July 28, 2010

Boring, Very Boring

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
reviewed by Bronte

The subject is a civil war and courtly intrigue which shouldn't be boring, but with Smith's style it really is. I like the medieval setting and story, but it could have gone faster. That's an understatement, it could have gone a lot faster. The book used to be cut into two parts, but really — the whole story should have been the size of one half.

I had to plod through it though I usually love the medieval period. (Although this is technically set in a fantasy world, it is based on a medieval setting.) And I usually like girls and women who don't follow society's rules. The heroine Meliara is one of them. Sworn to protect her people from the greedy king, Meliara struggles to uphold her promise. Then, when the war is over, she is summoned to court and must learn to discern enemy from friend. Those are the two plots of the separate parts.

The story seems a little forced, and there aren't any extremely emotional or funny scenes, nothing really stands out to me. I don't really feel anything about this book, I don't love it or hate it, if that helps anyone guage whether they will like it. The best thing about this book is the idea behind the story, though it could have been executed better. If you're really into the medieval time period you will probably like it at the start, it just gets boring very quickly. I would recommend this for 12 year old girls interested in history.

Posted by at 01:21 PM

Crushed Dreams

All of the Above: a novel by Shelley Pearsall
reviewed by Leila

All of the Above is based on a true story and was an enjoyable book. It is by Shelley Pearsall and it's about five urban kids who join a math club, led by their math teacher, in the effort to build the world's largest tetrahedron. The main characters include Mr.Collins, Marcel, James Harris III, Sharice, and Rhondell. They are the ones trying to build the tetrahedron. Are they going to be able to build it or will they fail and have their dreams crushed?

All of the Above was written in an unusual style. Every main character and a few others had their parts in which to talk from their own points of view. People who already love math would definitely like this book. And for those who don't, read this book and it will possibly change your view on math forever.

If you like this book, you would probably like Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, Celeste's Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate, and Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olsen.

Posted by at 12:57 PM


Three Little Words: a memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
reviewed by Maddie

The book Three Little Words isn't a made-up story about an orphan everybody loves and pities. It's a true story, a memoir, of a girl lost deep in the bowels of the American foster-care system.

Taken from her loving but unpredictable mother, Ashley is thrown head-first into a world of orphans, difficult days, and abuse, her little brother Luke as her only company. Forced to move continually, with unhelpful caseworkers and uncaring foster parents, Ashley hardens herself to the word " love." She will never be her Mama's sunshine again.

When she arrives at the home of the Mosses, she is not expecting any special treatment. She is used to these "families", foster parents who take care of more kids than they can handle, and unkind children. But at the Mosses' foster home, all of her previous hardships fade away as she fights to protect herself and Luke from abuse. Uncomfortable positions, impossible tasks, even swallowing hot sauce in a gulp...Ashley is forced to be the big girl, and take care of vulnerable Luke.

This touching memoir of injustice, abuse, and terror is a heart-wrenching read, even more so because it is a memoir. In her fight for what's right, all that Ashley must remember are three little words. What could they be?

Extra information:
The best part of the book is its truth. Every word you read is true.
The worst part of the book is its truth. To realize that all of the abuse that Ashley faced was real strikes a chord in your heart.
The characters do seem real because they are.
The setting is beyond interesting. It is touching, beautiful, and painful.
The story flows like a river. Each problem that Ashley faces turns into a series of events. Some of the things that happened follow her actions, others just happen. Her life was unpredictable.
This book is for mature readers, who can handle things like the Mosses' behavior towards their foster children. This book is also for both boys and girls — it will touch anyone's heart.

Posted by at 12:42 PM

July 21, 2010


Persepolis: the story of a childhood by Marjane Satrapi
reviewed by Katya

When I experienced Persepolis, I read all the other Satrapi books that I could get hold of and watched the movie. If history, culture, and the plight of children coming into adulthood interests you, then check this out! This graphic novel lures the reader with its expressive drawings which convey the life of a girl growing up in the middle of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Satrapi tells what life was like for Iranians during that time and what she experienced with her un-assimilating parents. Her stories of her childhood, humorous and shocking, are phenomenal and so different from what life is like for Americans today.

Seeing the life of a person from a different culture, and learning in U.S. and world history about the events that she lived, make what you've learned REAL. This book tells of the people far away from us in the Middle East and makes you understand them a bit more. This is my 3rd favorite novel and vital to me. Look it up, you won't be sorry.

Posted by at 12:47 PM

Ivy the Muse

Ivy: a novel by Julie Hearn
reviewed by Emma

Ivy is a very good and interesting book about a girl named Ivy with beautiful, red hair who became addicted to laudanum. One day, she is found by an aspiring young painter who is determined to make a mark on the world. He makes her his muse and she eventually is broken of her addiction to laudanum.

