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Read & Review: Secrets of camp Whatever by Chris Grine

Volume one of the graphic novel series invites us to the mystical town of Nowhere, where Willow and her family have recently moved in. Willow, an eleven-year-old girl with a hearing disability, is sent off to a peculiar summer camp while her parents unpack. Despite the dark rumors and fantasy stories told about the place, she reluctantly agrees to go due to her father’s fond memories with the camp. Soon after she arrives, strange things start to happen, and she and her new friends, Violet, Emma, and Molly, stumble upon a thrilling adventure filled with stoned gnomes, vampires, and a menacing fog.

I love stories set in camps, which made this book irresistible to put down. The plot is very intriguing, and the colorful illustrations were a visual treat. I felt the book is suitable for any audience since the narration was easy to follow. I enjoyed the book’s version of Bigfoot (one of the characters) and how some of the villainous-looking ones turned out to be the dearest beings I have ever seen. Additionally, I loved hanging out with Willow. Despite having a hearing disability, she is surprisingly courageous. It’s rare to see a deaf person as a protagonist, and I appreciate that the author didn’t make it her identity

One memorable aspect of the book is when Willow learns the truth about one of her camp friends. There was a lot of foreshadowing that made me think about that character and her knowledge about the camp, but I couldn’t predict it till the end. Overall, this was a fulfilling read, and I am eager to read more of Willow’s adventures in the next volume. 

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

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Read & Review: On the hook by Francisco X. Stork

The author of Disappeared delivers a nail-biting novel about hope, courage, and the pursuit of happiness. On the Hook follows Hector Robles, who is a promising high-school student and a proficient chess player. Growing up in a struggling Mexican family, Hector envisions going to college and helping his family lead a better life. However, this vision derails when Joey, a local drug dealer and Chavo’s brother, threatens to kill him. Chavo, the head of the Discípulos gang, envies Hector’s brother, Fili, for an earlier confrontation. All this leads to a clash between Fili and Chavo at a local church, causing Hector to make a decision that lands him in a reform school with Joey. It’s up to Hector now if he wants to seek revenge or think about the consequences and keep working hard for his family.

The book explores very intense themes, and at times, I found them quite challenging to read. It goes in-depth about grief and vengeance and their effects on one’s physical and mental state. However, the prose was straightforward, and I liked how the author shares his experiences as an immigrant through his books and characters. It entices me to read more of his work and learn more about him. His story-telling and choice of words make the readers think about the character’s position. But, I wish the author could have written the story from Hector’s point of view, but otherwise, it was an engaging read filled with memorable characters and a powerful message.

The most memorable part of the book is where Hector learns about Joey’s traumatic childhood. It created empathy for Joey even though he is an antagonist of the story. On the other hand, I liked how Hector didn’t use it to trigger him and dealt it his way to even things out between them.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

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Read + Review: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Amazon.com: It Only Happens in the Movies (9780358172062): Bourne, Holly:  Books
Want to read this book? Click here to place on hold on the book. Ebook available here.

It Only Happens in the Movies is a story that surrounds a 17-year-old British girl, Audrey. While coping with her parent’s divorce and a breakup with Milo, she’s been abstaining from her friends, love & romance. But everything changes after she meets her coworker, Harry, at her new job at Flicker. With her media studies project for school, she dissects the stereotypes in typical romance movies and wonders why love is never like that in real life. But despite her beliefs, she inevitably falls for Harry and becomes part of his feminist zombie flick, where she finds herself again. Unlike the usual “happily ever after endings,” the finish gives an unexpected twist as Audrey finds what’s best for her.

I liked the overall message of the book but not the way it was delivered. At the beginning of each chapter, the author includes bits and pieces of Audrey’s media studies project, which intrudes the flow of the book. I wish she added it elsewhere where it wouldn’t stagnate the flow. Additionally, the story goes a lot in depth about relationships and being true to oneself. The book hooks you from the beginning to the end due to its colloquial language and tone, making it a quick and easy read. I also loved the author’s word choice for Audrey’s character development, which helps readers understand her feelings throughout the book. There is also a balance of emotions since the book is not sad-themed or happy either. I also like the cover and its popcorn theme!

One memorable thing about the book is how it stood apart from traditional romcoms. I loved how Audrey was so relatable, and that ending was king! It is the reason I am rating 4 stars for this book.

Review by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Area 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

Books, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Last Message Received by Emily Trunko

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Everyone experiences loss and heartbreak. Final conversations between people have a lasting affect. In this novel, readers get a glimpse of a collection of last words, texts, social media posts, emails, and anything in between. It is a heartfelt book, containing all kinds of loss from last exchanges: the end of friendships, breakups, suicides, and untimely deaths.

Full of sadness and loss, this book was relevant to everyday life, with many sudden endings. This book inspired me to reflect on my own life; every person that has come into mine, and those who I will meet again in time. This book is realistic, and filled with the everyday realities that people must face. The illustrations and word art were extraordinary and provided a complimentary element to these final conversations. Even though it is a quick read, this book leaves a lasting impression of how life and relationships coincide.

One aspect that was unforgettable was how every single message evoked a different emotion from the reader. Some are sad, while others make the reader feel pity. There is also the knowledge that even if we cannot connect with these mystery acquaintances, the readers may at least learn from and share in their experiences.

0-three-stars

Reviewed by Katie, Grade 9, Twin Hickory Area Library