Toronto Public Library Homepage

Reviews: Your Bookmark Here Feed

Staff Picks: Honestly Ben

April 23, 2017 | Cameron | Comments (0)

BenIn the follow up/companion novel to "Openly Straight" Bill Konigsberg takes us back into the world of Ben Carver. Ben's life is back to normal and he has put the difficult relationship with Rafe behind him and he is doing very well. He is captain of the baseball team, has won a full scholarship to go to college and he kind of has a crush on this new girl Hannah. However, as Ben begins to mature and develop more he is beginning to notice things that did not capture his attention before.

His mother seems oddly removed from her own life, school feels much harder than it has in the past - especially with the pressure of maintaining high grades to keep his scholarship. Rafe is already dating someone else and Ben worries that he could be the normal that he needs right now. Also why is Ben's father so distant and yet so demanding?

"Honestly Ben" is a funny and impeccable read for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith and John Green. This book will appeal to anyone who at one point in their life has tried to just honestly be themselves.

Get the physical book here. No e-book at the moment but keep checking. 

Staff Picks: City of Saints and Thieves

April 16, 2017 | Alice | Comments (0)

City of saints and thievesIf there is one thing Tiny Girl knows, it's her plan for revenge: first Dirt, then Money, then Blood. She's been living and breathing it for years as she builds skills as a master thief for the Goondas and prepares herself. And now that it's time, she finds that the one thing she didn't prepare herself for was questioning her own mission and confronting the past that led her here. 

Tina is a Congolese refugee, invisible in the streets of Kenya's Sangui City, and hellbent on avenging her mother's death. She decides to take down the rich, powerful white man who took in her and her mother before her mom was murdered in his home. When she is compelled to investigate, she discovers a twisted path of corruption, brutality, and attempts at salvation that try to survive the hell of an ongoing war.

This book is a tense, taut thriller that urges you forward at the same time that it exposes the costs and casualties of wars fueled by gold in places we rarely hear about. Brilliantly written, it had me on the edge of my seat and deeply invested in Tiny's story and safety as she defies the Goonda boss to pursue the truth of her past. It's a rare combination of compelling and utterly new, and I've been recommending it to anyone who likes some meat in their mystery.

Read City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson, read the ebook, or listen to the eaudiobook.

Staff Picks: The Hate U Give

April 9, 2017 | Elsa | Comments (0)

  32075671On the drive home, 16 year-old Starr Carter and her childhood friend, Khalil, are pulled over. Khalil, unarmed, is fatally shot by the police officer and Starr is the sole witness to her friend's murder. In the months that follow, Starr struggles with the pressure of testifying before a grand jury and the responsibility of speaking out in Khalil's memory. To fit in with the different cultures of her elite private school and her violence-filled neighbourhood, Starr code switches and readers experience the hilarity and difficulties of her double life. The Hate U Give lays out the systemic racism in more ways then one in an honest, and unflinching way. More than just an excellent and timely young adult novel, it is also a compelling and hilarious family drama filled with characters that readers will love and identify deeply with. There is a hopeful message at the end and I cannot recommend the book enough.

The Hate U Give has received a lot of press and critical acclaim and movie rights have already been sold.  

Place a hold on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, read the ebook or listen to the eaudiobook.

Your Bookmark Here: The End of Oz

March 12, 2017 | Cameron | Comments (0)

In 2014 Danielle Paige introduced a new chapter in the Oz mythology; well researched and true to the originals, this new novel was about how Dorothy had returned to Oz and was ruining this magical place. Three years later and 7 novellas, 2 novels and we are finally  coming to the thrilling conclusion of what will Dorothy's fate be and will Amy Gumm successfully terminate her?

0062423770Over the scope of all the previous works comes the final chapter in this series. Amy has not been as successful as he had hoped at defeating Dorothy and her team and now she is under the firm grip of the Gnome King. Also some terrifying realities have been brought to light about the relationship between Kansas and Oz and what is really behind all the nefarious activities by the tyrants in the Emerald City.

