Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas


In The Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, Celaena Sardothien is the kingdom of Adarlan's most notorious assassin. She's been a slave in the cruel salt mines of Endovier for over a year, where the average life expectancy is one month. She's been sentenced to die in there and knows escape is impossible, even for her. Then one day The Crown Prince of Adarlan, Dorian Havilliard, makes her an offer for her freedom which she knows she can't refuse. If Celaena will be Dorian's Champion in his fathers competition to find a champion of his own, and she wins, she will be granted her freedom after four years of service to the king. Along the way Celaena experiences everything from romance to genuinely fearing for her own life.

I absolutely adored The Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. My absolute favorite part of the entire book was that the entire story is center around a strong, deadly, and beautiful female character. This book is definitely different from anything else out there right now and I really loved it. Celaena Sardothien probably one of my favorite characters of all time. She's so strong and unique. Even though women have come a long way in past few years in terms of equality, there is still a long way to go. I think society as a whole really needs this book. Anyone who believes in equality and loves a good action novel will absolutely love this book.

Reviewed by Lucy H., Grade 9
Montrose Library

Monday, November 24, 2014

Son, by Lois Lowry


Claire is a 14 year old girl living in a utopian society. Everyone is given a job at the age of 12, based on their interests, and Claire was given the job of a birthmother. Now she is having her first child known as a product but something goes wrong during the procedure. Claire knows nothing other then the fact that unlike the other birthmothers, her product was carved from her stomach. She is moved to the fish hatchery because she is told that her body did not function properly for a birthmother. Over the months,Claire secretly visits her son at the Birthing Center, and soon finds out that he is not ready to be put in a family and might even be released. After hearing this tragic news, her son is kidnapped and taken over the riverbank. Now Claire sets out on a mission to lands beyond her community in order to find her missing son. She is willing to do anything it takes to find him.

I believe Son, by Lois Lowry, was a great ending to the book The Giver.Both the Giver and Son, take place in the same community but are written in different peoples point of view. I found it very interesting how characters from the first book appeared in the last book. I mostly love the main character, Claire because unlike everyone else in the community, she is different because she cares about the son she bore. For years, she struggles and works hard just to see her son again. I believe people who like science fiction and adventure will love this book. It was a great finale to the series.


Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The List, by Siobhan Vivian

http://catalog.glendalepubliclibrary.org/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=14038267AF27R.34063&profile=gcent&uri=link=3100007~!1191958~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=browse_search_page&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!horizon&term=The+list+%2F&index=PALLTI#focusThe List, by Siobhan Vivian, follows the eight girls on the list, the four prettiest and the four ugliest girls at Mount Washington High School. The list is posted every year on the last Monday of September and although no one knows who makes the list, its authenticity is certified by a stolen embossing stamp of Mount Washington. The story follows all eight girls as they experience the consequences of being on the list. The ugliest girls face humiliation, cruelty, and pity but what the prettiest face is almost worse. This is because although it’s horrible to be declared ugly, when you’re declared prettier than everyone else, everyone else tends to become jealous and angry. All the girls experience a rollercoaster ride after the list is posted and learn a lesson or two along the way.

In my opinion, this was a pretty good book. I enjoyed how it experimented with the idea of being “pretty” and how society treats people based on appearance. I also liked that the author showed the effects of the list from all eight sides. I think it gave the story a much for interesting take because of all of the conflicting opinions on the list and being “pretty”. However I did think that the plot was a bit lacking because it took place over only one week, the book could’ve been much better if the author expanded the plot more and made it a little more complex and interesting. I think this book would be enjoyed by anyone looking for a new, interesting take on society and how people are often judged based on appearance.
Reviewed by Lucy H., Grade 9
Montrose Library

Monday, November 17, 2014

Little Woman, by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is about four sisters, Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy who are all dealing with the hardships of love, sickness, and growing up in New England during the Civil War. The girls have various hopes and dreams, marriage, and finding their own path in life.

