Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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Jane Anonymous is a 17 year old girl who was kidnapped for seven months. She eventually managed to escape, but she left someone else behind, someone important. Freedom after seven months should be liberating, but her mind and heart are broken. No one understands what she went through and they want everything to be like it was before. However, that can’t happen, at least not until she finds out the truth about her kidnapping. Things are not as they seem and the truth could leave Jane broken forever. To help alleviate the trauma she is going through, she writes her story, the story of Jane Anonymous. This novel is told in two alternating parts, “now” and “then” so the reader learns about her time in captivity as well as how she learns to cope with the reality of what happened to her.

I really enjoyed this book and it’s probably one of the best ones I have ever read. I really liked how things in the “now” chapters would be mentioned and you wouldn’t understand them until later in the book. It made me pay attention to all the small details, and details are everything when reading this book. All the small things add up and make Jane seem like a real person. Her actions, feelings, and what she says are very realistic; they make her a likeable protagonist. I really liked that the story was pretty fast paced and something was always going on. Some of the stuff that Jane freaked out about in the “now” seem trivial but when you see the real significance you understand her reaction. The plot twist is definitely one of the best ones I have read and the fact that Jane doesn’t accept it adds to the story. Overall, the book is hard to put down and keeps you guessing until the very end.

This novel had mini poems throughout it and I found them very memorable because Jane likes writing poetry. The poems were like part of the story but separate at the same time and it was really clever how they tied in with Jane’s character and hobbies. It’s not that big of a detail, but I feel like that fact Jane is writing poetry again as she shares her story shows that she is healing.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

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Anna Darvulia is a 16-year-old who has just been appointed as a scullery maid for Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She is told by the other maids in the scullery about the Countess’s intimidating demeanor and cruel and unusual punishments. Regardless, Anna is determined to get in her good books so she can start sending more money back home. Countess Bathory eventually takes a liking to Anna and promotes her to chambermaid status. At first, everything seems to be going alright and Anna sees no signs of the mad woman the maids had told her of. However, as time goes on and they get closer, Anna sees the cracks beginning to form in the Countess’s carefully crafted façade. The countess’s madness seems to take her over and cast a deep shadow over everything and everyone around her. As one of the only people the Countess trusts, it is up to Anna to save everyone around the Countess from her wrath.

I thought this book was really good and Anna was a likeable character. She was clever but stayed down to earth even when the Countess took a liking to her. It was also interesting to watch the Countess’s go from sweet and loving to Anna to mad and crazy. The transformation was amazing to watch. At a point in the book, when Anna still didn’t see Elizabeth’s madness and was influenced by her, I wondered if I could trust anything she said. Not knowing whether Anna’s point of view in that part of the story was even accurate was my favorite part. It added another layer to the story as well as to Anna and Elizabeth’s personalities. One thing that I didn’t like about this book was the swiftness of the resolution. The countess had set up a never-ending hole of madness that Anna was trapped inside, and the ending should have been more complex and taken a longer time. I do feel, however, that everything was tied up neatly at the end and that everything came a full circle. I also liked that Anna learned to embrace who she was and stayed true to herself.

The most memorable thing about this book to me was watching how Elizabeth Bathory manipulated everyone around her. She was very skilled at it and it showed me that although she was crazy, she was clever too. It was something that added to her madness and I enjoyed watching Anna realize that.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: What She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini

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What She Saw in the Woods is a book about Magdalena, who was a super-popular girl back at her elite high school in New York. After an event that left her in the hospital for months and turned her life upside down, she is sent to live with her grandparents in their sleepy, west coast town. Overcome with guilt and disgust at her former self, she spends her days in a medicine-induced daze, wandering aimlessly in a nearby forest. Then, she finds someone in the woods who makes her alive again, and gives her life meaning again. Slowly, she starts to live once more, and sees the world around her in better focus. She starts to realize the sinister side of her town, and the secrets it holds.

