Book Reviews

Cortland Free Library Teens

Teen Book Review Blog

Image result for an ember in the ashesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★

Review:
An Ember in the Ashes is an action-packed suspenseful and heart capturing novel. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia agrees to spy on the Commandant, a ruthless woman, risking her life. Then Laia meets Elias the school's most ruthless, yet reluctant, soldier. Together they go through trials but eventually find freedom. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 8:30 pm
Image result for harry potter and the sorcerer's stoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is about a young boy whose life is dramatically changed when a giant bursts down his door. Harry discovers he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts, meets multiple people, and save the world from an evil psychopath. Harry Potter is action-packed, with plenty of near death experiences.
I personally have read the book at least five times, loving it more with each read. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 8:21 pm
Image result for devils and realist vol. 3Devils and Realist Vol. 3 by Madoka Takadono
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
William Twining can feel the tension growing in the air. After defeating the school's pastor, Crosby, Twining notices that the church is acting rather cold towards him. Surprising for the school's star pupil, but even more surprising is that his butler, Kevin, is now the school's new pastor. Twining has many questions, but has no time to get his answers as he finds himself in the middle of a sketchy government group. Twining would never admit it, but their could possibly be some demons in this group. A very disturbing thought for our protagonist whose life is turning out to be all too busy.
On the back of the manga, there is a quote that reads, "Things are about to get messy..." and it could not be any truer. After Kevin became the pastor, I cocked my head in confusion. Why him? I she more than just a butler? I am very much interested to learn more about this character that I only have paid attention to. Twining also finds competition in his school, and I am always a fan of school battles. The student he must prove himself to be better to is not ordinary though, and the author explains how at the very end. I am excited to see what kind of trouble Twining will get into in the next volume. Like always, I have to praise the beautiful artwork that seems to get softer and cleaner every time, along with the gorgeous coloring on the covers and inside flap. Also present is the nice sense of humor and action scenes which are definitely improving in clarity. Devils and Realist is turning into one of my favorite mangas for all the right reasons. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 7:48 pm
Related imageElsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Hellen's Rating: ★★★

Review:
Elsewhere answers the ever-present question, what happens after death? When Liz Hale dies and goes to Elsewhere, she just wants to leave. However, as time passes, she finds she might actually like it there.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wonders what comes after death. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 7:30 pm
Related imageThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★

Review:
The Hunger Games is a jarring, violent, action-packed novel full of suspense. When Katniss' sister is called for the reaping, Katniss has little hesistation in volunteering to take her place. Katniss has to particpate in the 74th Hunger Games, meeting new people and fighting to survive.
I would recommend this book. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 7:24 pm
Image result for naruto vol. 3Naruto Vol. 3 by Masashi Kishimoto
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★

Review:
Time is of the essence as the trio trains for their next meeting with the demon ninja Zabuza. And how do they train? By climbing trees! The catch? They can't use their hands. As they fall and try again, a local boy claims to Naruto that heroes are not real. When Zabuza does indeed return and threatens the livelihood of everyone in the village, it is time for Naruto to prove him wrong.
I recall reading this volume a long time ago and one thing stuck with me: the reason for why the local boy does not believe in heroes. Rereading this volume, I was again touched by his sad backstory and the despair he felt. The beginning of the manga (in which the trio climbed trees) was very humorous and a nice change of pace after the life threatening battle from the last volume. If calm is not your thing, I can say that an even more dramatic battle begins near the end of this volume. I felt like the pacing for this volume was slower, but Kishimoto made up for it with an intriguing cliffhanger. Naruto's true potential as a ninja may be revealed in the next volume. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 6:11 pm
Image result for divergent book coverDivergent by Veronica Roth
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
Divergent is an action-packed dystopia with a hint of romance. When Tris Prior chooses Dauntless instead of her first faction, Abnegation, her life changes forever. She meets and falls in love with Four, the handsome Dauntless trainer. As the story progresses Tris discovers more and more about herself and the world she grew up in.
I loved this book right from the beginning, especially Four. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 6:00 pm
Image result for naruto vol. 2Naruto Vol. 2 by Masashi Kishimoto
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura have passed their teacher's test and have become fully-fledged junior ninjas. As ninjas, they much help protect the village and perform tasks aimed to improve their ninja abilities. But Naruto is bored with these menial chores and wants something more challenging. The trio take on a higher level mission, but could it be too advanced for these junior ninjas?
While it was expected that the protagonist would indeed pass the test, I was still happy to see the conclusion. Kakashi, the teacher, is so interesting and becomes even more so when we see him in action later in the manga. When it became apparent that the task was too much for them to handle, I couldn't stop flipping to the next page. It seems at many times that there is no way to defeat the enemy, but Naruto manages to keep them on their toes with his quick thinking. Kishimoto keeps the pacing of this story fast yet clear. I feel like backgrounds were more frequently included, so kudos to the author. Another thing that has improved is the conflict that exists between Sasuke and Naruto. We see now that Naruto views Sasuke not as an opponent, but as someone he must surpass. Thus, he is implying his own character growth. I am curious to see how their relationship grows in the next volumes. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 5:51 pm
Image result for the chaos of standing stillThe Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★

