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DIVERGENT reviewed

August 4, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Vince, age 13

Divergent book coverThe book I have just read is called Divergent and it is the first book of the Divergent series, by Veronica Roth.

This book takes place in the future of Chicago, where society is divided up into five factions which are Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and finally Erudite (the intelligent). On a certain day, residents of Chicago who are sixteen years of age must settle in one of these factions for the rest of their lives. You may wonder how they are going to complete school? Well, the factions provide their education and other dangerous skills that can help throughout their lives.

Beatrice Prior, who is the main character of the book, makes a surprising choice that stuns many people. During her life in this faction, she struggles alongside her fellow peers to live out the choices she had made. They all have to go through a devastating test and with some tough consequences. Along with undergoing all this pressure, some pleasant things happen which fit in the life Beatrice has chosen. She also has a secret that cannot be revealed because it can lead to death.

This book was a very interesting book with many actions happening throughout. There were some amazing lessons to be learned that could be useful in the real world. The main point of this book is to show how brave, how strong, and how responsible teens should be like. Otherwise, their lives can possibly be ruined. This book is a real page turner and a lot of teens should read this.

Out of five stars, I would give this book five stars because all of the elements of this type of book were included and always caught my attention for every sentence. It has a mixture of different genres, which makes it amusing to read. Teens from the age of 13-18 should read it because it's enjoyable and has good tips for life.

Divergent movie posterCheck out the movie!

Hashtag Tuesday: #CrapSuperPowers

August 4, 2015 | Alice | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Since we are talking about mutants and superpowers today, I had to go with this one for today's Hashtag Tuesday. 

So imagine a superpower - but with a limitation that makes it beyond lame and not even worth having. I found some hilarious ones floating around twitter to get things rolling: 

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.33.13 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.33.57 PM

And then there's this poster that suggests some more real winners: 

Crap superpowers

So… tell me. What totally crap superpowers can you imagine?

Maybe something you'd wish on your worst enemy? 

Or at least something you'd never, ever brag about?

Summer Reads: Mutants: They're Just Like Us!

August 4, 2015 | Alice | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Supermutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki

I'll say it up front - I love both the X-Men and Harry Potter, so I was pretty happy to see a new graphic novel that looked like the perfect riff on that sort of school for teens with … unusual talents, let's say. I enjoyed Jillian Tamaki's award-winning title This One Summer from last year, as well, so yeah, I was curious to see what she'd do with this premise. 

The interesting thing I discovered was that this is more a collection of web comics than it is a narrative. It's told in little moments, rather than a linear plot line, and it allows for a great range. There are funny times, quieter, even tender parts when an emotion really hits home, and commentaries on all manner of social issues, so it's a little bit of a box of chocolates that way - they are all good to bite into, but you aren't quite sure what you're getting until you do. 

I love this little vignette of stubbornness breaking down a headmaster:

SMMA stubborn

Or this meeting of kids who have totally different priorities than their teacher: 

SMMA chess

Or finally, I think we all know that one kid who is always trying to get everyone to listen to his mixtape:

SMMA rap

I love how even though these are youth with all kinds of crazy powers, they are still in a lot of ways totally normal, everyday teens dealing with totally normal, everyday situations. Just, you know, slightly complicated by the weirdness of classmates suddenly bursting into flames or whatever. 

Can you imagine that? When the hallway suddenly turns into a skating rink because someone with freezing powers sneezed or something? Those bizarre moments are pretty great, and make for their own sort of absurd comedy. 

And now imagining that - I've got to ask. What would your superpower of choice be? 

