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Welcome to Billings Public Library's teen-produced blog! Explore reviews about books, movies, music, and more. This is also a place for teens to share their own creative writing and art! Want to submit your work? Email us or use the FORMS tab above to write your own review! Check the BLOGGING TIPS tab for information to help you write a blog post.

jinxed Opens in new window

Feb. 26, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14


Jinxed

Author: Amy McCulloch (Amy Alward)

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What's the book? This book is called Jinxed. I got this book for Christmas, and I read it overnight. It was amazing.

Set the scene: Jinxed is a book set in the future, where everyone has robotic animal companions called Bakus that do everything a smartphone does, and more. The main character is a girl named Lacey Chu, and she dreams of becoming a companioneer, and designing new bakus.

 My thoughts: I adored reading this book. At first it starts out a little bit like Harry Potter, but it soon becomes a fast-paced adventure, and the book is impossible to put down. The sequel, Unleashed is equally good. They are both books I would reread, and I recommended them to my dad, who also enjoyed them very much. 

Favorite Characters: My favorite character in this book is the main protagonist, Lacey. She is super smart, and I feel that people can relate to the fact that she doesn’t have as much money or resources as other people, but doesn’t let that stop her from accomplishing her goals and dreams. Another favorite character of mine is Jinx, Lacey’s baku. He just has so much attitude and humor, it’s hard not to love him.

Similar books: Honestly, this book was unlike anything I have ever read. There are small similarities to some books, like the school aspect that is similar to Harry Potter, but the ideas in this book are very original. It is different from any other science fiction book I have ever read.

Feelings after the book: After reading this book, I immediately wanted more. The ending makes you want to immediately buy the second book, so that you can continue the story. I was also a little sad after finishing this book, because the first time you read an amazing book is very special. But once I got a hold of the second book, I basically swallowed it whole. It was even more suspenseful than the last book, and the main antagonist is an extremely well made character.

Other thoughts: I think people should read this book. It opens your eyes about how our cell phones control us, and how we should never give away our ambition.

 Pass it on: I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read, who adores a good science fiction movie, and who loves imaginative books. It will please anyone.

Blogger Bio: I am currently in 8th grade, remote learning, and I am going to Senior next year as a freshman. My favorite hobby is doing community theater, and I love to sing and dance as well. I love to read, which is why I am doing this blog. I also love to draw, so I will be including a bunch of digital art in the blog. Also, corgis are amazing.

spiderverse

Feb. 25, 2021

Movie Review by Elsa Rogers, 14


Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Director: Bob Persichetti

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"With great power comes great responsibility." We've all heard that, right? Please tell me we have so that I don't lose complete faith in humanity. Please. Well in the unlikely case that you haven't, that's what Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker when he becomes Spider-Man. And, since we are now on the subject of the Amazing Spider-Man, please tell me that you've seen the best Spider-Man movie created, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

Spiderverse is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, and I am not overexaggerating. It's the impossibly perfect mix of humor, sadness, adventure, and pure gold. Because I enjoy it so much, it's my favorite movie, and that's saying something. There is a long list of movies that I absolutely love, but Spiderverse easily trumps them all. I've seen it so many times that I've lost count, and I could definitely quote the entire thing top to bottom if you would like. Just hook me up.

The movie follows a 14-year-old boy named Miles Morales who, well you know, gets bitten by a radioactive spider. He meets five other Spider-Men who all came from different dimensions, and who all say the same thing when they meet each other. "You're like me." After introductions take place, a lot of things happen, but I'm not going to specify just in that rare case that the person reading hasn't actually seen it. The movie was written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also did Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, which is also a fantastic movie. You can expect a post about that one later.

I love every single one of the main characters except for Peni Parker. I just felt no connection, personally. But everyone else includes Miles, Peter B. Parker, Peter Parker Noir, Peter Porker, and the fantastic Gwen Stacy. Miles and Peter B. Parker have the best little friendship, which has a mix of a father-son relationship in it because Peter B. Parker doesn't have kids, and Miles doesn't connect with his own father as well as he did with his uncle, who, well, I can't say because that's a spoiler.

I really can't choose who, overall, is my favorite character, but I might just have to say Peter B. Parker with all the others tied in second. This certain Peter is sarcastic, a little sardonic, and loves to eat. There are so many more elements that color the background of his character, but if you haven't already seen the movie, you'll have to watch it yourself to get what I mean. One of my most favorite quotes from him that I will share with you is this: "I love this burger. So delicious. Mm. One of the best burgers I've ever had. In my universe, this place closed down six years ago. Mm. I don't know why. I really don't. Mm!"

So, now that you know the basics, you better go watch it. If you don't, that's okay, but know that you have missed out on something that is too wonderful for words.