This is a true American classic for all readers to enjoy. The novel makes you realize that no matter which century you live in, we all have hopes and dreams just like everybody else. We all have goals that we want to accomplish and that's okay. And even though life can have hardships and battles to go through, you always have to have hope and never give up.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini


In this book, Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini, tells the story about a girl named Helen Hamilton who one day finds out that she is not a normal sixteen year old at all. She has strange powers that makes her question everything she has ever known. Out of nowhere, she discovers that she is very powerful and can also fly. She meets a family that helps her and she soon makes a lot of new friends that also have powers like her.

I thought that this was a really good read because it was filled with magic and adventure. It was really hard putting down this book. The author really described the setting really well and it felt like you were actually there along with the main characters. Anyone who likes greek mythology might also enjoy this book because it talks a lot about the greek gods and their powers.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Infinite Moment of Us, by Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us, by Lauren Myracle,  is about Wren and Charlie's first love during the summer after they graduated high school. Charlie has always found Wren beautiful and admired her from a distance, and soon Wren begins to reciprocate his feelings. Wren learns to stand up for herself from Charlie and gains the courage to tell her parents that she does not want to attend Emory, a prestigious university in Atlanta. Charlie learns what true love is all about.

Overall, this book was very cute. The characters were lovable and their feelings for each other seemed real. The writing was fluid and easygoing, and there was a lot of humor. At times, however, the book became tedious and I just wanted to finish it. I would give this book a 7 out of 10 and would recommend it to teenage girls who enjoy cute, romantic novels.
Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Need So Beautiful, by Suzanne Young


In the book, A Need So Beautiful, by Suzanne Young, tells a story about a girl who has a really special power. She can help several people feel better. She is like a seer and she makes a lot of people feel happy and good about themselves.She enjoys helping them because it's a really nice feeling for her, but this power comes with a price. Those who she helps soon forget about her because she is not meant to be remembered. Her only purpose in life is to help those in need.

I thought this was a good read because it had a good message in it. It talked about appreciating the life you live and how it's really important to help people that need it. Because that is one of the most important things in the world. It doesn't matter if you're famous or not, because as long as your family loves you, that is all that matters.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Monday, November 3, 2014

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is a classic tale about Jim Hawkins and his search for treasure after finding a pirate treasure map. Mutiny, pirates, and deception are all that Jim finds on the island, and a stranded crazed man named Ben Gunn who has found the treasure and hidden it in a cave.

I thought Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, was filled with a lot of adventure. I like that it was about someone that wants to hunt but learns that after murder, and death, that wealth and adventure is not always worth the risks. He is happy to get back to the life he had before that was plain and simple. It's good to go on some adventures, but it's also good to just relax and lead a simple life.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 12
Glendale Central Library

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith

http://catalog.glendalepubliclibrary.org/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=140365L0Y2P87.30834&profile=gcent&uri=link=3100007~!544237~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=browse_search_page&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!horizon&term=I+capture+the+castle+%2F&index=PALLTI#focusI Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, takes place in a worn down English castle, occupied by the Mortmains. The main character, Cassandra Mortmain, has a diary, and she chronicles her experiences there. Her father is a known writer, but their family is poor and has to sell the furniture to stay well. Later on, though, a wealthier family, the Cottons, becomes the landlord to the castle, and the daughters of the Mortmains and the sons of the Cottons fall in love with each other. from there, we hear the story of how Cassandra manages all of the relationships.

This book was ok. I did not find anything special about it, but it was a good read. There were humorous moments, and I smiled there. The most interesting part of the book was seeing how Cassandra matured. Earlier in the story, she acted like a teenager, but towards the end of the story, she was more mature and behaved more carefully. The relationship network between the sons and daughters was amusing to observe as well.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library


The Diviners, by Libba Bray

Evie, the main character of the novel, has a secret power. Unlike most secret powers, this one brings her into a lot of trouble, and she has had to leave her Ohio town to go to New York City and live with her uncle because of a scandal. Her uncle might discover her powers. A girl is found murdered however, and a symbol is found on the corpse. Evie must use her powers to solve the murder and finally do something good.

