Free Library of Philadelphia

Home > What We're Reading: Book Reviews
Book Reviews - Want to know what our librarians and staff are reading? Browse through a variety of book reviews added to our catalog from a variety of genres. Subscribe
There Are 61 Reviews | Showing 1 to 10
Picture Me Gone Book Cover
Picture Me Gone by Rosoff, Meg
Reviewed by Teresa G (Jan 13, 2014)
Mila and her father have planned a trip from their home in London to New York state to visit Mila's father's life-long best friend, Matthew. Just before they are due to arrive Matthew disappears without a trace. He leaves behind his newborn child, his elderly dog and his wife. Mila has a talent which allows her to sense the undercurrents in a situation and with her father's help they set out to find out what has happened to Matthew. While Picture Me Gone is fast paced I found I didn't like any of the characters all that much. Mila's father is a stereotypical "absent minded professor" type and is annoying. Their life is just too perfect for my taste. The family doesn't seem real, nor does the situation they find themselves in. Matthew, while a totally unlikable character, at least seems pathetically real.
Tags:  3 Stars (it was ok), Teen
Shadows Book Cover
Shadows by McKinley, Robin
Reviewed by Teresa G (Oct 31, 2013)
Maggie doesn't like her mother's new husband. She sees 'shadows' when she looks closely at him. He is from a world where magic is still practiced and she is supicious of his reasons for resettling in here world where the magic gene is spliced out of everyone. But, as time goes on, she learns that he is not the only one in her world who has magical abilities, including herself. All of the hidden practitioners of magic must come out of the shadows and unite in order to save their world from destruction. Shadows is not Robin McKinley's best work, unfortunately. I found it confusing and boring. The author uses many terms and phrases unique to her created world and this made the plot and dialogue difficult to follow at times. The "snappy" teen dialogue didn't ring true. The romantic element seemed rushed and contrived.
Eleanor & Park Book Cover
Eleanor & Park by Rowell, Rainbow
Reviewed by Teresa G (Sep 25, 2013)
Eleanor and Park is an intense teenage love story about two misfits who slowly open up to each other over the course of a school year. Eleanor is the new girl and is, to the teens on the schoolbus, weird. Park is the only one who even tries to befriend her. Over time they come to learn that they share the same dreams for music, books and, yes, each other. Eleanor is dealing with some serious issues at home with her stepdad, Richie. Her mother is no help even when Richie's behavior is clearly out of line. As Eleanor begins to open up to Park, she realizes she is strong enough to take control of her life. With Park's help she makes a decision that will change the course of many lives, but is the one way to save her own. Set in 1986, this story has just enough period detail to make it realistic, but not so much that it becomes a "nostalgia novel" whose story is overpowered by time and place. Poingnant, funny and wholly believable, Eleanor and Park is sure to live on in the reader's memory long after the last page is turned.
Tags:  5 Stars (LOVED it), Teen
Starting From Here Book Cover
Starting From Here by Bigelow, Lisa Jenn
Reviewed by Teresa G (May 7, 2013)
Starting From Here is the story of a high school girl who is growing up on her own after her mother's death from cancer. Colby Bingham's father loves her, but he is a long-haul trucker and isn't able to be home very much. Colby is afraid to love again after the loss of her mother, but can't help herself when a stray dog crosses her path. Mo is critically injured and needs amputation surgery which a local vet provides free of charge in exchange for a promise from Colby that she will pay for the medicine, food, and other care Mo needs to survive. Right before Mo came into her life, Colby also suffered the loss of her first love, her girlfriend Rachel. As Colby begins to build a new life with Mo Colby meets and is attracted to a girl, Amelia, who interviews her about Mo's miraculous recovery for the school newpaper. Fresh, honest, and full of quirky, but very realistic characters, Starting From Here is a delight to read.
Tags: Teen,  5 Stars (LOVED it)
The colossus rises Book Cover
The colossus rises by Lerangis, Peter.
Reviewed by Mary M (Apr 25, 2013)
Jack McKinley, 13 years old, is captured by a group of scientists that live in another tri-dimensional space. The doctors of the Karai Institute wants to help Jack to survive to a rare genetic condition that only the personnel of this hospital knows how to treat it. After the surgery, Jack will have special powers and skills to combat the monster of a lost civilization.

In the story, the author of the book, Peter Lerangis explores the imagination of the reader with a chain of clues and symbolisms that are given in the form of reverse words and artwork fragments. The lector must pay attention to these details in order to discover all the pieces of the puzzle and solve the mystery clue that encapsulates the tale. Adventure is the main component of the story! As the tale progresses, the young lector will get deeper into the protagonists’ personality and their way of resolving a problem: the main goal is to defeat the monster of the Atlantis. In the fifty-one chapters the reader will feel empathetic about the challenges that Jack and his team have to go through in order to accomplish their mission. They must return safe to planet earth to unfold the mysteries of the unknown.