To make matters worse Amy's arch-nemesis from Kansas, Madison, has shown up in Oz and Amy has to protect her as well as saver herself and Ozma from the Gnome king, get back to Oz and help the "Order of the Wicked" to save the magic that remains. However, Dorothy is driven by rage and out for revenge and she has a few tricks up her sleeve. Will Amy's inherited magic be enough to stop her? Can Oz ever return to the mythical and magical place it was before Dorothy ever arrived?

This is a page turning, jaw dropping, heart pounding of a conclusion. And if you are at all like this avid reader and fan of the series you will finish this book and return to the first one as there is so much you may have forgotten, or subtle hints that you didn't see. "The End of Oz" is available on May 14, 2017.

Place a hold on The End of Oz here. And keep a look out for the e-book coming soon.

Your Bookmark Here: We Are Okay

February 12, 2017 | Cameron | Comments (0)

WeareokayThis book had me by the cover. And I am not saying that you should judge a book by it's cover, but keep in mind that cover does a lot in selling the book. In Nina LaCour's new title (wonderfully being made to the public on valentines day) we have a beautiful and compelling tale of loss and sadness mixed with lies and betrayal.

It is the first school holiday since Marin started at college in New York leaving behind her life in California, all her friends, many of her possessions and full of secrets that no one knows. Not even her best friend Mable is aware of the baggage that she is carrying. As Marin sits and waits in her empty dorm for Mabel to arrive she begins to revisit and sift through the pieces of the past that she keeps tripping on.

Marin has allowed loneliness take up residence in her soul, but it is possible that the best thing for her is to tell the truth - or will that ruin her facade and actually turn her into a complete wreck?

This haunting novella weaves a tremendous tale and really engages you with the characters. This is a well received book and I can certainly understand why.

Place a hold on We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour.

Love Is Love: LGBTQ+ Valentine's Stories

February 11, 2017 | Alice | Comments (0)

Not every love story is a boy-meets-girl love story. Looking for a different pair of protagonists in your Valentine's read? Try one of these picks:

Ash, by Malinda Lo

You think you know this story, but you’re wrong. Her name isn’t Cinderella, it’s Ash. And he isn’t just a prince, he’s a fairy prince. He and his kind are hunted by the King’s Huntress. When Ash and the Huntress meet in the woods, the two become friends, even though Ash hides the truth about her prince. Given the option to leave behind the horrible life she’s known, to live in the beautiful fairy Realm, what will Ash choose? The fairy prince who loves her, or the woman she is falling for?
Recommended for fans of fantasy, fairy tales, or The Wild Hunt.
Orientations/identities represented: lesbian.

Place a hold on Ash or read the ebook!

Continue reading "Love Is Love: LGBTQ+ Valentine's Stories " »

Your Bookmark Here: Every Falling Star

January 24, 2017 | Analisa | Comments (0)


I have to admit before reading this book I didn’t know much about North Korea. My knowledge was limited to news reports on nuclear weapons, Communism, a young leader named Kim Jong-Un and that’s about it. I watched The Interview which I thought was funny, but I don’t think that counts for any real knowledge about North Korea. 

Every Falling Star changed this for me. As soon as I finished the book I wanted to research more about this complex and paradoxical country. The book is the author’s childhood memoir which chronicles a time when he went from a life of comfort and security to one of extreme poverty and violence. For reasons he cannot disclose, Sungju and his family were moved from the capital of Pyongyang to the poor town of Gyeong-Seong. There his family is eventually driven to the brink of starvation. His father makes the decision to take the dangerous journey to China where he will smuggle back supplies. After a long time without word, Sungju’s mother decides to leave town to visit his aunt where she might find food. Neither of his parents return and so Sungju is forced to live on the streets as a kotjebi or street boy. On the streets he is joined by his former schoolmates and they form an unbreakable bond and undying brotherhood.  Together they face horrible street violence, unspeakable military brutality, starvation, drugs and death but through it all an undeniable hope. 

What I loved most about this book was that it didn’t seem to be written as an intentional tear jerker, instead it was a realistic depiction of what life looks like when young people are faced with extreme conditions.  

