Category Archives: Unforgettable Reads

Tangerine: Simultaneously Enchanting and Chilling

tangerine Tangerine, by Edward Bloor

Tangerine is a book about oranges and lies.  Set in and around Tangerine County, Florida, it’s the journal of 12-year-old Paul Fisher.  Paul is distinguished from others his age by his glasses, which he says would have survived to be unearthed by archaeologists if the dinosaurs had worn them at the time of their extinction.  He’s been told his entire life that he is a walking cautionary tale: don’t stare too long into a solar eclipse or you will go blind.  Oh.  Hold on a second.  He can see just fine. What’s up with that?  He does not remember a solar eclipse happening in his lifetime, and he is certain that he would have known not to look at it.  There are many things he doesn’t remember.  It is almost as if the memory is there, but he simply cannot see it in his mind’s eye. Continue reading

Storm Breaks Ships — Risky Rescue Attempted


The-Finest-Hours-book-coverTitle:
 Finest Hours: True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

Authors:  Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Summary:  In 1952, a ship was torn in half during a massive storm off of New England.  Survivors were stranded on both halves of the ship.  During the rescue, the Coast Guard realizes that not one, but two ships were broken in half that day. During the storm, recovery efforts put both victims and rescuers at risk.

Six Word Review:  Storm breaks ships — risky rescue attempted.

I give this 8/10 stars because the story itself is great, but it went into a lot of unnecessary detail.

Gut Reaction:  A ship can break in half?!?

Discuss:  The explanation of how the ships were poorly built and could split half-way was really interesting.

I think that this book would be best for someone who is already interested in maritime books, survival stories or military heroes/rescues.

If the main character was stuck on a deserted island they would…get caught in a storm.

More true Coast Guard rescue stories.

–Amy, Librarian, Magnolia

MAG

 

Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock!

NeedfulThingsBookCoverSo, I’ve been reading the horror novel Needful Things by Stephen King ever since school got out. It’s a thick book but not a hard read, and although I’m not finished with it yet, I have been enjoying it so much that I just have to rave about it.

Summary: Everyone in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine is intrigued when this mysterious new shop opens up out of nowhere. Needful Things, a weird kind of curio-shop, is owned by the unsettling, unearthly (but devilishly charming) Leland Gaunt, and you’d never think you’d want what he sells so bad until you actually see it. Anything you could possibly desire, even things which are intangible, manifest themselves in the merchandise of Needful Things, and Mr. Gaunt is always willing to make a bargain… as long as you can pay his price. Slowly, he takes control of Castle Rock as they realize it isn’t as easy as it sounds, and that the dealing is not done until Mr. Gaunt says it’s done.

I started reading this book because I knew Stephen King has an amazing writing legacy, having written books like The Shining, Carrie, and the stories behind movies like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By MeNeedful Things is so far the only book of his that I have read, but even if you are not a horror or thriller fan I would highly recommend it.

I kept reading because I was completely blown away by how much time King takes to develop each and every character, relationship and story, and how masterfully he keeps track of every single one and weaves it ALL together. The characters and their lives are so amazingly and painfully real, not to mention compelling. The characters and their relationships are written SO WELL, I can’t even handle it. This is truthfully what makes the story for me. The scary parts are developed well, but they can get pretty repetitive and slow sometimes.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a compelling and totally encompassing read and anyone prepared to get really emotionally invested in the lives of characters.

Speaking of horror and thrillers… the Seattle Public Library’s University Branch is currently doing a Movie Mondays feature on Alfred Hitchcock! Happening right now, every Monday they are showing a different movie, going chronologically through his career, including classics like Psycho and Rear Window. This Monday, July 14th’s feature film is Notorious and the series ends with the movie Frenzy. There is even free popcorn! Make sure not to miss it. 

