The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

Heather Smith

The year is 1986, in Newfoundland, and fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house with her Mother who is a compulsive hoarder. Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What Bun has learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun’s mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does.

Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother’s house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family — a family of friends who care.

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She Said / She Saw

Norah McClintock

Teagan was in the backseat of a vehicle during a drive-by shooting, in which her close friends Martin and Clark were brutally murdered. Maybe a random killing spree? Or maybe just a misunderstanding? But as much as Tegan wants to deliver justice for Martin and Clark, she has not seen the killer, or so she says. Considering the circumstances, no one believes her — she was in the back seat while someone pulled out a gun and murdered the two people in front of her. Almost impossible for Tegan to not as much as catch a glimpse of the killer, which is what the police, Tegan’s friends, family and practically everyone around her seem to think. Life for Tegan gets immensely challenging, on top of all the trauma and emotional damage. All her relationships start to fade as everyone thinks that the only reason Tegan is not naming anyone is that of her selfishness and need to keep her name clear, so she would not put herself in harm’s way. However, there is a lot more to this case than Tegan and everyone thinks. Maybe some people thought to be clean of any crimes are the ones buried under piles of them. Tegan has to do something, anything to help Clark and Martin and herself.

In this book that is written in two points of views -Tegan and her sister Kelly’s- discover all the sacrifices and decisions Tegan has to make to make things right. Get your hands on this book as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. An amazing read that keeps you in suspense yet wanting more and more as you continue. – Oshadi G.

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Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1)

Brendan Reichs

Min and Noah have both been killed five times, every two years on their birthday since they were eight years old. Yet, somehow they don’t die. Each time they are killed, both wake up in a secluded area unsure how they have gotten there. All marks of their injuries disappeared, as well as any evidence that the murder happened. For Noah, these come as nightmares. Nightmares promised to go away but keep plaguing him every two years.

However, the earth has bigger problems. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid, is threatening to hit earth and wipe out everything. Nothing will make it. No humans, no animals, no buildings. Everything will be rubble. Everyone is on edge as they wait to find out if this asteroid will miss or not. However, far beyond the Anvil lies a series of even more complicated and sinister government plots that no one knows about. It isn’t until Min and Noah start working together when they uncover years of secrets that involve them and their sophomore class in Fire Lake.

By far, Nemesis has been one of the best books I have read. Not only is it action packed, this book is full of mysteries, questions, and always leaves you wanting more! I am hoping there will be a sequel to this book as the end reveal leaves so many unanswered questions and made me want to know what will happen and how everything will turn out. I would definitely recommend this book to you if you enjoy reading thriller books with an edge of mystery. I look forward to reading a sequel if one does come out, and will definitely look into more books written by Brendan Reichs. – Juliana M.

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The Fixer

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Tess Kendrick has lived on her grandfather’s farm for as long as she can remember. She spent years hiding her grandfather from the world so no one would know about his mental state. She was successful until her older sister, Ivy, sends him to a mental hospital and brings Tess to live with her in Washington D.C. Tess is anything but happy about this new arrangement, as she hates her sister for abandoning her years ago.

Tess starts at a private school, Hardwicke Academy, only attended by the children of politicians and occasionally the very wealthy. It doesn’t take Tess long to realize that her sister has far from an ordinary job. Ivy is what Washington calls a “fixer”. Weirdly, Tess takes after her sister and while Ivy is solving the problems of people in the White House, Tess is solving the problems of their teenage kids. For Tess, it starts off as smaller problems, such as bullies and grades, but it soon enlarges into a national problem.

Tess is a natural born investigator. When a Supreme Court Justice dies, Ivy is the first person on the case. While Ivy does her best to keep Tess out of it, Tess cannot help herself. Individually, they gather information, but whoever planned the death for the Justice isn’t going down easily. Tess and Ivy soon find themselves in a position where their lives are on the line. Tess just got her sister back, but is she going to lose her again?

The Fixer is a great mystery novel based around American politics. It has an interesting plot with lots of twists, always leaving you wanting to know what is going to happen next. I thought it was refreshing that this book didn’t revolved around a romance with the main character. The book also has a message with Tess and Ivy that even though their relationship is complicated, they still love and want the best for each other. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, as it is one of my new favourites, and would definitely recommend it.

If you want to read more about Tess, you should check out the sequel, The Long Game. – Melanie G.

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Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why has become the new focus for teens and young adults in the last several months, most likely because of the controversial Netflix series. The author wastes no time jumping into the storyline and just by reading the first paragraph it’s obvious that something drastic or emotionally draining has taken place because Clay is explaining how tired he is, and also seems to be zoning out of reality. He’s at the post office mailing a mysterious shoe box that isn’t fully explained until the next chapter.

The next chapter dives into how Clay received the shoe box package and what’s inside; seven double-sided cassette tapes, each one holds another story, another stepping stone into the suicide of Hannah Baker. He also now understands, based on the note that was left inside with the tapes, every person that is on them has contributed to Hannah’s suicide and will receive them in chronological order. At that point, it becomes their responsibility to keep the game going and pass it on to the next person. The first instinct of anyone caught in this situation is to tell an adult to end the cycle however on Tape One, Hannah explains that she’s trusted another copy of the tapes with an unknown person and if somebody chooses to ruin the game by not passing them on, this person will leak the tapes in a much more aggressive and publicized way. Clay knows that since he’s gotten the tapes, he must have done something to dig Hannah’s hole deeper. The reasons he uncovers isn’t what he was expecting and sends him on an emotional roller coaster that he wasn’t prepared for.

