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

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz

Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz

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Sylvie Kantorovitz renders a beautiful graphic memoir that delineates her path to adulthood. Born into a Jewish family in Morocco, Sylvie moves to France with her parents and explores her new home. She lives in a school where her father is the school principal, and most of her classmates are French. She enjoys anything related to art, but her mother isn’t supportive of letting her do it for a living. Instead, she pushes Sylvie to take mathematics and physics to benefit her future. In her elder years, the pressure of choosing a career becomes hard on her. After receiving her Baccalaureate Diploma (an entrance ticket to a university), she moves to Paris and finds out what she wants to be, alone from the external pressure around her.

This book has many things to adore, especially the details, the doodling, and every artistic aspect. Sylvie is such a passionate artist, and I can see that through her commitment to the skill. The image panels were easy to follow, even though they were without words or speech bubbles. However, the author could have shown continuation between chapters since some parts of the plot felt incomplete. Otherwise, the story was straightforward, and the ending was convincing. The overall tone was very comforting, making it a quick and easy read.

I liked that the book stood out from typical memoirs, where they seldom involve violence or the author’s struggles in life. Sylvie was different. Her life was so simple yet very interesting to read. From being a shy person, she had become much more confident with her decisions near the end. It was surprising to see this inner transformation, which added more to her personality.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

Amazon.com: Like Home (9780593172599): Onome, Louisa: Books

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Louisa Onomé’s Like Home is a breath of fresh air that reminds us of our childhood days and fond memories. Chinelo, or Nelo, a Nigerian Canadian, loves her beloved neighborhood, Ginger East, Toronto, and is happy with the way things are. But things changed after an arcade homicide, which has painted the community in a bad light since then. Many of her close friends started to migrate to nearby places, except Kate (Nelo’s best friend), whose store has been a staple to the area. After her store gets vandalized, Nelo fears that she will leave, too. Moreover, new stores have been moving in, gentrifying the community and displacing businesses. As Nelo regards these changes as harmful to her neighborhood, she finds a way to overcome them and stand for Ginger East, her home.

The book hooked me right from the cover till the end. The prose is very readable, and all the characters are given a lot of insight. Nelo was like a reflection of myself, and her youthful, sensible voice kept me invested in the book. I also adored Bo, Rafa, Kate, and Mr. Brown since each of them had a distinct personality and a story to contribute. I also liked how the author pressed on the concept of how change can be good and acceptable, and resisting it could only hurt you more. Likewise, Nelo learns to accept reality and realizes that changes aren’t always bad. Other themes of the book, like gentrification, stereotypes, and friendship dynamics, were closely examined without stagnating the flow of the story.

One memorable thing about the book is the connection between Nelo and her friends. The text messages and their banter made me giggle here and there, and their friendship was so authentic, which is quite rare these days. The closing was well-crafted, presenting a good vibe for the readers at the end. It left me thinking about Nelo and her friends long after the last page. Overall, it is a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Onomé.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - Kindle edition by Schwab, V. E..  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a young woman named Adeline LaRue who makes a deal with a god to live forever. The only cost to this bargain is that she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie lives through the centuries living as a ghost to the people around her, with her only company being the same god who cursed her name. It isn’t until 300 years later where she encounters the impossible in a small bookstore in NYC: someone has managed to remember her name. The plot starts with our main character, Addie LaRue, who lives in 1714 France in a small village called Villon. In a desperate effort to escape from her unwanted marriage, Addie makes a deal with a god named Luc who grants her the wish to live forever. The only catch is that anyone who sees her will instantly forget her name. From there, the book follows Addie’s new life as a ghost, traveling from place to place trying to survive with this new curse on her. The plot’s setting is set in many countries as it follows Addie’s newfound freedom in discovering the world around her. Henry Strauss also serves as another main character in the book. He is the one who is not affected by Addie’s curse and remembers her name. 

I thought the book was amazing and creative. I found that it was a bit slow in the beginning as nothing was happening, but it eventually does begin to get interesting as we learn how Addie brought this life on herself. I know the main romance was between Addie and Henry but I found myself gravitating to the relationship between Addie and Luc. I mainly just found it interesting how Addie survived living a life where everyone she knows forgets her the second they turn away. Addie became a character I found relatable to even at 300 years old. Furthermore, I didn’t see Luc as the ultimate villain in the book. He was your typical morally grey character who did seem to care for Addie despite Addie thinking otherwise. 

The thing that drew me to the book was its writing style. I felt the book was written in a way in which every sentence just managed to flow together that created a book that felt beautiful in its own way. I also particularly loved the relationship between Addie and Luc. It was interesting to see how their feelings towards each other changed over the years as Addie continued living her eternal life with Luc being the only reminder of her old life. The number one thing I did dislike is the ending mainly because it did leave it open for a sequel even though this book was strictly standalone.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift

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The story revolves around two main central characters Adraa and Jatin, who had an arranged marriage set up from a young age. The two main plot points of the story are about how these two characters fall in love and the various political and economic stances that their nations have. One of these was how the invention of firelight, an invention made by Adraa which impacted the people, affected the economies in other nations. The setting takes place in the fictional world of Wickery, which has five countries, each having its system behind the hierarchy. Most of the cultural aspects of the various nations in the story seem to come from India. However, some of the slang used also seems slightly based on British English. The story also has an intricate magic system which is a big part of the plot and the setting.

The main thing that drew me to the book at first was the magic system. To that aspect, I feel that the story did not disappoint. However, one of the main things that I disliked was the writing style. The premise is very cliché, and the story isn’t helpful by having the first hundred chapters be a slow burn. The story involves a contract marriage between the two main characters. I hated this since it was a generic arranged marriage setup, which meant that the two characters hated each other. Not to mention, it lasted around 100 chapters. The resolution to this issue involved the usage of another cliché of falling in love in one glance. I also heavily disliked how this book made the word “blood” into a profane word. The usage of the word “blood” seemed to be in places where it could have been using the phrase “bloody he**”, but since it’s not written in that way, the dialogue with that word feels abrupt and not complete. At first, I thought that it was due to a cultural influence and the author wanting to keep the profanity down for a younger audience. However, the author also uses other words of the same type. This confused me on whom the target audience was supposed to be or if it was just a generic misprint. However, I don’t think it was a misprint due to it happening frequently, and I disliked that a lot. It was one of the many reasons why I disliked Riya, a supporting character. I feel that can hinder a reader’s experience when they read this novel. Speaking of characters, I don’t particularly like or dislike the main characters. I enjoy the portions of world-building that are shown through them, but when the characters interact with others it comes off as cheesy. Other times, the story comes across as if those two characters were the only characters present in the story. The other characters felt one-dimensional and felt as if they were only existing to serve as a plot point for the two main characters. For example, at the end of the first on-screen fight scene, the interaction between Riya and Adraa felt very dry. It almost felt as if Riya was making Adraa into a Mary Sue type character.

For me, one of the memorable things in the book was the conflict between Adraa and Basu. This incident occurred around 50 pages into the book, and it was the scene that kept me invested in the book and prevented me from dropping the book. It was fast-paced, and the magic in the conflict was also something that I enjoyed seeing.

Reviewed by Srinivasan, Twin Hickory Library