The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

October 22, 2014 by

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy CoverThe Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

By Kate Hattemer

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher. (Summary from Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:

Reality shows… “real” are they?   And TV talent competitions…how fair are they? Admittedly these are questions I have asked myself as I have joined their legions of viewers from time to time. Mix them with components of the show Glee and I believed Kate Hattemer had written a book that could be a hit.

 Why I finished it:

The narrator (Ethan Andrezejczak) stole my heart. His dedicated friendship, devotion to a sickly (but talented!) gerbil and loving patience with his whacky 4-year-old triplet sisters kept the plot moving with comedy and heart.  As one reviewer put it, this is a “hilarious story of friendship and poetry”.

 I’d give it to:  

Anyone (grade 9 and up) who loves a uniquely written comedy.

I’d give it:  4  Stars


Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)




I’ll Give You the Sun

October 17, 2014 by

913VmfwL8wLI’ll Give You the Sun

by Jandy Nelson

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. (from Goodreads)

Compelling characters, visceral writing, and great twists make this a book that’s hard to put down!


Circle of Stones

October 13, 2014 by

circle of stonesCircle of Stones
by Catherine Fisher

TODAY: Sulis, a teenage girl with a mysterious past, arrives in Bath, England, with a new identity. She feels safe at the King’s Circus, a ring of old, strange stone houses where she lives with her foster family—until she spots the one person she’s been trying to outrun.
THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO: Zac is apprenticed to a mad architect who plans to create the world’s first circular street, the King’s Circus. Zac probes the mysticism surrounding the structure, but has his own secret agenda.
THE ANCIENT PAST: The mythical first builder of the city of Bath, a leprous druid king, discovers its healing waters… but to what end?
[from book jacket]

Why I picked it up: I saw druid mentioned in the description and was instantly curious. I’m a huge fan of multiple narrators, and this book has three! Also, author Catherine Fisher has written some pretty great books—Incarceron, for one.

Why I finished it: The circular architecture of the ancient druids is what loosely ties together the lives of the book’s three storytellers: Sulis (modern day teen), Zac (eighteenth century apprentice), and Bladud (ancient druid king). The focus of the three stories is the underground hot springs of Bath, known to have healing qualities as told in ancient druid myths, and the architectural anomaly of the King’s Circus, a building that exists in Bath, England today. Reading about the King’s Circus made me want to learn about the real life place and how it was created. Mystical elements twine though the three stories, creating suspense, and leaving the reader guessing at the ultimate fate of the storytellers.

Overall, Circle of Stones is an enjoyable read, but in the end I found myself wishing the stories were a little bit more connected, or that Fisher had focused on one character’s story rather than all three. There are three great stories here, but the surface is merely scratched, and that left me wanting more.

I’d give it to: Readers who enjoy historical fiction, suspense, and books with magical elements. Fans of Catherine Fisher.

I’d give it: 3 stars

3 stars

Reviewed by: Jocelyn (Davis Library)

Are You Experienced?

October 8, 2014 by

are-you-experienced  Are You Experienced?

By: Jordan Sonnenblick

About:  Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at a protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down.

Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix…… and then, Rich plays one of Jimi’s signature left-handed riffs and is transported to Woodstock 1969 with his uncle Michael before the overdose, and his dad, as a bright-eyed teen amped on being part of the music, festival, and new experiences.(good reads)

I am rarely drawn to novels that contain time travel. The likelihood that the time traveling and plot will be able to keep me engaged is rare! Luckily, this book was recommended to me, so I gave it a chance and found it to be HE-larious, as well as deeply moving and insightful.

All of the great music, good vibes, and free love that we hear about during the 60’s sound great! But, what about the darker side of the 60’s that includes drug use and sexual responsibility? These are also lessons and milestones that Rich will become privy to in his trip back to Woodstock.  Was his uncle’s heroin overdose an accident? I liked how the grim realities were juxtaposed against the music, atmosphere and excitement of the time. An interesting historical romp recommended to fans of realistic fiction, humor, music, and the 1960’s.

My Life Next Door

October 7, 2014 by

My life next doorTitle: My Life Next Door

Author/Artist: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Why I picked it up: I read My Life Next door because one of my good friends gave it to me for my birthday.

Why I finished it: My Life Next Door was a very quick but entertaining read. I wanted to take a break between all the heavy dystopian reading I had been doing lately and it was the perfect book for that. It wasn’t fluffy but it wasn’t too deep and heavy either. It’s one of those perfect summer romance books that just makes you feel good, it had the right balance of romance, family, friendship, and learning how to be true to yourself. The characters were dealing with very real problems without dragging the story down. I really liked the main characters Samantha and Jase because I thought they were both realistic and likeable which is sometimes hard to find in summer-y young adult books.

