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The Name of the Star – A Review

Posted on April 28th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

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.

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children – A Review

Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Beautiful Music Ugly Children

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.

Croak: A Review

Posted on December 14th, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

Croak by Gina Demico

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the story of a 16-year-old teen who gets shipped off to spend the summer with her Uncle Mort because of sudden behavioral issues. Lex, named after the battle of Lexington, has no idea why she turned violent. She just knows that she likes to punch people and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve done something to personally offend her or not. But when she gets to the town of Croak, NY (Population 82), she’s startled to discover that her uncle isn’t the farmer she expected. He’s a Grim Reaper. And so is everyone else in the small town. She was born to be a Grim. At first she isn’t sure about this, but the more she hangs out with the other Junior Grims, and the more time she spends at work, Killing dead bodies so her partner can Cull the souls to send the people to the afterlife, the more she comes to realize that Croak is where she belongs.

But then, mysterious deaths start to occur. Not only do the medical examiners not know what’s killing these people, seemingly at random, but neither do the Grims. When it become apparent that the killer could very well be a Grim, it’s up to Lex and the other Junior Grims to figure it out.

Honestly, I think I died laughing. No joke. This book is at the same time dark, very serious and yet light with humor. I loved getting to hang out in the afterlife with the dead famous people like Edgar Allen Poe who seems to be the only one who doesn’t like John Wilkes Booth because John stole Edgar’s favorite quill. When we get the absolutely lovely description of the alcohol-like drink that actually has no alcohol in it, I about died, wishing I could have a cup. Keep in mind, the drink has no alcohol, but if a Grim has more than three drinks in a row, that could spell a very different kind of trouble: Death. The murder mystery that takes place is definitely a mystery that will defy you until near the end of the book. At least, it did for me. The book is at times creepy, but there is also a healthy dose of awkward romance to go along with the creep. While most books these days throw in the perfect romance between the two perfect main characters, this romance is not perfect. Nothing goes as planned and neither are the two main characters perfect. It’s wonderfully realistic.

Over all, this book was a nice breath of fresh air from all the books that only seem to mimic each other these days. Yep, there’s a girl on the cover, but she’s wearing a black hoodie (proper Grim attire) and carrying a large scythe. Not a fancy dress that never gets worn in the book. But be aware of one thing. As you near the end of the first book, make sure you have Scorch, the second book, handy because you’ll want to dive right in without waiting. Trust me, this book is awesome. And the story’s not done yet…

I can’t recommend this book enough.

Anna Dressed In Blood – A Review

Posted on December 4th, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

 

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

 

This is the story about a young man going by the nickname Cass who kills ghosts for a living. Yep. You heard right. Cass kills ghosts for a living. The job has been in his family for generations and he’s the latest to pick up the athame, or knife, his father used to demolish the dead who demolish the living. Only this time, as he moves to Canada with his mother, he finally meets his match. Anna Dressed In Blood is a ghost he can’t kill until he can figure out how and why she died. The truth is shocking and as horrible as having Satan himself sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with you and your family. But even then, Cass still can’t kill Anna, even knowing the high number of people she’s killed since her death. The feelings he’s kept locked inside to protect the rest of the world from his job are threatening to come out, he’s actually made friends for the first time, and yet another ghost seems to be after him.  Why did Anna protect Cass from other teens trying to play a mean prank on him? And what’s he going to do to get out of this sticky situation?

I read this not knowing what to expect. And I LOVED it. The book keeps you guessing right up until the very end. The characters were realistic, and even the ghosts were relatable and likeable. My only complaint with this book was how the police handled each death and missing persons case. The cops didn’t look hard for missing teenagers, or murderers. In talking with real life police, I know they wouldn’t pass off a missing teenager as someone who’d simply runaway and leave it at that. However, as this wasn’t all about police procedure, I was able to put that at the back of my mind and enjoy the rest of the story.  All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery or horror novel. It’s that awesome.

Banned Books Week

Posted on October 6th, 2012 by Mary in Books, Events, Teen Services

Well we have come to the end of another Banned Books Week (September 30-October 6, 2012). It is amazing how many books are added each year and the reasons for the books being added to the list. Goodwill Librarian posted a link on her Facebook timeline of a Youtube video showing many of the books that have been challenged and/or banned from 1990-2000. The video was from Banned Books Week in 2008, but it is still interesting to see what books were on the list. The book covers are shown for the viewer.

Have you read any of these books? What are you favorites? Do you think they should have been banned or challenged?

For information about Banned Books Week and Celebrating our Freedom to Read, check out http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek or http://bannedbooksweek.org/.

The American Library Association has also created an interactive timeline to highlight some of the books that have been challenged or banned in the past 3o years. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/timeline30-years-liberating-literature

If you are interested in reading any of the books, visit your local branch library or request them with your Boston Public Library card (or OneCards or any Massachusetts library cards registered at the Boston Public Library) on the online BPL Catalog.

Celebrate your freedom to read what you want to read!! Yay!!