The book was co-written by Susan McClelland author of the Bite of the Mango Part of the proceeds of the book go to the Citizens Alliance for North Koreans Human Rights to help North Koreans in China. 

Place a hold on Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea, by Sungju Lee or read the ebook.


Your Bookmark Here: Vassa in the Night

January 8, 2017 | Cameron | Comments (0)

VassaIn the mystical and magical land of Brooklyn lives Vassa and her not so pleasant stepmother and constantly  bickering step sisters. The wealthy and glamorous people put on their absolutely adorable shoes and go out partying often. There is a huge cultural divide between the upper class people and the working class and they don't mix. Magic is often to be found and dealt with but many times it is wiser just to leave magic alone. 

The local convenience store is run by Babs Yagg (think legend Babba Yagga) who has no issues with beheading shoplifters or dealing with people with her own personal sense of justice.  One night Vassa is sent out by her bickering step sisters to get light bulbs. This is very much a death sentence as she knows what can happen at the convenience store, but she herself has her own little piece of magic that she carries with her. Vassa just may be able to free her Brooklyn neighborhood from Babs but only if the playing field is level and fair. 

Vassa in the Night is a thrilling modern take on a fairy tale. Indulge yourself and give it a read.

Place a hold on Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter.        

Your Bookmark Here: Stealing Snow

December 25, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (0)

1681190761Danielle Paige burst onto the scene a few years ago with her re-imagining of the land of OZ. In her new title "Stealing Snow" she has taken the fairy tale of "The Snow Queen" (think Frozen but the original story" and re-imagined it as a modern day pilgrimage of a young woman finding herself.

The heroine of the book, 17 year old Snow, has been in a mental health institution for most of her life. She suffers from visions and delusions, however she is convinced that she does not belong there and that the things in her head are actually memories and not an affliction. She meets the handsome and mysterious (you have to have some fairy tale tropes) Bale and he helps her to escape.

Once out of the institution and into the woods the line between reality and fairy tale becomes even more blurred as New York City fades and she is in a Narnia like world where there is magic and witches and thieves. Snow may very well belong in this world, but is it a place that she can survive?

Your Bookmark Here: Shooter by Caroline Pignat

December 7, 2016 | Analisa | Comments (0)

ShooterIn Shooter, five grade 12 students find themselves trapped inside the boys’ washroom during a school lockdown. The group couldn't be more different or more annoyed with each other. As the lockdown prolongs the students quickly realize the severity of their situation; there is real danger that lurks outside of the washroom door and there is also a real need for them to trust each other in order to survive this.

Told from the perspective of each of the five students, through narration, journals and text messages, Pignat reveals that typically typecast characters often have so much more back story than what is usually perceived.  What's more is that she reveals what can happen when the characters lose their judgements of each other and instead work towards keeping each other alive.

The book is well paced, and the characters in the story are believable and nuanced. It has also been nominated for the 2017 Red Maple Fiction Award. Check out our blog post of all the Red Maple nominees, complete with links to place your holds.

Place a hold on Shooter by Caroline Pignat, or read the ebook.

Your Bookmark Here: Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

December 1, 2016 | Claire | Comments (0)

TitleWhat would you do to get into your university of choice?  Study hard?  Do volunteer work?  Design an app?  If you're trying to get into Stanford like Reshma Kapoor, you know that it might take a little something more than that.  Something spectacular.  Something that will set you apart from all the other top-of-their-school applicants.  A hook--something nobody else has.

Reshma's hook?  She's going to write a teen novel while still in high school.  And get it published.  By an actual publishing house.  She actually has an agent.  What could possibly go wrong?

I kept going back and forth while I was reading this book.  There were times when I found myself caught up in Reshma's energy, determination, and dirty schemes, and other times when I found myself starting to dislike her--she's kind of like Anakin Skywalker, a lot of potential but way too open to the dark side.  The author's webpage describes the book as a cross between Gossip Girl and House of Cards.  Who could resist?

Oh, and by the way?  If you like metafiction--walk, don't run, to your library shelves.  You can't get more meta than this one. 

Place a hold on Enter Title Here, by Rahul Kanakia.

