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Teen Review: Animal Farm

by Courtney N - 0 Comment(s)

Book Review: Animal Farm
By George Orwell
Book Review by Cindy Z

Animal FarmAnimal Farm

A forceful desire to establish a utopian society, the animals on the farm are anticipating the day to dictate against mankind and establish their own form of government. As interesting as it sounds, Orwell establishes Animal Farm to simplify the idea of the Russian Revolution replacing the dictators with pigs on the farm. After centuries of undergoing humanity’s cruelty, the animals have decided to stop acquiescing to mankind and start deteriorating the homes of their enemies. Their idea of socialism soon is established dividing the animals to several classes while the pigs dictate the group. Their tyranny soon develops into a sense of dismissiveness towards others while they themselves maintain their own desires. Animal Farm portrays instinctive cruelty when authority is in place. Their abusive of language soon puts the others into susceptibility and is seen as inferior. Animal Farm significantly demonstrates its relations to the Russian Revolution by the classes the animals fall under. Those who dictate tend to manipulate the working class while they themselves maintain the advantages.

Animal Farm is an intense, captivating novel that glued me to its pages. Every flip created an accumulation of intensity, thrilling the reader’s mind into the perspective of the animals. The world Orwell created was very realistic, understanding the rules of language and those who tyrant society. Highly recommended, I guarantee you wouldn’t want to put it down once you’ve started!

Dreamcasting

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

We did a post a few months back about dreamcasting "The Fault in Our Stars" and the problems of getting IMDB'd -- well that movie is set for release and we find ourselves overloading on Shailene Woodley. I mean, she's great. I actually really like her. But it's getting weird for me to see her mackin' on someone in one movie and then punching them in the face in the next. Or having an entire childhood with somone in one movie -- a close sibling relationship -- and then falling deeply in love with them and making me cry my face off in the next!

I mean... acting, right?

But still. It's weird.

So here's my question -- have you ever seen two actors in a movie and loved them in those roles, only to have them do another movie together that CHANGES EVERYTHING?

There are a lot of actors that continually make movies together -- George Clooney and his Ocean's team? The Brat Pack? The Frat Pack? Let us know what you think in the comments!

YA Lit Pick — December

by Monique - 0 Comment(s)

 

While her parents are on an extended vacation over the summer, Kiri is left to her own devices. She plans to spend time with her best friend/bandmate/crush Lucas making music and competing in battle of the bands. She also plans on practicing the piano since she is quiet accomplished and wants to improve her skills even further. This all changes one fateful day, when she receives a call from a stranger who has her sister's belongings. The problem is that her sister died 5 years ago. It isn't until after she picks up her sister's belongings that Kiri learns how her sister actually died.

This debut novel, draws you into Kiri's life as she learns about family secrets, her relationship with Lucas and about herself. I found myself drawn to this book and wanting to know if Kiri would be ok, if she would sink or swim in the end. Although I throughly enjoyed the novel, I found that I was disappointed in the ending. It left several questions unanswered for me. Don't get me wrong, that is a good thing as it could lead to many possible conclusions. I'm looking forward to reading other material that Hilary T. Smith publishes in the future.

 

 

 

 

Fall into Graphics - Bleak Bizarre & Beautiful continued...

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

For the purposes of this post let's expand "Graphic Novels" to include books that have Great Graphics in them, and are a cabinet of curiosities in and of themselves! Admittedly, these are not technically graphic novels, but are still well worth it!

Let's start with The Curiosities, a collection of stories compiled for the most part from a blog started by 3 YA all-stars: Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff. Its purpose is to challenge the authors with weekly writing exercises outside of their current novels in progress; this great collection of short stories includes many drawings and, fun, hand-written notes by fellow authors commenting (often sarcastically), on the writing of their peers.

Highlights include..... A diagram of Brenna's brain, 5 signs of a Maggie story (angst, cars, sarcasm, kissing, geniuses), drawings of each of their respective work spaces; (Yovanoff's includes just a ghost, a chair and, a monster coffee mug...), and comparative charts of their average story lengths (Tessa's being a ladder to the sky that never ends); complete with snide comments on the side. ;0)-

And if you're squeamish... this book is not quite as creepy as the original Cabinet of Curiosities. Trust me...

