Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is ridiculously smart, not to mention introverted and unhappy. He’s bound for a top-tier college when he shows up and his interviewer is dead. After chasing a note from a paramedic into an overgrown alley and into the entrance exam of Brakebills College of Magical Pedagogy, he begins his education in real-world magic. Because in The Magicians, you don’t cast a spell by vaguely waving your hands, any more than a beginning programmer would write an air-traffic-control program. This is real magic, and it’s hard and brutal like any other subject. He manages to survive four years of intense study at Brakebills, but everything is thrown off-kilter when he and his friends discover the secret of interdimensional travel. 

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman, remains one of my favorite books, even after five years. I would say it’s something about the sheer realism of the series that makes it different from something like Harry Potter - the world of magic is much more realistic, as far as that word can be applied to magic. One gets the feeling that if magic were real, this is exactly how it would play out. The other thing that makes The Magicians really stand out is how it manages to be both a fantasy book and a commentary on fantasy books. The characters make occasional references to Narnia and Harry Potter, which further adds to the feeling of realism.

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes

What could be worse than a serial killer who gets his perverted kicks by snuffing out the potential of bright young women? Well, give him the ability to travel through time and that’s The Shining Girls. Except one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives having her disembowelment/throat slit, and vows to hunt him down and deal justice to him. However, she quickly discovers that it’s hard to track down a killer that could be anywhere in the 19th century. But she perseveres in her quest for revenge, and joins a newspaper and gets the help of a surly sports editor by the name of Dan, eventually finding the house that acts as his base of operations.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is an interesting book. It has the time-bendy feel of a movie that presents you with certain details and unexplained scenes throughout the main story, only to tie them up in a way that somehow reveals what really happened at the end. I guess my only real criticism of the way the story is told is that Beukes gives an incredibly in-depth description of each of the Shining Girls and their backgrounds and personalities, which does make their deaths much more powerful, but for some reason she refrains from characterizing the killer. Which is odd, because he features in most of the books and there’s not much of a motivation for him to do what he does besides some vague mental urge to satisfy himself and get rid of the voices in his head. This isn’t to say I didn’t like it. I enjoyed it immensely. It was a great read spread over a couple days so I could go back and look at the important things I had looked over the first time around.

Reviewed by A.G., grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Place, by Todd Strasser

Dan, a senior, an athlete, part of the popular kids, and homeless. Both his parents have lost their jobs and now they're living in Dignityville. Of course, after such a drastic change to his lifestyle, Dan is one sour prune. But soon he starts to change, especially after a friend of his gets beaten up for no good reason. Now Dan must figure out, who's behind it, the why, and the how, with an all time shocker that'll blow your mind.

No Place, by Todd Strasser, will make you realize that there are real problems in the outside world. People live day to day oblivious to what's happening around them, but this book brings everything to light. Especially since it follows around a teenage boy, it'll wake up teenagers to follow the news and understand what's really going on and that they aren't living an easy peasy lifestyle. At any minute, anyone's life can go downhill, so now is the time to stand up for it. Just check the book out, you will not be disappointed!!

Reviewed by Anahit T., grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth,  is the third and final installment in the Divergent series. The book immediately picks up from the last one, when Tris, the main character, reveals a video that changes lives forever. The factions are all destroyed and everyone is now factionless. Tobias's mother, Evelyn, is in charge of the factionless now. People labeled as threats to her leadership are placed in prison, including Tris. After undergoing an interrogation under the influence of truth serum, she is released into the chaos that is now her beloved hometown. Action and suspense ensue in these exciting novel. 

This book was a page turner, I read it in one sitting! It is full of action and suspense and, of course, romance between Tris and Tobias, my favorite couple ever. I really enjoyed the book, except for the ending that completely ruined the whole series. Be prepared to be shocked. I definitely recommend this book to fans of the Divergent series. I'm really sad that this series is over, it's amazing. 

Reviewed by Rebecca S., grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Monday, August 18, 2014

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

Tris, Tobias, Marcus, Caleb and Peter go to amity headquarters in search for safty. They are welcomed to stay as long as they keep the piece. Tris is overwhelmed with greef and guilt after the incident with will in the previous book and she has no one to talk it out with. Evelyn’s army of factionless are working hard to convert everyone into becoming factionless. Tris is against this. Instead she wants to go out and see what the real world, that she learned about in the previous book, is like.

