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Read & Review: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Ash Bowman is just a normal high school student who lives in an average house with an average family and goes to an average school. His passion for football has led him to be the defensive tackle on his school’s football team, the Tibbetsville Tsunamis. However, as the football season starts, Ash notices that his tackles seem to change the world. Soon, he learns that he has become the center of the universe and that he can control events in the past and even shift time. Through his transformations between parallel universes, he becomes humbled and gains awareness of many societal issues when the societal opinion on segregation, his sexuality, and even his gender changes. However, his clueless and reckless utilization of his power at first leads to a possibility of a correction by the universe, which would result in a cleansing of life from Earth. With interdimensional beings and his friends, whose proximity effect allows them to retain some memories of what had happened in previous universes, he must return the universe to its original state and revert his blind mistakes.

The book created a good mix of moods, being hilarious at some points, while also being very intriguing at other points. The details that patched up the switches between the universes was excellently written and appealed to me the most. Ash’s narration made him sound like a friend, which draws in the reader further. Most of all, I thought that Neal Shusterman had a very original concept for the book, which had a huge potential. I personally feel that such a short book does not and could not possibly encapsulate so many controversial social issues that Neal Shusterman was trying to create awareness of, though the attempt was admirable. Despite this, the book is entertaining nonetheless and I strongly suggest this book!

For me, this book is memorable due to its one-of-a-kind idea of alternate universes. While this idea might seem elementary to this book as science fiction, the author did a splendid job designing details that all connect together like an intricate web. Most of all, the book provoked thought, and readers were encouraged to take away important lessons from the book.

Reviewed by Qingyuan, Twin Hickory Library

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Recommended for you by Laura Silverman

Shoshanna Greenberg loved working at Once Upon, a local bookstore. While her moms are fighting a lot more and her beloved car is on the verge of dying, the store has always been a welcoming getaway. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees a solution to fix her problems. She has everything in place until a new hire came in her way. Jake Kaplan. Jake is everything Shoshanna isn’t, other than being Jewish. He works in a book store but doesn’t even read books. But somehow his sales start matching hers. Shoshanna really likes Jake, but in the end, she knows he is an opponent and should be ready to take him down. But as the competition escalates, Shoshanna and Jake get closer and realize their stories are alike.

I really enjoyed this book because it exhibited that one person can’t do everything, and everyone needs to contribute to achieve a successful result. I really liked the writing style as it was understandable and witty. Shoshanna’s character was very different from anyone else. She is straightforward, dorky, and humorous. The Jewish background was also a great touch as it added more culture to the story. The twist toward the end of the story was unexpected but exceptional. I liked the plot overall and how each character was developed. The author took great care while writing about each different lifestyle and background.

One memorable thing from this book was the diversity shown. In the story, the author wrote about so many different backgrounds and cultures, but she gave each one its own importance and uniqueness. Everyone supported one another persistently throughout creating an amazing friendship between them.

Reviewed by Vidhi, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: Influence by Sara Shepard

[Cover]

You can place a hold on a print copy of this book.

Influence is a book about 4 influencers, who are living picture-perfect lives, at least on social media. In reality, however, nothing is as flawless as it seems online. After saving a puppy from a burning shed and recently moving to LA, Delilah starts to become a popular figure, and wants to dive headfirst into the world of influencers. But without knowing how to properly navigate this unknown environment, the tides might just sweep her away. Jasmine, who became famous as a young actress, is known for her classic Lulu C. rainbow skirt, and is a popular figure in the public eye. But on the inside, she doesn’t want to be all rainbows and sunshine, and is dying to be her true self. Fiona is a cheerful, lively person who is adored by her fans, and is someone everyone wants to be with. But with her OCD and guilt for an event that happened a long time ago, Fiona’s world feels like it is crumbling. Scarlet is the definition of perfection, from her outfits to her boyfriend. But Scarlet has numerous different layers, and truly understanding her is next to impossible. Each of these girls come from different backgrounds, but are entwined in an engaging story that will have readers begging for more. Everything seems to be going well for these 4 influencers, but with one tragic event, they might have to kiss their perfect lives goodbye.

