Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: Review Page 2 of 6

An unbecoming review!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

How is it that Mara escaped the totally destroyed building with a sore head and all her friends died? Who bashed in the head of that dog-beating hulk of a man near her school? What strange things are happening to the wildlife in their new home town? So many alligators dead all at once! Could these incidents be related? And why does she have to be attracted to the best looking guy at school who can only mean trouble!

A strange and haunting tale of life with amnesia and self discovery.

~ Raewyn

I’m reading a book!

Candor, by Pam Bachorz

A perfect town, with perfect people. Teenagers who love doing their homework, who never, ever do anything their parents don’t want and always get to class on time. And then they get perfect marks. Except the most perfect person knows why everything is like this. And he has the power to change it. If you liked the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness or Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale then you should put this on your reading list.  Good read, great ending.

Accidental empires, by Robert X Cringley

The story (or one version of it anyway) of how the personal computer, Microsoft, silicon valley etc all got started, nearly didn’t get anywhere and how most of it wasn’t really all that planned. At all. If you like reading non-fiction or enjoyed The Social Network, then this will be a fun read.

The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer

Meg Finn is killed in the middle of helping steal from an old man. But there’s a problem. She’s done some bad things. But then she’s also done some good things as well. So with her perfectly balanced between them Heaven and Hell are both trying to push her over the line to their side. She has one last chance to redeem herself by helping the old man she tried to rob with his wish list. Four wishes, limited time and both Heaven and Hell are breaking the rules. I’d recommend this to younger teens – maybe 13 or so. You’ll probably still enjoy it if you’re older though – I did!

Two Great Reads by David Almond

Syndetics book cover

Clay / David Almond – I have enjoyed David Almond’s books such as Skellig and Kit’s Wilderness because the stories and characters are so gripping and Clay was no exception. The story is told by Davie, a teenage boy. Davie is an altar boy, along with his best mate Geordie, and they make money at funerals and hang out together in their hideout plotting out the next attack on a rival gang of boys.  Apart from the threat of Mouldy, the leader of the rival gang of boys, (a boy as big as a man and often reeking of beer who seems to take their battles too far) theirs seems a comfortable, naive existence.

Then Stephen Rose moves in with his aunt “Crazy Mary”. Stephen Rose was sent away to train as a priest at 11 years old but was thrown out and returned to his parents. Shortly afterwards his mother father died and his mother went mad.

Davie’s mum and the priest encourage him to make friends with this lonely boy who has come to the village in such tragic circumstances. Stephen has a gift for making beautiful creatures out of clay.  He loves clay because it is “alive” –  it’s the material from which God shaped Adam and the silky suppleness of wet clay is malleable like the human skin.

This book, like the others, is grounded in the real world. Because the world and the relationships between the characters and everything is so real it is easy to enter fully and I think it is the whole-hearted acceptance of the world which makes the supernatural events as they emerge (so slowly like a dripping tap) so unsettling.

The story is interesting for the dynamics of the relationships between all the characters and the movement from innocence to terrible knowledge. The book explores ideas of  power of creation, the right of creation, good and evil, revenge …

I would recommend this book to: people who like realism with a bit of the fantastical (but incredibly believable) thrown in and also books like the Robert Cormier’s  The Chocolate War which explore the dynamics of human relationships and power struggles.

The main characters in the book are boys but I think it is suitable for girls as well.

I would also recommend this as something different to try for people who like gritty books like Precious as I think, although it enters into fantasy, it carries the same intensity and delves similarly into human relationships and power struggles. I would also potentially recommend it to vampire book lovers because Stephen Rose definitely has the makings of an undead hero.  I think people who enjoyed Abssynia and The Red Shoes etc. by Ursuala Dubosarsky would enjoy these.

My name is Mina / David Almond – This is a new book by David Almond.  It is a diary by Mina, a strange and creative girl who doesn’t quite fit in with school and other kids. The book has a bold format which is part of the storytelling style.  It was more difficult to just lose myself in this story compared to other books written by David Almond because the character,rather than the narrative, is given central stage. Also perhaps this story is less about relationships between people than it is about what is going inside the head of one central character.  This, however, is just because of my personal preference of how to enjoy a story; I’m not that great at reading graphic novels and I’m not a patient reader so I don’t enjoy picking and piecing out all the bits and pieces of a story. At the same time the story has stuck with me and I keep going back and puzzling over bits I didn’t quite understand.

What I didn’t realize until I read someone else’s review of this book, which is pretty obvious (except I’m no good at remembering character names) that this is Mina from Skellig before she meets Michael (she meets him right at the end of the book, he is the new boy who has moved in next door so this is a prequel to Skellig)

Because this is a very visual book I would recommend this to people who like reading graphic novels (although it plays more with font rather than illustration) and also books like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. I would also recommend it to people who enjoyed Sophie’s World because of the slightly disjointed way the story is put forward – you sort of need to piece it together – and also the way philosophical thought and ideas are explored in the book.  Maybe also people who enjoy reading diary formats.  Also I think again readers of Ursuala Dubosarsky’s books and particularly people who enjoyed Abyssinia would enjoy this book.

Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant. Books one to five, all written by the Golden God (as he calls himself on his blog) Derek Landy.