Overall, this book was pretty breathtaking. The author described everything flawlessly, making the action-scenes come to life while speeding up your heart rate. As the reader, I learned more about Magda and what happened, the story became more and more intense. Slowly, the mysteries started unraveling one by one and coming into focus. The plot twists were completely unexpected, and often led the reader shaking their head in disbelief. I also liked the author’s writing style in this book, and how everything started off somewhat calm, but ended on a completely different note.

One memorable thing about this book was the flashbacks to Magda’s life before everything happened. They really helped the reader understand how her life was before, and how much she changed since the incident. Additionally, each of the characters slowly evolved and became more human and realistic as the book went on, which really added to the story’s overall effect.

Reviewed by Heena, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith

You can place a hold on a print copy, an eBook copy, or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

Divya Sharma is a popular streaming gamer more commonly known as D1V. She often streams the game “Reclaim the Sun” for her followers, the #AngstArmada. It may seem like all fun and games, but behind the scenes it’s more than that. Divya’s gaming money is the only thing keeping her and her mother afloat. Without it, her mom wouldn’t be able to finish her classes or be able to pay the rent. So this isn’t just a game for Divya, it’s her whole life. Aaron Jericho absolutely loves gaming, and writes games for a local developer in his free time. He knows that helping make games is exactly what he wants to do when he gets older, but his parents are pressuring him to be a doctor instead. Divya and Aaron are people who live very different lives until their paths collide in “Reclaim the Sun”. They quickly become friends and now have each other to navigate the difficulties in their lives.  

I really enjoyed this book and thought the way it was set up was great. The story was told from the point of view of both Aaron and Divya, so we got to see their individual lives as well as when they talked to each other. I loved how both of the characters were so different but still connected very well. Divya was more private and skeptical while Aaron was much more trusting and open. The author changed his writing style to reflect the perspectives of each of them. This aspect of the book gave it a very personal feel and made it easier to understand what each character was like early on. The only complaint I have is that the book is a little slow-paced and could do with some more action. I also really liked how even though their problems were very different, they were still able to understand and relate to each other.

The most memorable part of this story for me was watching Divya and Aaron’s friendship develop.  Divya does not trust easily, especially online, so it was really cool to see how she eventually came to trust him. I liked that the friendship was more gradual because that’s usually the way friendships work in real life.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier A Castle in the Clouds (9781250300195): Gier, Kerstin,  Fursland, Romy: Books

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Sophie Spark is an intern at a grand hotel in Europe called “Castle in the Clouds”. On a daily basis, she deals with misbehaving children, rude chambermaids, and crazy guests. Her job isn’t all bad though; she makes friends throughout the hotel and she meets two boys. Ben is the hotel owner’s son and Tristan is a sketchy guy who seems like he has something to hide. On top of everything going on in her daily life, one of the biggest hotel events is coming up. As the renowned New Year’s Eve Ball at the hotel grows closer, odd things seem to be happening. Her usually dull job is now filled to the brim with stolen jewelry, missing children, and even people lying about their identity. Sophie ends up in the middle of this predicament and she must figure out how to expose the crimes being committed and still find a way to come out alive.

The plot was engaging and mainly was about Sophie’s life as an intern. Sophie was a likeable protagonist and her personality and character was one of my favorite parts of the book. Also, small details were slowly disclosed as the story went on, and they all led up to the final plot twist. Looking back, you can clearly see how all the little clues hinted at the ending. This was another thing I loved about the book; the ending wasn’t blatantly obvious but looking back, you wonder how you could have missed all those things. On the other hand, I wish more time was spent talking about the strange things going on at the hotel instead of Sophie’s life as an intern. The plot was very masterfully written and in way that everything had a purpose and was very carefully thought out. Although there is one central plot, there are other smaller things going on that connect in with the main plot in the end. The story is tied together very neatly and different aspects of Sophie’s life all come together for a happy ending.

Something that I found memorable about this book was when I realized why the title was “A Castle in the Clouds”. Of course, that is the name of the hotel, but the magic of the hotel plays a bigger role in the plot and the hotel itself is much more significant than it seems at first glance.

Review by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library