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Teen Book Review – I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messanger

TL; DR 8.5/10 only because it’s not my style of book (like The Book Thief was), but do give it a read just in case it is yours.

I’ll be honest and say that I only started I Am The Messenger because Markus Zusak is the one that wrote The Book Thief. I wasn’t expecting the books to be completely alike, but considering they have the same author, I did expect some similarity. In that regard, I was disappointed.

I Am The Messenger is very different from The Book Thief. The Book Thief’s beauty is apparent and classy, it’s like a stunning painting on the wall. I Am The Messenger has beauty, too, but it’s inconspicuous and not obvious at all. To continue my metaphor, if the Book Thief is a revered masterpiece, I Am The Messenger is a patch of graffiti, but like… talented graffiti.

Awkward metaphors aside, here’s the disclaimer: DO NOT PICK THIS BOOK UP EXPECTING “THE BOOK THIEF” 2.0

Now that we’ve got that settled… Ed Kennedy is the main character in this book. He is an underage cab driver, hobbyist card player, and completely in love with his best friend Audrey. He lives in a shack (his words, not mine) with the Doorman (foul-smelling but beloved dog). In other words, Ed Kennedy is a deadbeat at the ripe old age of 19.

But then Ed Kennedy stops a robbery. Which isn’t much of a feat, really, since the bank robber was almost as incompetent as Ed himself, but it does end up changing his life. Because that’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

On the cards, there are simple codes. Sometimes addresses, sometimes the names of movies or places… but the goal is obvious, at times even simple. Ed has to make an impact. Doing good (or bad when needed) Ed becomes the Messenger.

The question remains… who is behind Ed’s mission?.

My review, finally: This book is the kind of good that slaps you in the face five pages from the ending. There are pieces of gold comedy in there– it made me laugh out loud. There are also some very ugly scenes, scenes that are uncomfortable and seem to serve no purpose than making the reader insane. But like I said, it’s really good. (I can think of no other way to describe it, sorry!!) The romance is shockingly well-written, and doesn’t take up too much of the book, which is always a plus. I’d definitely recommend it, but with some pointers: you’ll be confused. You’ll want to stop reading, and send an email to the author involving a lot of question marks. You’ll wonder at the slang. But at the end, if you stick with it, you’ll appreciate it for the gem it is, and the message (pun intended) it carries.

Teen Book Review – Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is a great novel about Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule’s search for Rachel Solando who went missing from Ashecliffe island’s hospital for the criminally insane . It seems that Solando managed to escape from a locked cell completely undetected by some orderlies playing cards and slipped past two guarded checkpoints. Swimming back to land would be out of the question for anyone other than the best swimmers, which makes her disappearance even more intriguing. While Daniels jumps at the chance to solve this case it seems like there might be an ulterior motive behind his enthusiasm. The island is a very interesting setting, as it contains 3 wards in separate buildings and the ever mysterious lighthouse that is quarantined off by heavily armored guards and an electric fence. Daniel begins to doubt the reality of his choice to come to the island as events occur that suggest his life is in danger. Shutter Island is a great novel that will surely take you on a roller coaster of emotions. With great mystery, and an intense horror movie vibe it is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. I would recommend the novel and rate it 10/10

Teen Book Review – The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The Unwanteds

In Lisa McMann‘s fascinating fantasy series, The Unwanteds, twins Aaron and Alexander Stowe are forced to be separated, in a land of unfair and unjust rules. In the land of Quill, children are separated into Wanteds, Unwanteds or Necessaries. While being an artistic is a death sentence, Aaron is treated like royalty as a Wanted and sent to university. I absolutely love Lisa’s stories because the detail and creativeness that goes into her stories is incredible. A fantasy series filled with magic, art, and wonder is just my cup of tea. With magic and creativity, Alex and his friends bring the stories to life with their special talents and unique ideas. If you love magic and fantasy, I definitely recommend this spectacular series.

Teen SRC 2020 – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

(TL;DR at the end.)

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is a fantastic book! I read it in grade eight, and I’ve been rereading it ever since. It’s continually fascinating– I think I learn something new every time I read it.

