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  • January 2020
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Teen Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

SamanthaHi! I’m a 6th grader and really excited to be blogging. I LOVE to read and write so I’m most likely going to have a lot of posts. I’ll give you the most honest reviews possible. I hope you read them!

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

*Spoiler Alert*

This trilogy takes place in a world that separates its population into five groups which are sorted by personality (truthful, peaceful, brave, smart and selfless). Beatrice Prior (nicknamed Tris) was born into one of these groups, Abnegation (the selfless group). But when she turns 16, she gets the option to switch to another group, and she takes it and switches to Dauntless (the brave group). All of this happened in Divergent, the first book in the trilogy. I recommend reading this first before you read Insurgent.

Now, in Insurgent, Erudite (the smart group) has started a never-ending war and forced Dauntless to join them in their attacks against Abnegation. Now Beatrice and most of her Dauntless friends have to make things right and punish Erudite.

Tris and her friends go through many things, like making and breaking alliances, killing thousands of people, and losing people they have loved, before they finally get to Erudite headquarters and steal attack information while killing the Erudite leader.

I really liked this book. I would recommend it for anyone who likes a lot of action. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t put it down for 2 days straight. I hope it does the same for you!

Favorite books of 2011 – a reflection

Now that 2012 has just begun, I find myself looking back on the past year: the meals I’ve cooked, the films that touched me, the time I spent with loved ones, and the great books I read. Therefore, I’m embracing this opportunity as a chance to share those titles with you.  So bundle up and stop into your local library to pick up one of these greats!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Scholar, Diana Bishop, unknowingly finds a much sought after tome, while in Oxford’s Bodleian library.  Who is in search for this tome, you ask?  Oh, no one but the world’s most powerful witches, daemons, and vampires – that’s all!  This one is a delightful mix of supernatural, science fiction, romance that will surely make you crave the second volume in this trilogy.

The Kid by Sapphire – This extraordinary story chronicles the journey of Precious’ son, Abdul, after his mother’s death.  Beware – this one is just as gritty as Precious and will send you on an emotional roller coaster.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin –  Contrary to the implication of the use of the word “autobiography” in the title of this one, it is a fictional tale, though it does read like an autobiography.  Pick this one up if you’re intrigued by the circus – it gives a great account of the beginnings of the famous Mr. P.T. Barnum and all from the perspective a very teeny tiny woman, Ms. Lavinia Bump.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman – This follow up to The Magicians is simply fantastic. Pick up book one if you craving an adventure tale with a taste of the traditional English boarding school story with a more adult Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia flavor mixed in. You’ll surely be clamoring for book two shortly after.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson – I couldn’t have chosen a better book to read over Halloween weekend this year. Johnson eloquently unravels a mystery in this one, where Rory moves to London from Louisiana to attend boarding school, only to promptly witness a modern day Jack the Ripper murder, and must decide what to do, while avoiding getting her own throat cut.

I can hardly wait to see what 2012 will bring, in terms of some good reading!

~LeeAnn Anna

Games of Thrones

I just started reading the George R.R. Martin series A Song of Fire and IceThis is the series upon which HBO based their Game of Thrones miniseries.  I haven’t read a whole lot of ‘fantasy‘ books because I always thought they were filled with elves and fairies and things like that.  But I thought I’d give this a try since I’ve been hearing so much about it, and now I’m totally hooked.  The political intrigue is fascinating and the dynamic between the characters is riveting.  I just finished the second book and am waiting to start the third.  Has anyone else read the series?  What do you think of it?  Are there any other series or books that you would recommend to readers of the Game of Thrones series?

Jim, CLP-West End

Teen review: Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Check out Jenna’s review of Nancy Werlin‘s latest – Extraordinary. And remember, you can click on the picture of the book and order it for yourself from our catalog.

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Phoebe Rothschild was just another middle school student when she met Mallory Fayne. Mallory dressed differently and was basically an outcast. Phoebe chose to ditch her judgemental friend and befriend the girl who had no friends, Mallory. Fast forward a couple of years, and the two are best friends. Their ages are 17 and 18. Little does Phoebe know that Mallory is part of a completely different world–the faerie world. Mallory was put on a specific mission from the faerie world, and the subject/target is Phoebe.

Phoebe is also part of a very famous family that is known to be extraordinary. Find out why Phoebe and her family are so important to the faerie world by reading this novel!

This novel is very interesting, it’s kinda long, but it has a good story line! This novel will keep you on your toes, too!

Reviewed by Jenna Mihalcin

Good books that are hard to read

This year I’ve come across 3 books that were hard to put down but hard to get through.  Not because of the writing, but because the subject matter was sad, even brutal, and the author made the story so heartbreaking and real that I sometimes had to compose myself before going on. 

If you, like me, appreciate these good but hard to read type of novels from time to time, then I have some recommendations for you.    They’re not for every teen, and that’s reflected in the marketing (but more about that later)–just consider this my caveat–there’s nothing truly explicit about these books, but they are about the bad things that happen in life.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


     In some ways this seems like a plot constructed just to make the reader cry.  A tearjerker, if you will.  But it has more complexity than that term implies, and a protagonist with a genuine, vulnerable heart that makes the story impossible to put down.