I really liked the overall plot and style of Influence. The character development was really nice, and made the lives of Delilah, Jasmine, Fiona, and Scarlet very realistic. This book started off on a pleasant note, but took a sinister, dark turn in between, completely changing the mood of the book. It was also really interesting to see the different aspects of each of the characters, and getting to know who they really were. As the book went on, the reader could see the characters grow into mature people, while not losing their spirit. One thing I didn’t like about this book was the inconsistency. While the book was written well for the most part, there were certain parts of the book where details on varying levels of importance weren’t completely clear. Additionally, there were some areas where the topic abruptly changed, leaving the reader somewhat confused and unsure.

One memorable thing about this book was the different topics and questions it discussed. Throughout the book, Shepard addressed things such as OCD, anxiety, sexuality, eating disorders, and how one sees themselves. This really made it a well-rounded book, and gave important lessons to the reader while they read an engaging, well-thought-out story.

Reviewed by Heena, Twin Hickory Library

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Sword and pen by Rachel Cain

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Click here for the ebook

Sword and Pen: The Great Library Series, Book 5, written and composed by Rachel Caine, discusses the experiences and journeys of Jess Brightwell, as well as his desire and intention to remove the Archivist from his position of power, as the Archivist had opposed the Great Library. Furthermore, Christopher Wolfe, a scholar of the Great Library, was also designated as being the guardian of Jess, as his twin brother, Brendan, had perished. One of Jess’s allies within this story, Dario Santiago, who originated from Spain, is a member of an exclusive family, although Jess and Dario did not completely trust each other, as they did not maintain a consistent friendship. Although Jess had attempted to infiltrate the office of the Archivist, he had ingested a poisonous gas, that limited his breathing. Regardless, Jess was transported to a Medica, who supplied him a mask that would permit Jess to breathe more efficiently, though the Medica stated that the function of the mask would degrade, as Jess utilized it.  Another essential character, Niccolo Santi, is also a crucial commander of the Great Library, and he also aims to preserve it by aiding the remaining members of the group, which consists of Wolfe, Jess, Khalila Seif, Glain Wathen, Morgan Hault, an Obscurist, Thomas Schreiber, an inventor of the automata, and Anit, the daughter of Red Ibrahim, a character who served as an associate to Jess. Therefore, Jess, as well as his allies, endeavor to remove the influence of the Archivist.
I thought that this book was conflicted and turbulent, as it focused on a large number of characters that were central to the plot and events of the story that is occurring throughout this book, as well as the entirety of the Great Library Series. Furthermore, I also thought that this book was quite dramatic. Moreover, my opinion regarding the central characters of this book, which consist of Jess, Santi, Scholar Wolfe, Glain, Morgan, Khalila, Thomas, Anit, and Dario, is that this book exceeds the number of central characters in a story, implying that the characters would no longer be memorable since I was unable to remember all of the details and characteristics of some of the characters. Regarding the plot and the setting of this series, I believe that all of the characters’ unique roles and purposes are designated to represent the setting and the plot of the story, which occurs within the Great Library of Alexandria, as Wolfe is a scholar of the library, while Santi is a commander of the High Garda, and Thomas is an inventor, who attempts to analyze the structures of the automata, which were designated to destroy intruders. Moreover, concerning the setting and the plot of this story, I believed that the plot was quite intricate, as it encompassed a large variety of characters and events.
One memorable thing about the book was the moment of the book was the connection between Thomas and Jess, as Thomas was offering to risk his life to ensure that Jess remained alive. Moreover, this also implies that Thomas was aware that Jess was a central asset to their plan and intention to disable the Archivist and remove him from his position of power. Therefore, this indicated that Thomas was willing to challenge himself in order to ensure that Jess would remain alive. Regarding aspects of this book that I liked, I liked the various personalities and roles of the characters that were present within the book and the writing style were also effective, as the perspective of every chapter of this book was based on a different character, so I was able to experience the plot of the book from various perspectives, which caused the book to appear more exciting and conflicted. This also indicated that the book appeared to be more interesting since I was able to be introduced to a variety of opinions regarding all of the characters. However, aspects of this book that I disliked were the large number of central characters that were present, as well as the consistency of the setting of the series.
4-stars
Reviewed by Grace, Twin Hickory Library
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Mindfulness and Meditation: handling life with a calm and focused mind by Whitney Stewart