Premise: Blink dissects our snap judgements, dealing with subjects such as police shootings, speed dating, museums, divorce, war strategy, and why we like the fruit jams we like. It’s about the thousands of split second decisions we make every day, and what goes on in our subconscious minds when we make them. Most importantly, Blink is NOT BORING! One might expect a book that covers a multitude of subjects like this with psychology to be dry and stretched too thin, but that’s absolutely not the case. Gladwell is incredibly easy to read: he breaks concepts down so that us normal people can understand them, but it never feels like he’s talking down to you at all.

Blink is a non-fiction book. This does not detract from the quality of it at all. This is one of those books where the truth is just as interesting as fiction, especially in terms of the stories told.

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Teen Book Review – Rebel with a Cupcake by Anna Mainwaring

Firstly, the word ‘fat’ does not exist in my vocabulary. I think the words ‘overweight, or plump’ do the job just fine. 🙂

Rebel With A Cupcake - Mainwaring, Anna

Rebel with a Cupcake pushes you to believe in yourself. Yeah, that may sound cheesy, but you’ll soon (hopefully) change your mind.

Anna Mainwaring has made a masterpiece inside of a bigger masterpiece. I mean, there’s a literal cupcake on the cover! Who can ever resist that?! I certainly couldn’t. So, even though I shouldn’t have judged a book by it’s cover, I did just that, and checked the book out. But, needless to say, I was right. The book was 1,000,000 times better than I would have ever expected.

It’s about a girl named Jesobel Jones, a.k.a Jess. And she’s overweight. Normally she eats what she wants wherever and whenever she wants. But when she has a nasty encounter with a mean girl, Jess’s confidence evaporates. Now Jess isn’t sure if she’s just plump, or full-on FAT. When the boy of her dreams invites her to a party, Jess is even more driven towards the goal of slimming down.

This is certainly not a wonderful fairytale about a girl magically turning into a goddess the very next day, but I truly feel like this book has made me realize just how much I need to love myself. 🙂 💕

PS. Eat a cupcake when you finish this book 😉 You’ll feel much better. 💖

Teen Book Review – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Hey guys! First off, happy 2020! I wish you all very good luck in this new decade 🙂

Secondly, I was recommended this mystery by Inshal and I finally got around to it this winter break.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is about a girl named Stephanie (“Stevie”) who is trying to solve the infamous Ellingham murders, committed in 1936 to Iris and Alice Ellingham, wife and daughter to Robert Ellingham. Robert Ellingham was a very wealthy man who built a school for exceptional students, where they had access to all the resources they needed for their own passions and projects. However, being rich and famous comes with a cost. Everyday, he and his family are bombarded with death threats until one day, someone went through with it, Truly Devious. His wife and daughter were kidnapped and later killed. 70 years later, a new generation of students arrived at the academy and Stevie is one of them. A major crime fan, Stevie makes it her project to solve the murders.

Mystery is one of my favourite genres but in all my years of reading, I’ve only found 3 series that really left an impression on me. If the sequels to this book are as good as this one was, we’ll have a 4th series! This book had just the right amount of suspense, clues and riddles to keep me on my toes throughout. At the beginning I was afraid I wouldn’t emotionally connect with Stevie because she wasn’t really expressive with her feelings but as the story progressed, that feeling was over faster than it had come. I’d rate this book an 8/10. It was really good but I think the sequels are going to be even better as we delve deeper into the case.

TeenTober 2019 – Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Perfect Match

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

In the course of her everyday work, career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters and works determinedly to ensure that a legal system with too many loopholes keeps these criminals behind bars. But when her own five-year-old son, Nathaniel, is traumatized by a sexual assault, Nina and her husband, Caleb, a quiet and methodical stone mason, are shattered, ripped apart by an enraging sense of helplessness in the face of a futile justice system that Nina knows all too well. In a heartbeat, Nina’s absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down, and she hurtles toward a plan to exact her own justice for her son — no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice.

The paragraph above was the summary at the back of the book. Jodi Picoult, in my opinion, is a fantastic author. She has written so many books, and I have read only a small portion of them (I would suggest My Sister’s Keeper, Leaving Time, Keeping Faith, and I’m now reading the Tenth Circle). Each of her books deal with a different moral issue that is so moving in so many ways, and in this case, it is sexual abuse toward young children. While this may be a heavy topic for many of us (definitely for me), she crafts the story so well, with so many twists and turns, it is impossible to stop reading. Nina and her family, the main characters of the story, goes through hardships and challenges no family should go through… Do they make it? Or does their family break apart? Read on!

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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