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Teen SRC 2021 – Holes by Louis Sachar

The novel I’ll be reviewing today isn’t actually categorized as a teen read, but I think it’s quite appropriate for adolescents of any age so I hope this won’t be taken down.

I loved this book back when I first read it in Grade 7 or 8, and I still love at 16, based on a recent re-read.

Holes by Louis Sachar is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats, who is under a “curse” brought upon his family by his great-great-grandfather. And because of said curse, Stanley has been sent to a boys’ detention center called Camp Green Lake, where he is forced to dig holes all day, everyday… definitely an unorthodox camp activity. Clearly, there’s something else going on that Stanley’s missing.

Holes is one of those books that feels very well planned out, I hope you know what I mean. The pacing is great, the action is great, and the plot is awesome. The ending is wrapped up very nicely and realistically, readers won’t be baffled nor unsatisfied, and the overall storyline is really cool!

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks in the book; they helped me understand the story and allowed me to predict what was coming! They were also woven in very well and didn’t disrupt the flow of anything which I appreciated. The flashbacks were also a great way of showing not telling, which allows the readers to have their own sort of “eureka” moment when they figure something out!

Overall, I’d rate the story an 8/10. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but it’s pretty darn good; especially for a “children’s” book! I’d recommend it to anyone who likes realistic adventures with a tinge of mystery! (There is also a pretty good movie adaptation of it, so if you’re a film person, you should check that out!)

Teen SRC 2021 – Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah - Lange, Erin Jade

The blurb led me to believe that Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange would be amazing, filled with many dynamic characters who share their perspectives and have great character development.

I was hugely disappointed to find out that this book was only told from the POV of Sam, the “Pariah”. The plot was intriguing, but Sam wasn’t a very likeable character. She constantly told herself that she wasn’t like the “other girls” that she called Barbies. Her mother had been to jail and rehab many times and Sam subconsciously uses that to pity herself throughout the book. That made the book harder to read and I was tempted to put it down many times. Her only reason for staying during the adventure, that could’ve gotten her arrested or killed, was that it was the first time she was invited somewhere.

One of the main themes of this book was relationships. Something that threw me off was Sam flirting with York, the “Bully”. They are literally being pursued by a gang and the police and she’s worried that York has been with other girls. One relationship dynamic that I did enjoy was between York and his little brother Boston who is the “geek” that’s mentioned in the title. It portrayed sibling relationships realistically without overdoing it. Another character was Andi, the “rebel”. Andi was once the queen of the Barbies but is now a stereotypical gay character with a tragic backstory. She did make the story more interesting by constantly being sarcastic but her “friendship” with Sam from Sam’s perspective was awkward at times.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the plot itself was quite good. Four teens getting thrusted into an adventure they didn’t want. Almost committing murder, hiding drugs, and running away from a gang, all while trying to avoid the police! This book’s mystery was very well plotted. I’d give it a 3.5/5.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Captive Kingdom (The Ascendance Series, Book 4) eBook : Nielsen,  Jennifer A.: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the final installment of the Ascendance series. This story follows Jaron and his crew on sea, when he gets attacked be the Prozarians who are a people that were presumed to all be dead from the plague. Jaron soon found out about why they were being captured along with his long lost brother, who was also presumed to be dead.

By the time I read this book, I was a tad bit disappointed. Due to how Jaron acts, the story always follows the same route. It goes, something bad happens to Jaron, something bad happens to Imogen, Jaron pulls some slight of hand or mind trick, a miracle happens, and a good ending appears. I didn’t really like the book due to how predictable it was after reading three of the books beforehand. I would recommend this book to anyone who really loves the Ascendance series and wants closure for what happened to everyone.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Series, Book 3): Nielsen, Jennifer A.:  8601420074835: Books - Amazon.ca

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the third book of the Ascendance Series, following King Jaron, the king of Carthya. Avena, Gelyn, and Medenwal are waging war against Carthya, and Jaron knew that there was a spy in his ranks. To counter this, Jaron fakes an argument with his army captain to make the other countries think that they are disorganized, then they launched an infiltration attack on Avena. Jaron was captured, and the story follows his stories in there.