Review:
The Chaos of Standing Still is about a girl, Ryn, who is stranded in an airport. On the day before the anniversary of Lottie's death, Ryn's best friend, Ryn is left in an airport over night due to a blizzard. When Ryn bumps into Xander Hale, causing them to accidentally switch phones, Ryn discovers that it is okay to be happy and to move on.
I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.  
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 5:28 pm
Image result for black butler vol. 3Black Butler Vol. 3 by Yana Taboso
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
The murderous Jack the Ripper has been found: Ciel's aunt, Madame Red, and her butler, Grell! While Madame Red is fully human, the same can not be said for Grell who turns out that he is not an incompetent butler, but an able and flamboyant grim reaper! With an admiration for the demon butler Sebastian, the two fight while Ciel is left to confront his aunt and her tragic past. It is his duty to rid London of the killer, but could family bonds prevent him from killing family?
Oh, the fight scene between Grell and Sebastian was amazing! Yana Toboso was smart to not make it just full of sound effects, but include dialogue between the two supernaturals. Toboso also makes Madame Red's backstory dramatic and I found myself feeling sorry for her. The world Toboso has created is growing wonderfully and I look forward to reading more. Also, I can admit that, in my opinion, this manga is better than the popular anime of the same name (and I think that is excellent too). After the arc with Madame Red ends, we are introduced to the strong mother of Ciel's fiance, Lady Francis. This character is not introduced so early in the anime, which is a real shame. The short story involving her adds to the manga and strengthens the bonds between characters. This manga has made me interested to see what other differences exist in the manga and anime and how they compare with each other. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 4, 2018, 5:21 pm
Image result for the magicians nephewThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
Hellen's Rating: ★★

Review:
The Magician's Nephew is about two children, Digory and Polly. When Digory's uncle sends Polly and Digory through a portal to another world, they meet new people and discover new places. Polly and Digory are fortunate to witness the birth of a new world called Narnia. I did not like this book and I found the story line hard to follow. There was little characterization and the climax was boring. Despite my personal dislike for this book, I would still recommend it for others. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 1, 2018, 8:02 pm
Image result for black butler vol. 2Black Butler Vol. 2 by Yana Toboso
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
Murders take over the headlines of London's news as a new killer ravages the streets. Known as "Jack the Ripper," this elusive criminal stalks and kills women and is causing unrest. Queen Victoria enlists the help of her loyal "guard dog," Ciel Phantomhive, and Ciel enlists the help of Sebastian. With the help of his aunt and other comrades, Sebastian and Ciel seek out this murderer. Perhaps Ciel just wishes that he did not have to converse with a loony mortician or wear a dress...
With this volume, the story of Black Butler picks up and begins. We are introduced to even more important characters and the manga ends in a cliffhanger. We also learn more about the unique relationship between Ciel and his butler. Like before, the art, pacing and humor are fantastic to see. My favorite character, the loony mortician Undertaker, finally gets introduced and we got to see more of the impossible things that Sebastian can do. I won't spoil it, but there is a wonderful allusion to the real Jack the Ripper. The killer was never identified, but many theories existed for who could have been the perpetrator. I thoroughly enjoy the effort Toboso makes towards the history of London. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 1, 2018, 7:53 pm
Image result for cinder
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Hellen's Rating: ★★★★

