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Curl Up & Read: I Am Malala

Posted on August 5th, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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malala 2015

This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Biography & Autobiography List!

Title: I Am Malala by  Malala Yousafzai

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Malala, a young teenage girl living in Pakistan, wanted nothing more than to go to school and learn. When most of her country thought she should leave school and stay home because she was a girl, she started speaking out about the importance of education for girls and women. For this, she was shot in the head. This is her story.

Genre/sub-genre: non-fiction/memoir

Series/Standalone: standalone

Length: 368 pages (2015 updated edition)

Personal thoughts: 

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all of my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish. I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.” – Malala Yousafzai

I was expecting Malala’s story to start on the day she was shot. Or perhaps the day before that. Instead, Malala explains the short history of Pakistan, her parents’ early experiences, and how she has been raised to appreciate education from her father. These first few sections are not entirely told in chronological order, but regardless, the story flows very easily from one topic to the next and I found each one very fascinating. The opening section, “Birmingham, England, June 2015” gives an update on Malala’s life since the first edition of the book came out in 2013 and while I loved that there was an update, I felt it was oddly placed at the beginning before I had even read what had happened.

Malala gives a good description of the Swat valley where she lives, showing the reader just how much she loves her homeland. I felt as if I were there with her, seeing the flora and fauna, and sitting beside her in school. Her descriptions of people are more vague and even her own brothers don’t get very many mentions. This may have been done for privacy reasons, of course, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about her friends and brothers at the very least. More importantly, however, she explains that not all Muslims belong to the Taliban, something a lot of people around the world need to understand.

While this was co-written with Christina Lamb, the words felt as if they were coming from Malala, not Christina. This was well written, easy to understand, hard to put down, and a quick read.

Almost as soon as Malala was shot the whole world knew and was outraged by it, though some from her own country thought her family was faking the incident in order to escape Pakistan. Since the first edition of her book came out in 2013, millions of people have picked up a copy and read about her life. Her book is real. It is painful. It is heartwarming. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. If you haven’t read it yet, do so now, and understand why education is important for all children around the world.

 

 

icon of annaThis book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Biography & Autobiography List!

Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further! Audiobooks and ebooks are also available if you require them.

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, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.

Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Appleseed Alpha

Posted on July 12th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

appleseed alphaHello again Otaku! This month we continue with the SciFi genre, even with the same author! Appleseed is another cyborg-mecha SWAT team action franchise by the author of Ghost in the Shell, Shiro Masamune.  Anime Club at the Hyde Park branch got it’s first glimpse of the Appleseed franchise several years ago with the DVD release of Appleseed Ex Machina. This earlier film was a full CGI rendered feature with excellent animation and lifelike flow. I was impressed with the detail and model counts in scenes as well as lighting and soundtrack. A great example was the copious inclusion of bright brass shell casings flying all over the screen and clanking around the floors! Our DVD copy sadly bore the scars of frequent borrowing by our avid teen patrons and wound up with a scratch that made it unreadable. But luckily we are in the age of streaming and the full franchise is available for streaming on Kissanime. To spice things up a little more, we watched Alpha instead last week. It’s a later film but a prequel. Graphics have improved as well as modelling and facial expressions. In fact, the hero’s best “frenemy,” Two Horns, has a mostly cyborg body like his own, but the mouth and facial structures are highly detailed and well animated. This was an obvious focal point of the production and a distinct leap forward in CGI cinema. The soundtrack includes great supporting music for an action movie. The most notable styles are the popular Dub Step and Hip Hop complete with bass drops, releases, and edgy samples.

Appleseed alpha 1

The story begins with Deunan and Briareos, future ESWAT officers, on a mercenary mission after another world war has ravaged major cities. This is before the new city of Olympus was founded. Deunan is the fully human heroine. She is a highly athletic, well trained, combat veteran and weapons expert. A brave heart and loyal spirit mark her character and her relationship with Briareos.

Appleseed alpha 2

“Bri” is her boyfriend/partner/combat buddy who a has been though the horrors of war with her and suffered massive injuries yet still survived. He is mostly cyborg now and is characterized by his metal helmet with compound digital camera eyes and ear-like sensor antennae. They are a bit smaller in this later film which I think is an improvement. After the story opens, we find Deunan and Briareos making their way through a deserted cityscape to meet their employer and find help. Bri is suffering some kind of malfunction and his power resources are very low. He needs repairs and they head to a shop that can help them. This is where he meets Two Horns and the story takes off.

