Read + Review, Teen Reviews, Uncategorized

A Field Guide to Mermaids by Emily B. Martin

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“A Field Guide to Mermaids” by Emily B. Martin is an enchanting exploration of the mythological creatures that have amazed humans for centuries. The book provides a detailed guide to mermaids, including their anatomy, behavior, and habitats. It covers the different types of mermaids found across the world, as well as their cultural significance and historical representations. The book is beautifully illustrated with intricate drawings and paintings, making it seem as if mermaids existed. Each different type of mermaid has different adaptations to their habitats and climate as if they truly evolved to fit unique environments.

Overall, I enjoyed “A Field Guide to Mermaids.” It is a fun book that blends mythology, history, and science in a way that is both descriptive and fun to read. This book is perfect for anyone who is fascinated by mermaids and wants to learn more about their place in human culture and mythology. I highly recommend it because of the amount of imagination and tiny details that make it so interesting, real, and convincing.

One memorable thing about the book is the depth of research that went into creating it. The detailed descriptions and explanations of various mermaid legends from different cultures make it seem so real and fascinating. The book also includes interesting details about the biology and ecology of mermaids, adding a unique scientific twist to the mythology. It was so detailed that it made me believe that mermaids really existed.

Reviewed by Shreya P., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Greatest Stories Ever Played: Video Games and the Evolution of Storytelling

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The Greatest Stories Ever Played: Video Games and the Evolution of Storytelling is a book on how video games can tell a story. The author opens the book with an introduction on the backstory of the project and a brief history on video games. He goes on to explain to the reader how video games contain plots, themes, story structures and more. The book goes on to give a list of sensational games that the author has bonded with, explaining in detail their plots and stories to the audience, telling us what exactly makes them the greatest stories ever told. All 275 pages of the book are filled with video game knowledge.

I found this book to be adequate, and it took me much longer than expected to finish reading it in its entirety. I am disappointed though that the author neglected to include a whole lot about the gameplay or mechanics of the games on his list. I know that this book was written to talk about the stories of video games, but I would have liked at least a little bit more on the controls and mechanics. At the end of each chapter the author included a “book report” which is sort of like a small chapter on a game that the author wanted to include. I found these sections entertaining to read. This book was a very enjoyable story but sometimes I felt that I was just being told a plot or story, and not how it helped make an interactive video game.

The most memorable section of the book in my opinion was the part where the author talks about a game called “Undertale.” I found this part to be very interesting because in this game you can either slay an enemy or spare an enemy, which will lead to a different ending for the game. I wondered while I was reading this whether players would slay an enemy because it was faster, or spare an enemy because it was a nice thing to do. Or if as in the words of Gandalf in the Hobbit, “ True courage is not knowing how to take a life but when to spare it”. It was a very compelling part of the story to me.

Review by Tristan M., Twin Hickory Area Library


Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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In a dystopian future, the political groups we know today are dissolved. Life is something material, along with pain and emotion. Friends, happiness, and family are factors that are a product of your wealth. In recent decades, population control had to be integrated into society using the Scythedom, a group of individuals whose job was to permanently kill (or glean) people they didn’t believe to be a valuable part of society. Even the all-knowing being called the Thunderhead could not interfere with the duties of Scythes. Their control over the world made many tremble in fear. This book illustrates the many tales of encounters with Scythes. It displays the fear, frustration, and pain within the minds of the Scythes and their victims.

I found this book extremely fascinating to read. The very idea of our world being structured like this is something that just seems unfathomable. The author did an amazing job of immersing me in this unknown but possible universe. The strange but interesting concept was enough to keep me guessing and wondering what would happen next. This book also made me think about how unique life could be in a hundred or a thousand years from now. Oftentimes, it talks about how people neglected the existence of Scythes and ended up paying the price. I found that this kind of setup relates to the police and security of today. Overall this book is fantastic and I recommend the series that goes along with this and explains the world of Scythes in more depth.

One memorable concept of this book for me was the Thunderhead. As stated before, the Thunderhead was the all-powerful artificial intelligence that knew everything there is to know. I was most interested in the Thunderhead due to its limited abilities. Throughout the book, I wondered why the Thunderhead wasn’t allowed to punish or warn people about the Scythedom. Even though it was considered to be a “god” in some sense, it still couldn’t control the most unfair aspect of society, Scythes! Even so, the Thunderhead was still a wise figure for many in the book and was an important part of the plot.

Reviewed by Rhea M., Twin Hickory Area Library


Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself by Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge

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Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself is about the life and adventures of a slave named Olaudah Equiano. Equiano was alive from 1745 to 1797 and in his lifetime lived in Africa, the Caribbean, America, and Britain, which are all places he describes in his autobiography. At the start of the book Equiano describes how his life was comfortable and pleasant in the Kingdom of Benin, until one day he was kidnapped from his family, never to see them again. Throughout his life he faced racism and prejudice, eventually gaining his freedom and then fighting for the freedom of his people. The book explains all this in detail by using Equiano’s own words to tell his story.

The writing style of this book was very creative. I would never have thought that taking lines from a memoir and turning them into a poem would create such a wonderful story. The historical paragraphs between each chapter were great, it helped me understand the importance of events that were unfolding in the time period. Equiano wrote the book using vocabulary that was very different from the English language used today. For example, he refers to his enslaver as his master, and I found this to be a bit confusing because sometimes I didn’t know which of his former or current enslavers he was talking about, however, it ultimately does not impede your understanding of the rest of the story. My only complaint is that I would have liked to read about the last ten or so years of his life, instead of having just a paragraph at the end of the book, but I suppose this is because Equiano never wrote about this.

The most memorable thing about this book in my opinion is Equiano’s ability to persevere and work hard. Throughout the book, he describes horrible events that he witnesses and he describes the brutality of some enslavers towards their slaves. Yet reading about how Equiano worked hard to achieve his dreams gave me a sense of optimism and hope. It made me feel content to know that in 1833, thirty-six years after Equiano died, his dream was finally achieved and slavery was abolished across the British Empire.

Reviewed by Tristan M., Twin Hickory Area Library


We Are Your Children by P. O’Connell Pearson

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We Are Your Children Too tells the story of how a black community led by its students campaigned for change in Prince Edward County. The book starts by explaining the past history of the area and how Barbara Johns led a student strike in 1951, starting a nationwide campaign for change. It tells us how the handful of white supremacists that ran the county ruined the lives of black children. It explains how through the effort of people like Reverend Griffin and William Vanden Heuvel, the schools were finally reopened and integrated. It tells us how racism in America continues today, even though changes have been made, as it ends the story in 2020.

This book wonderfully outlines the struggles of the black community, some of which sadly continues to this day. What makes this book so compelling to me is the writing style, which portrays the struggles that individual people faced. It really helped me understand how the citizens on both sides of the cause must have felt about the events unfolding around them. The end of chapter 14 beautifully summarised the change in American culture throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

The most memorable thing to me about this book was the individual stories about black students, especially the ones that traveled across the country and were taken in by families. Stories about how students were taken in by a holocaust survivor, a Tuskegee Airman, and a Japanese-Italian couple really struck a chord with me. This book changed the way I see the Civil Rights movement by showing me the effort and courage of everyone who fought for it, and how the work of random students like Barbara Johns can change history.

Reviewed by Tristan M., Twin Hickory Area Library