Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

You can place a hold on a print copy or an eBook copy or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

War can be a powerful motivator for bringing its inhabitants closer together or dividing them farther apart. In this breathtaking novel, the latter occurs, and Japanese residents within a certain area of Pearl Harbor are forced to leave their homes behind in a flurry of crushed hopes and dreams. However, they all reunite again in the camps and remain steadfast in the face of uncertainty. From naive to suspicious and timid to brave, children all around the various different factions band together while simultaneously being asked to make tough decisions a child isn’t capable of answering. The gang is forced to embark on a life-changing journey that enlightens them about the cruel truth of the world and how sometimes, their right is your wrong and vice versa.

This book was so engaging for many reasons, and it was a shock for me that a book detailing the events of a different time period altogether could be so captivating. One interesting aspect of the novel was how each character was mentioned only once, in a chapter dedicated just for them; it made the novel feel original and unforgettable. I also enjoyed the modern words that the writer used, although the events in the novel occurred during World War 2. However, one chapter in the book that had just poems was a little confusing and hard to take in. I especially enjoyed the humor and relatable moments throughout the rage periods of certain characters.

One memorable thing would definitely be the interaction between Japanese characters and American characters. I felt as though I was literally there, feeling the tension and animosity in the air while reading those sections of the novel. It made the novel seem authentic and lively.

Reviewed by Arnav, Glen Allen Branch Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Creep by Eireann Corrigan

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

It’s summer in Glennon Heights when the Donahues move into 16 Olcott Place, a home with a mysterious history. After the Donahues move in, Olivia Danvers becomes friends with the youngest, Janie, and the Donahues start receiving weird threats from the “Sentry.” The threats spur Olivia and Janie to investigate them – who is the “Sentry” and why are they sending threats – and uncover the history of 16 Olcott Place. They find out who the Sentry is and his motive, with help from the rest of the Donahue family.

The book was okay. I somewhat liked Olivia Danvers, yet she’s like a background character, whereas Janie feels like the main character in a way. Janie’s siblings are complete opposites – Liv is uptight, and Ben is more easygoing. The parents have tons of trust issues and history that come to light. The Sentry was easily identifiable from the beginning, and I wish that it was a bit harder because it takes away the surprise factor of who it is. Overall, I thought it was okay, but it could have been better – a harder-to-identify stalker and more compelling characters/scenes because there were times where I was not interested in the storyline and wanted it to end.

One memorable thing about the book was Olivia and Janie’s friendship. They were there for one another and backed and defended each other.

Reviewed by Roopa, Tuckahoe Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

You can place a hold on a print copy or an eBook copy or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

Jane Anonymous is a 17 year old girl who was kidnapped for seven months. She eventually managed to escape, but she left someone else behind, someone important. Freedom after seven months should be liberating, but her mind and heart are broken. No one understands what she went through and they want everything to be like it was before. However, that can’t happen, at least not until she finds out the truth about her kidnapping. Things are not as they seem and the truth could leave Jane broken forever. To help alleviate the trauma she is going through, she writes her story, the story of Jane Anonymous. This novel is told in two alternating parts, “now” and “then” so the reader learns about her time in captivity as well as how she learns to cope with the reality of what happened to her.

I really enjoyed this book and it’s probably one of the best ones I have ever read. I really liked how things in the “now” chapters would be mentioned and you wouldn’t understand them until later in the book. It made me pay attention to all the small details, and details are everything when reading this book. All the small things add up and make Jane seem like a real person. Her actions, feelings, and what she says are very realistic; they make her a likeable protagonist. I really liked that the story was pretty fast paced and something was always going on. Some of the stuff that Jane freaked out about in the “now” seem trivial but when you see the real significance you understand her reaction. The plot twist is definitely one of the best ones I have read and the fact that Jane doesn’t accept it adds to the story. Overall, the book is hard to put down and keeps you guessing until the very end.

This novel had mini poems throughout it and I found them very memorable because Jane likes writing poetry. The poems were like part of the story but separate at the same time and it was really clever how they tied in with Jane’s character and hobbies. It’s not that big of a detail, but I feel like that fact Jane is writing poetry again as she shares her story shows that she is healing.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

You can place a hold on a print copy, an eBook copy, or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

Anna Darvulia is a 16-year-old who has just been appointed as a scullery maid for Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She is told by the other maids in the scullery about the Countess’s intimidating demeanor and cruel and unusual punishments. Regardless, Anna is determined to get in her good books so she can start sending more money back home. Countess Bathory eventually takes a liking to Anna and promotes her to chambermaid status. At first, everything seems to be going alright and Anna sees no signs of the mad woman the maids had told her of. However, as time goes on and they get closer, Anna sees the cracks beginning to form in the Countess’s carefully crafted façade. The countess’s madness seems to take her over and cast a deep shadow over everything and everyone around her. As one of the only people the Countess trusts, it is up to Anna to save everyone around the Countess from her wrath.

I thought this book was really good and Anna was a likeable character. She was clever but stayed down to earth even when the Countess took a liking to her. It was also interesting to watch the Countess’s go from sweet and loving to Anna to mad and crazy. The transformation was amazing to watch. At a point in the book, when Anna still didn’t see Elizabeth’s madness and was influenced by her, I wondered if I could trust anything she said. Not knowing whether Anna’s point of view in that part of the story was even accurate was my favorite part. It added another layer to the story as well as to Anna and Elizabeth’s personalities. One thing that I didn’t like about this book was the swiftness of the resolution. The countess had set up a never-ending hole of madness that Anna was trapped inside, and the ending should have been more complex and taken a longer time. I do feel, however, that everything was tied up neatly at the end and that everything came a full circle. I also liked that Anna learned to embrace who she was and stayed true to herself.

The most memorable thing about this book to me was watching how Elizabeth Bathory manipulated everyone around her. She was very skilled at it and it showed me that although she was crazy, she was clever too. It was something that added to her madness and I enjoyed watching Anna realize that.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: What She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini

You can place a hold on a print copy or an eBook copy of this book!

What She Saw in the Woods is a book about Magdalena, who was a super-popular girl back at her elite high school in New York. After an event that left her in the hospital for months and turned her life upside down, she is sent to live with her grandparents in their sleepy, west coast town. Overcome with guilt and disgust at her former self, she spends her days in a medicine-induced daze, wandering aimlessly in a nearby forest. Then, she finds someone in the woods who makes her alive again, and gives her life meaning again. Slowly, she starts to live once more, and sees the world around her in better focus. She starts to realize the sinister side of her town, and the secrets it holds.

Overall, this book was pretty breathtaking. The author described everything flawlessly, making the action-scenes come to life while speeding up your heart rate. As the reader, I learned more about Magda and what happened, the story became more and more intense. Slowly, the mysteries started unraveling one by one and coming into focus. The plot twists were completely unexpected, and often led the reader shaking their head in disbelief. I also liked the author’s writing style in this book, and how everything started off somewhat calm, but ended on a completely different note.

One memorable thing about this book was the flashbacks to Magda’s life before everything happened. They really helped the reader understand how her life was before, and how much she changed since the incident. Additionally, each of the characters slowly evolved and became more human and realistic as the book went on, which really added to the story’s overall effect.

Reviewed by Heena, Twin Hickory Library