Music Video Monday - K.D. Lang

August 3, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Kathy Dawn Lang is a Canadian Pop/punk/country music singer and songwriter. She stunned audiences in the very early nineties when she came out as lesbian and moved from her country music to more adult contemporary sounds. She is a national treasure and just a little bit kooky which makes her so awesome. Originally she grew up in Edmonton Alberta and currently makes her home in Los Angeles. Our first video is her first pop song: "Constant Craving"

 

(and that video is an homage to "Waiting for Godot"

Next up is her rarely seen first music video for the song "Pollyanne" about her favourite brand of bread:

 

and we end with her video for the song "You're okay" from her album All You Can Eat  

Author Sarah Henstra's debut novel: a tale of romance, mystery and adventure

August 3, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

review by Zoie, age 14

Henstra_madmiss_otpb.jpgFrom a young age, Leonora Somerville has suffered from a terrible stutter. But what is more is that along with this speech impediment is the ability to mimic the voices of others flawlessly. Unable to control who or when she imitates, Leo is christened Mad Miss Mimic, and is underestimated as a seventeen-year-old heiress living in 1872 London.

As the city becomes gripped with opium fever, brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst endeavours to create an injectable form of the drug, with the help of his business partner Mr. Thornfax. The attention of the latter is soon caught by Leo, but her heart struggles when Tom Rampling, the doctor’s working class boy, begins to frequent her thoughts and always seems to be near. But when an opium gang known as the Black Glove begins to terrorize London with explosions, Leo must find the relations between these attacks and Dr. Dewhurst’s cure, as well as the truth about her two love interests, in order to solve this captivating mystery.

Mad Miss Mimic is an incredibly spellbinding tale, beginning with the gripping introduction, all the way to the characters and the riveting plot. The fact that it is set in first person, alone was enough to make it a thrilling page-turner, as readers strive to learn more about Leonora’s story, when ironically her words fail to speak it out loud. And although this novel was set nearly two centuries ago, the message will forever remain the same: we all have problems and insecurities, but we’re always able to overcome them and settle comfortably into our own skin, as Leo struggles to accept but finally learns is possible.

The vocabulary exhibited was enriching yet refreshing, a welcomed change from today’s display of modernized literature. I felt as if I were in the very room, the descriptive settings seeming to just rise from the page, brought to life by the reader and the author. It was incredibly well written, each word being used historically accurate, graceful and enthralling. It had the writing of a classic but all the characteristics of a great YA.

In this new and engaging read, adults and teenagers alike will find themselves immersed with Leonora’s story, and what it means to find your own voice.

SarahHenstraFind out how to bring characters to life in your writing at this year's Young Voices Summer Writing Workshop, led by Sarah Henstra! 

Flesh and Blood Characters
Thursday, August 13, 2 p.m.
Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium

And don't miss Zoie's interview with Sarah Henstra, coming to tpl teens summer edition next Monday, August 10!

Summer Read: Rebellion and Murder

August 3, 2015 | Monica | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Family Romanov: murder, rebellion, and the fall of imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.

The Family RomanovThe Family Romanov is the true story of Russia’s last royal family, and the fall of the Russian empire. I listened to this as an eBook, and have to say, hearing it was better than reading it. Although the hard copy has a spread of black and white photographs to give the reader a visual, the narrations were fantastic. There were a few artists hired to narrate, and I really enjoyed the accents, and the way the various artists broke up the book.  I also liked that the book alternated between the family’s personal history, the political history of the country, and that of the peasant class. It was quite the contrast to go from the super wealthy Romonov circle, to the poverty of the peasants.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Romonov’s going in, and since I am not a history buff, I didn’t know much about Russia in the early 1900s. For me, much of this has to do with a lack of interest in history, and personally, I would rather read fiction over non-fiction. Here is where I have to applaud Candace Fleming. She had me fully engrossed in this book, and I found myself completely immersed in the lives of the Romanovs, the peasants, and all the political shenanigans that were taking place. It was just that brilliant. Well written and captivating, without being dry, I think the inner non-fiction fan in myself has been awoken.

This book has everything; adventure, love, drama, tragedy, and even a mystical faith healer.

Definitely a recommended read for all of you out there, especially the history buffs. Available in eBook and eAudiobook at the Toronto Public Library.

Have any of you read any really good non-fiction books that you can recommend?

