by Nichola Sparks

The romance/domestic, The Rescue, written by Nicholas Sparks, was a very addictive and fascinating novel. It tells the story of a young single mother, Denise Holton, who has a four-year-old son, Kyle. As a young mother, she faces lots of challenges, especially in the town she lives in, she has no family and no close friends nearby. Although having several shifts as a waitress, she gets enough money for the both of them to survive. Having no one nearby, Denise feels very lonely sometimes, although she does have her son, but there’s one problem. Kyle can’t talk, he can, but only a few words. She spends most of her time teaching him how to speak, and sometimes it’s very hard for the both of them. Denise stresses a lot, especially when it comes to Kyle. On a short trip, thunderstorms happen to come, as Denise is driving, which happens to frighten Kyle. But Denise tries her best to get to their destination, but she was a little too late. Their car goes down and Denise loses her consciousness, once she’s awake she’s faced with a volunteered fireman, Taylor McAden. Kyle is missing, he is nowhere to be found, as a mother you would be very stressed, but Taylor tries his best to calm her down and calls 911 to get her to the hospital. Taylor calls the whole team for a rescue to find her son, they try their best, and the whole town even comes down to help find Kyle. Eventually, they find Kyle and slowly but surely throughout the story Taylor and Denise become really good friends and slowly more than friends. But something stops Taylor from their relationship, and Denise is struggling to find out what happened or what she did wrong. A lot happens in this novel, but as I mentioned before, this story is very addicting, and you honestly won’t be able to put it down. Overall, I rate this book a 5/5 stars!  

Hoda D.

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by Becky Chambers

I’m not a fan of science-fiction — I’m not, truly! — but this book… this… it… I have no words.

Do you like to read books with complex word building, amazing writing, adult books, the found family trope, sapphic romance, frickin’ awesome creatures and species, inter-species relationships, that’s a little plot/character driven, and is science fiction and/or space opera?

If yes, to any, read (yes, that’s an order) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

One line summary: Rosemary Harper joins the Wayfarer ship crew just in time for them to go on a big mission of creating a pathway to a neighboring planet.

Review: The world building in this book is insane — absolutely OUT OF THIS WORLD (pun intended). I have never — EVER — read a book with such an interesting world. The world may seem complicated at first — trust me, I get it — but once it clicks, it clicks so, so hard. The book was written in third-person (which I love, always) and it followed the majority of the crew members aboard the ship: Rosemary, Sissix, Kizzy, Jenks, Ashby and Corbin. I was thrust into each of their lives and I can’t say I’m upset about it. The plot, again, was limited and relatively simple so if you’re a huge plot person, you may not like this book — but then again, I thought I was a plot person and yet here I am. The chapters were on the longer side, which I tend to dislike but it was still so wonderfully written and evenly paced. I cannot recommend this book enough. READ IT!
 Final rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Jazleen

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by Genevieve Graham

4 Stars

The historical fiction, The Forgotten Home Child, written by Genevieve Graham, was a shocking but an astonishing novel. This story is based on Canadian history, a history us Canadians shouldn’t be proud of. The main character Winny, also known as Winnifred Ellis, at the age of 15 Winny is absolutely done with her mother and her abusive stepfather. She takes matters into her hands and decides to run away, and she falls in a group with other homeless children. Mary, Jack, Cecil and Edward, all 5 together, find ways to live and at the same time also have fun in Liverpool, England. When the group got caught stealing, the group splits apart, Mary and Winny are sent to Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, an orphanage for girls.

The girls soon learn that girls and boys get to go to Canada, where better families are waiting for them. But what they don’t know is that apart of those boys they get to go to, they will see Jack, Cecil and Edward, but unfortunately it’s not a reunion, they eventually all get split apart. Except for the boys, they are accepted to work for a guy. The way Genevieve Graham wrote this novel it’s as if all the emotion that’s happening in the book, you also feel too. Which is absolutely crazy to me how she could make readers feel like that. Either way, what happened to them and other home children are absolutely terrible. Although some home children got to go into better homes that treated them like an actual human being, while others went into homes that got treated absolutely horribly. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 12 because of the mature topics that unfold within this novel. Nevertheless, I rate this book a 4/5!  

Hoda D.

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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 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 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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by Adrienne Kress

Based in the setting of 1946, New York City, seventeen-year-old Buddy is trying to escape the Lower East Side slums. Working as a delivery boy to help support his family, Buddy realizes that he wants to be an artist. A dream that seems to be impossible. That changes when his delivery boy job leads him to a Mister Joey Drew, who is the owner of an animation studio. Buddy starts working his new job in the studio and meets Dot, a writing intern for the animation studio. Buddy starts believing in what Joey Drew says about dreams coming true. But Buddy discovers that Mister Joey Drew’s animation studio is not as simple or perfect as it seems. Buddy and Dot team up to discover the secrets of the animation studio and find something they probably never expected to find lurking in the studio.

This novel was based in the universe of the video game Bendy and the Ink Machine. As I did play the video game and enjoyed it as well, I was drawn to read this novel. Dreams Come to Life does a wonderful job translating the universe of Bendy and the Ink Machine into it. If you have played Bendy and the Ink Machine, some characters that do appear in that game, such as Mister Joey Drew himself, are very similar to who they were in the video game personality-wise. Even if you have no experience or prior knowledge of the original video game, this is still a great novel! It has a great plot, good pacing, interesting settings, and a wonderful cast of characters. I would however add on to Buddy’s grandfather’s backstory a little more. It seemed very brief. Despite this little flaw, I would highly recommend you check out this novel!

Emily W.

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