Thursday, May 7, 2015

Take a BRAIN BREAK in the Library

Tired from all these AP tests?  End of the year getting you down?
Take a Brain Break in the Library!
On display now - silly books to help you de-stress.
Laughter is the best antidote to AP tests.  Am I right, or am I right?

Stop by a peruse one of the many mindless selections, including:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tolog Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

reviewed by Shanley Galanto

The Book Thief is a heart-wrenching book filled with hope and despair, love and hate, life and death. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a wonderfully written book about World War II that shows the difficulty of war from the standpoint of a young German girl named Liesel, with commentary from Death. 

At her brother’s funeral, Liesel steals her first book. It is a symbolic start of her new life, as she is about to go to a foster home. With this new family, she begins to love them as her own papa and mama. The story develops as Germany delves further into war against Jews. When Liesel’s foster parents harbor a Jew in their basement, Liesel creates a deep and dangerous friendship with him. However, no one is safe, German or not, in World War II, and much distress and anguish is to come for Liesel and her family. 

Death is another main character in The Book Thief. The way Death is portrayed not as a scary villain, but more as a slave to humanity. Death comforts the souls he carries away. It is chilling when Death says, “I am haunted by humans” It brings to light that humans cannot blame death, but blame themselves for their own destruction.

This book shows the best and worst of humanity. The Book Thief shows how malicious and cruel people can be to each other, but it also shows the friendships people can make and the love people can have for one another. There is an overwhelming amount of sadness, but there is also an astounding amount of hope. This book is an extraordinary story that will change the way people look at life, death, and all that’s in-between.

Tolog Review: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
reviewed by Samantha Martinez

And Then There Were None begins with ten people receiving a mysterious letter that request their presence on Indian Island. They all received their letter without any substantial knowledge of who is the sender. In each letters there is mention of a past friend who they can all faintly remember. There are many rumors about who owns Indian Island, but no one is truly certain whom the owner of it is. All ten people agree to go to the Indian Islands regardless of the lack of knowledge they have over who is to be their host. 

When all the visitors finally reach Indian Island they are shocked to realize that the host is not there. Even though the host is absent, there are two servants present to help them move into their rooms. Later on they plan a dinner party that goes horribly wrong. A strange recording is played over the gramophone. The recording is of a strange voice accusing every single person in the room of very terrible crimes. 

Tensions run high when one of the visitors is found dead. During the stay on Indian Island, the visitors are killed one by one. When the horrible realization that the murderer must be among them, many questions begin to form. Who is the mystery killer? What are they trying to achieve by killing the visitors? What do they want? Read And Then There Were None to find out.

Tolog Review: Sabriel

by Garth Nix
reviewed by Samantha Martinez

Garth Nix dramatically introduces baby Sabriel, in Sabriel, with her immediately dying after birth. Fortunately her father, Abhorsen, is able to bring her back from death since he is a necromancer. He ventures into Death and takes Sabriel from the hands of Kerrigor. Kerrigor attempts to take Sabriel further into Death with him but Abhorsen is able to retrieve Sabriel from him. Sabriel grows up to be a necromancer as well. As a necromancer, Sabriel is able to travel to Death and help animals or people escape death. Sabriel is finishing her last term at Wyverley College and is skilled is the art of Death. She has been educated in scholarly subjects as well as Magic. 

One day, Sabriel is waiting for a visit from her father, but when Abhorsen does not arrive she starts to worry. Abhorsen has never missed one of their sessions before. When a creature of Death comes and gives Sabriel Abhorsen’s most prized possessions, she knows something is wrong. Sabriel ventures out in search of her father. In her quest for her missing father, Sabriel is lead back to the Old Kingdom. The Old Kingdom, guarded by the Wall and soldiers, is a mysterious and magical district, where on cannot enter without the proper papers. In a lucky twist of fate, the commanding officer knows Abhorsen and allows her to pass. First he is told a terrifying story of how the risen dead came crept closer and closer to the Old Kingdom. Fortunately, they were not able to pass because Abhorsen had stopped them. 

