My Life Next Door

Huntley Fitzpatrick

Samantha Reed had a perfectly well-crafted life, but then one night while she was sitting outside on her window ledge she meets Jase Garret. Over the years, her mother had told her to stay away from the Garrets because they would only be trouble, but Samantha didn’t see that in Jase. He was easy to talk to, and after watching how his family interacts she wished that she was part of it. Her mother was always on top of her, making sure that her life stayed the way she wanted it and Sam’s idea of how it should be. The Garrets were far from perfect, and that is what Samantha needed.

A heart-warming romance that every girl will envy, it is wonderful, uplifting and a summer romance with depth. While reading this story, it feels as if you are in it because you want to be them. Are they willing to risk everything to be together? Which family will save her? Or will she save herself?  –Ali M.

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Beastly

Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury’s good looks and father’s riches got him far in life. He was just named as one of the prince nominees for the spring dance court when his classmate, Kendra Hilferty, brings attention to how disgusting it is that these competitions are based on a person’s attractiveness rather than more important qualities such as intelligence or bravery. Wanting to put her in her place, Kyle decides to humiliate her at the school dance. In return, she reveals to him her true identity as a witch and transforms Kyle into a creature with claws, fangs, and an excessive amount of hair. As a beast, Kyle must find true love in two years or remain this way forever.

Kyle is portrayed to be an unlikeable character at the beginning of the novel. Alex Flinn exaggerates the bad qualities associated with him to have this impact on the reader. His manipulative nature, conceitedness, and insensitivity are made clear through his actions and interactions with other characters in the story. After he is put under Kendra’s spell, we see a new side to him causing our perceptions of him to shift. For instance, Kyle becomes compassionate and sensitive to the issues of others. This teaches readers that everyone has the potential to change. This and the many other morals in this book, that mainly relate to love, make this a worthwhile read.

I associate a very nostalgic mood with parts of this book due to the many fairy tale references it includes. Often in the novel, there would be text threads between Kyle and other creatures that were considering transformations or were transformed. The screen name, SilentMaid, represented the Little Mermaid. This was done in a mature way that didn’t make you feel like you were reading a book targeted at a younger audience. These text threads also added a more interesting element to the book because it told the story in a creative way.

The short two years the beast was given to reverse the curse was a strategic way of implementing suspense into Alex Flinn’s novel. It gradually increases in intensity as Kyle’s deadline approaches. It makes you obsessively continue reading to anxiously see if Kyle can manage to change back to his former self. The ending of the novel relieves the readers stress and leaves them very satisfied because it doesn’t just resolve the problems of the main characters, but updates us on the supporting characters like Kyle’s blind tutor, Will. For these reasons, I found Beastly to be a stunning read. – Julia K.

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The Warnings 

Margaret Buffie

Original title, The Guardian Circle

Rachel’s single father sends her off to live with a strange great aunt she has never met before while he travels across Canada for work. When she arrives in Toronto, Rachel’s strange visions and feelings become stronger and more ominous than ever before. They feel like warnings. Luckily, she meets a new friend who doesn’t think she is crazy and they set off to find out what they are, and what is happening? Is it ghosts? Magic? Or are the old people who live with her aunt playing tricks on Rachel?

The Warnings (original title, The Guardian Circle) is a great book for older children and teens. I would recommend it for grades 4-10. The Warnings is a wonderful ghost story with intrigue and a little bit of history in it. The story takes places in Toronto and Western Canada. This book was not predictable, I had no idea what was going to happen until the very end and there is a large cast of supporting characters who had a lot of involvement in the plot. This book is not part of a series. – Heather M.

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Masterminds: Criminal Destiny

Gordon Korman

Masterminds: Criminal Destiny is the long-awaited continuation of the cliffhanger in book one, Masterminds. In this second book of the Masterminds trilogy, we follow four kids, Eli, Malik, Tori, and Amber who are running from their peaceful town named Serenity.

