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  • July 2020
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Teen Blogger: Stargirl Review


Today I will be reviewing Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This is the first book in a set of two books, but it can be read as a standalone novel. Overall I did enjoy this book, but if you are looking for a more in depth review you can read below.


The two main characters of this book were lovable and quirky. Leo, the main character felt a bit bland to me at first, but after the plot picked up I did enjoy reading about him. While most of the book focuses on Stargirl, I really loved his character. Stargirl (yes, her name is actually Stargirl) was really unique and fun character. Her quirkiness might have been a little overplayed, but I loved her message of being your own person. I give this area an 8/10.


I loved the fact his book took place in the desert instead of the typical Midwest town or city. The parts that were the most descriptive, like the part about the desert flowers or the large cacti, were interesting because you don’t normally hear about that kind of beauty in a desert. I do wish the school was described more. I am going to give this area a 7/10.


This book was simply heartwarming. There wasn’t any epic quest or week-long journey across the US.  It was simply a book that made you feel happy on the inside. Plus, the book was so short, (180 pages) I don’t think there could have been a long, involved plot. Normally I don’t enjoy plots lacking complexity, but this book was really sweet and satisfying. I am giving this area an 8/10.

Writing Style

I did enjoy the author’s writing style. While the book wasn’t very long, he did manage to make each and every one of those pages meaningful. I zoomed through the book, and dreaded every moment when I had to put it down. I though overall the writing was pretty good, though it did have a few small issues. I am going to give this area a 9/10 because I did enjoy his style.

The Final Verdict

Once the scores are tallied up, I get a 7.5/10!  I agree with that score, as the book did have a few problems, but overall was put together well. If you enjoy books with a heartfelt message, you will most likely enjoy Stargirl! My one warning is that for some Stargirl might feel too quirky. Please know these are just my opinions. I respect yours too, so why not leave a comment?  Please mark spoilers for new readers.

Happy Reading!


Riptide With Bubbles

Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read. While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read. She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance. Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

The Selection


Today I will be reviewing The Selection, Book One of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass.   Here is a summary of the book for anyone curious:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.”


This book combined stereotypes with a breath of fresh air. I really loved America, Maxon, and Marlee.  My one complaint is that some of the characters do lack a developed personality and backstory, but this is the first book in a trilogy.  This book was jam packed with interesting character relationships. A secret love interest is unveiled early on, which definitely complicates the plot. I very much enjoyed the relationship between Maxon and America, but you will have to read to see how that plays out. The relationships between America and the other Selected really was intriguing. While some simply don’t get along with her, she instantly makes a few friends. At the same time America is technically competition, so we are never too sure about how things will end up. I really enjoyed this element of suspense.


The setting of this book at first confused me.  After a bit of investigating I learned that this books takes place in America.  While we don’t know how far into the future this book takes place, it seems like it has been at least a hundred years.  Now royalty is the main form of government and rankings determine your income, social class, and job.  It‘s very interesting to read about.  At the same time this author didn’t elaborate on the surroundings well.  It might just be me, but I like a very vivid setting to think about.  I like to know the colors of the walls, the little flaws in the architecture, and that sort of thing.  While we did get small descriptions of the setting, I just feel it could have been stretched out more, especially with the castle.


The plot of this book took old clichés and made them new.  I enjoyed discovering the little details of the government, and trying to figure out what would happen next, yet parts of the book seemed so close to many other dystopian novels.  Mainly the book reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Take out the death in The Hunger Games and replace it with broken hearts, and you have the majority of this plot.  I am not going to complain about this more than I need to, as there were plot twists, original characters, and many events that were completely original, but you might get the same feeling I did when I read it.

