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Read + Review: The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich

Amazon.com: The Friend Scheme (9781250186997): Dietrich, Cale: Books

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Matt Miller is a high-school student with a big secret: his father is the head of one of the biggest mobster families in the city. His secrets don’t stop there. Matt grapples with the fact that he will never live up to the son his father has raised him to be, a ruthless and cold killer who hates the Donavans’ his family has been fighting with for years. With these doubts in mind, he ends up meeting a boy named Jason who begins to see Matt as the person he really is. This connection between the two boys turns from romantic to dangerous as new plots and secrets reveal themselves and Matt must make a choice to stay loyal to his family or to reveal who he really is.

I found myself relating to the main character, Matt, a lot of times when reading the book. I think the author did a great job narrating his feelings and writing his journey. The book goes into detail the inner crisis he has within himself and the struggle between making his family proud or choosing his own path in life. The plot reminded me of Romeo and Juliet as it was about two boys from opposite sides of a war who fall in love with each other. I appreciated how Matt was able to finally find himself and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. I felt proud in the end when he realized that a life of crime wasn’t permanent for him and that he could stand up to his father and choose his own destiny.

A thing I found memorable about the book was the plot twists that had me gripping the edge of my seat. I also appreciated how the relationship between Jason and Matt wasn’t rushed at all and was taken slowly. One thing I did dislike though was that it felt as if it was too fast paced and lacked emotion at some point. Especially towards the end when the biggest conflict of the book gets quickly resolved, I wanted more detail going into that. I also wanted Matt to spend more time trying to fix his strained relationship with his father. The dialogue also seemed awkward in some parts, as it went over the same point multiple times.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez is the story of three teenagers who are growing up in the barrio in Guatemala. Although Pulga, Pequena, and Chico are not related, they say blood doesn’t matter – they’re family. Life is hard in the barrio, money is tight and crime is prevalent. Pulga says that in some places terrible news is unexpected but in the barrio, it is not. Pulga dreams of escaping to the United States to lead a better life. He has been researching and drawing maps of the route he will use to escape for years. Even though life is dangerous in his town, he knows escaping to the United States is a harrowing journey that not everyone survives. However, after Pulga and Chico witness a violent crime and Pequena is being forced into marriage with a criminal, they know the time has come to run. But will they be able to survive the journey to the United States? Without passports or much money, the harrowing journey to freedom will require Pulga, Chico, and Pequena to travel on buses, trains (La Bestia also known as the death train) and walk across a desert. They will also need to rely on the kindness of strangers when trusting people is frowned upon. Although this journey is dangerous; it is a risk they are willing to take for the possibility of a better life.

I thought this book was intense. The author did a great job of depicting the brutal reality of a dangerous journey. I liked that it was written in the first person perspective. Pulga and Pequena alternate narrating the chapters. I thought it was a great way of telling two sides of the same story.

The most memorable part of this book was when I read the author’s note at the end of the story. Although I knew this was a realistic fiction book, reading about the real life details the author uses makes the plight and escape of three teenage immigrants much more harrowing and heartbreaking.

4-stars-1

Submitted 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

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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link to no wait eAudiobook here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel based 64 years before the original Hunger Games series. Coriolanus Snow, an eighteen-year-old capital citizen, whose family name is on the verge of being diminished, has an opportunity to change his family’s fate. For the first time in the history of the Hunger Games students from a prestigious capital school, known as the Academy, will have the chance to mentor one of the twenty-four tributes for the 10th Hunger Games. Not only is the Snow family name in jeopardy, but also the opportunity for Coriolanus to make a name for himself. To Coriolanus’ surprise, he has been given the daunting task of being the mentor to the female district 12 tribute, but he quickly realizes that someone else is in charge of his fate.

As a huge fan of the Hunger Games series, I was very excited to read Suzanne’s prequel and what we would entail while reading. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place in the Capital from the viewpoint of Coriolanus Snow. Since the viewpoint of Coriolanus is one as a viewer of the Hunger Games, rather than a tribute fighting for their life, you get more depth of the horror that goes around the games that was not achieved in the first books. The plot is rather interesting going deep into Coriolanus’ thoughts and mindset. Since the first books show how evil Coriolanus Snow is, we as readers already know what he becomes, but it is the path that gets him there that is the most interesting. Throughout the book, there will be many unexpected happenings, but there are also some dry spots that make the book a bit dull.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has many memorable moments throughout the book, but the ones that stand out the most to me are the connections made to the previous books. Suzanne found truly amazing ways to connect the books through her ways of writing. Not all of the connections may be clear to the reader, but the more you dig into the book the more you will find. I really enjoyed the new perspective of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, while many were skeptical about reading about Snow, who we all despise from the previous Hunger Games books, it happily surprised me by how quickly I forgot about what I already knew about him. Throughout the book, I also enjoyed how it was separated into three parts which truly have different plots and characters throughout. There are a couple of things that I disliked about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, one of them being the somewhat dry parts of the book. Since this book is 517 pages, a lot occurs with Snow and the surrounding characters, but there are some times where it feels like the book is at a standstill and not much is happening. Although The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cannot compare to the first Hunger Games books, it exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait for the movie!

