Categories

Sense and Sensibility 

by Jane Austen
09/07/2017 Categories: classic dating drama romance siblings

This book details the trials and tribulations in the love lives of the Dashwood sisters. The eldest sister, Eleanor, is logical, reasonable and levelheaded, while Marianne, the younger sister, is emotional, passionate, and romantic. Eleanor finds herself in love with an engaged man, while Marianne is pining after a local rascal.

I liked this story a lot because it kept me on the edge of my seat. Jane Austen novels are wildy unpredictable, but always possess a happy ending.

I definitely recommend this book to others because of its dynamic plot. If you like classic love stories or other Jane Austen books, Sense and Sensibility is perfect for you.

Bethany, 15

Rating: 

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The Sun Also Rises 

by Ernest Hemingway
09/06/2017 Categories: classic france romance

The Sun Also Rises chronicles the disillusionment of American expatriates in post-World War I Europe. Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, and their friends travel to Pamplona, Spain to observe the bull-fighting. Hapless Jake continuously pines after the beautiful, charming Brett, though she hops from one man to another.

I liked this book. Hemingway's style of writing is very different from what I have read before, with his short, declarative sentences. His point comes across very promptly, yet poignantly. The story itself is very short, yet full of meaning, which I really enjoyed.

I would recommend this book to others due to its exciting, ever-changing storyline. This novel is a good read for those that like the classics.

Bethany, 15

Rating: 

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This Side of Paradise 

by F. Scott Fitzgerald
09/06/2017 Categories: classic world war I

Image result for this side of paradiseThis novel describes life during the Jazz Age through the eyes of the egotistical Amory Blaine. The story follows the course of his life through his adolescent years, through Princeton University, and ends at a crossroads in Amory's career. Along this journey, Amory falls in love with many mysterious, charming "flappers" who leave him heartbroken, yet thrilled.

I enjoyed this book, however the plot progression was slightly slowed by Fitzgerald's vivid descriptions. I really liked the illustrative writing because I could clearly picture the plot events, as if I were Amory himself.

I would definitely recommend this book to others due to its rich and descriptive plot. If you like other classic novels, then you should read this book.

Bethany, 15

Rating: 

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InkHeart 

by Cornelia Funke
08/24/2017 Categories: magic

This fantastic book is about two people, Meggie and Mortimer. If you think books are cool, just wait till you read this book, and you'll think the thought of reading aloud differently from now on. Mortimer is called a Silver Tongue. One who has super-cool powers to read stuff out from books. Hold on, bare with me, this evil man, Capricorn wants to destroy the book Inkheart(that was the book he was from) so no one could read him back to his past. One man though, Dustfinger, wants to go back into the book to his family, but soon finds out that if one person goes in, another comes out. That is what happened to Mo's wife. He was reading a book to Meggie when she was younger(Inkheart), and he read out these thugs and Capricorn. Soon to realize, his wife was gone.

It was amazing! I could so write more on what happens, but for now, please read this. You'll love it. Anyone could read it. The author also wrote many other good books, and this one is the start of a three-book series. The first is always my favorite. Pretty please read this book and write a review!

EVERYONE should DEFINITELY read this awesome tale!

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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Ten 

by Gretchen McNeil
08/24/2017 Categories: horror murder mystery

This book is about ten teens are invited to Henry Island vacation home for a three-day party. The popular girl in school invites a mix of teenagers to her little party. Little did they know, of the consequences of their past. Meg and her friend Minnie are the main highlights of the story. The very night they are at the house, one of the boys, Ben, almost dies of allergies. Someone sprinkled nuts on his salad, and he was soon suffocating. Meg helps him get back to normal, but little do they know, what comes next. Confusion with a CD, red paint smeared on the wall, one by one, the teens begin to die in a specific, and orderly(With the help of a creepy diary from a dead girl.). . .

Gretchen McNeil's Ten is a gripping tale that is somewhat related to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, except teen version. Despite the lack of proper language, this story is sure to keep you at the edge of your seat from chapter one, to the end. Once you find out who the killer is, and his/her purpose, you are sure to unconsciously look at your 6 and 12, after anticipating this terrifying tale.

