makes the tough decision to be baptized into the Amish religion or to stay on the outside. However, Katie’s plans are abruptly changed when something horrible happens to the people outside her Amish community. Humans are being attacked by vampires and those that don’t die, are changed, forever seeking the blood of other humans, no matter what might get in their way. The gates to Katie’s community are closed. No one must get in and no one must leave. But what about the Amish who were caught out? How can they not let in friends and family when they come calling? And what about a stranger who arrives wounded? Katie isn’t sure what’s keeping the vampires out of her community, but she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way, but she’s sure the stranger isn’t a vampire. He’s just a young man in great need of help. Her actions spark the elders in her community to cast her out, along with a rescued horse, the young man, Alex, and a mother from the outside who’d been caught in the community when the gates were closed.

Now, in the second book, Katie, Ginger, Alex, and the horse, now named Horace, are on their own, doing their best to survive in a vampire riddled world, where the darkness means certain death, and even holy ground isn’t always so holy anymore. Together, they fight the darkness, make new friends they never would have otherwise, and even lose one of their own. When Katie returns to her community, she finds that things have changed, and yet, not nearly as much as she has. Will she and her friends be able to find the answers and destroy the vampires? Or is this truly the end of the world as we know it?

Both of these books were super fantastic. Yes, there are some religious overtones, however, they aren’t there to hit the reader over the head with it. I’m not a fan of religious fiction, but I enjoyed learning about the ancient religions of the world as Alex tells the stories he learned in college. He and Katie have an ongoing debate as to what’s going on in the world, is it God’s wrath or a disease that’s wiping out humanity? It’s a healthy debate, as there might not be a true answer by the end of the book. I only had one problem with this book and that was that Alex’s original plans to find his family are aborted toward the end. I’m glad he sticks with Katie, but I’d been wondering about his family and whether or not they survived. I enjoyed the romance, and the fact that it wasn’t the usual romance seen in YA novels these days. Very well done. And last, but not least, this second book was freakin’ creepy! I’m not normally afraid of the dark, and I’ve read scary books before bed in the past. But this one, I was loathe to read right before turning out the light. Those vampires are like no vampires I’ve read about before! Certainly no Lestat, or Edward Cullen for sure!

I highly recommend this if you like creepy stories and a very light romance. If you’re not into religion, that’s okay too. You can still read it, and enjoy it. I know I did.

the hallowed ones

Forever – A Review

Posted on May 13th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Read by:  Anna/Central Library

Forever is the final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy and chronicles the lives of Sam, who can no longer shift into his wolf form, his girlfriend, Grace, who is now learning to live life part-time as a wolf, Isabel who’s still not entirely thrilled with events as they unfold, and Cole, who has taken this opportunity to search for a cure.

Isabel’s father, Tom Culpepper, has gone to those men high up in the government that he can trust to get a helicopter raid on the wolves. He wants them dead for killing his son and several other teens. He wants the wolves dead. Now. The four teens, Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, struggle to figure out what their future will look like post high school graduation while at the same time feeling lost as to what to do about the helicopter raid that will wipe out their family and friends.  What’s a part-time werewolf to do?

This book was just as good as the others in the trilogy. Even toward the end, the characters stayed in character. Those that did change, did it gradually and over a long period of time, keeping things very realistic for a book about werewolves. The believability of these books was something I really enjoyed. Reading this, I can very well believe that werewolves actually do exist. Of course they do. These are teens who are thrust out into the world on their own, struggling to figure out where they belong, and how to survive in a cruel world. It’s not easy. Yes, these teens do have parents who are also struggling with their own lives, but even so, the teens know they’re on their own. They can’t go to their parents for help because their parents wouldn’t understand. If you’ve read the other two books, you’ll know exactly why Sam doesn’t like trusting outsiders with the information that they’re not entirely human. Help does come in the most unlikely form, and when it does, it doesn’t take over the story. This new person doesn’t have all the magical answers, but helps them the best way possible. Nothing is perfect. And the romance between Sam and Grace, once again, was believable and sweet; a quiet assuredness that they’d found The One . It was great to see that in a young couple. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Isabel and Cole. They don’t really get along. And yet, they also get along extremely well at the same time because they’re a lot alike. It was good to see them in contrast to Grace and Sam. They were a good balance to the relationship spectrum.

In short, I loved this series because I love werewolves, I loved the relationships here, and I loved just how realistic these books were.

Incarceron – A Review

Posted on April 24th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , ,

Incarceron

Incarceron by: Catherine Fisher

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

Incarceron is the book our TBOM group decided to read for March and April. Our final discussion of the book will be today, April 24th at 3pm in the Central Teen Room.

Incarceron is a prison. It is a prison that speaks for itself, feeds its prisoners, takes over the dead bodies, grows new ones, and ensures no one escapes, all from within. There is a Warden, but even he, doesn’t have complete control over the prison. Once, there was a prince, Giles. When he was only a child he was killed to allow his half brother to take the throne. And yet… inside Incarceron there is a boy who bears a birthmark that is a match to the one the prince had. This boy, Finn, is the son of Incarceron. He was born there, created by the prison three years ago. And yet… he remembers a birthday cake, the candles, a pretty girl he was set to marry some day. Are they one and the same? Outside, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden, is set to marry Giles’ horrible half brother and in the eventual death of the queen, take over. But things are not as they seem. Lies and assassination plots abound, and one can’t be sure who to trust any more. It is Finn’s  goal to escape the prison and find out just who he really is. But no one escapes Incarceron. It is Claudia’s goal to free Finn and his friends, to restore him as prince and free the world from the tyrant of a Queen, but no one knows where Incarceron is located or how to get to it.

When I first started reading this book I will admit I was very confused about what was going on inside the prison. It’s not a prison like anyone has ever heard of. There’s a whole world inside the prison, there’s weather, hills, rocks, barren land, whole cities with guards and rock walls surrounding them, forests, roving bands of criminals, mothers, babies, moving vehicles, animals, fake rats who’s duty is to clean up the dead bodies and garbage, you name it, it’s in Incarceron. Yes, weapons are there too. I didn’t understand this at first, and I wish I’d gotten a better handle on it right from the start. And yet, I will also admit that the opening scene is very riveting. It throws you in and scares you half to death. And so I was confused about how the prison worked at first. But the more time I spent there, the more it began to make sense and the more I wanted to know what was going to happen. Right up until the very end. There is a sequel entitled Sapphique, so there are a few things left unanswered. And while I’m anxious to read the next book, I’m also thinking if this one was just a little bit longer, it could have been a standalone novel. But, not having read Sapphique, I could be entirely wrong. We’ll have to see.

While I was expecting a bit of romance to color the plot, it doesn’t, and that was a relief. Too many YA novels rely on the standard romance trope these days that they ruin what could have been a good story. Not every novel needs to have a romance and I’m glad this one allows the actual story to shine. I like Claudia. She’s a tough girl who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. And Finn, who sometimes seems weak, rises to do what’s right when others wouldn’t. The Warden always leaves you with questions as to his true loyalties, making him an intriguing character. Though the Queen and her son, Jasper, do seem a little flat, the other characters quickly make up for it.

Yes, I do recommend this book. My only issue was in the beginning, as I said. Once I understood the world building, I could see just how fantastic and unique it really was, inside the prison and out. Then I was able to really enjoy this page-turner. Read it if you enjoy fantasy, urban fantasy, and classic fantasy.