by R. J. Palacio

5 Stars

Wonder: Palacio RJ: 0780537302395: Books - Amazon.ca

The book Wonder explains an incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. His nickname is Auggie. Auggies mother’s name is Isabel Pullman, his father’s name is Nate Pullman, and he has an older sister named Via Pullman. Before beginning school, he used to be home-schooled.

In school, Auggie’s best friends are Jack Will and a girl named Summer.

Auggie is a boy with some facial differences who is beginning fifth grade. On the first day, kids around him were judging him by his look and were staring at him too. Everyone thought that he was dumb and not smart. He was also getting bullied by a kid named Julian.

All Auggie wants is to be normal and fit in with the other kids. But everyone is always trying to avoid him. At the end of the book, it turned out to be that Auggie was one of the smartest kids in his class, and at the end of the year he won the Henry Ward Beecher award.

In my opinion, this is a great book. It really teaches an inspiring lesson. It teaches us that it does not matter if we have some disabilities. We are all the same and should be treated equally, and everyone is smart you just have to put in some effort. Out of 10, I would give this a 9 because this book inspires me to work harder each day like Auggie, even though my back is against the wall. I would recommend this for ages 10 to 15.

Ahmed Q.

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by Emma Lord

4 Stars

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Abby Day comes from a pretty normal family where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. When Abby decides to sign up for a DNA service with her two best friends, she doesn’t expect to find out anything particularly interesting. She is shocked when she discovers she has a sister living less than twenty minutes away from her. Her sister is Savannah Tully. An Instagram star with perfect hair and a seemingly perfect life. Savannah reaches out to Abby, and they decide to meet up at summer camp to get to know each other without telling their parents. When Abby discovers her best friend turned crush, Leo, is working at the camp, things get way more complicated.

She struggles to balance her growing feelings for Leo, bonding with Savannah and all the other trouble she gets into around camp. As Savannah and Abby uncover secrets about Savannah’s adoption, they start to become closer and work to find the truth about what happened all those years ago. They learn lessons of family, friendship and honesty as they try to navigate a summer that they’ll never forget. I was so excited to read this, and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the dynamic between Abby and Savannah as they got to know each other. All the characters were so different, creating someone for each reader to relate to. I didn’t expect there to be as many twists and turns as there were, but surprisingly, I enjoyed all the suspense. Many different storylines were going on that all connected, creating a very enjoyable and satisfying ending.

Hailey B.

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by Holly Jackson

5 Stars

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder : Jackson, Holly: Amazon.ca: Books

If you ask anyone in the town of Fairview who killed Andie Bell five years ago, they’d all tell you the same answer: Sal Singh. Everyone believes it, and no one ever asks any questions; no one, except Pippa Fitz-Amobi. She knew Sal and can’t believe he would ever murder anyone. Especially his own girlfriend. For her senior project, Pippa decides to look into the case and solve it once and for all. With the help of Sal’s brother, Ravi, she follows each and every lead to find the truth about Andie’s murder and Sal’s suicide. Instead of finding answers, Pippa keeps turning up with more questions. As she starts getting closer to the truth, someone keeps trying to cover up their tracks. Pippa starts to get threats, but her interest in the case only grows. It starts to take over her life. She starts questioning everyone and everything around her. A detective can never trust anyone. She decides no matter what, she needs to find out who killed Andie Bell? 

I couldn’t put this book down! Each time I thought I solved the mystery, there was a new twist that completely threw me off course. Each character was so complex and had a key role in the story. Pippa’s perspective was very enjoyable to read, and I felt like I could really relate to her character. This is the best murder mystery story I’ve read, and I recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t usually enjoy mystery books. There are elements of comedy, romance and thrill to keep everyone intrigued. The story was so fast-paced, and I was never bored. If you’re looking for an entertaining, suspenseful read, this is the book for you.

Hailey B.

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by J.R.R. Tolkien

5 Stars

The Fellowship of the Ring: Tolkien, J. R. R.: 9780007488308: Books -  Amazon.ca

J.R.R Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is the first entry into The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The novel focuses on Frodo Baggins’s adventure through Middle Earth as he attempts to destroy the One Ring, a powerful relic of the past. Frodo and his friends must overcome great difficulties as they travel across Middle Earth to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Throughout the journey, Frodo and his companions are hunted by orcs, goblins, dragons, and trolls as they fight for peace. Frodo and his friends must unite the races of dwarves, elves, and men if they wish to achieve their goal. 

