Saturday, June 27, 2015

What you are reading this summer, first installment

We're thrilled that most of you who have signed up for "Teen Meetup in the Burb" are also writing summer book reviews through the online interface. It's great that you can share what you're reading with all the other teens in the program, and I hope you're all taking advantage of the posted book reviews to find new things to read for yourself!

Here is a random sampling from the 124 book reviews turned in so far! (Also remember that TODAY is our first Book Review Drawing, at noon. We'll let you know if you won something--and post the names here and on Facebook.)

The Boy Who Dared,
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Reviewed by K.B.

This 210-page book is about Helmuth, a German boy who lived at the time of Adolph Hitler, and his opinions about Hitler's unfair rules. I just love how the author tells this story in third person, as if she was there retelling Helmuth's life story. I fancy how it went into detail about how Helmuth was being mistreated by the Nazis. I also like how the author took pictures of the main characters at the end of the book. I adore everything about the book, There is not one part that I disliked. This book is not part of a series. I recommend this book to 6th graders and up--there is some violence. 10 out of 10 stars.

Ten, by Gretchen McNeil
Reviewed by L.B.

Meg and Minnie have been best friends ever since seventh grade. M & M, always looking out for each other, no matter what. Meg has a secret--she's in love with her best friend's crush, T.J. Fletcher. She can't tell Minnie. Minnie and Meg get an invitation from Jessica Lawrence:

SHH! Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. House Party.White Rock House on Henry Island. You do NOT want to miss it.--Jess
Meg and Minnie go to this party without telling their parents. When they get there, they have the time of their lives. Beer. Boys. Friends. It's all fun until someone has the idea to watch a movie. They open all the cases but they can't find a CD. Minnie finds a homemade CD labeled "Don't Watch Me." The movie starts with a countdown 10,9 , 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; every time with a red slash through each number. Watching the movie gives Lori a big scare. After that, everyone goes straight to bed. Meg wakes up in the middle of the night to find that something tragic has happened. Then another tragic event takes place. Then another. Will Meg find out how to put a stop to it and make it out alive?

I loved this book. There was not a part that I didn't like. I have absolute praise for Gretchen McNeil. If you love stories of intense murder and strange solutions, you will love this book.I am looking forward to reading more of Gretchen McNeil's young adult books. This book contains 294 pages of sheer terror. I would recommend this book to mature 14-year-olds and above, due to the book's usage of inappropriate language, alcohol, and murder. Gretchen McNeil, without even having to mention, you are on my favorite authors list. I LOVED your book.

Editor's note: You are in luck, Fangirl! You can MEET Gretchen McNeil on July 22, when she comes to our last session of Book Café!

Kiss of Broken Glass, by Madeleine Kuderick
Reviewed by Patrick Castro

Dark. Lyrical. Haunting. Also kind of a snooze fest. The novel had some golden scenes, but since it is such a short book, it lacks a developed protagonist, and the plot was overtaken by the poetic writing style. 

In Kiss of Broken Glass, we meet Kenna, who is admitted into a psych ward for 72 hours because of her cutting. The Baker Act of Florida involuntarily forces teens who cut to seek care and help, and readers are able to see that in Kenna's story. The novel delves into Kenna's currrent situation with her family, friends, and herself. Within the 72 hours, Kuderick explores Kenna's journey in and out of the ward, and how she deals with her emotions and cutting.

I really enjoyed Kenna's journey and the raw emotion Kuderick was able to weave throughout the book. With that being said, I also felt like Kenna's story and family/friend dynamics were not as developed. I just wished Kuderick had written more, and got rid of the poetic style she was trying to use; it caused the book to feel short and boring.

What I did admire from the book is the message. At the end of the book. I thought it was amazing that Kuderick had hotlines and website for teens dealing with cutting and self-infliction. She was able to get the word out that cutting only leads to pain and suffering. Ultimately, Kiss of Broken Glass had many great moments and some wonderful writing. But it did fall short for me.

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore
Reviewed by Amy Berberyan

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore, is a young adult fantasy novel that serves as a companion book to her books Graceling and Fire. Bitterblue takes place eight to nine years after Graceling, and involves many of the same beloved characters and their abilities. Therefore, gracelings, people with mismatched eyes and unique skills, and monsters, vibrantly colored animals, also exist in this book. This book is basically about Bitterblue and her struggle to figure out the history of her kingdom, as well as correct all the problems that her psychopathic father caused during his abominable reign.

I personally loved this book, as I got sucked into the story within the first chapter, and got to visit many of my favorite characters again. The story is a little slow-paced, but I for one enjoyed every little detail Cashore plugged into her book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Graceling, Fire, mysteries, plot twists, or high fantasy.

Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
Reviewed by Isabella Curtis

Like most of Sarah Dessen's books, this one had a feel-good, chick-flick vibe to it. But I liked this book more than some of her previous works. I felt it dealt with more real-world issues for teenage girls (such as eating disorders, lying to family members, etc).

*spoiler alert*  For some reason I found it very respectable of Dessen to write a book in which the protagonist has to go through something as horrible as rape. Statistically, a woman has a 1 in 4 chance of being raped in her lifetime, so it's obviously a real-world issue, but not many writers are bold enough to write about it because of what an awful thing it is. But Dessen wrote about it, and I think it's important to have an author willing to write about things that can actually affect teenage girls in the real world.

The only reason I wouldn't give this book a full 5/5 is because although I liked reading the story, books that are all feel good just aren't my favorite genre. So...4.5.

Editor's note: First of all...Isabella, maybe try some of the books of Deb Caletti. They have a similar vibe, but are a little less "tied up with a bow" at the end.

Reviewers, these are some good comments, and what a nice variety of reading levels and genres! Other reviewers take note: Yours don't have to be as long as these were, but these reviewers took care of the two sides of a good book review--the summary (what it's about), and the review (their opinion of the book and what made them feel that way). We'll publish more here in a few days. Keep reading, keep writing, keep winning!

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