One snowy day in Oregon, Mia and her family go for a drive to visit friends.  And then, suddenly, Mia is outside of her body and nothing will ever be the same.  The novel follows her over the course of a day while she witnesses what goes on in the hospital, thinks about particularly poignant moments in her life, and realizes that she has to decide whether to stay or go.

I spent the whole time reading this with a lump in my throat–maybe because I had an unfortunate second-hand look at a tragic death this summer, but also because Gayle Forman does a great job and writes vividly.



Room by Emma Donoghue

  It’s one of Library Journal’s Top Ten Books of the Year!  Also: “shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize …and the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, …chosen as a Notable Book of 2011 by the NEW YORK TIMES, the GLOBE AND MAIL.”  (quoted from Donoghue’s website).

You may have noticed that Room is an “adult” novel, in that it is being marketed for adults.  But it has a lot in common with books that are marketed for teens–fast pace, inventive point of view, and a journey of discovery. 

It’s narrated by a five-year old, Jack, who lives with his very young mother in a room, or Room, as he calls it. And why not? he’s never lived anywhere else, and he’s never seen the outside world.  There is only Room, and Bed, and Television, that shows what’s happening on different planets.  There’s also a man who comes in from Outer Space and visits his Mom. 

You catch on to what the situation really is faster than Jack does–and it is his voice that keeps this story from being entirely terrible and gloomy.  In fact, it’s as lively and smart and full of wonder as Jack is.  With an undertone of dread.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

This has won the Printz Award, which, as you may know, “exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature”.  Its author, Margo Lanagan, didn’t write it to be marketed to a certain age range, and there’s been a lot of discussion among librarians about whether it has enough “teen appeal” or whether it just happens to involve a lot of teen characters.

You can be the judge of that.  All I know is that I loved it.

It’s a reimagining of a fairy tale (Rose Red and Snow White) and is set in a fairytale world (and a world within a world).  Liga suffers abuse from her father, and then, when he dies, abuse from boys in her town.  Life, in fact, is so hard that she doesn’t want to live any more.  Instead, she is granted her own perfect world, where she raises two daughters.  But the real world starts leaking through. 

Like any good fairytale it has truly terrible parts, and dread, and heartbreak, and also real goodness and moments of sharp relief & comfort.  It’s a really enveloping tale, but not for the faint of heart, and told in appropriately fantastical dialect:

“…Liga had not wanted to encounter any more such as them, with their needling eyes–and no man, either, taking care to look away, that the sight of her did not taint him or make him laugh, or whatever it was they feared. …So she mustered all these things in her mind against the flarings of curiosity that afflicted her, …Everything was as it should be on the road, with the wheelruts and the hoofclefts gleaming with the night’s rainshowers, the oak with the cut branches that looked like a popeyed old scawcraw, and the scattering of wildflowers either side.”


What are your hard to read books?

The Creepiness of Vermont

M.T. Anderson has written some really funny books.  And serious books (award-winning, incidentally).  And funny-serious-award-winning books. 

And now he has gone missing, in the midst of making a video promoting his book The Suburb Beyond the Stars!!


Yes, it is 10 minutes and 55 seconds long, but it’s worth it.  If you’re a fan of Paranormal Activity or the Blair Witch Project or the Grudge, then you will like this video.  And M.T. Anderson is very charming.

And before you read The Suburb Beyond the Stars, you’ll want to check out the Game of Sunken Places.  It’s a story about Brian and Gregory, best friends who go on vacation in Vermont, where Gregory’s Uncle Max lives.  Uncle Max makes them dress in Victorian clothing, and he doesn’t own a TV, but there is a weird board game modeled on the woods outside of his home that was left in their common room.  Once they start to explore the places on the board, it becomes clear that while, outside of Vermont, ogres tend not to be real, inside of the creepy Vermont woods, the rules are a little different.

So, yes, it is like Jumanji but creepy.  A perfect book to read as the Semptember days grow crisper and autumn puts you in that telling-stories-around-a-campfire mood.  Or is that just me?


How he writes (taken from this interview over at NPR):

“‘I eat broccoli. I think about the plot. I pace in circles for hours, counter-clockwise, listening to music. I try to think of one detail in the scene I’m about to write that I’m really excited about writing. Until I can come up with that one detail, I pace. I put on another CD. I hum along. I get an idea. I prepare to begin. I shake out my fingers. I sit down. I type the first word. I erase it. I type in another first word, and consider the second word.

The phone rings. It’s a friend calling to tell me a great story about running into her ex-stalker at Cinnabon. We talk for an hour and a half.

My time for writing is up. I go to bed. I feel guilty and miserable. Oh well. Better luck tomorrow.'”

Coming Up: Discussions on Inkheart and Golden Compass

Discuss Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart with other fantasy loving teens at Beechview on Monday, November 24 at 5:30 p.m.  Meggie’s father has the ability to make fictional characters come aive and now he must hide out from one who wants to abduct him. The teens in our group recommend this book highly.

There will be lots to talk about when we meet about Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Monday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. Lyra lives in an alternative universe where her friends are being kidnapped and mysterious dust will lead to other worlds. You may have seen the movie. The book is even more fantastical. I have copies of it available. Just ask.

                                                                           Tina – Beechview


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