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, I am super tired right now, I like escape rooms, and science is my favorite school subject. Since that's out of the way, I would just like to say that wherever I go, the wind follows, and the wind smells like rain, and, secondly, you shouldn't be worrying about you-know-who, you should be worrying about you-know-poo, the constipation sensation that gripping the nation!

Feb. 22, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14

Ellie Hazel

A fanfiction of one of my favorite characters from The Heroes Of Olympus

Ellie Ditto

Ditto, a cute Pokemon

Blogger Bio: I am currently in 8th grade, remote learning, and I am going to Senior next year as a freshman. My favorite hobby is doing community theater, and I love to sing and dance as well. I love to read, which is why I am doing this blog. I also love to draw, so I will be including a bunch of digital art in the blog. Also, corgis are amazing.

percy jackson book cover Opens in new window

Feb. 10, 2021

Book Series Review by Elsa Rogers, 14


Percy Jackson and the Olympians

and The Heroes of Olympus

Author: Rick Riordan

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What’s the book? The book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, along with the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan. I read this because I had family members tell me that it was pretty good, and that I would enjoy it, so I picked it up and wasn't able to put it down.

Set the scene: Describe the setting in which the book takes place (without spoilers!)  The book's timeframe is set in modern times, even though it was written a couple years back, but the first series takes place in New York at a special camp called Camp Half-Blood and the second series takes place all over the world.

Your thoughts: Did you like this book? Why or why not? Did anything stand out to you? I LOVE THESE BOOKS SO MUCH. They are still so enjoyable for me to read, and for those of you who like mythology, fantasy, something that makes you crack up, and a whole lot of sass, then this will be right up your alley. They are very well-written and I just love that they could make me laugh and cry at the exact same time.

Explain which character(s) were your favorite and why. Could you relate to any of the characters? I have a lot of favorite characters from both of the series. Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Leo Valdez, and Dakota (whose last name we never get to know) just to name a very few. They all have different characteristics that I deeply enjoy, such as Percy's constant sass, Annabeth's constant ability to stay level-headed, Leo's humor that matches mine completely, and Dakota's addiction to Kool-Aid which might be why I connected with him on such a deep level. There are also a lot of really strong female roles which I really appreciated. I can relate to a lot of characters, like the way that some of them deflect serious issues with humor, how others are quick to come up with a crazy plan that should not have worked so well, or just simply the type of people that the characters like to hang around.

Is this book similar to any others you’ve read? If so, how? In a way, yes it is, but Rick Riordan just does a really good job with making it unique and making it his own. I've read books like Fablehaven (which was also really good) that includes magical creatures much like Percy Jackson does, but Rick just really breathes a different kind of life and a different level of sass into it, that makes me love it even more every time I re-read them.

What did you think or feel immediately after reading the book? With some of the books he leaves us on cliffhangers so, at the end of those ones, I want to scream and throw the book against the wall and then curl myself up into a ball and cry. But with the other books, I usually giggle maniacally, let out a content sigh and then go and get the next one, ready to continue the journey.

Other thoughts? In all honesty, if you are struggling in class when you get to your mythology section, read these books. I know a LOT about mythology because of them, it has helped a lot. I would also like to say that the first series focuses on Greek mythology, the sequel series dives more into Roman mythology, and then Rick made other mini-series that are about Egyptian and Norse mythology, so if you don't particularly love Greek or Roman, you've got options.

Pass it on: Explain who you would recommend this book to. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend these books! I made one of my friends finish the series because she stopped halfway through and she has now been successfully taught in the ways of Rick Riordan, so I would really recommend it to anyone you see fit! And I just have to say, if you haven't read it, you must. You absolutely must. And if you already have, do it again. I personally prefer these over the Harry Potter series too, so if you weren't quite satisfied with those and haven't read Percy Jackson, I would suggest that you get on it, my friend.

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, I hate going to bed, but I like to sleep, I play the clarinet and the piano, and I can't, I won't, and I don't stop, so Mike D come and rock the sure shot. And with that, I urge you to treat yo' self and to remember that hey, all the cool kids are sleeping with stuffed animals these days.

Star WarsThe Clone Wars Opens in new window

Feb. 3, 2021

TV Series Review by Elsa Rogers, 14


Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Author: George Lucas

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Are you a Star Wars fan and are really disappointed at how the prequels turned out? Or are you just a Star Wars fan in general? Then have I got the thing for you. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a fantastic television series. It takes place in the middle of the second and third movies in the prequels (if that's what you're familiar with) but tells an excellent story about Luke and Leia's father, Anakin Skywalker, his padawan, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and so many others. Clone Wars was made by George Lucas (obviously) but also had a lot of help from Dave Filoni, who did The Mandalorian, and he did a fantastic job making so many of the characters likable and relatable.

