Thursday, December 11, 2008

Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult

Bestselling adult fiction author Jodi Picoult delivers again with her newest novel, Change of Heart. It's a heart-wrenching adventure about how a death row prisoner, Shay, and the victim's family come together after eleven years. It brings together a mother who has lost her family twice, a lawyer who lacks self-respect, a priest who wants to pay for a mistake, and a prisoner who people believe to be the messiah. The novel explores the idea of seeing versus believing and the concept of miracles. What the book lacks is momentum. It tends to drag on a bit in the first half, but gains speed after the conflict is clearly understood. This book is not for those who like happy endings and definitely requires some patience.

- Reviewed by Sayonika, grade 10.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

The Giver is about a closed community that lives under strict rules that do not relate to the everyday life that we live. I think in many ways the community that the book describes relates to some of the communities around the world today. Even though, it made me think about a world with no pain, or suffering. But then again, a world with no tears means a world with no happiness, and that would be boring. I love The Giver, because it truly makes the reader think about how would it be if our world was different.

- Reviewed by Marika, grade 9.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

The Princess Bride, written by William Goldman, is a fictional tale which involves romance, adventure, and a great deal of memorable characters. It involves a normal "farm boy" who seeks desperate measures to win the heart of his princess. Don't be fooled by the typical title or plot line - it's a true classic. I enjoyed this book so much, and can say it's one of my favorites. It has so many dimensions to it that it's almost certain you'll love this story. It's an addicting and quick read; my four-hundred-some pages were done in four hours.

- Reviewed by Christina, grade 11.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes is a riveting novel about the grueling experiences a boy faces as he grows up in the small town of Sterling. The story is centered around several characters that the boy, Peter, is somehow connected to. It is about a school shooting that lasts for nineteen minutes at Sterling High, conducted by Peter himself.

Starting from the first chapter, people jump to conclusions as I did myself. How can this boy, who is barely an adult, even think of committing such a crime that will ruin his future as well as everyone else present at the school? He must be psychotic, have some sort of mental disease, or have no parental guidance. The answer is very complicated and heart breaking, but it can be found within the confines of this brilliant novel about human emotions and sacrifices.

The novel raises many ethical issues familiar to all of us. Jodi Picoult manages to raise awareness as well as deliver a masterpiece that is crucial for people running away from deep understanding of relationships.

Do not read Nineteen Minutes expecting a fast-paced thrill ride, but read this beautiful novel for its subtle take on love that gives hope for a better future rather than a happily-ever-after.

-Reviewed by Sayonika M. Grade 10

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Santiago is a young shepherd from Spain. His purpose in life is to travel. On a trip to a merchant’s village to sell wool, he encounters a gypsy. Taking advantage of this, he tells the gypsy the dream he has seen more than once. The gypsy woman tells him that he has treasure hidden at the place he saw in his dream – the pyramids of Egypt. His ordinary trip to the village turns into an extraordinary journey to another continent where he has to overcome many obstacles in order to reach his destined location. On his way to the Pyramids, he meets many people who give him the wisdom and courage to accomplish his goal. This adventure-filled book overflowing with wisdom about listening to your heart will leave you begging for more.

- Reviewed by Ani M., grade 9.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Atonement, by Ian McEwan, has recently appeared on the big screen. Despite this, the book is undoubtedly on a level of its own. It is written through the eyes of a young girl who is forever changed by an event. Briony has just witnessed her sister, Cecilia, having a possibly dangerous encounter with their servant boy. Briony is in complete shock of this, and seeks to tell what she has seen. As I was reading this book, I couldn't help to compare it to the movie. Though, I quickly found out the book is written so vividly and built upon such real characters, it's bound to be one of your favorites. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking an unforgettable romance.

- Reviewed by Christina, grade 11.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

In this book, Holden Caulfield is telling us his story of the time that he got expelled from his fancy all-boys school known as Pencey Prep because he was failing four of his classes. Holden has had enough of the school and he’s happy that he is finally out of the school. Winter break is near and he only has to wait a few more days until he leaves. After getting into a fight with his roommate, he decides to leave early. He already knows that if he goes home early his parents would realize that he’s been kicked out. Therefore, he goes to New York to spend a couple of days there. In this novel, Holden tells us about his past, family, teachers, girls, and just about everything else that a sixteen year old boy would think about. Although he is writing to us from a mental hospital, I think we can all relate to Holden’s story. This book is very interesting and I would recommend it to every teen reader.

- Reviewed by Ani M., grade 9.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer

Can you spell awesome! Stephenie Meyer completely outdoes herself in the latest book in the Twilight phenomenon. If you haven't read the first three books yet, you probably shouldn't read my review. For everyone else, Breaking Dawn leaves you wanting for more. The story starts off with Bella engaged to Edward and Jacob somewhere in Northern Canada. At the wedding, Jacob comes back to greet Bella, where he finds out that Bella is going to go through with the honeymoon ordeal. He loses his temper and almost phases in front of everybody, only to be held back by Seth and Sam. However, the biggest twist is brought on by the honeymoon, which shocks the entire vampire community. All the clans come together in an effort to save this wonderful addition from the Volturis. The romance and fervor seen in this book can only be compared to Twilight. The book is simply perfect; Stephenie does not leave any stone unturned. She dazzles readers with fiction, drama, humor, adventure and of course romance. This is my my favorite book up to date. So, join the coven of thousands of already-mesmerized readers and experience the fictional series of the decade: the Twilight series.
- Reviewed by Sayonika, grade 10.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The It Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar

For all those readers who have read and enjoyed the series Gossip Girl, the It Girl series [by Cecily von Ziegesar] is one that they must read. The once naive and innocent Jenny Humphrey leaves her all girls' school in New York City and sets out for the exciting and coed boarding school. She starts off her sophomore year with her personal journey to be the new "It" girl and have all the guys chasing after her. Anyone who likes novels that are hilarious, drama-filled, and a page turner would definitely have a fun time reading this book.