Skulduggery PleasantPlaying with FireThe Faceless OnesDark DaysMortal Coil

If you’re looking for them they won’t be in the YA area, they’re actually in with the kids books. But that’s really not a good reason for not reading them. These are, in all honesty, the best series of books that I’ve read recently. They’re about a skeleton detective, and a girl called Stephanie. Lots of magic, crazy action, bad guys, good guys, girls who beat up bad guys and general world saving happens. If you like any kind of fantasy or action books, this is a good choice to pick up next.

Here’s the trailer for the most recent book Mortal Coil:

And, if you are already a fan and like me counting down until the next one comes out, Derek Landy blogs over here. Sometimes there are photos of kittens, if you need any incentive to go visit. Otherwise expect ramblings, fanfic reviews, photos and interviews. Unfortunately the rumour that there will be a movie is still at the one day there may be a movie stage, but the next book should still be out on schedule in August/September this year.

Review: Little Bird by Penni Russon

4 stars! Ruby-Lee feels tiny in the world like a “Little Bird” as her older sister, Shandra, is organizing her wedding day to marry her fiancée, Damien.

The first 2 chapters of the book were quite boring because it was mainly talking about Shandra and her wedding dress & wedding day and not about the main character of the book, Ruby-Lee. But it picked up with excitement later on in the book when Ruby- Lee babysits little baby Maisy and meets Maisy’s father, Spence, and starts to fall in love with him as they hang out together.

This would be a good book for 13-15 year old girls who have annoying older siblings and don’t really know what love is yet.

It’s a good book and I enjoyed it in the end with all the drama in it. This is now one of my preferred books.

Little Bird by Penni Russon reviewed by Jayne

Best Of 2009: Top Albums

Thanks to everyone that voted for their favourite albums of 2009, this is what we ended up with:

5. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

4. Paramore – Brand New Eyes

Basically wonderful. Took me awhile to get into. But the musical talent has improved and they are now more then just a catchy CD. (Although it is VERY catchy) Hayley’s voice as intense as ever. The addition of Taylor was awesome with better guitar and drum beats. Looking forward to the concert.

– Jess

3. Rihanna – Rated R

2. Glee : The Music Volume 1

1. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster

It was a very close run thing between the Glee kids and Lady Gaga, but in the end The Fame Monster came out on top. Go to our bebo page to hear tracks from the top five. Thanks again to the voters, in particular Jess for her review, and congratulations to Lady Gaga for topping a list as prestigious as this one. See you next year!

Best Of 2009 Review: I Am A Genius Of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President

I Am A Genius Of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

i am a genius...I realise that this book is in our children’s collection, but it has such broadly layered appeal that it would be just as happy on the YA, or even adults, fiction shelves. Author Josh Lieb is an executive producer on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the book sticks to that same kind of low brow humour for the switched on intellect that make the show such compulsive viewing. 

The protagonist, Oliver Watson is a condescending, selfish, snobbish and complex evil genius. He is at the helm of a vastly profitable global empire, but being all of 12 years old, must keep this fact secret from his classmates, family and the world at large. To do this he puts on an incredibly gormless front, feigning ignorance at every turn. Unfortunately this means he is just about the least popular boy in school, making a sucessful campaign for class president to impress his disappointed father quite improbable, whether or not the other candidates can be blackmailed by an army of secret agents …

Highly recommended, unless you’re both lazy and patient and want to wait for the upcoming movie instead.

– Jack

Review New Moon for us! There’s another poster in it

Exams? What exams?

As with the lovely Taylor Lautner posters, we’ve got another New Moon movie poster that we thought we’d give to the first person who tells us what they thought of New Moon (which we think some of you might have seen already). As usual, the catch is you have to review it in haiku form (explanation here again). Eligible only for WCL YA cardholders. Please add your full name [we won’t publish it]. The poster has folds in it again (sorry).

I suppose the other catch for me is I should provide an example review haiku thing, so here goes:

The movie begins…
Love, tragedy, danger, then-
“Put the shirt back on!”

Review: City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This book is just incredible and fantastic!

It’s about a girl who finds out her mum is a shadowhunter and her dad is a shadowhunter, an evil shadowhunter to put it correctly, and the shadowhunter she loves might turn someone completely different, but still very close.

In the mundane (human) world, the night children (vampires) hunt, werewolves defend their packs, and sexy shadowhunters prowl the streets of New York city. This book I couldn’t put down, and I’m so glad I shared it with you.

 A whopping 5 Stars for this popular book!

Thanks, Elena, for sending us your book review. We appreciate that.

A Book Review

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, or seen the movie then be warned!

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne

This story tells the tale of the unlikely friendship of two boys. It is set in Germany during the war and gives an insight into the circumstances of the holocaust. Bruno’s father is one of Hitler’s high ranking officials, but Bruno is unaware of exactly what his father’s job entails. He accidentally comes across a prisoner of war compound and befriends a Jewish boy. Eventually he makes a plan to sneak in under the fence to help his new friend look for his father, who seems to have mysteriously disappeared somewhere within the ‘camp’. During the course of his search Bruno and his friend find themselves herded into a giant shed along with hundreds of other people. The big steel doors clang shut. Outside, Bruno’s parents discover he is missing. They see the plumes of smoke rise from the tall chimneys at the compound and the terrible realisation of what has happened hits them…

~ Lynda

If you’ve read a good book recently you can send us a review.

Page 2 of 6