Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

This Might Get Awkward by Kara McDowell

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Gemma Wells is a teenager who’s never been to parties, had many friends, or stand out at school. To her, Lake Powell was the only place she needed in life; all those other typical teenager activities didn’t matter. However, during her solo trip to Lone Rock Beach, a supposedly empty beach in this season, her excursion was unexpectedly accompanied by the most popular kids at her high school. Realizing that her crush, Beau Booker, is with this group, Gemma thinks that this might be her long-awaited chance at getting with Beau. That fantasy is almost immediately crashed when Beau falls off a boat and got a concussion, only saved by the quick CPR given to him by Gemma, before being sent to the hospital. At the hospital, Gemma was horrified to learn that everyone thought she was Beau’s girlfriend, but Beau had told her to pretend she was close with him. In a confusing journey to fulfill Beau’s wishes, meet a new, mysterious Booker brother, and discover her true identity, This Might Get Awkward tells a tale of how a once-outcast teenage girl finally finds a place where she belongs.

This Might Get Awkward fit into a few cliches, loner finding belonging, pretending to be dating the most popular boy, and a girl being torn between two romantic interests. However, I didn’t find these stereotypes to be overwhelming. Gemma’s seemingly hopeless situation was very unrealistic, which made it more interesting to see how the story would play out, especially since she seemed to brush off anyone who was trying to help her. When she met the other Booker brother, Griff, the two immediately hit it off, with undeniable chemistry. Yet on almost every step of the way, she was making mistakes and not taking responsibility for her actions. Gemma frequently pushed away the people who cared about her, making her an incredibly frustrating character. Despite Gemma’s occasional, questionable attitude, I enjoyed experiencing her journey to becoming a new person that she finally felt comfortable as.

One memorable thing about the book was the idea that the most unexpected people can become friends with each other. Most people stay away from others if there’s any indication that they “don’t fit,” and that was true for Gemma too. With Beau’s accident, however, Gemma made many amazing friendships with people she never would have talked to otherwise. I thought this gave an important message to the readers, to never be afraid to talk to other people, even if they are the complete opposite of you.

Reviewed by Melody, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Cold by Mariko Tamaki

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When Todd Mayer is found dead, he seems like just another kid to Georgia, someone who has nothing to do with her. However, as the investigation unfolds, Georgia realizes that Todd might be more connected to her than she thought, and before she knows it, her family is at the epicenter of the murder. Meanwhile, Todd is a ghost of who he once was: literally. After being found dead in the snow, he feels as if he’s woken up from a deep slumber. Now, he spends his days watching the investigation from above, reflecting on his life and how he got here. He’s left helpless as the secrets of his life are peeled away one by one, finally revealing what happened to him that fateful night.

I really enjoyed this book, especially because of how descriptive it was. Everything was told in great detail making it very easy to visualize the characters and places. I feel like we really get to know Georgia, even though she doesn’t take the front seat in the investigation. The connection she feels to Todd, who she’s never met, allows us to get a glimpse into who she is and what she cares about. The ending was something I never saw coming, even though there were quite a few clues leading up to it. The story is woven in a way that leaves a trail of signs, while being utterly inconspicuous. Overall, this slow burning mystery carefully unfolded into something deeper, making for a great book.

Something memorable about this book is how Georgia and Todd’s chapters are told from different points of view. Georgia’s chapters are in first person and Todd’s are in third person. I really like how this gave Georgia’s chapters a more personal feel and made Todd’s more omniscient, especially because he’s seeing everything from above as a ghost.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

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Scottie Zajac’s life has become a lot more complicated. While driving out of the school parking lot, her car suddenly crashes into the car of Irene Abraham, one of the most popular girls at school and her nemesis. Scottie’s car is still driveable, but Irene’s most certainly isn’t, and thanks to her mother, Scottie has been volunteered to carpool with Irene until Irene’s car is fixed. At the same time, Scottie is still dealing with heartache and anger after breaking up with her girlfriend Tally. An idea to get revenge on her is raised, and Scottie is willing to execute it. With her amazing persuasion skills (and a bribe) Scottie convinces Irene to start a fake relationship with her. Everything is perfect, from her heightened popularity to Tally’s jealousy, until real feelings between the girls threaten to come to the surface.

The characters left me feeling nostalgic when I finished the book. They were charming, unique, and the relationships between all of them felt like a real school environment. It is quickly pointed out that the main characters have flaws, which is more than needed in any story. Plus, the book then proceeded to allow Irene and Scottie to grow, which was refreshing to see. Every single romantic scene was adorable and felt authentic. My favorite character was Irene, which is a popular opinion, but it’s obvious why. Irene spoke her mind, went after what she wanted, was funny, caring, and shut down any patronizing thing that someone had to say about her. She had her values and morals that she stuck to. And yet she still let her guard down, because it’s okay to be weak sometimes. She as a person made me admire cheerleaders more than I already did.
This book included how Scottie had to heal from her past relationship before going to a new one, and that must have meant so much for anyone that has been through a breakup. It was specifically stated that healing and moving on was important. I’ve never read a romance that said anything like that. That process is always glossed over. I’m grateful for this story, because of how real it felt. I’m definitely reading all of Kelly’s other books.

One memorable part of the book that I’ve already noticed playing into my behavior is Irene’s confidence. I know I already ranted about her, but the way she stood up tall and didn’t back down showed me a trait that I want to have. I’m a quiet person. I’ve begun speaking louder, and more people are listening. And this specific quote from a character named Honey-Belle: “I always say when I like things so the universe will hear me clearly.” Everyone takes things for granted or forgets to tell others that they make them happy. When I read that for the first time, I immediately told my best friends how much I loved them.

Reviewed by Annabel, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

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The Ivory Key is about Vira, a young girl who wants to become the queen of Ashoka. However, the only magic that is protecting Ashoka is running out and that can affect Vira’s chance of becoming queen. Even if she does become queen, Ashoka’s opponents will take the chance of stealing the last of the magic. Though, one thing that can help Vira have victory, the Ivory Key. The Ivory Key can bring new magic into set. In order for her to do that Vira needs to reunite with her siblings, Riya, Ronak, and Kaleb. Each one of them are determined to find the Ivory Key and use it to fix up their past mistakes. Altogether with different plans, will they be able to successfully find the Ivory Key?

I think that The Ivory Key was an amazing book. I liked how all of the characters had unique personalities which in the end led them to success. However, I feel that the Ivory Key has too many extra details in it which makes the story confusing, but important details were missing. My favorite character was Ronak because he didn’t let anything hold him back from doing what he wanted to and his reason for wanting to find the Ivory Key wasn’t as cruel as his other siblings. Overall, I would recommend this book anyone who likes a good fantasy book with a magical twist in it.

One memorable thing about The Ivory Key was the writing style. I think this was memorable because the writing style helped me as a reader, understand all four of the siblings feelings and thoughts. Every chapter when the character changed, it felt I was going into a whole new persons life because every chapter alternated between the characters point of views.

Reviewed by Radhika, Twin Hickory Library

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