Monday, February 27, 2017

Guest Blogger Book Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Hello Everyone! My name is Samantha Tantillo and I’m currently in the library media studies program at St. John Fisher College and I am excited to read more YA literature. My goal in the future is to become a school librarian and help students with research tool and help them explore the importance of the library.

I decided to read Crank by Ellen Hopkins. This is the first book I have read that is written in the form of free-verse poetry which makes it a quick read that interests young readers. This book focuses on the troubled life of a girl named Kristina and is told from her point of view. Young Kristina embarks on some challenging issues that she tells the readers about throughout the book. Kristina is a teenager who does well in school and listens to her parents. She soon finds herself at her dead-beat dad’s house after years of not seeing each other. Left alone for most of her visit, Kristina meets a young man named Adam who is living in the same apartment complex as her dad. Attracted to him, she pretends to be Bree, a person she is in her daydreams. Bree is confident and flirtatious something Kristina is not. A week of hanging out with Adam leads to Kristina getting addicted to drugs or as she calls it, “the monster”. From what she thinks is an innocent experience, she is now addicted to the way it makes her feel. When Kristina heads home from her summer stay, she struggles to fit back in with her family. Kristina didn’t know that this drug would soon consume her and her life. This drug would soon take over her entire life. After reading Crank, the reader gets to know the struggle of Kristina’s life, and will feel as if they know the character.

Being the reader and becoming invested in the character, it is difficult to see Bree continue to use drugs. But, it is very important to read about the dangers of addiction most importantly for young readers. This novel will be hard to put down once you start reading it.

Not only does Ellen Hopkins provide the readers with the emotional story, she sends out a message in the poem about the addiction of drugs. As a reader, I feel almost like I know Bree and can feel the emotions she is going through. As I turned each page, I learned the reality of addiction. I believe all young adults should read this book and learn about the true meaning of addiction shown through Kristina. Readers will go through the journey with Kristina through heartache, laughing, and crying.

~Samantha T.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Blogger Book Review: You by Charles Benoit

Hi everyone! My name is Laura Robinson. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute a review for the Teen Book Fest 2017! I’m a teacher and a graduate student, but more importantly, I love reading. I love the places reading can take us! Reading provides much needed mini-vacations whenever and wherever! What more cold you ask for in a hobby? Reading isn’t merely about absorbing written words, it’s about sharing and processing together to expand our views and perspectives! Given that, I am so excited to share my thoughts with You!

Benoit produces an emotional story that is gripping yet elusive. Kyle, is the main character, and Kyle is You. This style of writing gives the reader a deeper connection to the story often blurring the lines and forcing the reader to ask him/herself, “Am I thinking this? or Is Kyle thinking this?” It is a story full of manipulation and the strength and darkness it can spin. It is the story of mismanaged emotion: anger not vented, curiosity not pursued, love not nurtured, and manipulation not trampled. The story begins with the end; yet, carefully keeping the characters involved in the end hidden. Throughout the book, one can’t help but try to figure out to whom the ending refers. You creates a mood of suspense throughout the book. Even as the book unfolds, the ending yields a thunderbolt no one could predict! Benoit artfully captivates readers in his ability to draw you in through emotion and shock. It is a story that will leave you wondering and in awe. It is the story of You.

~Laura R.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Greetings, fellow Teen Book Fest aficionados!
One of my favorite things to do is to reread old books and remember just how much I've enjoyed them in the past. So this month I chose I Crawl Through It, written by one of my favorite authors, A.S. King, to review and recommend.

Centered around the lives of four different teens, this modern surrealist novel deals with the effects of difficulties such as anxiety, trauma and loss in a modern world poorly adapted to addressing them. The main character is Stanzi, a high school senior who is identified by her ever-present lab coat. If you ever wanted to know anything about biology or M*A*S*H, she would be who you ask. Another of the main characters is China, who writes poetry about whatever she can find. After facing her own deeply traumatic ordeal, China swallows herself to help cope and walks around with organs on the outside of her skin- though no one around her seems to notice. Apart from her, there is Lansdale, a girl who's hair grows every time she lies- which is often. And finally, there is Gustav who is determined to build himself an invisible helicopter to help him escape the high-stress world around them. This world, which bears a striking resemblance to our own, is filled with standardized tests, oblivious and not-so-oblivious adults and, on top of it all, threats to blow up the teenagers' school before test week.
I Crawl Through It is not a conventional book. Writing in a way that is almost more abstract than realistic, King paints vivid descriptions and metaphors that make the book an intellectually stimulating read as well as an emotional one. The characters are spot-on and each one is relatable and yet unique in wonderful ways. Furthermore, the book is speckled with poetry and drawings that enhance the reading experience and draw the reader into the narrative. For example: "Your Cat Has More Self-Esteem Than I Do" and "How to Tell If Your Quiche Is Real." Each of them are funny and thought-provoking in the best way possible.
However, despite all this, my favorite part of I Crawl Through It and almost every A.S. King book I read is the voice. King writes in a way that is both raw and complex, discussing real issues that teenagers face without being either condescending or fake. Sometimes, strangely enough, reading one of her books sometimes feels to me like having portions of my mind echoed back to me and even though I've obviously never met the characters, by the end of the book I feel like I know them by heart.
So, in conclusion, if you're looking for a great read that makes you think, I Crawl Through It is definitely the book you're searching for!
Have an amazing reading-filled rest of the day and return for another book review next week.
-Kate G.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Guest Blogger Book Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

I can see I'm not alone in my excitement for TBF 2017! This is my first book review for TBF and I'm thrilled to be involved. My name is Bridget Collins, and I'm a student in St. John Fisher's School Librarianship program. My dream is to have a career in a secondary school to feed my passion for books and literature; either as a classroom English teacher or librarian. In that role, I'll get to promote TBF, too, and the wonderful authors and books that will be there like A. S. King's The Dust of 100 Dogs.