The animation is weird, I admit, but I personally got used to it. When the show got more funding around the third season, the animation quality was improved, so if you're struggling with it, at least make it to that mark. You can find the show on Disney+ and I would highly, completely, 10/10 recommend. It's funny, heartbreaking, and ingenious all at the same time. I am mildly obsessed, but I don't apologize because, most importantly, it makes up for the fact that the prequels were very disappointing.

(And I know a lot of people like them, and they are fantastic because of the memes, so I very respectfully accept their opinion and I very respectfully disagree.)

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, and I am a huge TV binger and a ginormous bookworm. I enjoy fantasy and sci-fi, (no romance novels for me) writing my own books, drinking Kool-Aid, and astronomy. That being said, I urge you to remember that there is always money in the banana stand and to go crack open a Diet Coke in honor of Mr. D.

The Initiation Opens in new window

Feb. 1, 2021

Book Review by Hank Jagodzinski, 15


The Initiation

Author: Chris Babu

ISBN: 9781682615935

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What’s the book? The book I read was The Initiation by Chris Babu. I choose to read it because it was recommended to me.

Set the scene: Describe the setting in which the book takes place (without spoilers!) The book takes place in New America, which is the island of Manhattan several decades after a series of disasters known as The Confluence (a supervirus, a global technology/communications outage, rampant inequality, and overpopulation) destroyed most of humanity. The government in New York City has walled off Manhattan and has created a self sustaining society. That society is meant to be completely equal. But it isn’t. Residents are segregated into different regions by their class/occupations, and if you are born in one region, you have to stay there. The only way to move up in life is by completing the Initiation, a mysterious series of life threatening challenges which tests its participants bravery and intellect.

Your thoughts: Did you like this book? Why or why not? Did anything stand out to you? I really enjoyed reading this book, mostly because it takes place in a setting so different than we experience today. At the same time, many of the events which caused the downfall of society appear to be present now. When I first read this book in 2019, the world of New America seemed like such a remote possibility. But the COVID-19 pandemic created a world far more similar to a dystopia. COVID-19 is similar to the virus in the book, and the pandemic caused societies to put up figurative “walls” to protect their populations. The book describes an exodus from major cities, and riots across the country, again, strikingly similar to the events of 2020.

Explain which character(s) were your favorite and why. Could you relate to any of the characters? Drayden is definitely my favorite character in the book. He’s the protagonist and a math whiz. However, no character in the book is really that similar to me, but I can definitely picture some of my friends as several of the characters in the story.

Is this book similar to any others you’ve read? If so, how? Yes, this book is similar in many ways to the Hunger Games. There’s an evil corrupt government, and the people who work for the government have lavish lifestyles far better than the common people. The book is also a dystopia, and teens have to compete in deadly challenges, again similar to the Hunger Games.

What did you think or feel immediately after reading the book? I felt mostly grateful not to live in New America! But I was also eager to read the next book, The Expedition. The Initiation ends on a total cliffhanger, so chances are if you like the book, you’ll want to read the second one in the series as well.

Pass it on: Explain who you would recommend this book to. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes futuristic and dystopian novels, especially if you like suspense filled plot lines.

Blogger Bio: I’m a 9th grade student at Billings Central Catholic High School. I love Billings Public Library and enjoy reading dystopian, realistic fiction, and fantasy novels. I’m a reporter and editor for the BC Chronicle, the school newspaper at Central, as well as a member of my school’s speech team. As a member of the library’s Teen Advisory Group, I’m looking forward to helping promote the library’s many services and opportunities to students in the Billings area.

cilkas Journey Opens in new window

Feb. 1, 2021

Book Review by Ryan Dolan, 16


Cilka's Journey

Author: Heather Morris

ISBN: 9781250265708

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Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is a sequel from the Tattooist of Auschwitz and it is a novel that shows so much strength and determination. This book is a graphic novel, but shows exactly what happened to the people of the Holocaust. Cilka’s Journey focuses on one main character, Cilka, who is a beautiful young woman who is taken from the guards and is used as their slave. For years, everyday, Cilka had to fight for her survival and endure hardships that many people today could not even fathom of having.  Cilka used her beauty to help other campmates escape, since she had an in with the Nazis. Not only is this book such a great read, but it is also based on true events. This actually happened to a girl in Auschwitz and it teaches us, as readers, to just appreciate all that we have. Reading this book puts a lot of things into perspective. When reading this novel it almost feels like you are there living in Auschwitz with Cilka as you dive into the book. Cilka’s Journey overall is a great read and if you love history this is the book for you!

Blogger Bio: Ryan Dolan is a junior at Billings West High. She enjoys basketball and helping make our community a better place to live. She volunteers at Reading Rocks, Special Olympics and the Montana Marathon to name a few. She wants to pursue a degree in Education or something medical because she enjoys working with people. She plans on going to the University of Montana in the fall of 2022.

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