Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like Home by Louisa Onomé Like Home (9780593172599): Onome, Louisa: Books

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Louisa Onomé’s Like Home is a breath of fresh air that reminds us of our childhood days and fond memories. Chinelo, or Nelo, a Nigerian Canadian, loves her beloved neighborhood, Ginger East, Toronto, and is happy with the way things are. But things changed after an arcade homicide, which has painted the community in a bad light since then. Many of her close friends started to migrate to nearby places, except Kate (Nelo’s best friend), whose store has been a staple to the area. After her store gets vandalized, Nelo fears that she will leave, too. Moreover, new stores have been moving in, gentrifying the community and displacing businesses. As Nelo regards these changes as harmful to her neighborhood, she finds a way to overcome them and stand for Ginger East, her home.

The book hooked me right from the cover till the end. The prose is very readable, and all the characters are given a lot of insight. Nelo was like a reflection of myself, and her youthful, sensible voice kept me invested in the book. I also adored Bo, Rafa, Kate, and Mr. Brown since each of them had a distinct personality and a story to contribute. I also liked how the author pressed on the concept of how change can be good and acceptable, and resisting it could only hurt you more. Likewise, Nelo learns to accept reality and realizes that changes aren’t always bad. Other themes of the book, like gentrification, stereotypes, and friendship dynamics, were closely examined without stagnating the flow of the story.

One memorable thing about the book is the connection between Nelo and her friends. The text messages and their banter made me giggle here and there, and their friendship was so authentic, which is quite rare these days. The closing was well-crafted, presenting a good vibe for the readers at the end. It left me thinking about Nelo and her friends long after the last page. Overall, it is a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Onomé.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library


Read + Review: Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

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Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater serves as the second book in the Dreamer trilogy. It picks up from Call Down the Hawk with Dreamers Ronan Lynch and Hennessy. Dreamers are people who are known for their ability to make their dreams into reality. It starts off with them following Bryde, their mentor, and fellow Dreamer, who is on the run from Moderators, an organization bent on killing Dreamers. Ronan and Hennessy are on their own mission of restoring the ley lines, supernatural energy that keeps Dreamers and their fellow dreams alive. While in Boston, Massachusetts, Declan Lynch and Jordan Hennessy scramble to find an alternative to keeping Lynch’s dreamt brother, Matthew, alive and able to live life fully as a dream. Powerful decisions are to be made as the Dreamers rush to keep the force that fuels them and their dreams alive.

The plot is mainly set in Virginia with Ronan and Hennessy helping Bryde fix the ley lines and help make Dreamers more powerful. The book switches from Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts where Declan, Jordan, and Matthew discover an alternate way to keep dreams alive without depending on their Dreamer. I thought the book was gripping as it added more to the supernatural world of Dreamers and further delved into their powers. I also felt like all the characters seemed on the edge of becoming morally grey characters because there were parts in the book where I was fully agreeing with their motives, and then realized to myself, “Wait, they’re literally committing ecoterrorism to further their goals.” I did think the author did a good job of making me fall into that trap.

I will say the prose in the book is a little difficult to understand at times. I did have to reread a few paragraphs here and there because the writing felt a little too advanced for me to understand. I did enjoy seeing all the characters interact with each other. Declan Lynch definitely became a character I began to sympathize with and understand after seeing him represented from the biased POV of Ronan. I wished we got more POVs from the other characters, like Adam Parrish, just to see the story from different perspectives. Overall, the book was a very gripping novel that left me waiting for the next plot twist.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

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

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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

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo Last Night at the Telegraph Club (9780525555254): Lo, Malinda:  Books

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club tells the story of Lily Hu, a Chinese American girl living in 1950s San Francisco, who begins visiting the Telegraph Club with her classmate Kathleen Miller. America is not a safe place for Chinese Americans during this time, as the Red Scare threatens deportation for Chinese Americans, Lily’s father included. Lily’s life becomes even more complicated as she finds herself falling for Kath and navigating her newfound feelings. America is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, but Lily finds that Kath is worth the risk.

I thought the book was was absolutely incredible. I don’t read historical fiction that much, but this book drew me in with its plot set during 1950s San Francisco. I loved the romance most of all. I was really on the edge of my seat towards the end when Lily and Kath’s relationships began to run into new conflicts. I liked how the author left the ending open for interpretation. I definitely did feel there were some loose ends that didn’t get tied up towards the end. For example, what happened to Shirley’s family situation towards the end? What became of the man who got arrested at Aunt Judy’s job? But overall it was a very groundbreaking and emotional story. 

I loved the found family Lily found at the Telegraph Club. Throughout the book, she gets to know the women who visit there, who are just like her, and finds solace in their friendships. To me, it made me happy that Lily found a safe haven where she didn’t feel shame nor disgust at all over who she was. I loved how beautifully Kath and Lily’s relationship developed over the story. Throughout the story, I was rooting for their happy ending. Though Lily’s parents aren’t my favorite characters towards the end, it was nice seeing how the author still provided backstories for them.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library