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Book Reviews

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms
Crystal Fraiser
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4 Stars

After being told she needs extracurriculars for her college applications, Annie finds herself pressured into joining the cheerleading team; Bebe, Annie’s former best friend, is the cheer captain and the only out trans girl at their school, which comes with its own set of obstacles. Working through their differences and learning from one another, the two begin to wonder: is there more than just friendship between them? Fluid, colorful art perfectly complements this gentle read, perfect for Check, Please! and Heartstopper fans.

-Amity
Posted 1/18/2024

Going Dark
Melissa De La Cruz
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4 Stars

Amelia Ashley has it all – immeasurable beauty, a doting boyfriend, and a loyal fanbase who follow her foodie-based travel blog. But she also has a deep-seated, dark secret about her true identity. Enter Josh Reuter, the aforementioned adoring boyfriend. He was whisked away by Amelia to a Roman holiday gone horror-show. A compelling mystery about Internet fame, family and fraud ensues. Told in split perspectives, this story has a winding twist ending that hits the palate with a sweet taste of revenge.

-Hannah
Posted 11/15/2023

The Honeys
Ryan La Sala
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5 Stars

This suspenseful body horror novel immediately draws you in and keeps you guessing the whole time. Mars’ twin sister shows up at home in the middle of the night when she is supposed to be at her elite summer camp, which Mars no longer attends. She attacks Mars and dies in a fall during this haunting attack. Mars wants to find out why his sister lost herself and what the summer camp has to do with it. Mars decides to return to the summer camp to investigate for themself, despite his negative prior experience of being bullied by campers for being genderfluid. Although dreadful and gruesome, many moments of witty banter between characters provide enjoyable comic relief.

-Caitlin
Posted 10/21/2023

A Long Stretch of Bad Days
Mindy McGinnis
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4 Stars

Overachieving, Ivy-League-bound Lydia and outspoken rebel Bristal work together on Lydia’s podcast when they discover they’re both one credit shy of graduation. Covering their small town’s “long stretch of bad days” – a week in the early 90s when a tornado and flash flood destroyed everything and the town’s only homicide occurred – the two unlikely friends uncover long-buried secrets that upend their close-knit community. This suspenseful mystery examines issues of classism with a feminist undertone, all while maintaining a brisk pace and intricate plot.

-Amity
Posted 8/31/2023

Go Hunt Me
Kelly DeVos
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3 Stars

When Alex gets waitlisted for her top college, her horror-film-fanatic friends fundraise the money to create her dream student film. Everything is awesome; and then an A-list actress offers a film set of a Romanian castle. Nothing about this experience should vampirically suck… until Alex’s friends begin to wind up dead. Is money the root of all evil here or is something wicked wandering the castle halls? Full of high stakes, broken trust, and one girl’s goal of horror film fame, this book can’t be laid down, unless we’re talking into a coffin.

-Hannah
Posted 8/30/2023

You Should See Me in a Crown
Leah Johnson
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4 Stars

After being denied financial aid to her dream school, wallflower Liz competes for Prom queen and the associated scholarship. Soon, Liz becomes overwhelmed by the campaign, further complicated by her feelings for one of her competitors: quirky new girl Mack. If she wants to get the girl and win the crown, she must decide if it’s worth stepping into the spotlight. This sweet coming-of-age story contains funny, feel-good prose that nevertheless does not ignore the realities of small-town prejudice. Fans of Heartstopper looking for a similar swoony, heartfelt read would enjoy this novel.

-Amity
Posted 6/20/2023

The Daughters of Ys
M.T. Anderson
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4 Stars

This graphic novel is based on ancient Breton folklore from Brittany, England. It follows two sisters after losing their magical mother, queen of their home, the city of Ys. It is a thought-provoking tale portraying themes around family, grief, secrets, and the price of magic. The colorful, textured illustrations juxtapose well with the more disturbing, dark storyline to reflect the dual nature of secrets.

-Caitlin
Posted 4/16/2023

Lakelore
Anna-Marie McLemore
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5 Stars

Lore and Bastián harbor a secret beneath the water’s surface. And yet, both are afraid to admit they’re in the same boat for fear that being who they really are might capsize life as they know it. This stunning novel has shimmering prose that helps guide the reader through uncharted waters of love, grief, friendship, and the troubled tides of gender identity.

-Hannah
Posted 4/8/2023

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute
Talia Hibbert
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4 Stars

High school sucks. Pressure from parents, peers and universities mingle with crushes that occasionally morph into mortal enemies. That’s the fate of Brad and Celine. But when the pair is approached with a resumé-rocking opportunity for a wilderness exploration program, they must face their pasts to brighten their futures. Will the beaten path lead to academic ruin or a second-chance romance? For fans of the Brown sisters series, Talia Hibbert charms again in this cute and candid YA novel.

-Hannah
Posted 2/16/2023

Skin of the Sea
Natasha Bowen
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5 Stars

Simi is a Mami Wata, or mermaid, created by goddess Yemoja off West Africa to assist in bringing souls of Africans thrown off ships of enslavers to the afterlife. She fulfills her sole purpose without question until one of those thrown overboard is still alive. Simi chooses to save him, not only diverting from her only duty but also exposing herself as a Mami Wata. Going against the rules to save this boy, Kola, could destroy Yemoja and all other Mami Wata. Simi and Kola travel to his home, then, with the help of other companions, to the supreme creator to make amends. This plot-driven fantasy book is full of action and courageous characters. The world-building, compelling writing style, and likable characters make this an engaging read.

-Caitlin
Posted 1/16/2023

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.

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