Venturing into fairyland; Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser includes sumptuously illustrated pages in full colour making you feel like you are reading through someone's fancy fairy journal.

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman, features black & white engravings by master carver John Lawrence, as well as photos of newspaper clippings and bills giving it an old time, 1800's, steampunky feel. This short book gives you some unknown background into the characters featured in Pullman's His Dark Materials Series (The Golden Compass).

Unnatural Creatures is a great new book of short stories out by Neil Gaiman dealing with curious creatures such as griffins, sunbirds and werewolves. Titles include such curiosities such as "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" & "Ozioma The Wicked".

And speaking of Mr. Gaiman... Guess who's coming to town on February 24th to speak for the Calgary Distinguished Writer's Program?..??? for FREE! Yes, that's right folks - get your (Free!) tickets on-line on October 24th at 12 noon sharp to make sure you don't miss out!

Mr. Gaiman recently presented a speech about the importance of imagination and science fiction to our culture. Check it out here! And remember to enter our All Hallow's Read contest for a chance to win one of his books, plus another scary title to give away.

Based on the acclaimed animated film Amaqqut nunaat = The Country of Wolves is a centuries old Inuit folktale that is beautifully retold by Neil Christopher and hauntingly illustrated by Ramon Perez.

Being so close to Halloween I would feel somewhat amiss if I failed to mention that we also have 2 brand NEW Graphic novels versions of two of Edgar Allen Poe's classics; The Pit and The Pendulum, & The Tell-Tale Heart . Happy Hallowed Reading!

nevermore

Page by Page

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

pages staffYou always knew your Calgary Public Library card got you wicked stuff IN the library (free books, free programs, free homework help, free music, free space...) but just the other day we found out about an awesome deal your card will get you OUTSIDE the library too!

Pages on Kensington offers a 10% discount off books to any teen who shows their Library Card at time of purchase! That's ANY book, with ANY CPL Teen Library Card! We understand that sometimes you just can't wait for 400 people to finish reading the hottest title before you get your hands on it, or that sometimes you love a book so much you just HAVE to have your own copy... when those times hit, head over to Pages!

And if you're confused about the part where we said "ANY Teen Library Card", that's probably because you didn't know we now offer several different styles of cards, not to mention the chance to customize your own from photos or artwork (for a pretty penny, but could you ASK for a better cause?)! The best deal in town just got even better!

 

 

 

The boys from Pages love their ya lit!


YA Lit Pick - September

by Monique - 0 Comment(s)

Cover Art for I am the wallpaper

Looking for that next great read? Check out I am the Wallpaper by Peter Mark Hughes. 13-year-old Floey Parker is tired of blending into the background, living in the shadow of her older and more popular sister Lillian. With her sister getting married and heading off on her month long honeymoon, Floey decides it is time for a change — time to become someone she normally would not be. She is going to get noticed, no matter what it takes. Some things don't go as planned, due to Floey's younger cousins Tish and Richard, who happen to throw a wrench into her plans. It doesn't help that her mom expects her to spend time with them during their stay. Will Floey survive her cousins' antics? Will she get noticed for all the right reasons?


Although the author is male, he has done a great job of portraying a female main character who is discovering herself. There were times where I found myself wishing it would move along, yet cheering her on during her quest in finding her true self.

Cram Your Summer Reading In Now

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/35063991/books-printI love books. I love ALL books. I love ancient books and new books and bad books and blue books. I love classics, adaptations, translations, blatant rip-offs, movie novelizations, and sometimes even pure, awful, fan-fic-y drivel.

There is nothing I love more than getting my hands on a book I've never read before...

But no, wait... that's a lie. Because there IS something I love more than a new book.

An OLD book. A book that I've already loved. A lot. And I don't mean like... "I read that book ages ago and can't remember the plot, I should read it again". I mean like "I-have-read-this-book-so-many-times-the-words-come-easier-to-me-than-breathing". Like "I-am-reading-the-words-in-my-minds-eye-before-my-real-eye-even-gets-to-them-on-the-page". Like "Move over, J.K. Rowling, I've got this ish on lock!"

