Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Splendor by Breeana Shields

In Bella Fontaine, there are rumors of a mystical hotel, the Splendor, possessing unfathomable wonders and capable of fulfilling anyone’s hearts desire. Stubborn and headstrong Juliette desperately longs to go, but her sister Clare embarks on the journey without her. Once she returns, her previously warm and forgiving nature vanishes, leaving nothing but a cold, apathetic exterior. Bewildered by her sister’s abrupt withdrawal from her, Juliette travels to the Splendor herself, convinced that something in the mysterious hotel changed Clare. There she meets Henri, a talented illusionist who might be the solution she has so heavily sought after. Juliette and Henri search for the cause of Clare’s indifference, but instead find something much darker. Magic and mystery weave a emotional tale in Breanna Shields’ “The Splendor”.

Plot, characters, and worldbuilding were all masterfully intertwined in Shields’ novel, particularly with the idea of the Splendor. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the story and was delighted to find many twists and turns along the way. The characters Juliette and Henri cleverly complemented each other’s personalities, which helped them uncover the true secret of the Splendor. The line between magic and reality in the hotel kept me engaged in the book and wanting to know more. Overall, I believe the book was brilliantly written and had a unique concept.

One memorable thing about the book was the use of illusions. It was described in a manner that made it both appealing as well as frightening. Magic accompanied the plot of the story well and did not feel forced. I enjoyed how it added a supernatural twist to an otherwise realistic conflict.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

Click here to learn more about this book, and place it on hold.

Rory, Yuki, Ella, and Ariane were the best of friends at the Grimrose Académie. Now, Ariane is dead. Yuki, Ella, and Rory are all convinced that she didn’t commit suicide and that there’s more behind her death. When their new roommate, Nani, moves in, they decide to work together to find out what truly happened. After researching and finding clues, they uncover that Grimrose is under a fairy tale curse. Each girl’s fate is in the hands of the Académie. The 4 friends decide to try to break the curse before they -and many others- do, too.

I couldn’t put this book down. The side characters, settings, and side plots were amazing. I particularly enjoyed how each friend had someone that they trusted and could talk to. The character’s relationships within themselves and other side characters had me latched onto this story. They are all quite diverse and have many different backgrounds. This book is suitable for anyone, no matter who you are. Another reason why I found this book to be such a page-turner is that Laura Pohl’s writing style is neat, tidy, and beautiful. Pohl describes everything perfectly, whether it be the characters or the small details in parts of the story. The magical wrench in this tale and the mysterious setting were unlike any other book I’ve read. The twists and plot holes are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. This book was suspenseful, compelling, magical, and delightful.

My favorite part about this book is when they introduce the main characters. They all have distinct personalities and they all seem to work great together. Everyone is one of a kind, and they all make the story complete. I could not put this book down once I picked it up. It is one of my favorite books and everyone deserves to read it!

Reviewed by Lily, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Being Mary Bennet by JC Peterson

Click here to learn more about this book, and place it on hold!

After a disastrous birthday, Marnie Barnes comes to a striking realization: she isn’t the protagonist of her life. She isn’t Pride and Prejudice’s beloved Lizzie Bennett, she’s Mary, the boring and, at times, downright unlikable middle sister. Thus, she makes the transformative decision to shove down the Mary Bennett within her, no matter what it takes. With the help of her roommate Adhira and a brand new community project, Marnie is ready to turn herself into a brand new person. However, it doesn’t take long for her to realize that becoming someone else is a lot hard than it seems. How will Marnie find the balance between staying true to herself and becoming the person she wants to be?

I thought that this book was a very fun and lighthearted read. I liked how it was a take on Pride and Prejudice, but set in modern times. I think that the internal battle of trying to figure out who you are is one that many face, and this book tackled it well. Marnie had a good character arc and really changed as a person from the beginning to the end of the book. She became much more confident in herself and realized that her worth isn’t simply based off her accomplishments. The only thing that I felt could have been better was the ending of the book. It felt a bit rushed and having more time for the resolution would have wrapped up the book nicely.

Something memorable about this book was how all the characters were described in depth. Even minor and supporting characters were described in detail with stories from their past that explained things about their personality. It allowed me to really understand each character and brought them to life.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan and Jennifer Niven

Click here to read more about this book or to place a hold on it in our catalog.

Bea Ahern has a tendency of running away from her problems, and this time is no different: except it is. This time she’s gone for good, leaving nothing but an email address and a hole in the life of those who knew her. Ezra Ahern has the honor of being on the receiving end of his sister’s secret emails, and it doesn’t take long for him to realize that it wasn’t just about their terrible childhoods, Bea left for something more. She wasn’t running away; she was running towards something, or someone. She’s begun her own journey in the real world; one that could uncover the truth about both her and her brother. Meanwhile, Ezra’s left dealing with their sorry excuses for a mom and stepdad, all while uncovering the skeletons of their past with Bea. Told in a series of email exchanges, Bea and Ezra’s individual journeys find a way to both parallel and intersect in unimaginable ways, making for a breathtaking story about family and finding yourself.

I really enjoyed this book because it was a lot different than I expected. I thought that most of the book’s focus would go to trying to figure out what happened to Bea, but there was more to it than that. It went very deep into each character’s fears and desires which made it easier to understand them. Also, the emails from Bea and the ones from Ezra and completely different writing styles and tones which made it much more believable that they were written by two different people. The descriptions in the book made it possible to vividly imagine the characters and different places that are described throughout. I really liked that a lot of attention was put towards this because so much of the book’s focus is on the characters themselves. Finally, I found the plot to be engaging with quite a few twists and turns that made this an interesting read.

Something memorable about this book was the dynamic between Bea and Ezra. Even while the world around them was crumbling, their relationship stayed the same. Their love for each other stayed strong no matter what came their way.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library
Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Click here to read more about this book or to place a hold on it in our catalog.

After spending multiple years at boarding school, Eleanor Zarrin is coming back to a home filled with family members she used to understand but doesn’t anymore. She never fit in with any of them, as all of them appear to be monsters when she was just normal. At least, she doesn’t think she’s a monster. As Eleanor sorts through family secrets and feelings, the questions are raised: Does she trust their version of reality? Or does she trust herself more? In this novel, fantasy and horror are combined to reveal a story about a young woman learning to understand the people she once loved.

I adored the puzzle aspect of the story. Eleanor was clearly an anxious character that couldn’t even admit her actions to herself, so she uncovered secrets slowly and carefully. I wasn’t able to figure anything out before it was revealed. The character dynamics were enjoyable and I loved the way they interacted with each other. Eleanor, as a character, was frustrating, but understandable. She made incorrect decisions without question, but no one can get upset with her after seeing her reasons. Character development is essential to the plot as well, which explains all the annoying scenes where Eleanor refused to believe her family members. The book itself was a bit dark, and I admit that I felt a bit depressed after reading it. I still really liked the writing style though. It was descriptive and painted an effective picture.
What Big Teeth caught me off guard. You would expect the story to be scary in a way that makes you afraid to be alone at night, but it doesn’t do that at all. The book is scary in a melancholy way. It displays the supernatural, but it’s the supernatural portraying something much more commonly seen: a family broken apart by misunderstandings.

One thing about the story that will stay with me was the family’s behaviors. They were unapologetically outlandish and demonstrated violent acts without a second thought. That’s quite different from any boarding school environment, so I can see why it affected Eleanor so much. But they were also kind in their own way, so you can see the love behind their actions.

Reviewed by Annabel, Twin Hickory Library