Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith

You can place a hold on a print copy, an eBook copy, or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

Divya Sharma is a popular streaming gamer more commonly known as D1V. She often streams the game “Reclaim the Sun” for her followers, the #AngstArmada. It may seem like all fun and games, but behind the scenes it’s more than that. Divya’s gaming money is the only thing keeping her and her mother afloat. Without it, her mom wouldn’t be able to finish her classes or be able to pay the rent. So this isn’t just a game for Divya, it’s her whole life. Aaron Jericho absolutely loves gaming, and writes games for a local developer in his free time. He knows that helping make games is exactly what he wants to do when he gets older, but his parents are pressuring him to be a doctor instead. Divya and Aaron are people who live very different lives until their paths collide in “Reclaim the Sun”. They quickly become friends and now have each other to navigate the difficulties in their lives.  

I really enjoyed this book and thought the way it was set up was great. The story was told from the point of view of both Aaron and Divya, so we got to see their individual lives as well as when they talked to each other. I loved how both of the characters were so different but still connected very well. Divya was more private and skeptical while Aaron was much more trusting and open. The author changed his writing style to reflect the perspectives of each of them. This aspect of the book gave it a very personal feel and made it easier to understand what each character was like early on. The only complaint I have is that the book is a little slow-paced and could do with some more action. I also really liked how even though their problems were very different, they were still able to understand and relate to each other.

The most memorable part of this story for me was watching Divya and Aaron’s friendship develop.  Divya does not trust easily, especially online, so it was really cool to see how she eventually came to trust him. I liked that the friendship was more gradual because that’s usually the way friendships work in real life.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier

Amazon.com: A Castle in the Clouds (9781250300195): Gier, Kerstin,  Fursland, Romy: Books

You can place a hold on this book’s print copy, eBook copy, or eAudiobook copy.

Sophie Spark is an intern at a grand hotel in Europe called “Castle in the Clouds”. On a daily basis, she deals with misbehaving children, rude chambermaids, and crazy guests. Her job isn’t all bad though; she makes friends throughout the hotel and she meets two boys. Ben is the hotel owner’s son and Tristan is a sketchy guy who seems like he has something to hide. On top of everything going on in her daily life, one of the biggest hotel events is coming up. As the renowned New Year’s Eve Ball at the hotel grows closer, odd things seem to be happening. Her usually dull job is now filled to the brim with stolen jewelry, missing children, and even people lying about their identity. Sophie ends up in the middle of this predicament and she must figure out how to expose the crimes being committed and still find a way to come out alive.

The plot was engaging and mainly was about Sophie’s life as an intern. Sophie was a likeable protagonist and her personality and character was one of my favorite parts of the book. Also, small details were slowly disclosed as the story went on, and they all led up to the final plot twist. Looking back, you can clearly see how all the little clues hinted at the ending. This was another thing I loved about the book; the ending wasn’t blatantly obvious but looking back, you wonder how you could have missed all those things. On the other hand, I wish more time was spent talking about the strange things going on at the hotel instead of Sophie’s life as an intern. The plot was very masterfully written and in way that everything had a purpose and was very carefully thought out. Although there is one central plot, there are other smaller things going on that connect in with the main plot in the end. The story is tied together very neatly and different aspects of Sophie’s life all come together for a happy ending.

Something that I found memorable about this book was when I realized why the title was “A Castle in the Clouds”. Of course, that is the name of the hotel, but the magic of the hotel plays a bigger role in the plot and the hotel itself is much more significant than it seems at first glance.

Review by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Amazon.com: Last Night at the Telegraph Club (9780525555254): Lo, Malinda:  Books

You can place a hold on a print copy here.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club tells the story of Lily Hu, a Chinese American girl living in 1950s San Francisco, who begins visiting the Telegraph Club with her classmate Kathleen Miller. America is not a safe place for Chinese Americans during this time, as the Red Scare threatens deportation for Chinese Americans, Lily’s father included. Lily’s life becomes even more complicated as she finds herself falling for Kath and navigating her newfound feelings. America is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, but Lily finds that Kath is worth the risk.