The Final Verdict

I really enjoyed the authors writing style!  I thought dialog was realistic and humorous.  The actions the characters took were interesting to read about, and were described in a way that I felt like I was witnessing them.  My one complaint was sometimes it was hard to figure out who the speaker was.  I get a 7.5/10!  This falls right in-between decent and good for me, but you should make up your mind for yourself.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that has interesting characters and plot, with the warning that any Hunger Games fan might find themselves bored with the story.  And if you like love stories, you will like this much more than I did!  The book itself isn’t all that long (only about three-hundred pages) so I recommend you get at least halfway through before you decide.  The beginning can be hard to follow, but it picks up towards the start of the actual Selection.  Thankfully the library systems has lots of copies in print and digitally.  Please let me know what you thought of it! I’m always interested in hearing opinions.  But please, mark spoilers for anyone trying to see if they are interested.

Happy Reading!


Laurel is an overly creative person that is looking for good books to read.  While she fills her spare time with crocheting, filming, editing, drawing, sewing, writing, and crafting, she always has a little time to read.  She enjoys books that have an intricate plot and fresh new characters, but does not like books with a lot of romance.  Hopefully she will find what she is looking for.

Teen Winter Reading Raffle

Forget Ned Stark- winter is HERE.  And rabid readers should be rejoicing.  The blustery weather provides the perfect excuse to just burrow down, deep into blankets and snuggle up with a good book.  Winter break provides you with the time off from school to spend the entire day and night reading to your heart’s content.  And all of those “best of” lists that get published at the end of every year provides a zillion new titles to add to what is probably already a very long “to read” list.

If you plan on spending your winter break with a huge stack of awesome books, then you need to know about our Teen Winter Reading Raffle!  How it works:

  • Beginning Sunday, December 15, 2013, visit your CLP Teen Specialist and pick up a reading log.
  • Fill out one reading log for every five hours that you read.
  • Return the reading logs to your CLP Teen Specialist by Wednesday, January 15, 2014.
  • For every 5 hours you read, your name will be automatically entered into a raffle for your chance to win prizes including books and gift cards!  The more you read, the more chances you have to win!

To be eligible, you must be between the ages of 12 and 17 or in 6 through 12 grades.  For more information, contact CLP Main- Teens.

Happy reading!

There’s a Battle on the Horizon, A Battle of the Books.

What do you get  when you mix a super fun quiz contest and the best teen books?


Start planning your team of 4 or 5 members now and be ready to register starting today.   The contest is broken into 3 grade levels, and there will be a new champion after each day of battle.

Today is also the hotly anticipated release of the contest booklist.  I have it from a contest organizer that, “The selected books for 2014 were chosen based on their student appeal, diverse subject matter and characters, representation of a wide variety of genres, and their literary merit.”  Sounds promising…

Pick up your grade level book lists after school at a Carnegie Library location near you and start planning  how to divvy up the list with your team.  Don’t forget to choose an adult to act as your manager.  Their job is to help organize your team and then cheer your on once game day arrives.   Finally, be sure to clear your schedule for the actual battle…

6th Grade Battle

Monday March 3rd, 2014

7th & 8th Grade Battle

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

9th -12 Grade Battle 

Monday March 10th, 2014

Check the website for more details, contest rules, team registration information and booklists.

~Brooke, CLP South Side


Meet me in Chicago–through the magic of fiction!

by Tessa, CLP – East Liberty
Plus, if you fly to Chicago from Pittsburgh the time difference makes it seem like you arrived when you left.
sculpture in Millennium Park taken by yours truly.

sculpture in Millennium Park taken by yours truly.

If you haven’t been yet, put Chicago on your travel list and do some mind traveling with these excellent books set in the Windy City:
A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.
Hold fast by Blue Balliett – BONUS: This is a summer reading giveaway book!!!
When her father disappears without a trace, Early and her mother and brother are forced to flee their apartment and join the ranks of the homeless.
In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and the approach of his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.
Caught up in a world of easy money, designer labels and drug-dealing boyfriends, sixteen-year-old Kyra Jones is living life on the fast track. But when her single mom is offered a job that takes Kyra away from her old Chicago neighborhood, and the drugs and gang violence that go along with it, she finally realizes that there’s more to life than Gucci, Prada and ghetto-fabulous bling. Starting over in a new place, with a new boyfriend, Justin, gives Kyra hope that life can be different. But sometimes the fast life catches up to you. And for Kyra, her only hope is to stay one step ahead of trouble.
Two Will Graysons. One coincidental meeting at a porn shop. One epic musical about a guy named Tiny Cooper. Lots of angst. Somehow even more laughs.