The plot in The Diviners, by Libba Bray, was fairly unoriginal, but the storytelling was superb. I felt suspense whenever I needed to feel suspense, horror when I needed to feel horror, and excitement when I needed to feel excitement. The setting was boring as well, but there were elements to it that made the setting feel interesting and unique. Overall, the book was ok. The plot and base setting were unoriginal, but the storytelling made up for it pretty well.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library


Monday, October 27, 2014

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman

Dragons and humans dominate the world. For many years, they have been at war. A peace treaty was eventually signed, though, and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the treaty is approaching. Just when it is coming, one of the royal family is murdered. The humans immediately suspect the dragons, who can change into human form. The main character, Seraphina, who is a gifted musician, is caught up in the investigation of the murder. The mystery must be solved, or else there will be war again.

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, was a pleasant surprise. The author managed to build up a lot of background around the story and built a really nice world. This really works to draw you into the book, and the characters are interesting as well. They were not super good, but I liked them. The dragons in the book are unlike the dragons you usually read about. These ones are emotionless and rational. They can transform into human form. This separates them from other regular dragons. I would recommend this book to friend definitely.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8

Grandview Library

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Steve Jobs - The Man Who Thought Different, by Karen Blumenthal

http://catalog.glendalepubliclibrary.org/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=140365433NP88.30746&profile=gcent&uri=link=3100007~!1188904~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=browse_search_page&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!horizon&term=Steve+Jobs+%3A+the+man+who+thought+different+%3A+a+biography+%2F&index=PALLTI#focusSteve Jobs - The Man Who Thought Different, by Karen Blumenthal, is a biography of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc., one of the largest companies in existence today. This biography explains the course of Steve Jobs, his colleagues, and Apple as a whole, from when Jobs was running his company out of his garage to when Apple became what it is today. It is truly an extraordinary story, and Blumenthal explains every aspect of it perfectly.

I personally loved reading this book. I liked it because it was so inspiring to read about a man who started from such humble beginnings and went on to create one of the largest companies around. I think anybody who wants to begin a company in the future will definitely like to read this book. This book made me think about the fact that anybody can become successful if they truly put their time and effort to it.
Reviewed by Alec S., Grade 10
Glendale Central Library

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

Colin Singleton, a brilliant prodigy, just graduated high school, and instead of being happy and carefree, feels depressed. This is because his girlfriend, Katherine, or K-19, dumps him. Colin has dated 19 girls named Katherine and believes every single one dumped him. His best friend Hassan takes him on a road trip to get his mind off things, and they end up in the town of Gutshot, where Colin meets Lindsey. Will Colin's tradition of dating Katherines end?

I really loved An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green! John Green is an amazing writer, so the writing was flawless and filled with beautiful, deep quotes. It was funny and never boring, the characters were so lovable, and it was just overall really cute. I would recommend this book to fans of John Green and teenagers in general. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

I Am The Messanger, by Markus Zusak

A young taxi driver, Ed Kennedy, accidentally stops a bank robbery, and he is considered to be a hero by many. Right after the incident, he receives a note in the mail telling him to go to three addresses. He goes there, and does good deeds there. He keeps on receiving addresses, and performing tasks. until the last note's address in his own house. Shortly after, he realizes that he is not a loser, because he has done things that he could not have done a while ago.

