by E. Lockhart

1 Star

We Were Liars is a novel by E. Lockhart. I was in the market for an interesting “mystery” type novel, and I had seen this book praised in social media for the longest time. I finally gave in and decided to read the book. I was not impressed. 

We We’re Liars follows the story of a rich and distinguished family who spends each summer on their private island. The main characters include a group of four teenage friends who call themselves the Liars. The story especially concentrates on one of the teenagers, a girl who develops amnesia following an accident that happens during the summer when she was 15. We follow along as she tries to remember what truly happened during that summer. 

Although I was intrigued at first by the storyline, I did not end up enjoying this book at all. I found the characters hard to relate to, probably because of their rich world. I also found the story to be bland. It took the longest time before getting to any “juicy” parts. The author gives small hints about “the accident” here and there, but nothing of importance and nothing to keep the reader really hooked. I almost gave up reading it several times because of how slow the development was. The only interesting part in this book is the ending… but even with that in mind I wouldn’t recommend it. The time spent on reading the first 190 pages of the book is not worth it, not even with that shocker ending. Lockhart did not meet my expectations with this book, and I was disappointed.

Emma O.

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by Alexa Donne

4.5 Stars

The Ivies rule the school at Claflin Academy. They’re a group of girls who would stop at nothing to ensure their spots in an Ivy League school. The five girls have been sabotaging the other students throughout their four high school years to ensure that they will always stay on top. They each applied to different schools to ensure they’d all make it in. When the leader of the group, Avery, doesn’t make it into Harvard, there is lots of tension among the group. What Avery doesn’t know is Olivia and Emma, who are also in the Ivies, also applied to Harvard. When Emma tells Avery she got in, Avery is furious. The next morning, Emma is found dead. With all eyes on the Ivies, Olivia must find a way to clear her name, while trying to find Emma’s murder. Along the way, she finds shocking information and learns the Ivies are deadlier than she ever imagined.  

There were so many shocking twists and turns throughout this book that I didn’t see coming. Each of the characters were so complex and necessary to move the story along. I really enjoyed this author’s writing style and how she made the story relatable for teenagers, even though it was about murder. Olivia, the narrator, had a really interesting take on the entire situation that helped you look at the story in a different light. The story took place at a boarding school, and the whole dynamic was much different than at a public school. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it!  

Hailey B.

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by Maika & Maritza Moulite

4 Stars

The young adult fiction, One Of The Good Ones, written by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite, was a depressing but yet a remarkable book. It tells the story of an activist teen, Kezi, who unfortunately dies in police custody after attending a protest. As Kezi’s family deals with grief, Kezi’s younger sister, Happi, sets out a plan to go on a road trip in honour of her sister. The road trip that Happi and Kezi’s friends are set on going, is the trip that Kezi has always wanted to go on right after she would have graduated from high school. The story isn’t just in Happi’s perspective, it’s also in Evelyn’s perspective, Happi and Kezi’s grandmother, but not just Evelyn’s perspective, it’s also in Kezi perspective. As you’re reading the book, in the beginning it’s very slow-paced, but as you continue to read more, all you want to do is find out what really happened to Kezi. Which, as your reading more, gets you very anxious, and at some point you just want to put the book down. Happi is very closed off in the beginning of the book, but as the story unravels you get to see truly who the real Happi is.

The way Maika & Maritza Moulite wrote this story truly feels as if you are present in the story. This book is very much a wake-up call to those that don’t believe what’s actually happened to black individuals, to those that don’t know how people treat black individuals. It’s very heartbreaking to know that people some people recently found out what black people go through, not just them, there are so many other races that are being treated horribly, and it’s sad to think that only because of what’s been happening in the past 2 years people have woken up. Overall, this book should definitely be on your list, although I wouldn’t suggest it to a younger audience because of all the heavy topics, I recommend this book to 14 years and older.