And yes, as you can imagine, there are some pretty touchy-feely reasons for doing it. Every July 1st (since 1998) I have sat down to the comforting words “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” and this wave of pure nostalgic happiness washes over me… like getting a massive bear hug from an old friend (the twirly kind where your legs dangle in the air) and it’s just… bliss. And it’s true, I DO find something new that I’ve never noticed before each time I read an old favourite. For example, this past July when I read that “the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban”, what I realized for the first time ever was that Fred and George WERE THROWING SNOWBALLS AT VOLDEMORT’S FACE and it’s a miracle that they weren’t Avada Kedavra’d on the spot.



So yes, I have a set list of favourites that I re-read EVERY summer (all 7 HP’s, The Hobbit, The LOTR Trilogy, and 3 different Tamora Pierce Quartets; Allana, Daine and Kel), and have since I was about 11 years old, and I don’t even feel a little bit weird or guilty or childish about it. Here’s why:

It’s good for your Brain. Your brain needs the chance to relax after a whole year of cramming during school. You need a certain amount of vegging-out so that you can start… vegging-IN, come September. But you also can’t just do NOTHING all summer… you’ll get Brain Drain, and start using double negatives in your sentences or something outrageous like that! Best thing to do? Exercise those synaptic connections by picking up a book you know you love: it might not be challenging, per se, but it's working out all the right muscles and keeping the cogs turning. And then you won't have to worry about regressing a grade level or anything horrifying like that.

It's good for your Body. Re-reading comes with some surprising health benefits that are linked to our emotional releases and sense of well-being. It's theraputic. And before anyone asks, no, that is not a picture of me in that first article... EVERYONE loves HP.

It's good for your Soul. Hot on the heels of me saying how much I love ALL books, I also have to speak to the utter power of curriculum-required, school-assigned readings to crush your soul. It's summer! Read what you want! Read WHATEVER you want. If that means forgoing "Ender's Game" (and just waiting for the movie) or postponing the latest George R.R. Martin in favour of picking up Percy Jackson one more time, just do it! Life is too short to read bad books. Enjoy your free time will while you have it!

Also... a lot of really successful people do it. A lot of super smart people testify to the importance of re-reading favourite books. That’s how you know it’s a good idea.

So here's my recommendation: Spend some time this summer with well-loved favourites. You'll thank yourself (and ME!) for it.

Roaring Twenties Reads: The Diviners

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

With the latest film version of The Great Gatsby recently out in theatres the glamour of the prohibition era is all the rage in everything from fashion to music, and of course, books! Over the next little while I’ll showcase some teen reads that are guaranteed to have all the roar of the twenties. So blast some Parov Stelar in the background and enjoy!

Lithe diviners book coverbba Bray's The Diviners is a fast-paced, supernatural thriller set in New York in the twenties. We follow sassy Evie O’Neill, who’s been sent to live with her Uncle Will after her unusual powers upset people in her hometown. While Evie is in New York she meets up with her bookish, socially awkward friend Mabel and makes friends with a flapper named Theta, a Ziegfeld girl with a troubled past. We also meet Sam, a fast-talking thief, Jericho, Uncle Will’s quiet, mysterious assistant, and Memphis, a numbers runner.

Evie’s Uncle Will runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, affectionately called The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies by the locals. Known as a specialist in all things occult, Uncle Will gets called in to assist the police with a string of murders that have something strangely supernatural about them. Evie and her new friends get drawn into helping solve the murders, but the investigation will lead them down a dangerous and horrifying path.

Libba Bray does a terrific job of balancing scenes of horror, with lighter, more comedic moments. This book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart: you might want to plug in a nightlight if you plan on reading some of it just before bed! Evie’s witty quips are sure to charm and entertain any reader though, and the descriptions in this book create a rich, at times macabre, setting for the action and believe me, the action in this book hardly ever slows! This book is a guaranteed page turner sure to satisfy those who love everything to do with the prohibition era, or for those who really enjoy all things occult.

The Fault in OUR Stars

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

The other day I was flipping through the upcoming flicks on IMDb and checking out some of the big YA titles that have been on my watchlist: “What’s the latest with the new Percy Jackson? The buzz on “Mortal Instruments”? Oh look they’re making a 1D Concert Tour Movie…” when I stumbled across a project that is still ages away, but very near to my heart.