Review:
This book is about a young cyborg named Cinder, in a future where the world is plagued by a deadly disease called letumosis. When Cinder's stepsister is infected by letumosis, Cinder's stepmother forces Cinder to participate in the cyborg draft. The cyborg draft is where cyborgs are randomly chosen to help find a cure to letumosis. When Cinder is forced to participate, she discovers many new things about herself with the help of Dr. Erlund and Prince Kai. I loved this book and was just as surprised as Cinder of the inner discoveries that she made. 
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 1, 2018, 7:25 pm
Image result for black butler vol. 1Black Butler Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
It is the late 1800s in London and it is the home of Queen Victoria and her "guard dog," Ciel Phantomhive. Despite his young age, Ciel prefers to stay at his mansion, managing his family's business, with the help of the most special of butlers. Sebastian can do it all - cooking, cleaning, coming to Ciel's every beck-and-call, and preparing for guests at the last minute plus so much more, he is like a superhuman. If he is even human, that is? When Ciel is in trouble, Sebastian will always succeed in saving his young master.
This manga is a perfect combination of comedy and action. I recall holding back laughter numerous times at the "dramaticness" of expressions and awkward scenarios. The fighting scenes are clear and easy to follow. Each of the main chracters are memorable and wonderfully designed. Yana Toboso knows how to draw aged character (a common problem in mangas) and embraces the time period of her manga with remarkable detail. The art is definitely a highlight of this series. The story flows and is action-packed. Never does the story drag. If I  had to be nit-picky, I wish that the manga ended in a cliffhanger, but I can also understand the author's final decision. This manga was to act as an introduction. I would recommend Black Butler to fans of the supernatural, The Victorian era, and mystery.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 1, 2018, 7:13 pm

Image result for the fault in our stars bookThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hellen's Rating: ★★★

