Southbury Teen Review Blog

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Fat Vampire: A Never-Coming-of-Age Story April 22, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 5:57 pm
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Fat Vampire:  A Never-Coming-of-Age Story by Adam Rex


Vampires generally fit into one of two categories.  Drop-dead (pun completely intended) Hollywood gorgeous or something like Nosferatu.  Sadly, Doug Lee is neither of these.  Doug is stuck forever at fifteen and pudgy.

Since the accidental run in with a half-mad vampire that left him with a severe case of vampirism, the geeky Doug has been struggling to figure out just what it takes to be one of the undead.  Doug gets so desperate he actually attempts to drink the blood of a panda at the zoo while at San Diego Comic Con.  Once back home (finally) in Pennsylvania, Doug has to find another source of blood besides cows.  Maybe a nice goth girlfriend that’s into the whole vampire scene, but finding a girl is not as easy as it looks.

Things are starting to look up when a kind of vampire support group gets wind of Doug and offers him a tutor, even if that tutor is really out there.  Unfortunately the “Panda Mishap” has the crew from the TV show Vampire Hunters on the look out for him, so things are about to get complicated for Doug.

Fat Vampire is a satirical look at teens, internet addiction, and the whole vampire craze.   A story you can really sink your teeth into, this one is definitely worth a read.


Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu February 24, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 8:29 pm
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dirtylittlesecretsLucy Tompkins has a dirty little secret…her mother is a hoarder.  For years her mother has been “collecting” items that are too precious to throw out.  The result is a house filled to the ceiling with newspapers, clothes and garbage.  There is no heat and no running water.  Lucy navigates her way around the trash and her mother’s illness, biding her time until she can leave the house like her two older siblings.  This is the deep, dark secret she’s been living with her whole life.  Lucy has artfully controlled the situation by never letting anyone in her home and choosing her friends carefully.  All that falls apart when she returns from a sleepover to find her mother has died under a pile of National Geographic magazines.  Panic-stricken she starts to dial 911, but stops.  If the authorities come…everyone will know their dirty little secret!

The majority of the novel deals with Lucy’s attempt to clean up her house so she can attend to her mother.  At first I didn’t understand why she just wouldn’t call for help.  Her mother’s dead, who cares about the house.  But then we are given a glimpse into exactly what Lucy has been living with.  If you’ve ever seen the TV shows about hoarders, you’ll understand.  Lucy’s mother has saved every single scrap for years and years, and it’s all in the house.  There’s no where to walk except for winding, claustrophobic paths carved into the debris.  The smell is overwhelming. Lucy recalls how family members have tried to help and clean up in the past.  This was seen by her mother as a betrayal.  Lucy has no choice but to live in the squalor until she graduates.

Her mother’s sudden death has made Lucy take action like never before.  The dichotomy between the anger and sadness she feels towards her is perfect.  Lucy is finally free of her mother and she’s left with the mess, but the fact is that her mother has died.  The guilt she feels for not mourning properly is equaled by her fear and sadness.  By the end of this Dirty Little Secrets I came away with a great respect for Lucy and her strength to endure her mother’s illness and try to protect her family.  I can not even imagine what it must be like to live and function in this situation.  For many people out there, this is a reality.  I applaud C.J. Omololu for shedding light on the issue of hoarding and those it affects.


Shelter February 14, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 10:53 pm
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Shelter (Mickey Bolitar #1)
Harlan Coban

After the death of his father, Mickey Bolitar is sent to live with his estranged uncle Myron while his mother enters rehab.  Mickey is finally starting to settle into his new life and even has a girlfriend Ashley, but when Ashley suddenly disappears and strange men with dark glasses start poking around Mickey’s neighborhood, Mickey gets drawn into a bigger mystery than he was expecting.

