The Hand on the Wall

By Maureen Johnson

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The last book in the Truly Devious trilogy is finally here! Stevie is sure that Ellingham Academy has a black cloud hanging over it. Mayhem and murder has engrossed the school, causing two deaths, and one more in town that Stevie is sure is connected to the school somehow.

Underneath these murders is a connection, and Stevie just has to find it. But with all the chaos of life and school, Stevie finds it hard to penetrate what has happened. Not to mention she is pretty sure she has solved the case of the century. And it all adds up to what is happening now.

When another accident occurs and the school is under a storm warning, Stevie decides to stay behind on the mountain–and so do her friends. Together, they must confront their troubles and a murderer.

Maureen Johnson’s concluding novel satisfyingly brings together every loose end in the Truly Devious trilogy. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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by Ransom Riggs

4 Stars

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A family tragedy sends sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman looking for answers. What he finds is a mysterious island off the coast of Wales, on that island an abandoned and crumbling orphanage, and beneath the ruins of that orphanage a collection of peculiar photographs. He’ll soon discover that the children in the photographs—a girl who seems to levitate, another that juggles fire, an invisible boy—were more than just peculiar. They might have been powerful. They might have been hunted. They might, impossible though it may sound, still be alive. 

*** 

I must begin by saying that Ransom Riggs’ writing really impressed me. He has a strong vocabulary, is very witty, and has a clever way of wording things. Unfortunately, I think his writing suffers an annoying fate most readers will be familiar with; it’s too descriptive at the beginning, which means he takes a long time to get into the story. And not descriptive enough at the end, which results in a rushed climax that’s hard to follow. Regarding the pictures, I was a little conflicted. On the one hand, I thought taking a collection of totally unrelated photographs and stringing them together in a single narrative was wondrously imaginative. On the other, I felt slightly disconnected from the characters in this book, knowing the photos of them were not really them. I think this is made worse by the fact that, in my opinion, Riggs fails to add much depth to any of the children besides Jacob and Emma (I really couldn’t tell the difference between Hugh, Enoch, Millard, and Horace until I watched the movie). I hope Riggs develops these personalities more in the second book. I tend to be overly critical in my reviews, but I still really enjoyed this book. Would definitely recommend!

Catey F.

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By Anna Todd

4 Stars

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Tessa Young has always been a good girl, sweet and ambitious with a loving boyfriend back home and a mother who is keen on keeping Tessa on the right path. But before she’s even fully settled in her freshman dorm, trouble comes knocking at her door. Hardin Scott, with his messy brown hair and British accent, his body littered in tattoos and piercings, something Tessa isn’t used to. But he’s also rude, extremely rude. His attitude should be enough for Tessa to hate him, and she does. But when they’re alone- something else rises to the surface, and she has no idea what to do. Hardin is reckless, constantly disappearing and reappearing at the most random times, insisting he is no good for her but never fully leaving her life. He pushes her away, but she pushes back, wanting to learn more about who Hardin really is. She already has the perfect boyfriend, so why is she unable to stay away from Hardin and all his mystery?  

Honestly, I loved this book. It’s realistically emotional, meaning it has realistic characters, ones who get overly jealous because that’s just who they are and ones who want to make the other person happy even if it means destroying themselves in the process. The characters aren’t perfect, and neither are their lives, and that’s something a lot of stories lack. However, it does glorify a borderline-toxic relationship, depending on how you personally view it. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who’s willing to read it. 

Jordan M.

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by P.C & Kristen Cast 

5 Stars

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Zoey lived a normal life, went to a normal high school with her best friend and was even dating one of the football players- well, kind of dating him. But that all changed when she saw the dead guy standing by her locker. Instead of worrying about a geometry test, she now had to face a whole new life- as a whole new species. Zoey Redbird, newly turned fledgling, now has to live at the House of Night, The school of vampyres. It’s bad enough her life has already been turned upside down, but she quickly starts learning that she may be more special than she realizes. After a run-in with the Vampyre Goddess Nyx, she learns she has affinities for not one element, but all of them: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Spirit. So much for blending in. But she’s not the only one with special powers. The leader of the elite Dark Daughters club is abusing her goddess-given gifts, and Zoey has to find the courage the embrace whatever destiny awaits her- with the help of her new friends, of course.  