Appleseed alpha 3

It turns out he still owes his frenemy a debt and the dispute escalates. Bri is forced to do another job for this mobster in order to get the repairs he needs in this difficult post war environment. Along the way they encounter another hostile force and the action ensues. It turns out Hitomi, a bioroid or clone and future city administrator, is in a motorcade that drives into an ambush.

apples alpha 4

No spoilers here, so if you liked Ghost in the Shell, check out the Appleseed franchise. Characters are reversed here with the hero being cyborg and the heroine being human. Drama, romance and action are all present in Appleseed, with a good bit more emphasis on action. Ghost in the Shell was deeper existentially with more sophisticated writing, but both excel at modern SciFi, mecha, cyberbnetic, and SWAT team story lines. I recommend them both.

 

john250-150x150Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.

Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.

Curl Up & Read: The Blessing Way

Posted on July 1st, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the blessing way

This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Mystery List!

Title: The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: On a Navajo reservation, horses are injured, sheep are slaughtered, and a man is killed. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of The Navajo Tribal Police is on the case, hunting what many believe to be a Navajo Wolf, otherwise known as a werewolf, or a witch. Meanwhile, college professor and Ethnologist, Bergen McKee, finds himself fighting for his life in the mountains against a Navajo man who has threatened to kill him if he doesn’t cooperate.

Genre/sub-genre: Navajo Mystery

Series/Standalone: Book 1 of 18

Length: 294 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Told from multiple points of view, this story does take awhile to get into as there doesn’t seem to be much of a mystery in the first few pages. And yet, that’s what makes the mystery that much more mysterious once it picks up. Unfortunately, the main character, Lt. Joe Leaphorn, does not feature in this story as much as one would think, and therefore, we don’t get to know much about him. That said, Leaphorn is still a great detective. He knows his people and he knows the best thing he can do is to listen to what they have to say, because in listening, he is able to hear clues in what is said, how it is said, and even in what is not said. Leaphorn, as well as other recurring characters, do develop further throughout the eighteen book series.

Speaking of characters, the Southwest landscape plays such an integral part in this novel, it’s almost as if it’s a character in and of itself. Given Navajo names such as Sacred Mountain of Blue Flint Woman and Many Ruins Canyon, the place names tell a story all on their own. Mythology and symbolism permeate the story right from the beginning, which may take a little getting used to for some readers, but is also a great way to immerse the reader into the true Navajo culture.

Halfway through the novel, the mystery turns into a thriller/suspense, when we spend more time with Dr. McKee running for his life. This is when the story really picks up and becomes a quick read to the end. Both the mystery and suspense elements are solid, ensuring the reader won’t be able to put the book down once completely immersed. Plus, while the book was written, and set, nearly fifty years ago, the story holds up really well and doesn’t read as dated. Readers will be clamoring for book two as soon as they turn the last page on this one.

Originally published in 1970, this series was groundbreaking in that Hillerman was not Navajo himself, but clearly researched his subject and wrote about The People in a modern setting with respect, and as realistically as possible without dwelling on any negative aspects. This series was popular when it first came out, and continues to be so to this day. In fact, Hillerman has inspired other authors to write their own mysteries involving Native American people.

It is important to note that while author Tony Hillerman passed away in 2008, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, has continued the series with SPIDER WOMAN’S DAUGHTER and ROCK WITH WINGS.

 

icon of anna

This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Mystery List!

Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further! This is also available in ebook format if you require it.

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, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.

 

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in July

Posted on June 28th, 2016 by vkovenmatasy@private.bpl.org in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new July releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.

 

cover of this savage song

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Summary: Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city–a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent–but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Why We’re Excited: I heard it on the water, on the wind. (Okay, actually I heard it on the internet, but give me some room for poetic license.) Could it be? A YA fantasy novel without the obligatory love triangle? A YA fantasy novel with, in fact, no romance whatsoever? I won’t really believe it until I read it, but this I want to see.

 

cover of shiny broken pieces

Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Summary: June, Bette, and Gigi are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice. June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. But being the best could mean sacrificing the love of her life. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. And Gigi is not going to let Bette–or the other dancers who bullied her–go unpunished. It all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

Why We’re Excited: If there’s one thing I learned from being best friends with a ballet dancer in grade school, it’s that ballerinas are hard-core. Dancing your toenails off (and having to look graceful while you’re doing it)? It sounds like something out of a horror movie to me, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what dancers go through to achieve their dreams. This follow-up to last year’s Tiny Pretty Things promises to deliver even more of the drama and the dark side of ballet.

