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Reviews and Recommendations

Wonder Woman Warbringer

A Book Review by Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer   

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Princess Diana has always felt out of place among her immortal sisters on the island of Themyscira. Unlike the other Amazons, she was born there instead of earning her place through heroic acts in the World of Man leaving her desperate to prove herself.  At last, she is given the chance once she saves a drowning girl, however, helping an outsider is a crime worthy of banishment. Diana soon learns that the girl, Alia, is a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy and a catalyst for violence and destruction. While Alia is reluctant to believe her ancestry, the two travel back to the World of Man in search of a spring that is rumored to cleanse Alia and end the Warbringer line. However, those who do not believe in the spring aim to kill Alia before she can descend the world into bloodshed. With the help of Alia’s friends and brother, Diana and Alia travel to Greece in an attempt to survive and hopefully save the world.

As always, Leigh Bardugo creates an immersive world filled with diverse and relatable characters. The writing is engaging and witty as it switches from both Diana’s and Alia’s perspectives to keep the plot moving while developing both protagonists. The twists and turns will leave you shocked and eager for more. I would highly recommend this book is perfect for fans of adventure and the Percy Jackson series.

Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

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I Believe in a Thing Called Love

A Book Review by Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer  

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

High school senior Desi Lee always has a plan, it’s what made her the valedictorian of her class and keeps her on track to go to Stanford. However, are all her lists and preparation enough to score her a boyfriend? After meeting the cute and artsy new kid, Luca, Desi decides to put this question to the test. Armed with the infinite wisdom of the Korean dramas she has watched with her father, Desi creates a foolproof plan to get the guy and her happily ever after…that is, if she can pull it off.

I Believe In a Thing Called Love was an enjoyable book to read, I found Desi to be an entertaining and witty protagonist and the story was never dull. This being said, the story was also very predictable, it starts out giving you a list outlining exactly what is going to happen, leaving very little room for surprise. Also, while Desi’s antics were wild and comedic, they seemed too much like a Korean drama rather than a realistic fiction novel. While this was the point, it made it difficult for me to understand how someone as smart and logical as Desi would continue with such an outrageous plan. All this aside, this was an easy read based on an interesting concept that would be great for any teen looking for a cute romance with plenty of swoon-worthy moments.

Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer 

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Saints and Misfits

A Book Review by Carlos Herbozo, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer  

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

S.K. Ali's novel Saints and Misfits is a story about Muslim faith, identity, and social issues, which stars a Muslim teenage girl as the main character. Her name is Janna Yusuf and she is an Arab Indian-American hijabi, which means she wears an article of clothing known as a hijab on her head, for religious purposes. Janna is convinced that there are three types of people in her life: saints, misfits, and monsters. To her, saints are the people moving her world forward. For example, Mr. Ram, a senior citizen who Janna volunteers to spend hours with on Thursdays. Mr. Ram gives Janna inspirational verses from some of the finest poetry he can recall from memory. Janna considers herself a misfit, because she doesn't feel like she fits into her father's brand new family, or the one that was left over, which includes Janna's mother and engaged older brother, Muhammad, who is a university student. And then there are monsters, like the one person who everyone at the local mosque thinks is untouchable and holy but tried to assault Janna. This is a fact that only she knows about it and it plagues throughout the entire novel. At her high school, Janna spends part of her time crushing on Jeremy, a school athlete who is non-Muslim, for which Janna also considers him a misfit.

The book deals with many social topics, having to do with both the Islamic community and other topics. Janna's uncle writes an advice column where he responds to people's submissions with witty and insightful feedback every week, using the rules of Islam as his guidelines. S.K. Ali finds a good balance between time in the book spent at home with either family, time spent outside at either the mosque or Seniors Game Club, and time spent at high school with Tats, a close friend of Janna's, all of which helps make sure the story never gets bland or boring. This can make some events feel heavy when you first read them and in contrast others can feel rushed but meaningful. Regardless, the story is about a self-empowered young woman who simply needed a nudge in the right direction, and despite the amount of temptation and a few unrealistic expectations, managed to channel her anger, receive support, and stand up for herself, all while preserving the standards of her faith. Patient readers will enjoy this book and its many tough topics, as well as the humor sprinkled here and there by the author, often revealed through the intriguing thoughts Janna has as she lives her life.