To be honest, the plot had great potential but the execution was very disappointing. It wasn’t terrible but it felt like throughout the entire thing the same thing kept happening; the tapes were sent, received, the reaction was identical to the others and each time it was carried out longer and longer. I was really hoping for something revolutionary and monumental, or that feeling you get when you finish a great book. Sadly, I didn’t get that. However, this book (and the TV series) has changed many people’s lives and has turned them away from doing or thinking harmful to themselves so while it didn’t really leave me with a lasting impression it certainly did with others. – Maggie D.

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The Speaker (Sea of Ink and Gold, #2)

Traci Chee

The sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Reader. Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance.

 

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Girl in the Blue Coat

Monica Hesse

It is the year 1943, and the German army has invaded Amsterdam. Hanneke, an 18-year-old young woman, keeps herself and her family afloat by finding and selling goods on the black market. She does all this under her protective parents’ radars. Day in and day out, Hanneke seeks to find items her clients ask for until one request is much different and stranger than what she has gotten before.

As she is making a routine delivery, regular customer Mrs. Janssen asks for Hanneke’s help. Expecting Mrs. Janssen to inquire about the findings of more meat or other goods, she is shocked when she hears that Mrs. Janssen wants her to find a person! To be exact, her name is Mirjam Roodveldt and she is a 15-year-old Jewish girl. Not only alarmed at the odd request, Hanneke is aghast that Mrs. Janssen was hiding someone in her house. A Jew. The punishment would be immediate deportation with her life on the line.

Although Hanneke has promised herself not to get involved, she can’t help but be pulled into this mystery. How could a frightened girl leave when there seems to be no way she could have left the house? And why? As she dives deeper down into this dangerous puzzle, Hanneke entangles herself in a story no one has yet to uncover.

Reading this historical fiction book was exciting yet educational. Girl in the Blue Coat was entertaining as well as emotional and mysterious. It left readers guessing how, and why, at every turn of the page. This book dove right into the plot with the right level of backstory. I highly enjoyed the plot as well as the characters, storyline, and genre. – Juliana M.

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Invincible

Amy Reed

Evie was diagnosed with cancer. She has been attending many chemotherapy sessions but the tumors just seem to keep spreading and results only show this when it’s too late. Her doctor, Dr. Jacobs later comes with bad news: Evie is going to die. Her parents and sister are shocked and can’t fathom that she will be gone forever in a couple of weeks, and Evie is thankful for each extra day she gets. But suddenly, Evie’s life is tipped upside down. Somehow the chemo starts to fight off the disease, and soon she is cancer free. A miracle.

When she returns to her former life, she doesn’t feel as if she fits in. All her former friends now barely have anything in common with her and it is like she is watching from the sidelines as everyone else gets on with their life. It also doesn’t help that Evie got addicted to the pills prescribed to her in order to deal with the physical pain. Between the “new” Evie, and having to deal with everyone’s sympathy, she slowly becomes distant from her family, best friend, and boyfriend. Nobody seems to be able to understand her.

This changes when she meets Marcus. He makes her feel truly alive, more than she has ever felt before. It is like when they are together, both of them are the only people in the world who exist. Marcus makes Evie feel ‘Invincible’.

This book was a very interesting read dealing with some things that actually happen to people in the outside world. Whether you know someone who has gone through similar events after reading this book or have even gone through them yourself, makes it easy to enjoy and feel the emotional tugs throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and now I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series, Unforgivable. – Juliana M.

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The Empress (The Diabolic, #2)

S. J. Kincaid

The thrilling sequel to S.J. Kincaid’s New York Times bestselling novel, The Diabolic. It is a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they must find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. Creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

Nevertheless, having power is not the same thing as keeping it, and change is not always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. However, she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she has found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. If proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

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Sing (film)

The singing competition has begun, for all animals at Buster Moon’s theater! This competition features different stages where each contestant is to perform a song of their choice, as an attempt to move on to the next round and have a chance of winning the grand prize. Everyone, especially Buster Moon, has high hopes for this show to be successful because this show may be his last.

Due to a lack of audience members, Buster Moon is having trouble paying for things such as bills, and he finds himself having to live in his own theater. Moreover, Buster Moon is on the verge of giving up his childhood dream of running a successful theater where everyone could come and gaze at magnificent acts. Thus, Buster is risking it all to attempt to create a show that is successful enough to be profitable and to create a stable amount of audience members.

I personally enjoyed this film as it includes a variety of different singing styles and songs that are easily recognizable. Also, I enjoyed how the film included animations that looked very appealing to the eye, and consisted of different sceneries. I also really liked how the storyline of the film was done and how it had references towards the show The Voice. I believe that anyone who enjoys The Voice would enjoy this film, as it is very interesting and family friendly. In conclusion, Sing is a film that includes a singing competition that may save Mr. Moon’s business and may allow him to finally have a successful theater like he always wanted. – Jeffrey K.

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