Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

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You can find an eBook copy here or an eAudiobook copy here.

The bright colorful world of K-pop is infamous for its seemingly unattainable beauty standards. Skye Shin knows all about them. Her mother has constantly told her since childhood how fat girls shouldn’t be on stage, but that wasn’t going to stop Skye. Skye wants to show her mother, and anyone else who doubts her, that fat girls are just as, if not more, talented than anyone else. That’s why when “You’re My Shining Star”, a new K-pop competition survival show, was hosted in LA, she auditioned without telling her mother. As Skye gets thrown into K-pop scene she is immediately hit with back-lash, but there are also plenty of people wanting her to succeed. Skye perseveres through the competition showing everyone that she is star-material, regardless of her body type.

The characters in this book are true gems! There was some dialogue that were definitely cheesy, but the struggles they faced were relatable. I truly understood Skye’s need to prove her mother wrong. I was genuinely rooting for her throughout the entire book. Another thing about the characters is that they felt like real people. Some of them were definitely more morally gray than others, and they didn’t feel like characters in a story. The plot moved forward a little quickly, especially in the beginning. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, but to me it felt like things were passing by quite quickly. The plot was good in the sense that nothing felt too unrealistic.

Even though I have already stated this, the characters are super memorable! I think I like the way they portray Skye’s mother the best. I don’t think that Skye’s mother wanted to hurt her daughter, but that is what ended up happening. In the book Skye repeatedly thinks about when she was younger and how low of a self-esteem she had due to her mother’s hurtful words. Obviously Skye and her mother love each other, but their relationship definitely took a hit because of her mother’s actions. Just because I think she is a complex character does not mean I condone her actions. She pushed her standards on Skye, completely blind to the pain it was causing her. I think a lot of parents could be guilty of this. Maybe not to this extent, but I’m sure some parents have said hurtful things because they want the best for their children.

5-stars

Reviewed by Elaine, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate

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You can place a hold on a print copy, eBook copy, or eAudiobook copy!

Autumn Casterly is a high school senior and drug dealer who hopes to make enough money to leave her town and her past behind. Popular but aloof, she hasn’t trusted anyone or had a real friend since her mother died. Ivy, her younger sister, is her polar opposite. She surrounds herself with a group of caring friends who share her similar “nerdy” interests. The sisters have become strangers since their mother’s death, but when one of Autumn’s deals goes wrong, she’s beaten and held hostage. Between life and death, Autumn leaves her body and wanders as a sort of ghost, her presence only somewhat felt by her sister. Together, they must work to find and rescue Autumn before it’s too late, uncovering secrets from their past and present to understand her kidnapping as well as the deterioration of their relationship.

I enjoyed reading this book; it was engaging, suspenseful, and authentic. While the dialogue at the beginning is a bit cheesy and the characters start out pretty stereotypical, it eventually builds into a gripping tale of two sisters as they reconnect after years as they deal with their grief and trauma of the past while solving the current mystery of Autumn’s disappearance. Ivy takes life-threatening risks and faces imminent danger to save her sister while Autumn struggles on the brink of death to figure out what happened to her. The switching of the perspectives between Autumn and Ivy gives a meaningful insight into the action as well as on how their mindsets originally clash and then develop over time. Furthermore, the handling of issues such as poverty, loss, consent, and others, are done well and woven into the plot realistically, helping the more mature themes of the book stand out and convey important messages to the reader.

The most memorable part of this story for me was Autumn’s development as a character. With her new vantage point as a sort of ‘spirit’, she’s able to watch how she affects the people in her life from an outsider’s perspective. As she learns from these experiences, and as we learn more about her and her past, her character development becomes more complex and compelling. Autumn’s growth is written realistically and masterfully, making her a memorable and sympathetic character.

4-stars

Reviewed by Ananya, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson

Amazon.com: Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday (9780399547614 ...

You can place a hold on a print copy, eBook copy, or eAudiobook copy!

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday tells the story of teenager Abdi and his family, who live in Somalia, Africa. In Somalia, there is an Islamic terrorist group called Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is known for killing or kidnapping civilians and making young boys become soldiers. Troops from the United States, as well as Africa, are working to defeat Al-Shabaab, but this group continues to terrorize Somalia. Abdi’s older brother gets kidnapped from school and then three years later, Abdi’s entire family gets violently kidnapped from their home. When Abdi is offered a chance to save his family, he goes for it, even if it means he has to become a child soldier in Al-Shabaab’s Army. Abdi’s story is split between the then and the now, which was a little confusing, but each chapter is dated, which helps you follow the timeline of the story.

I thought this book was a real page turner. Although there are violent parts, you want to keep reading to find out what happens to Abdi and his family. Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday is a fiction book but reads very much like a non-fiction book. The characters and places are written so realistically, I found myself double checking to make sure that this truly was a fiction book. I think the author did a great job of portraying what kinds of things people might to do to protect and rescue their family. Although the violent parts of this book are hard to read, I think Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday is a must-read book for everybody.

