Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: My Book of Life By Angel

Title: My Book of Life by Angel
Author: Martine Leavitt
Teen Reviewer: Shannon Finney
Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt is a realistic story told from the point of view of a young girl of the Vancouver streets. After her bad habit of shoplifting gets her kicked out of her home by her father, Angel moves in with Call, an older man who makes her feel grown up, and introduces her to new substances that she becomes addicted to. Without fully realizing it, Angel is turned into a prostitute under Call’s control, and loses all hope of ever returning to her former life.  It is not until Call brings home a new girl, a very young and innocent one, that Angel has something to fight for – someone that she can save. Angel, the protagonist that almost all teenage girls can relate to, whose thoughts remain innocent and pure despite her circumstances, tells her extremely moving and inspiring story about holding on to what’s right even when things could not be more wrong.

Written in free-verse poetry, the terse lines of My Book of Life by Angel capture the voice of the troubled teenager and give the reader a new perspective on the struggles of the women subjected to violent sexual experiences and exploitation under the control of their pimps. Though not sexually explicit, Angel’s story does contain some unsettling language that Leavitt uses to convey a completely realistic message about what young women of the sex trade go through.  Although the message is heart-wrenching, eye-opening and intense, the poetry makes it simple and easy to read. I would recommend this book to young women and men who want to learn more about the terrors of prostitution that are prevalent around the world, and the girls who become victims of the sex trade.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Death Cloud: Book Review

Title: Death Cloud
Author: Andrew Lane
Teen Reviewer: Timothy Wood
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane, is a book about a 14 year old Sherlock Holmes who is disappointed when he gets news that he will have to spend his time with his aunt and uncle, whom he has never met, instead of returning to London with his family for the summer because his father is sent overseas with the British Army, his mother is sick, and his brother, Mycroft, lives in London busily working for the British Government. What he thought would be a boring and tense vacation at his aunt and uncle's Holmes Manor turns out to be an exciting adventure when two bodies are discovered at the Manor and the town nearby. Investigating the deaths, Sherlock finds himself unraveling a diabolical plot with his new friend, Matty, and his new tutor from America, Amyus Crowe.
When I first picked up this book, I was skeptical of how enjoyable it would be simply because of the fact that many authors try to remake iconic fictional characters without much success. I am very happy to say that I was proven wrong. Being one of the only novels approved by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate, Death Cloud doesn't try to copy Doyle's work, but rather enhances it in that we are able to see how the adult Sherlock is made, especially in his dealings with Amyus Crowe. The novel is brilliantly written in the complexity of the plot, yet is still very much understandable, which I have found to be lacking in most detective novels. If the novel is too simple it's boring, but if it is too complex it's confusing. This novel has the perfect balance. It was also very difficult to put down. I found myself reading late into the night because of its excitement. I do wish that this novel had included more examples of how Sherlock came to think in the way he does, but I think Lane will include more of these in later books. People of all ages, but especially young people, who like detective novels should most certainly consider this one, and I myself will be picking up Arthur Conan Doyle's original books featuring Sherlock Holmes because of how much I enjoyed Death Cloud. Personally, I cannot wait to read the next one! I rate this a 5 out of 5.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: Skinny

Title: Skinny
Author: Donna Cooner
Teen Reviewer: Kinsey Manchester
Rating: 4/5  Stars

Ever Davies is a high school sophomore who weighs over three hundred pounds. Since her mom passed away, the best way to control her feelings is through lots and lots of food. Sometimes, she can find solace in music, and it is her dream to one day be confident enough to sing for everyone in the school. Every day, she suffers the spiteful stares and cruel comments of her fellow classmates. Their relentless bullying and taunting does not surpass her own self-deprecation, though. Ever has an evil conscience, whom she has ironically nicknamed Skinny. Skinny does not let Ever go one day without reminding her just how ugly, fat, and unloved she really is. Finally, Ever decides that she needs to escape herself. She makes a decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery and change her life forever. With the help of her friend, Rat, Ever loses weight, but doesn’t find herself feeling any better. Her new and improved looks don’t change how she feels about herself, and Skinny never stops making her feel horrible. Ever has to readjust her attitude along with her eating habits if she wants her inner voice to shine through. Ever finds love along her long and painful journey of figuring out who she really is and which people are her true friends.

Skinny is a very touching and emotional book. I did not expect to become so attached to the novel and to all of its characters. Ever is a strong girl because of all that she has gone through. Her mother has passed away, and her father has remarried to a woman with two beautiful, skinny daughters. Ever has a hard time keeping her spirits up, and one way to do that it is to be mean. She forces her anger back on other people, which annoyed me to no end, but I understood why she did so. If people were that mean to me, I would probably act the same way. Her blindness to see what other people truly think of her is also sometimes annoying, but very human-like. Oftentimes, people don’t notice what others really think of them, and this is portrayed perfectly in Ever’s view of herself through Skinny. I enjoyed Ever’s taste in music, as a music lover, and thought it added a nice extra touch to understanding her life. Rat, Ever’s best friend, was so sweet and I simply loved his character! This book was very good, and I would recommend it to readers of all ages!