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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.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

Curl Up & Read: Reunited

Posted on May 6th, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services
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Reunited

Title: Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: 3 ex-best friends, 1 concert, 1 1976 green VW camper van, and 1 long road trip. How bad could it be?

Genre/sub-genre: contemporary fiction/humor

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Length: 325 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Hilariously funny and achingly real, Reunited had me hooked from page one.

Summer, Alice, and Tiernan are well developed characters, that easily drive the story forward, and keep the reader turning pages. With the point-of-view rotating between the three ex-best friends, we get to see their fears, their anger, and their joys, as they navigate the wild events of their road trip and attempt to forget the night they broke up at the school dance several years before. Along the way, the girls learn a little something about life, love, friendship, and about themselves.

Peppered throughout, are the catchy lyrics to Level3’s songs, including title and album information, making the band feel that much more real and a part of the story.

The ending was unpredictable, realistic, and hopeful. It’s clear that there is still work to be done for these three friends, but the ending was every bit satisfying. I’m just sorry I didn’t read this sooner.

I recommend this for anyone who enjoys reading contemporary fiction about best friends and music, especially with a good dose of humor.

 

 

anna250-150x150

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