Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

Amazon.com: Like Home (9780593172599): Onome, Louisa: Books

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Louisa Onomé’s Like Home is a breath of fresh air that reminds us of our childhood days and fond memories. Chinelo, or Nelo, a Nigerian Canadian, loves her beloved neighborhood, Ginger East, Toronto, and is happy with the way things are. But things changed after an arcade homicide, which has painted the community in a bad light since then. Many of her close friends started to migrate to nearby places, except Kate (Nelo’s best friend), whose store has been a staple to the area. After her store gets vandalized, Nelo fears that she will leave, too. Moreover, new stores have been moving in, gentrifying the community and displacing businesses. As Nelo regards these changes as harmful to her neighborhood, she finds a way to overcome them and stand for Ginger East, her home.

The book hooked me right from the cover till the end. The prose is very readable, and all the characters are given a lot of insight. Nelo was like a reflection of myself, and her youthful, sensible voice kept me invested in the book. I also adored Bo, Rafa, Kate, and Mr. Brown since each of them had a distinct personality and a story to contribute. I also liked how the author pressed on the concept of how change can be good and acceptable, and resisting it could only hurt you more. Likewise, Nelo learns to accept reality and realizes that changes aren’t always bad. Other themes of the book, like gentrification, stereotypes, and friendship dynamics, were closely examined without stagnating the flow of the story.

One memorable thing about the book is the connection between Nelo and her friends. The text messages and their banter made me giggle here and there, and their friendship was so authentic, which is quite rare these days. The closing was well-crafted, presenting a good vibe for the readers at the end. It left me thinking about Nelo and her friends long after the last page. Overall, it is a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Onomé.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - Kindle edition by Schwab, V. E..  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a young woman named Adeline LaRue who makes a deal with a god to live forever. The only cost to this bargain is that she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie lives through the centuries living as a ghost to the people around her, with her only company being the same god who cursed her name. It isn’t until 300 years later where she encounters the impossible in a small bookstore in NYC: someone has managed to remember her name. The plot starts with our main character, Addie LaRue, who lives in 1714 France in a small village called Villon. In a desperate effort to escape from her unwanted marriage, Addie makes a deal with a god named Luc who grants her the wish to live forever. The only catch is that anyone who sees her will instantly forget her name. From there, the book follows Addie’s new life as a ghost, traveling from place to place trying to survive with this new curse on her. The plot’s setting is set in many countries as it follows Addie’s newfound freedom in discovering the world around her. Henry Strauss also serves as another main character in the book. He is the one who is not affected by Addie’s curse and remembers her name. 

I thought the book was amazing and creative. I found that it was a bit slow in the beginning as nothing was happening, but it eventually does begin to get interesting as we learn how Addie brought this life on herself. I know the main romance was between Addie and Henry but I found myself gravitating to the relationship between Addie and Luc. I mainly just found it interesting how Addie survived living a life where everyone she knows forgets her the second they turn away. Addie became a character I found relatable to even at 300 years old. Furthermore, I didn’t see Luc as the ultimate villain in the book. He was your typical morally grey character who did seem to care for Addie despite Addie thinking otherwise. 

The thing that drew me to the book was its writing style. I felt the book was written in a way in which every sentence just managed to flow together that created a book that felt beautiful in its own way. I also particularly loved the relationship between Addie and Luc. It was interesting to see how their feelings towards each other changed over the years as Addie continued living her eternal life with Luc being the only reminder of her old life. The number one thing I did dislike is the ending mainly because it did leave it open for a sequel even though this book was strictly standalone.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift

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The story revolves around two main central characters Adraa and Jatin, who had an arranged marriage set up from a young age. The two main plot points of the story are about how these two characters fall in love and the various political and economic stances that their nations have. One of these was how the invention of firelight, an invention made by Adraa which impacted the people, affected the economies in other nations. The setting takes place in the fictional world of Wickery, which has five countries, each having its system behind the hierarchy. Most of the cultural aspects of the various nations in the story seem to come from India. However, some of the slang used also seems slightly based on British English. The story also has an intricate magic system which is a big part of the plot and the setting.

