Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Mildred Story’s invitation to her three grandkids to work at the resort she owns on Gull Cove Island for the summer is a risky proposition. Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah have never met, and they have never met their grandma. Mildred is wealthy, and her choice to disinherit her children has splintered and estranged the Story family. The cousins at the center of this mystery are tentatively curious to discover more about their family, and mysteries begin to surface once they arrive on the island.

This book was such a thriller! I loved how every time you solve one mystery, it just leads to another one, and every single page just leads to more questions. The story is narrated in the first person by three separate characters: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah for the most part. Several chapters are told in the third person by Allison, who is a teenager. Like myself, I think that many others will feel that Milly is their favorite character as she is intellectually smart and has lots of style!

The biggest thing that I will take away from this book is the change in perspective in each chapter. This writing style has been used in many other books (The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan), but I feel that McManus best incorporated this style of writing, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book!

Reviewed by Yash at Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Violets are Blue by Barbara Dee

Violets Are Blue is about Wren, a sixth grader who lives with her mom. Wren watches Cat FX, an internet celebrity who teaches how to do special effects makeup to escape from reality. During Wren’s spring break, Wren flies to Brooklyn to see her dad who is getting remarried. However, when Wren moves to a new town with her mom, Wren is given the opportunity to do the makeup for her new school’s Wicked play. When Wren makes a new friend, Poppy, she is able to open up and share her thoughts with her. However, Wren starts noticing her mom’s unusual behavior. As she deals with these challenges, Wren finds out that her mom has a serious condition which cannot be cured.

I think that Violets Are Blue was overall a great book. I feel that the author, Barbara Dee, did a great job creating a character that is passionate about special effects makeup. Also, as I was reading this book, I felt that Wren’s challenges felt realistic and understandable. However, I was not a huge fan of the writing style of this book. I think that the book felt disconnected at points because of the writing style. My favorite character was Wren because she cared for her mom a lot. Usually in many young adult books, the main character is always opposed to their parents, but in this book, Barbara Dee did a spectacular job not implying that.

A memorable thing about this book is the part when Wren goes to visit her dad in Brooklyn. I think this is memorable because this was the starting of the plot and it was the beginning of a lot of the realistic events which take place in the book. If Wren hadn’t gone to Brooklyn, she also wouldn’t have realized that she was going through many life challenges.

Reviewed by Radhika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: It Ends in Fire

Alka is a strong person who has survived all of the challenges life has thrown at her. She has been living with a group who is fighting to protect the rights of everyone, including the powerless Humbles. She is sent on a mission as a spy to infiltrate Blackwater Academy, a prestigious school which has taught some of the best Wizards. Quite soon, Alka realizes that the academy is not the place she thought it would be, but is instead a battleground. All signs lead to the ominous Great Game, where the Wizards will be tested in their skills and bravery. This is a battle that everyone will be fighting. Some will do it for revenge, others for glory, and some for fun. Will Alka guide her team to victory? Will she succeed in her mission? This thrilling story will keep you turning the pages till the very end.

I really enjoyed this book in the terms of its main plot, but definitely think the author could improve this book.

One aspect of possible change could be more description. I was trying to visualize the scenes in the book, but it was a challenge! The vivid details needed to paint a picture in my mind are missing.

Still, I quite enjoyed this book and recommend it to you! The plotline is particularly intriguing. This book will take you on a magical journey, and is definitely one that you will remember for a long time.

A memorable thing about this book is how the author organized the chapters. Each one is in Alka’s point of view, but the author alternates the past and present events that happened in Alka’s life. This way of writing the story was a smart idea, and it helps to better understand the main character’s motives.

Reviewed by Shreya at Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

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Concrete Rose, the prequel to The Hate U Give, follows 17-year-old Maverick Carter as he navigates the transition to adulthood as a young Black man. Mav thinks he knows everything about looking out for family. By dealing drugs- a secret shared only between him and his closest friend, King- he is able to provide for his overworked mother and imprisoned father. It isn’t until he gets news that he is a father himself that he realizes what it truly means to be a man. Break-ups, gang involvement, and the hardships of trying to balance fatherhood with school make him question his values and everything he believes in. Author Angie Thomas does an excellent job telling Maverick’s inspiring story through this hilarious, cute, and suspenseful book.

Concrete Rose is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It had a perfect blend of suspenseful, hilarious, and cute moments that kept me on the edge of my seat and enjoying every part of it. I also really enjoyed experiencing the plot through the eyes of Maverick and getting to see his character development firsthand. As a fan of The Hate U Give, I really loved learning about the characters’ early backgrounds and how they influenced their adult lives. However, it’s worth noting that Concrete Rose can stand as an incredible book on its own and can be enjoyed after reading or without ever having read The Hate U Give.

One central theme that stuck with me from this book is the importance of looking at situations from multiple perspectives. Oftentimes, we make assumptions about people without seeing all the sides of their story. Concrete Rose opened my eyes to new perspectives on issues such as racism and police brutality that are very relevant today.

Reviewed by Cathy at Tuckahoe Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Iron Heart, the sequel to Crier’s War, follows the story of Crier and Ayla; a powerful and inhuman Automae princess, and a human girl sworn to kill her for revenge. Ayla had taken the role of Crier’s handmaiden as a ploy to get closer to the royal family and kill the princess. However, she is thwarted by the realization that she started to develop feelings for the girl she swore to destroy. Ayla discovers the Iron Heart, the source of the Automae’s power, and is faced with the choice of whether to destroy it. Destroying it would mean destroying every Automae, including the girl she loves. In Iron Heart, Ayla comes to a head with the ultimate decision: love or revenge?

The character development in this book was beyond rich, and it was an extremely satisfying conclusion to a compelling duology. I really enjoyed the medium, easy to follow pace of this book. I genuinely couldn’t put the book down until I was finished. The characters were loveable, and Varela had you rooting for Crier and Ayla despite all odds by the end of the story. The plot was a tad cliché, but I could easily overlook that because I honestly loved the story.

The tenseness of the book stuck with me long after I was finished, but in the best possible way. The ending was incredibly satisfying, and it was a heartfelt sapphic story I couldn’t stop reading for a second.

Reviewed by Anna at Twin Hickory Library