Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

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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

againagain

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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

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

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The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden is the story of a seventh grade girl named Zoey. Zoey’s life is not easy; she has a lot on her plate. Not only is she trying to survive middle school, but she also must take care of her three siblings. Zoey’s family doesn’t have a lot of money and they are living in a trailer with her mom’s current boyfriend. One of Zoey’s jobs is to keep her siblings quiet and keep everything neat, so her mom’s boyfriend doesn’t get upset. Zoey thinks her life would be so much easier if she was an octopus. Not only would she have eight arms, but she could camouflage herself and blend into the background. Zoey can’t always get her homework done because she is busy taking care of her brothers and sister. She never has the right clothes because her mother buys everything too big, so she can grow into them. The washing machine is broken, so sometimes Zoey’s clothes are dirty, and kids refer to her as grimy. Zoey’s life is hard, but her debate teacher takes a special interest in Zoey. She thinks that Zoey’s voice is valuable. This gives Zoey the confidence she needs to stand up for herself and others.

I think this book has an important message and is a must read for all middle school students. It addresses current issues such as abuse, bullying, poverty and gun control. I believe the author does a great job of breaking down stereotypes and gives the audience a look into the window of poverty. I think that this book inspires people to speak up for what’s right, even when it’s hard to do. I liked the author’s writing style because the dialogue really made it seem like middle school students were talking. I thought Zoey was a very relatable character and it was easy to root for her. Although Zoey made some questionable choices; she was never doing anything for selfish reasons. All of Zoey’s actions were driven by her desire to help and take care of the people in her life.

The most memorable part of the book was when Zoey showed up for the debate about gun control. She has strong opinions but has been holding her thoughts and feelings in for so long. Will she finally speak up? You find yourself holding your breath to see what she will do.

4-stars-1

Submitted by James, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

Cassandra Cain is not your average teenager. Raised as a perfect and mute assassin by her father, she runs away from home when she realizes that being an assassin isn’t what she’s meant to be. After finding herself in the comforting noodle shop of Jackie, the kind owner, she discovers the legacy of Batgirl, a prominent vigilante of Gotham City who disappeared years ago. While trying to seek out Batgirl for advice, Cassandra finds herself working with a certain wheelchair-bound librarian named Barbara Gordon, who asks questions that Cassandra can’t answer. Between finding Batgirl and trying to start anew, Cassandra must also deal with the ever-present threat of her father and her old life coming back to claim her.

As one of DC Comics’ lesser-known Batman-related characters, Cassandra Cain rarely gets the spotlight, and I truly appreciate Kuhn trying to give Cassandra the attention she deserves. I will say that the book does stray from the comics canon with elements I can’t spoil, but overall, the book really tries to live up to the comics by forging its own path while still hitting the right notes. In the comics, Cassandra Cain has always been in her own internal struggle between what’s right or wrong due to her upbringing, and Kuhn translated this aspect fantastically well in this book. One of the strongest moments of this book is also the addition of Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl. This may seem like a spoiler, but truthfully it is just background knowledge that is optional to read before this story. I believe that having Barbara in the story as one of Cassandra’s mentors truly helped Cassandra’s characterization, as that incarnation of Barbara had retired the mantle of Batgirl and had a very similar experience to help Cassandra. The only part of this book that could have been better was developing the personalities of the original characters created for this story, especially Jackie. Although I understand the focus on Cassandra and Barbara’s relationship (due to their similar backgrounds and motives), Jackie could have been more of moral support besides having a safe place for Cassandra to run to. Personally, I believe that Kuhn just didn’t explore Jackie’s character a lot, and that could have definitely made the story better. Other than that, this story was a fantastic read and I can’t wait for more YA books like this from DC Comics.

The most memorable part of this book was when Cassandra mistakenly knocked over the stacks of books that Erik, another character in the book, had set up for his book club meeting. The uniqueness of this moment was that Cassandra had thought the stacks of books were for training, while Erik had simply put them in that way for holding a discussion. The moment also started Cassandra and Erik’s relationship through Erik’s sympathy for Cassandra’s situation. The chemistry between the two made a breakthrough in this moment.

Review by Allyson, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews, Uncategorized

Read + Review: Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

The book was about a girl in seventh grade named Mila. She lives with her single mom who is struggling to financially support her family. At school, things are tough for Mila because she was getting sexually harassed. Her friends don’t really think much of it and think the boys are just flirting but Mila knows that’s not what’s happening. She didn’t tell her mom about this because her mom was already stressed enough. Mila’s mom went to exercising class and they also had karate. So Mila joined a karate class and it taught her ways to overcome her situation.

I thought the book was interesting. All the things that happened made the book whole. I liked how everything fit together in the end. It seemed like everything was just the way it should be at the end.

The most memorable thing in the book was when Liana told her story. It made it seem like Mila wasn’t the only one in that situation.

Review by Monica, Twin Hickory Library