4-stars

Reviewed by Kaitlyn, Gayton Library

Read + Review, Uncategorized

Cook With Amber by Amber Kelley

cover

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Cook with Amber: Fun, Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen by Amber Kelley and Jamie Oliver discusses and encompasses a variety of recipes that are designated for a diverse selection of events, as well as multiple eating occasions throughout the duration of a day, such as breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner. Regarding the introduction of the book, Kelley supplies several suggestions and advice concerning novice cooks, as the introduction consists of advice and procedures regarding knife safety, as well as safety and protection regarding the ability to utilize an oven. Within the various chapters of this book, such as cuisine and dishes regarding breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Kelley introduces a wide range of nutritious and natural recipes, and she also incorporates a section that is designated for a specific ingredient of her recipes, such as garlic, quinoa, or avocado, as the component of the recipe contains multiple health benefits, which encourage the reader to invest in the ingredients in order to create a dish or cuisine. Additionally, a section of the recipes that are included within this book is also devoted to the seasons, such as summer and spring, as well as events, such as parties, gatherings, or campouts. A chapter of this book is also devoted to recipes that are suitable for a family, which consist of recipes that illustrate dishes that originated from within Kelley’s family, such as her mother’s “creamy chicken stew”, as well as her grandmother’s “okonomiyaki”, which resembles a Japanese pancake. Throughout the contents of this book, Kelley incorporates various suggestions and ideas regarding dessert and skincare, and she also introduces her skincare routine, as well as her morning routine. Towards the conclusion of this book, Kelley supplies recipes and ideas regarding an extensive variety of desserts and drinks that are nutritious and natural, contrasting the common perception of drinks that contain a large concentration of sugar. Concerning the conclusion of this book, Kelley discusses her skincare routine, as well as her techniques and materials, such as an “acne-taming cinnamon face mask”, a “cleansing body scrub”, and a “gentle face scrub”. Regarding the recipes within this book, Kelley also supplies detailed instructions and measurements in order to successfully create the dish that is being described. Therefore, Cook with Amber: Fun, Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen by Amber Kelley, and Jamie Oliver, contains an extensive selection of recipes regarding various occasions.

Regarding the content of this book, I thought that it was quite comprehensive and informational, as it provided a large concentration of information regarding nutritious ingredients that could be utilized and incorporated into a variety of meals that are designated for a wide range of occasions, such as cuisines that are designated for breakfast. Kelley also includes nutritious ingredients, such as garlic and sweet potatoes, that are able to be incorporated in a variety of dishes, such as a “one-pot pasta with tomatoes, greens, and garlic”, concerning the subject of dinner, and “cinnamon thyme sweet potato puree.” Moreover, this book was also intimate, as well as insightful and enlightening, as it encompassed an introduction that discussed the correct method of utilizing a knife for the purpose of cooking, and I was also able to obtain new and previous knowledge from the chapters of this book as well, as I had previously not realized that quinoa is categorized as being a grain, and I also previously did not realize that it contained a high amount of fiber. Additionally, this book also contained an extensive selection of nutritious and natural dishes, and it also provided detailed and clear instructions and measurements regarding the recipe and the process of creating a dish, implying that it also served as a convincing publication, as it encourages the reader to attempt to create one of the dishes within this book. Regarding the plot of this book, I perceived it as being beneficial, as it included a wide range of dishes that were applicable for several occasions and events, and it also provided information regarding nutritious ingredients. Therefore, this book was informational and encouraging, as it provided direct and clear instructions regarding the ingredients that are required to create a dish, and it also provided a diverse selection of nutritious recipes for multiple occasions.

One memorable thing about this book was that it encompassed an introduction that discussed advice and suggestions regarding novice cooks, as she stated that it was acceptable to create dishes and cuisine that was considered to be enjoyable and that Kelley also stated that she advised novice cooks to cook courses and dishes that are perceived as being enjoyable, as she believes that the most rewarding component of the act of cooking is consuming the product. Another memorable moment within this book regarding the introduction is that Kelley stated that it is crucial to begin the process of cooking by creating simple dishes, as it is a sufficient method of experiencing and learning the process of cooking dishes. This was also a memorable aspect of this book since it indicated that a sufficient dish does not require a large number of ingredients and that it is possible to create an appetizing course that utilizes a few ingredients. Moreover, within this book, Kelley encouraged novice cooks to request help concerning necessary circumstances, and she also stated that novice cooks should attempt to utilize methods of preparing food that is more efficient, such as utilizing their hands to separate leaves of lettuce. Regarding components of this book that I liked and disliked, I liked that this book contained specific and extensive instructions regarding the recipes, and I also liked that Kelley included natural and nutritious ingredients within her recipes, although an aspect of this book that I did not enjoy was that some of the recipes lacked the pictures that usually depicted the product, which could cause the reader to doubt the appearance of the product and potentially assume that the recipe was performed incorrectly.

5-stars-2

Reviewed by Grace, Twin Hickory Library