Library Ninja: Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Katie B....Belzhar

Reading Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar was very refreshing; the original struggles of the very real characters and the unique twists made for a very pleasing read that I’ll definitely be re-visiting.

Jam’s amazing british boyfriend, Reeve, is gone, and there’s nothing she can do about it, or the paralyzing depression that's taking control of her life. There’s also nothing she wants to do about it, but her worried family members are thinking otherwise, and ship her off to the Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school made specifically to help heal “emotionally fragile” teens. Jam doesn’t want to be there, and she certainly doesn’t want to be placed in an exclusive english class that’s studying the depressing works of Sylvia Plath. But Jam and the four other troubled teens of Special Topics English soon discover that the journals that were intended to document their problems have more to them than meets the eye. The world of Belzhar gives the kids a way to turn back the clock and re-live the lives they once had. But why have they been given this chance? And at what cost?

Stop what you’re doing. Sprint to the library. Check this book out. 

Belzhar presents a story that will keep you guessing until the end, rooting for every character, and hoping for their triumph. Relatable, entertaining, and completely unique, Belzhar is definitely a read to check out.

Other books you may enjoy:

12/12/2014 Add a Comment Share this:

Teen Review by Katie... Uncaged

What do you do if you’re on the run in the sketchy part of Hollywood with only $58, some camping gear, and street smarts? If you’re Shay Remby, you kick butt, take names, and start taking down the country’s most corrupt medical business—with your awesome butt-kicking and name-taking friends.

Odin Remby is in hot water after his group of animal activists’ raid on a lab goes wrong and leaves a high-schooler in the hospital and a very, very angry corporation with a reason to track him down to catch him—he’s swiped some suspicious files that could possibly undo their entire operation. 

Running away from his home seems like the best thing to do to escape a dangerous company that isn’t afraid to break laws to save face and get what they want.When Odin disappears without a trace or an explanation, his protective sister Shay doesn’t think twice before piecing together the few clues he left behind to try and save him from whatever danger he’s in—and soon finds herself in Hollywood, with no idea what she’s up against.

What’s the best thing about John Sanford’s and Michele Cook’s Uncaged? The engaging action? The fantastic settings? The turns and twists that you won’t see coming? No, no, and no again; the thing that really makes Uncaged memorable is it’s amazing characters. As soon as Shay hits Hollywood, she meets some very interesting, and very diverse people; they’re the reason that the story is so memorable and fun.

Bored? You won't be if you check out Uncaged; the first fast paced novel in the Singular Menace saga. You’ll definitely enjoy it and be eagerly anticipating the next book in Shay’s story.

Other books you may enjoy:

12/7/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Teen Reviews

Podcasting for Teens!

Podcasting is a great tool for teens and those that feel that their voices aren’t being heard, to stop waiting until someone gives them that chance and go out their to create their own media. But first, you must be thinking what’s a podcast?! 

Podcasting is a prerecorded audio program that can either be streamed online, or downloaded and sent to an mp3-enabled device. Podcasting allows for you to develop your writing, research, speech, and audio-editing skills all in one project!

The best part about podcasting is that you can make it about whatever you want, in fact, that’s the driving force behind many of the most popular podcasts today; the desire to not “fit in” and to create and deliver content to narrow groups of people and interests. Are you the otaku-iest otaku there is? Make a podcast reviewing and recapping your favorite anime and manga, interview others that are as passionate about Japanese culture as you are, and visit local anime conventions and interview guests and attendants on how they feel about the panels and what coming up in the world of anime.

Love bad movies (I do!), grab a group of friends, pop a few cans of soda and rip into the worst films you can find! Maybe you spend your days and nights playing Minecraft—no problem! Whip up a podcast, and companion YouTube channel reviewing your favorite mods and servers.

With all that said, here are my Top Three podcasts to give you some inspiration on what you could do with podcasting:

1.     Welcome to Nightvale

Imagine your everyday local radio news show done in a town that’s a cross between H.P. Lovecraft, Edger Allen Poe, and a Stephen King novel.

That’s Welcome to Nightvale! It’s an odd blend of the creepy and macabre, humor, and sleepy morning news that just works so well together! Visit iTunes and listen to the pilot episode!                                                 

**And Remember Do Not Approach The Dog Park!**

2.     Stuff You Should Know (By

Have you ever been curious on the orgins of Play-Doh, sushi, tattoos, the Yakuya (Japanese mafia) or skateboarding? Then the 600+ episode podcast Stuff You Should Know, is right up your alley. Twice a week, tune-in and listen as hosts Charles Bryant and Josh Clark cover the history and application of the topic for that day.

