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New Review by Geralyn Lovell

"Revolution" by Jennifer Donnelly

This book is about a young misguided girl from New York City recovering from the recent death of her beloved younger brother. She is on the brink of suicide when her father whisks her off to Paris, France. Along the way, she unearths a long forgotten story by reading the journal of a girl growing up during the french revolution--a girl with an interesting tie to the royal family. This book truly has it all, mystery, romance, history, music and even time-travel! It was amazing! I literally could not put it down, reading into all hours of the night! Jennifer Donnelly has a true gift for winding an intriguing story that will touch your heart with an adventure in the catacombs of paris that will send chills up and down your spine!

Comment Winners - TSP 2010

Best Book Comment - Jasmyne Johnson

The Demon Ororon by Hakase Mizuki

Androgynous main characters, romance, action, the merging of two completely different worlds - who could ask for more? The omnibus version allows you to sit back and never stop as the fluffy tale of a young girl sours into tough decisions, and oh did I mention she falls for a demon and there's even speculations that she's god?
It's all that and a bag of chips!

Best Movie Comment - Amelia Cooper

Doctor Who (TV series)

The doctor is an amazing man - or, series of men. They're the kind of people who make you want to suckle on their brain to gain their powers. Unfortunately, you would need their powers already to proceed ... so instead you watch - religiously - from the glorious First and Second Doctors, to the cheeky Fourth Doctor, to the ... what? What do you mean 'that's all the library has'? Oh, I suppose that was a fairly concise statement. Well,

uh,

this is awkward.

Best Music Comment - Karina Antonsen

Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida

Aida is a new twist to a lot of different stories. I think it mostly resembles West Side Story. The music is very unique. It has a modern beat mixed with the sounds of Egypt, where the story takes place. I definitely love this soundtrack and I recommend it.

 

Review by Jasper Rodgers

Being by Kevin Brooks

I've read several books by Kevin Brooks including Candy, Martyn Pig and others, but by far Being is one ofthe more interesting books he has written. Though I've never come to a conclusion if I am a fan of his writing style.
The book itself is about a young boy named Robert Smith, not to be confused with Robert Smith from The Cure. The young boy goes to the hospital for an examination and it all goes wrong and for some reason he ends up attacking the doctor, running away and for reasons I won't mention ends up in Spain with a girl with two fake names.
Overall I do suggest that you should read the books and it will make you want to run away and make a fake name and go to Spain, but don't kill anyone!

 

Reviews by Courtney Enright

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is on ever list of classical literature in existence. It is one of those books that thousands of American high school and college students trudge through every year. I find the book entertaining, but fail to see why it receives such wide spread claim and notoriety. At best the book is an emotionally moving tale, at worst a cheesy story with very unrealistic plot. In all bluntness, Fitzgerald's story is bland, being that it is neither particularly moving nor particularly horrible, however if a story is to be measured by the lesson it teaches I give this novel a big fat zero.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury is perhaps one of the most complex books accessible to the average individual. If one is embarking into an adventure with Faulkner the most important aspect is of course to bring one's patience. Faulkner is lauded by literary professors as being the master of the run on sentence a reputation he lives up to. (One of his sentences has over four hundred words and no periods (yes I counted).) The Sound and the Fury is about the tragic story of the Compson family. The family is in a severe decline from their former glory boasting generals, mayors, and even lords in there colorful history. The story is set in the 1920s. Now here is where the story gets more complicated it is written in four sections that describe four different family members' perspectives. The first section is Benjy Benjy is mentally retarded and simultaneously blends past with present, leaving the reader highly disoriented. The second section is written by Quentin his section is twenty-three years in the past from all the other sections - on the day he kills himself. The third section is written by Jason (sibling of Quentin and Jason) and he is particularly vindictive, caring for no one other than himself. Dilsy, the family's black servant, writes the final section. All in all, the story is complex delving into more than the decline of just the Compson family but really emphasizing the quest for honor of the entire South post Civil War. Faulkner really emphasizing how broken the South feels, simply put permeated by defeat, after the Civil War, and draws attention to the decline of what was once arguably one of the most distinct cultures of America.

Reviews by Courtney Enright

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Perhaps one of the most famous pieces of Harlem Renaissance writing, Hurston uses a simple plot line to speak of complex issues. She focuses on the plight of African-Americans, and Women's Rights. Her story takes place in Edenville, a make believe community in the south completely formed of African-Americans. The story is loosely related to Hurston's childhood, but despite that seems to lack some of the essential elements to make a good piece of fiction seem real. The plot line is marginal, taking a raised free girl through the course of her life and three different husbands and love situations; ultimately a tragic tale of the classic story of growing up. I would not recommend this novel if you like history to be accurately portrayed, because Hurston deviates more into the realm of fiction than to be a true historical novel. However, if the historical in discrepancies do not faze you the tale is classic, with a unique spin and speaks to import issues. While not a favorite of mine, the reading was pleasant.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

The book is exactly what the title implies, a textbook to more effectively analyzing literature. However, don't let that faze you, while still a textbook of sorts, it is no one's traditional English book. The book is short, to the point and rather fast paced. An interest in improving one's comprehension of complex English literature is required, but otherwise no prerequisites are necessary to read this user friendly approach to analyzing textbooks. I would recommend this book anyone who enjoys quick wit in their English pursuits or anyone interested in deepening their appreciation for classic novels in general.

Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell by Karen DeYoung

This biography focuses primarily on Colin Powell's political and military career, but presents the information in a provocative manner, very much like a story and more comparable to typical novel styles. While it must be noted the book has a very prominent left wing political bias, if one can get past that the information presented is interesting. Interestingly enough while I believe Ms. DeYoung has great respect for Colin Powell, she is highly critical of him and his attitude in many non-conventional manners. All in all, this book provides a very provocative political biography.

John Adams by David McCullough

Surprise, surprise, this book is a biography of John Adams. This monster is over 800 pages long, and while extraordinarily well written (once again very novel like) is very overwhelming in details. The precision under which John Adam's life is discussed, is so focused that his opinions, self esteem and even approximate dates of the conception of his children is noted. If you interested in the Revolutionary period or the man John Adams himself, there is no better resource, however if you just want a quick reference for research, this is not your book. Beware if you choose to pursue this book that while well written, due the detail intensity it is a slow read.

Do Alaska Natives Get Free Health Care? (and other frequently asked questions about Alaska Native issues and cultures) by University of Alaska, Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University

While the title may instantly discourage most individuals, I recommend you reconsider. The book is short, under 30 pages but yet full of comprehensive answers and additional resources. The purpose of the book is simply, to provide easy access to understanding better the complex relationship between Alaska Native tribes and corporations and the State of Alaska. There are a multitude of misconceptions about the way Native Alaskans receive benefits, and this book provides very through, specific and simple to understand answers, with a list of additional resources for each question answered. I would highly recommend anyone who does not understand fully the issues with Alaska Native health care to read this book. It is important that as members of the state of Alaska we are aware of why are state and federal polices exist and how they impact us. Besides, the answers might just surprise you, I know they did me.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This novel is set in the Gulag Archipelago, a series of prison camps in Siberia during the Soviet Union. The prison camps were for traitors, usually military people and other political prisoners. While the story itself is fictional, it is based on the real life experiences of ALeksandr Solzhenitsyn's experiences in the archipelago. The story deals a lot with the harsh realities of survival in the prison camps, and is very powerful in an emotion manner. At the same time, it is an interesting comparison and contrast with the Nazi prison camps, far more familiar to the Western world. I would recommend this book to almost anyone because it is fairly simple to read. There is some Russian language and depending on your translation, the footnotes should easily guide you through it and a quick internet search should easily resolve any other pending cultural questions. Further the tale is classic in it deals with survival, human rights and international responsibilities. There are some heavy overtones of the communist and democratic systems and a good understanding of each system would make this novel more relevant. All the same, I would recommend this book regardless of personal understanding of history because if nothing else the tale is well written and moving story.

 

Review by Jasmyne Johnson
*this review was the COMMENT GRAND PRIZE WINNER (A DS & GAME!)
for the Teen Summer Program 2009!*

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Hilariously defective Bella moves to Forks, WA to get rained on and live with her Dad. When she meets sparkly weirdo vampires she finds she will never fit in an average clique considering she goes ga-ga for stone-hard hottie Edward. However, their star-crossed love brings it's own trouble when some non-vegetarian vampires start looking for snacks nearby and find the idea of hunting a little swan to be exciting. Will love conquer all - including hungry vampires?!!
Dun-dun-dun-dunnnnt!!!

Reviews by Courtney Enright

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

While Dan Brown is most well known for his The Da Vinci Code, his true masterpiece is exhibited in his most excellent novel, Angels and Demons. Dan Brown has written a thrilling page turner filled with action, twists, turns, red herrings, and all the great components of a mystery. Brown has done impressively extensive research on all his historical and geographical components creating a compelling and realistic tale with biblical mysteries, all the while placing a new spin on some of the Vatican’s oldest and darkest of secrets. This book is unique in that it not only provides a fast paced plotline, with a hint of a saucy romance, but it also provides deeper symbology and brings up several recurrent questions about religion and life itself. I would recommend this book without any hesitation to anyone, however be warned if you are deeply religious or have very firm ideals about religion – this book steps on every toe there is to step on, so you might consider that first.

