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We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez is the story of three teenagers who are growing up in the barrio in Guatemala. Although Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are not related, they say blood doesn’t matter – they’re family. Life is hard in the barrio, money is tight and crime is prevalent. Pulga says that in some places terrible news is unexpected but in the barrio, it is not. Pulga dreams of escaping to the United States to lead a better life. He has been researching and drawing maps of the route he will use to escape for years. Even though life is dangerous in his town, he knows escaping to the United States is a harrowing journey that not everyone survives. However, after Pulga and Chico witness a violent crime and Pequena is being forced into marriage with a criminal, they know the time has come to run. But will they be able to survive the journey to the United States? Without passports or much money, the harrowing journey to freedom will require Pulga, Chico, and Pequena to travel on buses, trains (La Bestia also known as the death train) and walk across a desert. They will also need to rely on the kindness of strangers when trusting people is frowned upon. Although this journey is dangerous; it is a risk they are willing to take for the possibility of a better life.

I thought this book was intense. The author did a great job of depicting the brutal reality of a dangerous journey. I liked that it was written in the first person perspective. Pulga and Pequena alternate narrating the chapters. I thought it was a great way of telling two sides of the same story.

The most memorable part of this book was when I read the author’s note at the end of the story. Although I knew this was a realistic fiction book, reading about the real life details the author uses makes the plight and escape of three teenage immigrants much more harrowing and heartbreaking.


Submitted by James, Twin Hickory Library

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel based 64 years before the original Hunger Games series. Coriolanus Snow, an eighteen-year-old capital citizen, whose family name is on the verge of being diminished, has an opportunity to change his family’s fate. For the first time in the history of the Hunger Games students from a prestigious capital school, known as the Academy, will have the chance to mentor one of the twenty-four tributes for the 10th Hunger Games. Not only is the Snow family name in jeopardy, but also the opportunity for Coriolanus to make a name for himself. To Coriolanus’ surprise, he has been given the daunting task of being the mentor to the female district 12 tribute, but he quickly realizes that someone else is in charge of his fate.

As a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, I was very excited to read Suzanne’s prequel and what we would entail while reading. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place in the Capital from the viewpoint of Coriolanus Snow. Since the viewpoint of Coriolanus is one as a viewer of the Hunger Games, rather than a tribute fighting for their life, you get more depth of the horror that goes around the games that was not achieved in the first books. The plot is rather interesting going deep into Coriolanus’ thoughts and mindset. Since the first books show how evil Coriolanus Snow is, we as readers already know what he becomes, but it is the path that gets him there that is the most interesting. Throughout the book, there will be many unexpected happenings, but there are also some dry spots that make the book a bit dull.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has many memorable moments throughout the book, but the ones that stand out the most to me are the connections made to the previous books. Suzanne found truly amazing ways to connect the books through her ways of writing. Not all of the connections may be clear to the reader, but the more you dig into the book the more you will find. I really enjoyed the new perspective of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, while many were skeptical about reading about Snow, who we all despise from the previous Hunger Games books, it happily surprised me by how quickly I forgot about what I already knew about him. Throughout the book, I also enjoyed how it was separated into three parts which truly have different plots and characters throughout. There are a couple of things that I disliked about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, one of them being the somewhat dry parts of the book. Since this book is 517 pages, a lot occurs with Snow and the surrounding characters, but there are some times where it feels like the book is at a standstill and not much is happening. Although The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cannot compare to the first Hunger Games books, it exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait for the movie!


Reviewed by Kaitlyn, Gayton Library

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Cook With Amber by Amber Kelley


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Cook with Amber: Fun, Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen by Amber Kelley and Jamie Oliver discusses and encompasses a variety of recipes that are designated for a diverse selection of events, as well as multiple eating occasions throughout the duration of a day, such as breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner. Regarding the introduction of the book, Kelley supplies several suggestions and advice concerning novice cooks, as the introduction consists of advice and procedures regarding knife safety, as well as safety and protection regarding the ability to utilize an oven. Within the various chapters of this book, such as cuisine and dishes regarding breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Kelley introduces a wide range of nutritious and natural recipes, and she also incorporates a section that is designated for a specific ingredient of her recipes, such as garlic, quinoa, or avocado, as the component of the recipe contains multiple health benefits, which encourage the reader to invest in the ingredients in order to create a dish or cuisine. Additionally, a section of the recipes that are included within this book is also devoted to the seasons, such as summer and spring, as well as events, such as parties, gatherings, or campouts. A chapter of this book is also devoted to recipes that are suitable for a family, which consist of recipes that illustrate dishes that originated from within Kelley’s family, such as her mother’s “creamy chicken stew”, as well as her grandmother’s “okonomiyaki”, which resembles a Japanese pancake. Throughout the contents of this book, Kelley incorporates various suggestions and ideas regarding dessert and skincare, and she also introduces her skincare routine, as well as her morning routine. Towards the conclusion of this book, Kelley supplies recipes and ideas regarding an extensive variety of desserts and drinks that are nutritious and natural, contrasting the common perception of drinks that contain a large concentration of sugar. Concerning the conclusion of this book, Kelley discusses her skincare routine, as well as her techniques and materials, such as an “acne-taming cinnamon face mask”, a “cleansing body scrub”, and a “gentle face scrub”. Regarding the recipes within this book, Kelley also supplies detailed instructions and measurements in order to successfully create the dish that is being described. Therefore, Cook with Amber: Fun, Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen by Amber Kelley, and Jamie Oliver, contains an extensive selection of recipes regarding various occasions.