Everything, Everything Movie In The Works

November 22, 2016 | Helena | Comments (0)

Everything Everything

As the saying goes, anticipation is half the fun.  In that spirit, have you heard the good news that a movie is in the works for Nicola Yoon's smash hit Everything, Everything?  It's set for August of next year and will star Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg.  You might also want to check out Nicola's latest book The Sun Is Also A Star which, again, is a hit with readers, currently sitting at #6 on the New York Times Best Seller List, and critics alike.  Be sure to check out both books!  

Your Bookmark Here: The Sun is Also a Star

November 9, 2016 | Claire A | Comments (0)

The Sun is Also a Star

Have you ever met someone and knew right away that this was the person you were meant to spend the rest of your life with?  That's how Daniel feels when he meets Natasha.  He's a dreamer who believes in love.  She's a skeptic who believes in facts not destiny.  When they meet on a crowded New York City street, Daniel is convinced they are meant to be - even though his strict Korean parents would never allow this relationship.  But Natasha isn't in the mood for love - her family is being deported back to Jamaica that night and she has one shot left at saving them.  Despite everything on her plate, Natasha begins to fall for Daniel and the two take a journey on what might be her last day in America, exploring life, love and hope for bigger and better things to come.  

The Sun is Also a Star has been chosen as a finalist for the National Book Awards #NBAwards! For more news, check out this interview with author Nicola Yoon, or take a look at her @NicolaYoon twitter feed.

If you missed her previous bestselling book Everything, Everything it's not too late to place a hold!

Place a hold on The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, read the ebook or listen to the eaudiobook.

Your Bookmark Here: Monster Books for People Who Don't Like Monster Books

October 5, 2016 | Claire | Comments (0)

I read two pretty interesting books this week, both, in a way, about monsters.  These two books, though,  also couldn't be more different.  I thought I'd give them both some airtime.

IrreversibleThe way it looks is not the way it is.  That's what Keir Sarafian keeps telling us.  We met him in Inexcusable back in 2005, and watched as this "good guy" struggled to explain why his football team called him "Killer", how he came to have a football tackle so powerful that it crippled another player, and why his best friend, Gigi, claims that he raped her.  The brilliant thing about this book was the point of view.  Even though Keir is telling his own story, by the end of the book I don't know anyone who wasn't convinced that he was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty.  Inexcusable was the first teen fiction I'd read from the point of view of a date rapist, and it was compelling.  And scary.  

Now it's a few months later, and Keir is picking up his life.  He's not going to jail (Gigi's family doesn't want her pressing charges).  But he's not wanted at the University where the assault took place, so he hastily gets a half-scholarship at a smaller school, and hopes to leave his past behind him.  Unfortunately, he finds that impulsiveness and a violent temperament are hard to shake.  Even harder to shake is his obsessive need to blame others for his own actions.   Irreversible really shows how deeply Keir was influenced by a culture of masculinity which accepts certain types of violence while at the same time denying responsibility for it.    It put me in mind of this video by Blue Seat Studios:



A lot of the reviews are focusing on the question of whether or not Keir grows to understand the enormity, and the enormous wrongness, of what he did.  I don't think he does, not in this book, even though he does admit to Gigi that "I have seen enough to feel like I can believe you...more than I can believe myself." (He is never able to say the word "rape".)    Keir still has a long, long way to go.

Here's a short video of author Chris Lynch talking about Irreversible.  


 If you're not in thMonstere mood for the realism of Irreversible, you might want to consider J.P. Romney's debut novel, The Monster on the Road is Me.  Set in a small town in modern Japan, the story is about Koda, a blisteringly funny young man who's a bit too geeky to have many friends (he fantasizes about being a hero pilot despite his narcolepsy, which requires him to wear an enormously awkward-looking helmet during his waking day).   When a girl he likes commits suicide, and then more suicides come to light, signs point to a supernatural cause.  Evil crows, a Tengu demon, a kappa demon, a mysterious, snarky girl who may be connected to a goddess--Koda has to contend with all of these in his quest to save his town.  Hilarious, melancholy, a little spooky, a little romantic, this is magic realism done Japanese-style.  I highly recommend it. 



