Skip to main content

Teen SRC 2021 – The One by Kiera Cass

The One (The Selection, Book 3) eBook by Kiera Cass - 9780007581214 |  Rakuten Kobo Ireland

At first I wasn’t particularly drawn to the entire The Selection series, because I had read some of the summaries online, and I just didn’t feel all that inclined to read about a bunch of princesses trying to win over a prince’s heart. I decided to give the general plot of The One by Kiera Cass the benefit of the doubt, though, and tried to convince myself that there would be other aspects of the books that I would like. Glad to say I was right about that!

First of all, even though I admit the plot does sound kind of ridiculous, Kiera does have a way of illustrating it and making it feel more real. I actually did enjoy the fantasy, some of the plot twists, and most definitely the romance. I like how you can slip into their world and kind of escape from reality when you are reading.

What did I hate? The characters. For the love of God, could you please give us some actual, decent characters who don’t have the classic “nobody-likes-me” mindset. It gets so annoying, and honestly just gets in the way of most of the other amazing stuff that is worth reading in the book. America’s attitude was just completely off, in my opinion, and the other characters had no personality.

I still feel rather disappointed by this book, but I am glad that there were at least a few things that I found enjoyable. I probably will get around to reading the other books, although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m excited for them; I’d say maybe a five out of 10 for this novel.

Teen SRC 2021 – Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows eBook : Bardugo, Leigh: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

I’m going to be honest, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a book that I had been highly anticipating for the longest time. It had been on my TBR for months and I was really excited when I finally got to read it. What I didn’t know was that the book would turn out to be quite a big disappointment.

At first I thought the book was pretty interesting, but I think this book introduces a bit too many characters right at the beginning. I thought the introduction/1st sentences were good, but by the time I got to the second chapter, I really didn’t want to read the book anymore. That’s literally all I have to say, the rest of the book was just a repetitive pattern of flipping back, being bored, and pushing through every word.

I have to say though, I did like most of the fantasy aspects of the novel, and honestly after reading They Both Die at the End, nothing can really have a lower rating than that one. I just didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, but it still gets maybe six out of 10.

Teen SRC 2021 – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen : Aveyard, Victoria: Amazon.ca: Books

Funny story: When I was around eight, I was strolling around at KidsBooks and found a book with an amazingly intricate cover design. I ended up buying it just for the cover.

Four years later, and I find it at the top of my closet collecting dust. I decided to do some research, and quickly came to realize that the book in my hands was the fourth book in Victoria Aveyard’s viral, best-selling series Red Queen.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I WAITED SO LONG TO START THIS SERIES. Red Queen was actually a book I won for the weekly teen summer reading, and gosh am I glad I read it. Writing style was on point, the “red and silver blood” thing is such a creative twist on real-world discrimination, and the ideas for the plot were simply mind-blowing. Even the covers give you something to cry about. 9/10; totally recommend and absolutely worth your time.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer | Little, Brown Books  for Young Readers

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer in the Land of Stories series is addictive and astonishing. Furthermore, the novel is fast-pacing and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. The author would use detail and sensories to drive the reader to experience the events and empathize with the characters’ emotions. Each chapter is dynamic and becomes more and more intense at the end. The genres are fantasy, adventure and suitable for teens. I would highly recommend the novel to teenagers because you can recollect the fairy tales and the memories while also getting engaged at a comfortable reading level. The main characters Alex and Conner, get swallowed into a magical book, then end up in the fairy tale world. The main characters have a chance to interact face-to-face with the characters that filled their lively childhood but met antagonists such as wolves, witches and trolls. However, escaping is difficult which so the twins went through an unpredictable and magical journey. In summary, I would rate The Wishing Spell nine out of ten because it’s addicting and astonishing!

Teen SRC 2021 – From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die, #2) by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed, a teen horror novel by Katie Alender, was another one of those books that I just happened to pick up while browsing through the shelves at a library. I’ve mentioned before that my FAVOURITE kind of book is the “fantasy, horror, and psychological thriller mix that keeps you awake past midnight thinking about the plot” type, and this novel fits the above criteria perfectly.

I think it was a great book, or at least the horror aspects of it were pretty amazing. This includes the plot, villains motives, and pacing, which I thought were on pretty on-point. The characters? Wasn’t necessarily so great.

First of all, what is with the sudden mood changes? One chapter you’re reading about Alexis snuggling against Carter watching Twilight Zone, while the next provides you with a detailed description of how she’s in the bathtub vomiting up some evil poltergeist that just possessed her to kill her family. The thing is, the author doesn’t really introduce these things beforehand, so you’ll often find yourself flipping back a few chapters to see if you missed anything. The characters weren’t very realistic and just rather flat, boring, and predictable. They basically did everything that would help the plot move along/make sense, with no sense of personality whatsoever.