Recommended for fans of realistic fiction and juvenile humor.

 

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The Unlikelies

A Book Review by Vanassa Lafluer, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer  

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone 

What do a mixed Iranian-Irish girl, a rich and extremely intelligent white boy, a Haitian artist with a full grown beard, a Hispanic girl who donates school supplies, and a rebellious puppy photographer have in common? They all share the common mission of making the world a better place, one good deed at a time. Sadie, Gordie, Jean, Val, and Alice are The Unlikelies, a group of anonymous cyber vigilantes working to stop online bullying and trolling. Together, they faced countless problems head on. However, this never would have happened if Sadie never had her tragic “incident” that summer. “In a summer where nothing was supposed to happen...everything did.”

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone is a realistic fiction novel following Sadie Sullivan’s summer after junior year, one that was due to be lonely due to her college-bound friends. Nevertheless, it ended up being one of the most eventful summers she had ever experienced. This book was a blend of multiple genres like mystery, drama, and romance. It is a definite page turner, leaving readers intrigued as they follow the actions of Sadie and the rest of The Unlikelies as they become just the thing the internet (and the world) needed. I recommend this novel for ages 13 and older as it deals with some mature subject matter. For those who do read it, it is sure to be an interesting one.

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A Season of Daring Greatly

A Season of Daring Greatly by Jill Cafferty

A Book Review by Josh Baker, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Baseball stands as one of the most culturally diverse sports in America. It includes players from countries all over the world, but ever since its creation, one aspect has never changed; not a single woman has played Major League Baseball. However, in Ellen Emerson White’s new novel A Season of Daring Greatly, Jill Cafferty becomes the first female drafted into the MLB. Cafferty’s journey strongly resembles (some might even say duplicates) that of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the baseball color barrier in 1947. If you enjoy stories about huge changes in society or standing up against the norm, then you may enjoy this book. You may also enjoy books about Jackie Robinson, particularly Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman. If you are looking for a book on baseball in general, check out novels by Mike Lupica and Tim Green (featuring Derek Jeter in his latest publication Baseball Genius).

Personally, I found this story pretty bland. Since I know the story of Jackie Robinson, and I’ve read plenty of other stories like it, I correctly predicted all the motions that Jill Cafferty was going to go through. She’s verbally assaulted, people tell her to quit, she’s harassed by teammates, etc. Her father is dead too, but White does manage to have it somewhat contribute to the plot. There are not many surprises in the story, but in all honesty, it would be pretty hard to put surprises in a story that has been done several times already. Although the book was well written with good intentions, I feel the story was a bit cliche.

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Be True to Me

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin

A Book Review by Mariana Simpson, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Adele’s Griffin’s Book Be True To Me is an intriguing story of young romance. In Sunken Haven, Jean meets Gil first and instantly falls in love with Gil. Since Jean had the advantage of meeting Gil first in New York, they went out for dinner and dancing, and at the end of the night, Jean receives a kiss from Gil.  Of course, Jean thinks that there is an instant connection between the two. But, when Gil comes to Sunken Haven and is introduced as Carpies, Sunken Haven’s own town celebrity nephew, everyone thinks he is cute and would kill to date him.

Out of all the girls, Gil could've chosen, he chose Fritz, Jean’s very own arch nemesis. Fritz, is worried that something is going on between Fritz and Gil. Could it be that Gil would turn his back on Fritz and secretly date Jean? Or is Fritz just worrying over nothing? This book is all about love and rivalries and filled with a lot of drama. It is well detailed and very fast paced.

I would recommend Be True to Me for people who love drama and romance books. 