I’d give it to: This book is definitely geared towards teenage girls so anyone who fits in that description would enjoy it. It’s a nice book for a breezy summer day when you just want to stay in and read, or a good book to take to the beach.

Star rating: 4 stars

Reviewer: Bhavana (Plano teen)


October 3, 2014 by


By: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Oscar Drai first meets the mysterious Marina when he is exploring the old parts of Barcelona. She decides to take him to a forgotten cemetery where she has witnessed the same ritual each month. They see a dark carriage pull up to the cemetery gates and a woman veiled in black exiting it. She wordlessly puts a red rose on the top of a grave that has no name, but a small black butterfly symbol on it. Who is the woman?

Marina and Oscar become involved in a decades old mystery with a startling climax.

Why I picked it up: I love the other books written by this author and was excited to see that this book was translated into English.  Apparently, it has been a beloved Gothic tale in Spain since 1999.

Why I finished it: October was approaching when I first read this book, thus I was wanting a creepy read. This book, with Zafón’s prose and genuinely chilling moments, begs to be read in a day without setting it down.

I’d give it to: Anyone who likes paranormal mysteries involving monsters.

I’d give it: 

4 Stars

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

Undertaking of Lily Chen

October 1, 2014 by

undertaking of lily chen

Undertaking of Lily Chen

by Danica Novgorodoff

“In the mountains of Northern China ancient custom demands that every man have a wife to keep him company in the afterlife.

Deshi Li’s brother is dead–and unmarried. Which means that Deshi must find him an eligible body before the week is up.

Lily Chen, sweet as a snakebite, needs money and a fast ride out of town.

Haunted by the gods of their ancestors and the expectations of the new world, Deshi and Lily embark on a journey with two very different destinations in mind. They travel through a land where the ground is    hard and the graves, where marriage can be murder and where Lily Chen is wanted–dead and live.” – Summary from Goodreads

I was browsing the graphic novel shelves, looking for a good story, and the cover intrigued me. I was hooked from the beginning. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is dark, yet funny. I would recommend this graphic novel to anyone who likes magical realism or a story with a nice blend of contemporary and traditional.

October Monthly Book Giveaway

October 1, 2014 by

ScorchedWe have a signed copy of Scorched by Mari Mancusi for one lucky reader of the teen blog. This title was published in 2013.

Trinity: Don’t leave me here… When Trinity first hears the voice, she thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise – her grandfather firmly believes he just brought a genuine dragon egg to their dusty little West Texas town.

Connor: He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb: He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving the dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon who won’t be tamed… (Taken from the cover).

To participate in the drawing for this book, send an email to with Scorched in the subject line. Include your phone number and the Plano library branch where you would like to pick up the book. We will have a drawing for the winner of the give-away on Wednesday, October 15, 2014. One must be a resident of Plano, Texas in order to qualify for the monthly book giveaway.

Good Luck!

Life of Pi

September 30, 2014 by

Life of Pi : a novelTitle: Life of Pi

Author/Artist: Yann Martel

Why I picked it up: This was originally assigned to my English class but once I started reading this book I knew I would enjoy it. The author’s note brings the reader to just an imaginable place that I never want to leave.

Why I finished it: The ending of the book was the most surprising I’ve seen in a while. As the reader follows Pi’s journey in the fight for his life, you can’t help but connect with him.

I’d give it to: Anyone who is looking for a meaningful book to connect with and keep you entertained.

Star rating: 4 stars

Reviewer: Katherine (Plano teen)

An Abundance of Katherines

September 29, 2014 by

An abundance of KatherinesTitle: An Abundance of Katherines

Author/Artist: John Green

Why I picked it up: Any teenager that reads or has social media these days knows about the hype surrounding John Green. I’ve already read two of his books. Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, and enjoyed both, so I’ve decided to read all of them. My school library had An Abundance of Katherines so I went ahead and checked it out.

Why I finished it: Honestly, I’m not sure if I would have finished Katherines if I didn’t know who the author was. I really didn’t find a plot until ¾ of the way in, and even then, it wasn’t believable at all. Obviously, not all books are meant to be realistic, but he way this book is marketed is that it’s supposed to be realistic. The main character annoyed me at several points throughout the novel and I basically forced myself to finish it. The good thing about this book is that, like all of Green’s work, the writing is easy to read and follow along. I know for a fact that if the style had been more complicated and difficult to read, I would have put it down half way through.

Who I would give it to: I’ve discussed this book with a few of my book-loving friends, and only one of them agreed with me that it was just an okay book. The rest of them thought it was well written, so maybe something about it just didn’t appeal to me. That being said, I do understand why they could have enjoyed it because the writing style is very likeable and easy to get hooked to, so I don’t think it’s impossible to like this book. I would recommend it to girls around the ages of 12-15.

Star rating: 3 stars


Reviewer: Penmetsa (Plano teen