The Fixer

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Tess Kendrick has lived on her grandfather’s farm for as long as she can remember. She spent years hiding her grandfather from the world so no one would know about his mental state. She was successful until her older sister, Ivy, sends him to a mental hospital and brings Tess to live with her in Washington D.C. Tess is anything but happy about this new arrangement, as she hates her sister for abandoning her years ago.

Tess starts at a private school, Hardwicke Academy, only attended by the children of politicians and occasionally the very wealthy. It doesn’t take Tess long to realize that her sister has far from an ordinary job. Ivy is what Washington calls a “fixer”. Weirdly, Tess takes after her sister and while Ivy is solving the problems of people in the White House, Tess is solving the problems of their teenage kids. For Tess, it starts off as smaller problems, such as bullies and grades, but it soon enlarges into a national problem.

Tess is a natural born investigator. When a Supreme Court Justice dies, Ivy is the first person on the case. While Ivy does her best to keep Tess out of it, Tess cannot help herself. Individually, they gather information, but whoever planned the death for the Justice isn’t going down easily. Tess and Ivy soon find themselves in a position where their lives are on the line. Tess just got her sister back, but is she going to lose her again?

The Fixer is a great mystery novel based around American politics. It has an interesting plot with lots of twists, always leaving you wanting to know what is going to happen next. I thought it was refreshing that this book didn’t revolved around a romance with the main character. The book also has a message with Tess and Ivy that even though their relationship is complicated, they still love and want the best for each other. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, as it is one of my new favourites, and would definitely recommend it.

If you want to read more about Tess, you should check out the sequel, The Long Game. – Melanie G.

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Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why has become the new focus for teens and young adults in the last several months, most likely because of the controversial Netflix series. The author wastes no time jumping into the storyline and just by reading the first paragraph it’s obvious that something drastic or emotionally draining has taken place because Clay is explaining how tired he is, and also seems to be zoning out of reality. He’s at the post office mailing a mysterious shoe box that isn’t fully explained until the next chapter.

The next chapter dives into how Clay received the shoe box package and what’s inside; seven double-sided cassette tapes, each one holds another story, another stepping stone into the suicide of Hannah Baker. He also now understands, based on the note that was left inside with the tapes, every person that is on them has contributed to Hannah’s suicide and will receive them in chronological order. At that point, it becomes their responsibility to keep the game going and pass it on to the next person. The first instinct of anyone caught in this situation is to tell an adult to end the cycle however on Tape One, Hannah explains that she’s trusted another copy of the tapes with an unknown person and if somebody chooses to ruin the game by not passing them on, this person will leak the tapes in a much more aggressive and publicized way. Clay knows that since he’s gotten the tapes, he must have done something to dig Hannah’s hole deeper. The reasons he uncovers isn’t what he was expecting and sends him on an emotional roller coaster that he wasn’t prepared for.

To be honest, the plot had great potential but the execution was very disappointing. It wasn’t terrible but it felt like throughout the entire thing the same thing kept happening; the tapes were sent, received, the reaction was identical to the others and each time it was carried out longer and longer. I was really hoping for something revolutionary and monumental, or that feeling you get when you finish a great book. Sadly, I didn’t get that. However, this book (and the TV series) has changed many people’s lives and has turned them away from doing or thinking harmful to themselves so while it didn’t really leave me with a lasting impression it certainly did with others. – Maggie D.

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Zenn Diagram

Wendy Brant

Typically, being a math genius isn’t a great way to be popular in high school. To make it worse for seventeen year old Eva Walker, her classmates think that she is a neat freak. But they could not have it more wrong. Sadly this misconception is because Eva cannot touch anything or anyone. Eva can feel other people’s emotions like no one else. If she touches someone or their belongings -from cell phones to textbooks to jackets- all the emotions of that person’s past will swirl around in her head leaving her dizzy and tired. These emotions can be fun and happy but more often are sad and scary. So, Eva has adapted to her power and tries her hardest not to touch anything that isn’t hers.

Eva believes that because of her power, she will never have a romantic relationship, until she meets Zenn. Zenn is a cliché, a tall and handsome artist with multiple jobs to keep a roof over his and his mother’s heads. As her and Zenn grow closer romantically, Eva takes her chances and touches him. Shockingly, she is not overwhelmed by his emotions but rather by nothing at all. Eva believes that this is some sort of sign that they were meant to be. Together they connect in a way like no other, by sharing nerdy jokes and puns that most people would roll their eyes at.

But as the two grow closer, they begin to unravel the truth. The truth of how Zenn is somehow related to the fact that Eva’s parents died before she could even remember. Could this horrifying secret pull the two apart?

Zenn Diagram is written in a funny yet nerdy perspective of a girl who has had some large difficulties in her life. You cannot help but laugh at Eva’s sense of humor just as you cannot help but fall for Zenn. You will find yourself instantly connecting with Eva and wishing you had the relationship that she and Zenn have. This book will have you reading for hours in suspense, wondering what will happen next. – Melanie G.

Looking for another review of this book? Check out Angie’s review!

