Saturday, December 7, 2013

Teen review: More Rainbow Rowell!

There are a two types of teenage girls. In times of need, most girls turn to their cell phones or some new social network to spill their latest story that contains some "deepest, darkest secret" about someone. Then there are the ones who pour their lives into writing the most original and intriguing story yet, or they spend every waking minute reading. These girls can go for days without sleep, food, or anything that a person needs to live. To them, reading and/or writing is how they live, not needing any other amenity. These people are called fangirls.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, is based on a young girl named Cath who is a high school graduate about to enter college and is a genuine fangirl. Her life revolves around writing fan fiction about her favorite book series, Simon Snow. She has the whole fandom (a group of people sharing a common interest in a book, movie, or television show) at her fingertips waiting for her version of the latest Snow story being released slowly chapter by chapter as she progresses throughout her freshman year of college. All Cath wants is to finish writing the fan fiction story before the true author publishes the eighth and final book in her series. Meanwhile, as she is attempting to write, the guy she believes to be her roommate's boyfriend, Levi, is falling for her awesome nerdiness and is completely confusing her in every way possible. Her twin sister, Wren, is going mad and getting into all kinds of trouble, taking advantage of the new freedoms college provides.

Fangirl undoubtedly demonstrated the real lives of some girls, including myself. I felt as if I was reading about my own life, like someone recorded every move I've made when I was around books. I happen to be one of the few who turn to literature when in the need of comfort, and books never fail to change my mood, because I am immersed in another created world. Cath can be thought of as a role model to those who are just like her: book nerds who aren't afraid to express it in their own way, whether it's through writing fan fiction to replace an ending of a book that did not reach your expectations or disappointed you somehow, or just reading to bury yourself in a fictional world where anything can happen. If you're an active reader, you can even recognize quite a few references to other books that you might have read as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about someone who is just like me in a way. It gave me just another excuse to jump up and down and squeal over yet another book like I do every day, making me: a fangirl!

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Teen Review: Realistic fiction

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, is a novel about young love and trying to fit in. This 325-page novel is told from the points of view of both Eleanor and Park, in 1986. Eleanor is the new girl in town and is automatically labeled as the "weird girl"-- she keeps to herself, and dreams of the day she can move out of her hostile living environment and never turn back, until she meets Park. Park has lived in the same suburban town his whole life. He has learned to just stay under the radar and try not to attract any attention to himself. When Eleanor and Park first meet, they don't fully understand this connection they have. They start off as just two people sharing a seat on the bus, but when Park notices his attraction to her he decides to make a move, by starting a conversation about music and their favorite artists and songs. Eleanor is very hesitant to get attached to anyone because of her traumatic history, but Eleanor ends up semi-opening up to Park and they become a couple. With everyone at school making fun of them, and Eleanor having to keep their romance a secret, their relationship definitely has many obstacles.

I personally think that this is one of the best books I have read. I am in the 9th grade and would recommend this book to people around my age, it's definitely a young adult book. I feel that anyone can relate to either one of these characters, feeling like an outcast or trying to belong. I feel that if people read this book, they would understand that the way you perceive someone isn't the way they are. I have recommended this book to my friends and they have read and enjoyed it just as much or maybe a little more than I have. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest, I would definitely rate it a 5. The cover to this book is very simple but yet it relates so much to the book, it shows Eleanor and Parks' relationship and what brings them together.


Editor's note: We loved this book too! Re: the cover, they have changed it for the paperback version, and I have no idea why, because the hardcover one was so perfect! It's not that this new one is bad...but that the other one was so good!

More fan art

I just read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. I think some of you high school readers who appreciate a really literary novel might like this one; the protagonist, Theo, goes from age 13 to his late 20s in the course of the book, and it's been described by several reviewers as a coming-of-age novel. It's a big commitment, though--it's 771 pages long, and it's a BIG book (i.e., large pages) as well. If any of you read it, we would LOVE to publish your review!

Here's my fan art:
Carduelis carduelis, the European Goldfinch, watercolor, 10x7 inches.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10-12 Book Club Report

On Tuesday night, the 10-12 Book Club met to discuss Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Anarda and I were enthusiastic about recommending this novel in which ancient secret societies and modern Google geeks meet with a strange bookstore as their common ground, then manage to collaborate to solve an age-old mystery; but the reaction wasn't as positive as we had anticipated. Although we had four people who gave it a score of 9, the rest were less forgiving, so with 14 of us voting, the final rating was 7.85. Everyone agreed that there were definitely charming and quirky elements that appealed, but many didn't care for the ending, feeling that it was too "moral of the story" to be satisfying. I think everyone's favorite part was...that the book cover glows in the dark!

Next month we will be reading another Alex book, The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which sounds like a Victorian romance, but is actually rather edgy contemporary fiction; and for February the club chose I Am the Messenger, by Marcus Zusak.

Other books we considered:

Room, by Emma Donoghue
Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
Candide, by Voltaire
Where Things Come Back, by Corey Whaley

We also had I’ll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, on the list after a great recommendation by Henry, but we can't get it from our distributor--only available to back order, no copies in stock, alas. We are considering asking the 8+9 Club to loan their copies to the 10-12 teens to read, since Ms. Sloan will be paying us an author visit in March!