Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief​


By Esha

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief follows a young boy as he tries to understand the strange happenings around him. The book brings particular problems, which are present in the childhood and adolescent years such as bullying and ADHD, to attention. It brings an uplifting view to those with learning difficulties, mainly when there can be heroes yet they still fall behind on certain things like an average person. The narrative shows that although they are teenagers that can harness the power of the sea or can grow plants to suit their needs, they are still people that have flaws and are just like everyone else in that sense. The author conveys how not everything is how it seems to be. That if we look closer to what is around us, there can be more, or less, than we ever imagined. With the main character being a great source of humor, it keeps the reader with all the snarky comments being made by him. However, one of the greatest parts about this book is how the female characters are represented. They are shown to be powerful and brave, fully capable of completing their missions without the help of others should they need to do so. It shows that no matter the gender, background, etc., it doesn’t stop anyone from being a person that’s capable of greatness. Lastly, as the series is captivating the young audience that it was made for, it is still able to interest the those who are older. Some topics can resonate will the reader, no matter the age, and can interest them because of this. It is a beginning of a series to be remembered for a long time, as the childhood of many and even a way to teach the readers about some of the more important lessons in life.


The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Breakup Artist

Book Review by Ashley Huang

Becca is a junior at Ashland high school who runs a secret business: She breaks up couples, for a hundred dollars via PayPal. She’s a nobody, a wallflower, among the halls, but her title is a hot topic distributed in hushed tones within the vast sea of Ashland gossip. One day, Becca receives a request from a strange man willing to pay a juicy three-hundred buck price to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and Steve. Problem is – not only is their relationship stronger than steel, but Huxley has a special place in Becca’s heart: The two used to be best friends, joined at the hip, until the day Steve swooped up Huxley and left Becca stranded at the bottom of the high school social food chain – all by herself.

After a school year of trudging through five-inch thick novels, The Break-Up Artist was wildly refreshing for me. The plot was very clearly structured, which I actually enjoyed, as it satisfied my long-unfulfilled need for literary instant-gratification. The beautifully articulated literacy devices implemented by Siegal brought a splash of color and music to the story, which was one of the biggest reasons why I loved this book. Sentence after sentence, I couldn’t help but grin – Siegal really has a way with wording!

However, the main reason why this book is so striking to me is that of the uncanny accuracy Siegal managed to hit with high school and adolescent life – all the idiosyncrasies of teen life, while tastefully keeping it realistic.

Exhibit A: Becca’s friend Val is obsessed with boys and the idea of a relationship, and she finds herself falling in love with every boy who even remotely acknowledges her existence. I had to take a picture of some parts of the story and send it to a few friends who reminded me of Val.

Exhibit B: Becca’s older sister Diane wastes her life away every day, moping around at home in her old stained college sweatshirt, throwing her degree away. Diane is forced to face multiple wake-up calls before realizing the inevitability of her life if she doesn’t do something now. I personally feel that this situation has stricken everyone at least once in their life. Perhaps not as drastic, but I found myself relating to Diane anyways.

Exhibit C: The most popular girl in school, Huxley, used to be shy and quiet, besties with Becca, until one day she coughs up the audacity to climb up the high school social hierarchy without her best friend. Despite the specificity of this, I had to swallow a few angry lumps in my throat at the thought of certain personal friends who reminded me of Huxley.

When I flipped the last page of the book closed, I felt reborn. The last time I had gone on an adventure as wild as The Break-Up Artist was in middle school when I still found time to devour other YA novels like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Despite probably being more fit for a slightly younger audience, The Break-Up Artist is a perfect refresher for anyone who has fallen asleep one too many times while ­­­reading a school-assigned book.

Book Review

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Review by Anabel Nemati     Rating 5/5

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I am the Messenger follows 19 year old  Ed Kennedy, an underage cab driver who spends his spare time playing cards with his friends Richie, Marv, and Audrey (his crush since forever) or bonding with his dog, The Doorman. In comparison to his siblings, who have left to college or already have a family, Ed is thought of as the only one with no real life. But when Ed inadvertently stops a bank robbery, his life take an interesting turn. A few days after the court hearings an ace appears in Ed’s mailbox with three addresses on it. Before he knows it, Ed embarks on a mission, solving the aces and giving messages to each person or family he is sent to. With each message Ed continues to wonder, just what has he gotten himself into? And who is sending him the aces?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and could not put it down once I started. Zusak does an amazing job showing the growth in Ed’s character as he fulfilled each ace and illustrating the emotions he went through. There were moments in the book that pulled at my heartstrings and moments that inspired me. While his message may be a little cliché, Zusak makes it clear in a way that is thought provoking. I am the Messenger is a book that I believe, in many ways relates to what many young people are going through currently. In my opinion, I am the Messenger is a moving book that finds a creative way to say that no one is worthless and even the most ordinary people can make the biggest difference in the lives of others.