I liked I Am The Messanger, by Markus Zusak, but it does not rank among my top books. I found the idea interesting, but there were some problems with the book. For example, besides Ed, the characters are not really developed very well. The people he helped only appeared once in the book, basically. I would have liked to know how life worked out for them after Ed changed their lives. The ending was also disappointing and left me wanting more details. It did not feel complete.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8


Grandview Library

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Proxy, by Alex London

People in the future are operating under a social system where everyone is divided into 2 categories: rich and poor. The rich people, obviously, are rich, and so they have numerous advantages, such as living in a better part of the city. The poor live in the really bad part of the city, and they are kept poor by ever-increasing debt. There is also a strange system, where the rich are not punished for their crimes. Instead, they have a special person, called a proxy, that takes the punishment for them. The rich have to watch the proxy get beaten and punished. It's a psychological kind of punishment. The book starts off with 2 characters: Knox and Syd. Knox, the rich person, accidentally kills someone, and Syd is sentenced to death. Since Syd does not want to die, and Knox does not want to watch him die, the two boys escape, and go on a long adventure.

Proxy, by Alex London, is a very well written book. The two main characters in the book, Syd and Knox, are very realistic and believable, unlike some books, where the characters are perfect humans who never make mistakes. Knox and Syd all of flaws, and they each have their own personality. They have a lot more depth than other characters, and this shows Mr.London's skills at character building. It was also interesting to see the world from both points of view, and this helped me understand both sides of the story. The growing relationship between Syd and Knox was also an interesting thing to observe.


Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library

Monday, October 13, 2014

War of Worlds, by Herbert George "H. G." Wells


Aliens from Mars have come to invade Earth, and they are succeeding. the humans have tried to fight, but they are being killed off quickly, and there is very little hope for survival. Eventually, all attempts to fight back by the humans have stopped, and the narrator as well as other people are scavenging for food and fighting for survival. Martian plants are growing all over the Earth, and multiple war machines have landed. Is there any hope left for Earth?

War of Worlds, by Herbert George "H. G." Wells, is very, very good. When I first read it, I thought that it just had to be one of the classics, and sure enough, it is a major book in the science fiction community. This is a must read for anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of science fiction. This book was very thought provoking and the ending was unexpected and obvious at the same time. I would recommend this book to my friends for sure.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library


Dune, by Frank Herbert





The world is governed by various houses, that are in a struggle amongst themselves. One of these houses, House Atreides, is given control of the planet Arrakis,which contains a spice that is a very powerful substance. The emperor fears that House Atreides will be too powerful, and he pits the rivals of House Atreides, House Harkonnen, in a war with them. Soon, only Paul, the heir of House Atreides and his mother are left. They join the Fremens, a civilization, and Paul finds out that he is a prophet. It is now up to him to make things right again.


Dune, by Frank Herbert, was very enjoyable, and I can see why it is one of the best selling science fiction books ever. The political and social situation was complex and it served as a really good setting. There were many moments in the book that were full of suspense, making me wait to see what would happen in the end. The mixed ending was very nice, and it was the perfect finish for this book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.
Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, tells the funny and romantic story of both royalty and the common people as they pursue their individual desires. A noblewoman, Lady Olivia, falls hopelessly in love with another woman dressed as a member of the opposite gender, who is in turn mistaken for her brother. A strict prude named Malvolio falls victim to a ridiculous trick. Even the fool in this story is not what he acts to be. Read this story to become entangled in one of the classic works of William Shakespeare.

I truly liked this story a great deal. I enjoyed the sudden and constant plot twists, which baffled the characters and led to numerous hilarious situations. I think anybody who enjoys Elizabethan comedy, or comedic works in general, should definitely read this story. In particular, this story made me think about life at Shakespeare's time, and how it was so vastly different in several aspects from modern life.

Reviewed by Alec S., Grade 10
Glendale Central Library


Monday, October 6, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules, by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney is the sequel in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. This story begins with Greg talking about his summer experiences. One day, Greg's mom and dad told him and Rodrick that they were going to leave for the night. Rodrick pretended to have a flu and invited all his friends over for a party. The next day, Greg helps Rodrick clean up the house before their parents come home. However, their parents find about the party and punishes both of them. During the talent show, Rodrick lost his opportunity to sign a record label when his mom talked over the taping over the band's performance. Greg makes it up to him by helping Rodrick with his science project.

