Takoma Park Maryland Library · 101 Philadelphia Avenue · Takoma Park Maryland 20912 USA · 301.891.7259


Read Karen MacPherson's essays, reviews, and interviews with authors.

August 21, 2014

6 Reviews from Sarah

Matched by Ally Condie 
reviewed by Sarah 

This is a story about a girl named Cassia. In her society, teenagers are matched at age 17 and they find who they are most compatible with. Cassia's nervous about the big day and wishes her best friend Xander the best of luck. Cassia waits anxiously to see her match and is surprised and relieved when she sees that it is Xander. She receives a case which has additional information about Xander in it.

One day when she opens the case she sees another boy's face: Ky Markham. Cassia doesn't know who she is really matched with and who her true love is. She's closer to Xander but her relationship with Ky is growing and growing into something more. She's conflicted about her love and is doubtful about what her society really is and what it's hiding. If you enjoy this book there are also other books in this series, following this one, Crossed and Reached . I recommend this book to people that like to read speculative fiction and dystopian novels. This is a good read for many teenage readers and I recommend it to readers of all ages.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card 
reviewed by Sarah 

Ender Wiggins is a child genius and is unbelievably strong. He has been watched for the majority of his life and is sent off to Battle School in outer space to train to fight in the war against the buggers and save humanity. Ender is only nine years old when he becomes a platoon leader in this school and can fight on professional level. He gets bullied by the bigger, less intelligent kids at this school due to his brilliance but he doesn't let it affect him too much. Ender proves to be the promising leader that world leader thought he would be and develops good fighting and thinking skills and is able to easily adapt into the Battle School and eventually, the command school life. Ender knows though that the buggers don't really want to fight the humans and he becomes determined to win the war and find them a home. This book is much like Insignia by S.J. Kincaid so I recommend it to those who like the Insignia series.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner 
reviewed by Sarah 

Michael is a gamer on Virtnet, a virtual world in which one sleeps in a coffin and enters an virtual world that tests hacking and life skills but feels so realistic that it might as well be for real. This game is extremely addictive and allows people with money to enter their fantasy worlds, to risk their lives but not have to worry about the effects of dying because they come back to life anyways, and are just to have fun.

But things aren't always fun and games when in Virtnet. A mysterious gamer with hacking skills beyond human ability is brainwashing gamers one by one and his motive is unclear. Michael and his friends, Sarah and Bryon, are asked to find Kaine and bring him down, but lives are at stake. Gamers are entering Virtnet and never leaving a trace of their existence. Sarah, Bryon, and Michael are now putting their own lives at stake, and Kaine knows their coming and will do everything in his power to stop them. For fans of the Maze Runner series, your favorite author is back, better than ever. This book is action packed and very adventurous and I recomend it to all teenagers that want a good free read.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 
reviewed by Sarah 

Colin has only dated Katherines. In fact, he's dated a total of 19 Katherines. And he's been dumped by every single one of them. This time, he's suffering from the break-up of his 19th Katherine, the one he had been in love with for the longest. Finally out of his depression, he and his friend Hassan embark on a road trip that stops once they reach the town of Gutshot. Colin is a child prodigy and to many people a genius, but he doesn't see himself as a genius. To Colin, a prodigy copies what geniuses have done and genius must create something original. Colin doesn't want to be just another prodigy. He wants to be a genius, and he wants a Eureka moment.

Colin and Hassan stay in Gunshot under the roof of one of their new friends, Lindsay. Colin attempts to make a equation about his theory of love that will help him predict the outcome of a relationship. He thinks that this could earn him the true title of genius. Colin mainly focuses on his theorem but he starts to fall in love with Lindsay who happens to have another boyfriend, coincidentally by the name of Colin. I highly recommend this book to teenagers who want a good laugh and a love story.

Animal Farm by George Orwell 
reviewed by Sarah  

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory of the Russian Revolution. On Mr. Jones' Manor Farm in England, there is the start of a revolution. Old Major, a prize wining boar, calls a meeting of all the animals in the barn. He addresses the issue of animal injustice. Old Major tells these animals about a dream, a dream where all animals live in peace together without humans to oppress them. These animals take into consideration what Old Major says and three days later Old Major dies and is butchered. This sparks a revolution. The animals drive Mr. Jones and his wife off their farm and decided to run their own farm and carry on Old Major's dream. They follow the principles of their so-called animalism and prosper with their new leadership, the pigs. Animals now live without conflict and without human control but how different really are these animals and humans?

