The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones – Daven McQueen

53805921. sy475 The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: June 16th, 2020
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Racism, Friendship


REVIEW:

This is a beautiful book about a life-changing summer shared between two characters full of heart. After his father leaves him with his aunt and uncle in an unknown place, Ethan thinks he’s going to spend the worst summer ever. No one in Alabama seems to want him there, excluding but sometimes even including his extended family, except this one strange girl named Juniper Jones, who is like no one Ethan has ever met. Continue reading

Camp – Kayla Miller

42873833Camp by Kayla Miller

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Library
Published: 2019
Publisher: HMH BFYR
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Friendship Dynamics, Summer Camps, Social Isolation


REVIEW:

It was good to spend some time with Olive again. In the first graphic novel, she had trouble expressing her creative side and communicating with her friend groups. In this companion, she and her good friend Willow are away at camp. Everything is going well in the beginning. Olive and Willow are sticking together but Olive wants to branch out a little and try different things, talk to more people, whereas Willow wants to stick with the familiar. Continue reading

One Year at Ellsmere – Faith Erin Hicks

46223329One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: July 14th, 2020
Publisher: First Second
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle School, Graphic Novel, Friendship, Bullying, Boarding School


REVIEW:

I don’t understand. I don’t understand why some authors decide to include one fantasy element in an otherwise completely contemporary story. I understand magical realism. I think it can be very beautiful, surprising and, well, magical. But this was no magical realism story. Continue reading

The Plain Janes – Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

The Plain JanesThe Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: January 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Art, Friendship, Mental Health, Romance, High School


REVIEW:

This graphic novel makes the following claim, supported by multiple events, throughout its story: that art saves. That without it, we can easily drown underwater and lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us even in bleak times. Continue reading

Scars Like Wings – Erin Stewart

39353216Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Mental Health, Romance, Death, Friendship, High School


REVIEW:

This is such a realistic story that I had no problem picturing everything happening and understanding what the characters were feeling. As someone who enjoyed the book Wonder but wished it had been about a more mature protagonist, this was pretty perfect for me and a wonderful reading experience. The poems included had a huge impact on me because I strongly connected with the heroine whose heart was shattered into a million pieces when her parents and best friend died in a fire that she was the only one to survive. Everyone has scares but some scars, like Ava’s, are impossible to miss. This, of course, affects the way she sees herself and other people see her. Continue reading

Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

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Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: May 2019
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, Romance, Friendship


REVIEW:

Part of me wants to give this book two stars because, looking back, I’m not sure I completely understood everything that happened and why. Another reason is that the characters’ ‘‘voices’’ all sounded the same so even if the narrator was announced at the beginning of a chapter I still needed to think hard at times to remember whose point of view I was reading. Continue reading

Girls on the Verge – Sharon Biggs Waller

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Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: April 9th, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Abortion, Feminism, Women’s Rights, Friendship, Road Trip, Friendship


REVIEW:

It’s not easy to take a controversial topic, like abortion in this case, and create a not only meaningful but also engaging, refreshing and satisfying story that highlights this subject and makes you think critically about it. Yet the author succeeded. Whenever I pick up a book with a heavy theme, I brace myself and oftentimes expect to cry so I choose a ‘‘right moment’’ to read it. But the beautiful truth here is that every moment is the right one for GIRLS ON THE VERGE. Continue reading

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa

39508663The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: 2018
Publisher: Viking
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Japan, Animals (Cats), Road Trip, Friendship, Coming of Age


REVIEW:

This is the heart-opening story of Nana, a stray cat who finds a master, Satoru, to whom he grows close until Satoru cannot keep him anymore and the two of them travel in search of a new home, visiting friend after friend, reminiscing, making realizations and growing closer still. The more people Satoru and Nana visit, the more we understand about these two characters (especially their pasts and personalities) and many more. Continue reading

Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Police Brutality, History, Racism, Family, Friendship, Ghosts


REVIEW:

Some authors write 400-page books and never manage to successfully convey their intended message to their readers. Jewell Parker Rhodes here wrote a 200-page story that brims with strength, power and importance. Continue reading

Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

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Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: June 25th, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Family Drama, Friendship Dynamics, High School, Social Issues


REVIEW:

I am always impressed when authors are able to successfully alternate between genres. I have read A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY from this author not so long ago and it was an incredible fantasy. CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT is a contemporary romance devoid of any magic and curses, but it’s a gripping story nonetheless and proof that authors should be encouraged to explore multiple genres and topics. Sometimes they fail, but they still deserve points for trying. In her case, Brigid Kemmerer can write anything and everything because she fully understands emotions, compassion and the concepts of intention, motivation and dedication. She manages to breathe that knowledge into her own characters so that they, too, can be three-dimensional human beings who have a purpose. Continue reading