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TeenTober 2019 – With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo is a heartfelt book about Emoni, a girl who’s gone through a lot and still holds her head held up high.

Emoni Santiago is that girl everyone warns you about not becoming; the girl that become pregnant when she was a freshman and now has a daughter. But, like her best friend and Abuela (grandmother) know, if you get to know her past her rough exterior, you will get to know a loving girl passionate about cooking the most delicious dishes she can.

When Emoni, who’s struggling through her last year of high school sees culinary classes being offered as an elective, she knows that it’s where she belongs. But from the trip to Spain she can’t afford, the strict teacher that makes her want to drop her only passion, and her very own Babygirl, Emoni doesn’t know how she’ll be able to face the challenges.

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TeenTober 2019- Overturned by L.R. Giles

Overturned

Riveting, suspenseful, brilliant. From the moment I opened Overturned by L.R. Giles, I could tell this story wasn’t one I would be forgetting soon. Strong, beautiful writing combined with a captivating plot makes Overturned the gem that it is.

It isn’t easy being the daughter of a convicted killer, but Nikki Tate’s poker face never cracks. By operating illegal poker games in the basement of her family’s casino, Nikki knows she’ll be able to save enough money to get herself out of Vegas and into a good college with her friends. After all, what more could life possibly throw at her?

But then her father (who’s always claimed to be innocent) gets released from jail just before his death sentence. He comes back into the family and Nikki’s world flips upside down once again. With her father’s sudden overturned conviction and the cute new boy at school, is Nikki’s life on the turn for the better? Or will the secrets that almost cost her father his life end up taking hers instead?

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TeenTober 2019 – Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman

Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman

From author Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket) comes the story of Min Green and Ed Slaterton. Predictably, these two have broken up.

I found Why We Broke Up to be an enjoyable, if not particularly thought-provoking read. It relied heavily on archetypes (eg. “that one artsy girl”, “the playboy jock”, “loyal friend-zoned best friend”, etc.), which was a little disappointing, but effort was made to make sure that each character had their own quirks and motivations. It’s a book with lots of “we’re young and stupid and completely in love” vibes, if you like that sort of thing. (I do.)

One thing that I found the story did really well was the lack of “perfect” characters– the main character, Min, has a ton of shortcomings, along with the other characters, and they’re all addressed and handled fairly well. This is one of the areas in which Why We Broke Up really shines– the characters are pretentious, yes, but they feel real. Relatable, even. I mean, who isn’t a little pretentious over here? We’re a bunch of teenagers on a blog about reading books. C’mon. Personally, I enjoyed it most of the time.

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Teen Book Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Hey all! How is school life? Hope you’re not being overload

Anyways, I’ve been reading up a storm lately and one of my favourites so far is Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Caraval is the story of two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella, who have been trapped on their island with their abusive father for their whole lives. Growing up, Scarlett had always dreamt of attending Caraval, an incredible performance given once a year in which the audience participates in the games; however, given that their last attempt at escape had resulted in their father murdering the nice boy who’d been stupid enough to help them, Scarlett had long since dismissed that dream as an impossible wish. Yet, dreams have a knack for coming true, especially if you wish for them enough.

Thoughts: Caraval has been on my To-Be-Read List for so long that it was a such a relief to finally get around to it! It was the perfect blend of mystery and magic, romance and danger. I was hooked through and through. The plot twists were very, very good and the story was told in a way that made me just as confused as the characters (this may sound like a bad thing but it’s actually very good in this case, just let me explain). The audience members that participate in Caraval are thrust into a mystery they need to solve, with performers and a set that makes everything seem super realistic. Therefore, saying I was as confused as the characters means the story was so well written it was hard for me to differentiate between acting and reality. To describe Caraval in one word: Spellbinding; which is which my rating is a 9/10.

Teen SRC 2019 – Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin

Hilarious, real, compelling. Noggin by John Corey Whaley is a fresh new take on the cliché woke-up-in-the-hospital-with-amnesia trope spun into a breathtaking new tale.  

Travis Coates was dying at sixteen when he decided to cyrogenically freeze his head in the hope that some time in the future, doctors and scientists could bring him back to life. Five years later, Travis wakes up in the hospital with his head attached to someone else’s body. And having some athletic guy’s biceps is the least of his problems; the best friend that came out as gay to him before he died now has a girlfriend, Travis’s own girlfriend is engaged and Travis is almost certain his dad is cheating on his mom.

As I’ve mentioned before, this plot line closely resembles the common amnesia plot line with a whole new side to it as Travis had to get used to having an entire body that didn’t belong to him. There were many parts of this book that I loved: Travis’s relationship with his mom is the sweetest parent-child relationship I’ve read in a YA novel, Travis and Kyle’s friendship, (small spoiler here) Travis finally meeting the family of his body’s donor (spoiler over). There was one major aspect of the story, though, that got on my nerves. Travis’s girlfriend is engaged, and many, many times Travis makes advances on her despite her having clearly said she doesn’t want him.