In my opinion, I was very surprised by the story's plot. I didn't expect to see Rodrick and Greg work together. Based on the first book, I thought they would always argue or fight about something. Once again, I was humored by the book. I recommend this book to everyone. I think that the first book of this series had a better story than this one. It was sad to see that Rodrick's band didn't get to sign with any record label companies. Overall, this is a good story to read in your free time.

Reviewed by Bernard M., grade 9
Pacific Park Library

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

The main character, Jerry, goes to Catholic school where there is a secret body of students who perform mean pranks. When the headmaster of the school is ill, the vice principal is called up, and he forms an alliance with the secret group. Jerry is told to sell chocolates, but he refuses. Initially, others join him, but then he is beaten up and made an outcast by the entire school. Everyone has turned against him.

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, is definitely going to be one of my favorite books. The plot was very well done and I wanted to follow Jerry for the whole story, and see what becomes of him. The ending was very satisfying, although sad. The high school is very bleak and ruled by a corrupt body of students, which is a very interesting setting. The progression of the story was great, as at first, Jerry was made a hero and followed by the whole school, but then towards the end, he is now a villain, who is violently beaten and bullied for his actions.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library

Monday, September 22, 2014

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel, details the fascinating journey of zoologist Piscine Patel as he becomes lost at sea on a life-raft. His only company is a group of threatening animals, including a massive bengal tiger named Richard Parker, whose very presence adds yet another element of danger to his already perilous adventure. Journey with Pi as you experience his most suspenseful and dramatic encounters.

I personally found this book to be very captivating. I thoroughly appreciated Martel's writing style, which fluidly described each event and made me feel as though I was experiencing Pi's voyage myself. Furthermore, the unique storytelling point of view that Martel employs adds another dimension to the reader's experience. I believe anybody who enjoys thrilling adventure novels should definitely invest their time in this book.

Reviewed by Alec S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

When I first read this book, I thought it would be just a regular old science fiction book, but it isn't. There are many original aspects to this book, such as the method of attack used by the aliens. The book did an excellent job keeping me interested, and I continued reading to find out more about the aliens, the attacks, and of course about the fate of the main character, Cassie. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, because this is a great example of a science fiction novel that does not occur in space. And anyone that enjoys books set in post-apocalyptic scenarios will be pleased as well.

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey, is setin a post-apocalyptic scenario, where aliens have invaded the Earth in 4 waves. The main character, Cassie, is one of the few humans left on the planet, and she is doing everything she can to survive, even though the fifth wave is going on while she is struggling to live. She learns to trust no one, because she is surrounded by her enemies. The other characters in the book, such as Evan, Ben, and Sammy, are all possible aliens, and Cassie has to learn to distinguish between aliens and humans.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perfect, by Sara Shepard

http://catalog.gpl.internal/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=13I595608WB48.2677&profile=gcent&uri=link=3100007~!1103982~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=browse_search_page&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!horizon&term=Perfect+%3A+a+pretty+little+liars+novel+%2F&index=PALLTI#focusDanger once again awaits the Pretty Little Liars. With Hanna struggling and doing whatever she can to keep her best friend, the girls start to drift apart. "A" threatens the girls with some of their darkest secrets yet. Emily is exploring new options with relationships, and her parents can't accept her. Spencer and her sister Melissa keep fighting to be the better, smarter, and prettier sister. Aria still can't stay away from her banned ex boyfriend. Will the Pretty Little Liars still stick together after they learn eachother's deep, dark secrets or will "A" finally take them down one by one? 

 The book Perfect, by Sara Shepard is a wonderful saga to Flawless. The characters are amazing with well-described thoughts, their own feelings, and their different actions that really allow you to understand what life is like for each girl. This series will never let you down with its continuing excitement and danger that never seem to fade away. Girls of all age groups could pick up this novel and love it. As you get closer to learning the true identity of "A" you just want to keep reading. This book will definitely get you hooked to the Pretty Little Liars series!