If you think a book about a pirate who is cursed to be reincarnated as 100 dogs before she's born as a human again doesn't sound like it's relatable to young adults, you're wrong! Emer (now finally reborn as a 20th century American teenager named Saffron) struggles with the same things many modern teens do: struggling to get by in high school, fighting with her brother, and trying not to disappoint her parents. All this does get a little complicated because she's the only one who knows where her treasure was buried years ago, and has to figure out how to get to Jamaica to get it back.

When I try to think about how best to promote this book, all I think about is the beginning of The Princess Bride. If you're not familiar with that, then first of all, you should be, but second of all, this book has it all too! "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... "

Well, maybe not giants or monsters, but everything else ensures you won't be bored! I highly recommend this book to any teen; you'll find something you like!

~Bridget C.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Review: The Wrath & The Dawn

Image result for the wrath and the dawn
“For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest night could ever begin to compare to the wonder of you.”

Hi everyone! This month I picked up The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and I absolutely adored it and I hope I can pick up the sequel soon.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The writing and the world-building of this novel was captivating and was the first thing that made me fall in love with the book. The whole world was so vivid, and the beautiful descriptive writing made it all seem so real. I also loved the romance of Khalid and Shahrzad, and it’s complexity, and how it was just so different from many of the other romances I’ve read about. Their relationship evolves throughout the book and their dialogue and interactions feel genuine, just like the pacing of their relationship. The stories within the story of the novel were beautiful and powerful, were so crucial to Shahrzad and Khalid, as well as serving as a metaphor for the other plot points taking place. Shahrzad and Khalid both also were wonderfully written characters, neither of them perfect, and all of the side characters were equally as important and well written. This novel kept me guessing the entire way up to the last few pages about the secrets of Khorasan and all of the buildup was incredible when it all came together in the end. The Wrath and the Dawn is inspired by A Thousand and One Nights and it will sweep you off your feet and leave your imagination on fire.

Look forward to another great book review next week of another great TBF book!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Guest Blogger Book Review: Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton

Hi everyone! I am so excited to share my very first book review of Fat Angie, by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, for the TBF. My name is Suzanne, and I cannot wait to attend this year’s TBF for the first time. Ridiculous, I know. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this amazing event for all these years.

“Counting will make you calm.” “Can’t you just be normal?” “You are special.” Fat Angie hears these lines over and over from her therapist, her “couldn’t be bothered” mother, and her teachers. Meant to be helpful, they really serve as constant reminders. Reminders of the fact that she is living the nightmare of being the school freak, tormented at every turn by the “queen of sting” Stacey Ann and even her adopted brother. Reminders that she is living without her sister, the “glue” that held her family together and who was shown on T.V. being held hostage in Iraq and is presumed dead by everyone but Angie.

Fat Angie is overweight, awkward, infamous for having unsuccessfully tried to kill herself in front of the entire school last year, and doesn’t have a single friend to whom she can turn. Things start to look up when K.C. Romance, a stunning, quick-witted, and unconventional girl from the “Hills” comes to sleepy Dryfalls, Ohio. Fat Angie finds friendship, “gay-girl gay” romance (the way she and K.C. refer to their relationship), another unexpected friendship with “jockazoid” Jake, and learns, to her surprise, that she is not the only one suffering in this story. Fat Angie only begins to see herself as just “Angie” after making a decision inspired by her new relationships and her MIA sister’s words, “Visualize, follow through and let go.”
e.E. Charlton-Trujillo provides readers with a way to “walk in the shoes” of each character in this book, not just Fat Angie. She challenges us to avoid presuming to know others by their outside appearance and highlights the fact that even in the lowest of times, we have the power to create change. She helps us to recognize that we are all figuring out who we are and where we belong in this sometimes unloving and unforgiving world. I would definitely recommend this book to any who enjoys realistic fiction that challenges the social “norms” that can so easily sabotage the forming of meaningful relationships.

~Suzanne F.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Hi guys. I am excited to be back with another amazing book.
This week I read Splintered  by A.G. Howard.

 Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers
—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a 
mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches
 back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration
 for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
 Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together.
 For now.When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for
 the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction 
is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place 
far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. 
There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining
 an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, 
and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes
 and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust:
 Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the
 sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through 
Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

I am so excited to finish this trilogy.I am a huge fan of
fractured fairy tales so when I heard about this I just
had to read it. One thing I always like to do is to read/reread
 the fairy tale the book is based off. I suggest reading Through 
The Looking Glass before reading this.

I found A.G. Howard's writing style amazing. I could
see everything that was happening as I read, I loved
Alyssa. In the beginning she has up a lot of walls only
letting you see what she wants to. But the further we go in
the book the more I feel we get to really know her.

Overall I really enjoyed this action packed book.
I would suggest it to anyone who likes fantasy
and/or fractured fairy tales. Specifically Marissa Meyer

That's all for this week. see you next week for another great book!