I would personally recommend this book to those who yearn for a great thriller, and those who understand the troubled teenager's problems: boy confusion, who-dates-who, the terrible I-Think-Your-My-Boyfriend-Even-Though-In-Reality-Your-Not, and the typical triangle of love. This book has some bad words just to let you know. Read this if you have a chance, and tell me what you think!
 

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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The Darkness of Dragons 

by Tui T. Sutherland
08/24/2017 Categories: adventure fantasy magic

In the next book of the series, Wings of Fire, a two-thousand year old NightWing named Darkstalker has risen from his prison, where he had been buried by his best friend and forever sweetheart. Now he is out and free, rampaging all around Pyrrhia for revenge and world-conquering time. Only six dragonets stand in his way: Kinkajou, Moon, Anemone, Winter, Turtle, and Qibli. This story stars Qibli, a SandWing, while he battles Darkstalker in ways he would never have guessed, face his darkest fears, and battle himself from within.

I was really impressed with this book because the plot is so well thought-out and the characters really well developed. It's also really fascinating to be inside Qibli's brain--he is always thinking at high speeds--because he can read dragons like a scroll and it's interesting to know what he reads off them. Also the book puts fundamental morals into play, and questions the gray areas. Its really cool to read about how Qibli and his friends battle and defeat Darkstalker, because it's a way you would never expect, nor see coming.

I would absolutely recommend this book, The Darkness of Dragons, to anyone who likes a character that's can be related to, has secrets to his past that still need to be found out, and is incredibly, incredibly smart and kind. It's also a good book for people who want to see the bad guy be defeated after several books of him running around unchecked, and who like to think deeply about moral questions such as 'Is it right to take a dark path or murder and oppress when at the end of the road, the world will be a much better, brighter place?'

Keila, 14

Rating: 

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens 

by Sean Covey
08/23/2017 Categories: non-fiction self-help

In this book, Sean Covey lists the seven good habits that teenagers should adopt for an improved life. He includes most of the typical troubles that people face during their teenage years. 

I liked that Covey wrote this book to help troubled teens make positive changes in their lives. He covered self-image, peer pressure, family and friend relationships, and life goals. Despite his good intentions as a writer, I felt that Covey missed some important aspects of a "troubling" life that some teenagers might face. Most of the tips he gave only applied to teens with an ideal life: financially stable home with caring but strict parents. I felt like he didn't include any problems that teens in more severe situations were going through. While reading this book, I felt like he oversimplified the issues that some teens face and gave vague or counterproductive solutions to his readers. 

This book claims to be the "ultimate teenage success guide," but it only covers a limited number of problems that may only apply to teens in an ideal home. Another issue with this book is that a teenager fighting with his parents over going to a party versus a teenager fighting with his parents over making more money to support the family are two very different things. Covey offers one solution for both of these problems even though his tips may only help the first teenager. Because his solutions are too broad and simple, I wouldn't recommend this to friends who are going through serious problems such as poverty, depression, or bullying. 

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

by Mark Haddon
08/23/2017 Categories: mystery older teens

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the narrator is a young boy named Christopher Boone who has an unspecified mental condition where he lacks social skills. When Christopher discovers his neighbor's dog murdered with a pitchfork, he tries to find the person responsible.

In the book, there were parts that made me feel frustrated because he didn't understand the gravity of the situations that he was placed in. His character was very hard to sympathize with because of his inability to understand human emotions. That's why in many cases throughout the book, Christopher was rather hurtful to the people around him, and maybe even selfish. Despite Christopher's disability, he was really passionate about mathematics. I really liked that he had a dream of being an astronaut, and how in the end, he realized his potential to become anything he wanted.

This is a mystery novel that I would recommend to middle school students and up. Haddon wrote with very simple language but because he wrote it in the style of the book's protagonist, Christopher, the sentences seem detached and almost monotone, which makes it harder to read. I think the content about Christopher's disorder and the secrets that his father kept from him may be difficult for younger readers to understand as well.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake 

by Aimee Bender
08/19/2017 Categories: family secrets older teens

On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein takes a bite out of her mom's homemade lemon cake. On her birthday, however, she is given a gift - or a curse - to be able to taste the emotions of the person through their food. Despite her mother's cheerful attitude, Rose discovers that her mother is unhappy and disappointed, and that the rest of her family is keeping secrets from each other. 

