Books, Read + Review

The Trouble with Robots By Michelle Mohrweis

The Trouble with Robots is a book following Allie and Evelyn. These 2 girls went to Barton Middle School as eighth graders. Evelyn was very into robotics, while Allie is a failing student about to be sent to Sunrise Academy, a school for problem kids. Going to Sunrise would mean heavy disappointment by her grandmother. Evelyn also doesn’t want to disappoint her mothers and strives for the best. Allie loves to draw. However, she has been kicked out of 3 elective classes and robotics is the only one left. She joins and meets Evelyn, a person who doesn’t exactly appreciate her robotics team. She got disqualified from the tournament at the start of the book because she never let her team do anything, resulting in them leaving and causing them to be late to their match, disqualifying them. She likes to do everything herself, and doesn’t trust her team of DJ, Varsha, Santino, and Alex to handle the robot very well. Allie enters Room 303 and is greeted by Mrs. Weir, the robotics teacher. Immediately, Evelyn discarded Allie, telling her to go fetch supplies. She gets distracted and sketches in her notebook, causing Evelyn great pain, Ev is about to be removed from team lead, so she can’t complain. Evelyn has many motives to succeed, to get scholarships to help her 2 mothers, she wants to join the Tech Tigers, the best high school robotics team in their state. Most of all, she wanted to meet her friend Naiely again, who moved to California and is qualified to the state wide robotics tournaments. If she wins states, she can go to Worlds and meet Naiely again. Allie and Evelyn got off on the wrong foot. Eventually, Evelyn insults Allie’s mother. Allie’s parents are a sensitive subject for Allie(I’m not saying much to avoid spoilers)and her “inner beast” awakens. She goes into a rage and a fight ensues, landing both of them in trouble. After this, they have to work together again to get the team together. Allie and Evelyn start to rebuild their relationship together. However, can they get it together before the tournament, or will they fail? Also, what about the tournament? Do they win and get to States or do they lose not only the tournament but the entire robotics class?

his book perfectly handles 2 characters very well. 27 chapters, each character has every other chapter. This book shows the effects of teamwork, what happens when one ignores the team and what happens when everyone works together and gets along. Both Evelyn and Allie want to avoid disappointing their families. They take different approaches. Evelyn goes for the best and succeeds in grades, not socially though. Allie fails in most of her classes, yet she still hopes to impress her grandmother, despite the odds against her. They both don’t succeed alone yet when they meet they get all their goals accomplished. I really like the moral of this story. Teamwork is an important life skill and the author shows why it is necessary. Without teamwork, there is no way Allie and Evelyn would have succeeded.

My favorite part is where Allie shows her drawing skills to Evelyn to complete the design notebook, a key part of the robot. It requires drawings of robots and Allie gets the details down to every gear spike. Evelyn at first didn’t appreciate Allie’s drawing skills until the design notebook, where she started to include her and everyone in the team. Not only did this mean the design notebook was done, both Evelyn and Allie got along. I think this part made me use my imagination the most, trying to think of how well Allie drew the robot. I like to imagine and that is why this part is my favorite.

I give The Trouble with Robots a 5 star rating. It masterfully displays how teamwork should be accomplished, along with many other things. It is 277 pages long, perfect, not too long and not too short. I recommend this book to anyone, any age. Learning teamwork is important and this book shows how to do it.

Reviewed by Akshith I. at Twin Hickory

Books, Read + Review

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

In Cytonic, the third book of the Skyward series, the plot follows Spensa, more commonly referred to as her callsign: Spin, through her adventures in the Nowhere. Her home is being terrorized by the Superiority who control an unstoppable horde of Delvers, mysterious creatures who call the Nowhere home. Spin is Cytonic, meaning she has powers that allow her to communicate telepathically and teleport. Although she has not tested the extent of her abilities, they might be her only way out. Accompanied by her sarcastic AI, M-bot, and one of the strange inhabitants of the Nowhere, Spin travels through fragments of different worlds in a desperate attempt to escape. New allies and old friends aid her in this science fiction novel about Spin’s journey to find her way home and discover who she is.

In my opinion, this book was action-packed and thrilling. Honestly, it reminded me of Star Wars with the designs of the ships, different alien races collaborating against one common evil, and a seemingly indestructible super-wepon possessed by a controlling group of villains. The characters were amazing and dynamic; by the end you will have grown to love or despise each one. Another thing I was pleased about was the presence of a bit of humor. Cytonic is not necessarily a “humorous” book, but there are definitely funnier parts to ease some tension. I had previously enjoyed the humor in one of Brandon Sanderson’s younger series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, and was glad that this series also included it. The only negative thing I found was that the end was a bit confusing- it took some careful re-reading to fully understand everything that occurred.