The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

August 24, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Squirrel Girl cover Marvel's Unbeatable Squirrel Girl may not be as well known as the Avengers or the X-Men, but she's the only one who's beaten all the biggest and toughest - Wolverine? Check. Deapool? Yup. Doctor Doom AND Thanos? Got the better of both of them. Sometimes, cute and resourceful is totally better than raw power, and Doreen Green is proof. Read all about her adventures with Tippy Toe this summer! 


August 10, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Awkward coverAwkward is an aptly titled chronicle of social awkwardness, misunderstandings, and the clash of different groups of middle schoolers. Peppi is endearing but makes a mess of things with Jaime, and soon finds her art group at war with his science group, and she wonders if she can ever make things right so everyone can enjoy their year without all the drama. We all feel like Peppi sometimes, making this one a fun, relateable read for summer. 

Your Bookmark Here: Never Missing Never Found

August 9, 2016 | Claire A | Comments (0)

27190610You cannot trust anyone.  That is the basic premise of Never Missing Never Found by Amanda Panitch.  Kidnapped at a young age, Scarlett manages to escape her captor and return to her family as a teenager.  Her therapist suggests getting a summer job to help her reintegrate into society.  However, when her supervisor goes missing on the first day, old memories start to rush back.  Things get worse when she bumps into Pixie, a girl who resembles a fellow captor and also works at the same amusement park.  Pixie makes it her mission to constantly remind Scarlett of her captive days, never allowing her to recover from her past.  The chapters jump back and forth between flashbacks and reality and will keep you on the edge of your seat.  And if you think you've figured everything out, think again.  The twists and turns will keep you guessing until the last pages of the novel.


Book Review: The Emperor Of Any Place

July 28, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

     Emperor of any place
123 Any Place is the home of Clifford E. Griffin III and his seventeen year old son, Evan, in a peaceful subdivision of Toronto. All is fine until Evan comes home one day to find his dad face down, head resting on a yellow book. Except, he's not asleep – he's dead. Before he died, Clifford had been reading a book written by a Japanese soldier named Isamu Ōshiro, who found himself stranded on a deserted island in the North Pacific toward the end of World War II. The yellow book is a memoir of his period on the island, which he literally names Kokoro-Jima in reference to the heart shape of the island. This memoir is addressed to Isamu's wife, Hisako, who is situated in Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific. Soon, Evan discovers a letter to his dad from Leonardo Kraft, connecting his cantankerous grandfather to the memoir itself. Somehow, his brash grandfather is blocking the publication of the journal for reasons unknown.

    Prompted by his neighbours, Evan decides to phone his infamous grandfather, Griff, in hopes of him helping out with financial and legal affairs. Griff, a sergeant major, shared a wretched relationship with Clifford due to Clifford evading drafting into the Vietnam War in respect to his pacifist nature. Both father and son have had a hate fest going on since Clifford's teenage years and it is heightened even more once Clifford moved to Canada. Curious, Evan begins to read Ōshiro's memoir one night, but in a relatively short time, Griff notifies him of his early arrival – arriving a week earlier than expected of him. But, does his early unexpected arrival correlate with the memoir?

    The memoir of Isamu Ōshiro in conjunction with Evan's story is fascinating. Isamu describes his arrival to Kokoro-Jima after his escape from Tinian, another small island near Saipan. Heavily injured, he recalls ghostly children, who hover near him and who he considers to be his own. Soon, he discovers corpse like creatures which he calls Jikininki who feed off of the dead that appear on the island. Isamu decides to carry out the role of undertaker on the island to send the dead to the Afterlife. Ensuing the aforementioned Jikininki lead Isamu to a collapsed cargo plane where he discovers the two corpses of the pilot and co-pilot. As he scours the plane, Isamu realizes that the navigator is missing. Eventually, he finds Derwood Kraft, the heavily injured navigator, with his own ghost family. Suddenly, this gaijin (foreigner) and Isamu discover Tengu, a grotesque and vile creature, who attacks the American navigator. But, will Isamu help his adversary in need or watch him die at the hands of Tengu?

