Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hellhole

Hellhole

by Gina Damico

Synopsis:

A devil is a bad influence . . . 

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high. 


With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out. 



My thoughts:

This dark comedy will have readers laughing out loud as they cheer on Max as he tries to get rid of the devil that has moved into his basement.

Max makes a mistake when he steals a silly toy for his ill mother.  This mistake allows a devil, one of 666 that live in hell to invade Max’s basement reeking havoc into the usual straight laced teen’s life.  Max, optimistic throughout the story, sees an opportunity and makes a deal with the devil.  The wisecracking devil, Burg,  will cure Max’s mother’s critical illness on the condition that Max find Burg a mansion with a hot tub.  The condition being that the mansion must be gotten by illegal means.  Afterall, Burg is a devil.  Enter the love interest Lore, a girl who understands Max’s dilemma only too well.  The pair team up to try to appease Burg before complete chaos erupts.


Readers will adore the lovable and endearing Max an awkward, shy teenager who is trying to balance taking care of his ailing mother, work and school.  Burg, the devil, with his snarky commentary and antics will keep readers laughing and entertained throughout.  Lore, the girl who steps up to help Max rid himself of his unwanted houseguest is a perfect round out for the cast.  She too is socially awkward while at the same time witty.  The plot is engaging and entertaining.  With Damico’s wry wit and constant dark humor, Hellohole is a quick funny read that will not disappointed.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Read Between The Lines

Read Between The Lines

by Jo Knowles

Synopsis:

Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a "big girl," she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines.

My thoughts:

A unique novel set in a small town over the course of one day brings readers into the minds of nine teens and one teacher who, may pass each other through the school hallways, but are connected with that common angry gesture of the finger.

Readers will empathize with characters like Nate, who suffers a broken finger in gym class thanks to a bully but upon return from the hospital when he feels empowered by his splint finger — the middle one — and holds it as a weapon.  And on this day the finger —a gesture of power for Nate, or shame for Claire — will appear ten times over the course of the day.  The voices of the characters are at times gritty but are always honest.  Every reader will be able to find a home somewhere in the course of the novel.  Perhaps with the boy who lives with a distant father; the recent graduate who is counting the time before he can move on to his dream job; the brother and sister who are harassed by their neighbour; a gay couple that can’t be out and open; the girl who feels like she’s nobody; the girl struggling to fit in while accepting herself for who she is; or one of the other characters.

Knowles masterfully weaves these narratives together using the middle finger as her anchor. It’s smart and realistic.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn''t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone''s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he''s been emailing with, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon''s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he''s pushed out-without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he''s never met.

My thoughts:

Sixteen-year-old  Simon Spier is gay and he's having an email relationship with an unknown boy, Blue,  this year at his school. Simon is not ready to come out but when his emails fall into the wrong hands, Simon’s secret becomes very public.  What could be a very serious and depressing story instead is an engaging uplifting romance that deals with real issues young adults face..

I loved this story told from the first person point of view of Simon.  He is funny, authentic and relatabled.  His family and friends are supportive and likeable. Readers will race through this to find out the identity of the Simon’s secretive love interest and will be rooting for Simon and Blue as they follow along through the emails sent back and forth between the two characters.  Not only does this story deal with Simon coming out to his family and friends but also focus’ on friendships, consequences of actions, bullying and prejudice.  After finishing this story it is hard not to smile.  One of my favorite reads this year!  Highly recommended for anyone who likes romance, suspense and humor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Duplicity


Duplicity 


by N. K. Traver

Synopsis:

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he's worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he''s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he'll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.
Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface - and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon''s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something--washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for . pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it's preparing to trade places.
And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he''s going to have to face some hard truths about who he''s become. Otherwise he'll be stuck in a digital hell until he's old and gray, and Emma and his parents won''t even know he's gone.

My thoughts:

A mind-bending, original story that teens are going to love. Brandon is a high-school senior with a bad boy persona with a highly developed skill as a computer hacker. He spends his spare time hacking into secure accounts, stealing credit card numbers to fund his fetish for fast cars and tattoos. But one day, Brandon sees his reflection in a mirror doing things it’s not supposed to be doing. Little by little, his reflection—which he names “Obran” or Other Brandon—informs Brandon that he is getting ready to trade places with Brandon.  Brandon has been a bad boy and Obran is going to do better.  On the day Obran is successful Brandon wakes up in a prison cell-like room, where a computer voice informs him that he has been incarcerated for computer hacking, and must serve out a twenty-year sentence as part of something called Project Duplicity. In the meantime the duplicate Obran will be living Brandon’s life.  A computer entity named JENA now controls his every waking—and sleeping—moments, forcing him to work on computer codes. Brandon knows that Obran, his lookalike, has taken over his real life, and he’s desperate to get home.