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The Hearts We Sold

Emily Lloyd-Jones

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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Zenn Diagram

Wendy Brant

Eva Walker is a math genius, who sees everyone and everything in her surroundings as explosive bombs filled with emotions. Eva possesses the ability to read all the secrets, insecurities and fears that individuals hold by simply touching someone or something that belongs to them. As this power becomes beneficial towards her math tutoring sessions with struggling students by touching their calculators, she also sees it as a curse where she learns that it is just best to keep her hands to herself to stay away from all the trouble. That is until she meets Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible. With Zenn giving Eva violent and dark visions, Eva cannot suppress her curiosity but to take risks to uncover Zenn’s past.

This book is of nothing more than forbidden love, inexplicable natural powers and dark pasts. It started off with such a casual encounter between the two main characters, but ended with a modern happy ending after facing their biggest hardships. I thought it was such a great book because the conflicts that Eva were encountering were so relatable to me and I love the connection between Eva and Zenn. The tension starts to build when the truth unfolds, as always, and it was so unexpected creating major plot twists. I definitely enjoyed reading this book and would recommend to other youth or young adults out there. However, I would like to give out a warning that there are graphic and inappropriate scenes for those of certain age (14 or under). Aside from all that, the plot is well put and it has a solid ground for the settings, characters and their backstories, and the little bits and pieces that help make the story flow. Overall, Zenn Diagram is great choice to read. – Angie C.

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Pushing Perfect

Michelle Falkoff

Kara is the perfect girl. She wakes up with her perfect face, eats her perfect food, goes to her perfect school and gets prefect grades! Just one problem. She isn’t perfect, and that’s one of her biggest fears, not living up to people’s expectations. Kara always works hard and tries, but when she starts freaking out about her SATs and college prep, she decides to take a step out of the perfect pathway. She discovers an amazing pill which helps her with her panic attacks and makes her feel invincible. She swears to only take it once for her SATs and never again, but when someone catches her buying prescription drugs without a prescription from a fellow high school student, she fears the chances of making Harvard or any other school for that matter are very low. With that one picture, she is controlled by a trickster and becomes one of their minions. She soon discovers that she is not alone and that many have been blackmailed just like her to do things in this evil plot. With the help of her new friends and even some old ones, she tries to unravel the mystery which is bigger than anyone could have expected.

Pushing Perfect is definitely an enjoyable book, boring at times but always able to keep me reaching for the next page. The suspense was amazing, and watching Kara grow out of her comfort zone and go from a brainiac who lost her only friends to a socialite who is always on top of her grades and in control of her life is incredible. Kara has a very relatable personality and I think many teenagers will be able to relate to the pressures that she goes through as a student with high expectations set on her shoulders and not having the reassurance that she is able to live up to them perfectly like everyone thinks.

A lively book with the feelings of pressure into trying new things, sadness and loss of friends that everyone goes through sometimes, regret, love and betrayal form the people you trusted the most. – Fatima S.

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Maria Boyd

This novel focuses on a guy named Will Armstrong and is told from his point of view. He is a jock, and a guitar playing 11th grader that goes to an all boy school named St. Andrews in Australia. He was once a good student, but when a major incident happened six months ago, he began trouble-making and breaking the rules, which got the school staff and his mother worried about him. When his trouble-making goes too far, he is put in the school musical as a punishment. Since Will thinks the school musical is lame, he does not like the punishment and thinks of it as torture. When he joins the musical, he becomes friends with people he never thought he would, crushes on a female lead, and can control his sadness and emotions from that major incident. The novel shows how Will’s character developed over the time he is placed in the musical.

In my opinion, Will is one of the best novels I have ever read. It contains suspense, irony, drama, romance, adventure, and comedy; it has it all. It also got me to think about trouble-makers differently. Maybe the trouble-makers at your school act like that because of an event that happened in their lives, just like Will. What I learned is two things: 1. you don’t have to end your life if something really bad happens to you or your loved one. Just live your life and 2. Don’t judge people by their actions. If you just try to talk to them or befriend them, you realize that there is more to them than it meets the eye. Overall, it is a great book, and I strongly recommended for teens of all genders. Not recommended for people under the age of 12. – Suzan N.

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Confessions of a High School Disaster

Emma Chastain

This story is about a soon-to-be high school student who is nervous about her new life. She is going through new feelings she can’t explain, losing friends, and trying to find herself through new interests. Chloe Snow is a bright and positive freshman trying to find her place in a new environment, and she quickly learns that life isn’t as easy as it was in her safe elementary school, when her mother lived at home and everyone was a happy family. Now, she goes through missing her mom (who is an author exploring Mexico) while trying to balance hormones, friends, theater and home life — all while she is young and naive.

In my opinion this book wasn’t the greatest. I enjoyed a lot of it and though it was fresh and light, it didn’t wow me. It was an easy read that was refreshing, yet hard to get through because of the lack of detail. The writing wasn’t the most interesting to read for a lot of the book. The plot was okay, but it felt overdone because the author didn’t catch the real emotions of Chloe or any other characters. I think the author should have tried a little harder to find a meaning for the book and illustrated more driven and realistic characters. I wish the author looked beyond the dramatic side of Chloe’s life and looked at her pain she was going through during the entire book. Emma Chastain didn’t address her feelings of loss for her friends and her missing her mother. Otherwise this book was refreshing and funny and I would recommend it as a book that anyone could read for fun.  – Fatima S.

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Noteworthy - Riley RedgateNoteworthy

Riley Redgate


A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

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