    The island, Kokoro-Jima, is home to a variety of ghosts. Jikininki are human eating ghosts, desiring the memories of those they eat. Interestingly, Jikininki happen to be the ghosts of "what never can be". In contrast, the ghostly children are companion ghosts who are the ghosts of “what will be". In other words, Jikininki are the ghosts of those who were never born and companion ghosts are the ones waiting to be born; for example, a person's child-to-be. Each person on the island (e.g., Isamu, Derwood, Griff and so forth) has a group of companion ghosts, who are somehow related to them. I felt pity for the Jikininki as they desired the memories of those who were living since they couldn't make their own. One thing I absolutely adored to bits was the incorporation of Japanese folk and mythology. Out of curiosity, I looked up more information regarding any of the creatures and the information is quite accurate in respect to the book.

    Essentially, all of this sets the platform for this well-crafted novel. The base of this novel revolves around Ōshiro’s memoir and how this memoir is connected to Evan's grandfather. Interestingly, this original memoir was written in kanji and was translated in English by Derwood Kraft, in honour of his friend Isamu. Tim Wynne-Jones seamlessly switches between the past and present, heightening the tension in both tenses. He blends Evan's grief and rage at his father's death with Griff's subtle agony over the reconciliation he never had with his now deceased son. He delves into the impact love, peace, fear and hate may have on any generation, whether from the past or present. Toward the end, we see reconciliation as Evan and Griff tie the last loose knot, coming upon a common goal, strengthening their new familial bond. All of the characters seemed to have their own significance, even the grotesque Tengu, and I enjoyed how they were effortlessly incorporated.

    Initially, I was skeptical due to the cover and blurb, but the actual content is crafted with appropriate research. The vocabulary is a bit advanced and I would definitely have a dictionary at hand in case you run upon an unknown word. At some points, it was mildly irritating to stop and look up the word - which I did quite a lot. I enjoy learning new vocabulary, so it wasn't too much of a bother. The vocabulary definitely does enhance the book, especially when you take in the setting of the memoir. All in all, The Emperor of Any Place is a wondrous novel to read and I wouldn't mind reading it again.

Rating: 5/5

The Emperor of Any Place

July 27, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Emperor of Any Place coverThe Emperor of Any Place is a mystery that intertwines past and present, as Evan wrestles with his father's death, the arrival of his grandfather, and the strange secrets and stories contained in the diary his father was reading. As Evan reads about two soldiers trapped on an island of ghost and monsters in world War II, he tries to figure out just who his grandfather is and how this journal came into his father's hands. Spooky, suspenseful, and occasionally beautiful, this is a great read by the author of Blink & Caution and The Uninvited

Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

July 15, 2016 | Youth Advisory Group | Comments (0)

Rating: 4.5/ 218536365 STARS 

 I read this book through the White Pine challenge in my high school's library and it was the first book I chose to read. At first, I dreaded the fact that I had to read the book because I felt forced, on the other hand, I was also intrigued by the story line. So why the 4.5 stars? To begin with, the author's writing style suited the story perfectly; the alternating story of Romy's flashback and present life helped advance the plot. This book also had a hint of thrills and mystery, both of which I'm into. Honestly, I was so hooked by the book that I finished the whole book in one sitting and I was surprised at how much I liked it in the end. I won't tell you all the details in the book because I'll just spoil it, but I will say that this book delves into the dark side of social issues; it covers issues like bullying, rape and abuse of women. In the end, I felt what people like Romy go through in their life; it opened my eyes to problems like rape and their victims. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to vary their reading and read something new. Anyway, I also have to say thank you to the beautiful cover of the book that also made me want to pick it up!

All The Rage

July 13, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Our Top Ten book of the week is Courtney Summers' All The Rage. 

All the Rage cover Things have been tough for Romy after being assaulted by the sheriff's son in her small town. But when she hears rumours of another assault and a girl goes missing, she has to wrestle with the decision between speaking out or staying silent. All The Rage explores rape culture and the aftermath of sexual assault in this raw novel.

