directed by John Lee Hancock

5 Stars

Michael Oher is a seventeen-year-old homeless African-American teenager who has been in foster care with different families due to his mother’s drug addiction. Every new home he is placed in, he decides to run away. With the help of his father’s friend, Michael is enrolled in Wingate Christian School. Coach Burt Cotton is impressed by Michael’s size and athleticism and gets him admitted. Michael becomes friends with a younger student named Sean Jr. (S.J.). S.J.’s mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy is an interior designer and the wife of Sean Tuohy, a wealthy businessman. Leigh Anne sees Michael walking alone on the road at night, shivering in the cold. When she learns he does not have a place to stay she offers him to sleep on the couch in her home. Michael slowly becomes a member of the Tuohy family, and when Leigh Anne discovers more about Michael’s past she wishes to adopt him. Michael begins playing football and improves drastically as time goes on. With the support of his new family, who helps him overcome difficulties, Michael’s life changes for the better.  

I enjoyed watching this movie and believe that it was excellently done. This heartwarming film teaches us that small acts of kindness can change people’s lives forever. In addition, the film emphasizes that we should not judge someone based on their appearance or where they came from. The acting from each character is spot on and truly moves you. Sandra Bullock’s acting was outstanding and so strong. Overall, The Blind Side is inspiring, beautifully created, and can move you to tears. This is a movie that I will continue to watch over and over and love every time. This is a great family-friendly movie with a wonderful message.

Emily K.

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by Lynn Painter

4.5 Stars

Better Than the Movies follows Liz Buxbaum and her next-door neighbour (and enemy) Wes Bennet. When Liz’s childhood crush, Michael, moves back into town, she decides that she will do anything to get him to like her. Even teaming up with Wes to get Michael to notice her. Ever since she was a little girl, Liz has been obsessed with romantic comedies. She dreams of creating a romance with Michael, worthy of a movie. As she tries to win over Michael, she begins to actually like Wes. Liz learns that maybe the boy next door isn’t as awful as she always thought. While she hangs out with both Michael and Wes, Liz must decide if she wants the picture-perfect romance she’s always dreamed of or if she’s willing to sacrifice it for something new. As Liz deals with the drama of high school, she starts to realize, maybe life isn’t always like the movies.  

The biggest reason I loved this book was all the movie references. There were so many iconic rom-coms mentioned that made the book feel much more relatable. All the characters were so enjoyable to read about. I felt that they all played a key part in the story and helped the plot move along. Something really interesting that this book had was a playlist. The author created a playlist of songs that were mentioned throughout the book and added it onto streaming platforms. This helped me further relate to the characters, and I genuinely felt like I was in the story with them. This is one of my new favourite romance books, and I definitely recommend it.

Hailey B.

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by Rebecca Serle

5 Stars

The Romance/Domestic/Time Travel Fiction, In Five Years, written by Rebecca Serle, was one of my favourite books to read. It tells the story of Dannie Kohan, a 32-year-old woman who has always planned things out; she is also one heck of a lawyer. She absolutely loves her job, and she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Along the way of her journey, she meets a guy, David, who in the end is her lover, her fiancé and soon-to-be husband. But how long does it really take for them to get married? How long does it take for David to truly take in the truth of their marriage? How long does it take for Dannie to find the reality of her love for David?

Before any of this happens, Dannie has a dream, a dream that you could say that haunts her. Her dream is something you possibly wouldn’t even imagine, the night that David proposes to Dannie, and she says yes, she has a dream of her in bed with a different guy. A guy she probably would’ve never thought of even dating, obviously a lot happens in her dream, but once she’s awake she is absolutely frightened and doesn’t tell anyone. I mean, who would’ve believed her. But what happens when the guy she dreamt is the person her best friend, Bella, is dating and is insanely in love with him. At first, it’s very nerve-wracking and scary to her, but eventually, she tries her best to stop thinking about that dream. Throughout the story, a lot happens to Dannie, especially when something tragic happens to her best friend, Bella. I promise you, the second you start reading this novel, you wouldn’t even be able to put it down. By the end of the book, I was in tears, both happy and sad, and trust me, the second you’re at the end of the book, you’ll understand what I mean. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who is over 14 and up. Nevertheless, I rate this 5/5 stars!  

Hoda D.

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by Ben Philippe

5 Stars

In Ben Philippe’s latest book, Charming as a Verb, it appears as though everything that comes easily to you is actually really difficult. Henri Haltiwanger seemed to have life in the palm of his hand at first look. He is a first-generation American, the son of devoted Haitian immigrants; he is a thriving student at the renowned FATE Academy, where he is well-liked; and he operates a dog-walking service for New Yorkers. The one thing he desires more than anything else is to attend Columbia University. It’s also his father’s ambition for Henri too, so there’s extra pressure and concern about whether he’ll be accepted.

Enter Corinne Troy, a fellow student and neighbour who is not pleased with Halti. She is highly gifted and “intense,” and when she finds that Halti has been operating his dog walking company, she blackmails him into helping her become more likable among the student body. Corinne eventually becomes nice to be around, and she and Halti begin to depend on each other more and more, sharing their personal difficulties and worries. She encourages Halti to see what his aspirations may be rather than what he believes they must be just for his family’s sake, and they both let down their guard to allow one another in. Things go wrong when Halti snaps under pressure. It’s time for him to show that he’s more than simply a charming guy who desperately wants to rediscover himself. This was a wonderful read for me. Charming as a Verb really captured the pressures that teenagers face during high school, particularly the children of immigrants. Definitely a book you don’t want to miss!

Manaal I.

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by C.L Clark

4 Stars

Do you enjoy reading about enslaved people fighting against their masters, rebellion, sapphic relationships, imperfect, perfect love, and beautiful, adult writing?

Well, if so, I sincerely recommend The Unbroken by C.L Clark. The book follows 2 main protagonists: Tourraine (the black slave/guard) and Luca (the princess of the empire — aka the colonizers).
 Quick 1 sentence summary: Tourraine is accused of killing someone she didn’t and Luca seizes the opportunity to save her from the gallows and enlist Tourraine as a messenger/ambassador to communicate with the rebels as an attempt to create peace.

Review: I loved the writing (in all honesty, I love any adult third-person writing, so I may be partially biased), the queerness (again, I am partially biased) and the BIPOC representation (once more, partially biased). Basically, I loved everything. Except *embarrassed sigh* the plot. So, the plot was under no circumstances BAD (not even close) but it also wasn’t WOW to me (although, to be fair, I had extremely high expectations). It was pretty realistic, which I liked but also, I really, really don’t want to read ‘their bowels mixed with their blood’ over, and over again (I’ve read something like that in the book at least 3 times).

Representation: a lesbian main character, a bisexual — or pansexual — main character, LOTS of BIPOC representation (hello? It’s set in North Africa and it’s about slavery), interracial couples and more.
 Trigger warnings: Death, attempted rape (multiple times), mentions of rape, mentions of torture, slavery, gore, and much more — please look up in more depth if you’re sensitive to certain topics!
 Age rating: 16+ (I’m 14 but this is an Adult book so proceed with caution)
 Star rating: 4 / 5 stars (amazing book but could’ve been better)

Jazleen H.

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