 

cover of all the feels

All the Feels by Danika Stone

Summary: When uber-fan Liv’s favorite sci fi movie character is killed off, she and her best friend Xander, an aspiring actor and Steampunk enthusiast, launch a campaign to bring him back from the dead.

Why We’re Excited: Let’s be honest, I’ve been in this protagonist’s shoes before. When my favorite character dies (or, to move this into sports fandom, my favorite player gets sold to another team), do I deal well? Nope. Not at all. There is no dealing, only grief and bitter recrimination. And sometimes it’s a lot of fun to see the fangirl life on the page! If All the Feels can live up to Fangirl, the Rainbow Rowell novel that kicked off this recent fandom craze in YA literature, I will be well satisfied.

 

cover of dinosaurs of the deep

Dinosaurs of the Deep by Larry Verstraete and Julius Csotonyi

Summary: A gigantic sea dwelling mosasaur rises from the watery depths and saves the day in the summer blockbuster Jurassic World . However, these fearsome waterborne predators were anything but heroic, at nearly 50 feet in length and 50 tonnes, mosasaurs made tyrannosaurs look like cuddly puppies. Since their discovery almost two hundred years ago, dinosaurs have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike. What many don’t know is that “dinosaur” the term refers specifically to land born prehistoric reptiles. Despite being discovered nearly 50 years before the before the first dinosaur fossils, prehistoric aquatic creatures like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs have been largely overshadowed by triceratops, apatosaurus and the fierce T-rex. Dinosaurs of the Deep looks to change this by shedding light on the incredible diversity of prehistoric life that was living just beneath the water’s surface.

Why We’re Excited: Uh, terrifying sea monsters need an explanation? The things living at the bottom of the ocean now are scary. Can you even imagine what horrifying creatures were down there when T-rex roamed free? (Including this book is technically cheating on my part because it comes out on the last day of June, but I was more interested in TERRIFYING SEA MONSTERS than release dates.)

 

cover of flying

Flying by Carrie Jones

Summary: People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She’s used to being coddled, being an only child, but it’s hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother’s babying gets more stifling than ever, she’s looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while. But that night, Mana’s life goes haywire. First, the hot guy she’s been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she’s always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective…

Why We’re Excited: CHEERLEADER ALIEN HUNTER. It’s like Buffy in space!

 

icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

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

 

*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Curl Up & Read: Calvin

Posted on June 3rd, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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Calvin

Title: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Calvin is a young teenager with a lot of similarities to the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips by Bill Watterson. What Calvin isn’t prepared for, however, is the seemingly sudden diagnosis of schizophrenia. He can hear Hobbes talking to him and he can’t seem to make the tiger go away.  In a rash decision, Calvin takes his friend, Susan, on a hiking trip across frozen Lake Erie in an attempt to find Bill Watterson and get him to write one last comic strip… without Hobbes.

Genre/sub-genre: contemporary fiction

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Length: 181 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Such a small book for such a serious topic! But without many books for teens about schizophrenia, this is a good addition to the list. The author did a great job making this topic readable, lighthearted, and at the same time, serious, as Calvin explains his story in a letter to Bill Watterson.

The characters, while loosely based on the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips, had enough originality that they stood apart from the comics.  I do wonder though, if having Calvin talk to Hobbes, a cute, fun-loving stuffed tiger makes schizophrenia seem a little less of a big deal. After all, who wouldn’t want to talk to a tiger like Hobbes? The anchor to this plot, is the fact that Susan can’t see Hobbes or hear him when he’s talking to Calvin. But what if she’s also a manifestation of his schizophrenia? The questions keep you reading and keep you guessing at what will happen next, who’s real, and who isn’t.

While I enjoyed the plot for most of the book, the ending threw me a little because it seemed too abrupt and too easy for something as huge and scary as schizophrenia. At the same time, it was good to see someone like this have a better ending than most.

While I felt this book did have some minor flaws, don’t let them stop you from giving it a read. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a Calvin and Hobbes fan, or those who may be struggling with Schizophrenia or know someone who is.

 

anna250-150x150

Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further!

Wondering if we have the original Calvin & Hobbes comics? We do!

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, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.