Teens

Posts Tagged ‘review’

Curl Up & Read: The School for Good and Evil

Posted on September 2nd, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

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Title: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Agatha and Sophie are best friends who couldn’t be more different from each other. Agatha considers herself ugly and the daughter of a witch, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. Meanwhile, Sophie is beautiful, doing everything she can to stay that way, and considers helping Agatha become beautiful as her Good Deed. When both of them are kidnapped and taken to the School for Good and Evil where they will learn how to survive in a fairy tale, they are surprised to find out that Agatha has been sorted into the school for Good, and Sophie into the school for Evil. Together, they try to right this obvious wrong while also attempting to escape, gain friends and boyfriends, or avoid them at all costs.

Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale

Standalone/Series: Trilogy

Length:

book 1 – 488 pages

book 2 – 433 pages

book 3 – 655 pages

Personal Thoughts:

“The most dangerous person in a fairy tale is the one willing to do anything for love.” – The School Master

Looking for something similar to, and yet different from, Harry Potter? This is it! The School for Good and Evil is a trilogy with a richly complicated plot and fantastic characters that keep you guessing whether they really are good or evil as they were assigned, right up until the very last page. The series tackles huge, sometimes very dark, subjects in a light, humorous way. It messes around with sexist stereotypes and while Chainani doesn’t use the words lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual, even these make it into the story in hints and undertones.

There is a heavy romance element here, but it is so much more than the typical teen love triangle, making this a fresh read for those who enjoy romance. In book three we get introduced to characters from classic fairy tales, like Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Red Riding Hood, whose lives have changed dramatically since the ending of their fairy tales. Some of these characters would happily tell you they left their princes and their happily-ever-afters behind for an even better life, proving that life is not all about romance.

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed book one the best. It was the most fresh and engaging story of the three. Everyone seemed to want the exact same thing in book two and some of the characters’ personalities got a little tiring in book three, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying all of the books. Small illustrations at the start of each chapter are a fun addition. This could be seen as a middle grade series, but will be enjoyed by teens of all ages.

With the addition of Merlin and Tedros’s family in the third book (Tedros is the son of King Arthur here), I was reminded of Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave series, written from Merlin’s point of view, which takes a more realistic approach to the story of Merlin, King Arthur, and magic. I highly recommend this series for any who love historical/fantasy fiction. The first book in the series can be found here.

 

Editor’s Note: This is Anna’s last book review for the BPL Teen Blog, as she moves on to her new job in Reader Services. We’ll miss you, Anna! But never fear, Curl Up & Read will still be posting on the first Friday of the month — and the reviewer could be YOU. If you’re a teen and you’re interested in having a book review posted on the Teen Blog, please email vkovenmatasy (at) bpl (dot) org and pitch your idea. We might even be able to hook you up with an Advance Reader’s Copy of something coming out soon, so you can really be ahead of the crowd!

 

anna250-150x150Looking to borrow these library books? These links will take you to our catalog:

Book One: The School for Good and Evil

Book Two: A World Without Princes

Book Three: The Last Ever After

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow these books? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

 

* “Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by librarians and teens on the first Friday of every month.

 

Curl Up & Read: Symptoms of Being Human

Posted on April 1st, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

symptoms

Title: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Riley Cavanaugh is attending a new school, has debilitating anxiety and a congressman father running for re-election, and hasn’t come out yet. To anyone. Riley is gender fluid, which means some days Riley identifies as a boy and some days Riley identifies as a girl. With all of this going on, how on earth is Riley supposed to blend in, make friends, come out, and survive high school?

Genre/sub-genre: LGBTQ contemporary fiction

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Length: 335 pages

Personal thoughts: 

“People are complicated. And messy. Seems too convenient that we’d all fit inside some multiple-choice question.” – Riley Cavanaugh

This book is long overdue, because until now, stories about gender fluid people have been non-existent. Real and relatable, Symptoms of Being Human is a great look into what it means to be different in a way most people aren’t used to. No pronouns are used for Riley in the book, yet the author’s writing makes it feel very natural, not forced. Preferred pronouns (of which there are a lot of options) aren’t even mentioned by Riley’s therapist and transgender support group, which felt odd to me. Yet the lack of pronouns does serve as a reminder of just how binary society considers gender, and how much we gender everything without even thinking about it.

