by Sabina Khan

5 Stars

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali Audiobook | Sabina Khan | Audible.ca

Sabina Khan, the author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, has written about the struggles of being a part of the LGBTQ2S+ in the Indian community through 17-year-old Rukhsana Ali. Readers get to look through the eyes of Rukhsana, who is lesbian and lives in a strict home with her conservative, Bengali parents who favour her younger brother Aamir over her. (Aamir is still a great little brother and tries his best to make things better.) Their parents believe that women are supposed to be great wives and mothers but also support the idea of getting an education and getting a degree.

Rukhsana’s parents one day meet her friend Ariana who is actually her girlfriend. Her parents love Ariana, but when they find out who Ariana really is to Rukhsana, they are appalled and ban the two girls from seeing each other. What will break most hearts is that the parents do not care about the fact that Rukhsana is lesbian they are afraid of what the Indian community will think of them for having a daughter that is a part of the LGBTQ2S+. To fix Rukhsana, her parents trick her into a trip to Bangladesh and try to force her into an arranged marriage. Readers will be torn apart by the tragedy but come to love Rukhsana and her family. Rukhsana teaches everyone that we have a choice to make, and it will affect our futures. The words of her Nani “We must be the masters of our own destinies. I did not learn that until it was too late. You have to fight to take back control of your life. Sometimes you will hurt the ones you love the most. But in the end, it will always have to be your choice.” ( Khan 336)

I would recommend the book to readers who can take sad stories but look forward to a better ending. This book does talk about sensitive topics such as rape and murder, so this is directed to an older audience (15+). I am not a part of the LGBTQ2S+, but it is heartwarming to see strict, conservative parents accept and want to learn about their child’s community.

Lyelle B.

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by Lincoln Peirce

5 Stars

Big Nate: Hug It Out!: Amazon.ca: Peirce, Lincoln: Books

Better prepare your laughing muscle as you prepare to read this hilarious new book. Big Nate: Hug it Out is one of the newest additions to the Big Nate comic series by Lincoln Peirce that explores more events of his sixth-grade school year and preceding summer vacation. Whether you are someone just diving into the series or someone who has enjoyed the books for a while, you will still enjoy this comedic book the same as always. It was so much fun going through the nostalgia and reliving my time reading those comic books smiling and laughing at all the jokes.

The story takes place in Rackleff, Maine and follows sixth-grade student of P.S. 38, Nate Wright, and his friends, Francis Pope and Teddy Ortiz. They are there to support him with most of the troubles that come their way, but no matter, they will still stay friends at the end of it all. But there are also many other characters that you will meet along the way and will get to see their relationship continue with Nate. It could be through comedy or romance or rivalry or something entirely new. “Never a dull moment with Nate and his crazy gang is around,” said Garima from a review on goodreads.com. It will be so interesting and exciting that you might want to read more books, to see the connections to them or for more funny jokes and great stories.

Whatever your comic reading style is, whether it is one-page shorts or longer storylines, and detailed image or simple readability, you can get it all in this book along with the other ones in the series. Maybe Francis will finally end his factoids, or his baseball team will do well, or maybe Nate will finally find love (again for about the 4th time)? Well, you won’t know until you read the amazing book by Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate: Hug It Out! I enjoyed my time reading it, and I hope you will too.

Elijah J.

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by Emily Schultz

3.5 Stars

Little Threats: Amazon.ca: Schultz, Emily: Books

Emily Schultz pulled off a very gripping, slow-burning, “who did it?” story. It is quite the book to read, and we’ll continue speaking of that as we continue.

Emily Schultz’s Little Threats is a story of good-old teenage rebellion while living a luxurious life until it meets its limits. A sixteen-year-old girl in 1993, Kennedy Wynn, is suspected of murdering her close friend in the woods, named Haley Mae Kimberson. This gets her trapped in prison for fifteen years, and she is released at the age of thirty-one in 2008. This drives the story into a new plot, where things aren’t as simple as they seem, and anyone in this Virginia neighbourhood could be the real culprit.

This story brings a very nostalgic feel, as it gives us a taste of 1993, the grunge era. Classic things like old cassette tapes, with grungy songs from the 90s. One cassette is “Extremities, Dirt, & Various Repressed Emotions for Kennedy”. ED&VREK has song references to classics like Creep by Radiohead or Come As You Are by Nirvana, which was a great way to remind the reader of the plot’s 1993 heritage. 