The most memorable part of the book was when we get to see snippets of Abdi’s past life with his family. The memory of Abdi, his brother, and father on the boat show how much the family loved one another and that they lived a pretty normal life. The memories of his family are what drives Abdi to survive, and I liked that we got to relive them with him.

5-stars

Reviewed by James, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

Amazon.com: Deadly Curious eBook: Anstey, Cindy: Kindle Store

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

It is 1834, about a year since the murder of Sophia Thompson’s cousin Andrew Waverly. Despite the passage of time, the case has remained unsolved, taking a toll on the Waverlys. When Sophia receives a desperate letter from Daphne, she decides to accept her invitation to visit and look into the mystery of Andrew’s death. Sophia is very interested in becoming a detective (specifically for the Bow Street Runners of London), and this visit provides an opportunity to not only help Daphne and the rest of the Waverlys, but also to gain experience needed to prove herself worthy of becoming the first female detective. Joined by Jeremy Fraser, a rookie Bow Street Runner on the case, the two try to find suspects, clues, and evidence. However, Sophia and Jeremy find that this investigation is far from straightforward, with foggy memories and false leads, along with an inept constable who is impatient to close the case. As they search deeper, Jeremy and Sophia start finding danger with every discovery they make.

For me, the plot wasn’t the best. That’s not to say the story was terrible, but I wished that it was more tight. Instead, the plot kind of went all over with no clear direction at first. Only towards the end did things start falling into place, but it felt illogical and rushed. However, that could’ve been the point, as Jeremy and Sophia were investigating a year after the crime. I liked how the mystery wasn’t very clear or obvious, which made me think (I’ll discuss in more detail below). The two protagonists were likable, but I didn’t get particularly attached to them or any of the other characters. One thing that bothered me about Jeremy was that Sophia would describe him with traits that I didn’t find in him myself. That could have been because I didn’t read between the lines or because of Sophia’s crush, but I wish the author would have made it more clear. Another thing that I wish was done better was Sophia’s and Jeremy’s romantic attraction toward each other. It didn’t feel very organic. It instead felt like it was there just for the sake of plot. At the end, the motive felt a bit weak and unconvincing. There also wasn’t any good humor (which I like to find in books), only somewhat clever exchanges. Despite all these complaints, I didn’t strongly dislike the book. I even enjoyed the thriller aspects, during the time Sophia and Jeremy found themselves in some scary situations. All in all, I’d say this isn’t a bad book, just one that you shouldn’t expect much from.

One memorable thing about the book is that the culprit and the motive weren’t (at least for me) and I wasn’t able to figure out exactly who did it, the reason behind it, and how all the clues came together. Often times in mystery books, there is at least one or two clues that can get me on the right path and maybe even solve the mystery before the protagonist does. This was not the case with this book, as the trail was a bit more unclear, which makes sense considering our protagonists are looking at the crime a year after it took place. Although it made me not like the plot, it was fascinating with how it was different from the mysteries I had read.

3-stars

Reviewed by Christine, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Again Again by E. Lockhart

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Click on one of these links to place a hold on the book, eBook, or eAudiobook!

 

Again Again by E. Lockhart tells the story of teenager Adelaide Buchwald.  Adelaide is a high school student at a fancy boarding school called Alabaster Preparatory Academy.  She wants people to see her as a happy, talkative, and well-adjusted teenager.  However, she is depressed, unhappy, and dealing with a lot of personal and family issues. Adelaide’s brother Toby is a drug addict that was just released from rehab. She is trying hard to find a way to reconnect with him. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and told her he thinks he never loved her.  Her dad, who is a teacher at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, is lonely and missing Adelaide’s mother, who is home taking care of her recovering brother.  And finally, Adelaide is on academic probation and in danger of failing out of school.  In this book, Adelaide’s story is played out in different multiverses.  We get to see her make different decisions in each multiverse, each time resulting in a different outcome to her story.  In each multiverse, Adelaide is portrayed as a different version of herself and we get to follow her on different journeys.

I thought the premise of this book was a little confusing. Since there is more than one timeline in this book, it was hard to keep track of what happened in what universe. Each time  Adelaide made a different decision, the story changed. While it was interesting to see Adelaide make different choices  and end up on different paths, I still found the alternate versions somewhat confusing.

The most memorable part of this book was the relationship that Adelaide had with her brother, Toby. When Adelaide and Toby were younger, they had a close relationship. But Toby’s drug addiction was hard on the whole family, and it changed Adelaide and Toby’s relationship. I really liked how both Adelaide and Toby tried to reconnect with each other. I especially liked when you get to read their text messages. I thought the author did a good job of showing that forgiveness and trust sometimes come in stages.

3-stars

Reviewed by James, Twin Hickory Library