Reviewed by Jennifer G., grade 9
Montrose Crescenta Branch

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick, is the sequel to the book Hush, Hush. With her sophomore year of high school over, Nora Grey is ready for an amazing summer with her boyfriend, Patch. After Nora mistakenly confesses her love for Patch one night and he does not respond, she begins to have her doubts about their relationship. Sure enough, they have a huge fight the next day and Nora ends the relationship. She thinks it will blow over soon enough, but when she catches Patch fraternizing with the enemy, Marcie Millar, Nora is angry. Things become complicated when Scott Parnell, an elementary school friend, moves back to town with a mysterious past. Nora will learn secrets about her family and who she should trust.                                                                                                                                 I loved this book! It was just as great as the first book in the series, which is usually not the case for most books. There were many twists and surprises that kept me on my toes throughout the story. I love all the characters, especially Patch, and I really enjoy this author's writing style. I would recommend this book to teenage girls who enjoy the fantasy genre and romance and I would rate it a 9 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey

A story of militant environmentalism, rampant mayhem, arson, and sabotage through the deserts of Utah, The Monkey Wrench Gang brings together four colorful characters and puts them through different acts of destruction. "Seldom Seen" Smith, a Mormon raftsman, meets Doc Sarvis, an eccentric doctor and wealthy surgeon, and his girlfriend Bonnie Abbzug, his young assistant from the Bronx. Oh, and there's Hayduke, the insane retired Green Beret. All four of them come together to destroy the menace to the American Southwest - industrialization and development of the desert, culminating in a plan to blow up a dam.

I think what I liked the most about The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey, aside from its bizarre sense of humor and its anarchist sensibilities, were the strange idiosyncrasies of its characters. Although they're environmentalists, they litter, swear, and leave the ends of their cigarettes and their beer cans on the sides of the road. They all drive huge cars, and Hayduke's vehicle of choice is a gigantic four-wheel-drive jeep. This is the type of book that would be banned at schools. None of these characters are good role models at all. Their only redeeming characteristic is their shared concern for the environment, which admittedly manifests itself in the destruction of public property.

Reviewed by Adrian G., Grade 12
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

The sequel to The Passage, The Twelve takes place more than a century after the initial effects of Project NOAH. It is set in a fortified enclosure in which some of the last remnants of humanity call their home. Surrounded by floodlights and concrete walls, it nevertheless needs some people to venture outside the walls to gather supplies and maintain the giant windmills that power the place, and more importantly, keep the floodlights on. Everything starts with the arrival of a young girl, who was there a hundred years ago when the first virals/jumps/shades/vampires were unleashed upon the world.

The Twelve, by Justin Croning, at its start at least, has a very City-of Ember-ish vibe to it. There are a couple young protagonists in a city, powered by a failing source, surrounded by inhospitable darkness. But the characters know what lies outside the walls, and what's more, they know how it can be killed. I still love The Twelve, but in a much different way than its predecessor. I like how it switches from a tale of destruction to more of an adventure through a dystopian Southern California filled with monsters. I also think the addition of the divine elements was a good idea: it provides a welcome contrast to the evil hunger of the vampires and seems to fit in well in a world filled with creatures that are described almost as supernatural.
Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