The most memorable thing about Cytonic was how the author has created complex, highly-detailed worlds you feel like you can simply step into. I cannot fathom living somewhere like Detritus, Spin’s home planet, where the sky is only grey metal and I would live like a beetle, burrowing down and hoping for the Krell to attack another city somewhere far away. Even on the semi-normal world the Diodes, any sign of aggression is frowned upon and humans are considered equivalent to an untamable beast. Even after finishing it, I keep finding normal things in my everyday life that would shock the creatures and even humans from this novel.

Reviewed by Orielle H. At Gayton

Books, Read + Review

Not Just About Food: Understanding Eating Disorders by Carol Sonenklar and Tabitha Moriarty

Readers can learn about the discovery and treatment of eating disorders in this short 104 book. It covers a wide variety of topics, such as the people involved in its naming and treatment in the scientific community. Unlike other books on the same topic, this book covers not only scientific explanations but also links some of the causes to traditional and pop culture. For example, it talks about how famous celebrities have experienced eating disorders in order to fit the post 1980’s trend of being skinny. This book excels at being able to educate the reader on a broad variety of topics, spanning from prominent figures, to those affected, and the scientific logic of eating disorders. While eating disorders may seem like a neurological disorder, this book is able to educate on how parts of society may have a psychological effect and how there are many other physical and societal factors which lead to eating disorders.

I enjoyed how this book was straight to the point and good at summarizing such a broad topic. It was able to compile the research of many different scientists, spanning 200 years of research into a book under 150 pages while still being in depth enough to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of the topic. While other books may bore the reader with pages of punctual descriptions of scientific experiments, this book summarizes the work of major names in the field of research while still being able to link them to the bigger picture. My favorite part about the book is the organization of the information. Among the many facts were biographies of the people which contributed to the research of eating disorders and famous figures which were affected by it. This organization was unique compared to other books and it allowed me to stay engaged with the book because between the columns of information was an event which was relevant and relatable to pop culture. The author’s organization also makes the reader realize how relevant the subject is in day to day life.

The most memorable part of this book was learning about how Disordered Eating has been seen throughout history. It started as being viewed as hysteria, and now it is being seen as a sign of emotional distress and a possible sign of depression. Emotional disorders have been given more attention more frequently in the 21st century, and I think it was interesting how eating disorders can also fall under this category. Schools educate students on signs of depression, yet topics such as Eating Disorders are rarely mentioned. Through 200 years of research, eating disorders are now viewed as more of an emotional and societal issue rather than a physical one.

William L. At Twin Hickory


The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Our story takes place over 150 years ago in West Africa. The protagonist, Kofi, lives in a divided society after a great war split the Asante kingdom in half. Kofi’s uncle is the ruler of Upper Kwanta, and to his dismay, his arrogant cousin will soon reign over the land. The cousins always were in competition with each other, and Kofi’s cousin was always better than him. Whether it be running, wrestling, or even school. There was however, one thing that Kofi knew he was better at, swimming. Kofi always looked forward to swimming in the cool, refreshing waters of the Offin river. Kofi’s fun always came to an end as the night approached, and everyone hurried towards their homes. The elders warned the children of the monsters that swam after dark, but Kofi was never too concerned with his this. He would have to learn of the horrors the hard way.

I enjoyed how the author was able to translate the story into short, meaningful, poem-like texts. Additionally, I also liked Kofi’s teacher, Mr.Goodluck Phillip. His name was definitely amusing and is probably what caused all of school children to take his English lessons with a grain of salt. Even the elders found his teachings silly! Finally, I also found the relationship between Kofi and his cousin interesting. Their competitive spirit led them to disliking each other but also led to pointless arguments that got both of them in trouble. At the end, they both were able to put aside their differences. I enjoyed the arc of their relationship.

The most memorable thing about the book was probably Kofi’s love for swimming. The book tells me that Kofi feels free from reality when he swims. His stress seems to melt away whenever he is in the water. His love for swimming is something that’s unforgettable.

Reviewed by Rhea M. at Twin Hickory Library


The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao is an thrilling novel featuring racial violence, and twisted minds. Anna, a freshman at the prestigious Brooking University gets tied into finding the murderer of Melissa Hong- a student at Brookings that was murdered a few years prior. This book chronicles Brookings’ ugly history of secret organizations, racially motivated attacks, and cyber-stalking. As Anna gets more invested in finding the truth, the more she puts herself and her friends in danger.

I had a great time reading this gripping adventure. The mystery and character profiles are captivating. I liked how the many different clues and pieces of the puzzle all fit together at the end in a satisfying resolution. Something that I disliked was the romance between the main characters. It seemed like they rushed into the relationship without many romantic encounters. I really liked the book as a whole and would definitely suggest it, even though I would have preferred more of the romance.

The most memorable part of The Lies We Tell was certainly when Anna found the threats in the West Tower bathroom. This part was scary as it imposed a fear that the attacker was not only in the school, but also possibly in Anna’s dorm. This is when I started to question who the antagonist is, and if they are a someone I knew.

Reviewed by Aditi K. at Twin Hickory Library