Saturday, November 8, 2014

Top Writers!

Congratulations to our top writers in the Time Travel Story writing contest! We had 18 entrants, and all the stories were interesting and clever in the ways they explored time travel--thank you all for writing for us!

Our top three writers, in alphabetical order by last name, are:

Katrina Darwich, for "How the Black Death Actually Happened"
Jonathan Del Real, for "Chrononaut"
Britton Smith, for "Jennifer"
(These writers received $25 Amazon gift cards)

Our three honorable mentions, in alphabetical order, are:

Madeleine Britt, for "A Future Out of This World"
Bryson Youngblood Keefer, for "The True Pecking Order"
Matthew Stein, for "The Risen"
(These writers received two AMC movie tickets)

And the rest of our writers, all of whom showed lots of imagination and creativity, are:

Alizay Barajas
Andrew Adamian
Angelina Poghosian
Angelo Piccioni
Brooke Ferrell
Caitlyn Chapman
Camila Sanchez-Tellez
Cheyenne Stewart
Gene Koo
Julia Vinyard
Nigel Dickens
Savanna Nalbandian
(These writers received Pinkberry gift cards)

Awards were given at our PLEASANTVILLE screening on Friday night--if you didn't make it to that, please contact us at

Thanks, everyone, for participating, and one more big thank you to author Tamara Ireland Stone for serving as inspiration!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Teen review: Retold fairy tale

by Melissa Kantor
283 pages
Fantasy / retold fairy tale
Recommended for grades 7-12
Reviewed by Kayla, Grade 10

Lucy Norton's life is the exact opposite of a fairy tale. Her mother died when she was little, and her father got married to a witch of a stepmother whose daughters are annoying and obsessed with fashion. To top it all off, her bedroom is a basement with no furniture and she has to do all of the chores in the house. Plus, after just moving, she has no friends. Her art is her escape, though, and she winds up meeting the star of the basketball who she has a major crush on. Will her life take a turn for the better?

This book was really cute. I could relate to Lucy, as she is the same age as me. I had read another book by this author and I really enjoyed it so I decided to try this one.  Lucy said everything that most teenagers think but won't say! She is a hilarious character who I loved reading about. I wish that there was another book about her so that I could read about her other funny adventures. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is either in or going into high school because it will be a relatable, enjoyable experience. I also enjoyed the cover because all of it was in black and white except for the star on a fairy wand, which was in shiny gold.

I rate this book as a 5.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Teen review: Science fiction

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, is undoubtedly one of my favorite books. In just 368 pages, this science fiction book is able to magnificently conjure up an innumerable amount of genuine, actual, feelings (whether negative or positive) that you thought did not exist towards the brilliantly created characters of Card's conception. What I just wrote sounds like a lot to put in one sentence, but it's a perfect example of how Ender's Game is a lot to put in one book.

Ender's Game is about a prodigy child, Ender, born into a futuristic world, in which specially selected youth are trained and put into battle against the "buggers," an alien race that poses a threat to humanity. Ender faces many conflicts, including the constant storm of harrassment thrown at him by his enemies, the stress of leading and instructing a battle team, and the internal conflict of questioning his own morality after some... grisly events.

The reason I immensely enjoyed this book is because, between all the conflict and strife all pushing down on one genius's shoulders, there was almost never a good point in time to put down Ender's Game. Every line keeps you hooked, wanting more and more, until at the very end, you become depressed because there's nothing left of Ender's story. The writing is worded perfectly, manipulating your emotions until you don't recognize yourself for the feelings you feel. The feelings are mostly directed toward the characters, who are like clockwork machines--complex and intelligently designed. Whether they're designed to spur hatred, or love, or laughter, they do a great job of it.

I would recommend this book to young adults from middle school to high school looking for a thoughtfully written book on the struggles of being different. I would especially recommend this book to lovers of futuristic settings. 

