Boston Public Library

Category Archives: Reviews – Staff

These book reviews are from librarians you know!

Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution – A Review

Posted on June 25th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda Hirshman

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

This is the story of the gay revolution in America starting over one hundred years ago, long before the famed Stonewall Riots in 1969. This non-fiction narrative covers every gay and lesbian organization and seemingly every single person involved in helping them gain equal rights. It chronicles how the movement started out with a small number of underground activists to large numbers of people taking a full political stand for what they believe in. Many organizations that were created over the years died out because their tactics didn’t work any more. New organizations were born of the old. Those people simply picked up and carried on in a new fashion. Each group had its own way of combating the issues they faced, be it police who wouldn’t let them innocently congregate in a bar, people who were afraid of what they didn’t know and made it illegal for an entire population to have consensual sex, to a government that withheld important medication that could have saved thousands of lives during the AIDS epidemic. Slowly the gay community fought back and gained the rights they deserved. There is still more work to be done, but when you look at how far we’ve come, we’ve certainly accomplished a lot in the last one hundred years.

This was a very good, very interesting read. I learned a lot I didn’t know about the history, and a lot about current matters I was unaware of. I would highly recommend this book for someone who’s very interested in the topic, already has at least a basic understanding of the past, and is looking for more. This is the book for you. It is very in depth and covers a lot of ground. However, do keep in mind, that until very recently Transgender equality wasn’t much of a priority, thus it is rarely mentioned in this book.

Despite all the good information in this book, there was one thing I had a problem with. There are a lot of names that come up over the course of history, many repeatedly, others not so much. There were a lot of organizations that came and went, along with their acronyms. And towards the end, when things turned political, there are a lot of court cases that get mentioned on the fly. How is one to keep all these things straight? I felt there needed to be a list of people, organizations, and a list of court cases at the end, all with a brief, one to two line description of who that person was or what the point of the case was. That would have helped a great deal. This is the reason I do not recommend this book to a beginner. If you don’t know much about gay history, read an easier book first before you tackle this one.

My best suggestion is a wonderful book called Gay America: Struggle For Equality by Linas Alsenas. There is a lot of information given without overwhelming the reader with names of people, court cases, or organizations. Everything is nicely laid out in an easy to read manner, and there are a lot of great pictures, helping to put faces with names.

Gay America

TMNT: Change Is Constant/Enemies Old, Enemies New – A Review

Posted on June 20th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , ,

TMNT new vol1   TMNT new vol2











Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 1: Change Is Constant

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 2: Enemies Old, Enemies New

Written and drawn by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

This is a new take on the original series. The four turtles (Rapheal, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo) and their rat sensei (Splinter) seem to originate in a lab, where they were being used in science experiments for the military. April O’Neil and Casey Jones are college students just getting a foothold in life. Some unknown ninjas break into the lab and try to steal the turtles, whom April has come to care for. The turtles are minus one for a good portion of the story as Raphael was snatched as a baby and never found.

I loved reading this! Yes, I’ll fully admit to being a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan in the 80′s when I was a kid. I still am. So finding this new series made me very happy. The art was spectacular, the emotions clear on each character’s faces, and something, almost old fashioned about the way they were drawn and the colors that were used made it perfect. My only problem was that ALL of their headbands were red, which made it hard to determine which turtle was which unless they were openly carrying their weapons. The story was also well developed, and had a clear ending, though it’s obvious it will continue in the following volumes. Just a fair warning, the story does go back and forth from the past to the present, and back again, but it’s pretty easy to tell what’s going on where and when. Overall, I loved this, and I hope a new generation of TMNT lovers will find it enjoyable as well.

In the second volume, you do learn why all four turtles are wearing red headbands. They also receive their proper color headbands in this volume. More of their reimagined past is revealed, and Splinter is taken at the end, leaving the reader with a cliffhanger. Again, the art was well done, and the storylines were good as in the first volume. I highly recommend this new series for anyone who has never even heard of the turtles and for old fans alike. Well done, and I’m impatiently waiting for more!

The Diary of a Young Girl – A Review

Posted on June 9th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , ,

Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

Teen Book of the Month (TBOM) discussion on June 12, 2013!

This book contains the diary of a young Jewish girl kept in hiding for several years during World War II. She’s trapped inside an attic-like living space along with her parents, her sister, another boy and his parents, as well as a dentist with whom she shares a bedroom. For the most part, one would think their living situation is quite normal. They have sit-down dinners, they listen to the news on the radio, do their laundry, and cook together. But they are not permitted to leave the building. The entrance to their hiding spot is covered with a fake bookcase so no one will realize where they are. She writes to her diary, calling it Kitty, as if it were a real person she could talk to. In it, she explains about life with all these people. She talks about what it’s like to have burglars break into the warehouse beneath them, afraid someone will find them in hiding, what it’s like when their food rations run down until they eat nearly the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s not forget her budding romance with Peter, the only teenage boy stuck with them. And the arguments! The arguments between so many people trapped together, unable to get away does not make for a peaceful living situation, no matter how much it may seem to be peaceful at times.