Review by Jasmyne Johnson

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

What would you do if you forgot the last four years of your life? Naomi has done just that, as she recovers her life after a terrible fall, one person telling her who she was at a time, in Gabrielle Zevin’s “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac”. After losing a coin toss Naomi is the yearbook editor chosen to go retrieve a camera from the school. On her way down the stairs to return to her co-editor, Naomi dives down a stair case, saving the camera from harm, but she was not as lucky, and is rushed to the hospital, along with a boy claiming to be her boyfriend, James. Sustaining wounds bad enough they needed stitches, Naomi found herself unable to remember things from the last four of her sixteen years. As her dad makes lists of things she’s forgotten, including her parent’s divorce, her best friend and co-editor of the yearbook Will, and her actual boyfriend and tennis teammate Ace, Naomi begins to wonder what kind of high school student she was. Once back in high school after the incident, Naomi begins to wonder if she even LIKES her old self, finding some of her former friends to be less than friendly, and realizing her former passions—including yearbook, just don’t light her fire anymore. As Naomi reacquaints herself to high school she finds herself trying to find herself, and she leans away from her old passions, her old boyfriend included. While Naomi starts spending more of her time with James, who is far from stable, her old friends and father feel a little alienated. Will Naomi ever recover her memory? If so, what kind of person is she really, deep down, memories or not? Check out Zevin’s “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac” to find out!

Review by Victoria Clary

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Seldom have I read a book that is engaging and mentally stimulating at a level to be of interest to the adult mind, while also of interest to children, without any of the unfortunate obscenities found in the common adult fiction. Neither does it stray into the sad territory that most YA, (that is, Young Adult) fictions inhabit, with their over dramatizations of teen aged life. This is a book that can truly be said to delight all age groups.

As we read, we follow the life of young Nobody 'Bod' Owens, adopted by ghosts and raised in a cemetery. He is the only living soul in the graveyard, though many deceased souls also inhabit it, along with one who is neither living, nor dead. We learn of his parents murder and the age of one, of the chance, and the choices that saved him from the same fate, and of the danger still waiting beyond the gates.

Neil Gaiman is to be congratulated on yet another outstanding and original work, anything and everything to come from this author is worth it's weight in gold, and it is apparent that he is a truly great writer.
*Neil Gaiman won the Newbery Medal this year for The Graveyard Book*

Reviews by Courtney Enright

The Opal Paradox by Eion Colfer

This is the fourth in Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. Artemis was memory wiped of all knowledge of fairies, and the life that exists beneath the surface of the earth, however just because Artemis doesn’t remember he has a very intelligent angry evil fairy out to kill him doesn’t mean that said fairy ceases the desire to kill him. I thoroughly enjoyed this particular Artemis Fowl as being action packed and interesting. I would recommend this book to students in sixth – ninth grade as it is more toward the reading level of such. The book is an easy read with a thick plot that requires a minimal of intellectual thought while very accurate with most of the world’s up to date science research. Artemis and his nemesis's’ plots don’t appear out of thin air. All of their “evil or not so evil plots” are scientifically sound- while not always plausible with today’s technology- achievable in theory. Finally, if you have read any of the previous Artemis Fowl books- this book is a little unique in that the author jumps around less in the chapters- allowing for a more strategic growth in the plot. Overall, the Opal Paradox is compelling mind junk food and is a good use of any afternoon or early morning.

The Time Paradox By Eion Colfer

This is the sixth book in Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. This time Artemis has maintained his knowledge of fairy kind and even has a good working relationship with them. The only problem is his mother is very ill and the cure lies in the brain fluid of a lemur that he, himself had sold to a poacher at age ten. Now Artemis’s enemy is harder to combat because it’s himself. This segment of Colfer’s series is a climax to the coming of age series because Artemis has to work against and ultimately with himself in the past and he realizes a good deal of things about himself. He comes to the earth shattering conclusion that if you want to hurt yourself, then it isn’t any wonder that he has so few friends. But don’t worry if you fear that this is the end to a glorious series – this Artemis Fowl book ends the same was as every other – with a cliff hanger.

My Secret compiled by Frank Warren

As you may be aware T.A.G. has hosted "Art in the Afternoon" crafts based on this PostSecret book and I enjoyed reading through the other post secrets book so much I thought that a review was a perfect excuse to check out the most emotionally deep "picture" book I have ever read.
The concept of Post Secrets is one of great power and a freeing process. The practice is no less powerful and results are compelling, emotionally charged post secret cards that tell you another about a person, except their deepest secrets. It is kind of unique, strange and oddly empowering to read a book and while not knowing the person learn things that even their best friends don't know.
Overall, as one might surmise, My Secret not only provided a great review, but also a rather enjoyable read - I will confess to having read the book three times now.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

This book is a unique look at the mixture of Mexican-American/Native American culture in New Mexico. It is a timeless classic of growing up. One of the main sources of conflict is faith, a problem many people have as a part of growing up. While the book took place in the late 1940s, I felt a unique kinship with the characters due to some unique similarities. Overall I was surprised at the depth and quality of this book.