On Sabriel’s journey through the Wall she notices that the Charter Stones are broken. Since the Stones are broken there are some creatures of Death roaming around. Sabriel is then pursued by one of the Greater Dead. Luckily, she is able to find Abhorsen’s house has is surrounded by a rushing river. Creatures of Death cannot cross running water. Inside she meets an unlikely companion in an unusual form. Across the river slaves of the undead are forming a bridge to cross. Sabriel is fortunately able to escape but this will not be the only complication she will face. She finds another companion but can she trust him? When the one person she thought she could trust try’s to kill her, Sabriel learns to be wary. Who can she trust? How can she tell who is going to help or hinder her? Read Sabriel to find out.

Tolog Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold 
reviewed by Ruolin Li

This is a special book where the main character, Susie Salmon, is murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey. Like Susie said, “You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you.” After she was murdered, she stayed with her family by watching them through her heaven. Susie Salmon was a fourteen-year-old girl who was raped and killed by her strange neighbor. And through the process of being with her family, she realized many things that she had never imagined before. At the end of the novel, Susie decided to leave after she had been dead for 9 years. She recognized families like bones: “The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.” The Salmon family lost Susie, but one day a new bone will grow and bring the whole family together. That is life. 

When I read this book, my heart was filled with feelings of joy and relaxation. If I had looked at these events that happened in Susie’s life, I would have thought, “Poor Susie!” However, I did not because she had a loving and indivisible family. Susie was an unfortunate girl, but she also was a fortunate girl. Her bad luck brought her negative memories and death, but let her know how her families loved her. That is amazing, because Alice Sebold wrote many paragraphs about this complex relationship between Susie and her family. Susie’s young sister, Lindsey, gave me deep sadness. She loves her sister so much and the light in Susie’s dark encounter is the love between her families. 

Susie’s family’s reaction to her death also taught me a lot. Susie made me remember my grandmother. When my grandmother died, I was 9 years old. In that moment, I could not understand what was death. I knew she would never criticize me again. I felt happy when I heard that she left me, but when I realized she would not come back, I started to cry. That was my reaction to my grandmother’s death. At first I felt sad, but when I grew up, other things such as homework and problems around me made me forget my sadness. I love my grandma like Lindsey loves Susie. Susie’s death was the shadow for her families, but they will have one day to renew. 

Finally, Lindsey brought her family good news: she was pregnant. A new life would be arriving to Susie’s family to make everyone happy. That is what Susie wants to see, so she felt happy and left to cross the line between her heaven and the next life. That is her story.

Tolog Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska 
by John Green 
reviewed by Riley Frey

Looking for Alaska, by John Green, begins with a friendless teen named Miles going to boarding school, seeking “a Great Perhaps”. Miles (or “Pudge”) quickly befriends his roommate, who goes by “the Colonel”, and his friends, Takumi, and Alaska. Pudge is immediately drawn to Alaska, a beautiful, smart, alluring girl who he becomes increasingly enamored with as the book progresses. After finding a group, Pudge becomes swept up in his new life at the school. In addition getting homework done and attending classes, the characters have a rich life outside of school. The students somehow find time to prank their enemies and sneak off campus while still maintaining decent grades. The book is split into two sections, “before” and “after” divided by a tragic event that personally affects all the characters.

For me, one of the most refreshing things about this story is the original take on young adult fiction. The author is able to keep the book interesting while still teaching valuable lessons, and addressing many different issues, such as how to deal with grief in a healthy way. In addition to classes and schoolwork, the author describes life for boarding students, with pranks and alcohol often making an appearance. Nothing is sugar coated in this book, and you are given your fair share of the good, the bad, and the messy. The plot will draw you in from the start, and keep you interested with suspense, sadness, and plenty of humor. Looking for Alaska is a deeply thought provoking story that will leave you contemplative long after you have finished reading.