I’d recommend this book, but only if you’re into horror/thrillers like I am. Otherwise, there’s really not much else in this novel that’s entertaining nor worth reading. Again, the horror aspects were intense and the plot was well-developed, making it just interesting enough to read. I think a solid 8/10 is reasonable for me!

Teen SRC 2021 – Legendary by Stephanie Garber

“Every story has four parts – the beginning, the middle, the almost ending, and the true ending.” 

After reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber, it took me all of two seconds to place an order on the second book in the series, Legendary. Without a doubt, it was magical and breathtaking all the same…but there were a few things I disliked, which I’ll talk about later.

To begin, I just want to say that my expectations for this book were ridiculously high, so any criticism is really more of a comparison to the first book inn the series. Then again, there isn’t much to criticize, not when I was so wrapped up in the story that time flew by without me ever noticing. As usual, Garber includes phenomenal foreshadowing, along with the most mysterious plot line you could ever ask for.

Read More

Teen SRC 2021 – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval, a fantasy fiction book written by Stephanie Garber, dives deep into a magical world of puzzles. “Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.” That is true. But what if you don’t know what you desire the most? What if a mischievous, young sailor takes the place of the most important person in your heart?

This novel is about Scarlett Dragna and her sister, Dontella Dragna. They grew up listening to stories about Caraval, the magical performance that only occurred once a year. Since they were nine years old, Caraval has always been their dream. Now, suddenly, seven years later, Scarlett receives an invitation to Caraval. But is Caraval really the enchanted place everyone thinks it is? And if it really is so magical and innocent, why is everyone there so secretive? Scarlett has to draw a line between illusion and reality, in order to save her sister in time.

This book is SO magical, and I don’t mean just the plot. I read for around five minutes, I swear, and suddenly I finished the whole book. Please do not ask me how that happened; I don’t know myself. But what I do know is that this is the best fantasy book I’ve ever read in my entire life. I have no words for the amount of elegant description of beautiful settings, the captivating way Garber writes about the characters. It was the perfect amount of everything; I really don’t know how else to describe it. The happiness and heartbreak was so carefully balanced, the romantic aspects not overwhelming the plot, and the story itself full of magic.

Normally, I have a “things I didn’t like,” or critique section in my book reviews. Let’s just say, I stared at the computer for ten minutes and couldn’t think of a single piece of criticism to write. The book was amazing.

I’m sure I’ve made this overly clear throughout my book review, but in conclusion, I’d rate this book 10/10. I really hope other people will read the book and like it as much as I did. Also, there’s actually a series to this book, and I’ve got nothing but over-the-top excitement and high expectations for that. I seriously could not recommend this book more, go try it for yourself and hopefully, embark on the same thrilling adventure I went on while reading!

TAMBA Author Interview — Darren Groth

Darren Groth is a Vancouver author and has written books Are You Seeing Me?, Infinite Blue, and Munro vs. the Coyote. Here are some of the highlights from his interview with Ryan, a fellow Teen Ambassador.

What motivates you to write your books? I noticed all your books have quite similar themes.

Are You Seeing Me? - Groth, Darren

I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was in Grade 7. I had a fantastic teacher then, called Mr. Wade and… this was about a hundred years ago, of course, since I was in grade 7… and he was very big on creative writing. That’s where my love for writing began. And regarding ideas, you’re very right, there’s a thematic thread running through my stuff…Themes of disability, which is related to my son, who’s on the autism spectrum. My son is sort of in the middle of the spectrum, which is different from Perry in “Are You Seeing Me?” who is on the more, what we call, higher-functioning end with some intellectual disability. And our son is very different from that, which is interesting because some people think that folks on the spectrum are the same, which is certainly not the case. But, our son’s situation is very inspiring for me creatively. I can think in the perspective of a parent, a caregiver, and also in the perspective of my daughter who is the sibling—a twin—of somebody with a disability. I sort of took that to the nth degree. 

So, I tend to grab things close to home. I use things that are close to home and things that I think about a lot. In fact, a lot of people seem to think these books are sort of documentaries… people have asked me: are these your twins? Well, no. They’re not, not at all. You take hold of a few things, and the characters sort of run with it. They become they’re people. It’s a little bit of magic, and a little bit of grabbing things that are close to home, which is where my ideas generally come from.

So, for the characters Justine and Perry, are they based on your children or are they from your imagination?

Yeah, going back to what I said, I thought about my twins and thought… what would happen if they were left on their own? And that was the starting point. But from there, and I think a lot of authors have a similar mindset, from where you’ll start with something small and start to ask a lot of other questions which is what brings about a story… Suddenly I’ve got a novel on my hands. And I tend to be, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this but authors get categorized as plotters or pantsers… and I tend to be more of a pantser. I’ll sort of start with these ideas and then I’ll start writing to see where things take me. 