The Fellowship of the Ring is an excellent introduction to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. While reading this novel, I felt immersed in the world of Middle Earth and connected to the characters. Tolkien meticulously describes locations, characters, and events, painting a vivid image of the setting in my mind. Each character was complex and had their own strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and personality. This made the story much more engaging than other fantasy novels I have read. Action sequences are also abundant to keep readers engaged, and they are extremely well-written, so that readers can truly understand the peril the characters face. The novel also ends on an excellent cliffhanger that caused me to immediately begin reading the second book in the trilogy once I had finished The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is truly a masterpiece of a novel and one of the best fantasy novels I have read. I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for an exciting, surprise-filled adventure. I would give this novel 5 out of 5 stars.

Ethan M.

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by Emily Skrutskie

3.3 Stars

The Abyss Surrounds Us: Skrutskie, Emily: 9780738746913: Books - Amazon.ca

“Come back alive and victorious or don’t come back at all.”
Cassandra Leung, Cas, was born into a family of reckoner trainers. Training giant, genetically engineered beasts that protected ships was all that she knew, all that she longed for. Life was simple and straightforward: pirates are bad, so train reckoners to destroy pirate ships- easy peasy, right? Well, it would have been if she weren’t captured by the very pirates she was raised to despise on her very first solo mission. The pirates, led by Captain Santa Elena, revealed that they had managed to acquire their very own reckoner (despite the fact it was near impossible to steal one) and were in need of a reckoner trainer. Cas, being a reckoner trainer-in-training, had no choice but to oblige.

Disclaimers before I begin my review:
Sci-fiction is not one of my favorite genres. I prefer NA and Adult books to YA. I read an incredible – INCREDIBLE book before I started The Abyss Surrounds Us.

Now, with that out of the way, I rated this book a solid 3.3 out of 5 stars.
Stuff I liked: Loved the world building and, obviously, the pirate aspect. The main character was realistic. Easy to follow plot and writing. Queer (sapphic: woman loving woman) and forbidden relationship.
Stuff I disliked: Plot was weak. Slow paced until the very last third of the book.
So, in conclusion this book would be perfect for younger me but older me is a bit too picky for books now. Happy reading! 

Jazleen

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by Shari Lapena

5 Stars

Someone We Know: A Novel: Lapena, Shari: 9780385690829: Books - Amazon.ca

The story of Someone We Know by Shari Lapena takes place in a small, quiet town in New York, where a young teenager named Raleigh Sharpe has been mysteriously breaking into his neighbour’s homes. After her mother, Olivia, finds out about her son doing this sort of unpleasant act, she contacts her lawyer for some advice on how to deal with the situation. However, she also sends anonymous notes for the neighbours that her son had targeted, which read a brief apology of his actions. She feels happy about herself and thought writing apology letters was the right action to do. However, the action of her son’s break-ins has been known throughout the neighbourhood. Why would Raliegh Sharpe want to break into his beloved neighbour’s home, and why so hack their computers as well? Olivia tries to dismiss her son’s action from her mind and mention it as a memory from the past, that is until one of her son’s victims is confirmed to be dead. As the heartbreaking news of the victim named Amanda Pierce starts to spread, Olivia starts worrying about her son’s innocence, knowing her son wouldn’t do any sort of action to harm anyone. Who really killed her? Who knows more about what they’re telling? Will the actions of Olivia’s son travel into a deeper, more frightening story? Find out by reading Shari Lapena’s novel, Someone We Know.  

I found this well-crafted novel to be very enjoyable. The writing and story of the author were so well that they kept me on the edge of my seat with excitement and curiosity. The main suspense started with the first page of the novel, all the way towards the end. The novel overall was a fascinating, fast-paced novel, and would recommend this book for ages 12 and above.

Ahmed Q.

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by Angie Thomas

4.5 Stars

On the Come Up : Thomas, Angie: Amazon.ca: Books

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas follows the story of sixteen-year-old Bri, who wishes to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Coincidentally, Bri is the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who sadly passed away before achieving stardom. To catch the big break her father never could, Bri tries to win her first rap battle. However, it’s hard to get one’s “come up” when you are labelled a hoodlum at school and your mom loses her job. With these frustrations pilling up in her head, Bri focuses her anger into her first song, which ends up going viral for all the wrong reasons…

This is the author’s second novel, and I thought it was absolutely phenomenal. I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who likes to or have ever dreamt about writing songs. Angie Thomas was a rapper before she became a world-famous author, and I think it shows in the tone and writing style she chose for this novel. It’s completely different from anything else I have ever read!