Whether it’s finding out how the movie rating system works, to discussing the ethical implications of the death penalty, Charles and Josh will keep you entertained and informed during the whole ride.  

3.     Library of Games

  Based in the Chicago Public Library’s You Media teen space (think Chicago-style version of the Studio) this podcast is created, produced, and hosted by local teens with a passion for video games, gaming news and journalism, and an interest in podcasting, blogging, and video production.

It runs long, but if you really have a desire in gaming and want to look at other teens for inspiration on creating your own gaming content, look no further than Library of Games! Check out their website here. Teens also write and upload articles, reviews, YouTube videos, and designs for the blog!

During the month of October, the APL will be doing it’s own podcasting workshops, come on by and learn how to do a podcast of a different theme each week! We’ve switched some things around, but this week we’re doing an interview-based podcast. Next week, we will be creating music reviews! 

Written by Amina D., YTC Intern

10/20/2014 Add a Comment Share this:

Teen Review by Katie... Hanging By A Thread

Welcome to Winston, California, where you can find sun, sand, fireworks, and annual murders. Wait, what?

Clare Knight and her mother are just settling in to their new life in Winston, a small town where Clare’s mother grew up, and where her eccentric Nana lives. Although Clare has heard of the infamous 4th of July disappearances that have occurred the last two years, she had no connection to them until she discovers that her childhood friend, Rachel, had something to do with the murders that Clare hasn’t been told about. Clare, an amateur seamstress who salvages old items to create new ones also stumbles upon a raggedy jean jacket that belonged to Amanda, the victim of the second murder. How does Clare know? She’s got a secret—when she touches clothes, she can see into the pasts of their owners, especially if an injustice has been done. Murder is a big injustice, but will Clare be able to use her superpower to solve the mystery and keep her friends safe before the killer strikes again?

Hanging by a Thread was definitely a unique read: a typical small town murder with superpowers involved? Count me in! I was satisfied by the ending and was never bored by the mystery and plot. I was disappointed, however, by Clare herself. She was fresh and interesting, but also seemed extremely petty at certain points. The desire to have a boyfriend and grow up quickly sometimes overpowers her common sense. Luckily, good character development cleans up that mess and overall, the book was interesting and entertaining: a good mystery read for the summer.

Other books you may enjoy by Sophie Littlefield

6/16/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Teen Reviews

Share Your Musical Passion!

Last week at the Studio, we recorded our thoughts on some of our favorite songs. We each had different tastes, ranging from Frozen's "Let It Go" to J Moss's "Good & Bad". What we had in common, though, was an excitement to share our passion for these great songs!

We used the free software, Audacity, to record and add music clips to our reviews. Listen in on these two podcasts from the program! Then leave a comment on your favorite song!


A review of Bastille's "Pompeii." Get ready to have the chorus stuck in your head!

Nugget the DJ

"Nugget" also visited the Studio to give us the scoop on his latest original electronic music.

4/4/2014 1 Comment - Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Music, Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Christopher K... The Adoration Of Jenna Fox

Jenna Fox was only sixteen when she got into the car accident that changed her whole life. She had just woken up wondering, wondering what happened just before all of this. The truth unfolds in this wonderful book by Mary Pearson! Jenna goes through a life of questions,answers, and thoughts of what was wrong. Suddenly she found out! I liked this book because it was full of suspense and mystery, and I could not put it down for the life of me! I liked following Jenna's life, and was wondering exactly with the book one what happened to Jenna in the first place and two why are the parents not worried? I would suggest this to everyone I knew no matter what genre they enjoy, or despise! You will fall in love with this book as you start getting into it, and reading!

My favorite character was Lily because she helped Jenna through all of the questions, and other things while she was going through all of her life in these few weeks. She was truly an inspiration to Jenna before the accident, and shortly after woke up from coma. This book was truly heart wrenching, and would recommend it to everyone! I have no dislike of characters in this book because they all help Jenna with her worries, and life as she goes through the new one! This is definitely a goodread! Pick it up at your local library soon!

Other books in the series

Other books you may enjoy

4/4/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Katie... Animal Farm

Yes, I know, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is on your least-favorite English teacher’s list of “Books That I Won’t Make You Read, But You Need to Read or You Will Fail English Forever”. It’s mashed in with all of those thick, dusty classics… but (trust me on this), Animal Farm is really a timeless look on rebellions against tyrants and the flaws in powerful positions. Sound like any dystopian novels you’ve been checking into lately?

