Posted on April 28th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: book, Maureen Johnson, review, The Name Of The Star
The Name of the Star by: Maureen Johnson
Read by: Kevin/Copley Teen Room Intern
Maureen Johnson’s novel, The Name of the Star, is narrated by an American high school girl named Rory, who travels to England with her parents for her senior year of high school. Rory decides to attend school in the city of London at a boarding school called Wexford. While receiving an excellent education at her new school and meeting a great friend in Jazza and a potential boyfriend in Jerome, she also receives an ability that allows her to see ghosts after a near death experience from Wexford’s cafeteria food. She receives this new ability at the same time the city of London faces a modern age Jack the Ripper killer. The result is that she becomes the most important witness in London during an incredible time of fear because she has seen the new ripper who has actually been dead for decades.
If you enjoy mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, ghost stories, romance, action, and unexpected twists in what you read, then you must read The Name of the Star! It has elements of all these genres. It’s a fast paced book that will lead you literally into an underground world of London that exists but the people and things inside may or may not. I just have one question for you: Do you believe in ghosts? Because after reading this book, you might.
Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Beautiful Music For Ugly Childrem, book, DJ, Elvis, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, music, radio, review, transgender, transsexual
Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room
This is the story of Gabe, who was born Elizabeth, and who just wants to become a radio DJ as he was meant to be. When he was ten, Gabe’s DJ mentor, John, moved in next door. Supposedly, John was the first radio DJ to play Elvis on the airwaves back in the day. To Gabe, that’s pretty cool. Pretty awesome, in fact. John helps Gabe get a radio show on the local community station at midnight on Fridays where Gabe becomes something of a local celebrity. There’s just one problem. Gabe recently graduated highschool as Elizabeth and most of the school doesn’t realize that Elizabeth has always felt like she was a boy inside. Coming out to his family didn’t exactly go as planned and his parents, struggling with the sudden change, still call him Elizabeth. No one seems to understand who he is. When Gabe wins the heart of a popular girl, things start to get dangerous with threats on his life, and that of his family. Even so, Gabe finds himself falling for his BFF since forever: pretty Paige. But does Paige return Gabe’s feelings, or will another girl take his heart? Gabe has his doubts about love and who he is throughout the story, but ultimately, he remains strong and true to himself.
This was a fast read I couldn’t put down, and one I highly recommend. As the author states at the very end, not every person has the same experiences, yet I found Gabe’s story to be very realistic and inspiring. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it wasn’t perfect, as life is almost never perfect. The characters were great, and I loved the fact that Gabe wanted to be a radio DJ. Little known fact: that was my dream job when I was in middle school and early high school, so to see her living that dream was pretty awesome, especially when it seems like there are fewer and fewer DJs today than there were years ago. A note about musical taste, Gabe likes a wide variety of things, half of which I haven’t heard of and half of which was popular a bazillion years ago. That’s cool. I like the fact that she doesn’t stick to one genre of music, and I especially like the fact that she doesn’t stick to what’s popular right now. She really knows her music. Overall, this book was fabulous, and I would read it again in a heartbeat.
For those who are interested, at the end, the author included a section about what it means to be transgender and transsexual. She explains the various words that fall underneath the umbrella of transgender, including genderqueer, and what it means to not fall into the “gender binary”. This section is short and easy to understand for anyone who has yet to learn about gender differences. For this section, the author is awesome. She really did a great job.
Posted on March 8th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Corrine Jackson, don't ask don't tell, gay, If I Lie, LGBTQ, love, military, secrets
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room
Before he leaves for Afghanistan, Carey comes out to his girlfriend of two years, asking her to keep the secret he’s told her from everyone in their small military town. Including his parents and his best friend, Blake. But when an accidental picture of Sophie and Blake kissing gets posted on Facebook, the entire town errupts into accusations that Sophie is cheating on her Marine boyfriend. Just like her mother did to her father six years ago. Sophie’s tough military dad orders her to work at the VA hospital three days a week until she graduates to keep her from getting suspended from school over the picture. While at the VA hospital, she comes to befriend George, the grumpy old guy interviewing and photographing veterans for the Veteran’s History Project. He recognizes a professional photographer in her and begins teaching her all he knows. Then Carey goes MIA and the other students begin tormenting Sophie even more than ever before. Friends ask her to explain what happened the night she kissed Blake, but she vowed she wouldn’t, and their tormenting continues, calling her every horrible name in the book from Slut to Traitor. Her life is a living hell, and she doesn’t even know if Carey, the boy she still loves despite everything, will ever return to set the town “straight”. His secret is not hers to tell, and she knows that well.