This was hard to read. It seems as if nothing is happening, and indeed, they aren’t in the thick of things in the war. They are. And they aren’t. Unlike a lot of stories of the Jewish in WWII, they aren’t dragged off to a concentration camp. They go into hiding early so they can avoid being found and taken to a camp. What ends up happening is Anne growing up in a confined space with so many people, trying to become an independent teenager, which is not easy to do. She also falls for Peter, the older teenage boy, and struggles with her feelings for him as she grows older and closer to him. She argues with her mother and grows apart from her parents. Everything is told from her point of view so it’s easy to understand where her feelings are coming from. What’s hard sometimes is pulling back to see where the feelings of the others are coming from.

Only a few days after Anne’s last entry in her diary, the police and SS officers arrive and take everyone to a concentration camp where they were separated. The afterword tells the brief story of what happened to everyone living in the annex in hiding and those who were keeping them hidden. When reading her diary you come to know all these people only to learn of their horrific deaths shortly after. It was not easy to keep the tears at bay when learning this news. If it hadn’t been for Anne’s father, Otto Frank, her diary never would have gotten published. Her body is assumed buried with her sister’s in a mass grave at one of the concentration camps she was taken to. Her diary, Kitty, is all that’s left along with the house where she stayed hidden for so long.

When reading The Diary of a Young Girl, a good companion book is Anne Frank Her Life in Words and Pictures. This book has photographs of the secret annex where she lived with seven other people and two cats for several years. It’s most helpful to have those pictures in mind while reading her diary.

For more information on Anne Frank, the Anne Frank House museum website gives great insight on what happened to Anne’s father who survived the war and his reactions to reading her diary for the first time. You can also plan a visit to the house in Amsterdam. Here is the link to the website:

Wraeththu Trilogy – A Review

Posted on June 1st, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , ,


Wraeththu by Storm Constantine

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

The Wraeththu Trilogy contains three books in one: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire. Wraeththu, pronounced “RAY-thoo”, is a future race of hermaphrodites that evolved from mankind. The first book is in the point of view of a surviving human, fifteen-year-old Pellaz (Pell, for short), who falls for Cal and begins to understand what it means to be a hermaphrodite, to have both male and female reproductive organs in one “human” body. Pell leaves his home to become Wraeththu and to be with Cal, but life is never so easy, especially in the beginning days of the new human race.

When reading summaries and blurbs about this series, one can’t fully grasp the meaning of the book. What is it about? What really happens? Even after reading it, it can be hard to describe. It’s a fantasy with magic, young men coming of age, learning what it means to be something other than human, what it means to form bonds and create families. They go to war when they need to, eradicate humans, and live their lives the best they can. Some are more peaceful than others, and some have ulterior motives that aren’t right away obvious. There is a lot of traveling on foot, on horseback, meeting new tribes, making friends and enemies, looking for lost loves and finding new ones. Wraeththu might live to be 150 years old, but they also grow into adults very fast. (They reach puberty by the age of 7!)

As I said, this trilogy is very hard to explain. But if what I’ve described sounds like something you’d be interested in, give it a try. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and jump off the cliff. If you don’t, how will you know whether or not you’ll enjoy something? That’s what I did with this series and I’m super glad I did. I read all three books almost back to back. Yes, they take awhile to get through, but they were worth it. Totally worth it. Sadly, these three books are not published individually any more, but put in one large volume. (Though, I’ll admit, I prefer one large volume to three smaller books.) The book is lightweight and easy to carry around. I thoroughly enjoyed taking this on vacation with me last year. It’s a great read on long car trips or plane rides, and feels like coming home right before bed in a hotel room. I really enjoyed it myself, and I hope others do to, despite it being a hard book to describe and talk about. Take the plunge, you’ll be glad you did!

And if this trilogy makes you want more when you’re done, check out Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Histories:

Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure







The Shades of Time and Memory

The Shades of Time and Memory







The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence





The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence




I have yet to read these three, but when I go traveling again in the fall I intend to bring them with me! And look at all the beautiful covers! The covers alone are worth the reads! All four books are brand new to the Central Library Teen Room and at the moment are on our New Books shelves in the middle of the room. Once they’ve been checked out, they’ll be shelved in our LGBTQ section.

The Realm of Possibility – A Review

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: , , , ,

The Realm of Possibility

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room for the TBOM group meeting on May 8th, 2013.

This is the stories of multiple teens struggling to find themselves and figure out who they are in the world. It’s told from their multiple points of view in poem and song lyric formats.

This was an interesting read for me because I wasn’t expecting it to be in poetry format. I was expecting a novel. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the way these stories were told. Each poem and song interwove themselves seemlessly with each of the others. Some responded to what had happened in other poems, some wrote their poems to another person who had a poem in the book. It was a unique take on writing a book in verse. Obviously, each person who “wrote” a poem was a character that came from David Levithan’s head, but he did a really great job with the characterizations and making each one as unique as the next. The first poem and the last poem are connected, which was a nice circle back to the beginning once you got to the end. I really felt that the emotions of the teens he was writing about were clearly stated, or were just as confusing for the reader sometimes as they can be for teens in real life. It was realistically done, and a book I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys stories told in this fashion or thinks they would like to try one for the first time. The fact that some of the characters are gay is not stated in such a way as to hit the reader over the head with it, and there are some who appear straight. Some are lesbian. There is a good mix of characters and experiences to round out the story over all.