I Like Me Better by Robby Webber is a sweet, summertime romance between soccer all-star Zack Martin and Chip, an extremely smart intern. Unfortunately, the two boys are barred from each other due to a certain cocky friend, who happens to be a cousin to Chip. In an attempt to help said friend and impress Chip, Zack ends up volunteering at the local aquarium. The results prove both disastrous and charming. The story felt like chatting with a teen friend- and I do mean that very literally. There are portions of the book written in text. The writing style was breezy and light, which made it a quick paced read. However, there is quite a bit of slang used all throughout the novel. While I appreciated the pop culture references, it was a little unnerving to read the acronym “AF” in a dialogue. Aside from some iffy slang usage, I did enjoy the casual style of the writing. I was whirled into the plot and it did keep me anticipating, putting off sleep for just one more chapter. To those looking for a beach read for when summer rolls around, this is for you. I would recommend this book as it was charmingly cute, with loveable characters and relevant themes. A quick and easy read, I enjoyed the sunny feeling of the summertime love.
Beneath the Wide Silk Sky by Emily Inouye Huey is an eye-opening historical fiction novel that sheds light on part of WWll that was hidden and neglected for so long. Sam is a Japanese American teenager who lives on an island off the coast of Washington State. One day her family gets the news that Japan just bombed Pearl Harbor and suddenly everyone thinks the kind people who live in Japantown are spies. As the story progresses, the author uses Sam’s love of photography to capture the protests, arrests, and other horrific but strong events that happen over the course of several months.
I enjoyed the strength in this novel, the perseverance that all the characters show. It’s a really important topic because no one really knew that it was happening, if it wasn’t happening in their town. I feel like the author did a really good job at describing how everyone’s life changed after that one fateful radio announcement. The book could be a little slow for some people but I enjoyed the depth and character development.
I would definitely recommend this book to historical fiction lovers and anyone who wants to open themselves up to an issue that was hidden from so many people. It’s an amazing story.
This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke is a historical fiction story that centers a young Jewish woman named Csilla. Csilla lives in post-World War II Hungary. Her history within the city of Budapest runs deep: it was where she was born, raised, and where she lived with her parents until they were executed by the government for mysterious reasons. She also has a strong connection with the river in the city which has saved her life many times before. She must figure out how to reconcile her parents’ past with her current life in an effort to bring about change and freedom in Budapest.
Locke used beautiful figurative language throughout this novel to illustrate the realities of Hungary at the time and truly transport the reader into Csilla’s shoes. The magical realism made the story engaging, and I have also never read a young adult book set in Hungary during this time period. There is also LGBTQ+ representation included within a historical setting which is also rare. I did however, find it slightly difficult to keep track of all the characters and various storylines and conflicts. It also seemed exaggeratedly poetic at times.
Despite that, this book was eye-opening to a country and an issue that I knew little about. I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and stories that intertwine magic and reality.
A prequel to the critically acclaimed novel The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Concrete Rose tells the story of Maverick’s (Starr’s father) young adult life. For as long as he can remember, Maverick has been aware of his responsibilities as the son of a King Lord. With his father now in jail and his mother working multiple jobs to keep them afloat, Maverick decides to take on extra dealing jobs in addition to the ones he fulfills for the King Lords. Luckily, he has a great girlfriend and a caring cousin to support him. This relatively stable situation is destroyed when Maverick finds out he is the father of a son whose mother is not his girlfriend. While learning how to be a parent and provide for a child he must also grapple with the death of someone close to him. Maverick must figure out how to balance his identity as a son, father, and boyfriend, with his duties as a member of the King Lords.
I really enjoyed this book. The story was engaging and provided refreshing insight into the life of those involved with gangs as well as teen fathers. Thomas’ colloquial style of writing displayed through Maverick’s narration made the book feel more realistic and also helped the audience get to know Maverick better. Maverick’s character was overall inspiring and admirable.
I would recommend this story to anyone who loved The Hate You Give, realistic fiction fans, and those wanting to diversify their shelves. This book will make you laugh, cry, and reflect. Enjoy!
The novel Roxy by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman is a strange and interesting read that talks about problems with drug abuse. The book is interestingly written from 4 different points of view with Ivy, Issac, Roxy, and Addison. Ivy and Issac are brother and sister who simultaneously have individual struggles with drugs, Ivy with adderall and Issac with oxycontin. They both have their own reasons as to why they do what they do, but ultimately neither of them are all that aware that they have an addiction. Roxy, oxycontin, and Addison, adderall, are portrayed as people who only interact with Ivy and Issac and are invisible to the rest of the world. While the reader is led to believe that Addison and Roxy could actually be people, all of their public interactions with Ivy and Issac go unnoticed by other people. The goal for Ivy is to get her life together by working harder in school and get a handle on her ADHD. The goal for Issac is to allow him to keep playing soccer even though he hurt his ankle badly. The goals for Addison and Roxy are to get Ivy and Issac to the party and take them to their boss, Hiro, who will lead them to their deaths. Hiro is actually heroine and his job is to ensure that people like Ivy and Issac never leave the party by killing them with an overdose. This book was a very interesting read for a few different reasons. Ivy and Issacs’ points of view in the book are both in third person while Addison and Roxys’ are in first person. I thought that was a subtle but powerful choice by the authors because it shows how Issac and Ivy are not in control of their choices, even though they think they are. Addison and Roxy are actually in control of them. I liked all the plot twists throughout the book that were super unexpected, and intriguing which made the ending very hard to predict, and also surprising. I also liked how at the party, all the “people” there are named with nicknames or parodies of the names of the actual drugs they’re supposed to be. Like marijuana was Mary-Jane, and Al was alcohol. It was kinda fun trying to figure out all the names. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and interesting read, that makes a heavy subject a bit lighter.
Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura is a fun and light-hearted teen romance novel. The main character, Nozomi, has moved to San Francisco for the summer to live with her uncle. She is trying to get over a rough experience with a girl as well as try and figure out where she stands with her grandmother, who is struggling with dementia and might not accept Nozomi for her sexuality. Over the summer, she meets a girl named Willow and instantly develops a crush. Willow is not yet over her ex-girlfriend but when she asks Nozomi to pose as her fake girlfriend to woo back her ex, Nozomi instantly agrees. As she makes new friends in a new city, she must reevaluate her idea of romance after it had been warped from her parent’s recent divorce. She will find the true meanings of love and family throughout her summer.
Like Suigiura’s other works, I thought this book was enjoyable. It was fun to follow Nozomi’s mission to win over Willow. That said, the serious themes also included in the book gave it more meaning. The plot was also very engaging and exciting. The POC LGBTQ+ representation was very refreshing to see.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and I would recommend it to romance lovers and fans of Jenny Han. You are in for a great read!
Blackout is a collection of intertwining black love stories by six different black female authors. All the stories take place in New York city during a heat wave that causes a city-wide black out. This book contains all different types of love, from self love to family love to romantic love, readers will be able to find a story they connect with.
This book was a great quick read, it’s sure to make anyone having a hard time feel comforted. Elements such as timeline and imagery were done wonderfully making the book exciting to read. However, some of the dialogue, especially the slang, felt forced or unnatural. Personally, I could look past the dialogue and enjoy the description of New York city.
If you want to read more diverse love stories, consider picking this up. Not only are all the main characters black, but they all come from different socio-economic backgrounds, have different sexual orientations and relationships with their mental health.
All These Bodies by Kendare Blake is a young adult murder mystery novel following Micheal Jensen, a teenage boy passionate about journalism. When a family is murdered in his close knit community, one of several cases in the country, everyone is in shock and desperate for answers. Fortunately a suspect is found at this murder, Marie Catherine Hale has the answers everyone is looking for but won’t give them up so easily. Some of her conditions include that she will not reveal her partner’s identity and will only tell Micheal the story of the murders. Right off the bat, Micheal believes this is his ticket to get into a journalism program after high school, soon though he discovers that talking to Marie may not only cost him his reputation, but his sanity too.
This story took an unexpected turn, and while some may find the twist enjoyable others may find it childish. Initially, it seems the story will be realistic fiction, especially considering that it takes inspiration from a real story, but after a while there is a monstar element added. Although it adds mystery to the tone, it doesn’t do much to move the plot along, which is confusing in and of itself. What makes the reader come back for more is definitely the characters and their natural dialogue. Personally, if I had known the story strayed away from realistic fiction I wouldn’t have picked it up, but I am glad I did as the author did a good job of making everything as realistic as possible.
All in all, I would recommend this book to those who want to start reading more horror or murder mystery stories because it is excellent introduction to the genre. – Lynda O
“Victories Greater Than Death” by Charlie Jane Anders is a glorious adventure of a book. It’s like a cross between Star Wars and probably Star Trek, however I have not seen Star Trek so I don’t know for sure. Or Star Wars and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Definitely Star Wars and something else. The main character, Tina, is a Makvarian that was disguised as a human at birth and was sent to live on Earth. When she was born, a copy of warrior Captain Thaoh Argentian consciousness was put inside her. When Tina reaches a certain age, a beacon will light up inside her, alerting fellow members of the Royal Fleet of her location. Tina gets picked up by an alien spaceship called the Indomitable, which also accidentally picks up her best friend Rachel. At this point Tina will be able to go through a treatment to restore Captain Argentian’s memories and essentially bring her back to life. However, the technology was still pretty experimental when Captain Argentian’s memories were collected and transferred, so things didn’t work out exactly how Captain Othaar planned. This leaves Tina, Rachel, and a plethora of different aliens to fight a battle to save the galaxy. This book was really fun to read! I love all the different types of aliens and how much detail Anders gives to try to explain them. The huge diversity of the types is really creative and impressive. I also like the different names for different species of aliens, like the Grattna and the Kraelyors. Also the crazy names of the different “people ” on the Indomitable like Uiuiuiui, Lyzix, and Yatto the Monntha. It was a little difficult to keep all the different names and types of aliens straight though, just because the names are so weird and there are so many of them. Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was that everyone introduced themselves with their pronouns. I thought that was super cool and definitely something we should try to normalize more. Also all the different little aspects of the cultures of the different aliens. Like how the Grattna always have to have three sides to any situation, or that the Oonians can only have a baby after one of them die so that there are only 1,000 of them at a time. I also thought it was cool that the Makvarians have three genders and that a general Makvarian relationship involves all three of them. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, and sci-fi. It’s an epic adventure full of action and fun.