Aimee Bender has a creative style of writing. I was really confused at first because of the way she wrote her dialogues; they're italicized. She also had an original plot. I thought that tasting emotions through taste buds was a brilliant idea! I felt that the book was very disorganized and all over the place. She introduced her mother and father's problems but she didn't elaborate on them. I was left very confused over WHY some things happened in this novel. I also felt the same way about Rose's brother who seemed to be slipping away from reality. Overall, I felt like this book was unfinished and that there were too many details that were missing. 

I would not recommend this book to young readers. I first picked this book up in seventh grade and it was a very difficult read. I don't think the characters in the book are developed well enough for the readers to understand them, and because I couldn't understand these characters, I didn't feel the need to care about what happened to them in the books. I felt really detached from the plot. If I had nothing else to read, I would read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, but I didn't feel like it was worth trying to understand Bender's writings. 

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science 

by Atul Gawande
08/19/2017 Categories: non-fiction older teens

Image result for Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect ScienceIn Complications: A Surgeon's Notes On An Imperfect Science, Atul Gawande, a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, describes all the problems that surgeons in training and even professionals face in the emergency rooms. He argues throughout his book that there are always complications during surgeries and treatments of patients, but that those complications are what allows those practicing medicine to learn and fix their mistakes.

Atul Gawande is a surgeon but I really liked that he admitted in this book that he as a surgeon and his practices are all imperfect. It might be hard to simply say these things because the public expects doctors and especially surgeons to be perfect beings. His message was very clear throughout the book: the world of medicine is constantly evolving and the only way to advance is to make mistakes. I think this book brings awareness to the public that doctors are not omniscient, and that the readers need to understand that doctors cannot promise anything. 

I would recommend this book to older teens because some of the anecdotes that Gawande shares may not appeal to younger readers. However, I think after reading this book, older readers will appreciate the world of medicine and all that we know in that field so far. Again, complications may seem like a negative thing in this this field of science but I think it's important for others to understand that they are necessary for the advancement of medicinal knowledge.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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Stargirl 

by Jerry Spinelli
08/19/2017 Categories: high school drama peer pressure

Stargirl is about a boy named Leo Borlock who falls in love with a girl who calls herself "Stargirl." She becomes popular at her new school because of her unique character. Then, everyone at her school starts hating her... for being different. Despite having loved her for being who she was, he begs Stargirl to become "normal" and to fit in like the rest of the crowd so that she is liked by her peers again.

My favorite thing about this book was that it highlighted different problems that teenagers face in their schools. Jerry Spinelli used Leo's character to depict the average student who is always worried about other people's opinions and thoughts to actually think about the greater things in life. Leo doesn't do anything he thinks that his peers will disapprove and seeing the girl he likes getting tormented for being different breaks him. He wants to fix that but his solution is to change Stargirl into something she's not. It's a story of peer pressure and bullying, but it's also a story that encourages the youth to embrace their individuality and quirkiness. 

I would recommend this book to people who may feel like their quirkiness is a bad thing. I think that everyone is unique and that fitting in with the crowd isn't necessarily a good thing. I really liked the message that Spinelli was trying to send and I think a lot of young readers will enjoy it. 

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 

by Rebecca Skloot
08/19/2017 Categories: african americans cancer non-fiction

In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot tells the true story of how the cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman with cervical cancer, were extracted and preserved by doctors without her consent. Lacks' cells were the first cells that were able to reproduce infinitely in a lab setting, therefore earning the name "immortal cells." These "immortal" cells of Henrietta Lacks were nicknamed "HeLa" cells by scientists and they were crucial to the development of new medicine for cancer as well as other illnesses. Using the story of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot writes about the clash between the progress of medicine and ethics. 

I started reading this book for my AP Biology class and I was so sure that it was going to take a long time to finish it. However, the whole entire time, I felt like I was watching a movie (which I really liked). I was so surprised by all the detail because it would have taken Rebecca Skloot a long time to interview all the people involved and research all the events that took place. The acquirement of HeLa cells were very controversial: Henrietta's status as a black citizen made it easier for doctors to use her for research purposes, the Lacks' family did not receive a dime for their contribution to the progress of medicine, and Henrietta died without even a headstone to mark her grave. Skloot includes all of these little details in this book to get the readers to weigh the pros and cons of these injustices committed against a family.