Summer time is travelling time!

Summer time is almost here!  It has been a long, long, long winter, but we finally have some nice weather and (hopefully) some time off to enjoy it!  Whether it is summer vacation for teens or a few days off for librarians, I think everyone is looking forward to this summer.

One of the best things about summer is the chance to get away for a few days or even longer if you are lucky.  I always like to travel to Moraine State Park and enjoy the beach and a picnic.  It’s one of my favorite places to go.  Another place I love to visit is Cook Forest, where you can go hiking, rent a cabin, and go canoeing or fishing.

If you can’t get away or can’t get away anyplace far, you can always escape somewhere through a good book.  Some of my favorite books explore travelling and visiting new places.  These are a great way to travel to new places without leaving your house or spending a cent!

13 Little Blue Envelopes 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite books despite the super girly looking cover!  It is about a 17 year old girl named Ginny whose free spirited artist aunt Peg passes away and leaves her an unusual gift of a plane ticket to London and 13 blue envelopes with different clues in them.  Each envelope can only be opened when Ginny reaches a new destination in Europe.  Ginny gets to visit lots of cool places all over Europe and she meets lots of interesting people.  This is a great book for anyone who has ever wanted to visit some of the fascinating locations of Europe!

NameoftheStar The Name of the Star is another book by Maureen Johnson (who you might be able to tell is one of my favorite writers).  This one is also about travel, but it is a lot different than 13 Little Blue Envelopes.  In this book, Rory Devereaux moves to London with her parents and has to attend an English boarding school that is totally different than her regular American high school.  The first part of the book is all about the difficulties Rory has while trying to fit in and adapting to living in England.  She has to learn how to play field hockey, eat new foods, and deal with the cold and damp weather.  But then just as she’s getting used to everything, she becomes the target of a serial killer who is re-enacting the Jack the Ripper murders!  This is both an exciting mystery and a great travel tale about the city of London.

FaultinourStars Not primarily a travel story at all, but John Green‘s The Fault in our Stars does involve travel!  It is the story of Hazel Lancaster, a 16 year old who meets Augustus Waters at a therapy session for cancer survivors.  The two get close and fall in love as they deal with the strong emotional issues they are both dealing with.  But Augustus does arrange for Hazel to travel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author.  It’s a great book that happens to have a bit of travel in it.

Teen Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Jenna M.

Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a senior at West Mifflin Area High School. I volunteer at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main. No matter where I am, you will probably see a book in my hand. I hope you enjoy my book reviews!

Ultraviolet – R.J. Anderson


The book automatically opens up with heavy subject matter. The first page is Alison confessing that she killed Tori. But did she really? Alison wakes up in a hospital, which is surprisingly very plain and bare. This is when she realizes that she is a mental patient. Alison is transported to Pine Hills, a mental patient facility for teens.

When Alison was questioned by the police, Alison told them that Tori had simply ‘disintergrated’ right before her eyes. But, Alison didn’t even know if she could trust herself. She has always been able to taste shapes and letters and see things that no one else can see. With all of her weird abilities getting in the way, she could not even remember what happened that day with Tori.

At Pine Hills, Alison meets Faraday, a neuropsychologist who really gives her the answers she needs. Alison learns more about her synthesia and Faraday reassures her she is not crazy.

Alison is deeply moved by everyone at Pine Hills. Over time, she learns more about people and about herself. She learns to not judge others, and that sometimes first instincts are wrong about certain people.

This novel honestly has it all. Science fiction, romance, coming-of-age, and mystery are all major themes of this book along with many others. Even though there are so many different important aspects of this book, they somehow seem to blend.

There is one thing that readers will not see coming that is introduced towards the end of the book. Everything that readers thought was going on, will turn out to be something completely unexpected.