This book is not a sequel to The Hate U Give (THUG), so no pre-requisite reading is required! However, if you have read THUG, you will also appreciate the linkages between the novels as the characters in either book live in the “same world”. In THUG, we get introduced to the King Lords and Garden Disciples rival gangs, but the focus of the story is on the King Lords. In On the come up, we get a totally different perspective, and we fall in love with characters from the Garden Disciples!

Emma O.

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by Angie Thomas

5 Stars

Hate U Give, The : Thomas, Angie: Amazon.ca: Books

The Hate U Give (also referred to as THUG) is Angie Thomas’ first novel. It was also the first book I read from this author, but it wasn’t the last as I since devoured everything else she wrote! 

THUG follows the story of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, a young teenager who lives in “two worlds”. The first being her poor neighbourhood, where she lives with her mother, her father and her two brothers. The other world is the fancy suburban prep school she attends. These two worlds are completely shattered when Starr’s childhood best friend, Khalil, is shot to death right in front of her by a police officer. 

Khalil’s death soon becomes a national headline. Due to the cause of his death, multiple protests take place to avenge Khalil. Because Starr was there when Khalil was killed, she is getting asked questions left, right and center by anyone and everyone. She doesn’t feel as though anyone can truly understand what she is going through. In a situation like this one, what Starr does or doesn’t say could ruin her community as well as endanger her life. 

Angie Thomas is definitely one of my favourite authors. She writes her novels in such beautiful and unique ways. Specifically in THUG, she makes us acutely aware of what life can be for a Black teenager and makes us feel a wide range of emotions from anger and frustration to amusement. I think that any teen or young adult reader will really enjoy this book. You might or might not know this, but THUG was made into a movie. Though the movie is good, I think the book is better. I definitely recommend reading the book before watching the movie.

Emma O.

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by Brittany Cavallaro

5 Stars

A Study in Charlotte : Cavallaro, Brittany: Amazon.ca: Books

Written by Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte is a young adult mystery adventure novel. Jamie Watson had always dreamt of solving mysteries with Charlotte Holmes and following in the footsteps of both of their great-great-great-grandfathers. When he and Charlotte both end up at the same boarding school, she makes it clear she does not have the same dream. Although, when they are both framed for murder, they are forced to work together to prove their innocence and find the real killer. 

This book was super easy to read. I was immediately intrigued by the characters and plot. I also really enjoyed the faster pace, it did not drag on but it also never seemed rushed. I loved the dynamic between Charlotte and Jamie, a know-it-all girl with an awkward, empathetic boy. They complimented each other, made for a perfect pairing and the aspects of a slow burn romance were adorable. Serious topics like mentions of rape, substance abuse, and murder were never romanticized and were handled really well. There was no shortage of references to the original Sherlock Holmes stories; they fit into the novel and were satisfying but not overpowering. Brittany Cavallaro did an excellent job pulling the reader into the book with her writing- filled with plot twists and mystery, it really made you think. This was a perfectly witty and charming re-imagining of Watson and Holmes as a modern-day crime-solving duo. I immediately wanted to pick up the sequel and continue reading about these characters.

Megan S.

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by Angie Thomas

5 Stars

Concrete Rose : Thomas, Angie: Amazon.ca: Books

Concrete Rose is the prequel to Angie Thomas’s first novel, The Hate U Give (THUG). It doesn’t matter if you have read THUG or not prior to picking up Concrete Rose because it stands beautifully on its own.

This book follows the life of Maverick Carter, a seventeen-year-old boy whose father is a former gang legend. To help his mom pay the bills, Maverick starts dealing for the King Lords. Maverick feels as though he has it all figured out, that is until he finds out that he is a father. Suddenly, Maverick needs to learn what it means to be a man. Even after the loss of a loved one. As we follow the main character on his journey to fatherhood, we fall in love with Angie Thomas’s writing. It’s funny yet serious, romantic yet realistic. It’s very relatable and gives a strong sense of what life could be like for a teen parent.

For those who have already read THUG, you will appreciate all the small linkages and references back into that story. For those who haven’t read THUG yet, an interesting cliffhanger awaits at the end of the novel!

I think that any teen or young adult reader will enjoy this book. I read it in three days, even during school hours, as I could barely put it down! This is even a book I’ll enjoy re-reading!

Emily O.

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