Hoda. D

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by Vivek Shraya

5 Stars

I’m absolutely not someone who generally reads non-fiction and enjoys it — and honestly, who can blame me when fiction is so much more entertaining than reality? — but if you do not read (or place a hold on) this amazing non-fiction book you are transphobic, misogynistic and racist. I don’t make the rules *sniffs nose and looks haughtily down on you*. OK, fine. Maybe you’re not those things but seriously: GET. THIS. BOOK.

It’s a 96-page book mainly about misogyny affecting Vivek Shraya, the author, and her struggle with inner (and outer) misogyny as a trans woman who was raised and perceived as a gay man. The story follows Vivek throughout different stages of her life and shares short stories of transphobia, over-sexualization and misogyny she’s faced. I’m not going to lie… this book had me on the verge of tears multiple times, which doesn’t happen often. This was an own-voices book (literally a mini life story of the author) so rating it seems somewhat trivial and disrespectful (I can’t exactly say their life was 1 star respectfully) but if I had to give it a rating it would be 5/5, 10/10, 100/100. The writing was beautiful- lyrical — and interacted wonderfully with the reader by asking probing questions that left you dumbfounded and deep in thought. It was a phenomenal queer-feminist read and gave the perspective of someone who was ‘not raised a woman’ (Vivek experienced the oppressor side and does not share the same experiences AFAB women are more prone to) but has experienced both sides of misogyny. Again, 5/5 stars.

Age rating: Mature people
 Trigger warnings: Transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, over-sexualization, mentions of biphobia/bi-erasure, cheating, mentions of sex, body dysmorphia, self-loathing, mentions of (sexual) assault and more. Check for more if you’re sensitive!

Jazleen H.

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by Karen McManus

4 Stars

One of Us is Next is the sequel to One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. I was doubtful that the sequel would be as good as the first book, as generally speaking sequels are often a little disappointing. I’m happy to report that it is definitely not the case here! This novel is fresh, not predictable and in my opinion even better than the first book! 

One of us is next follows the story of 3 young teens, Maeve, Phoebe and Knox and is still situated at Bayview High. Ever since the whole “Simon Says” situation, there have been many copycats at the high school, but no one has been able to fill the gossip void quite like Simon did. Until now.

Now, there is someone playing an anonymous game of Truth or Dare. If one chooses not to play, a dark truth is revealed about them…

Phoebe is the first target, then Maeve. But when it comes to Knox’s turn, things are becoming more dangerous. The dares are becoming deadlier, and the truths are getting darker. Although Simon is gone, someone is trying to keep his legacy alive. Will there be a new mystery to uncover, or is this a simple game of truth or dare?

With this sequel, McManus chose to dive more into Maeve’s character (the sister of one of the main characters from One of Us is Lying), which I really enjoyed. I appreciated how she kept the characters from the first book as “extras”, as we get to know about them from this sequel’s characters’ perspectives. Although not mandatory, I would recommend reading One of Us is Lying first as this will provide the full background on the original main characters, as well as the vibe at Bayview High. I recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good YA and young teen mystery novel. 

Emma O.

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by Carrie Mac

2.5 Stars

Are you in a reading slump, enjoy reading about sapphic relationships, a romance reader, figuring out your sexuality in terms of liking women as a woman/AFAB (and those who ‘appear to be a woman’), or looking for a quick read?

Well, if yes, I recommend this book: Crush by Carrie Mac. It is a 125-page novella (with big font) and takes place over the span of a week, I believe. Essentially, Hope, the main character, is left with her neglectful older sister while her hippie parents are in Thailand and she struggles with her new feelings for a girl named Nat. The book is extremely easy to follow and I promise you will breeze right through. I can’t recommend this book as a sapphic book alone because of how non-impactful it was but if you are in a reading slump and sapphic, or sapphic-questioning, I would definitely recommend it. I rated this book 2.5/5 stars but it was 5/5 for what I needed at the moment (a short, dumb, sapphic read).

Honestly, this rating will vary for each person who reads this and what they’re feeling so the only thing I can say is that you should read this book with low, very low, expectations in terms of plot, world-building, characters and basically everything else.