- Reviewed by Sharon, grade 9.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Truth about Forever, by Sarah Dessen

If you are looking for a medium-sized book to get you into your summer reading list, this is the book for you. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen is subtle about the relationships a girl has during her life. Seventeen year old Macy finds herself at crossroads when her brainy boyfriend asks to take a “break” from their relationship because she said “I love you”. Due to her mother’s hectic work schedule, Macy decides to find comfort at a local catering company called Wish. And poof! Macy transforms into someone who can express her feelings and desires to someone after years. She finds herself with the help of a quirky family complete with a pregnant Delia, monosyllabic Monica, obsessed-with-everything Bert, out-of-her-mind Kristy, and quiet-but-brilliant Wes. Overall, the book is good with a strong structure and hints of sarcasm to help you keep reading. I recommend this book to anyone who is always tongue-tied like me when it comes to expressing your feelings to parents, siblings, or friends.

-Reviewed by Sayonika, grade 10.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

Sixteen is the age that every girl impatiently waits for. Tally is almost sixteen and she’s excited to get her present. No, her present isn’t a car or a huge surprise birthday party with all her friends. In fact, it’s an operation that will turn her pretty. Tally lives in a world where everybody turns pretty only at the age of sixteen. Before that, you are known as an ugly. She can’t wait to turn pretty and move on to the other side of the river where the only job people have is to have fun. Although everything seems perfect, there is one thing stopping her from turning pretty. Her new friend Shay decides that she doesn’t want to turn pretty and runs away. Now, the doctors have given Tally two choices: either she finds Shay and turns her in, or she never turns pretty at all. While trying to bring back Shay, she learns the secrets of turning pretty that might make Tally change her mind forever. What will she choose to do? I won’t tell you. But I recommend you read this book if you would like to know what happens in a world where anyone that we classify as normal is classified as ugly.

- Reviewed by Ani M., grade 9.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

by Jane Austen

In Jane Austen's novel Persuasion, Anne Elliot, the leading character, centers around her remorse and regret after breaking off an engagement. As a result of persuasion(hence the title), she has ended the relationship with her "true love." The novel takes place eight years after this incident, and takes its peak when her former love reappears into the community. I think this book will definitely be enjoyable, despite the slight difficulty with the language and organization. If you're a hopeless romantic, or have heard of Jane Austen- read this book!

- Reviewed by Christina, grade 10.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Ode to Edward Cullen

He can dazzle with his liquid topaz eyes,
But you should also expect psychotic car brake cutting times
Although a vegetarian with blood lust,
he can easily garner your trust
Glitters like a diamond under the sun,
sparkling vampires are such fun
Happy happy joy joy,
even though he believes he is eternally damned
I am quite a fan
Mr. Darcy 2.0, with tousled bronze hair and
A velvet caressed voice
Love’s an ignorant whiny brat,
Please, Dear God, make it stop
Born on June 20th 1901, a merry gift to the world at large
Edward Cullen owns my heart.

- Written by Ani K., 15, Teen Angst connoisseur.

[Librarian's note: Don't know what the fuss is all about? Read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight (book 1), New Moon (book 2), and Eclipse (book 3), and get on the request list for the eagerly anticipated fourth book in the series, Breaking Dawn, releasing August 2nd!]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

The book Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is about a mysterious girl that enters a public high school, and stands out dramatically. In my opinion Spinelli did a very good job describing the peer pressure of high school, and how much teenagers tend to blend in together. Being different as a teenager is very difficult, people tend to judge you differently. I love it how Spinelli demonstrates the peer pressures of high school by using a strange girl. This book is truly one of my favorites.

- Reviewed by M.T., grade 9.

(Librarian's note: check out this book's sequel, Love, Stargirl, just out this year!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Teen Podcast: Miami Vice Movie Review

Audio review of the 2006 Michael Mann film Miami Vice, starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell.

Click here to play streaming audio.

- Review by John, grade 12.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show arrives to Green Town, Illinois, welcoming Halloween a week early. Two boys, by the names of James Nightshade and William Halloway discover the secrets of the dark, sinister carnival. The carnival attracts all with a promise of dreams fulfilled and youth regained. Together, they venture near the verge of losing their friendship … and their own lives. They learn all too well, the meaning of “Be careful what you wish for.”

This novel is for any teen who is prepared for a dark, nightmarish mystery. It has a strange, hypnotic mood. Ray Bradbury’s writing is very unusual, yet interesting to read. I love how it is written. This book is like no other fantasy fiction book you have ever read. It is definitely a mesmerizing page-turner and will not disappoint you.

- Reviewed by Sevana, grade 9.