Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

Heartwood Box

Araceli is a high school senior who is moved by her parents to live with her great aunt, Ottilie, in a small town located in New York. When she enters the house, she gets a strange feeling that somebody is watching her. The feeling dies down as she gets more comfortable living with her aunt. At school, people tell her stories about people disappearing and never being found. Curious, she digs into it and more people tell her that there is a secret lab deep into the woods. It is top secret and nobody knows what they do there. Araceli isn’t that concerned about it until her new friend, Eunsoo, goes missing while she is on her way to her house. She and her friends all investigate the lab and find some unpleasant information.

I liked the plot and suspicion. Araceli is an outgoing and extroverted person. She would do anything and everything to save her family and friends. Ottilie is caring. She isn’t fully aware of what Araceli is up to, but she does the best she can to care for her. Araceli’s friends were all helpful, but some of them did get in the way sometimes. I do wish I could get to see how Araceli’s life goes after this crazy experience.

I liked being able to see into Araceli’s mind and feel what she felt. There were some scary moments in the book that got my blood pumping. In the beginning, I didn’t like how Araceli was falling in love with someone from 1917. In the end, however, I loved how the author played it out!

Reviewed by Janie, Glen Allen Library

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Read + Review: Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

Destroy All Monsters

This book is about a boy named Solomon and a girl named Ash. Ash lives in the normal world, the world with no beasts, no monsters, and no magic. Solomon lives in a world called “Darkside.” He has a pet dinosaur and in Darkside, monsters are very common. Some citizens even have magical abilities. However, in Darkside, some strange and violent things are rising up against the royal monarchy. Also, serious acts of vandalism have occurred in Ash’s town. The two need to figure out how to deal and solve all of their problems, but many surprises and lost memories await them.

This book has a very original plot, I haven’t read or seen anything like this ever. It’s very memorable seeing the two overcome the challenges, it’s also very interesting seeing the uprising in Darkside and seeing all of the betrayals. However, reading some of the chapters can be a bit confusing for the reader. Every few pages the perspective changes from Ash to Solomon and so on. Because of this it’s hard to know where the setting is and whose perspective I’m in. However, I like this structure of the book because it reminds me of another story called, “The Help”. The Help is an outstanding book and it has won 3 awards, and both of these books have a narrative change, which is sometimes confusing, but is very nice to see the different characters’ point of view.

A memorable moment in this book is how much Ash and Solomon care for each other. Even when it’s potentially dangerous or illegal Ash would do anything to protect Solomon. It’s like they are partners until the very end. The twist is also a shock when they find out about Ash’s true identity, but you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out!

Reviewed by Gabriel, Tuckahoe Library

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Read + Review: Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O'Malley by Tony Lee and Sam Hart

Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O'Malley

Grace O’Malley despises her father’s desire to raise her into a “proper” woman. Instead of grappling with a needle and flouncing about a ballroom, Grace prefers the slender grip of a sword, battling the tumultuous currents of the sea. Therefore, she was not pleased with her father’s decision to embark upon an overseas voyage whilst she remained in a quaint village. Stubborn and headstrong, Grace escapes the nauseating tranquility of her village and leaps aboard her father’s ship. Hidden among supply crates, Grace discovers the world, teeming with death and darkness beyond her wildest dreams. As circumstances become dire, and her fascinating world begins to bleed, Grace finally grasps her opportunity.

Settled within the 15th century, this graphic novel portrays the tale of a girl who carved her destiny within history. Despite the initial suspense, the graphic novel’s plot seemed to decline greatly following the first chapter. Although I enjoy biographies, the graphic novel seemed to dim Grace’s lifestyle. It is quite difficult to sympathize with her circumstances, since the extensive bloodshed within the novel is caused by Grace. Additionally, the plot is rather repetitive. Overall, the graphic novel did not seem a fascinating read.

A memorable moment lies within the beginning of the graphic novel. As a child, Grace endlessly battles against her neighbor, Donal, mercilessly clashing her false sword against his. She readies her sword once more, pondering her destiny, and silently observes her father depart to the seas. Staring, an idea forms in her mind; dangerous, but necessary.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: The White Rose by Kip Wilson

White Rose

Sophie Scholl, a German university student, discovers herself engulfed amongst the violent battles of World War I. Advocates for the cease of Nazi brutality, Sophie and her brother, Hans, strive to end the torture that the Jewish experience at the hands of Hitler. Rapidly assessing the news, listening to the mundane voice as it announces yet another policy, Sophie realizes that her sympathy seldom averts German beliefs. Despite their German religion, Sophie, Hans, and Christopher found an organization dubbed “The White Rose,” comprised of students against the strict Nazi policies. Discreetly, the friends gather to create minute changes within their community; a smattering of graffiti upon the wall, an article hidden within the newspaper, and flyers scattered across town. Unfortunately, the White Rose violates numerous German laws and restrictions, which does not fail to drift by unnoticed. As Sophie and her friends await trial, they prepare to fight for their cause, although their bold demeanor may result in a harrowing sacrifice.

Artfully crafted, this novel was comprised entirely of poems, which, surprisingly, portrayed the plot in an entertaining and suspenseful method. Furthermore, the characters and plot certainly appealed to the reader emotionally, and certainly displayed realistic personalities and emotions. Moreover, this novel was based from a historical event which is the biography of Sophie Scholl, and the imagery provided with a creative weave of freestyle poems remains quite astounding. Lastly, the novel provided an abundant amount of detail regarding Sophie’s cause and life, which certainly pleases a reader who favors historic fiction.

A memorable event lies in the beginning of the novel, as Sophie and her siblings prepare for mother’ s day. The siblings serve an extravagant breakfast feast consisting of eggs, marmalade and toast. Hans composes a poem for his mother as she slumbers, and Sophie begins to arrange a bouquet. As her mother arrives, the siblings relish in their successful attempt to cheer their mother.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret

Ellery and Ezra are twins who’ve been sent to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge, Vermont for a short period of time. Although the two have only traveled there twice in their young lives, they know that a series of interesting events have occurred there, one of which has involved their own family. Their aunt went missing on the night of the school’s homecoming dance many years ago; since then, numerous tragic homecoming-related incidents have also occurred. As soon as they move there, similar ominous threats are being made, escalating so far that another student eventually goes missing. It is up to Ellery, Ezra, and some of their closest friends to find the girl, identify the culprit, and solve the mystery haunting this town for decades.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was the structure of the plot. Each chapter was very eventful, and throughout the novel, there were many twists and turns that hooked me into the story. In fact, these plot twists made the novel so interesting that I read it for hours on end whenever I had the time to do so. Because of the suspense, I asked myself lots of questions about what was going on and attempted to piece the clues together, unfortunately with little success. I also liked how relatable all the characters were compared to most high school kids. I, myself, am a teenager, and I thought they were portrayed similarly to people that are my age.

The most memorable thing about the book was the final scene when all the mysteries were solved. I will not reveal anything that happened, but I will say that it is not something that I (or likely anyone that read this book) would’ve expected.

Reviewed by Griffin, Gayton Library