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The Illustrated Man – A Review

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

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.

My Summer Reading List for 2015!

Posted on May 29th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

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 (and here on our Bibliocommons catalog: Summer Reading 2015) 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.

 

 

 

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes – A Review

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

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

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.