Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

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Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé centers two Black students, Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards, as they are the only Black students at their school, Niveus Private Academy. They both have done exceptional jobs so far in their years of high school and both are in the running for valedictorian at the end of senior year. However, as their senior year begins the whole school starts to receive messages from an anonymous texter by the pen name of Aces. Aces sends out the deep dark secrets of both Devon and Chiamaka seemingly targeting just the two of them. It starts as what seems like a joke or a prank, but turns into something very dangerous that not only threatens their academic futures but their lives, safety, and the safety of their loved ones.

Ace of Spades was a book that was so sickening to the point where I felt nauseous from what these students went through. While I understand that reading something that may make readers uncomfortable is not ideal; I believe that if Black people have to live similar experiences portrayed in this book it’s only fair we [allies] read something that makes us feel uncomfortable as well in order to try and understand the struggles they face almost every day. Regardless, this book brought me a new perspective from the eyes of those in the Black community. Ace of Spades is definitely something I think everyone should read but it does contain content that may be too much for some people; so before reading, be sure to be aware of the trigger warnings on this book. Personally I love betrayal and books where my jaw might as well be on the floor and this book provided that for me perfectly. Every so often I was met with a plot twist that I would not have seen in a million years especially in “Part Three: Ballot or Bullet.” I loved Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s portrayal of the lgbtqia+ community in Devon and Chiamaka. As a member myself I relate to Chiamaka when she didn’t feel like she had to make it a big deal and have a “self-hate” moment when figuring out her sexuality but just knew who she was.

This book made me emotional in so many ways. I was angry, sad and on the verge of tears, and scared all when Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé wanted me to be. The descriptions in Ace of Spades are phenomenal as I felt everything Devon and Chiamaka went through. The betrayal of their peers, the fear of being watched, and the frustration behind the question “Why?…Why us?”

Reviewed by M. at Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Medusa Quest by Alane Adams

The Medusa Quest: The Legends of Olympus, Book 2 (The Legends of Oympus,  2): Adams, Alane: 9781684630752: Amazon.com: Books

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The Medusa Quest whisks readers to the beloved realm of Greek mythology and its dauntless heroes. Phoebe Katz, the headstrong daughter of Zeus, is dissatisfied by her mundane city life and longs for adventure. When she discovers popular Greek myths have changed drastically, an oracle informs her that her previous quests in the mythic world disrupted the destinies of the champions of Olympus.  Phoebe must return to Olympus and rewrite shattered history, or Greek heroes would inevitably meet their deaths. Accompanied by Damian and Angie, Phoebe endeavors to prevent Medusa from turning her twin brother Perseus to stone. Additionally, she must amend her errors and set history onto its rightful path. Monsters, magic, and myths collide in Alane Adams’s thrilling sequel that teems with action and suspense.

The descriptive, yet entertaining writing style never ceases to engage readers. I quite enjoyed viewing the tale from Phoebe’s point of view since it masterfully expressed her character while driving the plot. Furthermore, I was pleased at the astounding accuracy of Greek mythology and its utilization in the story. The characters were diverse in personality and still complemented each other. However, I felt that the plot became somewhat rushed and convoluted as the book progressed. Overall, The Medusa Quest adheres brilliantly to Olympus’s heroes while maintaining an exhilarating creativity of its own.

One memorable aspect of the novel is the author’s creative element in the traditional magic of Greek mythology. While it typically depicts Zeus simply hurling lightning at all those who oppose him, Phoebe’s lightning is quite versatile. She has used it as a weapon, as protection, and for handling simple tasks. For example, she was able to sculpt lightning into a torch and even pick locks.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell

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In a magical retelling of the classic Peter Pan story, Straight On Till Morning tells the tale of sixteen-year-old Wendy Darling and her exasperation with her life in London – routines start to feel droll, waiting after her brothers becomes taxing, and her want of adventure overtakes her dreams. Wishing her life were different, she writes of the trials and tribulations of a Peter Pan in Neverland, who she nearly ran into four years ago. She knows she’ll have to come visit again, since she’s got something of his he needs desperately. When adventure presents itself to her wrapped in a pirate ship, Wendy finds it hard to say no. As she explores the very thing of her dreams, Wendy will soon answer the question: Should you meet your heroes? Or is it better to become one?