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–Gina, 15, University

Teen Reviewed: Cirque du Freak

Birth of A Killer Cirque du Freak is one of my favorite series of all time. It’s up there with Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I recently finished re-reading this twelve book (but the books are short) masterpiece. I just love it. The characters in this incredible Vampire story are its main highlight.

Wait… did he just say vampires? “Loren! Vampires are lame! The only good vampires are the incredibly attractive ones that are having sex all the time like in Twilight or True Blood!” Let me explain. Cirque du Freak follows the the journey of the Half-Vampire Darren Shan (The book is written in the first person, almost like an autobiography of the author of the same name). You will love these books if you enjoy cohesive universes and recurring characters that matter because you truly care about them. I would give this a 9/10 because it is one of the best stories ever told.

On a desert Island, Darren: would do anything to survive–and he would, with the help of his almost super human vampire abilities.

My six word review of Cirque du Freak would be “Exciting action-packed vampire saga is addictive”

Quick note, the Cirque du Freak movie under the name of the second book The Vampire’s Assistant is not a bad movie. It’s not a good movie though, and I must warn you DO NOT watch this movie before you read the books. They did an annoying-Hollywood-franchise-ruining thing where they take the beginning of the first book and part of the last book, cutting out all the really interesting in between stuff. I believe it’s about the journey, not the destination. The movie also spoils one of the biggest plot twists ever near the end of the series so remember: You have been warned…

–Loren, 15, Teen Center Adviser

Loren-CROP

 

Unforgettable Reads: Touching Spirit Bear

touchingspiritbear
Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen, was written over a decade ago, but I still find myself thinking about it from time to time. The story follows troubled teen Cole, who comes from an abusive household and takes that violence into his daily life, including a break-in at the school. After another student, Peter, hears Cole bragging about the break-in and all the damage Cole caused, he tells the principal. Cole is furious that Peter snitched, and before the administrators can come talk to him, he beats Peter so badly that Peter has brain damage. Cole faces another visit to the courts, with the added prospect of real jail time.
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Cracking the Hub: My Friend Dahmer

reading challenge logo - finisher

Last week I finished The Hub Challenge just before the deadline elapsed.  Stay tuned to see if I win any prizes. 

Back to the books.  The twelfth book I finished for this challenge was My Friend Dahmer by Derf (Backderf).

My Friend Dahmer was honored by the Great Graphic Novels, Alex Awards, and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. It is a graphic novel about the infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the author who was Dahmer’s friend during high school.
 
The artwork is notable.  It imparts meaning, despair, suspense, and an overwhelming creepiness.  We know what Dahmer ended up doing, but in those carefree days of high school Backderf and his friends had no clue of what their “mascot” Dahmer would do as an adult.  The reader sees a young man isolated from society and enduring a difficult family situation while trying to restrain and dampen the disturbing urges emerging from the recesses of his mind.  His friends saw an increasingly strange and self-medicating Dahmer withdrawing from high school life.
 
This was a quick read.  It was a fascinating read, and ultimately it will be an unforgettable read.  For those of our readers who are on the queasy side of things – don’t worry, most of the disturbing events happen off the page and are merely alluded to in drawings and text.  When you read this graphic novel – don’t skip the Sources section where you learn more about how the author researched the book as well as more details of Backderf and Dahmer’s adolescence and adulthood.
 
What do you think – should the author have included more detail about Dahmer’s crimes in this graphic novel?
 

Unforgettable Reads: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation

obama_inauguration2013 Watching the second inauguration of President Obama a week ago, I was struck by the weight of our history in that moment.  Our first African-American president, affirmed by a majority of voters, given the opportunity to continue his work: he was judged, on the birthdate of Martin Luther King, Jr., on his abilities, and on “the content of his character.”  How far we’ve come as a nation and a culture.  But it reminded me also of how long it took us all to get this far, to advance our thinking and feeling about other people.

It also reminded me of one of my favorite teen novels of the past decade, M.T. Anderson’s powerful two-book set, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation.
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