Check out the latest book reviews from our teen virtual volunteers!
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (2020)
reviewed by Abigail
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong was published on November 17, 2020 and is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai. Julliete Cai is the daughter of the leader of the Scarlet Gang, while her star-crossed lover Roma Montagov is the son of the leader of the White Flowers, the opposing gang in Shanghai. When gang members on both sides of the rivalry begin to die under mysterious circumstances, the two must put their differences aside to figure out what’s killing their people — before they’re next.
I had high expectations going into These Violent Delights as a lover of the star-crossed lovers trope, and I have to say, my expectations were definitely met and maybe even exceeded. Chloe Gong’s spin on Shakespeare’s Juliet is refreshing and perfectly fit for a modern audience. Julliete Cai is not one to be trifled with and always aims to shatter the expectations people place on her. Even the friends that surround the two main characters have very interesting backstories and excellently crafted character development, something that’s often left out of side characters.
Despite having never been to Shanghai in the 1920s, I feel like I have after reading Gong’s novel. With imagery of bustling streets and sultry nightclubs, the setting of the story is well described and provides gorgeous mental pictures.
One of my biggest pet peeves is books that overstay their welcome. Authors that drag the story on and on despite the actual plot only needing 200 pages or so. I can say confidently that These Violent Delights does no such thing. The book is paced so that the slow burn between Julliette and Roma doesn’t feel rushed but action is constantly taking place, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat and waiting to see what will happen next.
All in all, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good forbidden romance with a bit of an action twist. But if romance isn’t your thing, These Violent Delights is still worth checking out because the love story is only a single aspect of this multifaceted novel with twists and turns all over the place.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus (2017)
reviewed by Claire
One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus was published May 29, 2017, and is one of the best books I have ever read. In this story, Bronwyn Rojas, Nate Macauley, Adelaide Prentiss, and Cooper Clay are accused of murdering their fellow student, Simon Kelleher. All five students walked into detention one Monday in September, but only four left Bayview High alive. Simon ran a popular gossip app, an app that always accurately exposed the secrets of those in Bayview, and he was planning to disclose the secrets of these four students next. Except, he never got the chance. We see the world from the eyes of these four characters, which causes us to learn that each of
them has a completely different perspective on the investigation. Bronwyn is worried that
everything she’s ever worked for will be thrown down the drain, ruining any future she may have had, whereas Nate is just annoyed that he’ll be blamed for the whole thing. Addy is afraid that her one mistake will cause her to lose what she truly loves, while Cooper is afraid that one carefully covered up secret may just lose him everyone he knows, and everything he has.
This is one of my favorite books, and creates a world filled with secrets, deception, lies,
and discoveries. I feel that the characters are wonderfully crafted, and the ways that they feel and act are very reasonable. I like the main characters, though Cooper is my favorite character in the story, and reading about how Simon’s death affected how he acted and lived was incredible. I love how I can actually see myself in this world, looking at things the way the characters did, and feeling what they felt. The story moves pretty quickly, showing how the investigation progresses over the course of two months. The actions of these characters are believable, and the ways that they all respond to each event are very different. This story was a bit predictable, so I was more intrigued by the character development, which is the main reason I never considered putting the book down. I recommend this title to anyone above the age of 14, since there is much use of adult language, and a few things are described that younger kids probably wouldn’t be comfortable reading. I haven’t read any other books by this author, though I have heard that they’re incredible stories.
The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks (1977)
reviewed by Joe
The Sword of Shannara is a book about a Half-Elf named Shea Ohmsford. Shea has lived his life peacefully, until he finds out he is the only one who can stop the advance of the Warlock Lord and his massive Northland Army from enslaving all of the world. First he and his companions, who have come from many different kingdoms to protect the world against this deadly threat, must retrieve the Sword of Shannara, a sword forged with magic when the Warlock Lord first rose to power to defeat him. Once they retrieve the Sword, they must march north through the Knife’s Edge and to Skull Mountain to slay the evil, immortal sorcerer.
While reading this book, I noticed that the characters were very realistic. They all had their flaws, and many times, they showed it. Whether it was self-doubt, brashness, or secrecy, all of the main characters, including the seemingly most virtuous of the company, showed themselves to be real people, not idealistic ideas. They showed motivation, and their complex backstories shone through as well. Overall, the characters of The Sword of Shannara are quite detailed and realistic. Their different personalities and skills put together in a group made them synergize quite well, which is another thing that I liked.