This was my first time reading a Harlan Coban book so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really liked it; I read it pretty much in one sitting!  It was fast-paced and full of suspence and twists, as soon as I thought I had figured it out there was new evidence that changed everything!  I thought Mickey was a good character even though he may have done some unrealistic things for a 15 year old.  Ema was one of my favorite characters, she started off as a sterotypical Emo kid from highschool but as she and Mickey became closer, her true nature comes out and she helps solve the mystery.  Spoon is also a very likeable character, he’s quirky, geeky and very random but he a has good heart and only wants to help his new freinds.

The ending was action packed and while the mystery surround Ashley’s disappearance is resolved, there are still a lot of questions that Mickey has to find answers for.  I guess I’m going to be reading the next book, Seconds Away, to find out what happens next!!


Leverage by Joshua Cohen February 13, 2013


This isn’t your average High School sports story.  Leverage is a story about bullying and abuse.  At its heart, it’s about friendship and survival.

Ruled by the popular yet sadistic football captains, Oregrove High is like any other school.  Gymnasts and footballers engage in an escalating prank war that culminates in the unthinkable.

Danny is a talented gymnast with dreams of the Olympics.  Kurt is the new guy, fresh from foster care, a wounded soul.  His stutter and his size make him an immediate target.  This odd couple comes together to get justice when the school and community turn their back.

Leverage is a super-intense, gritty, and unfortunately realistic take on some extreme bullying and abuse that takes place right beneath our very noses.  Joshua C. Cohen has brilliantly illuminated this taboo and all too common topic.


The Space Between Trees by Kate Williams

Filed under: Books,Staff Pics — Heather @ 1:44 am
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Evie is a loner, emotionally distant, without friends.  She invents realities more colorful than her true life.  She imagines scenarios involving Jonah Luks, the handsome drop out and dead animal remover for whom she harbors a secret crush. One Sunday morning she stops to chat with Jonah while on her paper route.  Used to the sight of dead animals, he is startled by the discovery of the body of a girl.  Evie recognizes her as Zabet McCabe.  They were friends years ago in Elementary School.  Evie immediately fixates on the murder of her past friend.

While attending Zabet’s funeral Evie encounters her grieving father.  Mr. McCabe, eager to find a connection to his murdered daughter, latches on to Evie and urges her to tell him about his daughter.  Evie, adept at stretching the truth, weaves a story that will comfort Zabet’s father.  Zabet’s real best friend, Hadley continues the charade.  The two girls vow to discover the killer of their friend.  Hadley becomes obsessed with unearthing the truth.  Evie’s life is spinning out of control.  She wants to find Zabet’s murderer as much as anyone, but at what cost?

Kate Williams’ debut novel is a hauntingly beautiful story.  The cover itself is stunning.  What lies beyond is a lyrical masterpiece.  I am a big mystery lover, but this one goes beyond the simple whodunit.  The focus of this novel is not the murdered girl or the identity of the killer.  It is how those left behind are changed by the events.  I can’t accurately do justice to the depth of this book.  The Space Between Trees is one of my favorite books.


It’s Kind of a Funny Story February 12, 2013

Filed under: Movies & TV — Heather @ 11:20 pm
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PG-13, 101 minutes, Focus Features

This 2010 adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s novel by the same name was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  Lovers of Vizzini‘s book need not be disappointed by the film version, perhaps owed to the fact that Vizzini himself was one of the screenplay writers.

Fifteen year old Craig Gilner is over-worked and anxious about his high-pressured High School, the fictitious Executive Pre-Professional, modeled after Stuyvesant High School in NYC.  His depression has spiraled out of control until one night he contemplates jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.  Instead, Craig goes to the ER, where he soon finds himself a patient in the psychiatric unit.

Spot-on casting of Keir Gilchrist as depressed and suicidal teen Craig Gilner, Emma Roberts as self-mutilater Noelle, and Zach Galifianakis as psych ward regular Bobby round out the ensemble.  Look for notable cast members Viola Davis as Dr. Minerva and Jim Gaffigan as Craig’s dad.