Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Name She Gave Me by Betty Culley

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The book is based in the small town of Beacon in Maine. As long as she could remember, Rynn lived here with her adoptive parents. Her father’s farm, her neighbors, and the local farmer’s market was all she ever knew. But at 16, her curiosity throws her into a wild goose chase to the past. She goes on a search to find out the hidden truth about her forgotten biological family. She learns of her lost name, Scheherazade, and begins to uncover the mysteries that her adoptive parents never told her about. Still, many questions go unanswered. Where is her family now? How will she find them? And most importantly, why was she given away?

I personally adored the book. It’s poetic style of writing was something that I wasn’t very acquainted to, but it still didn’t fail to keep me engaged. Rynn’s stubborn persistence practically molded the plot of the book and showed me how strong her character was despite her unsupportive mother. My verdict is that this book was absolutely spectacular and truly and a great representation of what it means to be dedicated and strong. I definitely recommend it to anybody looking for an inspiring story.

Something that was memorable about this book was Rynn’s relationship with the Tibbetts, her best friend June’s family. Despite the hardships that Rynn went through, the Tibbetts continued to provide support for her, maybe even more than her adoptive father. They acted like a second family to Rynn and she’ll probably never forget the impact their generosity had on her.

Review by Rhea M., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review

The Trouble with Robots By Michelle Mohrweis

The Trouble with Robots is a book following Allie and Evelyn. These 2 girls went to Barton Middle School as eighth graders. Evelyn was very into robotics, while Allie is a failing student about to be sent to Sunrise Academy, a school for problem kids. Going to Sunrise would mean heavy disappointment by her grandmother. Evelyn also doesn’t want to disappoint her mothers and strives for the best. Allie loves to draw. However, she has been kicked out of 3 elective classes and robotics is the only one left. She joins and meets Evelyn, a person who doesn’t exactly appreciate her robotics team. She got disqualified from the tournament at the start of the book because she never let her team do anything, resulting in them leaving and causing them to be late to their match, disqualifying them. She likes to do everything herself, and doesn’t trust her team of DJ, Varsha, Santino, and Alex to handle the robot very well. Allie enters Room 303 and is greeted by Mrs. Weir, the robotics teacher. Immediately, Evelyn discarded Allie, telling her to go fetch supplies. She gets distracted and sketches in her notebook, causing Evelyn great pain, Ev is about to be removed from team lead, so she can’t complain. Evelyn has many motives to succeed, to get scholarships to help her 2 mothers, she wants to join the Tech Tigers, the best high school robotics team in their state. Most of all, she wanted to meet her friend Naiely again, who moved to California and is qualified to the state wide robotics tournaments. If she wins states, she can go to Worlds and meet Naiely again. Allie and Evelyn got off on the wrong foot. Eventually, Evelyn insults Allie’s mother. Allie’s parents are a sensitive subject for Allie(I’m not saying much to avoid spoilers)and her “inner beast” awakens. She goes into a rage and a fight ensues, landing both of them in trouble. After this, they have to work together again to get the team together. Allie and Evelyn start to rebuild their relationship together. However, can they get it together before the tournament, or will they fail? Also, what about the tournament? Do they win and get to States or do they lose not only the tournament but the entire robotics class?

his book perfectly handles 2 characters very well. 27 chapters, each character has every other chapter. This book shows the effects of teamwork, what happens when one ignores the team and what happens when everyone works together and gets along. Both Evelyn and Allie want to avoid disappointing their families. They take different approaches. Evelyn goes for the best and succeeds in grades, not socially though. Allie fails in most of her classes, yet she still hopes to impress her grandmother, despite the odds against her. They both don’t succeed alone yet when they meet they get all their goals accomplished. I really like the moral of this story. Teamwork is an important life skill and the author shows why it is necessary. Without teamwork, there is no way Allie and Evelyn would have succeeded.

My favorite part is where Allie shows her drawing skills to Evelyn to complete the design notebook, a key part of the robot. It requires drawings of robots and Allie gets the details down to every gear spike. Evelyn at first didn’t appreciate Allie’s drawing skills until the design notebook, where she started to include her and everyone in the team. Not only did this mean the design notebook was done, both Evelyn and Allie got along. I think this part made me use my imagination the most, trying to think of how well Allie drew the robot. I like to imagine and that is why this part is my favorite.

I give The Trouble with Robots a 5 star rating. It masterfully displays how teamwork should be accomplished, along with many other things. It is 277 pages long, perfect, not too long and not too short. I recommend this book to anyone, any age. Learning teamwork is important and this book shows how to do it.

Reviewed by Akshith I. at Twin Hickory

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

What the Fact?! by Seema Yasmin

What the Fact book cover
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“What The Fact” is about the good and bad places of information and how to stay safe from fake news. The first section of the book tells us about false information on the internet, how to understand or know if it is fake or not, and how to stop yourself from giving it what it wants. The most interesting section of the book is the second section. It talks about the bias people have when writing important information down. This section also talks about beliefs and believing strongly in something doesn’t mean that it would be right which makes it my favorite section because it gives us examples and stresses our brains out. The third section was a bit repetitive. It talked a bit too much about the press and the news with the government’s inner workings which I could not completely understand. The third section also talks about the history of American news and how news is created. The fourth section talks about social media and how its claims and facts have a certain effect on your brain and the connection between your brain’s response to social media. The fifth and last section talks about different styles of convincing and how to change people’s minds to do the thing you want them to do.

