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Teen Book Review – Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Teen Book Review – Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Our Violent Ends - Gong, Chloe

**this review contains spoilers for These Violent Delights (book 1) so beware!!

I absolutely loved These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (read my review here) and I was very excited when a friend got me a signed copy of Our Violent Ends (thank you, Sophie!). The sequel to this duology picks up only a few weeks after the ending of the last book, so everyone in the city is still reeling from Marshall Seo’s death at Juliette’s hand. Now, the monster that has supposedly disappeared is sending blackmail notes to the Scarlet Gang and Juliette knows she has to find a way to stop the city (and her family) from ripping itself apart again… all of this while nursing her broken heart and secretly keeping Marshall alive. Meanwhile, Roma is struggling to reconcile the idea of Juliette, his former lover, cold-bloodedly shooting his best friend. Still, every time he tries to exact revenge Roma is unable to kill her, which drives a wedge between him and his cousin, Benedikt. While the White Flowers and Scarlet Gang’s rivalry turns bloodier and bloodier on the streets of Shanghai, the political beasts awaken alongside the real monster. Will Roma and Juliette be able to save their city and each other?

My two gripes with These Violent Delights was 1. the main romance and 2. the ending. HOWEVER, Our Violent Ends gave me everything I wanted and more. It is definitely a 10/10 for me, so I’ll just go ahead and say that now. First of all, the romance. Roma and Juliette had barely any chemistry in the first book, but they knocked this one out of the park. There was significantly more banter, and a lot of tropes that–despite being cliché–I completely fell head-over-heels for. Second of all, I won’t say much about the ending, and I know it might not be for everyone, but I actually loved it a lot.

Then, the PLOT. As intricate as the first book was, the sequel raised my standards even higher. The historical setting was astoundingly well-incorporated into the story, and if you know anything about Chinese history or the Shanghai Massacre, it is a joy to read about. The back-stabbing betrayals, the plot twists, the high-stakes action scenes, the emotional realizations… some of it was a little overdone. After all, how many times can you play the ‘faked my death’ trope? But still, overly dramatic scenes WORK in this genre, and Our Violent Ends was just so much fun to read. I would fully recommend. Again: 10/10!

(P.S. this book review is dedicated to Ms. Chung, who I want to thank for all the encouragement and support 🙂 )

The winner of the Teen SRC 2022 Design Contest is…

We know that you have been waiting for a long time to hear who won the Teen Summer Reading Club Design Contest, so without further ado the winner is…

Congrats Bella S.!!

The theme for the Teen Summer Reading Club 2022 is Time Travel and we think that Bella’s design is a great representation of the theme. But, we had so many really beautiful designs this summer, so we decided to name two designs as runner-ups:

by Alina C.

by Amelia T.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a design. There really were some great designs and we had a tough time choosing the winner. Be sure to enter the design contest again next summer!

Teen Book Review- Blindside by James Patterson

Blindside - Patterson, James

It felt like forever since I’d read a book when I was gifted Blindside by James Patterson on my birthday. (Sept. 20, so write that down 😉 Just kidding… or am I?) Anyway, I decided to procrastinate on my busy schedule by reading this book between my meetings, classes, assignments, etc. and have enough of an opinion on it that I decided to write a review. Feel free to click on the link to read the blurb, I will however be jumping straight into my thoughts!

Blindside is not a YA book, and our protagonist is a middle-aged man, Micheal Bennett, who is also a father of 10 (all or most are adopted, I think). Detective Bennett reminds me A LOT of my fav: Detective Murdoch from the Canadian TV show, Murdoch Mysteries. And it’s not only because their both handsome, Catholic, brave, and family-oriented… okay well, maybe it is. Basically, Detective Bennett is the classic “good guy” and “family man” which is good in real life I suppose, but very boring to read about. Therefore, there was not a lot of character development in HIM. With the “bad guys” however…

Moving on to the mystery! The story starts with one homicide scene and leads to a series of events which ends up with Bennett in Estonia on a missing persons’ case. There was not much of a mystery about the book because we know the “bad guy” from the very start, and so I think the label of “thriller” fits much better with the overall tone of the story. There are amazing action scenes in Blindside, as well as a lot of suspense and plot twists. There is none, however, of the clue-searching, witness-interviewing, and suspect-spying that I like. All of that to say that I did enjoy the plot immensely. It was fast-paced, full of fun commentary and interesting situations. Mainly, it was fast-paced and that’s exactly what I needed to read as a break from history textbooks.

My main gripe with this book is the family sideplot. I like authenticity and every. single. family. scene. in this book felt so CONTRIVED and artificial. I don’t care how beautiful or kind a family is, you can’t expect 10 kids to magically get along and say all the adorable, helpful, and encouraging comments a father needs to hear. Even Mary Catherine (Bennett’s fiancée) felt one-dimensional and fake. I wanted some family drama and sad/funny authentic family dimensionality but instead got the happy family cliché scene on repeat. How was that even APPROVED by editors, is my question.

Other than that, I did really enjoy reading Blindside. It offered a fun and fast-paced read, I learned a lot about the NYPD (and its relationship with the FBI) and I even laughed. 6/10

And the grand prize goes to….

Olivia! Not only did Olivia submit the most reviews with 23, but each and every review was well-written and thought provoking. Congratulations!

The Teen Summer Reading Club is not quite over. We are reviewing all of the wonderful submissions to this year’s 2022 Teen SRC Design challenge. We are narrowing it down to our top 3 choices which we allow you to vote for your favourite starting on Tuesday.

