By Yūsei Matsui

Assassination Classroom is a slice of life/action manga. The story follows the idea that on modern day earth, 70% of the moon is mysteriously blown up by an unknown force or entity. Hours later the government would come to see the arrival of a mysterious, octopus-like creature. He would tell the world government that the moon event was his doing and in exactly one year from now, the earth will suffer the same fate. However, the creature, mysteriously enough, decides to provide a compromise to the government. In exchange for getting rid of the creature, he would be allowed to become a teacher at a school. Specifically, a teacher at Class 3-E, a class comprised of supposed “failures” of Kunugigaoka Junior High School. The government complies with his request, as they see it as the only way to be rid of the creature, and the rest of the year, this strange octopus-like creature will teach a class full of “failures.” But the class is also tasked with another job, kill the creature by the end of the year and if successful they will be rewarded a sum of 100 million USD. So the race is on to kill this creature by the end of the year, while it teaches them, and before it destroys the world.  

Despite the odd and dark premise of assassination classroom, it manages to be a fun and enjoyable read with many gags added in. A lot of the characters in the manga do feel somewhat real. As well, Koro Sensei, the creature in the manga, has a great balance of mentor, antagonist, and gag character.  My one critique for this manga is that its side cast is less than developed. But considering it is only the first volume, that is forgivable.  

-Tashkin A. 

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The Vanishing Stair

Maureen Johnson

In Maureen Johnson’s second installment in her Truly Devious Series, readers delve into the present while keeping an eye on the past. Stevie Bell has solved one mystery, but the murders of the past still haunt her. However, when she is forced to leave Ellingham Academy against her will, she must try to move past her obsession with the case. Then, a deal is struck and Stevie is whisked back to Ellingham Academy where the past never leaves and the present stalks the school like a ghost. A captivating mystery with twists and turns, The Vanishing Stair will leave readers wondering and wishing for the final and third installment.

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By Kelley Armstrong

Three years after the school shooting at North Hampton High, Skye Gilchrist is moving back to Riverside to live with her aunt Mae. Though her brother Luka Gilchrist died in the shooting, he wasn’t exactly innocent. He was one of the shooters. Jesse Mandal, Skye’s best friend before she left Riverside, was also affected. His brother Jamil was one of the few who were killed in the shooting. With unresolved feelings from the shooting, Skye and Jesse’s friendship came to a halt until she returned three years later. Together, they uncover pieces of evidence that shatters everything people came to believe happened that day, including Luka Gilchrist being guilty.  

Aftermath had the perfect amount of mystery/suspense, with relatable relationships throughout every character in the book. This was a fast-paced novel and never had a dull moment. I was constantly on the edge of my seat! Aftermath has a beautifully crafted plot and a phenomenal ending that was both unexpected and yet came to a full conclusion. When reading, I felt very connected to the characters, almost like I knew every single detail about them because they were so intricately described. I wish the author made the message of the book more prevalent. I wasn’t sure what the underlying message or take away was from the novel. Other than that, I thought it was a good read and entertaining. It included many aspects of a good novel such as character development, suspense, humour and twists. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a cleverly crafted, jaw-dropping mystery/ suspense including adorable wittiness and teen romance all in one.

-Viktoria S.  

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Truly Devious

Maureen Johnson

Stevie Bell is finally getting what she wants- a chance to attend the famous Ellingham Academy in Vermont. The school boasts a different kind of curriculum, where the greatest inventors, thinkers and creators come together to explore and learn. For Stevie however, this is chance of a lifetime. As a true crime enthusiast, Stevie has dedicated her young life to solving the murder of Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter, the founder of the school. Maureen Johnson weaves two story lines into the book, taking readers back to the early days of the school and the murders as well as following Stevie on her hunt to find the murderer decades later. A truly captivating novel, lovers of true crime and mystery should not wait to pick up this book.

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Skyward

Brandon Sanderson

Imagine a planet where its inhabitants live in constant fear of attack. Imagine the attacks are issued by an alien race, whose motive is to destroy human kind. This is Spensa’s world, and in her people’s fight against the Krell, their only defense are fighter pilots.

All Spensa ever dreamed of was becoming a pilot, to follow in her Father’s footsteps and help defeat the Krell. Throughout the novel, Spensa must defend her Father’s legacy as a deserter from his pilot team and fight for her chance to fly. Filled with action, suspense and swift dialogue, Sanderson’s Skyward takes readers on an adventure through the skies and does not let them go until the very last page.

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36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You

Vicki Grant

36 Questions that Changed My Mind About You is a romantic comedy style book. With a failed meet-cute of Betty and Bob who meet through a psychology study. They are both there for different reasons, one to find love or at least something like it and the other who has no idea what he’s in for, he just needs the money from the study. Opposites attract in this strange and cute story. It goes through the main character Betty/Hildy’s point of view for most of the novel and her journey to the university and to this study of human connections.  

 

It’s about finding yourself, and has a lot of truth and honesty, even when the characters are trying their hardest to keep their true selves a secret and separate from the other, who is a virtual stranger. They may even know more about each other than their friends do. First impressions aren’t always as they seem, not everyone shows you who they really are upon first meeting, but maybe that can change, once you get to know someone, even a stranger.   

