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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.

Anti-Valentine's: Recommended Reads for the Unromantic

February 9, 2017 | Amy | Comments (0)

Pink hearts everywhere. Candy that says “Be Mine, Valentine”. Pet names and mushy stuff. Maybe it just isn’t for you. So here’s a list of books we recommend that are romance-free-zones (at least 95% romance-free, anyway), with no love triangles in sight.

(A. J. Hartley)
High above the city, Ang works a dangerous job repairing chimneys, towers, and spires as a steeplejack. Death from a fall is a real possibility, and even the best of the best sometimes take a spill. So the death of Ang’s apprentice from an apparent fall isn’t that surprising. But when Ang finds out that her apprentice was murdered, the crime is overshadowed by the greatest theft her city has ever seen. Determined to unravel the mystery and find justice for her friend, it isn’t falling to her death that becomes the greatest danger to Ang…

This novel is hard to put down once you get started, full of action and excitement from the very beginning. Hopefully a sequel will be in store, too!

Recommended for fans of Parkour, bungee jumping, or girls who kick butt.

There’s also a short-story prequel, available as an eBook!


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Four Teen Reviews by Tiffany

September 3, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

Reviews by Tiffany, age 18


A story about hope in an enchanting world with a unique protagonist – it will leave you breathless.

Atlantia by Ally Condie Cover ImageAlly Condie’s Atlantia left me in pieces. I was literally brimming with emotions by the time I put this book down at 2:30 in the morning. The novel teaches us about the consequences of prejudice and stigma through the divide between humans and “sirens,” both of whom are living in an underwater world, a place they call “Below.” These “sirens” aren’t mythological sirens, but are actually a rare group of people with the ability to control “normal” people with their voices. Instead of revering the sirens’ power, people shunned them for it. This resulted in some sirens being placed under the watchful eye of Below’s leaders and other sirens hiding their powers, such as the protagonist, Rio. She and others like her know that others will fear them just because of the powers with which they were born. And, needless to say, throughout this novel, we’re taught that sirens aren’t just monsters. They are humans, too. Different, as Rio mentions, but still humans.

The characters in the novel are wonderfully unique and realistic. Rio, for example, isn’t super trusting of others, but she isn’t hostile to them either. She’s quiet and isn’t loud-mouthed, but at the same time, she isn’t meek or a pushover. She’s got dimensions to her, rather than having just a single dominating trait to her.

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Teen Review: The Mystery Boxes

August 27, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Explorer-mystery-boxesReview by Syeda, age 14
'A book about mysterious boxes? YESS!' That's what I thought when I saw this book and it sure didn't disappoint me. This is a graphic novel that's made up of 7 different stories with the same main concept; mysterious boxes. Each one is a different story with its own illustration style and genre. I love how the book is based on giving different artist-authors the same main concept, and letting them create whatever the want out of it.

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Two Teen Reviews from Farin

August 25, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Pretty little liarsTV Show: Pretty Little Liars

Currently in the midst of its seventh season, Pretty Little Liars is a drama that has attracted millions of viewers. Four best friends, Spencer (played by Troian Bellasario), Aria (played by Lucy Hale), Hanna (played by Ashley Benson), and Emily (played by Shay Mitchell) are reunited after the leader of the group, Alison (played by Sasha Pieterse), is allegedly murdered. When they begin receiving messages from a mysterious villain named "A" who threatens and tortures them for the mistakes they've made before and after Alison was alive, how far will they go to bury their secrets?  

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Book Review: Masterminds

August 7, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Review by Daniel

Masterminds-coverMasterminds, by Gordon Korman, is one of those books that leaves you wondering what will happen in the next book at the end. I have mixed feelings about this kind of books, I am annoyed that I can’t figure out what’s going to happen next, and yet I’m also in satisfaction because I just finished a good book. Originally, I found this book while I was doing the Silver Birch reading club at school along with a bunch of other books. But none of them were as good as this one. 