This book is part of a series, but not exactly. The second book in the series can very well be read as a stand-alone book. I have not read the full book, because I couldn't allow myself to become engaged in the plot.

Finally, I rate Ender's Game a well-deserved 4.5. While the plot was immersive and it was hard to find fault with the book, I didn't use the 5 because I think there are better books out there. However, I still consider this a must-read.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, Grade 9

Editor's note: The Ender Saga is, as Isaac says, a complex one. The events of the second book take place many years after the events of the first; but if you read the series not in publication order (i.e., when each book was published), but chronologically (in order of the events within the books), it works a lot better! Here is what I mean:

In order of publication:

Ender's Game (1985)
Speaker for the Dead (1986)
Xenocide (1991)
Children of the Mind (1996)
Ender's Shadow (1999) 
Shadow of the Hegemon (2001) 
Shadow Puppets (2002)
First Meetings (2002) 
Shadow of the Giant (2005)
A War of Gifts: An Ender Story (2007)
Ender in Exile (2008)
Shadows in Flight (2012)
Earth Unaware (2012)
Earth Afire (2013)
Earth Awakens (2014, final book in the First Formic War trilogy)

And still to come:

The Swarm
The Hive
The Queens

But if you read them chronologically, in the order in which the entire story takes place:

Earth Unaware
Earth Afire
Earth Awakens
The Swarm
The Hive
The Queens
Ender's Game
Ender's Shadow (Note: The events of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow take place in roughly the same time period.)
A War of Gifts (Note: This takes place during Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow.)
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant
Ender in Exile (Note: Beginning takes place during Shadow of the Hegemon and through Shadow of the Giant)
Shadows in Flight
First Meetings (A collection of short stories whose settings range from before Ender's Game until after Shadows in Flight)
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind
Shadows Alive

See what I mean? Here is what Orson Scott Card has to say about it, and here is the Wikipedia commentary on the series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

10-12 Book Club Report

Wow! Patrick Ness's new book gave us a LOT to talk about on Tuesday night! More Than This was definitely a great title. Some liked the "purgatory" story line and were disappointed when it took a turn for science fiction, while others were uncomfortable with that and relieved by the dual-world pseudo post-apocalyptic nature of the story. There were lots of plot points, both good and bad, to discuss, and everyone had an opinion. The only thing we all agreed on was that we loved Tomasz! Twenty were in attendance, and the book received a rating of 7.5.

Next month's book discussion (hopefully as provocative) will be about I Am the Weapon, by Allen Zadoff. The following two months (because it kept being a tie when we voted) we will read Winger, by Andrew Smith, and Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta (finally!). Other books we considered included:

Meet Me at the River, by Nina de Gramont
Reality Boy, by A. S. King
My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan, by Seth Rudetsky
The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to time travel? To end up in an era not your own, where you would get to experience all the social customs, dress styles, and events of that time? Well, that's sort of what happens to David and Jennifer, a brother and sister of the '90s who end up inside their TV set in Pleasantville, a 1950s black and white soap opera where everything is pleasant! Suddenly, they are Bud and Mary Sue Parker, figuring out how to fit in--or stand out--in this weird, seemingly bland world.

Come and see how it all turns out, this Friday (Nov. 7) at 4:30 p.m. at the Buena Vista branch! This is also the event at which the top writers in our Time Travel Writing Contest will be announced! All are welcome, and refreshments will be served--we hope to see you on Friday!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Clubs for November!

This TUESDAY night is our November meeting of the 10-12 Book Club. We will be discussing More Than This, by Patrick Ness; we hope you have read it, and will all turn out to talk about this rather weird book!

Then we skip a week (because of the Veterans' Day holiday next Tuesday), and the 6+7 Book Club will be on Tuesday, November 18 (at Buena Vista!), while the 8+9 Book Club will meet on Wednesday, November 19. The 6+7 Club will discuss Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, and the 8+9 Club book is The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Please remember to email one of us ahead of time if you can't attend.