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Book Reviews

None Shall Sleep
Ellie Marney
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3 Stars

None Shall Sleep follows college students Emma Lewis and Travis Bell as the FBI approaches them to provide counsel on cold cases of teen serial killers. The two are sought after due to their age and personal histories: Emma escaped a killer years ago, and Travis’s father was recently murdered. But when asked to assist with an ongoing case and its rapidly expanding body count, Emma and Travis realize that it may cost them their lives. Tightly plotted, fast-paced, and focused on the psychology of finding a killer, this novel is perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and other thrillers.

Posted 7/1/2022

I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Casey McQuiston
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5 Stars

Chloe Green is determined on securing her spot as valedictorian at her super conservative Alabama high school, and the only thing standing in her way is prom queen Shara Wheeler. When Shara kisses Chloe and two other people and vanishes right before graduation, Chloe searches furiously for answers, only to discover more about herself and the small town she lives in. Casey McQuiston’s YA debut is heartfelt and funny, a love letter to queer kids growing up in the South. This book has a diverse cast of memorable and lovable characters that will stick with the reader long after they’ve read it, and has a loving message that will make queer kids feel understood and seen.

-Michelle J.
Posted 6/15/2022

The Initial Insult
Mindy McGinnis
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4 Stars

When Tress Montor’s parents went missing, her perfect life was completely upended. Now, she’s a teenager living with an abusive alcoholic grandfather—and she has a score to settle with Felicity, her ex-best friend and the last one to see her parents alive. Mindy McGinnis’ writing is sharp and strange in this retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. McGinnis has a way of writing scenes that stick to you, scenes that are uncomfortable but necessary for the story she’s telling. Dark and compelling, The Initial Insult is part of a page-turning duology that fans of YA horror should not overlook.

-Michelle J.
Posted 5/26/2022

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Erika L. Sanchez
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5 Stars

This novel is a perfectly-written story that tells the life of a First-Gen Mexican American teenage girl. Julia Reyes is not only battling grief but also her darkest and innermost struggles. Sanchez does a beautiful job of encapsulating the journey for girls like Julia: to be seen and heard. The book provides deep, lasting insight to those who don’t know the struggles of a First-Generation Mexican-American daughter; it’s not all rainbows and American dreams.

TW: mentions of self-harm

Posted 4/19/2022

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Lauren James
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4 Stars

After a series of tragedies, 16-year-old Romy finds herself alone on a spaceship heading away from Earth. Maintaining her home and planning for colonization on a new planet keep her busy. Still, nothing cures her isolation – until NASA sends a message that a new ship will be joining her. Unfortunately, it may instead prove to be the beginning of a new set of problems for Romy in this claustrophobic, page-turning thriller. Fans of The 100 and The Illuminae Files will appreciate this genre-bending novel.

Posted 3/24/2022

They Called Us Enemy
George Takei
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4 Stars

In They Called Us Enemy, George Takei of Star Trek fame reflects on somber memories and feelings surrounding his time in American internment camps during World War II. In homage to Takei’s Japanese heritage, this graphic novel implements grey-scale, manga-inspired illustrations in a tasteful manner that makes the adult nature of America’s racist history more accessible to younger readers.

Posted 3/5/2022

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep
Allan Wolf 
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4 Stars

In 1846, the Donner Party headed west for California. After a series of questionable decisions and terrible luck, they found themselves stuck in the mountains during a devastating snowstorm. The lengths they went to in order to survive have lived on in infamy. Yet author Allan Wolf paints a nuanced picture of a group determined to live in this lyrical novel in verse. The mounting cold and hunger are felt on every page as various characters must make life-or-death decisions. Well-researched with a comprehensive bibliography, this is a must-read book for fans of historical fiction.


Posted 1/19/2022

With Malice
Eileen Cook
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4 Stars

Jill wakes up from a coma with broken bones, no memory of her senior year trip to Italy, and finds out her best friend, Simone, was killed in a car accident. The police – and the hysterical public – are not convinced it was an accident and label Jill, the driver, a murderer. As Jill struggles to recover and prove her innocence, she begins to wonder: can you truly trust your memories?

This slow-burn thriller wisely paces its reveals to keep the pages turning while playing with reader sympathies through snippets of emails, interviews, and blog posts between each chapter. Jill’s physical recovery from the accident, as well as her struggles to deal with the public’s perception of her, add an extra layer to the overall mystery to make a satisfying read.


Posted 12/13/2021

Guantanamo Voices
Sarah Mirk
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5 Stars
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to know more about the seemingly far away Guantanamo Bay, look no further than this exceptionally informative, uniquely imaginative, and stunningly cohesive non-fiction graphic novel. This anthology has a different artist assigned to each chapter and everything from their picturesque landscape depictions, to stylistic speech bubbles will absolutely wow you. The cohesive miss-mash of interview transcriptions, retold stories, and the prison’s horrifying statistics composed by Sarah Mirk will doubtlessly shock you. It’s the truest scary story we never wanted, but never needed more.
Posted 11/23/21

Web Resources

Book recommendations, homework help, and more!

  • Path2Purpose Campaign: Evidence-based mental health tips and techniques to help cope with the COVID outbreak, the stay-at-home blues, depression, anxiety, and more so that we can all grow stronger together from this crisis.
  • Teen COVID-19 Resources: A collection of resources for teens living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • YALSA Teens’ Top Ten: The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year!
  • YALSA Book Finder: Search 4,000+ books, audiobooks, and films from YALSA’s book awards and book lists.
  • Lincoln Award: Illinois Teen Readers’ Choice Award.
  • Explora Secondary: Explora supports both student research and classroom instruction with rich, reliable content and easy-to-use functionality.
  • Points of View Reference Center: Resources for students to understand issues, develop criticial thinking skills, and develop persuasive arguments. Includes essays, overviews, articles, and transcripts on, citizens’ rights, earth and environmental issues, global issues, health and medicine, and media and communications.