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Noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

A Book Review by Vanassa LaFleur, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Jordan Sun, a junior theatre major at Kensington-Blaine Boarding School, hasn’t landed any auditions since she first arrived at the school, and it was becoming critical. It didn’t help that she had an alto voice, when most parts were for sopranos. She almost gave up until she had an idea; it was so crazy it just might work. The Sharpshooters, the elite all-male a cappella group, had an opening available. With that opportunity and her low voice, Jordan Sun became Julian Zhang and a roller coaster of events ensued.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate is a relatable novel that deals with many real, teen issues like gender identity, sexuality, relationships, and many more that appeal to much of the young adult audience. I personally really enjoyed this book because of how it broke so many norms in regards to society. It is an example of coming to terms with oneself through difficult situations that many teens experience. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books relating to music, theater, or just a very relevant realistic-fiction novel

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When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

A Book Review by Mariana S., West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

When Dimple Met Rishi is a story of young love between two young adults who just graduated high school written by Sandhya Menon. Dimple just wants to go to her dream college, Stanford University; but, her old-fashioned Indian parents want her to get married to a guy they already picked, Rishi. When Dimple first found out that her parents picked out Rishi, someone she doesn’t know, to be her husband she totally freaked out. The last thing on her mind was marriage and she didn’t want to even date this Rishi guy. Dimple had a hard time agreeing with her parent's views, she wanted to find a man on her own time, and of her own choice. Rishi, on the other hand also had Indian parents and was the complete opposite of Dimple, he agreed on everything his parents wanted for him. He believed that his parents knew what was best for him. Even though deep down, he didn’t want to do what he was told to do. When Rishi first found out about how his parents agreed on him dating Dimple, he was ready to date her. How will Dimple and Rishi handle the situation at hand? Is it possible for them to at least become friends? Will Dimple and Rishi ever date?

This book shows how love can happen in the least expected ways. I would highly recommend this book for readers who love stories based off of romance, friendship, and diversity.

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The Odds of Lightning

The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies

A Book Review by Arthi Sivendra, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

Three years ago, Tiny, Luella, Will, and Nathaniel were the best of friends for as long as they could remember. However, after one fateful summer, this all changed, high school began and they all went their separate ways.

Believing she is unremarkable and unimportant, shy Tiny has dove deeper into her shell. Luella and her large personality have taken to the stage of the school theater. After reinventing himself, Will is almost unrecognizable as the popular co-captain of the soccer team. And Nathaniel has kept complete focus on his studies, trying hard to live up to the near impossible standards his brother has already set.

Now, the night before the SATs, they cross paths once again at a party during one of the worst storms the city has ever seen. Though they are reluctant to dig up the memories of that one all but forgotten summer, fate sends them on an all-night adventure through the streets of New York City teaching them that sometimes you need to look to the past to make way for the future.

Jocelyn Davies vividly writes fully developed characters whose flaws make them relatable to teen readers. The text switches from the present to the past to reveal aspects of the story and characters as the main plot progresses, this keeps the readers interested while still preserving key events until they are relevant to the plot to have them make a bigger impact. In addition to the past and present text, each chapter is narrated from the perspective of one of the four protagonists. This allows the readers to understand the characters on a deeper level in order to empathize with them and become invested in their journey. Davies intertwines magic and science to create a wonderful reading experience. I would highly recommend The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies for teens who enjoy well written, magical stories about the strength of friendship.

 

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When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 

A Book Review by Emma, West Orange Public Library Teen Book Reviewer

When the Moon Was Ours is a peculiar book about a girl and a guy who are trying to find their identity in life. Although many people find this book inspiring, I found it a bit hard to get through. I usually like my books to be fast paced, so a slower paced book is a change for me. The author also used symbolism throughout the novel which I found difficult to understand at times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to complete this book, but if you enjoy symbolism and slower paced books, I’m sure you would like this book. When the Moon Was Ours was not the perfect match for me, but it could be yours.

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