Your Bookmark Here: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

July 12, 2016 | Claire | Comments (0)

Raven"She just wanted to keep being best friends with Gansey forever, and maybe one day also have carnal knowledge of him.  This seemed like a very sensible desire, and Blue, as someone who had sought to be sensible her entire life, was feeling pretty damn put out that this small thing was being denied her."

First of all, I just have to say, that is one beautiful cover. 

Way back in 2012, I read The Raven Boys, the first book in The Raven Cycle by the wonderful Maggie Stiefvater.  I really got involved in its rich approach to character.  I particularly loved the pragmatic Blue Sargent and her rambling household of women psychics, some of them her family, some friends so close they might as well be family, and all of them handy with a tarot card.  I thought Stiefvater handled the fantasy elements of this book with a lot of originality:  we were set up for a story about a curse and an ancient Welsh king with mystical powers (Owen Glendower).  For most writers, that would have been enough to handle.  But for Stiefvater, that's only the launching point of a story that also encompasses ghosts, ley lines, a forest where the trees whisper in Latin, and everyday people with the ability to do impossible things. 

When I read the The Dream Thieves a year later, though, I knew I was in trouble.  Stiefvater's story is just too detailed and interconnected for me  to pick it up comfortably after so much time had lapsed.  So I decided to wait until the series was over until I read any more.  And this is my lucky year:  The Raven King is finally out, and to celebrate, I went back and read the whole story cycle again from the beginning, knowing that this time I would be able to finish. 

It was worth the wait.  The Raven King isn't a perfect book, but it's a very thoughtful and exciting one.  I enjoyed how I kept getting to know more about the cast of main characters right up towards the end, and how even minor characters seemed so three-dimensional.  This book tackles serious topics--death, trauma, healing, purpose--but it is about friendship most of all.  Blue and her raven boys are well worth getting to know. 

Here's a recent interview with Stiefvater:



And just for fun, here's a TED talk she did on on "bad" teens and their fame potential: 



And, if you'd like to know more about Maggie's  writing process, check out the book she co-wrote with her critique partners, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff.  Each writer contributes a short story, along with a backgrounder on how it was developed.   There's a lot of insight here on how critical readers can be a writer's best friend. 


Your Bookmark Here: A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

July 11, 2016 | Amanda | Comments (0)

A small madnessRose and Michael are two young high school students who are in love and looking forward to the future. But when Rose becomes pregnant, she begins a downward spiral into denial, struggling with coming to terms with being pregnant, pulling away from her best friend and ultimately descending into her own madness. Michael deals with the news of the pregnancy in his own way, becoming sullen and quiet, losing interest in many of the things that brings him pleasure and slowly sinking into his own kind of madness.

Characters are flawed and real. As the reader, you unpack the heavy story, wanting to interject, to stop what is about to happen, but ultimately succumbing to the fate of each character. As the story continues you become increasingly aware that Rose and Michael, along with secondary characters all descend into their own state of frenzy.

Dianne Touchell’s novel
is inspired by a true story. It is heartbreaking and enthralling, compassionate and honest. Touchell makes a difficult story readable and offers insight into the complicated world of real life decisions.

Strange Lights and Dusty Moons

July 7, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

This week, we are featuring TWO of our Top Ten summer reads. Bonus!

Strange Light Afar

Strange Light Afar is a gorgeous book filled with strange tales of the supernatural drawn from Japanese culture. Author Rui Umezawa is a consummate storyteller who explores the "why" behind the stories as he explores them. If you are looking for something a little haunting, you'd do well to start right here. 

Under the Dusty Moon cover


 Under The Dusty Moon explores mothers and daughters, Toronto's music scene, and finding yourself when you live in someone else's shadow. The book breathes with the rhythm of the city, and features gamers as much as rock stars, giving it a unique flavour.


Find these and other great reads on our Summer Reads page!  

Your Bookmark Here: Savage

July 3, 2016 | Cameron | Comments (1)

SavagemThis book shares some similarities with the John Carpenter film "The Fog", in "Savage" a tropical storm brings with it a supernatural force hellbent on killing any living thing.

Continue reading "Your Bookmark Here: Savage " »

Youth Hub Homework. My Curved Border

Sign up for our
teen email newsletter