Teen Picks

Looking for a good book to read? Check out our TAG book reviews!

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez Book Review

By: Abby Ivancicts

   I will be honest; when I first picked up the book The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez I was skeptical.  Most teen-friendly books written today have topics such as suicide, pregnancy, and parental issues. This shows that it seemed like I was going to read any old story discussing the hardships of being a teen parents and what these teen moms have been going through. I was completely inaccurate.

This book displays how much one teen can contribute to not only her community, but the whole world. It is amazing that Gaby had the courage to fake a pregnancy. Most people, if you asked them to take part in this sort of concept, would probably think you were kidding or would just plain walk way.Gaby took a project that most seniors in her high school used as a blow off activity, and turned it into a change for her community. She is admired greatly by many.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to see the power of one person and how much of a difference one individual can make in so many other people’s lives. Give it a try, it’s phenomenal.

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  UnSouled Review

By: Ann Baillie

   Before I go any further, I would like to point out that UnSouled is the third book in Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology. This book relies on the reader knowing what happened in Unwind and UnWhollly, so if you have not read the first two books in the series, I only have two things to ask and tell you. The first is, “Why have you not read these books already?” and the second is that this review contains spoilers. Consider yourself warned. The book picks off right where UnWholly left off. Connor and Lev are heading towards Ohio, Risa’s on the run, Storkey and the storks are in hiding, and Cam wants to take down Proactive Citizenry.

The rest of the story moves at lightning speed. The plot line moves so quickly that I recommend waiting for the weekend to read it. This way, you can stay up all night and not worry about sleeping through school the next day. Because that is how amazing UnSouled is. This book demands a fast pace. Like his previous novels, Shusterman keeps the suspense coming, and right at the end, he finally gives you the detail you’ve been waiting for. In the case of UnSouled, it’s who Proactive Citizenry is.

Are you freaking out? Because if you are not, you should be. Shusterman’s hints have come to pay off. The text is interspersed with political advertisements, but with a higher frequency then in book two. Like always, the book is divided into sections, and each section starts with a real news story. The formatting elements and the rest of the story lead to a flawless book. The story’s fast pace and characters dazzle the reader and never fail to amaze the reader. Make sure to finish with enough time to fanboy or fangirl over book 4 which comes out in 2014. Five out of five stars.

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  Castle Waiting: A Graphic Novel by Linda Medley Review

By: Ann Baillie

   To say that Linda Medley’s first volume of Castle Waiting contains everything might be stretching the truth – but only a little. This graphic novel contains references to Dr. Seuss, the Middle Ages, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and feminism. But more than anything else, this book is about life. And redemption. And what’s good. And what’s bad. Characters from all over the world stay at Castle Waiting, for no cost, whenever they have to, no questions asked. The castle has a small staff who makes the food and cleans the rooms. The staff serves as the main focus of the graphic novel.

This graphic novel is fantastic. It’s perfect.  It’s inventive. It’s hypnotizing. It’s magical (literally and figuratively). The characters are well drawn. The storyline is constantly changing throughout the work. When I read it, I was reminded of Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh. Like these works, Castle Waiting is more character-driven then plot-driven. This makes the book feel comforting, like a story your parents would have told you late at night when you could not sleep. But there are some very adult themes in the book. Good and evil is not treated in the same black-and-white way as it is in children’s stories.

I do not know of any bad things about Castle Waiting. This graphic novel is flawless. It makes sense, seeing as Medley won an Eisner for it. I can say, however, that when you read the book (and you should read the book), take it slow. Like most graphic novels, the book can be read very quickly. To do this would make you miss most of the inner subtleties of Castle Waiting. This book demands to be taken slowly. This book is designed to teach, about feminism and life. And the only thing better than that is that there is a volume two. Five out of five stars.

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  A Review of A Novel Way to Die by Ali Brandon

By: Ann Baillie

   Bookstore owner Darla Pettistone is back in another installment of Ali Brandon’s Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries. This case, A Novel Way to Die, centers around the murder of one of Darla’s semi-regular customers, Curt. Darla must try to solve the case with the help of her PI friend Jake, her store’s manager James, her cop friend Reese, her newest employee Robert, and of course, Hamlet the cat. As the suspect list rises, so do Hamlet’s cryptic clues. The book is a definite improvement after the first book.

Brandon’s writing ability has increased over time. Novel has quite a bit of character development, and the pacing is more appropriate. The repetition of specific facts that made the first book in the series, Double Booked for Death, drag so much is gone. Those pages have been replaced with more dialogue between Reese and Darla, which makes Darla more relatable. The book also features fewer clues from Hamlet. These clues do not obviously suggest one character, making it more fun for the reader to try to guess what cryptic message Hamlet is trying to relate. Further, the side plots in Novel relate more to the overall story and advance the plot.

That being noted, Brandon is still a new writer. The characters featured in every book (Darla, Jake, James, and Reese) are well developed, but the characters specific to this book (Curt and the suspects), have almost no development. This was frustrating as a reader, because I felt like I was not being given enough information to solve the case. I get that the focus is supposed to be on Hamlet’s clues, but there was very little information about the actual lives of the suspects that could be used to solve the crime. Still, the book was well-done overall. I give it three out of five stars.

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Confessions of My Reading of Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson

By: Ann Baillie

   I’m a big Stephen King fan. Novellas don’t get much better than “Apt Pupil”. And Stephen King hates James Patterson, with a burning passion. With this thought in my head, I picked up Confessions of a Murder Suspect with the intention of getting a quick laugh. After reading the first chapter, I could not put it down.

The book is James Patterson’s latest exploit in YA fiction. What separates this book from the Maximum Ride, Witch and Wizard, and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, is that Patterson is finally getting back to murder. This is a tad surprising, as Patterson made his fortune and his reputation writing murder mysteries. And after reading Confessions, I get why. The story follows Tandy Angel, a rich and successful teen from a rich, successful, and eccentric family. The story begins when Tandy discovers both her parents were killed in their bed. Tandy and her three siblings are the only suspects.

What makes the book interesting is that Tandy has literally no idea who the killer is, and wants to solve the murder anyway. She realizes that the murderer could be one of her siblings – even herself – but she wants the truth.  This makes the character very interesting. She is too perfect to be relatable, but Patterson compensates for this by having Tandy talk directly to the reader. This adds to the book’s charm.

What bothered me about the book was the overwhelming amount of cliffhangers. Partly this is because the book is the first in a series, but at times the book just seemed unfinished. It distracts from the ending, which is otherwise beautifully done.  Rest assured, Patterson does answer the most important question of who killed Tandy’s parents, in a surprising and interesting way. A fun, great read.