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After the Fire by Will Hill is about the journey of 17-year-old Moonbeam, a seemingly ordinary person at first glance, but actually is involved in a cult-like organization run by a man who claims he can speak directly to The Lord. This organization is also known as The Lord’s Legion. In the Lord’s Legion, there are a few rules that all involved need to know: adultery is not permitted in the compound, watching movies, reading books, and listening to the radio are all banned, and lastly and most importantly that you should never to talk to an outsider, never listen to an outsider, and to never go near outsiders at all. This all changes after the fire, when Moonbeam is taken from her home to the George W. Bush Municipal Center. There, she spends most of her days talking to a psychiatrist, where she slowly reveals the truth about The Lord’s Legion and what she did that fateful night.
I really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in thrillers or other genres like it. This book kept me up all night until I got to the end, and I enjoyed the writing style a lot. The book is formatted in quite an interesting way, with the narrative focusing on what happened in the Lord’s Legion, and telling about the Lord’s Legion through the therapy sessions Moonbeam participates in. Speaking of Moonbeam, I really liked her as a character as well as the rest of the cast, with the obvious exception of the antagonists. Overall it was an enjoyable read, and I rate it a 5/5.
One of the most memorable parts about the book was the ending, of which I will not spoil, but was still very heart-warming to say the least. I liked this ending mainly because of all the build-up to it, and even though I suspected it might happen, it took me completely by surprise, making it a memorable yet sweet moment.
Reviewed by Aryan A., Glen Allen library
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Isola is a graphic novel about two people, Queen Olwyn and her guard, Rook, trying to get to Isola. Something bad happened to the queen that turned her into a tiger. When they get to Isola, the queen can become a human again. As the queen and Rook embark on a journey, they face dangers and challenges, such as a group of hunters trying to capture the queen. This is the first book, named Chapter One, in the series.
or being a first book in a series, there isn’t enough explanation of the plot or the introduction of the characters. I had to flip back to the previous pages, to follow the characters and the story. Even after a good effort, some of the pages didn’t make sense. I felt that sparing use of words made it strenuous on the illustrations to express the author’s ideas. Although the pictures are well drawn, and the story plot is intriguing, the book failed to capture my interest. I wouldn’t read this book the second time.
The good thing about this book is that every time the scene changed, the color scheme in the background changed. This made it easier for the reader to envision the story. The background art by Karl Kerschl was artistic and impressive, while the characters could be more conspicuous. The book could definitely use more narration to get the readers’ interest.
Reviewed by Siddarth S., Twin Hickory Library
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The Grand Escape was about a group of British prisoners during World War One, who after many failed escape attempts, were transferred to the dreaded camp Holzminden. There, they face many challenges, such as severe malnourishment, boredom, and an unstable commandant named Karl Niemeyer. They create an elaborate escape plan, but are constantly in fear of discovery of the plan, as many new prisoners had a hard time closing their mouths and some prisoners traded information for comforts and extra food. Finally, after many months of preparation, the day comes where they can make their escape, but how many will be able to make the 150 mile journey to Holland while avoiding capture?
I thought this book was very well written, as it gave the background and prison experiences of many different British Army members. It also told of a story that most people don’t know of, because most stories about escaping prison camps are written in respect to World War Two. The way this book described the setting made me, as the reader, feel like I could see the events unfold through my own eyes. I also found it intriguing, but comforting, that the original group of British prisoners in the first camp all met again at Holzminden after circulating through many other camps by themselves.
Something memorable about the book is how it teaches the lesson of perseverance. The prisoners had many, many failed escape attempts, but that didn’t deter them from trying again and again until finally they escaped, or made their way back to England through a prisoner exchange or at the end of the war.
Reviewed by Pulkit I., Twin Hickory Library
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Zara Cole, a thief back on Earth, never expected to be an Honor, one of the Earth’s mightiest who are given sentient spaceships called Leviathan to command. After a savage attack by the Phage, the Leviathans’ sworn enemy, Zara, her co-pilot, Beatriz, and their Leviathan, Nadim, barely escaped with their lives. Now on the run with another Leviathan called Typhon and its crew, they need a refuge where they can rest and their Leviathans can heal and upgrade their armory and weapons. But with nowhere else to go and being chased by the Phage, the crew end up at the Sliver, a dangerous sanctuary for criminals. After avoiding danger and earning money thanks to Zara’s invaluable skills from her time in the Zone, they get invited to meet Bacia, a god-like being who is the ruler of the Sliver. After being tasked with a near impossible mission, it is up to Zara to run away or go through with the mission that might turn the tide of the war they are trying to run from.
“Honor Bound” was quite an intriguing read. The authors really knew how to tell an interesting story as the pacing was just fast enough that it didn’t feel like the book was a slog, but not too fast that it felt like the book skimmed by everything. The characters were all also very interesting as all of them had interesting back stories which gave them depth. Something else which made the characters interesting was that some of them were aliens. This added some depth to the book as the authors gave these aliens their own cultures, customs, and beliefs and really spiced things up as reading only about humans can get pretty boring. The only part of this book which I disliked was the two easily distinguishable writing styles of the two authors. It was easy to notice which author wrote which part and the changes in writing styles was jarring every time it occurred as one author was very formal in their writing style while the other preferred to use informal language. It was a good thought to have two authors writing one book, but the execution just wasn’t there.
The most memorable thing about this book was the fact that it was written by two authors. I have never really read such a book where two authors write a book and it was interesting. But it was not really executed well and the changes in writing styles felt jarring which really took away from the immersion.
Reviewed by Aswin G., Twin Hickory Library
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If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser is the story of high school freshman Zan, and her life after one of her best friends, Priya moves to California. Even though this may not seem out of the ordinary, Zan starts to get worried about Priya once she stops taking calls, answering emails, and keeping all her old friends completely out of her new life. Zan is convinced Priya is trying to reinvent herself, but she still holds on to the hope that Priya is not just finishing their friendship. It’s only when Zan meets Logan, the new kid in Spanish, who’s totally willing to throw himself into her investigation, that things start to take off. Soon, Zan and Logan start to discover that the Priya online might not be who she says she is to be, one selfie at a time.
I actually enjoyed this book a lot. In the beginning, the book started off with a strong, compelling hook, which made me keep on reading, even through some of the more dull parts. The writing was decent I guess, with nothing too great about it, but what really drew me into this book was the plot. The plot itself was one of the more appealing sides of the story, and the book kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole time. The characters were well written and likable, with me relating to quite a few of their struggles. Overall, the book was okay. Nothing was too special about it, but nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read.
Probably one of the most memorable parts of the book was the investigation itself. I really enjoyed the process in which they uncovered each clue, with me on the edge of my seat when there was a new breakthrough. Once the ending came, it was also satisfying to see all the clues come together and to find out all the build-up did actually lead somewhere.
Reviewed by Aryan A., Glen Allen Library