 

These kids have uncovered that their true identities are clones of criminal masterminds, and that their entire lives have all been a scientific experiment. Now they have to travel and navigate through the states, find billionaire Tamara Dunleavy, and avoid the purple people eaters. These problems are a lot of for a few kids to handle, so when they are put in multiple fly-or-die situations, these 4 clones have to use their criminal abilities to help themselves.

 

They are attempting to expose the scientists behind project Osiris and get justice for themselves and the others back in Serenity. This is a thrilling book and is so interesting that you will not be able to put it down even for a second. Not only is this book entertaining, but it is also a thoughtful book. It makes you constantly wonder what you would do in a situation like this even if it were to be highly unlikely. Masterminds: Criminal Destiny is another great book by the fantastic author, Gordon Korman and fans will not be disappointed to continue reading this series. A wonderful series for grades 4-6. – Aquilin C.

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Slider

Pete Hautman

Slider is a witty story of a teen who loves to eat and he’s good at it too. 14-year-old David checks stats on all his favourite food competitors and their competitions. He finds out a half-eaten hot dog, eaten by one of his idols, is being sold online but he needs a credit card to purchase it. Through “borrowing” a credit card and setting up an automated bidding system he ends up the not so proud owner of a preserved old hot dog.

He has many bouts of bad luck throughout the plot and slowly gets into debt with his friends. He begins to train in eating and attempts competitions himself with slider burgers, pizza, and many other foods. David struggles to make plans to get the money back, some more realistic than others. All the same, no matter the quality of his plan he vows to earn the money back or his life will be ruined by spending so much. Food competitions aren’t always as they seem: there are rule changes, sabotage and sometimes the prize isn’t what you had expected. Making friends in some of his competitions at some points help him to up his ante and find new and gross food eating techniques.

David is also assigned to take care of his brother Mal who has autism and only speaks one word, “okay”. Mal doesn’t talk much or eat a variety but his feats in learning help push David for his brother’s sake. Things may not always be right but are sometimes the right things to do; this is a lesson David learns through experience and later presents closer to the end of the story.

Overall, Slider is a hilarious read that will make you laugh out loud and maybe look at burgers a little differently. It is a must-read for those who love comedy and are looking for a fun light read. – Zoe P.

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The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede, no pamphlets distributed, no sight of a train filled with equipment. It is simply there when yesterday it was not, but instead of one tent, there are many. Black and white striped tents of all shapes and sizes create a maze of draped unknown wonders. Not far away from a very peculiar clock stand the gates with a sign on the top reading Le Cirque des Rêves. The Circus of Dreams. Gates open after sunset and close after sunrise.

However, there is more going on behind the scenes. The circus has become a venue for a bet. Two unwilling magicians have been trained their entire life for a duel in which only one magician will walk out. The circus has become an inspiration for a dreamer who lives in a too small town with his too-large imagination. The circus has become a home for fortune telling tarot reader who ran away from an arranged marriage. The circus has become a responsibility for the twins born in the circus. The circus has become a distraction for a contortionist with a mysterious past. The circus has become an obsession, a myth, a masterpiece.

The Night Circus is a very interesting and sophisticated read. The sense of mystery that comes with the writing really compliments the theme of the novel, and though sometimes the book may seem confusing because of the time jumps it is all comes together in the end. This novel will leave readers entrapped in the magical 19th century anticipating and on edge. – Janki V.

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Top Ten

Katie Cotugno

This novel was written in the form of a single top ten list, the top ten moments of high school for Ryan and Gabby. They tell their side of the story for all ten moments and slowly piece together their friendship as a whole. Gabby is a socially awkward, shy, and a slight outcast. She has anxiety and hates parties no matter how many she goes to. Ryan is a hockey player and jock who likes to party with the many friends in his popular circle. Nothing can break these two best friends apart. No matter how much they resent each other and no matter how different they are, they are friends forever.