Tags:  3 Stars (it was ok), Teen
The Wicked and the Just Book Cover
The Wicked and the Just by Coats, Jillian Anderson
Reviewed by Teresa G (Apr 1, 2013)
Set in Wales in the late 13th century, The Wicked and the Just leaves the reader pondering the question of who, in this book, was the wicked and who was the just. Cecily, a young English girl, must make a home for herself when her father accepts a position as a burgess in Caernarvon, a remote outpost where the native Welsh must be kept under control. Cecily doesn't fit in with the other English girls, but her attitude towards the Welsh makes her no friends, there, either. Lording her power over the local girl, Gwenhwyfar, who works in the house, Cecily's cruelty pushes Gwenhwyfar to her limit. When crops fail and famine results, the Welsh subjects can starve no longer. The tables are turned on the English and Cecily finds herself at the mercy of Gwenhwyfar. This is a thought-provoking book without a single character who is likeable. This made it difficult to feel the characters were genuine. But the underlying story is a powerful one--when pushed beyond all limits, do the wicked become the just?
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe Book Cover
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Sáenz, Benjamin Alire.
Reviewed by Joel N (Mar 28, 2013)
Two teenagers who couldn't seem more different (skin color, sexuality, class status, language spoken at home, etc.) end up making one of the strongest, most believable and indelible connections in YA fiction. Winner of this year's Stonewall YA Award as well as the Pura Belpre Award and many other honors, and you won't be able to put it down.
Tags:  5 Stars (LOVED it), Teen
Summer of the mariposas Book Cover
Summer of the mariposas by McCall, Guadalupe Garcia.
Reviewed by Mary M (Dec 13, 2012)
“Summer of the Mariposas” reflects on the psychological conflict of five teenage girls who are looking for answers about their family disharmony. This adventure will teach the Garza sisters -Odilia, Delia, Velia, Juanita and Pita- life lessons that will reassure their family bounds. In the story, the problem solving cycle is divided in three stages: The departure, the initiation and the return. In the first part, Gabriel Perdido is found dead in the Río Bravo, when the cinco hermanitas were playing around the river. The first instinct of the Garza sisters was to deliver the dead man to his family. This tragic event was the beginning of a sisterhood journey to the Mexican country. La Llorona -in an unusual role- is introduced by the writer Guadalupe Garcia McCall as the spiritual guide of the five sisters. In the second part, the Mayan Mother Earth, Tonantzin, will come to rescue the siblings when Odilia -the oldest sister - calls her throughout an ancestral magical earring given by the Llorona. This amulet has divine powers that will aid the cinco hermanitas during their odyssey. In this self-discovery journey, the Garza sisters are being challenged by the devil and the bad witches who are trying to mislead them. In the final part, Tonantzin reminded Odilia that she and her siblings must go through this peregrination of pain in order to reborn as a family. As the story develops, the reader finds out that the sisterhood journey to Mexico has a background story: The teenage girls wanted to find out why their father has abandoned them, for more than a year, without any explanation. What they find out at the end of their journey might not be the answer they were looking for. In this book, the author challenges the reader’s imagination with mythical personages of predecessor civilizations. This book is divided in twenty-two chapters with a Spanish glossary of terminology. This is a great story for a bilingual book club!
Finnikin of the Rock Book Cover
Finnikin of the Rock by Marchetta, Melina
Reviewed by Teresa G (Sep 7, 2012)
When the kingdom of Lumatere undergoes the "five days of the unspeakable" the entire royal family is killed or is presumed dead. Finnikin, friends with Balthazar, the young heir to the throne, goes into exile with Sir Topher, the late king's First Man. For ten years they travel they surrounding countries visiting other camps of refugees looking for any evidence that Prince Balthazar still lives. When Finnikin is summoned to a remote cloister of the goddess Lagrami he is sure he will find Prince Balthazar waiting there for him. When he is met by a young mute woman named Evanjalin who claims to know the wherabouts of the Prince, Finnikin is both angry and intrigued. The three set out on a long and arduous journey that bring countless surprises and an ending no one expects. Finnikin of the Rock is an excellent story that never ceases to surprise. The tension between the characters is palpable as is the love story. Despite the darkness of the story, there is always a sense of hope in the future. Finnikin and those he picks up along his journey are haunted by the events of the "five days of the unspeakable" and the aftermath of exile and death for the majority of Lumaterans. Never overwrought, the drama keeps the reader wanting to know more.
What Happened to Goodbye Book Cover
What Happened to Goodbye by Dessen, Sarah
Reviewed by Erin H (Aug 28, 2012)
McLean and her dad are their own little family. Since her mom's betrayal (that caused a scandal in her hometown), McLean has decided that trying to patch things up with her mom isn't worth it. Because of her dad's job of revamping failing restaurants, the two have moved several times since the divorce. And in each new home, McLean has tried on a new personality, just so she can keep any potential new friends at arm's length. She doesn't want anyone to get too close because she knows how much it hurts when someone you love lets you down. But things are different in this new town. Could it be time to let her guard down? Or would that be the biggest mistake she could make?
Tags: Teen,  5 Stars (LOVED it)