by R. J. Palacio

5 Stars

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

Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a homeschooled 10-year-old boy in the 5th grade suffering from a severe form of Treacher Collins syndrome, making his face deformed. His parents, wanting him to experience life outside of homeschooling, enroll Auggie in a private school by the name of Beecher Prep. After meeting the principal on his first day, Auggie is introduced to 3 classmates, Charlotte, Jack Will and Julian, to help him just to his new environment. During his tour of the school, Julian begins picking on Auggie for his facial deformities as Jack Will and Charlotte stand up for him. On his first day of school, Auggie tries his best to blend into the background, but his efforts fail as Julian and his friend group constantly bully him for his appearance.

The bullying caused by Julian, who holds popularity to a high standard, is a constant obstacle Auggie must deal with throughout his first year in school. Though supported by friends such as Charlotte, Jack Will and his older sister Via and staying his best, the constant torment caused by Julain is a lot for 10-year-old Auggie to handle. This book switches perspectives very often, telling the story of the people close to Auggie and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis, including his bully. This wonderfully written novel shows that everyone struggles with something, experiencing challenges on a daily basis, making the reader understand other character’s actions more clearly and why they do what they choose to do. I recommend this novel to anyone 10+. It is an inspirational, extremely well-written novel deserving of a 10/10.

Vlada E.

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by Malala Yousafzai

5 Stars

I Am Malala - Wikipedia

The book I am Malala is a really inspiring and motivational story of what she had to go through and how she overcame her fears. Malala Yousafzai lived in Mingora, Pakistan. Born July 12, 1997, she was born in a Pashtun family, with two parents and two siblings. 

It was not easy to live in an area like Mingora. There were lots of Taliban, gunshots, and much more horrible events. At a young age, Malala had to see and go through a lot of horrendous incidents. 

Malala’s goal was to fight for education and to tell everyone that girls should be treated the way boys were being treated. In the old days, the girl’s responsibility was to look after the home, and the boys had to go and make money for the family. Malala thought this was wrong, so she stood for every girl in Pakistan, and she made things right! 

In my opinion, this was a very well-crafted book. It’s not easy to stand up for a whole community when everyone’s against you. You need to have lots of courage like how Malala did. For many girls in Pakistan and in the world, Malala’s a real role model. If it wasn’t for Malala, things would have still been treated the way they were in the old days. Malala was a true fighter, in her childhood she had to face a lot of critical circumstances where she could have lost her life. But she was strong, and she had the courage to keep going and never giving up! I would definitely recommend this book for ages ten and up.

Ahmed. Q

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by John Green

4 Stars

Paper Towns : Green, John: Amazon.ca: Books

Paper Towns begins with a prologue taking place nine years before the events of the novel. Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman are only nine years old when they discover the body of a man who committed suicide in their neighbourhood park. Fast-forward nine years later, the main characters are seniors at Winter Park High School. Quentin is an outcast, while his childhood crush Margo is a popular girl. Margo reappears into Quentin’s life, showing up at his window one night and recruiting him to help her play mischievous pranks on her boyfriend and friends who betrayed her. The next day, Margo is surprisingly nowhere to be found. With the help of his friends, as well as a series of clues Margo left behind for him, Quentin embarks on a mission to find and reunite with the girl of his dreams. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was quite entertaining to read. However, I did find that the middle of the book was a little long and tedious. Besides that, I loved the way John Green mixed together both romance and comedy. John Green’s writing style is amazing, and this was a great piece. Also, the characters within the book were very relatable, and I felt connected to each of them, especially Quentin. Overall, Paper Towns was a great coming-of-age book and has an amazing storyline that will keep you engaged. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and adventure novel!

Emily K.

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by Angie Thomas

5 Stars

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

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, tells a story about a 16-year-old African-American girl named Starr Carter. Starr lives in a poor, mostly black neighbourhood of Garden Heights but attends a fancy, wealthy, and predominantly white private school in the city, Williamson Prep. One day when Starr is being driven home from a party by her childhood best friend Khalil, they are pulled over by a white police officer. Khalil, who is black, is instructed by the police officer to exit the vehicle. After leaning into the window to check on Starr, Khalil is shot three times by the officer and killed. Starr becomes entangled in the national news story after witnessing the fatal shooting of Khalil. Tension culminates in a riot after a grand jury decides not to indict the police officer for the shooting. Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. Facing pressure, Starr must find her voice to advocate for what is right. 

I loved this novel and thought it was incredibly powerful. The novel truly speaks the truth about how today’s society is. It shows real-world problems that affect everyone every day. The novel was informative, showing how our society can be around people with different skin tones and cultures. This novel helped educate me on the matters of racism and police brutality. By reading this novel, one is able to understand the injustice the black community has had to face and is continuing to face to this day. I strongly urge all teenagers to read this book at some point, as it will leave you speechless, stick with you forever, and is truly eye-opening.

Emily K.

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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 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

Smile: Telgemeier, Raina, Telgemeier, Raina: 8601300314594: Books -  Amazon.ca

The autobiographical graphic novel named Smile follows the author, Raina Telegemeler, as she takes the reader through the events that took place from 6th grade all the way to when she graduated from high school. The graphic novel starts off by introducing then 11-year-old Raina as she goes with her mother to the orthodontist’s office, learning she will need to get braces in order to repair her overbite. Later that night, as she is chasing her friends around having fun, Raina ends up falling face-first on the hard concrete breaking her 2 front teeth. As soon as her mother sees what happened, she immediately takes Raina to the orthodontist’s office to see if they can do anything to save her teeth. After the orthodontist does his best to repair her damaged teeth, they notice that the teeth are lodged too far up compared to all her other ones. Due to this fact, she has to wear braces that would be even more intrusive and painful to her life, trying to pull them back down, even going as far as having to wear headgear at night to help. The story continues following Raina throughout her teenage years, showing her struggles with friends and other obstacles she had to overcome due to her braces. Raina Telgemeier also illustrates how escaping a toxic friend group can change the way you see yourself, and she learns to have more confidence in herself by changing her environment. 

This is an excellent read, in my opinion. I’ve personally loved this book for years, I’d recommend it to younger audiences who enjoy reality, comedy and a satisfying conclusion. I would rate this book a solid 10/10. 

Vlada E.

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by Katherine Applegate

5 Stars

The One and Only Ivan

The book, The One and Only Ivan, is about a Gorilla on his epic journey to his home, the zoo. The novel is written in the first person from the point of view of Ivan, a gorilla. Ivan and his friends all work at Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. In this mall, Ivan and his friends try to catch people’s attention, by running a circus. Ivan and his friends all work for Mack, who’s a stubborn man and only cares about how his business is going, not his animals. On his journey, he meets lots of new friends. That die and survive. Some of the main friends that he meets on his journey are Stella, Bob, Ruby, etc. Stella’s an older elephant, Bob’s a dog, and Ruby’s a baby elephant. 

All of these characters provide great help to Ivan, but Ruby is the one who can change Ivan’s life forever! 

Ivan lives in a domain where there is a Genitor named George, who has a daughter named Julia. 

Julia is a human and one of Ivan’s best friends. One thing in common between the two is that they both love art!  

In my opinion, the book, The One and Only Ivan is a great read! I like the main message of the book, storytelling. One of the ways they used storytelling in this book is when Ivan can’t sleep he goes to Stella to listen to a story from her past. Another reason why I liked this book is that it gives a really strong message to never give up! Ivan goes through a lot, but eventually, he gets to his home, the zoo. I would prefer this book, for all ages. 

“This beautiful, life-affirming story will soar directly from Ivan’s heart into yours.” – Katherine Applegate

Ahmed Q.

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