Teen SRC 2021 – The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

The A.B.C. Murders - Christie, Agatha

Agatha Christie, as you’ve probably heard me say many times, is a wonderful mystery writer and I was very eager to pick up The A.B.C. Murders, which is one of her most critically acclaimed novels. It has even been made into a show! (I am still debating whether to watch it because I get scared easily…)

A quick synopsis: Hercule Poirot is retired, but, like a Prima Donna, always comes back for a “final” performance. This time, his “cream of the crop” crime starts with an anonymous letter, taunting the fact that a murder is to happen on a particular date in Andover (a small British town). The letter is signed as “A.B.C.” Hastings, the narrator and Poirot’s trusty Watson-like friend, doesn’t give much thought to the letter until the day arrives and a Mrs. A. Ascher is murdered in her store. Then the next letter arrives for Bexhill-on-the Sea, and Poirot knows he needs to find A.B.C. before the murderer makes his/her way further down the alphabet.

I will keep my review brief at the risk of spoiling things, but this book was plotted marvellously. The A.B.C. Murders had a great amount of suspense, shocking twists, a lot of humour, some grisly descriptions, and even vague shadows of romance. There is a psychological element to the novel as well, which involves the historical time period and the first World War, which I absolutely adored. Also, this isn’t common to most Christie novels, but The A.B.C. Murders even had an underlying moral theme. It wasn’t too in-your-face, but if I picked up on it, then others might too. (I can’t explain anything, though…the struggle of writing spoiler-less reviews!) Also, I should mention that I’m very biased towards Hercule Poirot. I will read anything with him in it because where else am I going to get delightful lines like “I send the vegetable marrows to promenade themselves to the devil”? Also the friendship between Poirot and Hastings is so adorable and their banter makes everything in this book so much better.

The only bad thing about this book is that it ended and that there aren’t a hundred more like it. 10/10, I thoroughly enjoyed!

Congratulations! Teen SRC Winners Week #8

As summer is coming to a close, thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Teen Summer Reading Club! We have really enjoyed reading your thoughts about the books you have read this summer.

The 8th and final weekly prize winners are Angela and Casey. Congratulations to you both.

We still have one final prize to give away and that is the grand prize! This will be awarded to the teen who has written the most book reviews this summer. The winner will be announced on Friday. Stayed tuned.

Teen SRC 2021 – Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

The book Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu is told in the POV of Ethan, a boy who was kidnapped and found four years later, and Caroline, a girl whose autistic younger brother was kidnapped for a few days. The story moves forward as Caroline tries to find out what happened to her brother by talking to Ethan, and Ethan deals with triggering flashbacks and memories.

This book talks about trauma and how to move on for it. I thought the plots were amazing, and some of the quotes were deep and insightful.

The ending though…I wouldn’t really call it an ending. It just abruptly cuts off. I was disappointed because the book was really good.

7/10

Teen SRC 2021 – This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

I would call myself a casual Harry Potter fan. I have memories of the books and movies from when I was younger. So when I saw This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano, a book about Quidditch in real life, I was curious.

Ellen Lopez-Rourke just graduated high school, and she has one summer left until she’s off for college. Her plans are thrown out the window, however, when her step-mom grounds her for the whole summer. Her only out is begging to join the local Quidditch team with her friend, Melissa. Ellen expects a bunch of Harry Potter nerds, but what she finds are committed, loyal team members playing a super athletic game. Quidditch is just the distraction Ellen needs from her drama with family and friends, but she’ll find she can’t outrun them for long.

I enjoyed this story about finding yourself and finding community. This book captures the feelings of a teenager moving on to adulthood, and of someone finding a supportive place where they feel they belong. There are plenty of aspects of Ellen’s life, such as her struggles with identity and social activism, that succeed in rounding her character. There was growth from each character presented, I just wish the book had better handled Ellen’s relationship with her step-mom. Overall, an interesting read.

Teen SRC 2021 – Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

While I can’t say I loved absolutely everything about Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter, there are a few things that left me completely astonished. First, the characters. Namely, Maddie and Logan. How – and I repeat – how did the author manage to make me grow so attached to the characters in just a mere 304 pages? It’s like I really know both of them in real life; let me just say the characters are so incredibly lovable and the plot development between them is not only enticing but heartwarming.

One thing I wasn’t super interested in for this novel was the plot. Well, okay, not the actual plot, but rather the fact that the book was marketed as a mystery novel, and yet I didn’t really pick up on any suspense-building, plot twists, or anything like that. It was certainly a very adventurous read, but I’m not sure I would leap as far as “mysterious.”

Overall, I thought it was a sweet book despite the misleading genre; honestly I think there’s more romance than anything, but it’s very well-written and no cliche personality traits in any of the characters. 7/10!

Teen SRC 2021 – Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

I cannot even begin to explain how much Our Wayward Fate, a teen romance book written by Gloria Chao, blew my mind. See, this was another one of those books I decided to read just from glancing at the cover and barely skimming through the blurb. I was expecting an amusing anecdote, maybe a relatable story at most. What I wasn’t prepared for was the most heartfelt, lovable romance novel with amazing characters.

I’m not going to go through the plot synopsis here, but the general idea of the book was about an asian boy called Chase Yu who moved to a new school in Indiana, with no other asian kids whatsoever. …Well, with the exception of Ali Chu. The two begin to bond throughout the book, but when Ali’s mother forces her to stop seeing Chase, Ali has to find out more about this mysterious classmate.

HANDS DOWN the best plot twist ever. Unexpected, mind-blowing, heartbreaking and the good kind of dramatic. I enjoyed reading this book, 9/10!