Peter Pan has been one of my favorite reads for all my life, and any chance I get to read a retelling of the story, I never turn down! I thought this book was great! I loved how it gave us more of an insight into Wendy as a character. In the original Peter Pan, Wendy is kind and motherly, yes, but she exists only to be a mother to the rest of the characters. However, in this read, she actually has hopes and dreams, and while she cares for her family, we see how she feels about her society and about what could become of her future. Wendy is beyond that timid little thing we first meet in the classic. The plot was also fantastic! It moved quickly, and never left you bored or waiting for the chapter to be over.

Something memorable about this book was the relationship between Wendy and Tinker Bell on Neverland. In the original, there is a jealousy between the two. Both girls have a special place in their hearts for Peter, and it becomes a battle of who he keeps in his heart. In this book, however, there is a friendship between them that we’ve never seen before, making it all the more remarkable.

Reviewed by Shishira, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Cemetary Boys by Aiden Thomas

Amazon.com: Cemetery Boys (9781250250469): Thomas, Aiden: Books

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Cemetery Boys follows the story of Yadriel who is determined to become accepted among his family as a brujo after coming out as transgender to them. When his cousin Miguel suddenly goes missing and his family begins to scramble to find his spirit before Dia de Muertos, Yadriel becomes determined to complete the ritual of becoming a brujo himself and help free Miguel’s spirit. With the help of his cousin and best friend, Maritza, Yadriel completes the ritual and tries to summon his cousin’s spirit. However, he ends up summoning the spirit of Julian Diaz, the local bad boy of his school. Julian is determined to not leave this earth until he finds out what happened to him and Yadriel finds himself agreeing to help Julian in exchange for finally getting the chance to prove himself as a brujo. The only problem is Yadriel isn’t so sure he wants Julian to leave the longer he spends time with him.

I absolutely loved this book and the plot. The mystery and romance in the book left me smiling while also on the edge of my seat. The characters in this book were amazing and written really beautifully. Furthermore, I would’ve never been able to predict the plot twist towards the end. It left me shocked, betrayed, and sad all at once and I honestly felt bad for Yadriel most of all.

My favorite part of the book was the friendship between Julian, Yadriel, and Maritza. I became really attached to these characters and their lighthearted friendship to the point where I would die for them. Julian Diaz really did become a character I loved because even though he was a ghost, someone who was transparent and incorporeal, he was just as solid and real as he was alive. Cemetery Boys destroyed the brooding bad boy trope with Julian by showing him as someone who was bright and would do anything for the people he loved. Overall, the book was amazing with the characters, representation, and plot.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Court of Swans by Melanie Dickerson

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Delia, the only daughter of Earl of Dericott, lived with her seven brothers on an estate in the English countryside. Her life was rather peaceful, though her father was infrequently home, which allowed for her stepmother to always be unpleasantly controlling. One day in 1381, she was hit with the news of her father’s death. Just two weeks later, all of her brothers, most of whom were still children, were arrested by soldiers on the accounts of treason against the king of England. Delia suspects political meddling to be behind this. No longer able to bear her stepmother, Delia herself acts to save her brothers from certain execution. She travels to London, a city unfamiliar to her, with the help of her aunt’s connections and under the disguise of working as a seamstress for the king’s court. Can she save her brothers from their fate while staying out of the countless secret agendas of the court?

For me, the book’s storyline was very intriguing, which I loved. I also found the book’s setting and how it is involved with the plot to be intriguing. It is also very realistic that a girl from the English countryside would be overwhelmed by a city such as London, which plays into the dynamics of the story. The characters’ backstories and their dialogue drew me into the book and I could not put it down. The book’s flow was great and the transitions between chapters made the plot move at just the right pace to not bore nor confuse the readers. However, I also felt the character development seemed a bit too fast and was a bit anticlimactic at times. The word choice used in this book could have also been much stronger and helped with the plot. Overall, the book is a great read!

As a history enthusiast, the most memorable part of the book is the time setting the book takes place. The medieval era is not commonly written about in fiction novels. The author, Melanie Dickerson, however, appears to be experienced with writing about medieval times, because the setting is masterfully applied in many details throughout the book.

Reviewed by Qingyuan, Twin Hickory Library