Ascent by Roland Smith is about a man named Peak, a climber. In this book, Peak travels towards the mountain Hkakabo Razi, inevitably ascending it near the end. Peak travels with his friend Ethan, fellow climber Alessia, and Lwin, their tour guide. On this trip, Peak deals with developing his relationships and the tough road through the jungle and then up the mountain. The book provides insight into Peak’s inner thoughts and his entire journey.
Overall, Ascent was an adventure story with a lot of parts that are hard to relate to, situation wise. Due to the mountainous and heavily forested nature of the area, I found myself unable to form a connection with the main character until the author started to describe Peak’s inner thoughts in detail. This allowed me to form an emotional connection instead. For example, when Peak would complain about the heat and the bugs, I related since I do not like the heat or bugs. I felt like I was part of the group along this tough journey.
The most memorable thing of the entire book is the description of the character Peak’s experience ascending up the mountain. The descriptive words helped me picture what was going on, and provided me with what the situation must have been like. I felt like I couldn’t breathe or talk because of the speed in which Peak went up the mountain. It was a hard journey and I felt like I accomplished the ascension with Peak.
Reviewed by Jaewon Cha, 6th grade, Twin Hickory Area Library
Sloane Sullivan has been nineteen different people in nineteen different places in the span of six years, so starting at a new high school nine weeks before the end of senior year shouldn’t be a problem… right? Except this time, it’s different. Ever since she entered WITSEC as a child after both her parents died, it has just been Sloane (at least, that’s what she’s called now) and Mark, her agent and might-as-well-be older brother, on the run from her past. No one really seems to know exactly what happened to trigger this turn of events, and even Sloane doesn’t remember it. All she knows are the countless survival and self-protection skills Mark has taught her over the years. Because all is not always as it seems, and Sloane may have to face the possibility that the life she’s been living for the past six years just might be a lie. As everything she thought she knew is questioned, Sloane must find a way to uncover the truth… and stay alive.
I picked this book up hoping for a good mystery, and it absolutely blew me away! The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan is Gia Cribbs’s first and only novel, and it is everything you’re expecting and more! The author has a fantastic writing style, with flawlessly executed twists and turns, a fast-paced story line, and just the right amount of description. The characters are all thoroughly developed, and she captures them well. Cribbs also writes with such emotion that we want to cry and laugh with the characters themselves! There were a number of \unexplained questions throughout the book, but the author did a nice job of rounding it all out in the resolution. Although, there was never a lack of heart-stopping surprises and bewildering discoveries.
I loved the way the author seamlessly intertwined a familiar high school coming-of-age story with a mystery of this magnitude. With just a touch of romance, humor, and more then a little excitement and danger, she delivered a realistic novel that surpasses any other thriller I’ve read!
Reviewed by Sanjana Murugavel, Grade 9, Twin Hickory Area Library
Through the eyes of Aurora Skye, a person’s first kiss is the most crucial moment of his or her life. It’s a momentous event that has Aurora avoiding any awkward lip contact on her front porch after a date. While waiting impatiently for her prince, Aurora assists her friends with meeting their own knights in shining armor. However, Hayden Paris, Aurora’s next-door neighbor and the bane of her life, constantly interferes with her friends’ love lives. What’s atrocious is that Aurora may have to share her first kiss with him because of their leading roles in the play Much Ado About Nothing. Aurora will go to great lengths to prevent Hayden from taking her first kiss, but it’s all in the hands of fate.
The mind of a sixteen-year-old teenager with impulsive behavior is depicted flawlessly by the author. Aurora’s audacious attitude and her chemistry with Hayden have people on the edge of their seats. Every page has comical and amusing moments, and the story balances out the humor with the drama induced by Aurora’s peers and family. How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is a lighthearted read that highlights the twists and turns of high school and romance.
One memorable event in the book was Hayden standing up for Aurora despite the large percentage of the school pitted against her because of a false rumor. His loyalty and dedication to Aurora are endearing, and readers come to love their relationship even more because of his devotion.
Reviewed by Jessica Chau, Grade 10, Glen Allen Library
The Last Girl on Earth is a thrilling novel that follows the carefully constructed life of lies that Li’s father and sister have helped her maintain; Li is the last human on Earth. The Abdoloreans, creatures that look like humans but have exceptional intelligence, strength, and other abilities, took over the planet sixteen years ago. A human-sympathizer, Li’s father took her in and raised her as his own, training her in the woods behind their house so that Li could keep up with the effortless agility of her peers. The devotion of Li’s father and younger sister Zo, paired with her own determination and brilliance, has allowed for Li to become top of her class among the Abdoloreans. Li soon meets Ryn, a mesmerizingly mysterious Abdolorean from another planet. As Li’s relationship with Ryn deepens, she begins to feel the burden of living such a massive lie. She has to figure out how to balance Ryn, getting through Assessments so that she may earn the title of officer, protecting her sister from Braxon, and helping her best friend Mirabae, all while under the guise of being an Abdolorean. This is no small feat.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Li and Zo because the two girls are extremely close. They definitely have some disagreements, but this only makes their bond more authentic. The writing style is very concise, which fits the overall implication that things could go awry at any moment; it intensifies the plot. Additionally, I found it extremely interesting how Li’s father pays special attention to seemingly trivial details of crafting Li’s dissemblance. With that said, I would have liked to know more about the years leading up to Li’s current dilemma, as well as more about her father’s interactions with other members of their community.
Li and Ryn’s first time meeting is definitely memorable. That initial encounter foreshadows the inexplicable energy between the pair that draws them together again. Also, the situation in which they are introduced is awfully dangerous for Li, which just goes to prove how she’s willing to risk nearly everything for Ryn from the get-go.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Celentano, 10th Grade, Varina Area Library
Jesobel Jones is fat. Yes, she’s a perfect straight-A student, never gets in trouble, and has two amazing best friends, Hannah and Izzie. But Jesobel has always been labeled as the fat girl. Being bigger than those around her has never made Jesobel feel lesser than, but a spiteful confrontation from some mean girls has her rethinking her positive connotation of “fatness.” Struggling to understand what to do, Jesobel soon meets Matt, the guy she’s been falling head over heels for. With her rebellious attitude starting to come to light, will Jesobel still give in to societal beauty standards to be with her dream guy? Or will the power of love overcome her desire to love her body?
I originally thought that this novel’s plot would be about Jesobel finding love; however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it also focuses on her identity and self-worth. In a world where larger people are shamed for their bodies, Jesobel Jones is the epitome of rising above the hate and proving that success comes in all sizes. I enjoyed that Jesobel seemed out of place among her “perfect” family members; these foil characters brought out the qualities of Jesobel even more. However, I wasn’t fond of the fact that her sister, Cat, barely ate any food throughout most of the novel. On the brighter side, food seemed to be the catalyst for Jesobel’s growth throughout the novel, and that was interesting because it’s different from similar books I have read. All in all, I would recommend this book, as I gained quite a few life lessons from this story.
There are definitely some underlying hints of body positivity throughout the plot, which is an important topic that needs to be spread to a wider range of audiences. I think Anna Mainwaring did a great job of showing that healthiness is important, but healthiness does not always equate to the size of your body. You can be skinny and unhealthy, bigger and healthy, or vice versa. Yet, she also shows that, not only is it important to be healthy, but you must also be happy in life.
Reviewed by Mitali Barik, Grade 11, Twin Hickory Area Library