There were many close calls in the book along with exciting twists and tragic deaths. I loved this series due to its captivating language as well as the close attention to detail that is written in the book. I would recommend this book to the fans of The False Prince and The Runaway King.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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The Runaway King is the sequel to The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. As a quick recap, Sage has been found out to be prince Jaron, and he is now ruling the kingdom. His entire family was poisoned by Conner and he is the only person left to be the king. As king, he is now facing war against Avenia, and opposing country, and the pirates inside.

Their country’s army isn’t large enough, so Jaron went to the pirates in hopes of recruiting them. This story unfolds spectacularly, revealing twists and turns that I didn’t think possible. Jaron is an exiting character to write about because his is incredibly reckless with crazy plans that somehow work out in his favor in a twist of fate.

I enjoyed this story a lot due to the beautiful “romance” and adventures that the characters have in there. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read and enjoyed “The False Prince” because it’s the sequel.

Teen SRC 2021 – The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince (The Ascendance Series, Book 1): Nielsen, Jennifer A.:  9780545284141: Books - Amazon.ca

The False Prince, a book by Jennifer A. Nielsen, is about a boy called Sage who lives in the kingdom of Carthya. He is caught stealing and bought by a nobleman by the name of Bevin Conner along with three other orphan boys called Roden, Tobias, and Latamer. They soon realize that they are going to be forced to pretend to be the prince since all other royal family members have gone missing. They will pretend to be the prince Jaron, who had gone missing at a young age and was presumed to be dead, although no body was found.

Although I read the second book first, this book still held many surprises. It explained why so many of the characters acted they way they did. I thoroughly enjoyed it, since it had many action scenes as well as interesting twists and turns. I highly recommend this book to avid readers of fantasy.

TAMBA Author Interview – B. R. Myers

Rogue Princess

Recently, my friend, Isabella, and I were given the opportunity to interview B. R. Myers, author of Runaway Princess! It’s a beautiful sci-fi novel: a gender-swapped retelling of Cinderella! We loved the story, and it was so awesome to have the chance to speak with Ms. Myers and learn a bit about the behind-the-scenes of her book! 

Without further ado, here are some highlights from the interview:

Rosie: So how did you come up with the idea for Rogue Princess? I know it builds on that classic fairytale of Cinderella — but how did you initially think of doing a spin-off story?

B. R. Myers: In the beginning, I think I just wanted to do something different from the few contemporary novels I had already worked on. And coincidentally on Twitter, Pitmad was going on, which is when authors get to pitch their ideas for novels in a very limited number of characters. I noticed that there were a lot of retellings amongst the pitches, and I found that really cool! Cinderella is also my favourite fairytale, so that was the first thing that popped into my head when I first thought about possibly doing a twisted fairytale. So I started to think about how I could make it more unique, and gender swap came to mind. Then I joked about “oh, how about I set it in space!” and what do you know? 

Isabella: That’s so funny that it started as a joke! Yes, I’ve read many Cinderella retellings, but I’ve never encountered a gender-swap version, so I thought that was awesome! My next question is: what do you like best about being an author? What don’t you like?

B. R. Myers: What I love the most about being an author is meeting my readers, like you two! Connecting with other authors, other readers, is definitely my favourite part. As for what I don’t enjoy as much, I would have to say the “waiting” portion. When you’re trying to get published, there are so many external factors that take a long, long time to work out! For example, after I wrote Rogue Princess, I was super excited and I wanted to share it with the world, right away! But I had to wait for almost a year before the actual publishing because so much work goes into it, so that was definitely a test for my patience.

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Teen Book Review – Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross

Hey all, long time no see! I hope everyone is safe and healthy 🙂

Recently, I re-read Warcross, the first book of a duology by one of my favourite authors, Marie Lu.

The story takes place in a futuristic world, when real life is drab and grey and run-down, so people all over the world put on a pair of high-tech glasses daily to enter the colourful and vivid virtual reality of Warcross. 18-year-old Emika Chen, our protagonist, is a bounty hunter, and tech genius. She catches criminals the police don’t have time for by hacking through the dark web, and it’s her only source of income. However, when a hack goes wrong, and she accidentally reveals herself to the creator of Warcross, her life takes a DRASTIC turn.