The detail put into the settings, characters, and actions were very well written and described. If you have a very imaginative mind, these details will make Emily Schultz’s Little Threats seem like a movie. 

“and now the Polaroid was the last of her. Haley, full cheeks, light freckles, white tank top, necklace at her throat, her red hair spilling from a sloppy bun, her eyes slightly closed as she laughed, red-lipsticked mouth.” 

Little Threats is overall a good read if you don’t get bored too quickly. The pacing is a bit sluggish, but the story is well-written with plenty of ups and downs, and turn arounds. It receives a 7.5 out of 10 from me.

Gabriel M.

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By Kei Sanbe 

5 Stars

Erased, Vol. 1: Sanbe, Kei: 9780316553315: Books - Amazon.ca

This mystery, science fiction, suspense manga is full of twists and turns, and each chapter leaves you wanting to read more while also leaving you with a lot of unresolved questions. The original Japanese name of ERASED is called Boku Dake ga Inai Machi which means ‘The town where only I’m missing’. The title refers to a time when children in Hokkaido, Japan, went missing. 

This manga is about a man by the name of Satoru Fujinuma, a 26-year-old Japanese man, aspires to be a great name in the manga industry but has had difficulty breaking through, and is usually depressed during his days. Satoru has an unknown ability called “Revival” which allows him to go back in time to prevent tragedies. He is sent back in time to the year 1988 to help save kids from being abducted. 

The plot is interesting because his choices will have an impact on the future, and he can’t rely solely on his ability to save him from danger. Another fascinating thing about this is that the protagonist is in the body of an 11-year-old boy but has the mind of a 28-year-old man, which aids him in decision-making due to his experience. 

There are several points in the manga where the protagonist has reservations about these decisions and is unable to overcome them, resulting in horrific circumstances. When I was reading the novel, I came across a quote that stuck with me: “The future is always blank. Only your willpower can leave footsteps there.” Satoru discovers that the only person on whom he can fully depend for his decisions is himself. 

Benjamin J.

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by Tyler Bevins

5 Stars

Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game: [A Graphic Novel]: Amazon.ca: Blevins,  Tyler "Ninja", Jordan, Justin, Magaña, Felipe: Books

The graphic novel Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game is written by Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Justin Jordan, and illustrated by Felipe Magaña. It tells the story of Ninja, a very good gamer that plays a battle royale game. Ninja and his friends receive a box in their mail, and when they open the box, they are “teleported” to a battle royale game. Inside the game, they become characters of it, and they have to play and win the game. 

The plot is very well written, in many instances, the reader thinks something is going to happen, but actually, the opposite of that happens. The book is written especially for battle royale players because the plot is set on a battle royale game. The characters have to go through the same experiences of battle royale players, but they are inside the game, and as the book says, “the last player standing wins the game and all of the others die”. 

Felipe Magaña did a great job of illustrating this graphic novel. Magaña made the players look like it is game, and the objects inside the game are very well-drawn. The effects like powers, teleporting, and others are kind of realistic but at the same time are illustrative, so it has very nice comics. 

The book is short in length and can be easily read in some hours. There should be some more details like explain what are some things for and why some things happened because sometimes the reader could get a little confused. 

Overall, it is a really fun read, and the plot makes the reader want to keep reading forever. 

Even though it is intended for teenagers, youth adults, and battle royale gamers, other groups would also like it because it is very engaging, the reader is kind of forced to think of solutions to some problems that happen in this graphic novel.

Thales R.

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by Naoshi Arakawa

5 Stars

Your Lie in April 1: Amazon.ca: Arakawa, Naoshi: Books

Your Lie in April, otherwise known as Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, is a heart-touching, Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa. The series was published in 2011 and continued until 2015.  

The tale begins with Kousei Arima, once an astounding pianist until his cruel instructor, who is also his mother, passes away. This causes him to have a mental breakdown during his recital, with flashbacks of his mother’s abuse and death. He claims that he can no longer “hear the piano” as the overwhelming emotions drown him. Driven by his pain to refrain from playing, he presumes to living in his own monotonous colourless world. Living this bland life, he is astonished when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist. Now the question remains whether she can bring Arima back to music and, more importantly, back to life. 

