Our Reviewers

These are our current Pasadena Public Library teen reviewers who contribute book reviews to the Teens Blog, Teen Zine, and/or VOYA Magazine as a partner with our Teen Librarian. Teen Reviewers are assigned notable, new, and/or not-yet-released books to review. If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please see our requirements after the list of reviewers.


Alicia Zhang is currently a middle-school student. She enjoys reading, writing, playing sports, and researching debates in her free time. Though she doesn’t particularly dislike any genres, her favorite genres to write and read are science-fiction and fantasy. (reviewer since 2017)

Aminda Zou is a rising freshman at Campbell Hall. She is a dancer, ice-skater, and activist. In addition, she loves reading realistic fiction that matches her humorous yet sarcastic personality. (reviewer since 2018)

Jacob Chon is a sophomore in high school. He enjoys both novels and nonfiction equally, although he has a tendency to prefer gritty war novels. In addition, Jacob performs in his school’s Speech and Debate program. (reviewer since 2016)

Jasmine Sov is a student at Sierra Madre Middle School. She enjoys reading, writing, and singing. She particularly enjoys reading realistic fiction and everything involving food. (reviewer since 2019)

John Chon is a student at San Marino High School. He is going on to 10th grade and likes to read, play games, and spend time with his younger siblings. John doesn’t know what he wants to do when he grows up, but he’s sure he’ll figure it out soon. His preferred genres are science fiction and biographies. (reviewer since 2016)

Kira Toal is a rising junior with a love for a wide range of genres, from gritty non-fictional narratives to over-exaggerated comedies. When she isn’t playing water polo or programming video games, she works through tutoring programs to extend her passions for reading and writing to her school and neighborhood communities. (reviewer since 2017)

Nina Dinan is a freshman at Pasadena High School. She reviews nonfiction books and enjoys playing the piano, studying languages, and reading and writing poetry. (reviewer since 2017)

Sylvie Bower is a junior at Blair High School. She’s been obsessed with books since before she can remember (her first play date with her best friend was described as “the worst play date ever” as she spent the entire time reading her friend’s books). When her nose isn’t in a book, you can find her playing tennis on her school team, playing clarinet in band, or most likely surfing the Internet. Although she doesn’t really have a favorite genre, she does prefer to read diverse or #ownvoices books, as YA is especially lacking of these. (reviewer since 2017)


Qualifications to be a Teen Reviewer

  • Reviewers must be between the ages of 13-17 at the time of initial application
  • Reviewers must live in Pasadena, attend school in Pasadena, or regularly attend Pasadena Public Library events
  • Reviewers are assigned 6-12 books to review per year
  • Reviewers must write a 200-400 word review for each assigned book
  • Reviewers must be able to pick up books from the Pasadena Public Library when necessary
  • Reviewers must have good written communication skills
  • Reviewers must have access to their own email (whether at home, school, or library) and answer their own emails
  • Reviewers are credited with their full name, so all reviewers will need to turn in a signed volunteer contract
  • Reviewers must apply and be accepted
  • Any exceptions to the above qualifications can be made by the Teen Librarian


How to apply to be a Teen Reviewer

Please apply by submitting a sample review to Jane Gov at jgov@cityofpasadena.net with the subject:  Reviewer Application.  Attach your review as a Word document or copy and paste it in the body of the email.


Guidelines for Reviewers

Read the entire book.  You can’t give a fair review without reading the whole book.  Sometimes, it helps to also read prefaces and the author notes (usually following the end of the book).

Your opinion is more important than the summary of the book.  Your critical assessment is good, but there’s no need to write a book report.  The review could involve your reaction, your engagement to the text, and/or your opinions about the characters or plot.  You could also suggest whether or not other teens would like the book.

Reviews must be submitted using this form:  https://goo.gl/forms/eUtcMfpXhhmfoFcE2  This link is for official reviewers only.



First paragraph: short summary of the book, with no obvious spoilers.

Second paragraph: your opinion.

Your star rating out of 5 stars.


Your reviews will be credited accordingly.


Reviewer Responsibility

It is your responsibility to notify me if you have a reading restriction. Unfortunately, I can only promise that the book is marked appropriate for ages 12 (or sometimes 14) and up; age appropriateness is based on the book’s publisher, author, and professional book reviewers. If you have other restrictions beyond age appropriateness (such as certain subjects or issues), you have the right to refuse to review the book, but it is your decision only. I will not be checking whether a book falls within your specifications.

If you are claiming service hours for book reviews, you may not “double claim” the hours–meaning, you may not submit the review to another library and get service hours there as well for the same review.

You must read the entire book before writing the review.

Reviews published on another review blog/website or magazine will not be accepted; cross-posting a review on Goodreads, Amazon, LibraryThing, or on your own personal blog is okay.


Tips for writing

Have a set of sticky notes ready to tag quotes or passages that stand out to you.

After reading the book, jot down quick notes about what stood out to you.  Was the ending weak?  Did the characters develop?  Was the plot believable?  Did the writing capture you?

Leave some time between your initial and final review.  Write a draft of your review, and then finish it the next day.  You might change your mind about a certain phrase or opinion you wrote.

Use your words wisely.  Short reviews can be really strong if you’re using the right words, but don’t forget to give examples or details when your point needs it.

The best way to be a better writer is to read… so read lots and lots of other people’s reviews.


Read some samples:

By Hadley, teen reviewer:  http://pasadena-library.net/teens/2015/love-letters-to-the-dead-teen-review/

By Hadley and Kara, teen reviewers:  http://pasadena-library.net/teens/2015/red-queen-teen-reviews/



Teen Advisory Board members Hadley Willman and Kara Eng are currently teen reviewers for Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA), a professional journal for library youth advocates. How did this happen? They’ve demonstrated a combination of responsiveness, dependability, and a series of well-written reviews. Additionally, they’re book and word geeks, so they’re perfect for this role.

Continue reviewing for our library, and you may be the next chosen VOYA reviewer!


Updated 4/13/2017 -Jane Gov

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