I love this book, but I don't think that the male gender would. At all. So, this is a book for women who want a story that draws you in and makes you hang on every word that is said, but I would say that girls under 9 wouldn't understand anything. So, if you want an awesome story that you will love (if you are a girl 9+) then read Ivy.

Posted by library at 12:25 PM

July 20, 2010

The Red Kings

Duma Key by Stephen King
reviewed by Siena

Duma Key is just, in general, an awesome book. It has the right mixture of scary, funny, and sweet. The basic story is that of a man who gets his arm amputated as the result of a car accident and moves to an island in Florida where he develops magical powers involving paintings. He experiments with his powers and meets interesting people, then discovers the island has a strange past and gets caught up with a monstrous creature named Perse whom he, of course, has to defeat.

If you're the sort of person who likes a lot of action, I wouldn't recommend this book. It's not boring or anything, but it spends a lot of time on characters at the beginning. The result of that is a book with really, really interesting and lovable characters. My favorite parts occur when the man is painting, because it's a fascinating way to reveal developments in the story and it's suspenseful. The book has interludes which are flashbacks from the character who first discovered Perse, and they're confusing enough so that you have to keep reading to find out what happened. Also, the main character's life improves as the book goes on and you find yourself rooting for him and feeling his triumphs. Duma Key is a very good read and isn't boring, even when it seems like it would be.

Insomnia by Steven King
reviewed by Siena

Insomnia is a book about magic, old people, mass murder, and bright colors. It starts out a little boring, with a man named Ralph having sleeping problems, but Stephen King's writing makes you keep reading. The man starts seeing auras and then meets a woman who sees them too. They're approached by two magical creatures and asked to save 2000 people from an unknown fate, and then they do some detective work, use their powers, and fall in love. There isn't much time spent on gore and only a few suspenseful scenes, so if you're looking for that kind of Stephen King book, try It.

The thing that makes this book worth reading is the characters, who may be boring people but are full of real-seeming emotions, and develop an interesting relationship. The scenes involving auras and magic are well-described and interesting, and the creatures they meet are hilarious. It's a pretty funny book in general, and gives a good perspective on life. Even though it's a fairly long book, when you're done you still want more.

Posted by library at 10:28 AM

July 16, 2010

African American History

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years by Sarah L. Delany and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth
reviewed by Saleiha

Having Our Say by the Delany sisters and Amy Hill Hearth is a classic book about two sisters' lives throughout the 20th century. This is a detailed memoir of two African American women who live through historical events such as voting rights for women in 1920, segregation, and the civil rights movement. The book is a vital historical record as well as a moving story about two sisters who love and embrace life even through faced with racism and sexism. Both women break barriers. One becomes one of the first female dentists, the other one of the first African American teachers in New York City. This book is extraordinary and is a charming oral history of our nation's heritage.

Librarian's note:
For more on the events experienced by the Delany sisters, visit the excellent African-American history collection in our reference room including:
305.8 Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (3 vol.)
305.8 Racial and Ethnic Relations in America (3 vol.)
322.4 Civil Disobedience (2 vol.)
342.7308 Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (3 vol.)
973.0496 African American Atlas
973.0496 African American Desk Reference
973.0496 Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History (5 vol.)
973.0496 Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the present (5 vol.)

and please go explore our new online subscription resource: African-American History Online.
Your user name is your library card number (no spaces).

You can wander through the site, exploring the maps, videos, primary sources, biographical entries, and other features. Or you might try searching delany, then scrolling down the list of results to see a sample of the wealth of reference sources that are included in this online database.
Encyclopedia of Black Women in America.
Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage, Second Edition.
Encyclopedia of African-American Politics.
Encyclopedia of African-American Literature.
Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.

etc. etc.

Posted by library at 11:22 AM

July 15, 2010

The Happy Mouse Kingdom

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
reviewed by Patrick

The True Meaning of Smekday is about earth after aliens take over and force all humans into the state of Florida. (I think this is a reference to what the colonists did to Native Americans.) The mother of a girl named Gratuity has been abducted by the aliens (called Boovs). Gratuity searches for her mom with her cat named Pig and makes friends with a Boov named J.Lo.

This is a great book. The story gets more and more complicated with each chapter, and is filled with humor, for example with aliens trying to speak English (wereto you be knowing that...?). I recommend this book to everybody over 10 including adults. It's a great novel that pulls you in and doesn't let you back out. On the other hand, the last part of the book has Disney written all over it and entertainment parks with mouse mascots are a very big part of the story.

Posted by library at 04:12 PM
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