Book Reviews

CORTLAND FREE LIBRARY TEENS


Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Gabbie's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I stumbled upon this book in the library and was interested after reading the inside cover. I am so glad I picked up this book. This novel portrays the life of Allyson, a girl who has never questioned who she is and her goals in life. By chance, Allyson meets the Dutch actor, Willem, who helps her realize life is more than  plans and time. Life is full of accidents. After one day together Allyson goes through a change, and she spends a year trying to discover who she wants to be. I am in love with this novel, and am impatiently waiting for the sequel.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:53 pm

Can't Get There From Here by Todd Strasser
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Everyone wonders where they'll be in 10 years, or after their high school graduation, or after college; but that is not what concerns the "asphalt tribe" from this novel. Maybe, a homeless teen on the streets of NYC, struggles with envisioning her future. She lives in the moment, with adults that lie, cruel critics, and the struggle to survive without a home. When her world beings to crumble before her eyes, she realizes that not everyone is as they seem. She is introduced to a slew of people who show her that you have to care about yourself is you want others to care about you. Not everyone is cruel, and you can always get there from here if you choose to change. Great read.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:42 pm

Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vane Velde
Gabbie's rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I saw this book when doing an online search of young adult novels, and was intrigued by the storyline. Unfortunately, upon getting the book I discovered there is little plot or substance. I wish the book spanned over a greater period of time and had more thorough character development. With that being said, I did find this book original and intriguing. It pushes the reader to question, "How would you be remembered?"
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:34 pm

How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Mandy knows what it feels like to have no one to care for, or to care about her. So when she gets pregnant, she wants her child to live a better life than she has. As a result, her world collides with Robin MacSweeney - a recently widowed woman who wants to fulfill her and her husband's dream of adoption. Robin's daughter, Jill, however is skeptical about the whole affair. However, when Mandy's past comes back to haunt her, these very different girls join forces. A great read, a touching and well-written piece.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:30 pm

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ella is unlike other girls, while others worry about riches and royalty, Ella must worry about cruel people discovering her curse and using it to exploit her. The gift of obedience seemed as if it would be a harmless blessing, but when Ella is faced with the reality that she will put those she loves in danger, she must deny herself to do what is right. A fun book to read, especially if you enjoy romance and fairy tales.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:19 pm

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Gabbie's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow! Often when I read books I find that sequels cannot equal their predecessors in action, character development, and plot. I was refreshed by this novel as it continues the story of Katniss. Join Katniss and Peta as they re-enter the arena. The games - as these two come to discover - do not end when you step out of the ring. This is my favorite of these books and I couldn't read it fast enough. A must read.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:13 pm

 
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Suzanne Collins continues to impress me by her books. I began this novel immediately after Catching Fire. This book is the conclusion of the life of "the girl on fire." Follow Katniss as she discovers who she is, and who she must be in order to save those she loves. This book illustrates the sacrifice and determination it takes to become the "mockingjay." I reread the last page 5 times. An epic finale to a marvelous trilogy.
Author: Betsy
Posted: October 24, 2013, 7:08 pm
The Hunger Games

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Katniss has become the mother in her home after her Father died in a mining accident. Her mother became severely depressed, and Katniss realized she had to take care of her family. Which included volunteering to participate in the annual Hunger Games to save her sister. But could a boy jeopardize her return home and win the Hunger Games? I found this book intriguing and compelling. I enjoy the way it has been written and its theme of how far someone will go to save the ones they love. I only wish the characters were more further developed.
Author: Betsy
Posted: July 12, 2013, 8:32 pm
Just another hero

Just Another Hero by Sharon M. Draper
Gabbie's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

High school is different for every teenager. Some love school, while others feel trapped and insecure. This book is written in the perspective of two high schoolers who lead very different lives. The third-person point of view helps to enrich this story and helps readers understand teenage problems. Arielle, the initial character of this book, struggles from a constant disconnect from her stepfather. Kofi, a friend of Arielle, is struggling to be able to have the future he so desires. Read into the lives of these two teenagers and witness how relationships are created and strength is tested when these characters have "to be a hero."
Author: Betsy
Posted: July 12, 2013, 8:21 pm
Prisoner B-3087  


 Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
 Gabbie's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Holocaust was a horrific time for the entire world. But it was most horrific to those who were subject to Hitler and his followers. This novel is based off of the true story of Jack Gruen and how he learned to survive. He was shuttled from concentration camps, embarked on death marches, nearly starved to death, and lost connection with his entire family. A must read.
Author: Betsy
Posted: July 12, 2013, 8:09 pm