The story starts off in a small town in the middle of nowhere called Serenity, where everything is perfect. The grass is green, the houses are all painted perfectly, and every household has a tree house in the backyard along with a swimming pool. One day, Eli goes bike riding to the edge of his town, and faints. The doctors tell him he was dehydrated but he thinks something fishy is going on.

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Book Review Classic Mystery Goodness

August 7, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

Review by Mahdyar, age 14

Murder-on-the-Orient-ExpressThe book Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is a must read book if you are interested in thrillers and is exiting and mysterious from start to beginning. The book is about a murder taking place on a train, but this murder is a very complicated one. It is the job of a detective named Poirot to find out the mystery and solve the case. The book leaves you guessing till the very end, and when the mystery is solved, you cant believe it, because this book has a very unexpected ending.

The book has a pretty advanced vocabulary and it pays a lot of attention to details but it never gets boring. Agatha Christie has a lot of famous thriller books and all of them are interesting but this book is the very best. Hope you enjoy reading it.

Book Review: She Is Not Invisible

August 6, 2016 | Alice | Comments (0)

She is not invisiblereview by Jessie Li

The book, She Is Not Invisible written by Marcus Sedgwick is about a sixteen-year old girl named Laureth who sets off to find her missing father with her little brother, Benjamin. The duo take a plane to New York, where their father Jack, is believed to have gone missing. After receiving emails from the mysterious 'Mr. Walker' who has found Jack's notebook, they agree to meet up with him in hopes of uncovering new leads. 

Now at this point you may ask, "Why did Laureth bring her little brother?" and "What about her mother?"

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YA Literature & Retellings Inspired by Classic Stories

August 2, 2016 | Christine | Comments (0)

I have always enjoyed reading fairy tales and other classic stories from many different places. I like to see where they come from, what were the ideas behind them, and how they can change depending on who was telling them. Some of my favourite books are based on retellings of these stories, like The Fables: Legends in ExileRomeo and/or Juliet, and The Eyre Affair. In each of these books, the authors have taken their inspirations from familiar tales, and have shaped them into something wonderfully original that I have really enjoyed reading. And so, if you're looking for some really interesting reads based on some great classic and traditional stories from around the world, then check out the following nine books from our 100 Summer Reads list at the library this summer.

Every Word by Ellie Marney Cover Image1. Every Word by Ellie Marney-- James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents ... without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'. Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him ... and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble. The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents.... Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever? This is also available as an eBook.


Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola Cover Image2. Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola -- Most children think twice before braving a haunted wood filled with terrifying beasties to match wits with a witch, but not Masha. Her beloved grandma taught her many things: that stories are useful, that magic is fickle, that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga's house-on-chicken-legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu!

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell Cover Image3. Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell – Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to  be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home. Then, on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools, hidden there – and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules, - be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last. This is also available as an eBook


This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee Cover Image4. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee -- In an alternative fantasy world where some men are made from clockwork parts and carriages are steam powered, Alasdair Finch, a young mechanic, does the unthinkable after his brother dies: he uses clockwork pieces to bring Oliver back from the dead. But the resurrection does not go as planned, and Oliver returns more monster than man. Even worse, the novel Frankenstein is published and the townsfolk are determined to find the real-life doctor and his monster. With few places to turn for help, the dangers may ultimately bring the brothers together—or ruin them forever. This is also available as an eBook.

Song For Ella Grey by David Almond Cover Image5. A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond -- Claire and Ella and their friends are bound by ties so strong they seem unbreakable. Then the strange and handsome Orpheus strolls onto the beach, and he sings them all into an astonishing new understanding of themselves. Ella is caught the hardest, fastest, deepest—and Claire is left with the pain of looking on. Raw, emotional, lyrical, funny, and true, A Song for Ella Grey is a tale of the joys, troubles, and desires of modern teens. It takes place in the ordinary streets of Tyneside and on the beautiful beaches of Northumberland. It’s a story of first love, a love song that draws on ancient mythical forces. A love that leads Ella, Orpheus, and Claire to the gates of Death and beyond. This is also available as an eBook.