I honestly really liked this book! It was jam-packed with action, which is one of my favourite things about Marie Lu books, so I was super glad this was no exception! As well, the world is very realistic, because it’s not hard to believe that in the future, we could have something similar to Warcross. That made the reading experience a lot more immersive, as what Emika was going through seemed super probable, it wasn’t hard to connect to the story and its characters. I also very much enjoyed the plot twists although I was able to guess a few of them. They made sense, and weren’t a complete shock, which can actually detract from the actual writing. All in all, I give this book an 8.5/10. It was a great read!

Teen SRC 2020 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Rowling, J.K.: 8601404281891:  Books - Amazon.ca

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

You’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing Harry Potter all of a sudden… and I can explain.

It took me almost 5 years to become a calm, hidden Harry Potter fan, and in about a month, TikTok has reversed all of that hard work. My entire FYP is Harry Potter edits and thus, I have been re-reading the books, and re-crying about how I’ll never get to go to Hogwarts. But, enough about that, let’s get on with the review.

Summary (Spoiler-Free): After another uneventful summer, Harry Potter has finally returned to Hogwarts for his third year. He has a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Professor Lupin, and Hagrid, his friend, has begun teaching Care of Magical Creatures. Oh, and did I mention a vicious Death Eater has escaped from Azkaban? Well, he has, and he goes by the name of Sirius Black.

Every single review I write for the Harry Potter series is going to be biased because I am in love with their world. In. Love. No other words for it. The plot lines are always amazing, full of mystery, suspense, and action. The characters are very well built as well, with Harry being an extremely likeable protagonist, and Ron and Hermione exceptional characters each on their own.

I believe though, that the true magic lies in the emotional aspect of this read. First, J.K. Rowling created a universe so real, so layered and magical and mysterious, that it’s impossible not to get lost in it. And, secondly, the characters are written so realistically that one feels they could very well pop out of the book, flesh and blood. These combine to create a story that leaves the line between fantasy and reality blurred, a feeling that I absolutely love experiencing. In addition to this, reading the series reminds me of my childhood, and I can relate to growing up, right along with the Golden Trio, which adds to the overall nostalgia, and hiraeth.

Hogwarts is my home, and I will laugh, cry, and grieve with Harry Potter, until the end of time.

I think it’s obvious what my rating is, and I’ll leave you with a quote from Dumbledore because although I talk about missing Hogwarts, you must remember that “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” So, go make the most of your life, and live it like you would as the main character of a story.

As well, here are a few songs that I recommend listening to, if you’re missing that magical feeling.

  1. Leaving Hogwarts – John Williams
  2. Welcome Home, Son – Radical Face
  3. Harry’s Wondrous World – John Williams
  4. Dragon Flight – Alexandre Desplat

Teen SRC 2020- Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui

Have you ever wondered what a dragon tasted like? Would it taste like chicken, maybe beef? Or maybe you’ve been wondering what a cockatrice would taste like served in a good stew. After all, a snake/chicken hybrid would seem to make an interesting dinner combo. Or maybe, you’ve been wondering about the morality of eating fishmen. Unlike mermen, they have fish heads, and though they seem semi-sentient, it wouldn’t hurt to try one… Would it?

These are the questions Delicious in Dungeon set out to answer, as Ryoko Kui serves up a masterful manga, seemingly to answer the age-old question of “What would happen if Gordon Ramsay got trapped in Middle Earth?”

The story begins, as a cave opening is discovered, leading to an underground kingdom covered in gold. A distraught king emerges from its entrance, promising all of his treasure to whoever defeats the insane magician who sunk his kingdom underground in the first place, before crumbling to dust. Word of the king’s promise spreads like a wildfire, as numerous guilds gather to try to navigate the labyrinth-esque kingdom, now infested with monsters of all shapes and sizes. Laios is the leader of one such guild, before his party is decimated and his sister is eaten by a dragon. Laios and his crew rush back into the kingdom of gold in an attempt to save his sister, but soon run out of supplies. They are saved by a dwarf named Senshii who teaches Laios and crew how to properly cook and eat monsters, as the adventure to save Laios’s sister begins.

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