The setting of The Sword of Shannara is small, but well detailed. A map was included at the start of the book, which I always like, as it helps me visualize the journeys taken and the geography. It is a fantasy book, with Trolls, Gnomes, Elves, Dwarfs, and Men as the main races. Another very interesting tidbit on what this world was, thousands of years ago, before the First Great War ravaged the land, really helped me imagine myself in this world. If you’d like to find out what happened, you’ll just have to read the book!
The plot of the novel is somewhat simple; the main characters go on a quest to find an ancient artifact that will help them defeat the antagonist of the story. However, the plot is still a good one, and I haven’t found any inconsistencies in it, which is another plus. There are many smaller side plots, and they grow more numerous towards the end of the story. Most of these intertwine with each other and the main story, and only a few of them seemed a bit out of place.
Overall, I would recommend this book. It has an interesting and exciting plot, realistic and relatable characters, and an immersive setting. There is one thing that I have noticed, and that is that there are many similarities to Lord of the Rings. Some characters take similar positions in the company, some storylines are similar, and it is a similar overall plot, that an ancient artifact can be used to help defeat the magical and tyrannous force descending on the world. However, the book is still amazing, and I strongly recommend reading it.
Our teens are reading and writing up a storm! Check out the following reviews, and sign up for the next volunteer training to add your thoughts to the mix!
Reviewed by Adharsha
This book is unlike any other I have read. In Just Mercy, a powerful tale of the struggles that a passionate man must undergo simply to persuade the US court system to do its job and bring just and fair trials to those who have been sentenced unjustly, Bryan Stevenson reveals the darkest natures of our country and brings to light both how current and serious the problems of racism and prejudice are. Stevenson relates his experiences as a young lawyer and how these experiences develop as he progresses through his career; with numerous statistics and solid information supporting his claims, he brings forth both the victories and the failures of what he has set out to do, and therefore shows the reader that there is much more to do and much more than can be done to preserve the rights of every citizen of our country, black or white, and bring them sentences that are fair and just, based not on the color of their skin but on their age and how severe of a crime they have actually committed – along with whether they even committed a crime at all.
As I read this book, I was hooked, but I didn’t want it to end. Stevenson pushed me to the brink of tears but also inspired me to hope that this country still has a chance of changing for the better. With this myriad of emotions, combined with amazing, inspirational, and lovable people, and a story that is real to the core, Just Mercy is a wonder of literature and a must-read for both young-adults and adults.
Reviewed by Samrah
I recently read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas! This book is about a teenager named Starr who is a very outgoing and independent girl, who doesn’t care what others think. After leaving a party, she experiences her friend Khalil getting shot by the police when he was completely innocent. Ever since that tragic incident, Starr starts to realize how much racism there really is and views her life differently. She encounters many remarks of racism and stereotypes. At first no one knows Starr was a victim and she is scared of letting her side of the story be heard. She later realizes that she needs to speak up and address the situation on behalf of her and especially Khalil.
I absolutely love this book, mainly because it relates to what is happening today. A couple months ago we all know there were riots due to racism. The characters in this book experience pretty much the same things. This book has been one of my favorites and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a great book to read!
Spring is on its way, and that means a new story has been installed at the Story Walk!
This season’s story is Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora
“Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?”
Read each page as you walk along a simple trail at Sunny Meadow Community Garden.
We hope you will join us on Saturday, March 13th from 3:00-4:00 for our Virtual Service Club! We will be meeting on zoom to make thank you cards that will be sent to first responders and people serving in the military through Operation Gratitude.
Sign up on our events calendar, and stop by the Children’s Room to pick up kit with supplies to make 3 cards!
We have another book review to share from one of our teen volunteers. Here is Adharsha’s review of Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
A beautiful and poignant novel written partly in verse, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree highlights the injustices occurring in Nigeria and stars a young, intelligent Nigerian girl, fondly called “Ya-Ta” by her friends. Ya-ta works hard both at home and in school, and despite the poor conditions of her town, she has big dreams for herself. However, her entire world turns upside down when she is captured and comes face to face with the cruelty of Boko Haram, a terrorist organization that causes Ya-Ta to face unspeakable struggles and horrors.
