Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel

treasure

 

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There are many words that historians use to call the infamous Hitler: despicable, abhorrent, reviled, and… cultured? That’s right folks, Hitler was an art lover! One day, he decides to build the greatest museum to ever exist in his hometown. Unfortunately for him, all the greatest artworks to ever exist were already owned by other museums, so he went with the only logical course of action: looting! Meanwhile, on the other side of the war, the allies are concerned with not only keeping and returning the works of art where they belonged, but also protecting them from collateral damage in the war. What ensues is a long battle between Hitler’s forces and the Monuments Men, volunteers for the art-preservation operation, for the most priceless paintings in history. Forget every other treasure hunt you’ve heard of: for this one my friend, is the greatest in history.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s reading a book on something that was never discussed in any of my history classes, something that this book does pretty well. Let me tell you, not once has “What happened to all the famous artwork and historical monuments as Europe was under siege in WWII?” ever crossed my mind before I read the summary on the jacket, which I feel is a very important detail. Art had such a great impact on history, after all! I recommend this book to any fellow history aficionados like me.

My favorite parts were about the Monuments Men’s civilian lives. I am a firm believer that everybody has a story to tell, so I’m glad I got to read about who they were before the war could change them.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Dahlia, Twin Hickory Area Library

 

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard

brokenthrone

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This Red Queen Collection book is a compilation of various short stories set before and after the events of the series. The first of these stories is ‘Queen Song’, following the life and death of Cal’s mother, Queen Coraine. It is no secret to the court that House Jacos is barely even considered part of the Nortan nobility anymore, so when Coraine Jacos catches the eye of crown prince and heir apparent, Prince Tiberias the VI, her family sees her as a ticket back to the King’s good graces. Pressured by her father and the rest of Norta, Coraine foregoes the tournament of Queenstrial and marries Tiberias. The presence of a bitter rival, Elara Merandus, locks Coraine in a battle of wills to either ensure that her thoughts stay her own, or risk them being used against her.

‘Steel Scars’, the second story, provides insight into the various happenings within the early Scarlet Guard. One of the organization’s officers, Captain Diana Farley, is desperate to prove to the Guard and (begrudgingly) her father that she can be trusted with the orders from the illusive Command. As a result, she and her team go rogue to expand the Scarlet Guard from the Lakelands into nearby Norta. Ignoring correspondence from her superiors, Farley races across Norta, gaining intel and recruiting assets to the cause. Despite her success, however, Command sees her actions as insubordination and threatens to strip her of her post. With enemies closing in all around the country, her rank is not the only thing on the line.

The third story is the only one in the book that is set in neither Norta nor the Lakelands. Instead, ‘World Behind’ takes place on the Ohius River, where Ashe, a Riverman who provides transport to those who can pay, is forced to take Lyrisa, a Silver Piedmont Princess, away from her royal troubles. Little does Ashe know, she murdered her entourage to escape her brutish fiance Orrian, who is now in pursuit of their boat. Stranded on a river in the middle of a wilderness, Lyrisa and Ashe must work together to protect the boat’s passengers from a prince who will go to extreme lengths to have his way. Though the boat ventures farther West, it is not safe from the raging wars plaguing Nortan and Lakelander countries of the East.

The fourth story in the book, ‘Iron Heart’ takes place after the Red Queen series. Following the fall of the kingdom of Norta, the former nobles are required to abdicate their thrones and renounce their titles. As Ptolemus Samos, Evangeline’s brother, prepares to do just that, Evangeline struggles to come to terms with the fact that she has to see her old home; the home she already escaped once. As she delivers her own resignation speech, however, she realizes that she is no longer Evangeline Artemia Samos, Queen of the Rift, Lady of House Samos, Daughter of the late King Volo Samos of the Rift and Queen Larentia of House Viper. She is free to be Evangeline, a queen in her own right, even without a crown.

‘Fire Light’, the final story, is the culmination of the–very literal–slow burn in Mare and Cal’s romantic arc. After the deciding battle in the war between the Scarlet Guard and the Nortan nobles, Mare and Cal reached a mutual conclusion to go on a relationship hiatus to heal from their emotional scars and respective traumas. Neither promised they would wait. While Mare retired to the mountains with her family, Cal acted as an ambassador between the republics of the continent and the developing Nortan States. They did not see each other for months, and neither promised to wait. When Premier Davidson of the Republic of Montfort throws a political convention in the form of a gala, Mare and Cal are forced to cross paths again. Their hearts are healed, but there might not be much space for anyone else inside.

Each of the stories provided unique context into character origins and particular events, or described the impact the plot events made on the world. The book brought back beloved characters and extended the story that personally, I never wanted to end. Using the journal entries, maps, timelines, and family trees, I got to imagine what past Norta looked like to better visualize what it looked like during the series. The stories wrapped several subplots up so perfectly, and the epilogue gave enough closure not to speculate relentlessly, but not so much as to make me stop thinking about the futures of the characters.

In the aforementioned epilogue, the characters’ futures were told in conjunction with the results of major plot points in the series. The future of Norta, the Lakelands, and Montfort was discussed in length and through the history-book-like structure of the last pages, characters’ future lives were revealed. I will forever remember how these characters made such drastic changes where little progress had been made for hundreds of years.