Book Review

Social Media Wellness by Ana Homayoun

Book Review by Ashley Huang

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Social Media Wellness by millennial expert Ana Homanyoun is a book dedicated to “helping tweens and teens thrive in an unbalanced digital world.” Upon flipping through the pages I soon realized that the handy book’s demographic was targeted toward parents and educators. Since I’m a teen, I decided to bookmark only the sections that applied best to a teen reader.

I opened the book expecting to be bombarded by propaganda against social media, but surprisingly, the author eases in slowly, first explaining to the reader that social media is a novel tool that complicates the lives of tweens and teens. I especially agreed with how the author believes social media affect a teens life:

  • “On-all-the-time” mentality – teens barely ever have any down time to truly be by themselves because their phone is always at their fingertips
  • Raised expectations – teens compare themselves to other people and exponentially amplifies feelings of insecurity about how they look, their intelligence, their life, etc.
  • Changes the dynamic of friendships and relationships – which makes the social life of teens more complicated than adults

The book also addresses mental health and how the inbalancing of sleep, time, and relationships due to phone addiction can cause depression and anxiety. Not only that, but the book also mentions how video games tie in to the umbrella term “screen-related addiction,” which suddenly makes the term relevant to the majority of male tweens and teens. Also, having been published in 2018, the book is considerably up-to-date on current trends, mentioning hot celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Most importantly, I appreciated the mini-exercises sprinkled throughout to help educators and parents to encourage teens to think about their own definition of social media and how they will consciously use it.

However, maybe it’s because the book is targeted towards parents and educators, but it presents social media in a strange manner that makes it seem novel to even a teen like me. The author calls herself a “millennial expert” but mentions social networking sites I’ve never heard in my life, and also put cringy memes that are a blast from 2012 (see figure 1). Furthermore, I believe the author paints social media as a terrifying entity. For example, she stressed that when a tween creates an Instagram profile, she’s technically breaking the law because the minimum age to have an account is 13. My jaw dropped upon reading the illusion of the magnitude of this problem that the author scaled to. I’m not a psychologist, and maybe I’m just a biased teen, but I created an Instagram profile when I was 12 and I turned out just fine…

Figure 1. Today’s teens live and breathe memes. Mentioning them is good, but it’s important to remember that memes such as these are considered antiques and are no longer relevant in the meme landscape.

In addition, I grew angry when I read the promoting of parents monitoring their child’s phone. Downloading specific apps to have a constant eye on their child is an infringement of privacy. The author defends that parents should do it out of love and concern for safety, rather than fear and punishment, but a privacy violation is a privacy violation, nonetheless. I consulted my mom and she told me that she agrees with the author, which left my mouth hanging. My mom defended that she would do it out of her child not having enough self-control to go on certain websites, or not enough self-control to stop browsing the internet, but I rebutted, saying that independence is important to a teen and blocking access to sites from a teen will only make them angry and find a work-around to the sites.

Bottom line: Based on the sections I read, the author’s main point to get across is that safety is #1 with our children, and I appreciate her tactics to get teens to use social media healthily. But social media is NOT the culprit for tragic happenings that get posted online; in those cases, it’s a tool used to distribute the actions of stupid people. What the author missed is that stupid people will inevitably get hurt doing stupid things, and it’s not right to lump together and define the entire teen population as idiots who will do crazy stunts just for the likes and comments.

TAB Recommends

TAB Recommends 2/22/18

Here are some books our TAB members have read and loved recently. We’ve included the call number so you can come and get them at Reston Regional Library! All summaries taken from Novelist unless otherwise noted.

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The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon – YFIC YOO

Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American who strives to live up to his parents’ expectations, unexpectedly fall in love and must determine which path they will choose in order to be together.


Shadowshaper, Daniel Jose Older – YFIC OLD

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on–then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends.

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The Siege, Mark Alpert – YSF ALP

Adam and the other robotized teenagers in the Pioneer Project must once again battle Sigma, the rogue artificial intelligence program bent on destroying Adam and all of humanity by first corrupting the Six from the inside.


Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World, by Ana Homayoun – 302.231 H 2018

Today’s students face a challenging paradox: the digital tools they need to complete their work are often the source of their biggest distractions. Students can quickly become overwhelmed trying to manage the daily confluence of online interactions with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and family life. Written by noted author and educator Ana Homayoun, Social Media Wellness is the first book to successfully decode the new language of social media for parents and educators and provide pragmatic solutions to help students. – goodreads

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach – 611 R 2003

A look inside the world of forensics examines the use of human cadavers in a wide range of endeavors, including research into new surgical procedures, space exploration, and a Tennessee human decay research facility.

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How to Become a Straight-A Student: the Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less, Cal Newport – 378.17 N 2007

Offers time-management strategies, tips on taking tests, techniques for writing essays better and faster, and self-assessment tests to help students analyze their study skills.


TAB Recommends

TAB Recommends 

Here are some books our TAB members have read and loved recently. We’ve included the call number so you can come and get them at Reston Regional Library! All summaries taken from Novelist unless otherwise noted.

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Devotions, Mary Oliver – 811 O 2017

Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world. – goodreads


The Watch that Ends the Night, Allan Wolf – YFIC WOL

Recreates the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself.

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The Horse Diaries, book 1 – Elska, Cathy Hapka – JFIC HAP

Around the year 1000, the Icelandic horse named Elska is born and learns about life and her role in the herd, as well as love and friendship, when she rescues the girl to whom she originally belonged. Includes facts about Icelandic horses and Iceland.


Animorphs, book 1 – The Invasion, KA Applegate – JSF APP

Endowed by a dying alien with the power to morph into any animal they touch, friends Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias, and Marco investigate the wonders of the world with their unusual powers.

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Boston Jane: An Adventure, Jennifer L. Holm – JFIC HOL

Schooled in the lessons of etiquette for young ladies of 1854, Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia finds little use for manners during her long sea voyage to the Pacific Northwest and while living among the American traders and Chinook Indians of Washington Territory.


Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1 – The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan – JFIC RIO

After learning that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea, Percy Jackson is transferred from boarding school to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods, and becomes involved in a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, JK Rowling – JFIC ROW

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.


Goldie Vance, Volume 1, Hope Larson – YMS LAR

When in-house detective Charlie comes up against a case he can’t crack, he calls upon sixteen-year-old Goldie, who uses her skills, smarts, and connections to solve the case.

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Emma, Jane Austen – FIC AUS

Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances’ love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.


The Six, Mark Alpert – YSF ALP

Adam, crippled by muscular dystrophy, and five other terminally ill teenagers sacrifice their bodies and upload their minds into weaponized robots to battle a dangerously advanced artificial intelligence program bent on destroying humanity.

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A Gathering of Shadows, Victoria Schwab – SF SCH

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London. In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned.


Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte – FIC BRO

In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess and soon finds herself in love with her employer who has a terrible secret.

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Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell – JFIC ODE

Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

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Medea, Euripedes – 882 E

Medea centers on the myth of Jason, leader of the Argonauts, who has won the dragon-guarded treasure of the Golden Fleece with the help of the sorceress Medea. Having married Medea and fathered her two children, Jason abandons her for a more favorable match, never suspecting the terrible revenge she will take.

Book Review




Image result for acceptance: a legendary guidance counselor helps seven kids find the right colleges--and find themselves

Acceptance by David L. Marcus

Review by Ashley Huang

Journalist David L. Marcus embarks on a year-long journey with Oyster Bay High School in Long Island’s North Shore to tell a story of legendary guidance counselor Gwyeth Smith Jr, seven Class of 2008 seniors, and their college application journeys. The narrative is a mix of both a story and “tips-and-tricks” book, bulleting unconventional wisdom on college essays, scores, and scholarships.

This book taught me that every student, including myself, has a story to tell. Acceptance tells the tale of a mixed bag of students – from Jeff Sanders, a jock struggling to improve his grades, to Lee Kim, an overachiever who is tired of his Korean immigrant parent’s wishes, and Riana Tyson, a black student overwhelmed to get the college diploma her parents never got – and how they were all able to find the right college. I was surprised by each of the seven seniors, as they all had surprisingly meaningful stories, and all have gone through undoubtful hardships in their seventeen years. Most importantly, Acceptance defends counselor Smith’s argument that the college application is more of finding the right college, rather than finding the best college. I learned that the college application should be taken more personally, and there’s no need to try to become a cookie-cutter A-grade student with a mile-long list of volunteer experience. For me, Acceptance helped forge a path toward the right direction in the near future.