Strange Light Afar by Rui Umezawa Cover Image

6. Strange Light Afar: Tales of the Supernatural from Old Japan by Rui Umezawa – From horror movies to manga, anime and video games, Japanese stories are  built on a long tradition of folk tales that celebrate the strange, the violent, and the beautiful. In this stunning new collection, Rui Umezawa revisits eight well-known traditional tales, exploring the psychological motivations of the characters – motivations that draw on the deepest human emotions of greed, rage, desire and fear. Sometimes laced with ironic humour, sometimes truly horrifying, these stories will appeal to all fans of the strange and the supernatural. This is also available as an eBook.


A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston Cover Image7. A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston -- Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, so when she is taken to the king's dangerous court she believes death will soon follow. But night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awakened by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong. With each tale she tells, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster. This is also available as an eBook.

Worlds of Ink and Shadows by Lena Coakley Cover Image

8. Worlds of Ink and Shadows by Lena Coakley – Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontës have always been inseparable. After all,  nothing can bond  four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to descend into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters – the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna – refuse to let them go. This is also available as an eBook.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Page Cover Image9. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Page – In this third book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, new girl from Kansas Amy Gumm is caught between her home—and Oz. “My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because—just like Dorothy—I got swept away on one too. I landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling: Assassin. The way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz—and Kansas—is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it. But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened. And if I don’t find a way to close it? Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again. Now it’s up to me to: join the Witches, fight for Oz, save Kansas, and stop Dorothy once and for all.” This is also available in Audiobook and eAudiobook formats.

Happy reading!

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

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie : Review

July 22, 2016 | Christine | Comments (2)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Book Cover ImageBy: Norah
Agatha Christie's book Murder on the Orient Express is a thrilling murder mystery that will leave you guessing to the very end, only to leave you shocked. This timeless book is loved by all, and is defiantly a good read. I would recommend it to anyone who can handle the vocabulary, which is a bit advanced, and slight gory details. It also comes with a television adaption for those who are interested. Without spoiling it, the basic plot follows a Belgian detective named Hercule Poirot who is traveling on the train called the Orient Express. When a rich man is murdered, he is called to crack the case. Happy Reading!

This book is also available in Audiobook, eAudiobook, and eBook formats. There are also some movie versions available too!

Your Bookmark Here: Beware That Girl

May 31, 2016 | Michelle S | Comments (0)

BewarethatGirlGossip Girl meets Gone Girl with a twist of We Were Liars.

Theresa Toten delivers the perfect blend of chick-lit and thriller in her new book Beware that Girl.

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MR MERCEDES reviewed

March 27, 2016 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Mr. mercedes coverReviewed by Mahdi, member of the Cedarbrae Youth Advisory Group

The book Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King is an extraordinary book that will keep you on your toes. The book takes place in the year 2009, during the great recession; this becomes the critical point in the story as it triggers many events. The book takes various twists and turns that will keep readers guessing as to when the murderer, Brady Hartfield, will strike again. The book portrays several different personalities who come together as one towards the end of the story; for a great ending that will shock the readers and keep them in awe. Stephen King did an amazing job in writing the story, as it was well written and very detailed.

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January 20, 2016 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Review by Sara

Change of heart cover

Billy and Sean have been rivals since middle school. Sean took Billy’s girlfriend, Morgan, to make both Tamara ( Sean’s ex-girlfriend who cheated on him) and Billy jealous. Sean was the star player on his hockey team and was the “Joe Cool” of his school. Everyone envied him, especially Jon Czerny, who was supposed be captain of the team. Before Sean became more popular among university scouts because he had “good grades”. ( Sean actually made another kid and Morgan do his homework for him.) Sean’s two older brothers, Kevin and Colin Sloane also hated him. These two did not have good grades and some injuries made them forbidden to go onto the ice again while Sean was the star of the family.

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January 17, 2016 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Review by Ishan

Red river stallion coverRed River Stallion, a book written by Troon Harrison, is set in 1830, and Harrison claims that it is based on the true story of a horse named Fireway.

This book revolves around Amelia, a young Cree girl who notices a horse (named Foxfire) for the first time and is convinced that the horse is her ‘pawakan’, her spirit guide.