I thought the book was was absolutely incredible. I don’t read historical fiction that much, but this book drew me in with its plot set during 1950s San Francisco. I loved the romance most of all. I was really on the edge of my seat towards the end when Lily and Kath’s relationships began to run into new conflicts. I liked how the author left the ending open for interpretation. I definitely did feel there were some loose ends that didn’t get tied up towards the end. For example, what happened to Shirley’s family situation towards the end? What became of the man who got arrested at Aunt Judy’s job? But overall it was a very groundbreaking and emotional story. 

I loved the found family Lily found at the Telegraph Club. Throughout the book, she gets to know the women who visit there, who are just like her, and finds solace in their friendships. To me, it made me happy that Lily found a safe haven where she didn’t feel shame nor disgust at all over who she was. I loved how beautifully Kath and Lily’s relationship developed over the story. Throughout the story, I was rooting for their happy ending. Though Lily’s parents aren’t my favorite characters towards the end, it was nice seeing how the author still provided backstories for them.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

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You can reserve a print copy here or an eBook copy here.

Fact-checking is perhaps one of the most important fields in our current era of evolving information and communication. Breaking news and shocking events are streaming into our electronic devices constantly, leaving us with heaps of information to process. This book proves as an effective shield to arm yourself against fake news and take in the truth instead from professional journalists. It provides an in-depth analysis of the media and the clever schemes they organize, straight from the experiences of an intelligence analyst from the CIA. Examples upon examples throughout human history about fake news are provided, and different techniques to identify fake news are clearly explained. By the end of the book, readers will have developed a sense of awareness regarding fake news and its persuasive effect on human perception.

I deeply enjoyed the style of this book and its enlightening nature. The author designed the book in a way that anyone from any background could understand, and provided examples that encompassed many different areas of our daily lives. One fantastic thing about the book was that it was written by a CIA Intelligence Analyst, who has had many years of invaluable experience in her field. The pictures and diagrams provided in order to breakdown fake news were informative, and the book would have been confusing without them. Although there were a few grammar issues towards the end, it was a good read because it supplied me with the tools necessary to interpret the difference between fake and real news.

Something that immediately struck out to me was the lack of awareness I had of fake news and the sheer number of times I let it go unnoticed. The book acted as an illuminating journey, showing me my own biases in daily life and how they subconsciously affected the type of news I took in. For example, I have never observed my politically-leaning status prior to reading this book.

Reviewed by Arnav K, Glen Allen Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Girl in the White Van by April Henry

Place a hold on a print copy of this book by clicking here.

Savannah Taylor has been dragged across America as her mother searches for a partner that will make her feel whole, moving from place to place once things go downhill. Conditions are starting to get bad between her mom and her boyfriend Tim, but Portland finally feels like home, between its culture, kung fu classes, and a potential friend, or more. One night, when Savannah is returning from her kung fu class, a man in a white van kidnaps her. Distracted, disoriented, and lost in thought, Savannah is unable to defend herself from her attacker, while everyone assumes that she has run away due to her fight with Tim. After a futile attempt at escape, Savannah is locked in a trailer with a girl named Jenny Dowd, who went missing 10 months ago, and has suffered immensely by their kidnapper, who goes by “Sir.” Now, Savannah, with her broken wrist, and Jenny, with her torn, scarred face, must escape while staying safe from Sir and his vicious dog, Rex.

One thing I really liked about this book was that it was written from the perspectives of many of the main and side characters. This isn’t often seen in books, and really allowed me to better understand the story from the views of multiple people. The characters in this book were well developed, as well as realistic and relatable. The book was also written exceptionally well overall, and many of the details in the books were backed up with facts and research. The author writes stunningly throughout the book, causing the words to paint a fantastic, detailed picture of the entire story. Everything came together to create a compelling and intriguing narrative that captured the reader’s attention, and begged them to keep reading.

One memorable thing about this book was how it truly had a female heroine save the day. In many books and movies, we see that the female character(s) are rescued by the male protagonist, but not in this book. Instead, Savannah was the one who eventually led to her and Jenny’s safe escape, even when things didn’t go as planned. From the beginning of the book, Savannah is shown fighting gender stereotypes, and ultimately showing the world how strong women truly are.

Review by Heena, Twin Hickory Library