Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Club Report

Fourteen of our 20 10-12 Book Club members attended Tuesday night's meeting (band practice strikes again!) to discuss Lexicon, by Max Barry. Everyone agreed that the concept was fascinating, and some really liked the book, which they described as exciting, but most found the way Barry dealt with the jumps back and forth between viewpoints and time periods quite confusing. Several would have given the book a much higher rating but for the ending of the book, which they thought was "wimpy." The final rating was a 7.

Next month, the club will read The Martian, by Andy Weir. Ryan is peeved with the club, because we have been proposing but not choosing The Martian for months now, and he says we could have been trend-setters but now that the movie's out and we're reading it, we're just a bunch of sheep. [smiley face]

Contrary to the usual practice of nominating many books and having to vote three times, the club almost unanimously chose to read Ketchup Clouds, by Annabel Pitcher, in January. The only other nomination was Proxy, by Alex London, which we will add to our "to be read" file.

Thirteen of our 19 members of 8+9 Book Club came on Wednesday night to talk about Reckless, by Cornelia Funke. We specially asked them to read the book for November because Cornelia will be our special guest at Book Cafe this month, where she will talk about the third book in the Mirrorworld series, The Golden Yarn. (This program is for teens in grades
6-12 only!) For a few members this was a reread, because all three clubs read Reckless and Fearless a couple of summers ago, but no one seemed to mind. Everyone agreed that the beginning of the book is disconcerting because you feel like you've been dropped in the middle of a story (one person even checked Goodreads to see if we had mistakenly given her a sequel!),
but once they got into it, all but one were completely engaged by it, and the final rating was 8.5.

Next month we are shifting gears to read a contemporary science fiction novel, Variant, by Robison Wells; and in January the club chose Gone, by Michael Grant.

Other books we considered:

Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender
Don't Look Back, by Jennifer Armentrout
The Dead, by Charlie Higson
Far, Far Away, by Tom McNeal
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Teen review: Adult books reviewed for teens

Storm Front
by Jim Butcher
Mystery, science fiction, paranormal
Series: The Dresden Files
Reading Level: Adult, new adult

Reviewed by R.M.


Harry Dresden is a wizard working as a private investigator. Since his business is scarce (because of the shortage of people who take his business card seriously), Dresden is forced to work with Chicago Police Department’s Special Investigations Lieutenant Karrin Murphy. The story follows Dresden as he investigates a trail of murders committed by a mysterious Warlock ( a rogue wizard who doesn’t comply with the Laws of Magic).


This book is the first in a planned series of 20. What this entails is that all events that will occur have a story line that will be followed by the subsequent books, and it requires a great deal of writing talent to manage (like making sure there aren’t any plot holes within the entire story line, and keeping up with long-term character development). Suffice to say, this book (and the series to which it belongs) is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s riddled with comic references to “geeky” topics like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and contains many pop-culture influences as well. The only thing I can say about it that is close to negative is that the author re-describes and re-explains topics throughout the series, although that may be subject to a reader’s perspective, because it can also be seen as an act of thoroughness by the writer.

What I like about the book (and all the others in the series) is that its ending is only a conclusion to the current story line, since there’s always a sense that there’s something bigger going on. To wrap it up, this book is uncensored (it has all the elements of an adult book, but doesn’t go crazy with it) and is not recommended for young readers (or young-minded readers).

Rating: 4.6

Editor's note: Perhaps the re-describing and re-explaining is the author making sure that those who dip into the series somewhere in the middle (instead of reading from the beginning) are up to date on who's who and what's happening. You can find Jim Butcher's books in the Science Fiction section, and Burbank Public Library owns most (possibly all) of this series. There are also some audio books.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Teen Review: Eragon

by Christopher Paolini
544 pages
Series: Inheritance
Reading Level: Middle School - High School

Reviewed by R.M.


This book lays the groundwork for Christopher Paolini’s trilogy about a young lad named Eragon in a land called Alagaesia. The story follows Eragon as he discovers a blue dragon egg out in the forest. Soon enough, he develops a bond with the newborn dragon, whom he names Saphira, and becomes one of the the first dragon riders of the modern era (the former order of dragon riders vanished). Eragon’s life is forever changed when he finds out that other parties are after the same dragon egg and that the mere presence of the dragon egg is a beacon of danger for those around him. Eragon sets off on a quest, accepting the help of a mysterious storyteller known only as Brom. Together, they uncover the truth about dragon riders and get caught in a rebellion against the evil king, Galbatorix.


Christopher Paolini was about 15 or 16 when he started writing Eragon. While his writing technique is excellent, his imagination is, suffice it to say, still that of a young teen. The storyline and its fictional events remind me of a time when my brother and I imagined and played with powers that progressed with a story line. Sometimes the events are rushed to the point that if you look at the big picture,you’d think: “Oh so he can do that now? Just like that? All right. Cool. What else can he do after a few chapters?” It was very much like watching a kid with too much power so he equips his favorite characters with overpowering abilities. If I had read the series at a much younger age, I would have bought its antics, for I would have thought the same way and I wouldn’t have been able to get enough of it.

This book is recommended for those who love dragons, the mystic world, and medieval weaponry. It has a moderate number of plot twists that will keep the readers guessing about a character’s real motives.

Rating: 3.9