The main thing that drew me to the book at first was the magic system. To that aspect, I feel that the story did not disappoint. However, one of the main things that I disliked was the writing style. The premise is very cliché, and the story isn’t helpful by having the first hundred chapters be a slow burn. The story involves a contract marriage between the two main characters. I hated this since it was a generic arranged marriage setup, which meant that the two characters hated each other. Not to mention, it lasted around 100 chapters. The resolution to this issue involved the usage of another cliché of falling in love in one glance. I also heavily disliked how this book made the word “blood” into a profane word. The usage of the word “blood” seemed to be in places where it could have been using the phrase “bloody he**”, but since it’s not written in that way, the dialogue with that word feels abrupt and not complete. At first, I thought that it was due to a cultural influence and the author wanting to keep the profanity down for a younger audience. However, the author also uses other words of the same type. This confused me on whom the target audience was supposed to be or if it was just a generic misprint. However, I don’t think it was a misprint due to it happening frequently, and I disliked that a lot. It was one of the many reasons why I disliked Riya, a supporting character. I feel that can hinder a reader’s experience when they read this novel. Speaking of characters, I don’t particularly like or dislike the main characters. I enjoy the portions of world-building that are shown through them, but when the characters interact with others it comes off as cheesy. Other times, the story comes across as if those two characters were the only characters present in the story. The other characters felt one-dimensional and felt as if they were only existing to serve as a plot point for the two main characters. For example, at the end of the first on-screen fight scene, the interaction between Riya and Adraa felt very dry. It almost felt as if Riya was making Adraa into a Mary Sue type character.

For me, one of the memorable things in the book was the conflict between Adraa and Basu. This incident occurred around 50 pages into the book, and it was the scene that kept me invested in the book and prevented me from dropping the book. It was fast-paced, and the magic in the conflict was also something that I enjoyed seeing.

Reviewed by Srinivasan, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

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Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater serves as the second book in the Dreamer trilogy. It picks up from Call Down the Hawk with Dreamers Ronan Lynch and Hennessy. Dreamers are people who are known for their ability to make their dreams into reality. It starts off with them following Bryde, their mentor, and fellow Dreamer, who is on the run from Moderators, an organization bent on killing Dreamers. Ronan and Hennessy are on their own mission of restoring the ley lines, supernatural energy that keeps Dreamers and their fellow dreams alive. While in Boston, Massachusetts, Declan Lynch and Jordan Hennessy scramble to find an alternative to keeping Lynch’s dreamt brother, Matthew, alive and able to live life fully as a dream. Powerful decisions are to be made as the Dreamers rush to keep the force that fuels them and their dreams alive.

The plot is mainly set in Virginia with Ronan and Hennessy helping Bryde fix the ley lines and help make Dreamers more powerful. The book switches from Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts where Declan, Jordan, and Matthew discover an alternate way to keep dreams alive without depending on their Dreamer. I thought the book was gripping as it added more to the supernatural world of Dreamers and further delved into their powers. I also felt like all the characters seemed on the edge of becoming morally grey characters because there were parts in the book where I was fully agreeing with their motives, and then realized to myself, “Wait, they’re literally committing ecoterrorism to further their goals.” I did think the author did a good job of making me fall into that trap.

I will say the prose in the book is a little difficult to understand at times. I did have to reread a few paragraphs here and there because the writing felt a little too advanced for me to understand. I did enjoy seeing all the characters interact with each other. Declan Lynch definitely became a character I began to sympathize with and understand after seeing him represented from the biased POV of Ronan. I wished we got more POVs from the other characters, like Adam Parrish, just to see the story from different perspectives. Overall, the book was a very gripping novel that left me waiting for the next plot twist.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

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Read + Review: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Amazon.com: It Only Happens in the Movies (9780358172062): Bourne, Holly:  Books
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It Only Happens in the Movies is a story that surrounds a 17-year-old British girl, Audrey. While coping with her parent’s divorce and a breakup with Milo, she’s been abstaining from her friends, love & romance. But everything changes after she meets her coworker, Harry, at her new job at Flicker. With her media studies project for school, she dissects the stereotypes in typical romance movies and wonders why love is never like that in real life. But despite her beliefs, she inevitably falls for Harry and becomes part of his feminist zombie flick, where she finds herself again. Unlike the usual “happily ever after endings,” the finish gives an unexpected twist as Audrey finds what’s best for her.

I liked the overall message of the book but not the way it was delivered. At the beginning of each chapter, the author includes bits and pieces of Audrey’s media studies project, which intrudes the flow of the book. I wish she added it elsewhere where it wouldn’t stagnate the flow. Additionally, the story goes a lot in depth about relationships and being true to oneself. The book hooks you from the beginning to the end due to its colloquial language and tone, making it a quick and easy read. I also loved the author’s word choice for Audrey’s character development, which helps readers understand her feelings throughout the book. There is also a balance of emotions since the book is not sad-themed or happy either. I also like the cover and its popcorn theme!

One memorable thing about the book is how it stood apart from traditional romcoms. I loved how Audrey was so relatable, and that ending was king! It is the reason I am rating 4 stars for this book.

Review by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Area Library