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Teen SRC 2019 – They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End

When I first picked up They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera, I thought it would be one of those depressing books where the general suckiness of the world is discussed at length before everyone dies. (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea) I was pleasantly surprised when this book ended up being anything but.

Death-Cast is a company that calls you on the last day of your life to inform you about your impending doom, to make sure you live the last hours of your life to the fullest.

Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio get the call on the same day. Mateo’s dad is in hospital, in a coma, and he doesn’t want to tell his best (and only) friend, Lidia, that he is going to die because he’s scared of how she is going to react. Mateo knows that he needs to go outside, he needs to live his last day to the fullest, but maybe he’s destined to stay inside his apartment forever, just like he’s been doing his entire life.

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Teen SRC 2019 – A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

A Taste for Monsters - Kirby, Matthew J.

A heartfelt thriller. Two words I never would’ve put together, but they describes A Taste for Monsters by Mathew J. Kirby accurately.

Evelyn is a young girl in 1888 London, trying to find a job in order to stay off the streets. But because of a disfigurement caused by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, no one wants to hire her. In desperation, she goes to the hospital. If they can’t fix her face, then maybe they can give her job. At the hospital, the matron tells her that she would scare the patients away, but that she might have another job that would fit her needs. Evelyn is to be the maid of a permanent resident at the London Hospital: the Elephant Man. Evelyn has heard stories about him, and is terrified, but knowing that this job is the only thing that would keep her off the streets, she agrees.

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Teen SRC 2019- Under The Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Powerful, brilliant and captivating. Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples tells the story of two powerful Muslim heroines, one named Star and one named Helper (or one who helps), and it’s a story full of courage, hope, and strength.

In the rural mountains of Afghanistan, Najmah lives a simple but happy life with her parents and elder brother. But when the Taliban takes her father and brother prisoner to fight against the rebel forces, Najmah and her pregnant mother are left alone to look after the farm. Despite the days her mother wouldn’t get out of bed, and her Uncle who is trying to steal their land, Najmah is convinced that they can survive on the farm themselves until her father and brother come back, and is determined to keep going. When Najmah’s brother gives birth to a beautiful baby boy they name Habib, Najmah and her mother are elated. Her newfound happiness is shattered, though, when one day, while Najmah is herding the cattle into the far hills to the fresh grass, there is an air raid strike on her house. Najmah runs back just in time to see her mother point towards the airplanes in the sky before the bombs drop, killing the only family Najmah had left.

Nusrat, née Elaine, was born an American but never felt at home until she converted to Islam and met her husband, Faiz. When they hear of the American bomb attacks on Afghanistan, Nusrat’s natural instinct to help kicks in, and the married couple soon find themselves in Peshawar, Pakistan, Nusrat running a school for poor and orphaned children, and Faiz running an emergency clinic in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif. Nusrat loves her new family of in-laws, and teaching the eager children at the Persimmon Tree School, she finally feels like she belongs. But when the letters from Faiz stop coming, and the Taliban threaten to take her students away from her, Nusrat realizes she will have to keep her faith strong if she wants to keep the hope of her husband’s return.

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Teen SRC 2019- The Hidden Memory Of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

The Hidden Memory of Objects

The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato is a book that encompasses loss, grief, friendship, and learning to heal in a beautiful story that will leave readers speechless and wanting for more.

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler died, but no one understands how — or why. When the police tell her that he died from a drug overdose, and potentially a suicide, Megan is crushed. The brother she had known and loved — was it possible that she didn’t know him at all?

Heartbroken, she starts sifting through his old things, hoping to find some answers. But when she stumbles upon an old cigar box, one that was found on Tyler’s body after his death, intense pain fills her head at its touch. Confused, Megan starts touching other belongings of Tyler’s and realizes that when she touches some objects, she has visions of what happened in the past to the owners of the objects. Desperate for answers, she teams up with an charming friend of Tyler’s, and an old friend of her own to find out what happened that fateful day.

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Teen SRC 2019- This Story Is A Lie by Tom Pollock

This Story Is A Lie - Pollock, Tom

This Story Is A Lie by Tom Pollock

Fast-paced, captivating, and complex. This Story Is A Lie by Tom Pollock is a unique and compelling take on your average mystery novel.

Seventeen-year-old math prodigy Peter Blankman has suffered from panic attacks ever since he could remember. He’s always afraid and nervous, but when his mother wins a prestigious award for her work, Peter is determined to be there beside her like a normal kid would be. And that is when, for the first time in Peter’s life, his worst fears are realized. His mother is stabbed and nearly killed, while Bel, his twin sister and the only person who ever understood him disappears, presumably kidnapped by his mother’s attacker.

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