One of the best parts of reading this book was getting inside of Alison’s head, quite literally. Learning about a condition like synthesia really opened my eyes. I can’t believe there are people out there that actually have this condition. Readers will become fascinated with all the different meanings behind shapes, colors, and letters that a synthesete interprets.

5/5 !

Teen Review: Samantha reviews Skinny by Donna Cooner

Samantha – Hi! 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!

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny by Donna Cooner is a story I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. It’s about a girl named Ever. Ever is pretty normal except for two things: 1. She has a voice in her head named Skinny who is always lowering her self-confidence. And 2. She weighs over 300 pounds.

Skinny as I’m sure you can guess, is not the nicest person (or illusion), and Ever has been having to put up with her since her mom died. Ever has mostly tried to ignore her weight for most of her life until there is an opportunity for her to make things better again by getting Gastric Bypass surgery.

Ever has let herself be manipulated to believe the things Skinny told her about other people and herself. In the end, Ever realizes that none of it was true. Skinny was blind to other people’s true selves and thought appearances were all that mattered. Ever realizes that who you really are inside is more important than how you look.

I loved this book and I really loved the suspense when she has surgery. Gastric bypass surgery can kill some people, but Ever took that huge risk and survived. I recommend this book to people who have read things like My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

Journey to the Pacific Northwest

Over Christmas, I will be heading back to the Pacific Northwest, where I spent the first twenty-something years of my life.  Yes, I’m excited to see friends and family.  But there’s just something about that ol’ PNW that you can’t find anywhere else.  The dreary, wet, somber, gray weather of winter, surrounded by old growth forests and mountain peaks that you know are there, even if you can’t quite see them through the gloom.

A colleague, upon hearing that I grew up in the Northwest, asked me what it was like to grow up in the land of serial killers.  While that’s not exactly fair, I’ve compiled a list of books set in Washington (state) that may give you a sense of why it’s an appealing location for serial killers, vampires, time travellers, sinister doppelgangers, ghosts, and just plain regular folks like you and me.  Happy reading!

Dangerous Boy


Girl Wonder


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Body Finder

The Jewel and the Key


Unraveling Isobel

Whale Talk

When a government can shut off the internet…

At the very end of November, as part of its ongoing bloody and brutal civil war, Syria’s government shut down the internet for the entire country.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, this was an “unprecedented” event.  The move led to more riots against the regime, not less, and the government blamed unidentified “terrorists”.

By Ronald Eikelenboom (Flickr: (no) internet) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ronald Eikelenboom (Flickr: (no) internet) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Shutting down a nation’s internet service is unprecedented because goes against the history of how the internet was developed.  Although the internet predecessors ARPANET and DARPA were government projects, the theory of the internet, grown in the 60s (a fuller, more specific history can be read here) was based on the idea that it would be a network of “multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design” with one of its groud rules being that “there would be no global control at the operations level.” (Quotes from The Internet Society, “Brief History of the Internet”)  This was practical – if another country attacked the U.S., it could not take out its networked communications all at once.

And yet, now Syria just did the same thing to itself!

Ideas of how networked technology can be manipulated– and the power it gives people and governments– have been popping up in excellent books for a long time.  Here are some good ones that are recently published.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson


a story of an elite hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern state in the throes of political upheaval. He gets involved with the wrong girl, who sends him a very old book to keep safe, and he learns the hard way about worlds beyond this one, jinn, and if he really wants to figure out what he believes in.

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir & Khalil


Zahra’s Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has disappeared in the Islamic Republic’s gulags. Mehdi has vanished in an extrajudicial twilight zone where habeas corpus is suspended. What stops his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of a mother who refuses to surrender her son to fate and the tenacity of a brother—a blogger—who fuses culture and technology to explore and explode absence: the void in which Mehdi has vanished.” – from the book’s website

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow


After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner


Las Vegas is gone—destroyed in a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dystopic near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it’s the Internet at the speed of thought. For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? – from Google Books synopsis

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

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