 

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Gabby, Fairfield Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

quiet

 

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Nikki Barthelmess’ debut novel features quiet Victoria, a senior in high school, who currently exists as a “ward of the state of Nevada” after an incident involving father and stepmother. Her life’s goal, to attend college, has been thrown on the ground and grinned by an iron shoe, as she begins her senior year in a new town, with new people, and a new foster family. Throughout the year, Victoria learns to please her foster mother, protect her new sisters, and embrace a life with strangers for classmates and rumors tossed around behind her back. Like a beacon of light, she meets Christina, who sticks with her through thick and thin and convinces her to loosen up. Time goes on, but Victoria can’t stop thinking about her stepsister back at home and the past she left in Reno. She realizes it’s time- time to take action and settle her past and present, once and for all.

Of all the novels I have read, this is by far one of my favorites, touching me personally through its delicate yet direct focus on sensitive topics, such as foster care and mental health. The balance of quiet Victoria and her best friend, outgoing Christina, adds a touch of humor to the novel and along with the short, sweet young love scenes takes away much of the bite behind the way Victoria is treated and the story behind her. Also, the novel features a few cases of situational irony, which make the reader ponder their own life as well as the lives of the characters. Nikki Barthelmess’ writing style includes a sense of light humor, a perfect contrast between the characters, as well as an overall aura of purity and love. Overall, the only criticism I could assign to the novel is the dull growth towards revealing Victoria’s past. I felt that it was slowly revealed through foreshadowing but could have been incorporated into more flashbacks and her dreams, instead of being released all at once and leaving the reader disappointed. All in all, this novel was an amazing combination of humor, love, and the tainted innocence of a child.

Something I will carry away with me from this novel is Victoria’s friendship with Christina, which thrives despite her hidden past and questionable actions in an attempt to keep secrets buried. Christina is the epitome of loyalty and trust, holding on even when Victoria herself admits she only gives her a flimsy branch to hold onto. Victoria’s life is strongly impacted by Christina’s presence- her charismatic demeanor, outgoing personality, and optimistic view on life.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Jennifer, Twin Hickory Area Library

 

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? by Ally Carter

dearally

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In this book, acclaimed author Ally Carter is on a mission to write a how-to guide about writing a novel for young adult audiences. From learning how to develop the best characters to physically publishing a book, Ally answers hundreds of frequently asked questions about various aspects of the writing industry. This way, she describes in great detail how young writers can be successful in this field in the future. With the contributions of several more internationally known authors, such as Gordon Korman and Melissa de la Cruz, this book offers numerous perspectives about how to construct the ideal novel.

I enjoy how the author was able to make this book very relatable for aspiring writers. She understands how busy teenagers and young adults can be trying to balance school and other related activities with a writing hobby and tailored her message to those people. Contributions from numerous notable authors that helped verify the information she was trying to communicate were very effective because it allowed the reader to interpret multiple perspectives. She also used a lot of humor to keep readers engaged and better understand what was most important.

There was so much memorable advice that Ally Carter gave throughout the novel. Personally, I have thought about pursuing a career in journalism recently, and I thought that a lot of what she explained about crafting a novel can apply to writing smaller articles as well. I believe that those who desire to work as a writer in the future will react similarly to the way I did and really enjoy this book.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Griffin, Gayton Branch Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Hive by Barry Lyga

 

hive

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Who knew that somebody could become a wanted criminal for posting something online? The Hive enters the world of Cassie McKinney, renowned hacker, and programmer. As the school year begins, she quickly finds herself in the popular kids group, entirely on accident, ignoring everybody else that tries to talk to her. Later, to impress her “friends” she posts a joke on the Hive, a government sponsored social media platform, about the president’s ugly baby. Almost right away, she gets bumped up to a level 5 Hive justice, which is people’s way of lashing back to to offensive things online. Now, she is a wanted criminal. Immediately, she runs, and finds herself at a hideout for other hackers, subject to Hive justice. She thinks her life can’t get any worse, but soon a level 5 Hive justice will seem like paradise.

The way Barry Lyga describes everything in the Hive, makes it seem like it could almost happen in dystopian America. Everything from the environment, to how the hacking is not all Matrix master-mind makes it all almost sound like a biography, even though some parts are totally impossible. The characters all have such great personalities and traits, and don’t seem like mindless clones at all. Some characters are so sarcastic, and funny, while others are serious, and stone-faced, it feels like there is a different author for each character. The parts where Lyga shows the internet’s response to Cassie’s actions, is such a nice addition, and makes the book come together. I definitely think you should read this book!

The most memorable part of the book is when Cassie gets a level 1 Hive justice. She freaks out, but then calms down, because it will be over in a day or two. Then, she gets a level 2 Hive justice, and enters panic mode. It reminds me of when you’re late for class, and you know what’s going to happen, but there’s nothing to do but rip the metaphorical band-aid off. Cassie was in the same exact situation, she did something small and harmless, but now she’s in big trouble.

5-stars-3

Reviewed by Joseph, Twin Hickory Area Library