The action packed adventure of the characters in Insurgent, by Veronica Roth, kept it interesting from beginning to end. The characters, even though it may be extremely difficult, must put what happened to them behind and begin to work together for the good of their people and themselves. After the deaths betrayal and lying its hard to tell whose truly good and who can’t be trusted. This book can be entertaining for anyone who reads it. I think everyone can relate to at least one character. Personally my favorite character is peter but to each their own.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Draw the Dark, by Ilsa J. Bick

In Winter, Wisconsin, Christian Cage is the least liked. No one wishes for him to be around. His father and mother left unexpectedly leaving no information. While growing up he draws people's worst nightmares and they tend to... He starts to see flashbacks, not of his own, but of another's. Dr. Rainier helps him understand, to help solve a mystery that occurred not too long ago in Winter, Wisconsin.

Draw the Dark, by Ilsa J. Bick was interesting. It kept me on my toes, thinking what's going to happen next? I would try to piece together the mysteries and questions left unanswered. My heart would beat fast in certain scenes and I would want to yell out and warn Christian about what he was doing or what was about to happen or yell at him to move his butt before something bad happened. I don't know if there will be a second book, but I would love it if it happened, but who knows? It'd give great insight about his parents and what really happened to them!

Reviewed by Anahit T., grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hunter X Hunter, by Yoshihiro Togashi

Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other men. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves Hunters. As, Gon discovers that his father was a famous hunter he embarks on a journey to find his father, meeting reliable friends and going on dangerous missions as well.

As the creator of Yu Yu Hakusho, I really enjoyed reading Hunter x Hunter, by Yoshihiro Togashi . The plot's intriguing and so are the characters. The one weakness of it currently is the fact that the author likes to go on hiatus a lot and I felt that the recent arc with the Chimera was too drawn out.

Reviewed by Jacqueline L., grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pretty guardian : Sailor Moon, by Naoko Takeuchi

In Pretty guardian : Sailor Moon, by Naoko Takeuchi, you get to know Usagi, Luna, Mano, and Ami. Usagi is sort of a flake, but she is a very good friend. Usagi is the one chosen to be Sailor Moon “the Guardian of love and justice", as she always says. She is faced with her first enemy when he friend Molly’s mother’s jewelry is infiltrated by the Nega force. She is very scared and complains about it until Luna helps her to calm down. When she finally gets her act together, she finishes off the monster by using her moon tiara. Usagi makes a friend named Ami who goes to Usagi’s school and a night school. Little did Ami or Usagi, know it was a Nega force trap. When the Nega monster over powered Sailor Moon and the Nega monster attacked Ami, Luna gave her the transformation pen so she could become Sailor Mercury.

This book is set in Tokyo where the sailor scouts lie dormant. The basic plot is Sailor Moon and Luna looking for sailor scouts and fighting Nega monsters to protect the planet. Usagi is a character some girls can relate to because some girls are lazy and flaky when it comes to school work and studying. Usagi is also a good friend who is devoted to helping them, if she devoted half of that to her studies then for sure she would be a good student. Usagi might not turn out as good as Ami but she might at least get a “C” average instead of her bad grades.

Reviewed by Nichole Z., grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon Book 6, by Naoko Takeuchi

In Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon Book 6, by Naoko Takeuchithe fight for Mano-chan’s attention continues. Since Usagi was late again she was beat to Mano’s morning hug by Chibi-Usa and Diana. Chibi-Usa is sort of Usagi’s enemy when it comes to Mano’s attention. After school Usagi goes to the arcade as usual and she meets a boy. His uniform shows that he is attending a new academy that is supposed to be for all the big teenage stars, such as athletes, musicians, and actors. These students also are known to excel in all the subjects taught which is how the academy was named the Genius School. The group, soon after he leaves, decides to leave as well. What they find though is very unsettling; they leave only to find that a strange creature is outside. 

This is a very dramatic book in the series. This is when a new enemy arises with a leader named Pharaoh 90. He uses, what are called incomplete diaman to infiltrate human bodies so their civilization can thrive on Earth. The story plot is very fun to think about. There was a question that arose in my mind ‘Is the new guy they met a boy or a girl?’ Since the person wears both boys and girls clothing. The reason for my question is we see the new guy in a Tuxedo Mask outfit and a Sailor Uranus. The answer should be in the next book.

