Teens

Category Archives: Reviews – Staff

These book reviews are from librarians you know!

Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Mob Psycho 100

Posted on September 13th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Previews, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

mob-psycho-100Hello Otaku! I hope the new school year is starting well for all of our fans back in classes. On the theme of “new things,” our club members at Hyde Park recommended the new show Mob Psycho 100. This new series is an action/psycho thriller combo with clear links back to the world famous and groundbreaking film Akira, from 1988. Mob Psycho 100 anime is produced by the same makers of One Punch Man. On this new team, they assembled director Yuzuru Tachikawa from Death Parade and composer Kenji Kawai from Ghost in the Shell. (reference and link credit: Kotaku.com) 

 

 

 

 

akiratetsuofinale03

Tetsuo unleashing his telekinetic power in Akira

 

mob-psycho-100-blogThe hero of the story is Mob, a mild and reserved middle school kid who has trouble expressing himself. He seems generally unremarkable except for his one talent, ESP. ESP stands for “Extra-Sensory  Perception” and is not completely confirmed by science. Some people believe it exists and it is often called the “sixth sense.” Common forms of the phenomena can be referred to as “vibe”, “aura” or “spirit.” Spirit is a common theme in many Japanese anime so it’s not surprising we’re seeing it here. But rather than involving magic or classic supernatural themes, Mob Psycho 100 makes reference to a more scientific approach to tell a similar story.

mobpsycho100[Click image for GIF] The artwork and animation are amazing here and I want to take the opportunity to compliment (and brag about) our wonderful teens at Hyde Park. I am sure you and your friendly Otaku would make the same observations as our teens. First, the artwork is simpler than standard cutting edge titles that are taking advantage of HD resolutions and thousands of brilliant colors. Instead, BONES studio uses a simple art style, like that used for One Punch Man. This allows the artists a lot more time and flexibility to create fantastic animation and psychedelic spirit characters. Really though, the art work and creativity erupt with action and dynamism. The balance of time and effort in the production work is clearly evident. These were some of the first things our teens commented about when we started the show last week. They were right on top of this with critical analysis, examples and their reactions. It was great to hear and they had me sold in less than half an episode. I sometimes wondered why the drawing style was more simplistic. Now I understand.

So check out Mob Psycho 100 on Crunchyroll or Kissanime

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 School for Good and Evil

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

sfgae1

sfgae2sfgae3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: I Am Malala

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

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
Tags: , , , ,

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.