Traver’s story, with its lightning-fast pace, richly imagined virtual world, and  mind-bending plot twists will keep readers glued to the page.

Things We Know By Heart

Things We Know By Heart

by Jessi Kirby

Plot: 

When Quinn Sullivan’s life gets turned upside down by the death of her boyfriend Trent, she is determined to find the recipients of Trent’s donated organs.  Many of the recipients replied to her letters, but the one she wants to find the most remains silent. The recipient of Trent’s heart. Quinn cannot take it anymore, so she takes matters into her own hands to find the beneficiary. When an unintentional encounter leads to something more, Quinn is torn.  She feels alive again around Colton, whose life has been changed completely by Trent’s death, but will the truth tear them apart or bring them even closer together?

My thoughts:

I was wandering through the library when the cover of this book caught my eye. I immediately felt sorry for the main character Quinn, I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to lose someone that close to you.  The story seemed like it would be the kind of book that would make me happy, so I picked it up and took it out.  As I kept reading, I got more into the book and I could not put it down. I felt like I was Quinn, as if all this was happening to me. I felt every emotion she felt.  This book reminded me a lot of the movie The Fault in Our Stars at some points, the main character Quinn is a lot like the main character in the movie, Hazel. They both go through a lot in their lives, and find ways to overcome these obstacles.  All the characters in this book are fairly well rounded, although we do not learn much about the other characters besides Quinn, Trent and Colton.  

I highly recommend this book, and I think it would make a great movie as well! Anyone who enjoys romance novels with a happy twist will like this book written by Jessi Kirby.

Reviewed by A.S., Grade 10 Scona student

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sick

Sick

by Tom Leveen

Plot:

The story takes place in a small town that is overrun with a disease that make the infected hostile against those that are not. When things go bad at the town’s fenced in high school and the protagonist Brian gets trapped in the drama room he realizes that he has to save his sister and ex girlfriend from the infected students before they get them.

My thoughts:

While the book has all the things a zombie book should have, namely suspense, horror, and gore, it does not do too much to expand on it. While the author does make it so that the infected are not undead but sick with a disease, this makes it difficult morally for the survivors to kill them even when they directly threaten their lives and they have seen what they do to people they catch, the suspense and horror go away towards the middle of the book, even the gore starts to go away, though it comes back every once and a while. I liked the characters though sometimes you just wonder why they say or do some things and the setting was quite interesting. You can feel bad for the characters and understand their fears and worries but the protagonist Brian and his friend Chad can do or say things that don’t make much sense.

I recommend this book as it is still a good read and you may enjoy it more than I did though I don’t recommend it for those that can’t take very descriptive gore in books. For its few flaws I can still recommend Sick by Tom Leveen to lovers of zombie horror stories.


reviewed by A.K., Grade 10 Scona student

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Calling

The Calling (Endgame #1)

by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton  

Plot:  

Imagine that you could be called upon to fight for you and your family line at any moment, but you didn’t know when. That your whole life you were trained to kill with flawless efficiency, and dispatch your enemies with ease. That there were eleven others just like you with different skills, mindsets and personalities. This is no ordinary competition. This is Endgame. Conditions, the players must be between the ages of 13 and 20 to play. To win, the players must collect three keys hidden around Earth. The rules, none. The winner spares his or hers family line from extinction. The losers die. Who will win? Will strength beat intelligence? Ruthlessness over kindness? Strong over weak? There can only be one. This is Endgame.     

My Thoughts:   

I got this book on my 16th birthday, which wasn’t long ago (March 26th) and I really liked this book. After reading the back of the book I thought it was gonna be another Hunger Games type of book, but after reading the first few chapters I was instantly drawn to it. The introduction and backstory of the characters was short yet informative, giving me ideas of what type of person he or she was. As you read on you get an idea of everyone’s perspective on the Endgame which really intrigued me to keep on reading. As I mentioned earlier this book reminded me of the Hunger Games novel but with a cool, sci-fi twist with it which I think makes it more appealing. Some of the character are really well rounded but I would of liked to know more of some the other characters backstory or history.    

I would recommend this book to people who like action, suspense, and some parts of romance. the second book to this series, Sky Key (Endgame #2) is out if you want to continue with the story I suggest you pick it up when you have the chance. But the first book, The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, is definitely worth the read.

Reviewed by B.C., Grade 10 Scona student