Review by Olivia Round

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
 
I always felt there was something sinister about a McDonald's hamburger.  Just before I bit into one, some nagging little voice would whisper in my ear "It's just too perfect".  Eric Schlosser agrees in his riveting book Fast Food Nation, which I have just completed reading for English class.  According to Schlosser, the fast food corporations take great pains to create the "too good to be true" quality of its products, franchises, and intentions.  This dedicated author compiles hours of research and investigation to discover the truth about the control that fast food companies have over American businesses, lifestyles, and appetites.  He interviews restaurant employees, potato farmers, cattle ranchers, slaughterhouse workers, and even the scientists who concoct the smells and flavors of the fast foods we all crave.  The bright wrappers, smiling mascots, and glitzy, gleaming restaurants hide a much darker side of the industry, one of greed and deception.  If you want the truth about the "All-American Meal", as Schlosser so aptly names it, then Fast Food Nation is a must-read.  Be forewarned:  you may never eat another fast food taco in your life.

Review by Jasper Rodgers  

As Simple As Snow By Gregory Galloway

I read it about a year ago, and I've read many books after and before this one, but this one is still my ultra uber top favorite first choice book ever. It's a fictional love mystery real life ma bobber kind of book. (Haha. Oh, big vocab for a smart person! :D ) I'm not into mystery books all that much, but this one is different, by far.
     Anna Cayne, isn't the typical teenager I suppose you could say, or maybe she's quite the opposite. She's about fifteen or sixteen years old, and moves to this small dinky town. Kind of like Ketchikan!  She meets this ordinary, or actually he's below that even, boy.  They become  fairly close, very fast. She likes mind games, it's basically what she lives off of. Sending him clues in so many different ways, he's not sure what they are for, but he soon finds out when she disappears! Around this time of year actually, two weeks before Valentines day, she goes missing. And all that is left is a dress next to a hole in the ice, some notebooks filled with everyone she ever killed, and a message on her computer that is in code. What ever is someone to do? Well, you'll see if you read the book. Do it,  yo.
     I've recommended this book to several people, and everyone I have done so has loved it! And, becomes obsessed with it for a short time trying to figure out what happened. It's a quick easy read that will leave you pondering the life of Anna Cayne, and exactly who she was. It'll leave you wanting to read H.P Lovecraft (Which is an amazing writer by the way), and Poe, and so many other authors mentioned in the book that get over looked sometimes. Along with some great older music. (Some of it is hard to find though, at least it was for me) And, who knows, it may even leave you wondering about yourself, and your place in the world of today. The book has a character everyone can relate to, no matter your age. So, read it!

Reviews by Courtney Enright

Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Our Only May Amelia is a good book about a young teenage girl who has seven older brothers and is growing up in a remote location in the growing West. She is overall extremely isolated from all other women of her age. The story tells about her life and shares a variety of anecdotes, all of which are interconnected. I thought the story was interesting because a major theme of the book is discovering who is she and everyone has gone through this at one point of time or another. I would highly recommend this book particularly for teenage women as they have better grounds on which to connect with the book. However, you never know, the boys may like just as well.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an action packed, conclusion to the seven part Harry Potter series. For most readers a review is hardly necessary to encourage reading, but I digress. This book continues almost immediately after the previous one left off and jumps right in, and doesn't’t cease until one has reached the end. As a young adult, Harry is faced with many challenges and obstacles, some of which are very unlike the one’s we face and others that are very similar. Many of the challenges presented to him extend far beyond the physical realm and into the mental one. The book is interesting and fast paced and guarantees to leave you with food for thought. I felt the book brought up some interesting points, some of which included: good vs. evil, internal struggles, maintaining individuality, becoming you despite other’s expectations, friendship, etc. I would recommend this book to anyone as it is all around her best book yet.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code is an extremely fast paced adventure. The book starts out as a murder mystery which quickly evolves into a mystery of a whole different proportion. Much of the content and conclusions derived at by Dan Brown are under high debate and scrutiny in the religious world, and have been for the past several centuries. Dan Brown puts a new spin on an old debate. The plotline is full of unexpected twists and turns and is amazingly well researched. However it should be noted that many of the old Druid rituals are very different and even considered barbaric in our modern day world. It is essential when reading this book to approach it with an open mind. I would recommend that those with strong religious convictions be cautious and careful when reading this book as many of the topics at hand severely disgruntle the devout. I felt the book overall was well researched which added a new dimension of realistic ness. I also noted that the book was geared far more toward adults then that of youth. I won’t let that stop you however be prepared to think and use a dictionary. Many of the words used are religious in orgin and not mainstream even for the most verbose adults.

 

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