Review:
The Fault in Our Stars is about a girl, Hazel, who has cancer. When Hazel meets Gus, a former cancer patient, her life changes. This book is a tragic, yet slightly comedic, love story. I really enjoyed this book, even though it was the first book to make me cry.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: June 1, 2018, 6:53 pm
Image result for naruto vol. 1Naruto Vol. 1 by Masashi Kishimoto
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
The infamous prankster of the Village Hidden in the Leaves, Naruto Uzumaki, has only one goal: to become the greatest ninja that ever was. However, Naruto has to first gain the trust of those around him and not by just giving up pranks. A long time ago, an evil fox spirit ravaged the village and the only way to contain it was to place it inside a vessel who is none other than Naruto. Can Naruto prove to everyone that he is not a threat and finally graduate to become a full-fledged ninja?
Naruto is a series that is extremely popular in the West and for a good reason too. Our young protagonist is just trying to fit in while meeting his lofty goals. While normal teens cannot brag about having a fox spirit inside them, Naruto is a relatable character and I couldn't help but root for him. After graduating, he is put on a team with two other young ninjas: the love-struck Sakura and the brooding Sasuke. When together, these characters balance each other well. This trio is not alone when it comes to how awesome the characters in this manga are. The action and character expressions are great; however, sometimes the backgrounds seem lacking. It is a well-paced story that promises fun and adventures. I would recommend Naruto to fans of tales about growing up, ninjas, and comedy.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 7:29 pm
Image result for devils and realist vol 2Devils and Realist Vol. 2 by Madoka Takadono
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
William Twining's life has turned upside-down ever since demons started following and attacking him. Despite seeing things beyond the imagination, he is still confident that everything can be explained through science. But danger approaches our young protagonist faster and faster. Strong and intelligent demons enter the fray and even the school's church is growing suspicious of the straight-A boy and his new demonic aura. If their suspicions are proved correct, then they may just have to put an end on Twining's life for good.
Oh my! This manga accelerated to "I can't put it down" levels! New characters are introduced and anecdotes allow for older characters to be fleshed out more. The author builds upon their characters through delightful interactions and quirks. My favorite character this time around was the pastor, Ernest Crosby. I won't spoil too much other than his change in nature is amazing and seems to improve this volume. I look forward to checking out the next volume and getting further into the story.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 7:14 pm
Image result for devils and realist vol 1
Devils and Realist Vol. 1 by Madoka Takadono
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
A man of science and the head of his class, William Twining, couldn't be less of a nonbeliever when it comes to the concept of Heaven and Hell. However when a demon called Dantalion steps into his life, his skepticism may be put to the test. Now Twining has to deal with a vast array of problems: paying for his tuition after his family declared bankruptcy, staying in the top of his grade, fending off demons who are convinced that he can choose who will be the next King of Hell, and convincing his friend (and himself) that demons are not real.
This manga is a refreshing read that tackles two of the most popular tropes found in mangas: high school and demons. Right off the bat, the thing that drove me to grab Devils and Realist was the gorgeous cover art and book art. All the characters are beautifully drawn and distinguishable from the next with the proper amount of comedy added to expressions. The action is clear and the book is well-paced, though there is a big of a character overload. I enjoyed all the allusions towards Solomon and his 72 pillars (each of which are a demon) and the other myths of religion. In fact, in the front and back inside covers, one of the characters pleasantly explains the real facts about the romanticized demons. I am hooked on the story and can't wait to see when and if William Twining ever admits to the supernatural around him. Having already read a few other volumes prior to this review, I would suggest this manga to those who enjoy nicely drawn characters, history, or are fans of the popular series, Black Butler.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 6:53 pm
Image result for rokka braves of the six flowers vol 3 coverRokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Vol. 3 by Ishio Yamagata
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
Slowly, yet surely Adlet begins to piece together ways to prove his innocence and gains allies, but not everyone is so easy to believe him. Braves against Braves fight each other, but is this the traitor's plan all along? Adlet is falsely accused for hurting one of the Braves, so time is of the essence. Who is the seventh?
The pacing of this volume was slow. This volume was dedicated to who may have really turned on the barrier surrounding them and putting the puzzle pieces together on who the traitor actually is. Adlet's deductions make sense and are clever, though this information is repeated so many times. I think that the traitor revealed themselves at the end of this manga, but I am still confused. The art is similar to the second volume and the action is now not only confusing, but slow. The next volume is the last, so I have high hopes for the final reveal of the traitor and what will come next.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 6:38 pm
Image result for rokka braves of the six flowers vol 2 cover