Ya-Ta’s story of struggle and perseverance is one that inspires and never fails to move the reader. The admirable personality of Ya-Ta combined with the beautiful and poetic format in which Nwaubani has written this novel has produced a riveting piece of literature. I was also surprised and saddened to see that it is based on the stories of real escapees from Boko Haram; the novel truly exposed me to the reality of the violence and cruelty that Boko Haram incites upon innocent people, especially on women. Nwaubani combines fiction with reality, hitting many serious topics while providing a gripping story that is a must-read for all young adults. I would recommend this to any enthusiastic reader, as I was hooked from beginning to end, and I know anyone who reads this will be too.
If you’re in grades 7-12, love to read & share your thoughts on books, and would like to earn some community service hours writing book reviews for our blog, sign up for our next Virtual Volunteer Training!
If you’re looking for a fun game day with your family, look no further than the Chelmsford Public Library! On Saturday, February 27th at 3:00 pm we will be hosting a virtual family Bingo game on Zoom, and we hope you will join us!
February’s Bingo game will be a celebration of Black stories, and the first, second, and third players to get “Bingo” on their cards will get to pick up a copy of one of the stories featured on our cards to take home and keep.
Please register each player on our online events calendar, and stop by the Children’s Room to pick up your Bingo cards. We hope you’ll join us for a fun afternoon!
Hey teens! Do you love Great British Bakeoff, dream of being a Top Chef, or just want to help your parents out with dinner sometimes? Check out our upcoming series of cooking classes on Zoom with Julie Manning!
Our first class will be on Thursday, February 4th at 5:00 pm. Julie will teach you how to make a delicious Baked Macaroni and Cheese for 4. You provide the ingredients and stove, and she will provide the know-how, and you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal you prepared yourself!
Check it out, and keep an eye out for what’s cooking each month, from now until May, on the first Thursday at 5:00. Bon apetit!
I am so happy to share our very first book review from one of our virtual volunteers! If you are interested in writing book reviews for our blog, please sign up for our next virtual volunteer training on Wednesday, February 10th at 3:30 pm.
Goodbye Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea (reviewed by Mia)
Peter, Alexia (aka Lexie), Luke, Danielle, Jeffrey, Anna, and Jessica, have finally made
it to eighth grade, but they are all having a bit of trouble adjusting to the new year. Their
beloved friend and former teacher, Mr. Terupt is going through quite a bit as well with
his new daughter, Hope, and “Baby Terupt Number Two”on the way. The seven friends
will participate in many “projects” throughout the year, and manage to stick together
through them all. This magnificent story will give you an inside look at what these kids’
year was like–even if in the end it means saying goodbye to Mr. Terupt.
Let me just say that Goodbye Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, is an amazing read!
First off, as you may realize once you start reading this book, there are a few details
missing–that is because this is the fourth book of the Mr. Terupt Book Series. (If you do
decide to read this book I definitely recommend reading the other three books first.) 🙂
Overall, I really liked how this book was broken up. I enjoyed that we could see each
narrator’s point of view of the situation they were in, and what they thought of the other
characters. I think my favorite character, though, had to be Lexie. Don’t get me wrong, I
love all the characters, but Lexie’s sass and enthusiasm was a real help to lighten the
mood in those awkward parts of the book, although sometimes she can be a little over
the top. All the characters in this book develop stronger relationships with one another,
even when they do things that they could later end up regretting, which I find to be
amazing, as they have been friends since fifth grade. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants a great book for school or just for fun!
I hope you enjoy Goodbye Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea, as much as I did!
Hey teens! Do you miss volunteering at the Library? We miss you too!
The COVID-19 pandemic has halted our regular in-person volunteer opportunities, so we are launching a virtual volunteer program in 2021! There is a training for teens (grades 7+) who are interested in virtual volunteering on January 13th at 3:30 pm on Zoom. You can find more information and register on our Library events calendar.
If you’re looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity, register for our January Service Club To Go! We will be zooming together to make blankets for Project Linus. Kits are available for pick up at the Children’s Desk, or you can call and have a kit brought out to the curbside pickup table.
There is a new story at the Story Walk at Sunny Meadow Farm!
Worm Loves Worm is a sweet story about 2 worms who fall in love and decide they want to marry. With a little help from their friends cricket, beetle, spider, and the bees, they find the perfect way to have a wedding that celebrates how very special their love is!
Read each page as you walk along a simple trail at Sunny Meadow Farm!