Reviews and Recommendations

Counting Thyme Book Review

Review written by Kristen Julia Anderson, Teen Librarian

Review of: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Recommended Age/Grade:  Middle School, 5th-8th grade

This review is based on an Advanced Reader’s Copy.

Expected Release Date April 12, 2016

Life sometimes takes us places we never dreamed of going only to leave us right where we belong.  In Melanie Conklin’s debut novel, Counting Thyme, she shares the story of middle school student and middle sister Thyme Owens. Thyme’s family moves from San Diego to NYC because her younger brother, Val, who has a rare form of cancer, is part of a drug trial taking place in the city.  Her parents’ main focus is her brother; her older sister, Cori, quick to make new friends, is hardly ever around, leaving Thyme mostly on her own. Despite her “middle-child” syndrome position, Thyme proves to be brave and mature, though she does have her, understandable, moments of jealousy and loneliness. 

Thyme loves her family, especially her brother, but she misses her best friend and Grandmother, so at first all she wants to do is get back to the place she still calls home,  San Diego.  However, when Thyme starts to make new friends at her new school and even meets a boy (a first crush!) she starts to have mixed feelings over her initial wish to move. 

Counting Thyme is for anyone who has ever been (or felt like) the new kid, an outsider or felt caught in a life s/he doesn’t quite understand or easily fit. Conklin shows how sometimes the very changes we fear the most are the very ones that will help us grow the most.   

Highly recommended for fans of realistic fiction! 


T.A.G. Video Book Review 2

Review by Sophia Raines 

(Book Reviewed: Part of Me:  Stories of a Louisiana Family by Kimberly Willis Holt)


T.A.G. Video Book Review 1

 Review by Thania Piercin

(Book Reviewed: Twilight Zone : The Monsters are Due on Maple Street by Mark Kneece)  


Review of The Rest of Us Just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here  Book Review By Sophia Raines            

The Rest of Us Just Live Here Book Cover

Calling all fangirls! And fanboys.

It’s the brutal truth that we, as book readers, must face. We are not special like the heroes and heroines in our favorite novels. We will never be the chosen wizard, son or daughter of a god/goddess, beholder of the all-powerful gift, defender of the light, be loved by a vampire, the one true king, and etc. The list goes on and on and on about the endless possibilities of what we cannot be. We read about these people and their exciting lives and we adore their strength and courage, and most of all how special they are. As much as we love these heroes and their thrilling lives, we also envy them; we all long to be the special one needed to save the world. You can cosplay and make-believe that you are the centerpiece of the magical world in which you long to live in, but you know deep down that you are not.

That is the concept for bestselling author Patrick Ness in his latest book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here. It follows four friends (Henna, Jared, Mikey, and his sister Mel) in their senior year of high school, through the lens of Mikey. All they want is simple, to have fun, and graduate, so long as the indie kids manage to not blow up the school. Who are the indie kids you ask? Well, you are already quite familiar with them. They are those smart aleck, hipsters, with those fifties names, and thrift shop clothes, and are so antisocial and against anything popular. Those chosen few, the ones that become the wizards or protectors of the light and all that jazz. Sure, they might go on cool adventures, but they have this tendency to die pretty often and cause a lot of collateral damage.           

What I love personally about this book is the refreshing perspective it brings to our favorite plucky young heroes. We often get swept up in their escapades and bravery that we overlook their faults. How destructive and selfish they really are. The craziest thing is that the protagonist in this novel are more captivating in their average lives because they are not the heroes. They are not special and they know that. Just like us.

            It is wonderfully clever, and heartbreakingly realistic. It is impossible not to get attached to these characters and fear for them. If you are a fan of YA adventure novels, a teenager in high school, and have a sense of humor, you will take extreme pleasure at poking fun at some of your favorite books. It is a must read, and a great gift for the season.


Classic Books Every Teen Should Read

Recommendation List by Teen Advisory Group member Clare Kelly

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

1984 by George Orwell

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemmingway

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Review of William Shakespeare's Hamlet

William Shakespeare's Hamlet

by Clare Kelly

While I dread the thought of boring my reader with preachy nonsense, I must express that William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the best novels I have read within my high school career. I know what you are thinking, “Shakespeare? There is no way anything can be gained from this 16th century ramble,” but you must hear me out. While I do have bias, (through my love for everything Shakespeare) Hamlet truly does incorporate complex characters, tragic miscommunications, and a dreadful climax. And like any Shakespearean tragedy, the play does not disappoint in its conclusional bloodshed.

So, why is it so great? For me, the exceptional part of Hamlet is the complexity of Shakespeare’s characters, and their unique style and personalities. Looking thoroughly, many of the deaths and quotes with Hamlet have much deeper meaning than the reader might initially observe. The puns and confusing language can be a barrier for many people towards seeing the true nature of the lessons learned. Much like Hamlet himself, Shakespeare’s language is so intellectual, it is hard for many people to understand the true nature of his thoughts.

Regardless, I must recommend this play to you because it truly is one of Shakespeare’s finest works. While the language is a drag to analyze, the messages exposed are worthwhile.