I think the book is a very important one. I feel like reading this book can help you understand if the information is false or not so you will not be influenced by false and harmful information. It tells us about some of the places on the internet that might have fake news and also trains us so we don’t fall prey anymore. It explains to us biases and that all humans have them along with all websites and news articles that are claiming they do not. The book makes you more aware of your mind and the way you think about everything and also every single little thing that you might see. It also talks about social media and what it does to you. The examples given in the book help me understand it. This book would have been very confusing without the examples, everything will just seem like a bunch of random words. I would give this book a 4 only because the politics were boring and examples were much needed to explain the story better.

One of the most memorable parts was when they told us an example that had to do with going on a diet of only bananas. They were talking about social media where someone goes on a diet eating bananas for breakfast lunch and dinner and one time she ate 51 bananas a day. Then it became a trend and lots of people started eating bananas for breakfast lunch and dinner. At that point, I would say people went bananas with what they read on the internet.

Review by Achin T., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

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“We Made It All Up” follows the story of Celeste, a high schooler in the small Montanan town of Kray’s Defile who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. After a late-night party, her friend Joss is found dead and the killer’s identity is unknown. Unfortunately for Celeste, she was the last person to spend time with Joss and she has no memories of what happened while they were together. With others already suspecting her of being the murderer and it only being a matter of time before she is arrested by the police, Celeste must prove her innocence by identifying the person that truly committed the crime. Along the way, she unravels the sinister truths of the town and is forced to learn that no one can be trusted.

I found this book to be a rather compelling mystery overall. I changed my mind several times over which character I suspected of doing the crime as more information and possible motives were revealed during the events of the book. I also liked how the main character had a few significant faults, which made her feel more realistic. Furthermore, there were some parts in the book that were genuinely unsettling, but were so in a way that did not compromise the believability or realism of the story. A reoccurring idea of the book is the way that the line between what is real and what is imagined can be blurred. This really manifested in some situations, like how the main character sometimes seemed to be an unreliable narrator and how some characters directly contradicted each other but it was unclear which one was lying.

To my mind, one of the most memorable parts of the book was the way that the chapters alternated between the events of the past and the present. I found it interesting how the author used this technique to reveal information that was important to the mystery over the course of the story, instead of giving all of the background at once. This somewhat chaotic style also helped me empathize with the main character, whose thoughts were understandably jumbled due to the stressful situation she found herself in.

Reviewed by William H., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Middle School: Winter Blunderland by James Patterson

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The book Middle School: Winter Blunderland is written by James Patterson and is illustrated by Brian Sitts. This book takes place in Alaska when Rafe is in eighth grade. Rafe Katchadorian gets an email from his friend’s mom saying that they are going to come to Alaska and try to find the missing polar bears. Rafe’s friend’s mom is a zoologist name Dr. Deerwin. Dr. Deerwin travels around the world with her daughter (Rafe’s friend) and helps other zoologists zoned to a certain area with anything they need or come to study their animals. When Rafe is sweating like a hyena at his school, Dr. Deerwin said that he could come to Alaska to help find some missing polar bears. I am sure that you would know Rafe’s answer to the question but, his mom took a bit of convincing. Eventually, his mom gave in to Rafe’s pleas and let him go. Once Rafe started to dread the cold air he will experience once he gets to Alaska, but that shouldn’t be the only thing he should be afraid of.

Reading Middle School: Winter Blunderland was a very interesting experience for me. This book had the perfect combination of romance, action, comedy, and suspense. I wish that the author would keep some more information to increase the plot. I like the plot, but in my opinion, I felt like it was a bit tame. I also would like the author to drag on the story a tad more because the story is at a very fast pace. The story is very good, but it goes a bit too fast and skips over some details that the reader might want to know. This book is also very interesting so it would be better if it was a bit longer and know more about what the characters do. The resolution is my favorite part though I have mixed feelings about the book not having a cliffhanger. There are some loose ends once the story is done, but they are all covered up with this part after the epilogue. Cliffhangers inspire suspense, but sometimes you just want to know what happens. These are only minor mistakes and the rest of this book is pleasing so I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.

One memorable part of the book was when Rafe built an igloo. The day before Rafe built the igloo, one of the research workers that where letting Rafe, Rafe’s friend, and Dr. Deerwin let them stay at their research center to build an igloo and showed it to Rafe’s friend. Rafe got jealous and the next day morning he woke up and built an igloo. Rafe took a few hours to make the igloo because he had to cut, shave, and place snow. When Rafe was done building the igloo, he called everyone outside and they were all very impressed by Rafe’s result. Everyone went inside Rafe’s igloo to check it out since it looked like Rafe took a lot of time to build it and it was very good. But when they went inside, the research worker found out that the igloo was not stable, and by the time he told everyone the igloo collapsed on top of everybody.

Reviewed by Achin T., Twin Hickory Area Library