THE MAZE RUNNER reviewed

August 2, 2015 | Ken Sparling | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Dakota, age 15

Maze runner coverJames Dashner’s young adult science fiction novel is the first in the Maze Runner Trilogy. It combines familiar elements from Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games where a group of boys trapped in a foreign setting figure out a way of order while the Creators control the environment they are trying to survive in. That is to say, all the mystery and action that encompasses this book, from the beginning to the end, will keep the reader up all night.

When Thomas is dropped into the Glade by a box, all he can remember is his first name. But even so, he is not the only one. A group of boys do not exactly give Thomas a warm welcome into the Glade, which is camp in the middle of the dreadful maze. No one remembers where they are from or how they ended up in the maze. All they know for sure is that every morning, when the maze doors open, the boys must risk their lives hoping and searching for a way to escape. The day after Thomas arrives, the routine of a new boy arriving every month is broken as a new girl arrives. Consequently, this triggers dreadful and unsettling things to take place. Now, it is a matter of life or death.

Dashner is able to accomplish admirable characterization, action that is elaborated in detail, and a novel that is rich with events. Throughout the course of the novel, there is not a single moment of downtime as we follow the adventures of the characters in the maze. Everything happens so quickly, surprises and unexpected events are lined up one after the other, and with each new event, we discover something new about the world in which the characters of the novel exist. The Maze Runner will appeal to lovers of action, adventure, and dystopia. There is even more to expect as you carry on further into the series.

Check out the movie!

ABHORSEN reviewed

August 2, 2015 | Ken Sparling | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Leon

Abhorsen trilogy

 

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix consists of Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and is one of the most creative and adventurous stories that I've ever read. Although it might be rather old compared to the current generation, that does not take away from the story. It's full of magic and mystery in a world where Necromancers exist, there were many exhilarating and heart warming moments that could captivate your attention for an entire afternoon. I'd recommend this to any fantasy genre lovers out there from the ages of 11-13.

THE WINNER'S CURSE reviewed

August 1, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Reviewed by Geneva, age 15

The winners curse coverThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski is frankly one of the best books I have read this year.

It is a young adult novel with a feel of both a historical or fantasy setting, but does not neatly fit under either category. The prose is beautiful, the romance is believable, and as I was reading, the world felt tangible and real.

The book centers around seventeen-year-old Kestrel, the daughter of the empire's general. Her empire enslaves those it conquers, and basks in its wartime success. In this sovereignty, Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military, or she can get married.

However, she has other intentions. One day, Kestrel impusively buys a young slave during an auction. She is oblivious to the backlash and the unitended consequences that will follow. But when secrets arise and Kestrel's love for the slave begins to grow, she becomes aware of the high price she had paid in exchange for a slave's life.

What I enjoyed most about this book was its political intrigue. I have never read a book with such layers and complexity within its world. I was interested in each characters' role in their sovereignty, and how their decisions could impact more than just their surroundings. They were beyond citizens of an empire; they were pieces in a game of life or death.

In short, I thoroughly loved this book. The Winner's Curse features all my favourite aspects of a book – believable characters, poetic writing, and a setting that you cannot help but to feel you are in. I highly recommend!

Summer Read: Good old fashioned space western!

August 1, 2015 | stephen | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

PolariscoverPolaris

by Mindee Arnett

This one is a bit of a change of pace from the rest of my list but I love sci-fi just as much as I love fantasy.

Polaris (also available as an e-book) is book 2 of the Avalon series so if you haven't read Avalon, I highly recommend you do so. 

It's a great read filled with space battles, smugglers and all kinds of action. 

With the new Star Wars movie coming out on December, why not get started on the space theme early? 

Also if you are a fan of the Firefly/Serenity franchise, Polaris is a must read! 

This week's question has to do with space travel. The premise behind most science fiction stories is the idea of space travel and being able to easily fly to other planets

If you could visit anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why? 

 

Review a book and get a free book. My Curved Border

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