She saves the horse from drowning - and the horse saves her from drowning! The horse’s owner, Orchid, a white woman, is relieved and thanks Amelia for returning it to her. Amelia believes this will be the last time she is with Foxfire - until she finds a 13-year-old letter written by her father, Simon Mackenzie, a Scot.

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Your Bookmark Here: Small Bones

November 4, 2015 | Michelle S | Comments (0)

Meet Dot, seventeen year old girl with big dreams but a tiny stature.  The year is 1964 and Dot finds herself once again stranded and alone as her only home The Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls-an orphanage, burns down.  She has no other choice but to leave, and so Small Bones begins with Dot's journey in search of her birth parents and answers to her numerous questions.  Luck brings her to a rural lakeside resort in Ontario where rumour has it a tiny baby, the size of a dot went missing seventeen years ago.  Could this baby be her?  Can Dot find a way to learn more about this so called rumour and uncover the identity of her parents?  A mix of girl meets cute boy, summer romance, suspense, drama and mystery, Small Bones is a great addition to the Secret Series.  Vicki Grant intertwines both humour and tension, creating the perfect balance between dark and light.  A quick read perfect for the weekend! 


 Small Bones

Red Maple and White Pine 2016 Award Nominees Announced!

October 15, 2015 | Amy | Comments (4)


Check out our new post for the 2017 Red Maple and White Pine Award Nominees!



RushThe OLA (Ontario Library Association) has announced the nominees for the 2016 Red Maple and White Pine awards!  In case you haven’t heard of them before, these two awards are part of the Forest of Reading Awards for Canadian books in various categories. In particular, Red Maple is for fiction aimed at grades 7-8 and White Pine is for fiction aimed at grades 9-12. Every year, over 250,000 readers take part in voting for the winning books.

Many, many excellent books make the list. In fact, the current e-Writer in Residence, Eve Silver, won the 2015 White Pine award for Rush!

(Back when I was voting for the Red Maple winner, my favourite book was Dahling, if you Luv Me, Won’t You Please, Please Smile? by Rukhsana Khan. Bonus points to anyone who figures out which year that was nominated!)


If you want to participate and cast your vote, you need to get reading! So here are the nominated lists for this year:

Red Maple

 White Pine

All the rageSo far I've read The Dogs, All the Rage, and Fragile Bones. I would highly recommend all three. Next on the list, I think I’ll be reading The Troops. Nothing like a good horror book for Halloweentober! If you're unsure for where to start, try reading one of the reviews above! You can also find more teen reviews and staff reviews on our blog. Want to submit your own reviews for these books? You can do that too!

Does your school take part in the Forest of Reading voting? Which books from this year's list have you read? Which ones are you excited to read? Tell us in the comments!


This post was updated November, 2016.

The Red Maple Awards were announced and Alan Stratton won for The Dogs. Awesome! Read a list of all of the Red Maple nominees and winners over the years.

For the White Pine, the 2016 winner was The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts. Amazing! Here's a list of all of the White Pine nominees and winners to date.


October 1, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Reviewed by Emily, age 15

The Body Finder book cover This book was thrilling, and it gave me goosebumps! I couldn't put it down all night; the action, mystery and romance were all very well balanced and made me shiver with anticipation.  

In The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, we meet Violet, who was a special child, and she knew she was different. Ever since she was young, she would find dead things, and would know exactly where they were.

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Your Bookmark Here: Lock & Mori

September 29, 2015 | Alice | Comments (2)

For a guy who was hot in the 1890s, Sherlock Holmes is fully having a moment these last few years. 

Between the BBC show Sherlock that has made Benedict Cumberbatch a major star and the show Elementary, everybody seems to be doing a reboot of Sherlock, so it's no surprise that this has found its way into the publishing world, where not one but two books that have come out this month feature characters that are new twists on the originals and strong flavours of the world of Holmes, even though both are set in modern times.