This novel is extremely gripping. And Kleenex is required toward the end. It’s also realistic in everything that happens to the un-Disney-like ending. George is such an awesome character. The humor he shares with Sophie and their good times are little rays of sunshine in her thunder cloud world. The characters are 3-D, the setting is 3-D, and the author leaves you wondering how the book will end. Will Carey make it home? Will he tell the truth? This book keeps you reading to find out. If you’re wondering what the effects of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are on the civillians left behind, this is a great, heartfelt example. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the military and what it’s like keeping secrets that could easily destroy or save a life.
Posted on February 4th, 2013 by Mary in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Book review, fairy tale, Grimm, Jessica Day George, midnight ball, princess, Princess of the Midnight Ball, princesses
I am a collector of “The 12 Dancing Princesses” The original “12 Dancing Princesses” by the Grimm Brothers is well grim as is most of the stories that were never originally intended for children. I love how writers interpret this fairy tale and “Princess of the Midnight Ball” is no exception.
Princess of the Midnight Ball brought a different spin on the story although retained some of the originally story plot. Princess Rose and her sisters were put under a curse that was struck by 2 bargains with their mother, Queen Maude and King Under Stone. The price: Queen Maude had to pay was to dance for King Under Stone every two weeks. When the Queen would miss a ball, the number of nights increased. Queen Maude died when the youngest princess, Petunia, was 2 years old. The princesses then had to take up the payment for the two struck bargains made with King Under Stone.
Along comes Galin, the hero of the story, home from the war. It took a while for the war to end as well as for him to get home. Since his father and mother both died during the war, he went to find his mother’s family to see if they could let him stay with them for a while and know of a job for him. His Uncle Reiner was the chief gardener of the castle so Galin was given a job as an under-gardener. Galin’s first meeting with one of the princesses, Rose, that resulted in a mishap. Galin eventually picks up the task of wanting to find out the reason for the princesses’ shoes to be worn out every three days. He guessed that they had to be going somewhere. He received permission from the King to monitor the grounds to see if the princesses came outside to go to their intended destination. No luck. Eventually, he was able to get permission to find out what was going on by sitting in the Princesses’ room. He has a few tricks up his sleeve to help him be unnoticed and to follow the princesses. He becomes determined to save them from King Under Stone.
Since this is a retelling of a fairytale, you know there has to be a happy ending. But it’s how Jessica Day George gets to the happy ending that keeps the reader in suspense.
Because I have been reading various adaptations of “the 12 Dancing Princesses”, I had no idea how the story would go. I love how authors can take the premise of the story and change it to a new location with more or less details depending on the intended audience.
I could imagine the storyline in my head as I was reading, what the characters looked like and the scenery. I like a book that brings out my imagination. So I would recommend this book to everyone who loves to use their imagination.
Posted on February 2nd, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: androgeny, friendship, gender, science fiction, The Left Hand Of Darkness, to be human, Ursula K. LeGuin
The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room
This is the story of Genry Ai, a man on a mission from his home planet as an Envoy to a distant place known as Winter, in order to include the cold planet in a growing intergalactic civilization. Genry is not used to such a cold climate, where temperatures are often below zero, or people whose gender is androgynous but for once a month. It takes a lot of getting used to. Never-the-less, he does his best to understand and comprehend the world around him. When it seems all is going as planed for Genry, things come crashing down around him. His only “friend” is named a traitor by the king and must flee. Genry Ai visits a neighboring country in hopes that he can persuede them to open the doors of trading with other planets, and thus, bring the other countries with them. But these people have other plans for him. When an unlikely hero arrives to save his life, the two begin a long, harrowing, and solitary journey through ice and snow to keep them both safe and alive. Along the way, they learn what it means to have a friend, to be a friend, to give up one’s life for a cause, and most of all, what it means to be human, even when humanness is different.
I originally picked this book up because I was interested in the androgynous gender of the people who live on Winter. I like to see how different authors write such characters. But upon starting the book, I began to doubt whether I would actually like the book or not, despite several friends raving over it. This book starts off very slow. It doesn’t kick into “high” gear until about half way through the book. And that’s high gear for a slow pace on an ice covered mountain. However, that being said, I highly recommend this book. Yes, it starts slow, but when you get to the end, you’ll realize just how much every page is worth it. LeGuin doesn’t go into great detail about the sexual practices on Winter, but she gives you enough ideas to paint yourself a rough picture. If you like cold temperatures, perhaps you like to go skiing, and perfer to spend time in climates where you can easily catch frost bite, then this is a book for you. You’ll feel the snow and ice deep down in your bones as you read. But there’s a warmth that will grow there, the further along you read. Ironically, as the winter weather piles on higher and higher, the inner warmth of friendship will bloom to keep you going until the very end. This is a very thought-provoking book. Originally written in 1969, this book is just as relevant today, as it was back then. Warning: Tissues might be required near the end.