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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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The Time Traveler's Wife 

by Audrey Niffenegger
08/12/2017 Categories: fantasy older teens time travel

In Niffenegger's novel, a young man named Henry has the ability to time travel involuntarily. His trips into the past as well as the future happens spontaneously, but most of the time, they lead him to his wife. Through these trips, Henry learns more about his love for Clare since she was a young child until her old age.

This book has a complex story line. It may be difficult to understand at first but as you keep reading, it starts making sense. It's a love story but it's not the typical one that one would see on the shelves. I liked the book because of the originality but I was also captivated by Clare. I thought that Clare's unconditional love for Henry despite his sudden absences was the sweetest thing.

This is romantic story of two people so this definitely will appeal more to readers who like love stories. However, it's also a sci-fi novel, so that's an added bonus. Initially, I started reading it because of the "time traveling" description of the book but I was pleasantly surprised with the romantic plotline.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 

by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, returns to Hogwarts now known as the Chosen One. Rumors about his adventure to the Ministry of Magic and his second duel with Voldemort fly like wildfire around the Wizarding world, and even darker rumors encircle the acts of the terrible Dark Lord. Nevertheless school goes on, and Albus Dumbledore believe that it is time for Harry to be educated in the mysterious past of Lord Voldemort. But the more they learn, the more questions appear, and as the school drama heightens, things get strange. But Harry is always sure of one thing: One cannot live while the other survives.

I thought this was a really good book (like all the Harry Potter books). The ending is so full of action and emotion, and so many questions get answered while at the same time making more. Questions like 'Why does Harry feel Voldemort's emotions?' This is one of the biggest questions in the entire series, but you have to read all the books to understand, and I love that about it.

I would recommend Harry Potter in general to anyone who likes a very well-put-together story, a series, magic, and incredible action. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a really good book if you like anything listed above, plus a good mystery coupled with romance and a character that feels real and is someone you can relate to.

Keila, 14

Rating: 

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Tiger 

by Jeff Stone
08/12/2017 Categories: adventure brothers middle grade

Fu is the Cantonese name for Tiger. Fu is a strongly built boy who finds himself in the evil clutches of his older brother, Ying(eagle). The brothers are all monks, and they barely have the time to mourn over their so-called 'Secret Temple'. Ying turned evil because of the Grandmaster's mistake. This book is one of many of the Five Ancestors series.

I fell in love with this series. Especially this book, Tiger. The boy's name was chosen by Grandmaster because of his body type. He was also trained to be taught in the way of the tiger. Or in other words, Tiger martial arts. I hope you enjoy this book!

I would definitely recommend this book to like, everyone. Why? Well, obviously it's a good book. Who doesn't like martial-arts-butt-kicking monks who go on journeys with cool names? Hok, Fu, Maolo, Ying, and countless others.

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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Heartless 

by Marissa Meyer
08/12/2017 Categories: fantasy romance

So. Good. This book is about Catherine Pinkerton, the future Queen of Hearts! Why is she so cruel? What made her say "Off with your head" in the first place? Find out in this twisted, gripping tale. . .

It was amazing! You really dip into the dream of a bakery for Catherine. And the real story behind the Jabberwocky! Interesting pumpkins, daring jokers, heartbreaking scenes, and scenario's that make you go "Oh! I remember that!" or "Eureka!"

I would recommend this book to 12-1,000. Why? Well, because this is a bit more mature book. Just because it's mature, doesn't mean it isn't a great book! Be prepared for a tale of roses and thrones...

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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The River 

by Gary Paulsen
08/12/2017 Categories: adventure survival stories

Brian Robeson, who was forced to live alone for several weeks in the wilderness, is on his next life-threatening quest through the woods. When asked by the government to show them how he was able to survive, Brain agrees and goes back to the forest accompanied by a psychologist named Derek Holtzer. But when a freak storm hits them out of nowhere and everything goes wrong, Brian is once again fighting for his life on a trek to also save the life of his friend.

This was a really fantastic book. It had some really interesting psychological elements to it, but it definitely wasn't lacking in action, either. It's a striking story of the relationship between man and nature, and how for Brian it's not man v.s. nature, but nature shaping man for survival.

I would recommend The River to anyone who enjoys a good survival story. This is also a good book for anyone who enjoys a psychological explanation, the story of what's going on in the main character's brain.

Keila, 14

Rating: 

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Surf Like A Girl 

by Rebecca Heller
08/12/2017 Categories: non-fiction

Image result for Rebecca Heller Surf Like A Girl

For all my awesome, surf-loving girls out there! THE book has come, and I am wanting you to read it! This book will get you from picking the right wetsuit, to picking a board. And some beach tips on the way. I really hope you will enjoy this book as much as I do!

I really, really like this book. It is just a single book, and the author is amazing! Bethany Hamilton has read the book, and left a comment, and even by the cover, you can tell you are about to go on a journey. . .

I would recommend it to all my lady gals out there who have a passion to surf those gnarly waves, and tame your fears, and have a blast! Starting the with the whitewater will be best, and maybe begin with a foam board. P.S. The boards from Costco are pretty decent. It is your choice, and I do suggest that you'd do research on surfboards! Have a great time!

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

smileySuggest the Library purchase this book

 

Kingdom Hearts 

by Shiro Amano
08/10/2017 Categories: fantasy friendship manga

There are lots of comics for Kingdom Hearts. The main character is named Sora. His friends, Kairi and Riku were both kidnapped by a mysterious dark magic guy. There are no curse words, or inappropriate content in these books. This is Sora's coming-to-age story of friendship, OMG-moments and Disney characters!

I really liked these books, and it will leave you thirsting to order the second, third, fourth, and so on. You will meet Maleficent, Pete, Belle, Jasmine, Beast, Goofy, Donald, and new characters who live in Traverse Town, like Leon, Yuffie, and many more. When there is light, like Sora, there is darkness, like the Heartless(lol! It rhymes!)

YES! Totally! Anyone can read it! It's all ages, and anyone who loves Disney characters would enjoy this book with Mickey as king, and Minnie as queen. It isn't babyish, fellow teens, it's manga!

Priscilla, 12

Rating: 

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Because of Romek: A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir 

by David Faber, James D. Kitchen
08/10/2017 Categories: holocaust non-fiction older teens wwII

In this memoir, David Faber describes his experiences as a Jew living under Hitler's Third Reich during World War II. Faber recounts the terrible mistreatment of Jews in concentration camps as well as his multiple attempts to escape. Although he was a survivor, he explains that the terrors of those years still haunt him in forms of nightmares.

This was the first Holocaust book that I picked up in my entire life. I read it at an early age, way before I had actually known about the injustices against Jews during World War II. The book gives a vivid description of what Faber's life was like before, during, and after the Holocaust. It was a difficult read because of the content but it did happen and I'm glad that I was able to learn from this book as well.

I would recommend anyone to read Faber's memoir. The first time I read it, I was in fourth grade. I didn't understand it at first, but I was able to learn from it the second time. I really liked Elie Wiesel's books but Faber has a different style of writing that makes it feel like you're there with him. It's scary but I think that was one of the reasons why Faber's book had a much more lasting impact on me than Night did. I think it's important that we remember the Holocaust and that we never forget it because it was terrible crime against humanity. That's why I would really recommend this book to anyone.

Heejeong, 18

Rating: 

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