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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

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Read + Review: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

The How & the Why

Cassandra McMurtrey has always been curious to know more details about the 16-year old biological mother who gave her up in a closed adoption in Idaho Falls. After turning 18, she decides to search for her while struggling with her adoptive mother’s hospital stay and heart condition. While Cass is searching for the truth about her biological mother “S,” the author directly reveals her narrative to the reader by interweaving letters every few chapters that “S” writes for an unborn Cass. “S” discusses the circumstances of Cass’s conception, the dysfunctional and cold home life she has, the events that pass at the Booth Memorial, a place for pregnant teenagers to achieve schooling, and the other pregnant teen girls that she’s surrounded by. As the span of a school year passes by with Cass learning more about her best friend Nyla’s adoptive situation, rehearsing with new boy Bastian, and trying to understand about the identity of “S”, “S” has her pregnancy journey simultaneously unfold.

I thought the book was engaging and sweet, even though it moved at a slow pace. As a result, I loved seeing the loving and supportive relationship that Cass had with her parents with all of her ventures and all of the charming, sarcastic, and poignant letters that “S” wrote. Still, I wish that Nyla’s story was explored more and her imperfect situations touched upon in her friendship with Cass. I also would’ve preferred Bastian being less of a potential love interest and more of a friend since I don’t feel like the romance aspect meaningfully added to the story.

Nyla discussing her heritage and the identity she had as a baby is interesting because she’s raised by her adoptive parents as an African-American, English-speaking, Mormon; yet, this is the exact opposite of how she was born. Even though adoption can be a wonderful thing for children, it did highlight that there are stories, family members, languages, and cultures that are lost in building an identity for yourself that I hadn’t considered.

Reviewed by Manasa, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: Swing by Kwame Alexander

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This book takes place in a small town where Noah and his best friends, Walt and Sam, live. They are all high school juniors and play sports. Noah has had a crush on Sam since 3rd grade, but Sam has a boyfriend named Cruz, who is the best baseball player on their high school team. When Noah’s mom and dad travel to Barcelona, Noah decides to throw a wild party. To his surprise something unimaginable happens, and Noah and Sam’s relationship will never be the same.

I enjoyed the plot and the setting, however I wish there were more characters in the book. I want to be like Walt because he seems wise, but is not the best at sports. Although he is not athletic, he is exceptionally good at giving people advice. As he does with his friend, Noah, Walt encourages him do what he’s dreamed of doing since 3rd grade. I think that Noah is an amazing artist, but was upset that he is terrified to show his feelings that he has for Sam. He worries that he may push her away, so he is very reserved and cautious around her. I hope Kwame Alexander will write another book to sum up all of Noah’s, Sam’s, and Walt’s feelings.

One memorable thing about the book is when Walt, Sam, and Noah go to a mall to buy a gift for Noah’s mom for her trip to Barcelona. While Noah is picking out a hat for his mom, Walt is off talking with the Clerk, Divya. Walt likes her a lot and even through she is out of college, he asks her out on a date.

Reviewed by Tyler M., Tuckahoe Area Library