This manga truly is worth reading as it is not just the practical, beautiful, yet tragic, love story. The graphics perfectly harmonize with the text as it depicts a number of themes such as love, friendship, growth, courage, and fulfillment. The dynamic artistry is well-suited for those who admire visuals and desire for their text to really come alive. “I swing between hope and despair at your slightest gesture, and my heart starts to play a melody. What do they call this feeling- I’m sure this is what they call love.”, (Arakawa, pg. 108) quoted from the protagonist, Kousei Arima. While reading this book, I was mesmerized by the wording the author used and felt as if I were the main character himself. For example, in that last quote, the language the author used to describe the feeling of the protagonist’s first love does its job in enticingly warming the hearts of many readers. Secondly, there are a number of hidden messages that emphasize the true meaning of the entire narrative, from true love and learning to let go to finding self-identity. Ultimately, it encourages people, especially teens reaching adulthood, to find their passion and be able to appreciate it, no matter what lies ahead. “We are all afraid you know.. to get up on stage. Maybe you will mess up. Maybe they will reject you. Even so, you grit your teeth and get up on stage anyway.”, (Arakawa, pg. 170) wise words from the female protagonist, Kaori Miyazono.  

Jaelyn M.

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by Julie Kagawa

5 Stars

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven is part of a spin-off series of books based on the original Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, published relatively close to today on February 9, 2021. The Iron Raven is formatted in a way that even someone new to the series, like me, was able to take in the setting and main characters from the main series quite easily. The story goes through the eyes of Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, who is an infamous prankster and powerful magician, as he battles himself and very large non-metaphorical monsters, together with old allies and new ones they find on the way. 

Personally, The Iron Raven seems like a perfect book with a blend of genres that would attract people who like comedy, fantasy worlds, constant action, and even romance. The way that it balances out all of these things is nothing short of amazing and truly shows why the Iron Fey series is an award-winning series of books. This is also made possible because of the insane depth of the characters that are only possible in a fantasy world where living hundreds of years is normal, and grudges last forever. I can tell that many complex situations in the original Iron Fey series are what gave these characters such a unique yet familiar aura. 

Beyond just giving the original fans a spin-off, this book also helped me get into the Iron Fey series due to the theme of the plot itself. Throughout the story, the book gives backstories for the old characters of the series like Meghan the Iron Queen, Ash, and others which allows newcomers to learn of the characters and for old fans to relive memories through Puck’s perspective. These flashbacks throughout the story carry the storyline and give us a powerful insight into why Puck struggles with himself. Other characters notice Puck’s change for the worse, saying things like “I don’t like this version of you, Robin Goodfellow”, or asking identity piercing questions like “Are you Puck, or Robin Goodfellow?” (Kagawa 196). The Iron Raven also vividly describes the setting of the Nevernever and the different courts and creatures within Puck’s short backstory, and how he became the Summer Court Jester. As the story progresses with a new adventure, it brings together old and new and emotions into the many battles the characters face. 

It can be hard to get into a series this long, but with the world-building and powerful plotline, it is worth it to at least take a look at The Iron Raven, or start your adventure with the original series first book, The Iron King. In conclusion, The Iron Raven is a perfect eye-catching book designed to satisfy old fans, bring in new ones, and hook us on a life-long amount of adventures and fun.  

Lyle

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by Ransom Riggs

5 Stars

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Riggs, Ransom: 9781594746031:  Books - Amazon.ca

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young-adult fiction and fantasy novel written by Ransom Riggs and is a part of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series (literary series). The timeline of the story is a fusion between the past (the early 1940s) and the 2010s era, including various time loops. The story is about Jacob Portman and his adventure to discover the truth about the death of his late grandfather Abraham Portman. 

When Jacob Portman and his best friend Ricky discovered the dead body of his grandfather, Jacob encountered a monster that no one else saw. The police were called in to investigate the situation, but could not accept the testimonies of Jacob Portman because they were too unrealistic. “Even my best and only friend Ricky didn’t believe me, and he’d been there,” was what Jacob Portman said. It seemed that Portman was the only one able to see the beast, and as a result, he was sent to a therapist named Dr. Golan to “fix” him. According to the advice of the therapist, Jacob and his father Franklin Portman travelled to Cairnholm, Wales, to visit an old children’s home that Grandfather Portman used to inhabit in hopes to heal Jacob.  