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Vol. 2 by Ishio Yamagata
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
Adlet has managed to escape the accusatory Braves with the help of a half-fiend Brave called Fremy. While she heals his wounds, the two talk about their pasts, like how Adlet's best friend and sister were killed by fiends and how Fremy despised her fiend mother for pretending to love her. Adlet's past also reveals how he became a Brave and met the Brave princess, Nashetania. However, Fremy must eventually leave Adlet to avoid being called a traitor, leaving our main character alone. Will he be able to fend for himself against the powers of his comrades?
This volume went by much quicker than the first. Immediately, we learned more backstory about other characters and, while not to the best level, the world became easier to understand. The pacing is decent, but I am still wondering what direction this manga will take. Will it end in solving the mystery? Will it end at them defeating the evil god? I would say that the art is the same as it was in the first volume; however, there appears to be more variations (though minor) in line-thickness which is very much welcomed. The action is occasionally very hard to follow, and more dramatic line work would have been beneficial. This second volume proves to be better than its predecessor.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 6:21 pm
Related imageRokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Vol. 1 by Ishio Yamagata
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
Adlet Meyer is the "strongest man in the world" (according to him) and also one of the legendary Braves - a group of six heroes dedicated to protecting the world from fiends and ultimately defeating the evil god. When Adlet calls to assemble the rest of the Braves, something is amiss. Instead of six heroes, there are seven! Now trapped within a barrier, the Braves must find out who is the traitor among them... and they think Adlet is the seventh! Can he prove his innocence before he is killed?
Picking up this manga, I sensed RPG fantasy themes right away. What was unexpected for me was the mystery that is constantly present in the manga. The batch of suspects is small and the author does not muddle the story with more unnecessary characters, making it much more fun to guess who is the seventh Brave. Despite that, the biggest problem with this manga is the lack of explanation. I admire books that go straight to the action, but this time I felt left out. At the end of the manga, I had a small idea of the world and its problems, but many of my questions were left unanswered. This also affected the characters whose backstories were few and far between. I hope that the next volume addresses these. Art-wise, the style is nice to the eyes and some expressions are quite humorous. The style has a simple, same-thickness line-art and the pages flow nicely to the next. I don't understand the character design much. For example, two characters sport cat and bunny ears and tails, but are addressed as being human. Overall, the start of this manga introduced an intriguing main character and world.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 30, 2018, 6:09 pm
Image result for tales of zestiria a time of guidance vol. 1 cover
Tales of Zestiria: A Time of Guidance Vol. 1 by Shiramine 
Teodora's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
Sorey, a kind-hearted and curious human boy, has lived in isolation with the mystical seraphim for as long as he could remember. After finding another human with his friend, Mikleo, they leave the village and go below to the realm of mankind, and things are not as peaceful. Mankind's negative emotions have spread across the land in the form of Malevolence and only the mythical Shepard can purify the world and return peace. Is Sorey up to the task?
This manga has it all: wonderful characters, intriguing story line, and beautiful art! Based off a hit video game with the same title, the author stayed true to the game. Sorey is a hero that the reader can root for and Mikleo's interactions are hilarious. The other characters are just as memorable and contribute to the story line. The original game is extremely story based and very long, so the author of this manga had decided to quicken the pace of the story. While it did seem to be too quick at times, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything important. The attention to detail and character expressions were stunning as well. I'd recommend this manga to fans of Legend of Zelda, Fire Emblem, or any other fantasy RPG. I look forward to reading the next volume!
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: April 17, 2018, 5:14 pm
Image result for the tracker by tom brown jr
The Tracker by Tom Brown Jr. 
Allee's Rating: ★★★★★

Review:
The Tracker is an outstanding book by Tom Brown Jr. If you are an avid reader and enjoy nature and outdoor survival, this is the book for you! Join the narrator, his best friend Rick, and their teacher as they stalk a wolf and train themselves to live only on their instincts, and what nature provides for them. It's guaranteed that you'll learn a thing or two as you follow the narrator's adventures. It is a fun and engaging read that I highly recommend.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: March 8, 2018, 8:27 pm
Image result for scythe bookScythe by Neal Shusterman
Hellen's Rating: ★★★

Review:
This book has a very interesting concept. It is a dystopian book with people who's job is to kill or "glean" other people. When Citra and Rowan are chosen to become scythes, they are reluctant - but as time goes on they find themselves accepting their chosen roles more and more. However, when their mentor is reported dead, Citra and Rowan find themselves drifting apart and changing their previous views on gleaning. I really enjoyed reading this book!
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: March 8, 2018, 8:21 pm
The red pyramidThe Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Teodora's Rating: ★★★

Review:
Sadie and Carter Kane have never been close, even though they are siblings. Sadie has been living in England ever since their mother died with her grandparents, while Carter travels around with his Egyptologist father. Things are not what they seem, however, when the Kane siblings see their own father encased in a coffin and go to Manhattan with their uncle, Amos. Now, in order to save their father (and the world), Sadie and Kane have to learn ancient magic and deal with gods that are definitely not the stuff of myths. And they only have five days.
I absolutely love Egyptian ancient culture and learned a ton of neat stuff while reading. Riordan has a humorous pop culture style that weaves its way into this first book smoothly. One of my favorite things about The Red Pyramid is the description of the gods. They are colorful characters that cooperate with modern life in their own ways while still preserving the ancient Egyptian life. I will pick up the second book in this series for sure.
Author: Cortland Free Library
Posted: May 5, 2017, 6:19 pm