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click here fort the ebook

Mindfulness and Meditation: Handling Life with a Calm and Focused Mind by Whitney Stewart discusses and conveys the significance of mindfulness, as it expresses the importance of comprehending your emotions regarding stressful events or situations. This book also states that meditation is characterized by the ability to remain poised and intent while maintaining a relaxed and calm disposition and mind since this will cause an increase regarding the aspects and structures of the brain that are associated with the ability to retain memories and the processing of information, such as gamma waves within the brain, as they are considered to be the swiftest classification of brain waves. Moreover, another essential benefit and aspect of meditation are that it increases the amount and level of happiness within the brain, as it activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is connected to happiness. Multiple examples and positions of meditation are presented throughout this book, as it describes the correct position regarding meditation, as well as various methods to perform it, such as the “Lotus”, “Half Lotus”, “Burmese”, “Chair”, “Seiza”, and “Prone”. Additionally, Buddhism, an ancient tradition and religion that originated within Asia, is perceived as being an essential aspect of Buddhism, as it provided the foundation for meditation and mindfulness, as the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, had observed multiple instances of sicknesses and pain that was considered to be an aspect of suffering within human society, which caused him to depart from his previous position within society, a prince, and attempt to experience and endure the conflicts and difficulties that the members of society had encountered, although this caused him to engage in meditation, which allowed him to eventually attain enlightenment. The Buddhist religion also inspired several people that were mentioned throughout this book to adopt the Buddhist religion. Throughout this book, multiple instructions and suggestions are included to explain the various types and components of meditation and mindfulness. Therefore, this book expresses the importance of mindfulness and meditation through various suggestions and ideas that are presented.

Regarding the content of this book, I thought that it was quite extensive and informational, as it provided multiple examples and suggestions regarding mindfulness and meditation, and it also encompassed detailed explanations regarding the steps that are required to effectively perform meditation, such as assuming control concerning emotions by focusing on your breathing, as it will gradually relax your mind. Moreover, this book was also quite personal, as well as convincing, as it included interviews from teenagers, concerning the subject of social media, as well as methods regarding coping with stress. Additionally, this book also served as an insightful novel, regarding methods and categories of meditation that is designated to remove the influence of detrimental thoughts, and it also provided information and advice regarding attempting to ensure happiness, as well as coping with painful experiences. Regarding the plot of this book, I considered it to be insightful and thoughtful, as it incorporated multiple benefits of meditation, such as an increased level of focus, as well as an increased level of happiness. This is indicated by the frequency of ideas, suggestions, and advice that are present throughout the book, as well as the pictures that illustrate the various positions for meditation. Therefore, this book was quite insightful and informational, as it discussed the benefits of meditation, and it also supplied a variety of questions that encourage mindfulness and meditation.

One memorable thing about this book was that it stated various factors and aspects that could potentially result in happiness, such as engaging in exercises, experiencing sunlight and nature within the environment, and by engaging in a sufficient amount of sleep. This was a memorable moment regarding this book, as it implied that it was quite simple to increase the levels of happiness within your life. Furthermore, this book also provided advice and suggestions regarding the various factors that can increase happiness, as it stated that exercise possesses the ability to increase the production of chemicals within the brain, such as dopamine, that is associated with happiness. Moreover, this book also included various sections that offered examples and instructions regarding methods that increased happiness, such as recalling a joyful memory or engaging in compassion regarding oneself. Regardless, aspects of this book that I liked were that it incorporated multiple examples of mindfulness, as well as methods of ensuring happiness, although an aspect of this book that I disliked was that it uses a variety of contrasting fonts and colors throughout the book, which could potentially produce an unnecessary distraction, as the various fonts could potentially cause the reader to divert all of their focus regarding one section of the book, instead of focusing on all of the sections of the book.

5-stars-2

Reviewed by Grace, Twin Hickory Library