Hunger

Hunger by Michael Grant
Matt's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Michael Grant, one of my favorite YA authors, does not disappoint in the sequel to Gone.  The second book in the six book series follows up on the plot of the previous book, where the young Sam struggles to lead the dystopic town of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) against his malevolent brother Caine.  This battle begins to grow in scale as the town faces a new, terrifying threat: the darkness.  This novel captures the essence of what sets Michael Grant apart from other writers, boasting easy to relate to struggles and life-like characters to hook anyone from the casual reader to the most avid Michael Grant fans.
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 30, 2013, 5:25 pm

After : nineteen stories of apocalypse and dystopia

After: Nineteen stories of apocalypse and dystopia edited by Ellen Datlow
Matt's rating:  3 out of 5 stars

As with all short story compilations, this book had its advantages.  Being a fan of dystopia, this book caught my eye immediately.  A set of short stories telling of dark new futures, some strikingly possible.  Not all 19 tales were good, resulting in a 3 out of 5 stars, but that is the beauty of these books.  If one story is bad, you just go to the next one!  A good, appropriate set of stories that will appeal to the darker minds and dystopian nuts.


Author: Betsy
Posted: May 30, 2013, 5:19 pm
BZRK BZRK by Michael Grant
Matt's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The best of Michael Grant. Period.  More than realistic characters and amazing plot concepts.  This novel describes a world in a world -- the nano.  A science development allows for biots -- nanscopic creatures that humans control telepathically -- to pioneer the newest war.  Noah Cotton and Sadie McLure are thrust into this battle as BSRK, a group of "twitchers" bent on preserving free will, take on the AFGC, a following of those who wish to accelerate human evolution and unify the human mind into one.  Worth every star I gave it.  You will not regret picking up this masterpiece!
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 30, 2013, 5:14 pm


A Seperate Peace by John Knowles
Iva's rating: 2 out of 5 stars

A story of two friends living in the midst of WWII, A Seperate Peace crafts a tale of the power jealousy has over all of us.  Characterizing this power, Knowles concocts Gene Forrester, a paranoid and annoying 16-year-old who is envious of his athletic and adventure-loving roommate, Finny.  Gene, acting in jealousy, commits a horrible act against his so-call best friend and then tries to make up for it by later being overly nice to Finny.  Yet, Finny is not lovable either.  His overly perfect charaacther lacks in the intelligence department and he only realizes his "best friend's" true nature on his death bed.  Nevertheless, the story is not so awful as to deserve one star -- if the sickening characters can be tolerated, then the theme of jealous as well as other minor themes such as war can be appreciated as being established in an interesting way.

*NOTE:  No matter what the back cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower says, no feasible connection can be seen between these two books.  So, if as a fan of Perk's you wanted to read this book, don't waste your time.
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 24, 2013, 4:04 pm

Never fall down
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Gabbie's rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is absolutely amazing! Before reading this book I was unaware of the events that occurred in Cambodia.  I found this book intriguing and it helped me to realize what awful events others face outside of the United States.  This book especially standts out in my mind because it is written with such a colorful syntax.  The most spectacular detail about this book is taht it's based on the true experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond.  If you love history and stories of overcoming difficulties, you will LOVE this book.  Two thumbs up!!

Author: Betsy
Posted: May 24, 2013, 3:41 pm

Burn for burn

Burn for Burn by Jennie Han and Siobhan Vivian
Gabbie's rating: 3 out 5

What would you be willing to do to get back at someone who's done you wrong?  Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian address this question in this book.  The story follows the life of three high school teens as they use their experiences to come together to seek revenge on the people who have crossed them.  But when the truth comes out they begin to question their decisions and whether or not their actions are justified.  I liked this story, although I did not completely enjoy all the characters and the "magic" compononent of this book.  All in all, not bad.  Worth reading if you like revenge and seeking justice.
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

Little brotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow
Brandon's rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Little Brother is about a teenager named Marcus caught in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.  San Francisco has been converted into a completely military controlled city.  Marcus is arrested, but then released back into the city, but no one will believe his story and his best friend is still imprisoned.  Now it's up to Marcus to challenge and bring down the Department of Homeland Security.



I like books that make you think and this is one of them.  In Little Brother, San Francisco loses its rights that belongs to every American state, city, and person.  This book shows that when those are taken away there isn't much to look forward to.  After reading this book, I can say that I have a new appreciation for our freedoms in our country.  This book has some cool elements that will be interesting for any teen interested in dystopia, sci-fi, or computers.  Marcus is a geeky fun guy that will be hard not to keep reading about. This book deserves 5 stars!

