OYAN Review: Teen Review: Odd & True

This post is an article from the Fall 2017 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by teen reviewer Emily at the Cedar Mill Community Library.

Note: Author Cat Winters will be visiting the Cedar Mill Library on November 8th to talk about her books with teens and tweens at 3pm.

Fast Facts:
Book: Odd & True by Cat Winters
Published: September 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Recommended for: Fans of mystery, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars

Odette has spun mystical, magical tales for her younger sister Trudchen ever since they were little. Now that she’s older, however, Tru is starting to lose the magic from these stories. She’s realizing that they were nothing more than just that, stories. Od was just trying to comfort Tru through the long, worrisome nights and Tru’s constant pain from the effects of “a bout of fevers.” Tru seems destined to a life at home with her aunt, until one night when Od shows back up at her window. Od tells Tru that all those magical stories that they shared long into the night were, in fact, very true. Monsters roam the world and, if the girls aren’t careful, they could be in grave danger. The sisters embark on a magical journey across the United States to find their monster hunting mother at the turn of the 20th Century. Danger and red herrings follow them at every turn as they learn of their true powers and destiny.

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OYAN Review: Teen Book Review: One Hundred Spaghetti Strings

This post is an article from the Summer 2017 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by teen reviewer Malika.

The cover of the book One Hundred Spaghetti Strings by Jen NailsBook: One Hundred Spaghetti Strings by Jen Nails
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Recommended Age Range: 9-13 years
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publication: 2017

One Hundred Spaghetti Strings in a realistic fiction book by Jen Nails. Steffany “Steffy” Sandolini and her sister Nina Sandolini live with their Auntie Gina and her boyfriend, for Steffy’s father left her family at a young age, and her mother is hospitalized for brain trauma. When Steffy learns that her father will be coming back to live with her, she must get comfortable living with her father, resorting to the thing she knows how to do best: cook. Steffy loves to cook — from pies to pasta from scratch. But can Steffy turn these ingredients she is suddenly thrust with into something good?

I personally love to cook, so I could relate to this book a lot. Continue reading

OYAN Review: Teen Review: Far From Fair

This post is an article from the Fall 2016 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by teen reviewer Mahadevan at the Cedar Mill Community Libraries.

A headshot of the teen who wrote the book review in this post. He is standing in front of a white brick wall and wears glasses and a navy polo. He has brown skin and dark hair and is smiling slightly.Book: Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Recommended Age Range: 9-12 years
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publication: 2016

Far From Fair is the story of sixth grade Odette Zyskowski and how her parents decide to uproot their family from their home in California. They take a family vacation in the beat up “Coach” so that they can visit their sick Grandma Sissy in Washington. Nothing seems to go right for Odette, not when she has to sell a lot of her belongings, has to leave her best friend behind, or even when the family phone gets dropped in the ocean! This story chronicles Odette’s journey to understanding that life isn’t always fair and how we all must live with both the good and the bad.

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Melanie Dickerson Transports Readers into Medieval Fairy Tales by Mary A. Hake

Melanie Dickerson, whose novels have been in the top 10 YA on Amazon and #1 top sellers in some categories, offers modern readers the opportunity to experience the setting of ancient fairy tales in her novels inspired by these classic stories. Although her first series is marketed as YA, it appeals to readers of a broad age range, and her adult novel has been embraced by teens. Who doesn’t delight in the world of princesses and castles and impossible love?

Melanie won the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book, a Golden Quill Award, a Carol Award, HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, and has been a Christy Award finalist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and has She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany, and the Ukraine. Her inspirational fiction encourages and uplifts readers.

Following are brief descriptions and reviews of Melanie’s YA novels in order of publication. Each book can stand alone, but readers will want to devour the whole YA series, which is best read in order. Every book has a connection with the others, and some characters play roles in the ongoing story.

The Healer’s Apprentice offers an enchanting tale that keeps readers enthralled with its mix of love story and suspense as good battles evil. Rose, a woodcutter’s daughter, has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle in Medieval Germany and must tend the injured future duke. The story may be a bit predictable at times, but it’s not just a typical “happily ever after” tale. The book explores relations between peasants and nobility and topics such as selfishness, duty, forbidden love, and discovering one’s destiny.

In The Merchant’s Daughter Annabel must move to the manor to serve the new lord, whom many consider beastly. She faces dangers and hard work, to which she had not been accustomed while her merchant father lived, and struggles to maintain her dignity and her purity, despite her status as an indentured servant. As Annabel gets to know Lord Ranulf better, she begins to reconsider her attitudes and her life’s longings. But a lord and a servant could never make a match, right? Intrigue and conflict keep the story moving briskly as the reader is swept up in this engaging tale from medieval times set in England. The novel also deals with prejudice and superstition, as well as honesty and trust.

The Fairest Beauty returns readers to the 14th century, where wicked Duchess Ermengard disposes of all who threaten her rule over Hohendorf Castle. Beautiful Sophie, a mistreated scullery maid, often finds herself longing to escape. When an old servant manages to get word to Hagenheim Castle, to whose heir Sophie had been betrothed, Gabehart sets out to rescue the lovely maiden. Danger, adventure, and romance accompany their journey, which includes a sojourn at the Cottage of the Seven.