At first, I had no desire to read this book. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. This book is not only dominated by strong female characters, but it also includes LGBTQ+ characters that aren’t just there for “diversity.” The story is intriguing, there’s drama and conflict, love and loss, no character is there just because. Everyone plays an important role. Overall, this is a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to dedicate themselves to not just this book, but the series as well, as there are twelve (12) main books in the series. However, it is definitely worth it. 

Jordan M.

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By John Green

5 Stars

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Written by John Green, The Fault In Our Stars is a beautiful book that will move anyone to tears. The book follows Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager diagnosed with thyroid cancer three years prior, and her life with the illness. Much to introverted Hazel’s interests-who would much rather read all day- her mother decides it’s time for her to attend a support group at church with other cancer survivors/victims- (due to her showing signs of depression)which is where she meets the charming Augustus Waters. Augustus-a cancer survivor – attends the group to support his terminally ill friend Isaac. Augustus and Hazel hit it off instantly and are soon inseparable. Hazel tells Augustus about her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction and they both have many questions about the book-yet cannot contact the author. So, using his Make-A-Wish wish, Augustus takes Hazel to Amsterdam. When they get there, Augustus tells Hazel he´s been hiding all along- his cancer came back, much worse than ever before. Will he survive? Will their relationship stay strong throughout this difficult time? This book brings you through a roller coaster of emotions and was so good that it was turned into a movie in 2014 (earning $307.2 million!). 

The first time I read the book, I thought it was wonderful as it had everything the typical YA adult book had; the smart, strong-willed female with the charming male love interest. Later re-reading it, I realized the character’s personalities were very unrealistic and cliche. She used large words into everyday sentences which would never happen and acted like she was 27, and not 17. The way Hazel and Augustus instantly hit it off was also questionable as that would never happen in real life. Readers over 16 might find some parts cheesy, however, it was still a very good book.  

The book was very hard to put down and I was able to finish it in a day since it was that interesting. It will be a favourite for many if they are into books like Love,Simon, Everything Everything, Five Feet Apart, etc.  

Khadeeja F.

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By Anna Todd

5 Stars

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After by Anna Todd is about a girl named Tessa who has the perfect life, and the rest of her life planned out by her mother. She already knows that her best friend turned boyfriend, Noah, and herself will be happily married together right after she finishes college-but everything changes when she actually gets to college. When Tessa reaches her dream college, she instantly realizes how different everyone is from her. Her roommate has a peculiar friend group with everyone just wanting to get together. One friend, in particular, Hardin Scott, comes to Tessa’s attention for being so ignorant and rude to everyone. Hardin likes to keep to himself and go from girl to girl never really opening up to them. You would think this shouldn’t be a problem for Tessa since she has a boyfriend, but no. This just attracts Tessa to him even more, being disloyal to Noah. Despite their differences, Hardin and Tessa always seem to find a way to each other and eventually are in a relationship which is the most toxic thing ever. Perfect Tessa and troubled Hardin with a horrible past who is a very mean drunk due to his father, and gets drunk constantly could not be more different and are fighting constantly. They fight constantly but are both sure they are made for each other At the end of the book, Tessa learns the biggest secret that Hardin kept from her-which leads to the next book. This book used to be a One Direction fanfiction that was first published on WattPad but characters were changed due to copyright purposes (Harry Styles turned into Hardin Scott, etc.) however, it has nothing to do with the band. It had over 1 billion reads online which is what turned it into a hardcopy book, and now a movie.  

What I really didn’t like about the book was Tessa’s whole character. She always thought he was cheating on her when if anything he should be worried about her since she literally cheated on Noah for him. She also never trusted him and was pretty much entitled. Also, this book promoted toxic relationships as romance. Yet, these things made the book better because I loved to make fun of Tessa’s illogical decisions. 

The author does a really good job of making Hardin a likable character, despite his rude personality, which is really difficult to do. This book was very addicting and impossible to put down. This book is pretty graphic and resulted in me skipping pages to chapters at times to avoid reading it. For that reason, I’d recommend the book to anyone 15+. 

Khadeeja F.

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by Randa Abdel-Fattah 

5 Stars

Amal is a sixteen-year-old Australian-Muslim-Palestinian living in Australia during the 2000s. She decides to start wearing a hijab, a religious head covering, in order to practice her religion to the fullest. She lives in a very “white” neighbourhood yet she doesn’t let the constant taunting get to her.  