How are each of your books constructed differently or are they all constructed the same way?

Usually it tends to be where I have a general idea of the story from start to finish and during the writing process there may be some new ideas crafted along the way. But funnily enough I just finished writing the draft for a new book today and when writing this book I actually for the first time tried to be more of a plotter. I used a method I borrowed from my good friend Eileen Cook where I make a sort of timeline and plot everything out beforehand where it was talking about character and what was happening with the plot. I quite enjoyed it but I wouldn’t do that for every story. For stories that I did before the process of having a start and an end and then finding out as I go how I am going to fill it in has worked well for me.

Infinite Blue - Groth, Darren

How is it writing with other people?

Well, I wrote Infinite Blue with my brother Simon and the way it worked there was that I was kind of the project manager and oversaw the whole book and looked more at the big picture and then at times I would give Simon the wheel and let him work his magic with parts of the writing. Then I would go back to make sure it looked seamless as though one person had read this book. If the brothers Groth do another book in the future I think that Simon would take the role of manager because I know that he has an idea in the works of his own.

I noticed that in both “Are You Seeing Me?” and “Munro vs. the Coyote” The location, Fair Go is Used. What is the significance of Fair Go in both of these books?

Munro Vs. the Coyote - Groth, Darren

Once I finished “Are You Seeing Me?” Our son was getting a little older and was starting towards the end of his high school career. I started thinking about what happens to mentaly challenged kids once they are out of high school? What is our son going to do after high school? Because high school works kind of like a security blanket and can set kids into thinking that it’s always going to be like this, of course it’s not. This led me to think about the place of Fair Go that I had created. I was thinking about what this place would be like, what would it look like, who would be there, what sort of values would they have there. With Fair Go I decided to make it a place where the residents would be taken care of but could also have agency and think for themselves. “Munro vs. the Coyote” all really started with me having the setting of Fair Go and me wanting to explore and figure out what this environment is all about.

You were talking about how in “Munro vs. the Coyote” the first scene you wrote was not the first scene in the book, it was kind of in the middle. Do you do stuff like this often?

Sometimes, it kind of varies from story to story. Sometimes I use a scene That I wrote for the middle of the story at

the start of the book which I return to later in order to kick the story off where the stakes are raised. But more often than not I start writing at the beginning of the story. Every time I start writing I am starting off fresh. I have books that I have done and stories that I have finished and should know what I am doing but the truth is I don’t know what I am doing. When you start a new story you might have more tricks and a little more faith in your ability compared to the last time you wrote but really each story is its own animal and you tame it to the best of your ability hoping that it’s going to come together in a way that makes sense to the idea that first brought it about.

We want to thank Mr. Groth for his time and lovely insights into the world of writing!

Teen SRC 2021 – Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Hi everyone! So I looked at my review history and I actually wrote one for Red Queen (Book 1 of the series) in 2017!? That’s wild. But anyway, it also means that this is long overdue, but I sincerely hope my writing has at least improved to make up for it!

*SPOILER ALERT!* I will talk about things that happened in Red Queen, so if you have yet to read Book 1, please do that first!

“No one is born evil, just like no one is born alone. They become that way, through choice and circumstance.”

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard is the second book in a scintillating fantasy series. It follows Mare, Cal, and the Scarlet Guard as they figure out their next steps after the intended execution in the Bowl of Bones that didn’t end as planned. Things are grave, seeing as Maven and Queen Elara have planted a huge target on the backs of the exiled prince and the little lightning girl, convincing the world that they murdered the late King Tiberias.

The story itself definitely wasn’t as good as Red Queen, but to be fair, not many sequels can beat their predecessors. Despite that however, it certainly wasn’t bad. It was a fast-paced, plot-driven book, and I enjoyed the re-read! I think the only thing that threw me off was the characters. I didn’t connect with them very much, and Mare is far from my favourite protagonist. However, I do have to commend Ms. Aveyard on her ability to write realistically, because humans are flawed, and she was able to portray that through her characters, even in such a wildly supernatural world.

Glass Sword felt a lot like a preparatory book for King’s Cage (which I will try to write a review for as well). It was great in its own way, but nothing substantial really occurred. It was also a tad bit overdramatic at times, but that did add to the atmosphere, so no complaints from me LOL.

Overall, I would rate this novel a solid 7/10. It has all the components of a great dystopian/fantasy novel; it simply pales in comparison to the first book. There are some brutal scenes that may be hard to read, but other than that, I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy/superpowers, and wouldn’t mind a side of romance!

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.