Representation: Bisexual/Pansexual/Sapphic main character, lesbian love interest, lesbian side representation, hippies.
 Age rating: 13+ (mentions of sex with older men and some more stuff for more mature audiences)

Jazleen H.

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by Leigh Bardugo

3 Stars

The young adult/fantasy/adventure fiction, Shadow And Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo, was a very mystical book. I am not the type of person to usually read any fantasy books, but I was a part of a book club and this was the book we were reading. This story is about Alina Starkov, all her life she felt as if she never belonged, she felt as if she wasn’t good enough, but thanks to her best friend Mal, the guy who she’s secretly in love with but won’t admit it.

But where she lives, the fold, gets attacked and Mal is awfully injured, she reveals a power that saves his life. Alina never knew she had a power like that, or maybe she did, but she kept it a secret and slowly forgot about it because she wanted to stay with Mal. Once her power is released, Darkling realizes she had a power that could save her town, take her to the royal court to be trained as a Grisha. As love sparks between the two, Alina doesn’t know the actual plan the Darkling has for her. Some parts of the book, as I was reading, was truly boring, but other parts of the book makes you feel as if you were right there or even more you’re Alina. Which by the ending of the book, you wouldn’t want to be in the position Alina was in. Either way, I would still recommend this book to people over the age of 12 and up. Overall, I rate this book a 3/5 stars!  

Hoda D.

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by Sophie Kinsella

4.5 Stars

Sophie Kinsella is a must-read author in my opinion. I’ve read several of her books; they are witty, funny, heartwarming and never disappoint. Can you keep a secret? definitely takes the cake as my favourite Kinsella novel. It had me giggling right from the very first page, and the more I got invested in the storyline, the more I found myself smiling and rapidly turning the pages! 

Can you keep a secret? follows the story of a young woman named Emma Corrigan, a girl with a big heart and a few little secrets… She has secrets from her boyfriend, her mother and secrets that she wouldn’t share with anyone. Or so she thought. Emma ends up spilling all her secrets to a handsome stranger on a plane. Knowing her luck, Emma should’ve kept it all to herself. After the flight, she realizes everything she told the handsome stranger and starts to have some regrets… however, she isn’t too worried… they will never see one another again, right? Wrong! Come Monday morning, Emma’s office is buzzing about the arrival of the company’s CEO Jack Harper… who also turns out to be the handsome stranger from the plane! 

I think that any YA reader will enjoy this novel. It is a charming and funny story! The characters are thought through and very relatable. It is a nice light read that keeps you hooked and interested until the last page. I definitely recommend this Kinsella book, whether or not you have read one of her novels before!

Emma O.

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by Urasawa Naoki

5 Stars

This crime, psychological, mystery manga is a very deep and twisted story that allows you to ask yourself philosophical questions you wouldn’t ever before. The Japanese manga Monster, made by Urasawa Naoki, was made for the sole purpose to make you question life and death and the value of a human being, as during the creation of this manga Urasawa was questioning this as well. 

The manga is about a young and brilliant doctor named Tenma who makes a moral decision as a doctor that affects the rest of his life. As said before, through the perspective of Dr. Tenma we see how he tackles certain moral obstacles and philosophical questions like; are all humans equal? What makes someone truly evil? And how one simple decision can change a man’s whole outlook on life. 

This manga does an excellent job of building up characters, and as a reader you feel like you are living their lives because of how invested you truly become. Every character is portrayed as so human and relatable that any one of the characters in the manga could be your favorite, it just depends on your preference. 

What I feel like the manga excels in is how the protagonist and antagonist interact with one another and how they are so similar yet so opposites. Each time Tenma and the antagonist (can’t say the name because of spoilers) interact it is always a big turning point in the story. Also, the way both of their moralities are opposites is brilliant, Tenma believes all lives are equal always while the antagonist believes otherwise. I believe a quote from the book describes it best “but, wouldn’t you say at death is when all human lives are equal?”

Ibrahim S.

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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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