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Read + Review: Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman

There was time, during World War Two, that Britain was under constant threat of bombings. The attacks would often happen at night, and the only warning they’d get was an air raid siren just before. Once the siren went off, they had to grab their families, and rush to the nearest subway tunnel or underground shelter. Sometimes they didn’t make it in time, and were blown up; sometimes they did, only to emerge in the morning to find their home and all of their belongings nothing but rubble and ash. It was a horrible time to be British, and people feared for the safety of their children, so a solution was created: ship your children off to another country for the time being! One of these ships was called The City of Benares and would take ninety children to Canada as a part of the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) program. It was a great idea that would take them far away from the action. But sadly, nobody could’ve predicted the torpedo, and nobody could’ve predicted the hundreds of lives that would be lost. This is the story of the sinking of “The Children’s Ship”, the young lives that were lost, the ones that weren’t, and the people who became heroes overnight.

I cannot express how glad I am that I found this. If I hadn’t, I probably would’ve never found out about it. I absolutely love reading history that I never learned in school, and I think it’s extremely important that tragedies like these are never forgotten. The suspense was very well done as well. I recommend this book to any history fanatics like me.

My favorite part of the book was definitely the last ten or so chapters. I won’t spoil what happens in them, but they do contain a lot of tension.

Reviewed by Dahlia, Twin Hickory

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

Cassandra Cain is not your average teenager. Raised as a perfect and mute assassin by her father, she runs away from home when she realizes that being an assassin isn’t what she’s meant to be. After finding herself in the comforting noodle shop of Jackie, the kind owner, she discovers the legacy of Batgirl, a prominent vigilante of Gotham City who disappeared years ago. While trying to seek out Batgirl for advice, Cassandra finds herself working with a certain wheelchair-bound librarian named Barbara Gordon, who asks questions that Cassandra can’t answer. Between finding Batgirl and trying to start anew, Cassandra must also deal with the ever-present threat of her father and her old life coming back to claim her.

As one of DC Comics’ lesser-known Batman-related characters, Cassandra Cain rarely gets the spotlight, and I truly appreciate Kuhn trying to give Cassandra the attention she deserves. I will say that the book does stray from the comics canon with elements I can’t spoil, but overall, the book really tries to live up to the comics by forging its own path while still hitting the right notes. In the comics, Cassandra Cain has always been in her own internal struggle between what’s right or wrong due to her upbringing, and Kuhn translated this aspect fantastically well in this book. One of the strongest moments of this book is also the addition of Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl. This may seem like a spoiler, but truthfully it is just background knowledge that is optional to read before this story. I believe that having Barbara in the story as one of Cassandra’s mentors truly helped Cassandra’s characterization, as that incarnation of Barbara had retired the mantle of Batgirl and had a very similar experience to help Cassandra. The only part of this book that could have been better was developing the personalities of the original characters created for this story, especially Jackie. Although I understand the focus on Cassandra and Barbara’s relationship (due to their similar backgrounds and motives), Jackie could have been more of moral support besides having a safe place for Cassandra to run to. Personally, I believe that Kuhn just didn’t explore Jackie’s character a lot, and that could have definitely made the story better. Other than that, this story was a fantastic read and I can’t wait for more YA books like this from DC Comics.

The most memorable part of this book was when Cassandra mistakenly knocked over the stacks of books that Erik, another character in the book, had set up for his book club meeting. The uniqueness of this moment was that Cassandra had thought the stacks of books were for training, while Erik had simply put them in that way for holding a discussion. The moment also started Cassandra and Erik’s relationship through Erik’s sympathy for Cassandra’s situation. The chemistry between the two made a breakthrough in this moment.

Review by Allyson, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews, Uncategorized

Read + Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

The book was about a girl in seventh grade named Mila. She lives with her single mom who is struggling to financially support her family. At school, things are tough for Mila because she was getting sexually harassed. Her friends don’t really think much of it and think the boys are just flirting but Mila knows that’s not what’s happening. She didn’t tell her mom about this because her mom was already stressed enough. Mila’s mom went to exercising class and they also had karate. So Mila joined a karate class and it taught her ways to overcome her situation.

I thought the book was interesting. All the things that happened made the book whole. I liked how everything fit together in the end. It seemed like everything was just the way it should be at the end.

The most memorable thing in the book was when Liana told her story. It made it seem like Mila wasn’t the only one in that situation.

Review by Monica, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews, Uncategorized

Read + Review: Into the Pit (Five Nights at Freddy’s: Fazbear Frights #1) by Scott Cawthon

This book was written by Scott Cawthon, the same developer of the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” horror series. This book is made up of 3 short stories of 3 different characters. Oswald, a boy who is bored out of his mind during summer vacation, finds a secret in the creepy local pizza place. Sarah, a girl who is ashamed of her body, and finds a scary animatronic in a dumpster. And Millie, a depressed girl that’s mean to her grandpa and finds something odd in her grandpa’s shed. The story has some scary moments inside, so readers beware!

This book isn’t only an amazing horror and thriller, it gives the reader an important lesson that will remain useful in the future. For Oswald, be grateful for what you have. For Sarah, everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way. And for Millie, listen and appreciate what your loved ones do for you before it’s too late. These lessons are important for the reader to know, even if this is just a horror book. The plot is also great, seeing a few average kids encounter animatronics that haunted my childhood. A great book that’s really recommended, especially if you played the game.

A memorable part is Millie’s story. Millie is going through an emo phase and despises everything, she thinks happiness is fake and hates her grandpa. However, when she realizes what she did, she wanted to go back and fix her relationship with her family. However, by then it was too late. It was a very touching story and I highly recommend you read the book.

Reviewed by Gabriel, Twin Hickory

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

“I was born a crime”, was said by the famous comedian that currently hosts the Daily Show, Trevor Noah. It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime is a heart-warming autobiography written about Trevor Noah and his caring mother surviving in Africa under harsh laws made by a racist government. Of these laws, being mixed (having one black parent and white parent) was one of Trevor’s struggles, being born to a South-African mother and a European father. This tragic, funny, and dramatic memoir that describes Trevor’s life from being a mischievous nine-year-old to a partying teenager.

This fascinating autobiography has a humorous plotline, as well as a dramatic climax. This book clearly depicts the stages of change within children as they grow older and mature. Trevor started out to be a misbehaving 3rd-grader and matured into a DJing teen for many clubs and pubs. There were many close-call situations all throughout the book, reaching out to the reader’s emotions. A major theme learned from this autobiography is that strength comes from faith, love, and compassion, making this one of my most favorite books.

A particularly memorable moment in this book is when Trevor goes to his high school prom with his girlfriend. Things seem fine at first, but they take unexpected and hilarious turns.

Reviewed by Shri, Twin Hickory