During the visit, Jacob found the old home and later encountered the old peculiar children that once lived in the facility. Slowly, Jacob uncovers the secrets his grandfather kept from the family. Then, later finds himself in a dangerous situation that can determine the fate of the peculiars! Upon this realization, Jacob Portman also experienced a great betrayal! Jacob and some of the children from the home set out on a mission to protect the house and prevent a terrible tragedy from occurring. 

This book is great for people that enjoy reading fantasy, adventure, and mystery-themed books. It is also for those people that have a reading hobby or enjoy reading books with a series. Ransom Riggs has done a good job in presenting the contrast between the past and the present while combining them at the same time. In addition, the story includes accurate information on past history, providing a clear time setting of the book.   This novel is very intriguing, leaving cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. The conflict within the story keeps readers hooked and desperate for what happens next. The plot development is really good with its intense and scary scenes! The usage of descriptive words helps the readers imagine the vision of the story. Readers can easily get attached to the characters and understand who they are because of the character development. Also, the book includes pictures of each character to provide a better understanding of who they are. Riggs has a very creative mind and has written a fun story for both youth and adults to enjoy! The book finishes with a cliffhanger but fortunately provides a sneak peek into the next work, Hollow City! Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an excellent read!

Iris R.

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by Kristin Cashore 

5 Stars

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling is the first book of the Seven Kingdoms Series written by Kristin Cashore and was published on October 1, 2008. This story follows a young woman named Katsa and her adventures with Po, a young Lienid man, as they attempt to figure out the mysteries and reasons behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather. In this world, there are abilities called “Grace”, which allowed one to have an excellent talent for a certain task. For Katsa, it is the Grace to kill. Throughout her entire life, she was trained to kill or torture those who King Randa, the king of Middlun and Katsa’s uncle, wanted, which were mostly morally evil. Though Katsa had an idea to do what is morally better than to be her uncle’s “pet”. After her escape under King Randa’s grasp, she finally had the chance to do what she thought best, as she helps her Lienid companion solve the mystery. 

The writing of the characters in this book is amazing, as each character and their behaviour are expressed in a clear way. For example, Giddon, an underlord of King Randa who had worked with Katsa countless times. Though as the chapters progress, his negative personality shows. His jealousy getting the best of him, his snarky replies towards others, and special treatment towards Katsa- until a certain point of the story. Another example would be Po, who was introduced as a mysterious person, one with a confident and cautious atmosphere. Though as the story progresses, he is seen as a caring person and a well-suited companion to Katsa, as they go wander through the lands of this world.

As for the setting, the world seems to be one of a fantasy and medieval sort. With the descriptions of the lands, cities, transportation, and powers. Just like the characters, the setting is clear, as the language gives off the impression that the era is medieval or somewhat something similar to it. With plenty of descriptive writing, it brings the atmosphere of the story to life. For example, somewhere a third beyond the book, Katsa looks out from an inn as she sees the rainy weather. Another example of well-written descriptive writing can be found on page 95, chapter 13, “Katsa watched the grass moving around them. The wind pushed it, attacked it, struck it in one place and then another. It rose and fell and rose again. It flowed, like water.” Clearly, this book is fantastic when it comes to the plot, characters, and setting, as it brings the reader into the world of Graceling

Nyjel C.

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by Raina Telgemeier

5 Stars

Drama: Telgemeier, Raina: 9780545326995: Books - Amazon.ca

Callie Marin is a middle school student with a love for all things related to theatre. As soon as she is made aware of the fact that her school is putting on a production of a play named “Moon Over Mississippi”, Callie immediately signs up to be in charge of set design, with a passion to create a Broadway-worthy set with a middle-school budget. Faced with challenges along the way, Callie does the best she can in order to overcome all the drama at school and in her personal relationships. The story focuses on her as she learns the importance of teamwork, friendship and being inclusive, as well as how that can be beneficial both off and on stage. It also introduces and teaches children about LGBTQ+ topics, normalizing the idea of being different.  

Drama is a beautifully written graphic novel with fantastic characters that many kids can relate to, those feeling like outcasts because of their sexualities are taught that they are not alone. It is one of my favourite books I’ve read in a while. It’s very refreshing to see openly gay characters portrayed as normal people, not having their whole personality being based on the fact that they have a different sexual preference than those around them. I would rate Drama a definite 10/10 based on its quality, story-telling, and representation. I’d recommend this graphic novel to those who are 13 or older since some scenes are more for mature audiences, but it is amazingly written, and the style is beautiful therefore I’m positive anyone can enjoy it.

Vlada E.

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