I enjoyed this story a lot and hope many other readers of all ages will also appreciate and understand it.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle 
reviewed by Sarah 

Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin are outcasts and just want to be normal. One night a stranger comes to the Murry 's house and brings the three children on a mystical, extraordinary, and perilous adventure through time and into a distant universe. Their fate lies in their ability to defeat an evil brain, IT, who uses its powers to brainwash everyone and to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father. This is a fantastical adventure classic that has earned its place on many bookshelves. I recommend this classic to everyone and it is a book every well read person needs to read.

Posted by library at 11:59 AM   VIEW FULL POST

Fayette Street

The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns 
reviewed by John 

The Corner is the true story of one year in the life of a family living in inner city Baltimore. Powerful and moving, it follows three family members as they stumble their way through addiction. Fifteen-year-old DeAndre McCullough is a dealer and a teen father. Gary, DeAndre's father, is a hopeless addict, battling cocaine and heroin at the same time. And Fran, DeAnde's mother, once poised to raise the family out of Baltimore and away from the drug corner forever, has come back to drugs as well.

The corner is the center of their world; it is where the police arrest, the touts sell, where those addicts await that high that they desperately seeking. The corner, to them at least, provides a feeling of stability that the family lacks. Brutally accurate, it shows us the utter disparity of drugs. And it gives us a real, completely true, illuminating look at how the Corner takes away your money, your friends, your family, and finally, your life.

Simon on the death of DeAndre McCullough
NYT obit
Simon's recent Sports Illustrated article about the Orioles
An earlier NPR interview with Ed Burns, former Baltimore detective and Simon's co-writier.

Posted by library at 11:13 AM   VIEW FULL POST

July 22, 2014


Insignia by SJ Kincaid 
reviewed by Sarah 

Tom Raines lives in the future during the time of World War III. He is poor and gambles for money. In this world, people gamble with video games. Tom always wins these games and uses the money he makes to support his dad and himself.

One day, a general from the combatants (the supernatural warriors in World War III) is watching Tom play and wants to recruit him. Tom leaves his father to go join the Combatants and fight. Combatants are the smartest, strongest, and fastest people in the world. In order to measure up to these standards, Tom is given a computer chip which is placed in his brain. He uses this to download information, speed up his thought process and provide perfect photographic memory. He is also given growth hormone bars to make him taller, faster, and stronger.

Tom trains and becomes the strongest fighter. He engages in the war and learns and befriends a combatant on the other side. Tom also aces other struggles and other enemies within his own territory.

This is one of the best books I have ever read and I highly recommend it to teens who like adventure and speculative fiction.

Librarian's Note:
SJ Kincaid's Blog
Insignia Playlist

Posted by library at 10:49 AM   VIEW FULL POST

Chasing Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett 
reviewed by Gabby 

"On a warm October night in Chicago, three deliveries were made in the same neighborhood." Just by reading the first sentence of Chasing Vermeer, I was already curious about the book. The author's style of writing made the book interesting; the way that she is mysterious yet still makes it possible for the reader to envision the scene in their mind is, in my opinion, a very hard thing to achieve.

We do not meet Chasing Vermeer's main characters until the second chapter. Calder is a thoughtful boy and Petra is an extremely smart girl. Balliet introduces the characters in a school classroom, and by doing so helps the reader feel that the characters are familiar. The main plot of the story is that the characters must find an "invaluable Vermeer painting." Backed by their extensive knowledge of pentominoes and most topics in general, Calder and Petra work together to prove that you can do anything, regardless of who you are.

Overall, I found Chasing Vermeer a very enjoyable story and would suggest it to any open-minded reader seeking a mystery.

Who is Blue Balliett?

Posted by library at 10:26 AM   VIEW FULL POST

July 21, 2014


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 
reviewed by Joel 

I'll start this review off by saying this is one of the best books I have ever read. However, it is not for kids. Don't read this if you cannot handle sexual themes. Seriously. On the surface, Middlesex is a story about the transformation of a person born as a girl, Calliope, into a man, but it is much more than that. It deals a lot with the history of the narrator's family, starting in Greece during the Balkan Wars, At the end of the history part of his book, Eugenides goes into the story of Calliope, or Callie. Her epic journey from woman to man is flawlessly chronicled by Eugenides, and every page is filled with details and beautiful insight into the human mind. I would genuinely recommend this book to anyone, not only because it addresses an important social issue, but just because it is so darn fun to read.

Posted by library at 04:37 PM   VIEW FULL POST