Regarding the content of this book, I thought that it was quite comprehensive and informational, as it provided a large concentration of information regarding nutritious ingredients that could be utilized and incorporated into a variety of meals that are designated for a wide range of occasions, such as cuisines that are designated for breakfast. Kelley also includes nutritious ingredients, such as garlic and sweet potatoes, that are able to be incorporated in a variety of dishes, such as a “one-pot pasta with tomatoes, greens, and garlic”, concerning the subject of dinner, and “cinnamon thyme sweet potato puree.” Moreover, this book was also intimate, as well as insightful and enlightening, as it encompassed an introduction that discussed the correct method of utilizing a knife for the purpose of cooking, and I was also able to obtain new and previous knowledge from the chapters of this book as well, as I had previously not realized that quinoa is categorized as being a grain, and I also previously did not realize that it contained a high amount of fiber. Additionally, this book also contained an extensive selection of nutritious and natural dishes, and it also provided detailed and clear instructions and measurements regarding the recipe and the process of creating a dish, implying that it also served as a convincing publication, as it encourages the reader to attempt to create one of the dishes within this book. Regarding the plot of this book, I perceived it as being beneficial, as it included a wide range of dishes that were applicable for several occasions and events, and it also provided information regarding nutritious ingredients. Therefore, this book was informational and encouraging, as it provided direct and clear instructions regarding the ingredients that are required to create a dish, and it also provided a diverse selection of nutritious recipes for multiple occasions.

One memorable thing about this book was that it encompassed an introduction that discussed advice and suggestions regarding novice cooks, as she stated that it was acceptable to create dishes and cuisine that was considered to be enjoyable and that Kelley also stated that she advised novice cooks to cook courses and dishes that are perceived as being enjoyable, as she believes that the most rewarding component of the act of cooking is consuming the product. Another memorable moment within this book regarding the introduction is that Kelley stated that it is crucial to begin the process of cooking by creating simple dishes, as it is a sufficient method of experiencing and learning the process of cooking dishes. This was also a memorable aspect of this book since it indicated that a sufficient dish does not require a large number of ingredients and that it is possible to create an appetizing course that utilizes a few ingredients. Moreover, within this book, Kelley encouraged novice cooks to request help concerning necessary circumstances, and she also stated that novice cooks should attempt to utilize methods of preparing food that is more efficient, such as utilizing their hands to separate leaves of lettuce. Regarding components of this book that I liked and disliked, I liked that this book contained specific and extensive instructions regarding the recipes, and I also liked that Kelley included natural and nutritious ingredients within her recipes, although an aspect of this book that I did not enjoy was that some of the recipes lacked the pictures that usually depicted the product, which could cause the reader to doubt the appearance of the product and potentially assume that the recipe was performed incorrectly.


Reviewed by Grace, Twin Hickory Library


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The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina


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Beth Teller was a girl that was tragically killed in a car accident when she was a teenager. Since her death, the only person that has been able to see and communicate with her (in a spirit-like way) is her father, who works as a forensic investigator. He has been unable to live the same way he used to while she was still alive, so Beth persists him to return to his normal life by working again. The case he is given is related to a fire that burnt down a school house in a remote Australian town that left behind very little evidence. As the difficult investigation unfolds, both Beth and her father must deal with problems regarding the committed crime and what will happen to the two of them in the near future.

The aspect of this book that I found the most fascinating was the difference in the way the story was told by Isobel Catching as opposed to Beth. In the story, Catching is a girl who is viewed as a possible witness for the crime in which Beth’s father is investigating. The only time she speaks is when Beth and her father visit her in the hospital, but she never flatly states what she saw with her own eyes like Beth does. Instead, she tells her side of the story in a poetic, metaphorical way that is another story on its own. With Catching’s interesting first-hand recollections of the event in question and Beth’s interpretations of the real world, the story is truly complete.

Through reading this book, I learned to understand the importance of how literature can define that cultures that they represent. Elements of this specific novel were taken from Aboriginal cultures in Australia, and other similar stories written about different cultures show the rest of the world what values they hold and unique aspects of their society. Readers of these stories, additionally, can gain a new perspective and understand a little more about the world around them.


reviewed by Griffin, Gayton Library

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Read + Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis


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This book follows the story of a girl named Mickey Catalan after she recovers from a catastrophic injury. She and her friend, Carolina, both of whom are softball players on a team destined to win the state championship, are involved in a car accident. As a result of the accident, Carolina has a broken arm and Mickey has a dislocated leg. After her surgery, she is determined to find any means possible to ease the pain in her hip and get herself back on the softball field as soon as possible. She is prescribed a drug called Oxycontin by her doctor, and the rest of the novel reveals her thoughts and actions as her usage of the opioid increases.

I really enjoyed this book. There were a lot of twists and turns throughout the novel that I did not expect and left me on the end of my seat for all 408 pages. This is because the event that occurred in the prologue mirrored another event that occurred later in the novel, so I kept on reading to find out how the characters got to that point. I especially enjoyed the way that the author crafted the characters, as many character’s opinions were polar opposites with each other, leaving the main character in the middle to decide what she thought was right. Although the novel is about a very heavy topic, humor was also used in the right places to make the situation seem more normal or relatable to readers. There aren’t any critiques that I can think of that would’ve made the book any better, as I believed the book was written very well.

The one thing that I will definitely remember from the novel is the lesson that it taught me. It is very obvious from the beginning of the story what the root of the conflict will be, but I believe there is a moral to the story that everyone should pay attention to. The problem affects a lot of people in community across the United States, so it is important that readers are able to understand the author’s message.


Reviewed by Griffin G., Gayton Library.