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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 him 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 he doesn’t stick to one genre of music, and I especially like the fact that he doesn’t stick to what’s popular right now. He really knows his 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.

Soul Eaters, A Manga and Anime Series created by Atsushi Okubo – A Review

Posted on February 12th, 2013 by Anna in Teen Services

Soul Eaters is a hillarious manga and anime series that chronicles the adventures and tasks of three aspiring scythe carriers who are trainees at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (humans who can yield scythe weapons to destroy evil villains stalking Death City) and their partners, who can transform into  weapons for their meisters so they can acquire the 99 souls of evil beings and the soul of one witch to be accepted by Death himself to use their scythes to carry out his will. 

The three main characters are a shy teenage girl named Maka Albern and her partner Soul Eater who has the ability to turn into a scythe as a weapon. The twist with this duo is that Maka is secretly attracted to Soul Eater and always becomes jealous or angry when Soul Eater doesn’t pay her any attention. Black Star is a young boy who likes to consider himself to be a silent and deadly assassin, yet always fails to be silent and fails in acquiring evil souls. His partner is Tsubaki who can transform into many different kinds of knifes and swords and continuously has to work with and handle Black Star’s outrageous tendencies to prove that he is the greatest assassin at the academy. And finally there is Death the Kid, who happens to be Death’s son. His partners are a pair of sisters, Liz and Patty Thompson, who can transform into pistols for Death the Kid. The only problem is that Death the Kid has an obsessive compulsive disorder where everything he sees and touches has to be correctly aligned or else he becomes too distracted to complete any of his missions for the academy and tends to leave the sister’s behind to complete the mission on their own. 

I was introduced to this series by a few friends of mine and while I was watching the first episode and watched as Soul Eater litterally swallowed an evil red soul in the shape of a tear drop and then burped in Maka’s face after the two of them handily dealt the evil being its deathly blow, I knew this series was for me. There is intense fight scenes in each episode that are crossed with hillarious jokes and jabs at each character’s  quirks as their adventures unfold. I’ve only watched the first three episodes of the series but I already know I want to keeep learning more about these characters and the crazy academy they are a part of. The library has series 1-10 for the manga version of Soul Eater and has the whole collection in anime as well.

 

Written by Kevin Kindorf

Simmons College LIS intern 2/12/13

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series – A Review

Posted on January 24th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series by Brian Jacques

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the story of a young, mute boy, Ben, and his faithful black lab, Ned. They are stuck aboard a ship called The Flying Dutchman, where an evil captain rules. When the ship is destroyed and the crew cursed to roam the seas forever, the boy and his dog are saved by one of God’s angels who curses them to roam the earth forever, never growing older. The angel gives them both special powers. Ben can now speak any language he needs to, and the two have a mind bond that allows them to communicate with each other via thought. Together Ben and Ned travel the world as directed by the angel and help anyone they can along the way. But even as they travel, The Flying Dutchman and its evil captain haunt their dreams and forshadow terrible things to come.

There are three books to this series: Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, The Angel’s Command, and Voyage of Slaves.  I’ve just finished the third book, but since I haven’t reviewed any of the books here yet, this review will cover the series as a whole. If you like adventures, especially seafaring adventures, you’ll like these books. These can be read by older kids and teens alike. While there is a lot of action, this series is very different from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. The avenging angel directs Ben and Ned, but it’s not overly religious at all. It’s a historical fantasy series, so the religion is only included as part of the time period for the most part. In the third book, unlike the others, there are characters from all over the world, and sometimes they use pet names (such as My Sweet, or Little Girl) for each other in their native languge. Those words, when first used, are starred, and an English translation is put at the bottom of the page. Overall, this is a great series where friends are made, evil doers are caught, and everything is righted in the end. It’s a fun, relaxing read. The final book has an ending that works well as an ending to the series as a whole. I say this  because it was very possible the author meant to write more before his death, but I don’t know for sure. This ending could go either way for the series, so you, as a reader, are not left hanging, needing to know what happens next. The books should be read in order, but each story is wrapped up at the end of each book.

Scorch – A Review

Posted on December 22nd, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Scorch by Gina Damico

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the sequel to Gina Damico’s first book Croak, which I reviewed just last week. If you haven’t read Croak, be aware, spoilers ahead! So, Lex’s twin sister is no longer in the land of the living and Zara is running around on the loose Damning criminals to an eternity spent as ghosts, rather than letting them get into the coziness of the Afterlife. There’s only one problem here. Zara thinks Lex has something she wants. Something very powerful. And she’ll stop at nothing to get it. When she starts Damning innocent people and even Grims all over the world, Lex realizes she’d better act fast and find The Wrong Book. But that’s not all. Things are even worse in Croak. Norwood and Heloise are doing their evil best to convince the rest of the town that the Junior Grims are terrible delinquents who can’t do anything right, and that Lex’s Uncle Mort is no longer fit for the job of town Mayor. It’s finally time for Lex, her Uncle Mort, and the other Juniors to skip down and seek safety in DeMyse, a huge, glitzy city, home to Grims on the west coast, much like Las Vegas. Of course, hijinks ensue, and our favorite characters from the Afterlife have a knack for traveling as well. Not only do we get to see more of Cordy, Lex’s twin sister, but we also get to see her new, albeit dead, beau: the hottest and youngest king to roam the Earth. King Tut? Yep. Things couldn’t get more wild in the Afterlife.

This book kept me even more on the edge of my seat than the first book. The humor was still fresh, the action awesome and terrifying, and the romance at times very sweet, realistic, and bumbling, just the way I like it. Nothing is perfect, not even romance, and I like the way she portrays it in these books. It’s not the main storyline, but it is pretty major. Plus, for those interested, there is a side gay romance in here that gets left by a cliffhanger at the end. I’m hoping it won’t be long before the next book comes out. I’m not sure I can wait forever on this series. If you like a bit of gore and creepiness, if you like humorous and realistic romance, if you enjoy talking to dead people… this series is for you! And I highly recommend having book 2 ready to read as soon as you finish book 1. You’ll be glad you did.