Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel

treasure

 

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There are many words that historians use to call the infamous Hitler: despicable, abhorrent, reviled, and… cultured? That’s right folks, Hitler was an art lover! One day, he decides to build the greatest museum to ever exist in his hometown. Unfortunately for him, all the greatest artworks to ever exist were already owned by other museums, so he went with the only logical course of action: looting! Meanwhile, on the other side of the war, the allies are concerned with not only keeping and returning the works of art where they belonged, but also protecting them from collateral damage in the war. What ensues is a long battle between Hitler’s forces and the Monuments Men, volunteers for the art-preservation operation, for the most priceless paintings in history. Forget every other treasure hunt you’ve heard of: for this one my friend, is the greatest in history.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s reading a book on something that was never discussed in any of my history classes, something that this book does pretty well. Let me tell you, not once has “What happened to all the famous artwork and historical monuments as Europe was under siege in WWII?” ever crossed my mind before I read the summary on the jacket, which I feel is a very important detail. Art had such a great impact on history, after all! I recommend this book to any fellow history aficionados like me.

My favorite parts were about the Monuments Men’s civilian lives. I am a firm believer that everybody has a story to tell, so I’m glad I got to read about who they were before the war could change them.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Dahlia, Twin Hickory Area Library

 

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

quiet

 

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Nikki Barthelmess’ debut novel features quiet Victoria, a senior in high school, who currently exists as a “ward of the state of Nevada” after an incident involving father and stepmother. Her life’s goal, to attend college, has been thrown on the ground and grinned by an iron shoe, as she begins her senior year in a new town, with new people, and a new foster family. Throughout the year, Victoria learns to please her foster mother, protect her new sisters, and embrace a life with strangers for classmates and rumors tossed around behind her back. Like a beacon of light, she meets Christina, who sticks with her through thick and thin and convinces her to loosen up. Time goes on, but Victoria can’t stop thinking about her stepsister back at home and the past she left in Reno. She realizes it’s time- time to take action and settle her past and present, once and for all.

Of all the novels I have read, this is by far one of my favorites, touching me personally through its delicate yet direct focus on sensitive topics, such as foster care and mental health. The balance of quiet Victoria and her best friend, outgoing Christina, adds a touch of humor to the novel and along with the short, sweet young love scenes takes away much of the bite behind the way Victoria is treated and the story behind her. Also, the novel features a few cases of situational irony, which make the reader ponder their own life as well as the lives of the characters. Nikki Barthelmess’ writing style includes a sense of light humor, a perfect contrast between the characters, as well as an overall aura of purity and love. Overall, the only criticism I could assign to the novel is the dull growth towards revealing Victoria’s past. I felt that it was slowly revealed through foreshadowing but could have been incorporated into more flashbacks and her dreams, instead of being released all at once and leaving the reader disappointed. All in all, this novel was an amazing combination of humor, love, and the tainted innocence of a child.

Something I will carry away with me from this novel is Victoria’s friendship with Christina, which thrives despite her hidden past and questionable actions in an attempt to keep secrets buried. Christina is the epitome of loyalty and trust, holding on even when Victoria herself admits she only gives her a flimsy branch to hold onto. Victoria’s life is strongly impacted by Christina’s presence- her charismatic demeanor, outgoing personality, and optimistic view on life.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Jennifer, Twin Hickory Area Library

 

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Hive by Barry Lyga

 

hive

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Who knew that somebody could become a wanted criminal for posting something online? The Hive enters the world of Cassie McKinney, renowned hacker, and programmer. As the school year begins, she quickly finds herself in the popular kids group, entirely on accident, ignoring everybody else that tries to talk to her. Later, to impress her “friends” she posts a joke on the Hive, a government sponsored social media platform, about the president’s ugly baby. Almost right away, she gets bumped up to a level 5 Hive justice, which is people’s way of lashing back to to offensive things online. Now, she is a wanted criminal. Immediately, she runs, and finds herself at a hideout for other hackers, subject to Hive justice. She thinks her life can’t get any worse, but soon a level 5 Hive justice will seem like paradise.

The way Barry Lyga describes everything in the Hive, makes it seem like it could almost happen in dystopian America. Everything from the environment, to how the hacking is not all Matrix master-mind makes it all almost sound like a biography, even though some parts are totally impossible. The characters all have such great personalities and traits, and don’t seem like mindless clones at all. Some characters are so sarcastic, and funny, while others are serious, and stone-faced, it feels like there is a different author for each character. The parts where Lyga shows the internet’s response to Cassie’s actions, is such a nice addition, and makes the book come together. I definitely think you should read this book!

The most memorable part of the book is when Cassie gets a level 1 Hive justice. She freaks out, but then calms down, because it will be over in a day or two. Then, she gets a level 2 Hive justice, and enters panic mode. It reminds me of when you’re late for class, and you know what’s going to happen, but there’s nothing to do but rip the metaphorical band-aid off. Cassie was in the same exact situation, she did something small and harmless, but now she’s in big trouble.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Joseph, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

 

lovely_war

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Lovely War follows the love stories of pianist Hazel Windicott and soldier James Alderidge; and relief volunteer Colette Fournier and jazz singer Aubrey Edwards. Shortly after Hazel met James, he is deployed to the front lines in France. Hazel decides to aid in the war effort by volunteering in a relief camp. There she meets Colette and Aubrey, kindred spirits in music. Set against the backdrop of World War I, the couples work to keep the flame of love alive through one of the bitterest wars in history. Narrated by Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself, the story is full of first kisses, flirty banter, and awkward meet-cutes. The couples’ love lives will be no walk in the park, however; not if the gods of Death and War have anything to say about it.

I liked that no matter how many elements and layers the narrative had, everything seemed to fit together. The mythology, war, romance, and philosophy aspects of the book all contributed in equal parts to the story. The same goes for the characters. Never did I feel that one character was being treated as a ‘third wheel’, even though only three of the four main characters were together at a time. Each character had their own arc and development that complemented one another’s. I appreciated how romance was not always the focus of the book, as each character had their own backstory that identified them as a person and not just someone in a relationship.

Since it was narrated by immortal gods, the story had an aspect of philosophy. Several chapters were made up of dialogue between the gods debating the true meaning of ‘love’ and ‘forever’; and whether they, as ancient deities, were even capable of it. The gods were said to envy mortals like Hazel, James, Colette, and Aubrey; broken souls who found someone as broken as themselves to love forever.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Joanna, Fairfield Area Library

 

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

 

midwife

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Girls with no names and no homes usually aren’t expected to amount to much, but this one defies all expectations of who she is meant to be. No one knows her name, her parents, or how old she is. Even herself. This girl eventually named herself Beetle. She struggles to find food daily and is constantly bullied by the boys in the village. One day a woman awakes her, and suddenly Beetle was working for the woman named Jane, whom she learns is a midwife. In this engaging story, Beetle eventually gains confidence, a cat, a purpose, and people who love her.

I enjoyed this book because it was an interesting view at a period in time where people were a lot crueler than they are today. A lot of characters scream and yell at Beetle just because she “isn’t like the rest.” But the real reason I love this book is the characters. All of them are just brimming with personality! You could never fit any of them into a stereotype because they are so unique!
An example would be Jane, the midwife. She is very strict and sharp, while also being clever and eccentric. I left this book feeling joyful. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

The moment I remember most vividly was probably when Beetle slept in the dung heap at the beginning of the book. I remember her describing it as warm and soft as if it were luxury to her. I felt sad because this was the best bed she had had in a while.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Evie, Glen Allen Library