The Passage is, quite simply, a vampire novel. But it's also a metaphysical journey across space and time, full of deep characters, the secrets of human emotion, and countless Biblical allusions. The United States military begins Project NOAH, designed to infect convicts with increasingly powerful strains of a hitherto unknown virus from South America. Agent Wolgast is responsible for bringing these people in, and he does his job extremely well - until he is assigned his last contact: a twelve-year-old girl. When they arrive at the compound, the subjects have become more powerful than anyone could imagine. And when Patient Zero entices one of the janitors into unlocking the cells, the apocalypse is unleashed upon the world.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin,  is still one of my favorite books. It's an extremely vivid tale of a vampire apocalypse. As a fan of the dystopian, apocalyptic genre, this book is a must read. The characters are deep, soulful and conflicted, and as a nice complement to the gritty pain and suffering, there are elements of the fantastical (other than vampires) and, on some occasions, the divine. I think one of the things I liked so much about The Passage is how each character responds to the apocalypse. Some literally convince themselves nothing strange has happened. Another takes to a cabin in the mountains. But you can see the human emotion present in each.
Reviewed by Adrian G., Grade 12
Grandview Library

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

What better to explain the form of comics than in comic form? With a simple, cartoony avatar, a wildly varying, extremely appropriate artistic style, and deep insight into the psychological, artistic, and creative mechanics behind a comics, McCloud explores the world behind comic strips in an original and unique way. He begins with an introduction and definition of comics, quickly followed by the origins of juxtaposed images coming from Egypt and Mesoamerica, and then delves into the psychological basis for recognizing ourselves in a cartoony character that can be linked to our evolutionary instincts that come into play even when driving a car.

I enjoyed Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud, immensely and learned an incredible amount from it. With a simple style, McCloud proves just how complex and expressive the world of comics can become. Even something as simple as a line can convey a wild range of emotion. For anyone with artistic aspirations, or (like me) a simple interest in the world of art in general, I can’t recommend Understanding Comics enough to not only teach you how to draw, but how to think about the vast array of mental mechanics that comes with drawing comics. And this is all presented in an easy to read and understand comic book. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Gunslinger, Stephen King

The Gunslinger is the first book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s a bit of a departure from his usual genre of mundane and alien horror, but carries his signature writing style. It spans entire worlds, from a post-apocalyptic Wild West to different times on our own planet. Roland, the last of the gunslingers, is pursuing a sorcerer across a seemingly endless desert. Along the way, he meets Jake, a boy plucked from Earth by the sorcerer, as well as several others he meets through dimensional doors on a beach. His main quest is to find the Dark Tower, the multi-plane object that used to hold the universe together. Now it’s decaying, and Roland is trying to save it before the worlds collapse.

At its heart, The Gunslinger is more of a fantasy novel than a horror novel, although it does have some nightmarish elements. It’s the promising beginning of a series about nine books long. Personally, I found it interesting how King describes the gunslinger as less of a cowboy and more of a martial artist. He’s trained with his giant revolvers since his childhood and has shooting down to an art. In terms of the rest of the character, I liked the Eddie character a lot, but the split-personality Susannah character just seemed a little off to me. Still, I would definitely recommend The Gunslinger. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

The Magician King, the second book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy, picks up where the last left off. Quentin is ruler of Fillory, the magical Narnia-esque land from the books he read as a child. After deciding to go on an adventure, as dictated by the magical realm he inhabits, he finds himself accidentally locked out of his dimension and stuck back on Earth. As he tries to find his way back, the story of his high school crush Julia unfolds. Unlike Quentin, she failed the Brakebills entrance exam and found a glitch in the memory wiping spell, which let her know there was a magical school out there, but closed to her forever. She chases magical knowledge all across the United States and works her way up the ranks of the underground magicians, paying some heavy prices along the way, and eventually reunites with Quentin.

For a bridge between the first and last books of a trilogy, The Magician King is really quite good. It departs from the more realistic, critical attitude towards magic and fantasy present in The Magicians and becomes a full-blown fantasy book that takes place in a world perfectly suited for fantasy adventures. The concept of a fantasy, fairytale world is nothing new to me, but the story of characters from our world exploring it is. And I think Grossman pulls it off really well, especially towards the end of the book where he begins to deconstruct the very nature of magic and provide an explanation for it. It may not be the most satisfactory of explanations, but explaining the origins of the universe is a monumental task and I think it fits in well with the rest of the book. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

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