Lock & moriIn Lock & Mori, Sherlock Holmes is only local legend in the school as a teen, not yet the reknowned detective he would become, but he is already very interested in investigating crimes and undercutting police detectives less astute than him. When he meets up with Mori, the clever daughter of former cop Sgt. Moriarty, there is immediate interest in her and in her eidetic memory. Soon, the pair are both working together and competing against each other, unraveling a mystery that soon encompasses her dead mother's early life as well. 

The tension between Lock & Mori, as they call each other, mounts as she withholds information from him and from her abusive, alcoholic father's growing suspicions about what she knows. Sherlock cares for Mori, and seeing her in more and more danger but not being able to solve the puzzle yet is making him increasingly difficult to work with. By contrast, his brother Mycroft is a sure presence, solid as his brother is high-strung, and he steps in to take care of things on occasion, as he did in the original series.

The roles are not quite the same, of course, but some of the same push-pull and grudging respect between the two is here, as well as a fresh dose of teamwork that makes this pairing new. It's a really fun read, with nicely taut suspense, strong personalities, and a plot that keeps driving forward while leaving room for a followup. Here's hoping that author Heather W. Petty will write one for us!  

Every wordEvery Word is less of a reboot and more of a nod to Holmes' London, but just as fun and compelling a read. Here, Rachel Watts is barred from seeing her boyfriend Mycroft thanks to the fallout from an earlier adventure (in Every Breath), and the two are doing their best to find moments to share, when he disappears in the middle of one night, leaving her a text to tell her he's gone to London with his coroner mentor and teacher, who has been called in to consult in the death of an Australian national. 

The problem is, this death bears striking resemblance to the car crash that took Mycroft's parents and left him scarred in body and mind, and Rachel is sure he's headed for an emotional crash, not to mention that she is sure he's going to try to link them, no matter how much of a stretch that might seem to be. In a panic, she jumps on a plane with her brother's girlfriend, already headed there on vacation, leaving her brother to handle their parents' reactions. 

Once in London, Watts manages to get Mycroft to open up a bit, but immediately finds herself a captive of the very people behind both the theft of a rare book and the car crash they are investigating. She's put the pieces together, but her and Mycroft's propensity for finding trouble has got them both in a tight spot, and she's not quite sure how they're going to get out alive. 

Tension is high in this book, too, particularly once Watts & Mycroft are in the grips of the dangerous men who want some answers they don't have, and it makes the second half fly. I always feel it's a good sign when you care about the outcome for the characters, and I was definitely on edge here! That, and of all the YA novels where teens take off across the world, this one seemed most believable. She has someone with her who knows her way around, her brother is aware, her parents are furious. None of that is taken lightly, which gives it a nice dose of real life, as do all the details about her life in Melbourne contrasted with the streets of London. The flavour of Holmes comes through in small bits, it's not overdone, and I quite liked how it just gives a little something extra. Overall, a great read, and now I'm going back to put a hold on the first book! 


September 6, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

Review by Muheet, Albert Campbell Youth Advisory Group member

Da Vinci Code book coverThe Da Vinci Code is a book by Dan Brown, it’s about a famous symbolist Robert Langdon and a cryptologist Sophie Neveu on a quest to solve clues that the curator of The Louvre museum had left for Sophie (his daughter).

The book has a lot of mysteries and cliff hangers that make the reader enjoy the book. Although this the second book in the series, it is not necessary to read the first book because it has a great introduction. Many things make this book great, one thing that I liked the most was the amount of information that I now know about. With its twists and turns the book has many different places to where the book may lead.

Overall, the book is a bestseller and I would recommend to teens that enjoy mystery and conspiracy fiction.

Check out the movie!

Summer read - The equity of lying.

August 27, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0)

Liars, Inc. - Paula Stokes

Liars_Lying. We have all at some point in our lives told a lie. Maybe a little white lie to protect someone's feelings. Maybe a huge lie to keep us from getting into trouble. In the case of this book we have a group of really popular kids who realize that they can make a lot of money if they lie for other students. Need a note to get out of class? Sure we can write one for you. Need a phone call that you are not coming to school today as you are "sick" - not a problem we can do that: for a nominal fee.