Tolog Review: Once Was Lost

Once Was Lost
by Sara Zarr
reviewed by Paris Davis

Have you ever been in a situation where everything seems broken and unable to fix? In the novel Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, not only is Samara Taylor’s A/C broken, but so is the tiny string of faith that keeps her going. While her mom is in rehab for a drinking problem, her father seems to be more interested in his job as a pastor than keeping his family together. When a local girl goes missing, this doesn’t just add on to Samara’s disastrous life, but also the towns. As Gandhi once said, “strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” I feel like this quote has a lot to do with what Samara is going through, in the way that when everything in her life was a mess she did not whine or complain. She decided to never give up and through everything she became independent and found strength within herself.

After reading the back cover, I set high expectations for this book that were successfully achieved. This realistic fiction novel serves its genre well, by giving the readers a sense of who Samara Taylor is and how her everyday life isn’t so ordinary. Everyone goes through tough times in their lives, but this book gives us a sense that if Samara Taylor, a fifteen year old can make it through tough times, so can we. All we have to do is to never give up and have strength. I would highly recommend this book if you are searching for a good read that will leave you with a desire to turn the page.

Tolog Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
reviewed by Paris Davis

Looking for Alaska is a book you constantly want to turn the pages to and never put down. The book begins at a going away party for the main character, Miles, as he is about to begin life at boarding school. Once he gets there, he is welcomed by his roommate, who everyone calls “Colonel,” The two main things he quickly finds out about his boarding school are that it’s a school of no snitching and extreme pranks. He then realizes that this new life is going to hit a few bumpy roads.

The Colonel and Miles began a friendship. The Colonel gave Miles the nickname ”Pudge,” because he’s skinny. Pudge meets the Colonel’s friends, such as Lara, Takumi, and Alaska, who all attend Culver Creek boarding school. Pudge immediately fell for Alaska, because he felt she was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen. Pudge finds out that Alaska has a boyfriend to whom she’s devotedly attached, but that doesn’t stop him from constantly staring at her. Alaska never returns his affection for her, and so he uses Lara as a rebound. Throughout the book Lara has a small thing for Pudge, which soon becomes more than just a “thing.” In the end, a tragic misfortune happens, which leads Pudge wondering how he will move on from it.

This book brought me to tears multiple times. I began to grow attached to the characters and longed to read what would happen next. I absolutely loved this book, because how can you not resist a book you can’t put down? This book was extremely well written.

John Green is a excellent writer and I loved every page. He kept the book alive by keeping it suspenseful and mysterious, and was able to add some romance to it as well. If you enjoy reading fiction, this would be a good book to crack open.

I would recommend this book if you like fiction, suspense, and thrills. This book was amazing and easy to read.

Tolog Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
reviewed by Paris Davis

“No one here is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.” This is how Cadence Sinclair describes her perfectly imperfect family in E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. Everyday, the Sinclair’s are supposed to put on a mask of their exemplary best, while their flaws swiftly break through the cracks of their perfection.

This novel takes place on the Sinclair’s private island, just off the coast of Massachusetts. Every summer, the three Sinclair cousins, Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence spend their time on the island playing tennis, going to the beach, and always trying to be flawless. But they’re not, and neither are their parents. When money becomes tight, the cousins mothers begin feuding over the family fortune. This causes them to begin drinking and fighting day after day. The cousins witness this and launch into a plan that results in them burning down of one of the houses on the island.

Mixed in with the three cousins is Gat Patil. Gat is an intelligent boy of Indian descent, who Cadence falls for during summer 15. She admires the way he writes on his hands and how he always has his nose in a book. They end up constantly finding themselves in each other’s arms and take frequent trips to the beach. Unfortunately for them, Cadence’s mother and grandfather disapprove of this relationship because Gat is though of as an “outsider,” because of his ethnicity and his background.

Cadence goes from being the ideal first granddaughter, to an impaired girl when she hits her head on a rock one summer and ends up with minor amnesia and appalling migraines. After this happens, she leaves the island, but continues to persistently reach out to Gat.

This novel leaves the tips of your fingers with a hunger to constantly turn the page. If you like romance and mystery, this book if filled with it! Just flip to the first page and you’ll find yourself never wanting to put it down.