This book was written very nicely with sweet lovable characters. However, it was hard to follow with the timelines of the chapters because one moment of the ten takes place in their senior year and the next in freshman year 3 years earlier so you have to pay attention and remember what has happened already before that year and what comes later. Also, you are only told about ten moments of their friendship, but then you don’t get a full backstory nor a full view of how their day to day friendship was. I would definitely recommend Top Ten but beware of the timeline jumping back and forth. Also, because of them only discussing ten moments of four years of friendship, it’s hard to connect Gabby and Ryan’s stories together. You don’t even hear about how they first met in detail until quite far into the book but it ends up coming out like ten short stories of these characters of these two friends that are polar-opposites. A bit different than other books I’ve read, but good for fans of cute love stories. – Zoe P.

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Girl Online: Going Solo

Zoe Sugg

This is the third installment in the Girl Online trilogy by Zoe Sugg, continuing the story of Penny. Penny is introverted and shy but she slowly brings herself out of her comfort zone to build up her confidence and find herself in the messy world of being a teen. Still heartbroken, Penny and her rekindled friendship with Megan leads her to meet new friends, new boys and causes some commotion as always. Through photography, a private school musical of West Side Story, and a meet up with her friend Leah she brings together everyone and everything she cares about. This book represents finding yourself and building up the confidence to survive on your own.

A much slower storyline than the previous two books in the Girl Online series but after a large portion of the book it begins to get better. The main difference in this book is Noah, one of the previous main characters, has basically disappeared from the face of the earth and becomes more of a ghost character. In Girl Online: Going Solo, Penny must find her way on her own while struggling to help out everyone around her with their own issues. She is faced with a huge wedding in Ireland and it may not be the getaway she hoped it would be, and her escape route may have just turned into a hidden trap. No matter what happens to Penny she always finds a way to make the best of the situation in the hopes that everything will come together in the end. But happily ever after isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Well written but a definite change from Girl Online and Girl Online On Tour. Zoe Sugg as always does an amazing job of showing that life is far from perfect but that those quirks in life build you and create who you are. – Zoe P.

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Girl Online: On Tour

Zoe Sugg

This is the second novel in the Girl Online series about Penny, the anxious teen who loves photography, and her continued adventures with her “rock god” boyfriend. Penny continues to survive in her long distance relationship with Noah, her boyfriend from Brooklyn, New York while she lives in Brighton, England. They are meeting up for the first time in months to go on his European tour — he’s a famous musician, which she hadn’t even known when they first met. They live through the struggle of finding time for each other while on tour. Also, they have an internet stalker who has stolen private information from Penny, however they don’t have any idea who is attempting to blackmail them. In Girl Online: On Tour you go through their journey of hotel rooms, monuments, stadiums, shopping and partying. Making friends and mending relationships along the tour, Penny confronts her anxiety head-on being stuck in crowds and losing a little of herself along the way. Can she find her way back to who she really is? Is tour life where she really wants to be or is she just fooling herself?

I would definitely recommend this book, a coming of age novel written by Zoe Sugg (otherwise known as Zoella, a YouTuber). A romance novel with drama, travel, and adventure, it is even better than the first book. You won’t get enough of this love story between Penny and Noah, nor with Elliot and his awesome and unusual facts told wherever they are. This series should be read in order otherwise you may be missing some information they talk about. A well-written book beautifully told that allows the story to flow making it an enjoyable read. – Zoe P.

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Things We Know By Heart

Jessi Kirby

Quinn and Colton both have their pasts that they try to hide, but do they already know each other’s histories? Quinn lost her boyfriend in a tragic accident. She loved him dearly and won’t ever forget him, but all she wants is to know who got the most important organ, his heart.  Colton got a second chance at life outside of a hospital, but everything comes with consequences even when it seems like everything is for the better. You will cry through this whimsical and lovely story of these two unlikely companions who are brought together by an unusual, fluke meeting that never was supposed to occur. Like most romance novels, once they met for the first time they continued to see each other, leading to a stronger pull toward one another.

This book is described in detail, including all the little things that happen, which gives the book a more realistic kind of feel. Things We Know by Heart helps make you understand what happens with a heart transplant and how the systems work. They also discuss how donors can contact recipients, along with the struggle it can cause for the recipient and the survivors of the donor. A very lovely book that is a great read for those interested in romance novels. – Zoe P.

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