Reviewed by Nichole Z., grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon Book 5, by Naoko Takeuchi

In Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon Book 5, by Naoko Takeuchithey find another sailor scout. This sailor’s name is Sailor Venus. She comes to help when Sailors Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Tuxedo Mask are over welled by the Nega force. She helps them to scare off the Nega force scum. She also brings a new cat friend named Atriums who Luna recognizes right away. The bad news is the Nega force finding out the true identity of Tuxedo Mask. They also find out a bit about Sailor Venus’s past as the action character, Sailor V. Coincidently, Sailor V is Usagi’s idol example for her when she is Sailor Moon.

This book is very fun and sort of dramatic. This is actually one of my least favorite in the series. The part I do like about it is they get a new scout, Sailor Venus, and a new talking feline friend, Airtimes. The finding of Artemisia brings up a great opportunity to give Luna a love interest, I thought and sure enough when Chibi-Usa comes to the past she brings a little kitty named Diana. I believe this is a very sure sign that Luna and Artemisia become very fond of each other in the future. I hope Chibi-Usa becomes a great sailor scout.

Reviewed by Nichole Z., grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Pretty Gaurdian: Sailor Moon Book 7, by Naoko Takeuchi

In Pretty Gaurdian: Sailor Moon Book 7, by Naoko Takeuchi, the identity of Sailors Pluto, Uranus, Saturn and Neptune are revealed. Sailor Pluto is a Theoretical Physicist apprentice at the Genius academy, Sailors Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn are regular students at the genius academy. The three sailors Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus come with disturbing news about sailor Saturn’s potential awakening. Back in the silver millennia Sailor Saturn, guardian of ruin and silence, silently pointed her staff at the Moon and as soon as that happened the Moon fell into ruin. This is why Sailor Saturn should not be awakened on Earth; otherwise the Earth will fall into ruin.

This book is full of twist and turns and a thought of murder. But the book is not all bad since Sailor Moon finds the power of Super Sailor Moon. This is a power that may come in handy when all the Sailor scouts are together but when they are separated it is no use relining on the power. The power of Super Sailor Moon has its limits just like any other power; all the Sailor Scout’s hearts must be connected. In my opinion, since this condition was in play, the scouts should not have split up, even if the academy was big. 

Reviewed by Nichole Z., grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gintama, by Hideaki Sorachi

The samurai didn't stand a chance. First, the aliens invaded Japan. Next, they took all the jobs. And then they confiscated everyone's swords. So what does a hotheaded former samurai like Sakata "Gin" Gintoki do to make ends meet? Take any odd job that comes his way, even if it means losing his dignity.

Although there isn't an intriguing plot behind Gintama, by Hideaki Sorachi, what really drew me in was the hilarious situations Gintama would go through in order to make ends meet.

Reviewed by Jacqueline L, grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Monday, August 4, 2014

Toriko, by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

In the world of Toriko, by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, taste and texture of food are very important. Toriko is a hunter of precious foods regularly hired by restaurants and the rich. He is a man with inhuman skills to capture the ferocious, evasive and rare animals to complete his ultimate dinner course. His current accomplice, a weak, timid person, but who was inspired by Toriko's greatness, accompanies him on all his journeys on his quest for the course of his life.

Not only is Toriko funny, it's plot is simple enough that you could start off at any point in the story. Although the comedy might be lost because of the lost background on some characters, the central idea of Toriko as a cook hunting precious food ingredients is not lost.

Reviewed by Jacqueline L., grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Friday, August 1, 2014

Middlesex, by Jeffery Eugenides

 Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, is a fictional novel that is told from the point of view of Calliope Stephanides, who is a hermaphrodite and until the age of 14 was raised as a girl. She runs away from home at this age just as she is about to receive an operation, and from then on identifies herself as a male (looking much like one as well). To describe her condition, Callie- later called Cal- has to bring forth her origins, starting with that of her grandparents in Greece. Through the lives of the family members that came before her/him, Callie gives a comprehensive story- one that leads to her present condition. 

One of the most intriguing aspects of Eugenides’ novel is that it oscillates between the present Cal and his/her past. The story begins far back with her grandparents who fled Greece when the Turks invaded the town and massacred Greek and Armenian Christians in the village of Smyrna. Cal tells of her grandparents new home in Michigan and later of her parents as their children and finally Cal describes her own life from the time of her birth. I enjoyed the detailed background Eugenides gave for each character in the story because I could clearly identify them and their feelings. It was much easier to connect with the characters, to understand them and to understand Cal because of how comprehensive the narrative was. I loved this book very much and would recommend it to high school level students and older.

Reviewed by Nelli, grade 11
Pacific Park Library