I believe that everyone should read Skloot's books. There are so many crazy things that happened in the world that I didn't know about. I think that reading this book has helped me gain more knowledge of how doctors and scientists were back then. What's ironic is that these doctors were trying to help their society, but in doing so they deceived and manipulated their patients. Even though I didn't get any closure regarding the controversy over HeLa cells from this book, I was able to better understand how the world has changed from the 50's. I recommend this book to everyone, not just people interested in science. It will really open your eyes on the issues of our world.

Heejeong, 18

Rating:

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The Death Cure 

by James Dashner
08/12/2017 Categories: action survival stories suspense

Hey, guys! So The Death Cure is the second-to-last book(The last one is the prequel, Kill Order.), following Thomas and his gang on the journey throughout the Maze Runner series, with this book, in the beginning, you learn who is immune to the Flare, and who isn't. Yes, some of our beloved characters must get picked off. Sadly. Gally comes in again. He made another appearance in Scorch Trials as well.

I really enjoyed this book, but not as much as I liked Scorch Trials. This book really wraps things up for Wicked and Maze Runner fans. Thomas is left with a few of his friends behind, because they died. Newt, he had the Flare, and asked Tommy to kill him. (Everyone loved Newt!) and Teresa has her last say in this book. In the earlier book, she betrays Thomas, and he never forgives her. So, in The Death Cure, Teresa pays back her debt, and saves Thomas from a crushing ice wall. She literally gets squished.

I would recommend this book to people who have already read the other Maze Runner books, and are ready for the finale. No one really knows what happens after The Death Cure, but you can read what happened before the first book, The Maze Runner. Like I have mentioned before, the "last" book and very first book is the prequel, Kill Order. Read all of them and do a review!

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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The Hobbit 

by J.R.R Tolkien
08/12/2017 Categories: action adventure fantasy

Image result for the hobbit the novel

The plot of this novel is set before the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This book follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who favors the comfort of his home, and 13 dwarves whom Bilbo accompanies. The group's goal is to pass through the dangerous terrains and creatures of the Misty Mountains, and eventually reclaim their authority of the Lonely Mountains from the dragon Smaug.

The first few chapters of the book is pretty slow, but I've noticed that most of J.R.R Tolkien's books start off like that. You just have to get through those parts because eventually, you get sucked into the story. I really liked how Bilbo Baggins' character developed throughout his journey. At first, he came off as a pretentious creature who had too many fears to be of actual help to the dwarves. However, it was very interesting to see his better qualities such as tenacity, dexterity, and humility show through as he traveled and fought together with his dwarf companions.

I would recommend this book to people who like fantasy novels. Everything in The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings is from Tolkien's imagination. He writes about dwarves, elves, goblins, and other fascinating creatures. I think that the language may be a little hard for some to understand, but I think the way Tolkien used Bilbo's character development to illustrate motifs and themes was great. Even though this may have been just another fiction with a tale of an adventure to others, to me, it was a story that taught me to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy all of the things (good or bad) that life has to offer.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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The First Time She Drowned 

by Kerry Kletter

This book is a very depressing book, and it will ruin your day. Seriously. You can try to read it, but I am just writing a review on this book just to warn you. The book itself is about a 16-year old girl, Cassie O' Malley. Her family is abusive, and her mother forced Cassie into a mental institution. This is where she understands herself. She struggles through her two and a half years there. She befriends someone named James. He smokes, and teaches her how. She claims that the only reason why she smokes is because there is 'nothing else' to do in the bland, dull colored mental institution.

It was a sad, depressing story. Cassie was different in her family, and she was pulled from her house, and placed in a mental hospital. Her mother forced her into the car, and even tied her up, and told her brother not to help her. The reason why the book is called The First Time She Drowned, was because when she was younger, her brother always showed off in front of his mother. Cassie tried to also, but the only thing she got from her mother, was a look as if she was threatening her brother. Her mother is so full of herself, and she can manipulate you little by little.

I would recommend this book to those who like bleak stories, and depressing characters. When you read it, you feel like you are the one who is suffering. Not Cassie herself. The language is harsh, and the plot is really bad. People comment that the book is about a girl, who goes through a change, and gets into college. They claim it is a beautiful story. I wonder what they mean by that...

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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