Author: Betsy
Posted: May 10, 2013, 6:33 pm
Shadow on the mountain Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus
Tami's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Based on a true story, Shadow on the Mountain is the exciting chronicle of a teenager named Espen who quickly gets swept into the Norwegian resistance movement after Nazi Germany invades in April 1940, overthrowing the neutral king and occupying the country.  Preus masterfully crafts the character of Espen and his friends, drawing comparisons between the boys while later showing how they could be so different.  Espen begins his adventure delivering underground newspapers but soon begins to gain prominence in the resistance movement while his best friend Kjell and soccer captain Aksel rise in the ranks of the Nazi Gestapo.  During the five years of German occupation, Espen matures and soon realizes the great responsibility he bears in the resistance movement until he must forgo his old life to save those he loves.  This book is an excellent read, even for those who would not typically read historical fiction, and the book progresses at a lightning pace.  It's very easy to get engrossed in this book due to the ease of relating with the characters and the intriguing story line.  Definitely worth a shot!

Author: Betsy
Posted: May 10, 2013, 6:24 pm
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Gabriella's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is far from your stereotypical romance.  Along for the Ride follows the life of Auden -- a girl who has been unable to experience a normal childhood -- during a summer with her father, stepsister, and stepmother, Helen.  This book talks about trust, acceptance, and coping with our everyday struggles.  Dessen crafts a story of friendship and romance, and looking beyond a person's exterior.  I love the depth of this book and how Auden discovers how to be the child she never could be.  Join Auden on her quest in this fun novel.
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 1, 2013, 2:39 pm

Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Gabriella's rating: 4 out 5 stars

This book follows the life of a boy named Butter, an obese high school student who finds himself eating lunch alone daily and struggling to maintain his relationship with his father.  One day he is so upset with his life he feels death is the only option. 
This story tugs at the heartstrings and addresses what it's like to be obese in a judgmental world.  I really enjoyed reading this novel!
Author: Betsy
Posted: May 1, 2013, 2:35 pm
Before I DieBefore I Die by Jenny Downham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life isn't fair. Especially for 16yr. old Tessa Scott who has been living the last 4 years of her life fighting a losing battle against cancer. Now she has chosen to stop treatments to prolong her life. Before she dies she has a list of things she wants to accomplish that keeps growing and growing. Ranging from simple to illegal, Tess' list makes for a compelling story. I can't lie though, if you don't want to cry then don't read this book. She is a young girl with a terminal illness, enough said. In spite of my tears I did enjoy this book alot.



Author: Betsy
Posted: October 31, 2012, 2:09 pm
Virals (Virals #1)Virals by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teenager Tony Brennan is just getting used to living with the father she never knew on a secluded island of the coast of South Carolina. Luckily she has a loyal group of friends she spends her time with. When Tony discovers an undercover experiment involving a furry little wolf-dog pup, she convinces her friends to help her break the pup out of captivity. In doing so the group is exposed to an experimental version of the parvovirus which seems to heighten the friends' senses to that of a wild canine. If that isn't intriguing enough, the friends discover a skeleton and use their new "powers" to help solve a decades old murder case.

With murder and supernatural powers, Kathy Reichs has provided a high-paced adventure mystery that is sure to keep your interest.

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Author: Betsy
Posted: October 31, 2012, 2:08 pm
Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)Abandon by Meg Cabot
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a fan. This is the story of Pierce, a teenage girl who after falling in her pool experiences death and escapes the "Underworld". Jon, the keeper of the "Underworld" fell in love with Pierce in the brief time she was dead and now follows her around in the living world to protect her. There is mystery and love, and even a twist at the end but I just couldn't wrap my head around the concept. Not to mention it was hard to believe Jon and Pierce were actually in love with each other. However, if you like paranormal fiction and are a fan of Meg Cabot's then you might enjoy this book.

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Author: Betsy
Posted: May 7, 2012, 10:11 pm
Paper Covers RockPaper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book kept me up late at night reading and woke me up early in the morning to find out what happened. After finishing the book I'm still not sure what the truth is. The secrets were too big. Was Thomas murdered?



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Author: Betsy
Posted: May 3, 2012, 10:45 pm
The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My author crush does not disappoint. I laughed and I cried and learn something along the way. The story didn't even have to be about two sick teenagers. Their feelings were true to life for anyone.



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Author: Betsy
Posted: May 3, 2012, 10:36 pm