It BLOWS MY MIND that each and every single one of John Green’s books hasn’t been made into a movie yet. They are all brilliant, and they would all translate well to film. And since making YA books into movies is like, soooooo hot right now, it really does confuse me! At any rate, at least ONE of his titles has been optioned -- the beautiful, tragic, hilarious, “The Fault in Our Stars” (which, if you haven’t read yet… stop reading THIS and go pick up THAT!!!)

So I’m trolling around IMDb when I see the cast list for TFIOS… and immediately fangirl out and start squee-ing with the revelation of each new actor cast! I call over a couple of co-workers and we’re all freaking out. “Of COURSE they cast Chloe Grace-Moretz as Hazel, she’s in everything right now…” “Omigod, they got PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN to play Van Houten?!?!?!?!?” “Oooooh Jessica Chastain would TOTALLY make a good Lidewij…” and EVERY character that comes up, from Augustus, to his parents, to the best friends, is just bang-on PERFECT. And we’re all sitting there marveling at how superb this movie is going to be, when someone looks just a little bit closer at the list and realizes…

We’ve been looking at a fan-made Dream Cast the whole time.

We just got IMDb’d. Hard.

Turns out, they haven’t really even STARTED casting the movie yet. Shailene Woodley got Hazel-Grace, and some kid named Ansel Elgort is going to be Augustus… but there’s no one outside of that.

So here’s my question: Have you ever ‘been had’ by an IMDb fan cast, thinking it was official? And… If you could Dream Cast “The Fault in the Stars”, who would you put in there!?!?!

YAC Review: The Boyfriend App

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

yac review banner

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise - Review by Vince

Audrey McCarthy is the troubled heroine of The Boyfriend App, she is a teenage girl faced with typical problems: boy trouble, ex-best friend issues and worrying about getting into an affordable college. Luckily for her she has a chance of fixing the latter problem by entering an app designing contest. “Hello, World. Hello, Contest. Hello, College Scholarship. Hello, Boys. Here comes Audrey McCarthy. Trog. Hacker. Sex object. Inventor of the Boyfriend App.”

From a synopsis like that one would expect this novel to be a teen romance filled with drama and light comedy, and that is exactly what the novel delivers… in Part One anyway. Part One of the novel is decent, the characters seem rather static but they are characterized well. Audrey is a tragic but interesting protagonist because of her thoughts and feelings; she gets the support needed from her friends and family despite her personal shortcomings. Her antagonists are pretty boring since they behave so stereotypically, especially Blake, the rich and popular ex-BFF who treats Audrey as a stranger yet ceaselessly torments her whenever the opportunity arises. Audrey’s friends are likeable, but it feels like they are just crutches for Audrey and lack their own purpose.

As for the plot it played out well for the first part of the novel. Audrey struggled but eventually reached the threshold for success with her app. Her app became popular and it seemed like she had a really good chance of winning the contest, until a very expected “glitch in the system” strikes and her popularity topples like a house of cards. Part One was well written, especially her process of programming the app. The coding and the explanations were simple enough for readers to understand without being condescending to anyone who would not know about coding. The way Part One ended invites curiosity for what would happen in Part Two, but that’s where the story began to fall apart. While Part One had a realistic story and struggles, Part Two escalated to corporate conspiracies and neurological manipulation! I was awestruck at how quickly Part Two leaped away from the events of Part One and laughed at how absurd the later chapters had become!

With respect to style, the writing appeals to a youthful demographic since it is loaded with pop culture references. The narration is fast paced and has a few time skips, but dialogue between the characters is what carries the novel forward. One of my pet peeves with the writing is constant references to Google and Twitter, but tacky renaming of several real life products (e.g. iPhone/buyPhone, iTunes/buyJams, Facebook/PUBLIC PARTY). It’s a very annoying inconsistency.

Overall, The Boyfriend App is a nice little teen romance that starts off nice and realistic, but loses its original scope when the story escalates to imaginative and bizarre levels. Rating: 3.5/5.

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