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The kids at her school along with many teachers judge her based on prejudice, yet she doesn’t let them get to her because she just could not care any less about anyone’s opinion-almost everyone’s opinion. She does, however, care deeply about Adam, one of the few kinder kids in her class who she is sure she can win over. As the book progresses, she does start to get affected by the words and all the other struggles in her life- such as her friend Laila who does not want to get married at seventeen, much to her parents’ wishes, winning Adam over, and helping her friend Simone get over her body dysmorphia. Her parents, as kind as they are, just do not understand what she’s going through, as much as they like to say they do. Like every great book, the antagonist, Tia and her “army” are always at her neck and belittling Amal for her faith. Her source of strength are her friends, who are outcasts as well, due to being Jewish, nerdy, “fat”, and Japanese. Will anything ever go right for her or will she always live her life in constant misery, especially being Muslim in a post 9/11 era? 

The novel will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, ever. The thing that makes it such a great novel is that it is funny, yet still sad, all whilst being entertaining- which is very hard to do. I’ve read the book at least seven times, but it never gets old or repetitive. The many different storylines tied up into one makes the book so interesting because not only are we following Amal’s journey, but her friends, and the world after the 9/11 attack.  

The novel will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, ever. Due to language, the book would be suitable for anyone 13+. 

Khadeeja F.

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Starsight

By Brandon Sanderson

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In this sequel to Skyward, Brandon Sanderson takes readers on an unforgettable space adventure.

Spensa has made it. Like her father before, Spensa has become a pilot. Also like her father, Spensa can hear the stars. When she travels beyond the protection of her planet, Spensa discovers that her ability is stronger, and more real then she first realized.

Now, she must find herself amongst a galaxy she has never explored. And learn that the stars do not always have the answers.

Brandon Sanderson has created a flawless sequel to Skyward. A truly gripping and suspenseful novel, readers will not want to put it down. Recommended to readers who like space operas and a plot driven book.

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By Kiera Cass

2 Stars

This book picks up right where the last one left off—that is, with Eadlyn’s brother having just eloped and her mother having just suffered a heart attack. Caught in the middle of two crises, Eadlyn decides to narrow down her Selection to six suitors, who now comprise the Elite. She also announces that, until his wife has recovered and he is ready to return to work, she will take over for her father as regent. 

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Try as she does to cope with an onslaught of change and a whirlwind of requests and demands, Eadlyn’s finding it harder and harder to hold her ground. Her advisors chastise her, the public hurls remarks of disapproval, and even the Selected are getting impatient. Will Eadlyn make it to the end of the competition to claim her “happily ever after,” or will she succumb to a pressure she never thought she would face? Find out in ‘The Crown’! 

*** 

I was hoping Kiera Cass would redeem herself with this book the way she did with ‘The One.’ Sadly, that didn’t happen. In fact, I could almost feel her tiredness—her anxiousness just to be done with this book—seeping through the pages. It was as if she didn’t have enough energy to write another sweeping, fairy tale romance, so she settled for an itinerary. I liked that there was some character development, and I liked getting to see Eadlyn take charge of her life, but everything else felt so rushed, so simple. There wasn’t any depth. 

My biggest complaint, however, was that Eadlyn didn’t end up with the person I wanted her to end up with. I won’t give anything away, but I’ll warn you that you might be disappointed. 

Catey F.

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By Kiera Cass

2 Stars

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Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Maxon Schreave were married. Now their daughter, a reluctant Princess Eadlyn, must make her own Selection. Eadlyn opens her home to thirty-five suitors, among them a boy she’s known (and hated) her whole life, a boy who doesn’t speak English, and a handful of troublemakers. At first, she wants nothing more than to return to the single life she’s comfortable with, but the more time she spends with her guests, the more difficult it becomes for her to imagine life without them. On every date and after every kiss, she learns something about herself, she learns something about her people, and she questions what she thought she knew about love. 

*** 

I wasn’t sure how to rate this book. I hovered between two and three stars, but I decided to go with two for a couple of reasons. First, the writing felt a little dull. Second, while I did admire how open-ended this book was—I think it’s one of the first love stories I’ve read where it wasn’t clear right from the beginning who the main character was going to end up with—, I realized I wasn’t all that crazy about any of the candidates. There’s one I hold slightly above the others, but even he got on my nerves a few times. 

Then there was the main character herself. I saw parts of myself in Eadlyn, but I also saw a whole lot of spoiled brat. She spends half of her time asking for pity and the other half flaunting her superior status. What kind of a princess says things like, “Didn’t they know who I was, what they’d trained me for? I was Eadlyn Schreave. No one was more powerful than me”?

Catey F.

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