Riley’s story is very character driven. Riley’s parents are realistic, fully-developed and caring adults, just trying to do the best they can without knowing Riley’s secret. While there were a few minor friends I wanted to know more about, I loved Riley’s two friends from school. Solo and Bec were as well rounded, quirky, and engaging as Riley and they stood out as cool people I’d want to be friends with if I could.

This is a powerful and inspirational story that won’t let you go. I highly recommend this title for anyone who may identify as gender fluid and those who want to know what it means to be gender fluid. That said, I also highly recommend this title for those people who enjoy contemporary teen fiction and are just looking for a good read. Read on!

 

 

anna250-150x150Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow this book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

 

*”Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by Anna, one of the Teen Librarians at Teen Central, on the first Friday of every month.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – A Review

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

(Book 3 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)

Title/Author: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In Nurse Ratched’s ward of the mental hospital Chief Bromden is a patient pretending to be deaf and dumb for the last twenty years. When a new patient, Randall Patrick McMurphy, walks through the door, swaggering larger than life, Chief watches him begin the hard task of rallying the other patients to challenge the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched with fishing trips, alcohol, gambling, and even women. Along the way, however, Chief realizes that McMurphy isn’t just challenging the other patients, but Chief as well.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Classic Fiction

Diversity: Yes.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: This is not for the feint of heart. It’s a very dark book covering some dark topics, some that are only hinted at, while others are blatantly spelled out. That being said, I loved this book. Along with Chief, I was able to watch the men slowly regain their personalities, regain the right to be human against a nurse who sought complete control over them, which was a beautiful thing to see. The ending came as a huge surprise I wasn’t expecting, and yet, I found it oddly fitting for these characters. While it was published in 1962, I also think it’s still very relevant in today’s world. I highly recommend it.

Fire – A Review

Posted on April 1st, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

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Title/Author: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Fire is the last monster human alive, with the ability to read minds. When spies start appearing in the Dells with foggy brains, the king pleads with her to help with the interrogations, to figure out who means well and who doesn’t. But she doesn’t want to hurt anyone the way her father did and she considers interrogation almost inhumane. And yet, if she doesn’t help the king, war will break out and the kingdom could be lost.

Series/Standalone: Book 2 in the Graceling trilogy, but can be read as a standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: There are characters with mobility issues

Relatable characters: yes

Would I re-read?: Maybe

Personal thoughts: I enjoyed reading this, though I think I enjoyed the first book, Graceling, even more. Again, there is a romance in this story, but it doesn’t take over the story, and it doesn’t have the traditional ending most romances have, which I appreciated. The main character is strong, but also has weaknesses, which was also appreciated. She was realistic in that way.  There is one more book in this trilogy, Bitterblue, which I am intending to read next!

Graceling – A Review

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

graceling

Title/Author: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Katsa is a Graceling, graced with the extreme skill to kill. Her uncle, the king, has been using her to keep control over his lands since she was a young girl. But then she meets Prince Po and finds a friend where she never expected to find one. With Po, she’ll work to break free from the bindings the king has placed on her and head off on a wild adventure that will teach her more about herself than even she knew was possible, all while keeping friends and family safe from unknown dangers.

Series/Standalone: Book 1 in the Graceling trilogy (but can also be read as a standalone)

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: Characters are diverse in the fact that a select few are different than the rest, some have disabilities as well, though skin colors don’t play a factor, eye colors do.

Relatable characters: Yes

Would I re-read?: Yes

Personal thoughts: I loved the cover. I loved the fact that Katsa was a strong girl in mind and body, who didn’t lack emotions, who knew what she didn’t want in life and was strong enough to stick to that all the way through the book. Yes, there is a bit of romance here, but it’s never overwhelming, and the couple are friends first and foremost. The story was brilliant. Even I didn’t see how the puzzle pieces fit together until the very end. The world building was fantastic, and all of the characters were well rounded. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy.