by Jenny Han

5 Stars

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the third and final installment of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. Lara Jean is finally a senior in high school and is happier than ever in her relationship with Peter. She is also eager that her dad is getting remarried to their neighbour, Ms. Rothschild, and her sister Margot will be coming home in time for the wedding. Despite the immense fun that Lara Jean is having, the difficult decision of where she wants to go to college still weighs on her mind. She worries about how her decision may affect her relationship with Peter. Will Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship last? Will Lara Jean ultimately decide to follow her heart? Find out in Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Overall, this book was very well written, and I loved it very much. It was a great ending to an incredible series. Out of the three books in the series, this one was my favourite. I was engaged the entire time and enjoyed the mature themes within the novel. I loved how Lara Jean and Peter both were not perfect, however, their relationship was very beautiful and real within the series. When you are reading, it feels as if you are Lara Jean, and you are experiencing everything she is. Lara Jean is a character that has become very close to my heart. Jenny Han did an amazing job creating such a heartwarming series. I highly recommend this book and wish that there was a part 4!

Emily K.

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by Adiba Jaigirdar

4.25 Stars

Do you enjoy reading books that feel like warm hugs, with sapphic romance, and diverse characters (Muslim MC, Bengali MC’s, Queer MC’s), includes the fake-dating trope (where two characters pretend to date for whatever reason and end up actually falling in love), and with realistic happily-ever-afters?
 If you answered yes to any — and even if you somehow said no — I recommend: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating.

Summary: The book follows our two main characters (told from dual perspectives) Hani and Ishu. Hani comes out as bisexual to her ‘friends’ and they invalidate her- like the biphobes they are- and tell her that she can’t be bisexual if she’s never dated a woman. Not wanting them to think she’s straight, Hani blurts out that she is dating a girl- Ishu. The only catch? She isn’t. Ishu is a perfect daughter and student and as such, she needs to win the Head Girl position. When the popular and beloved Hani proposes that they fake date to aid each other, Ishu agrees. There’s only one small problem: Ishu doesn’t want to fake date Hani, she wants to date her for real.

Review: You know those books that have you grinning ear-to-ear and swooning like crazy? This book was that. Adiba Jaigirdar is a phenomenal sapphic romance writer (I highly recommend ‘The Henna Wars’ as well) and all her books have diverse characters that are usually queer. The book was fast-paced, sweet, funny, and so, so cute. The ending was sort of rushed (though not in a BAD way) and Hani was kind of annoying (fight for yourself, jeez) but overall I enjoyed this book a lot and I rated it 4.25 / 5 stars.

Jazleen H.

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by Adam Silvera

4 Stars

Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio are two teenage boys who discover they only have one day left to live. On September 5 at midnight both Mateo and Rufus receive a call from Death-Cast, a company that is able to predict the deaths of individuals. The boys learn that they are now Deckers, someone who has only twenty-four hours left to live. Instead of living out one’s final day alone, the app Last Friend helps lonely Deckers find someone to spend their last day with. Through the Last Friend app, Mateo and Rufus meet and spend the day accompanying each other. The boys’ lives change throughout their unforgettable day together and last great adventure.  

Overall, They Both Die at the End was an emotional and inspiring novel. Even though the title directly tells readers what to expect, the heartwarming journey the characters embark on is definitely worth reading. The title caught my interest immediately was the reason I was intrigued to read this book. From the touching storyline, I was thoroughly impressed and could not put the book down. There are multiple side characters within the story, and I enjoyed reading the different perspectives. While reading, you can feel all of the emotions the characters are feeling, from their happiness, love, pain, and anger. The novel shows readers how a stranger can completely change your life as Mateo and Rufus changed each other. I love how this book teaches the readers to be grateful for every moment in life and to live life to the fullest.   

Emily K.

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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 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 Karen M. McManus

4 Stars

One of Us is Lying was my first YA “Whodunit” book, and it did not disappoint. Karen M. McManus writes in a way that hooks you right from the very beginning and keeps you guessing until the end!

One of Us is Lying follows the story of five Bayview High students, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper and Simon. Bronwyn is an intelligent and introverted girl whose goal is to get into Yale. Addy is the popular high school girl who wishes to become the homecoming princess. Nate, also known as the school “bad boy,” is on probation for dealing and doesn’t believe he has a future doing much else. Cooper is a star athlete who has many successes ahead of him. Finally, there is Simon, the outcast and the creator of Simon Says, the high school’s notorious gossip app.

On Monday, these five students find themselves all wound up in detention. At the end, only four exit the classroom. Why you ask? Because Simon is dead, and according to the investigation, it wasn’t an accident. Simon had planned to reveal dirty secrets on the four survivors the next day. Once this is found, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper all become prime suspects… is one or all of them guilty?

This novel is definitely a page-turner. It is impossible to put down once you start reading as you want to figure out what happened to Simon. The story is told from the viewpoint of the 4 “prime suspects,” so you get to really relate to each of the characters in unique ways. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any teenager or YA!

Emily O.

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by Justin A. Reynolds

4.5 Stars

I was first intrigued in Opposite of Always because I saw that Angie Thomas, one of my favourite authors, had commented that she thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can confirm that this book is one of the best love stories I have ever read. Justin A. Reynolds has done a beautiful job with this novel. When reading the back of the novel, you might think that it could come across as a bit “sci-fi,” but I guarantee it isn’t like that at all.

Opposite of Always follows the story of two teenagers, Jack and Kate. When Jack and Kate meet at a party, they are instantly compatible. Jack feels as though he might be falling hard for this girl. Soon enough, Kate is meeting Jack’s best friends, Jilian and Franny, who she wins over just as quickly as she did Jack…

But then Kate dies. Typically this is where the story would end, but no. Kate’s death sends Jack right back to the party where they met. Jack thinks he might be losing his mind because there is Kate standing right next time him, breathing, alive and healthy. Jack doesn’t know what is happening, but if he has the chance to save Kate, he will take it. Will he be able to save Kate, or will their story end just as abruptly as it did the first time?

This novel is funny, heartfelt, beautiful and everything in between. I strongly suggest this book to any YA reader or even a young teen who loves unexpected love stories. Justin A. Reynolds had me hooked right from the first sentence all the way to the last. This book is definitely one of my top three favourite books that I have read. I look forward to reading more books by this amazing author.

Emily O.

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by Sarah Suk

5 Stars

Made in Korea is billed as a rom-com, and it delivers with a hilarious and dynamic he-said/she-said dual narrative centred on two Korean American teenagers. Valerie is an ambitious and resourceful young woman with a keen business sense, whereas Wes is less assertive and socially awkward but still astute in his own right. The plot in K-drama is worthy of the top, with twists and turns as the story unfolds. Valerie and Wes are in this stage where they are supposed to want the other person to fail but can help but respect and even be in love. The enemy is borne with grace and humour by the lover’s trope. What gives me great joy in this book is that the lighter rom-com elements are based on a more serious topic. Both Valerie and Wes desperately long for their parent’s approval and support throughout the story. Valerie is always in competition with her older sister, while Wes’ dad demands that he search for a stable field, even if that means him throwing away his dream of becoming a musician.

These conflicts deepen the motivation of the protagonists in their competitors and create common ground for their flourishing friendship and eventual romance. Furthermore, the romance that blossoms between the characters were beautiful. I enjoyed the tenderness of their attraction to one another contrasted with the vulnerability of their relationship and opening themselves up due to their competitiveness. Overall, this was a great book to read, both in terms of premise and character, and it’s one you won’t want to miss!

Manaal I.

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by Kelly Yang

5 Stars

Parachutes is a book about opposite worlds. Clarie and Dani, two girls who are so alike but couldn’t have been raised more differently, struggling with trying to figure out who they are while battling wealth, power, friendship, and trauma. They are asked how much they are willing to pay for freedom and how far they will really go for the life that they want. This story is told from the POV of Clarie “parachute” from Shanghai and Dani, the host sister in California. Based on the cover, I was expecting a story about high school drama. While this story is about high school students, it actually addresses themes as they traversed the toxic environments the girls are in: classism, sexism, racism, and xenophobia. This was a really powerful and important YA story.

The book focuses on many issues that are really relevant to high school and college-aged students today. There are warnings at the beginning of the book because two of the topics are sexual harassment and sexual assault. I wouldn’t recommend this book for a young teen. But this book is not graphic, and I think that this book tells two important stories. There is some romance in this book. But it is woven in between the more important issues that the author focuses on. I was invested in both girls’ stories. I was fascinated by Dani and her debating team, and I was really interested in Claires and the fact she was sent to the US on her own to study. It was very interesting to read the author’s note and see how her own experiences mirrored some of what was in the story. This was such a moving and emotional story. I really enjoyed it.

Manaal I.

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by Kiera Cass

5 Stars

The Selection follows the story of America Singer, a 16-year old girl who lives in Illéa. The story is set in a dystopian world, and the people of her country are divided into castes that have strict rules about what they can and cannot do. America belongs to the Fifth caste, which is made up of artists who perform in order to earn money. Every year, the Selection ceremony is held where 35 randomly chosen girls compete to marry the Prince and become the Princess. America, among many others, receives an invitation from the palace to run for a position in The Selection. America’s secret boyfriend, Aspen Leger, who is a caste below her, pressures her to enter. For many girls, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. But for America, being Selected is a nightmare. America is determined not to like Maxon, but soon they develop a special bond. Gradually, America starts to question the life she planned for herself as she compares it with a future she never imagined. 

I read this book a while ago, and I absolutely adored it. The writing style of the book is a little juvenile since it is targeted towards young adults. I would recommend this book to anyone who is 12+ and is looking for a cute and light romance. This book has all your classic tropes: the “she’s not like other girls”, the “mean, popular, rich girl who wears lots of makeup”, the “love triangle”. The book does get a little slow at times, but overall it is well-paced. If you are looking for a cute romance and a beautiful series, then this is the book for you.

Harnoor S.

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