Max and his girlfriend Parvati start their own business and call it "Liars, Inc." and with it they hope to raise enough money so that Max can stop feeling so left out with his peers who all come from wealthy backgrounds. And it works, in fact it almost seems to be working too well. They are making more money than they thought and if it keeps up then they may not have to worry about money for a fairly long time. That is until Max's best friend Preston disappears and Max was the last person to see him alive. Preston claims to have been going to Las Vegas to meet his older girlfriend, but then the older girlfriend turns up dead. Now Max is wanted by the FBI and his relationship with Parvati is at risk as her military Father wants to have nothing to do with a young man who may have very well committed a double homicide.

Max is on the run from the law and Parvati is attempting to help him as much as she can, but she has her hands full with attempting to outwit her father and mother who have furious tempers and she wasn't supposed to be dating Max in the first place. Max is positive he is being framed - but by who? And why? All the evidence keeps pointing to him so the only way to get out of it is to find out who is setting him up, but will he be able to do so in time?

Great thrilling read, non-stop action, I highly recommend this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (all the exclamation marks prove how serious I am about this book).

Summer Read - Bucket Lists & Happy Dinosaurs

August 26, 2015 | Christine | Comments (0)

Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin Cover ImageDenton Little, aged 17, lives in a very normal place, except for one thing: almost everyone in the world knows when they will die. It is called a deathdate, and you live most of your life knowing exactly when it will be.

The week before your deathdate is supposed to be spent doing the things you most love to do, often amounting to a crazy spring break-style marathon of mindlessness. Denton wants nothing more than to spend his last week on earth hanging out with his best friend Paolo, and his loving girlfriend Taryn. But things have quickly started spiraling out of control in Denton’s world.

On the morning of his funeral, he wakes up with his first hangover and almost no memory of what had happened the night before. Did he spend it with Taryn, or did they break up? Did something happen between him and Paolo’s hostile sister? (He’s really not sure, after drinking way too much peach schnapps.) Then an ominous death threat arrives for him in the mail:


As if he didn't already have enough anxiety that day, Denton suffers even more as he discovers a strange purple rash with electric red dots slowly spreading over his entire body. Is this what will eventually kill him? And then his funeral party is then abruptly interrupted by the appearance of the mysterious Dr. Blum, who claims to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warns Denton to “Trust no one, especially if they’re associated with the government.”  Denton’s life is suddenly filled with too many unanswered questions and not much time left to find the answers.

I thought that this was a very intriguing and hilarious book that explored the concept of mortality in the modern world. I liked how it asks the question what would you do with your life if you knew you only had so many days/months/years left, and then sets it in motion with the experiences of a seventeen-year-old on what are supposed to be the last two days of his life. So if you're looking for a fast-paced book that explores the lighter side of death, then I would highly recommend this novel.

This book is also available as an eBook, and as an eAudiobook.

For more about the author, click here.

Finding your voice - Young Voices summer workshop author Sarah Henstra interviewed

August 10, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0)

SarahHenstraMad Miss Mimic author and Ryerson prof Sarah Henstra will be sharing some ideas, tips and tricks for writing great fiction at this year's Young Voices summer writing workshop, Flesh and Blood Characters, at Toronto Reference Library this coming Thursday, August 13.

tpl teen Zoie interviewed Sarah to find out about her favourite books, her writing process and her inspiration for writing Mad Miss Mimic.

Zoie: Why did you decide to write for the YA genre?

Sarah: Two things got me interested in writing YA. First, my own children were approaching the YA age group, and I saw what worked for them and what didn’t. Second, I discovered that in their spare time, many of my undergraduate English students at Ryerson University read a lot of YA. Several confessed this to me a bit guiltily, as though their English professor might disapprove of or disdain their choices. On the contrary! I wanted to learn more about the genre my students loved. More than that, I wanted to write something my students might choose to read.

Zoie: What were your favourite books growing up? Did these inspire you to become an author?

Growing up I read for adventure and escape. I loved anything that would take me to another world (or another time period, at least): the Narnia books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider books, A Wrinkle in Time, and later David Eddings, Tolkein, and Charles de Lint.

