Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Splendor by Breeana Shields

In Bella Fontaine, there are rumors of a mystical hotel, the Splendor, possessing unfathomable wonders and capable of fulfilling anyone’s hearts desire. Stubborn and headstrong Juliette desperately longs to go, but her sister Clare embarks on the journey without her. Once she returns, her previously warm and forgiving nature vanishes, leaving nothing but a cold, apathetic exterior. Bewildered by her sister’s abrupt withdrawal from her, Juliette travels to the Splendor herself, convinced that something in the mysterious hotel changed Clare. There she meets Henri, a talented illusionist who might be the solution she has so heavily sought after. Juliette and Henri search for the cause of Clare’s indifference, but instead find something much darker. Magic and mystery weave a emotional tale in Breanna Shields’ “The Splendor”.

Plot, characters, and worldbuilding were all masterfully intertwined in Shields’ novel, particularly with the idea of the Splendor. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the story and was delighted to find many twists and turns along the way. The characters Juliette and Henri cleverly complemented each other’s personalities, which helped them uncover the true secret of the Splendor. The line between magic and reality in the hotel kept me engaged in the book and wanting to know more. Overall, I believe the book was brilliantly written and had a unique concept.

One memorable thing about the book was the use of illusions. It was described in a manner that made it both appealing as well as frightening. Magic accompanied the plot of the story well and did not feel forced. I enjoyed how it added a supernatural twist to an otherwise realistic conflict.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

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Rory, Yuki, Ella, and Ariane were the best of friends at the Grimrose Académie. Now, Ariane is dead. Yuki, Ella, and Rory are all convinced that she didn’t commit suicide and that there’s more behind her death. When their new roommate, Nani, moves in, they decide to work together to find out what truly happened. After researching and finding clues, they uncover that Grimrose is under a fairy tale curse. Each girl’s fate is in the hands of the Académie. The 4 friends decide to try to break the curse before they -and many others- do, too.

I couldn’t put this book down. The side characters, settings, and side plots were amazing. I particularly enjoyed how each friend had someone that they trusted and could talk to. The character’s relationships within themselves and other side characters had me latched onto this story. They are all quite diverse and have many different backgrounds. This book is suitable for anyone, no matter who you are. Another reason why I found this book to be such a page-turner is that Laura Pohl’s writing style is neat, tidy, and beautiful. Pohl describes everything perfectly, whether it be the characters or the small details in parts of the story. The magical wrench in this tale and the mysterious setting were unlike any other book I’ve read. The twists and plot holes are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. This book was suspenseful, compelling, magical, and delightful.

My favorite part about this book is when they introduce the main characters. They all have distinct personalities and they all seem to work great together. Everyone is one of a kind, and they all make the story complete. I could not put this book down once I picked it up. It is one of my favorite books and everyone deserves to read it!

Reviewed by Lily, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Being Mary Bennet by JC Peterson

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After a disastrous birthday, Marnie Barnes comes to a striking realization: she isn’t the protagonist of her life. She isn’t Pride and Prejudice’s beloved Lizzie Bennett, she’s Mary, the boring and, at times, downright unlikable middle sister. Thus, she makes the transformative decision to shove down the Mary Bennett within her, no matter what it takes. With the help of her roommate Adhira and a brand new community project, Marnie is ready to turn herself into a brand new person. However, it doesn’t take long for her to realize that becoming someone else is a lot hard than it seems. How will Marnie find the balance between staying true to herself and becoming the person she wants to be?

I thought that this book was a very fun and lighthearted read. I liked how it was a take on Pride and Prejudice, but set in modern times. I think that the internal battle of trying to figure out who you are is one that many face, and this book tackled it well. Marnie had a good character arc and really changed as a person from the beginning to the end of the book. She became much more confident in herself and realized that her worth isn’t simply based off her accomplishments. The only thing that I felt could have been better was the ending of the book. It felt a bit rushed and having more time for the resolution would have wrapped up the book nicely.

Something memorable about this book was how all the characters were described in depth. Even minor and supporting characters were described in detail with stories from their past that explained things about their personality. It allowed me to really understand each character and brought them to life.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Divided Fire by Jennifer San Filippo

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Want to place a hold on this title? Click here for a print copy, and here for the eBook!

Divided Fire takes place in a land where two big countries are at war. In this world, select people have the power to control the elements with their Voice, and these people are called Singers. In order to get an advantage in the war, both countries use cruel methods to enlist Singers into the army. Because of this, two sisters, Miren and Kesia, in the relatively isolated village of Crescent Bay must keep the secret that Kesia is a Fire Singer. When Kesia accidentally reveals her powers in an effort to save a fellow villager, she is captured, and Miren must voyage across the land in order to get her sister back. Kesia must also escape the deadly situations she finds herself in, as both start their journeys to get back to each other.

I thought that the many dangerous situations that both characters found themselves in were engaging and made me want to continue reading. The use of the magic powers in the book were creative and provided interesting ways for the characters to get out of problems cleverly. Additionally, the book was fun to read, and I enjoyed the dialogue, even that which was not meant to progress the story. However, the characters were, in my eyes, one-dimensional, and none of them portrayed growth throughout the story. I found it hard to maintain interest in any of the characters, aside from Kesia and Miren.

The lengths that both of the main characters would go through in order to get back to each other showed the incredible stakes of their missions. The dual perspectives that the book has adds to the suspense, and I became invested in both character’s struggles as the plot progressed. The format of the story added to the strength of the dichotomy that was presented.

Reviewed by Shreyas, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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Want to place a hold on this title? Click here for a print copy, here for an Ebook, and here for an eAudiobook!

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemien is a book set during 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis. It follows Reza, an Iranian teen boy who has just moved to NYC, who struggles with accepting the fact that he’s gay when all he’s ever known of gay life is men dying of AIDS. He meets Judy, an aspiring fashion designer, and her best friend Art. Judy falls headfirst for Reza and the two teens soon begin dating, but Reza finds himself unable to deny his attraction to Art while dating Judy. As Art and Reza grow closer, Reza finds himself at a crossroads of finding a solution that won’t result in breaking Judy’s art and finding the courage to truly be with Art loud and proud.

The book is set in NYC and during 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis. It follows the main characters Reza, Judy, and Art. It also follows Uncle Stephen, Judy’s uncle who has been diagnosed with AIDS and his activist work with his group, ACT UP, who are fighting for reforms regarding the AIDS crisis. The best word I would use to describe this book is emotional, because it shined a light on the activist movement during the AIDS crisis. It was a story that truly delved into the harsh reality queer people suffered during the AIDS crisis due to the apathy of governments and pharmaceutical companies. I had bittersweet feelings towards the end because although the ending was sad, it felt complete for each of the characters.

One memorable thing about the book was definitely Reza’s journey and his self-acceptance. I enjoyed seeing Reza grow into someone who was sure and proud of himself, who decided that he wasn’t going to let himself be afraid of a movement that left men like him dying. I will say that I did dislike some of the main characters at some point in the story. Judy, for example, annoyed me with her initial act of criticizing the other girls at her school. It felt like a typical ‘I’m not like other girls’ case that I hate seeing in female characters. But overall, this book is a five-star worthy book that brought out all the emotions.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library