Animals running their own farm—ridiculous! Or, maybe not. Farmer Jones—the owner of the Manor Farm—spends his time either stumbling around drunk or using a cruel whip against his mistreated farm animals. Little does he know that the animals have formed an alliance under the guidance of Old Major, a prize boar who dreams of the future days when animals will chase the humans out of England and live in everlasting peace together. The moved creatures talk of rebellions and how they will never live like the tyrannical men who beat them; they hope to keep the spark of revolution alive to pass it onto the next generations, and that maybe, someday, there will be an uprising. The animal rebellion comes sooner than then our heroes assume—when opportunity arises, they take it: Jones is chased out and Manor Farm becomes Animal Farm. Everything is looking up, but soon the newly-arisen leaders of Animal Farm develop an addiction to power. Will new tyrants rise? Will the animals stand strong against the hardships they face? Will Old Major’s dream be realized? I’m not going to tell you; go read it yourself!

Other books you may enjoy

3/27/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Christopher... Fablehaven

This book was absolutely the best fantasy book I have read!

Brandon Mull is a wonderful author, and I hope to read more of his books, as this one made me satisfied with his work! I would recommend it to anyone I know!

The thing that really struck my interest was the cover and synopsis of this particular book! This book is about hidden refuge called Fablehaven where their were creatures that you saw, but really did not see, and you will see why when you read this wonderful book! Anyways, Kendra and her brother Seth go to Fablehaven to stay with their grandpa. Alot of ad venture in this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Fantasy, mythical creatures, and adventure!

I really like Fablehaven because it has a wonderful story plot, and adventures through out this wild book! My favorite character is Seth because he can be mischievous at times, and rebellious to the rules, and such. My least favorite character is Muriel because she is trying to make their visit to their grandpas miserable as can be! I hope you give this book a chance as it is really a wonderful book!

Other books in the series

Other books you may enjoy

3/14/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Katie... The Last Free Cat

Today’s novels have images of girls wielding bows, boys brandishing guns, sci-fi tech and plots to overthrow the government racing through our brains at the mention of the words dystopian society. Get ready for a twist: In The Last Free Cat, Jon Blake offers a fresh, new look on the idea of an over-controlling society and what freedom is worth.

The reasons Jade and her mother obediently follow their government’s laws are built around logical explanations: all of the “free” cats (one’s not born and bred by a major company and bought for millions of dollars by rich members of the society) carry a deadly virus that could kill a human in a blink. If the government hadn’t stepped in and created the laws that outlawed cats, more than half of the population would be dead by the cat flu. Right?

Maybe not. Jade has always thought so until Feela, a beautiful calico, wanders into her yard and her life is flipped upside down. A couple of crazy twists and action scenes later, Jade is on the run with Feela and a schoolmate, Kris, who is strangely knowledgeable about cats. As Jade fights for her cat’s freedom, the wool is slowly pulled out from over her eyes and she begins to understand that what she sees is not necessarily the whole truth, and the truth she finds is worth fighting for.

Although I felt that some of the characters were frustrating (but where would we be without frustrating characters?), The Last Free Cat is a short, sweet read that will have your brain moving long after you’ve reached the last period.

Other books you may enjoy

2/20/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Teen Reviews

Teen Review by Melissa S... In Too Deep

When I first picked up this book by Coert Voorhees at a giveaway my book club had last year, I must admit the cover is what pulled me in. The skull made of sand and the scuba diver on the front got me to wonder what such a book could be about. I read the synopsis, and it seemed interesting enough, so I took it. And I wasn't disappointed upon reading it.

Once you open the book to the front page, you dive into the life of Annie Fleet, master scuba diver and total history nerd. Her dad being a teacher doesn't help her status either. When you add the fact her crush thinks her as "adorable" over "desirable", Annie's life looks as if it's going to hit it's lowest soon. So, it's easy enough to see why she would want to change it.

When Annie is to take a community service trip to Mexico, this may be her chance to prove her crush, Josh, and everyone else wrong about her. Things start to look up for Annie. Except for one thing: her teacher's alternate agenda. Suddenly, Annie is pulled into a world of pitch-black waters, horrible betrayals, and lives at stake as this teen helps search for one of the world's most priceless possessions: the Golden Jaguar. In deeper danger than she had ever thought possible, can Annie find the Golden Jaguar, get the boy, and live to tell the tale? Find out in this wondrous read, In Too Deep by Coert Voorhees.

Other books by Coert Voorhees:

Other books you may enjoy:

2/20/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Teen Reviews