Looking back, I think my first inkling of being a writer—my first realization that it was possible for a regular person like me to be a writer—came when I wrote a fan letter to an author. I was eleven or twelve years old and completely smitten with a book called Evergreen Castles by Laurie B. Clifford. The author had written a couple of sequels already, and I sent her many suggestions for what she might do with the story in her next book. And Ms. Clifford actually wrote me back! She was flattered by my praise, she said, because I was clearly such a talented writer myself. I didn’t save her letter (in fact, I was upset because she told me the series was ending with the next book), but decades later I still remember her compliment. So evidently it was a formative moment for me. 

Henstra_madmiss_otpb.jpgZoie: Mad Miss Mimic takes place in 1872, London. Why did you decide to set your novel during this historical era, and how did you do your research for it?

Sarah: I wanted to write about the invention of heroin, which was first discovered by a doctor in England in 1874 (but wasn’t named “heroin” until decades later). I set my story two years before this date, imagining that perhaps other doctors were also in the race to patent an injectable derivative of morphine.

I tried not to research too much while I wrote the first draft of the novel, because I was worried I’d get bogged down. I left blanks and jotted down questions whenever I came up against something I couldn’t quickly look up (e.g., what did the lobby of the opera house foyer look like? What are the tasks assigned to different “levels” of housemaid?). When I reached certain goals in the writing, I would reward myself with a trip to the Toronto Reference Library to look up answers to my questions. I’m aware that, in calling a research trip to the library my “reward,” I am outing myself as a massive nerd. But there you have it.

Zoie: What was the inspiration for giving Leonora a stutter, as well as her ability to use mimicry?

Continue reading "Finding your voice - Young Voices summer workshop author Sarah Henstra interviewed" »

Author Sarah Henstra's debut novel: a tale of romance, mystery and adventure

August 3, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (2)

review by Zoie, age 14

Henstra_madmiss_otpb.jpgFrom a young age, Leonora Somerville has suffered from a terrible stutter. But what is more is that along with this speech impediment is the ability to mimic the voices of others flawlessly. Unable to control who or when she imitates, Leo is christened Mad Miss Mimic, and is underestimated as a seventeen-year-old heiress living in 1872 London.

As the city becomes gripped with opium fever, brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst endeavours to create an injectable form of the drug, with the help of his business partner Mr. Thornfax. The attention of the latter is soon caught by Leo, but her heart struggles when Tom Rampling, the doctor’s working class boy, begins to frequent her thoughts and always seems to be near. But when an opium gang known as the Black Glove begins to terrorize London with explosions, Leo must find the relations between these attacks and Dr. Dewhurst’s cure, as well as the truth about her two love interests, in order to solve this captivating mystery.

Mad Miss Mimic is an incredibly spellbinding tale, beginning with the gripping introduction, all the way to the characters and the riveting plot. The fact that it is set in first person, alone was enough to make it a thrilling page-turner, as readers strive to learn more about Leonora’s story, when ironically her words fail to speak it out loud. And although this novel was set nearly two centuries ago, the message will forever remain the same: we all have problems and insecurities, but we’re always able to overcome them and settle comfortably into our own skin, as Leo struggles to accept but finally learns is possible.

The vocabulary exhibited was enriching yet refreshing, a welcomed change from today’s display of modernized literature. I felt as if I were in the very room, the descriptive settings seeming to just rise from the page, brought to life by the reader and the author. It was incredibly well written, each word being used historically accurate, graceful and enthralling. It had the writing of a classic but all the characteristics of a great YA.

In this new and engaging read, adults and teenagers alike will find themselves immersed with Leonora’s story, and what it means to find your own voice.

SarahHenstraFind out how to bring characters to life in your writing at this year's Young Voices Summer Writing Workshop, led by Sarah Henstra! 

Flesh and Blood Characters
Thursday, August 13, 2 p.m.
Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium

And don't miss Zoie's interview with Sarah Henstra, coming to tpl teens summer edition next Monday, August 10!

Youth Survey. My Curved Border

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