 

The story was overall light and a quick read, however I found the character development a little lacking especially in main character Betty/Hildy. However, Bob/Paul was a unique character different from most books, especially surprising for this genre. It was an enjoyable read but somethings I found a little unrealistic, and I felt the ending was a little abrupt. Also, the story was slightly repetitive at times, but that may have been the nature of the book and the repetitive vibe the psychology study gave. I would still recommend this book to readers who enjoy romantic comedies and meet-cutes. –Zoe P.   

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Rot and Ruin

Jonathan Maberry

In a world plagued by zombies, Benny Imura is a resident of one of the few fenced communities that offers protection from the hellish world beyond. The community insists that upon turning 15, all its citizens must find work. After months of searching for an easy sounding job, Benny begrudgingly accepts an apprenticeship with his annoyingly righteous older brother, Tom. A respected and honourable zombie hunter, Tom seems to have gained everyone’s admiration except Benny’s. In hopes of teaching him the ways of hunting, he eagerly hires Benny and starts his training. Benny does not expect much from this job or his brother for that matter, but what he discovers beyond the fence reveals things that challenge what he thought true, and teaches him valuable lessons on humanity and himself.  

 Rot and Ruin not only contained fast paced action, but was also a coming-of -age story that through the story of a boy in a post apocalyptic world, made you think about the real monsters in life — us.
 Personally I loved this book and the way it combined brutal zombie killing action with real life lessons that can be applied out of the zombie apocalypse context. It was full of heart and taught the importance of family, friends, and love. Combined with Jonathan Maberry’s writing style and the surprises that always lurked around the corner, this novel never had a dull moment. An undoubtedly riveting read, I recommend it to any zombie fan or anybody wanting a truly heartfelt book. –Fiorella M. 

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A Long Way Gone

Ishmael Beah

The book A Long Way Gone is an exciting nonfiction story about the life of Ishmael Beah during the civil war in Sierra Leone. With this book being a nonfiction story the entirety of its contents are all from the author Ishmael Beah. The book starts out with Ishmael leaving his village with his brother and friends to go to a talent show. They plan to perform a rap song that they found while watching TV. When they reach the town, things do not go as planned as the RUF (the rebels) attack the town and send all of its inhabitants in every direction. Ishmael does meet up with his brother and friends and continues to travel from town to town to look for his father, but eventually Ishmael Beah is forced to become a child soldier  

 

A Long Way Gone portrays loss and discovery in amazing and clear detail. From simple scenery to the most sentimental of moments, this book focuses mainly on Ishmael Beah and his struggle with being forced to become a child soldier and how his redemption and eventual reintroduction to society goes. Ishmael Beah did a great job by writing this book and releasing it in a way that both children and adults alike can relate to the stresses and situations portrayed. If you want a great quick read with only twenty one chapters, that will leave you satisfied, then this is the book choice for you. – Michael S. 

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Image result for the pursuit of happynessThe Pursuit of Happyness

Director:  Gabriele Muccino

The Pursuit of Happyness is a film directed by Gabriele Muccino and was created in 2006. The film stars world-renowned actor Will Smith as he takes on the role of a struggling, single father, Chris Gardner. Inspired by the true story, the film depicts the life of a San Francisco salesmen who struggles to make a future for himself, as he is accompanied by his 5 year-old son whom he has to take care of. Chris’s determination pays off when he lands an unpaid internship in a brutally competitive stockbroker-training program, where only one in twenty interns will make the cut. But without a salary, Chris and his son are evicted from their apartment and are forced to sleep on the streets, in homeless shelters and even behind the locked doors of a metro station bathroom. This heartwarming yet saddening film shows the hardships that Chris must overcome in order to ensure his and his son’s survival. This eventually leads him to become a Wall Street legend.  

 

Having seen this movie on numerous occasions, it has become a personal favourite. Films such as this one, often leave the audience motivated and humbled when they witness individuals overcome everyday conflicts that many endure. In society, the reality of many being financially unstable and deprived is often sugar-coated, but this film will definitely pull on a few of our heart strings. Will Smith’s performance makes the film even better as he and his biological son, who is also in the film, depict the life of many broken families who are able to tackle issues together. Parents are able to relate to this as they will do anything to provide their children with a successful life. The Pursuit of Happyness should definitely be on everyone’s ‘To Watch’ lists as this one will not disappoint. –Iffat A. 

 

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J.K. Rowling

Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, we take a glimpse into the wizarding world and the life of Harry Potter and his family. This story is based on the play that is showcased in London and New York, and as a result, is written as a script. Harry Potter is now a hardworking employee of the Minister of Magic, a husband, and the father of three children. It’s not easy being the son of a legend, especially when that legend is Harry Potter himself. Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, Albus, is attending Hogwarts this year with the weight of a legacy he never asked for. Join Harry in his son while they form a unique father and son bond. Watch history repeat itself as you stroll back to the school which once was Harry’s. Filled with old favourites like Hermione, Ron, Draco, and McGonagall this script is sure to revive some old memories of magic. Harry and Albus are both forced to learn that darkness and evil and arise from the most unsuspecting places.

The Cursed Child is an amazing read, especially if you have fallen in love with the world of Harry Potter. It is not formatted like the rest of the series, however, if you are able to get past that, then I definitely recommend this book. Enter this magically world one more time with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Action, suspense, and mystery fill the pages of this book, and J. K. Rowling keeps you on edge with her exciting new installment of Harry Potter. -Ananya M.

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