The Captive Maiden features Valten, the eldest son from Hagenheim Castle, who has bested other knights in tournaments but has not succeeded in finding the person he wants to marry until he meets Gisela, a lovely young woman forced to fulfill a servant’s role by her cruel stepmother. Valten’s rival uses Gisela to achieve revenge over him. Captivity draws the couple into a closer relationship, but will they survive so they can wed? Their adventure offers breathtaking peril along with some sweet moments.

The Princess Spy abounds with suspense and danger. Margaretha, a well-educated daughter of a duke, has not settled on a suitor because she seeks true love. The man she is supposed to marry may not be the type of man he presents himself as, and an injured stranger warns her to beware. Thus begins her adventures to try to save her family, castle, and village from an evil plot.

The Golden Braid’s Rapunzel lives with her adopted mother, who warns her not to have anything to do with men—they only want to take advantage of women—and so Rapunzel must keep her lovely hair completely covered. Rapunzel has learned useful skills in their travels, but she longs to learn to read. She finds an opportunity at a monastery, but this leads to other, unexpected lessons and questions. Will she ever have a chance for love and marriage? Does her mother truly have her best interests at heart? This novel is thick with deception and bursts with surprises as it holds readers’ attention to the very end. Some of the events parallel those in The Princess Spy, but readers experience the story from a different point of view.

Melanie’s adult novel, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, draws upon the legend of Robin Hood for inspiration, but a female protagonist draws the arrows in order to provide food for the poor. Although Odette knows her nocturnal activity defies the law, she chooses to pursue her mission of mercy because she believes she follows a higher law. When her life intersects with the forester, Jorgen, who oversees the woods and the animals there, she struggles with how to continue her hunting ministry in the midst their growing mutual attraction. He has Odette in his sights in more than one way. Could her life be in danger? And the mayor’s son insists he will marry the beautiful Odette, but she is uncertain. As the story progresses, she discovers more secrets and plots in this exciting drama.

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson, released May 2016

This long-awaited sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest offers another enjoyable medieval fairy tale, set Europe in 1363. It can easily stand alone, but reading the first of the series enriches the experience. The new margrave of Thornbeck needs a wife so he invites 10 noble women to visit so he can choose one. An earl’s daughter who was to attend has taken off with her lover, so her servant Avelina must take her place. The adventures and difficulties that ensure keep readers flipping pages to see how it will all turn out. I like the historical details and real-life scenarios that make the story come alive.

Melanie Dickerson’s masterful storytelling offers readers a fine adventure set in the historical past we enjoy dreaming of—with fairy tales brought to life in a new way. Visit her website at http://melaniedickerson.com/ for more details about her books, along with some trailers to view. Her books are available in paper and ebook versions.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

reviewed by Polina Verkhovodova, Beaverton City Library

Fahrenheit451In the futuristic society of Fahrenheit 451, books are banned and thus destroyed when discovered. Suburbanites of this society remember vaguely – if they do at all – their past lives and established history. Guy Montag is such a citizen. He is a fireman, and, suffice to say,  very fond his job. He enjoys midnight runs and finds joy in watching pages consumed by flames. Montag never questioned anything until he meets a seventeen-year-old girl who prompts him to examine his life. He later meets a professor who tells him of a dreamland where people can think. Montag then decides that in order to stay human, he must rebel against the ways of the society.

Fahrenheit 451 is not only a story in which books are outlawed and destroyed, but it is one of the power of intellect, the importance of knowledge, and the physical ability to read books. This classic dystopian novel stands at the side of George Orwell’s 1984, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Bradbury’s use of figurative language and striking imagery helps develop the symbolism and themes found within this novel. Fahrenheit 451 is considered to be one of Bradbury’s best novels. Ray Bradbury’s ideas leave as much of an impact on readers today as it did to readers sixty years ago.


The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

reviewed by Elvira Sanchez Kisser, Woodburn Public Library

doubtfactoryAlix Banks lives a privileged teenager’s life: she goes to a premiere private school, she is a top student, she spends her time going shopping and talking about boys with her friends, watching after her mischievous brother, while her father works too much and mother worries too little. Then a mysterious intense activist, Moses, steps into her life and accuses her father of killing others through his company and her life gets turned upside down. Alix must discover the truth about her father, Moses, and the world she lives in.

A contemporary thriller that is filled with conspiracy facts based on headlines, action sequences, hacking intrigue, security dodging and even a bit of romance. The most notable scene from a librarian’s perspective is when Alix begins to do her own research in order to make up her mind and at first sees nothing unusual when she does a cursory search. Then she begins to dive in deeper in verifying the sources of the information and the web of intrigue grows.

The story is fast paced and focused on exposing the reader to the idea of how misinformation is used in our society.  At times the narrative stalls while information is laid on the reader all at once and could have been handled better by incorporating the information throughout the novel. On the other had I liked the use of real companies and situations that can be easily verified with a bit of research.  As for the characters, they are shallow and stereotypical so as not to lose focus on the plot. Overall an entertaining way of looking at a heavy and controversial subject