Author: Melanie Fishbane
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Lucy Maud Montgomery lives with her maternal grandparents in Cavendish PEI. Her mother died when she was twenty-one months old and her father moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Maud had trouble with her teacher the previous year, so she was sent to live with her Aunt Emily for a while. However, Maud still causes trouble for her grandparents when she returns. They find her secret diary which ruins their relationship. She also starts to have a relationship with Nate, the stepson of the Baptist minister. This is a problem because her family is Presbyterian. These incidents lead her grandparents to send her out to live with her father. But her life doesn’t get easier when she has to deal with his new wife and family. Throughout all of this, Maud finds solace in her writing, both stories and letters to her friends.
The beginning of this story shows Maud being immature and playing with her friends. Though she is fourteen, she acts younger. She often passes notes with Nate and her best friend Mollie. But when everyone else grows up around her, like her cousin Pensie, she also matures.
Maud changes throughout the novel as her situation changes. She acts like a child with her friends in PEI but she has to grow up quickly when she faces her stepmother, who treats her like her personal maid. Maud has to adapt to this new life, where she must defend herself.
Though there were hints of her inspiration for Anne of Green Gables, Maud wasn’t portrayed as her iconic character. Sometimes, stories about authors just show them acting like their characters, but that wasn’t the case with this one.
I liked this story about Canada’s most famous female author.
Title: Saints and Misfits
Author: S.K. Ali
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Janna Yusuf says there are two kinds of people: Saints and Misfits. The girl her older brother likes, Sarah, is a Saint. She spends lots of time organizing activities at the mosque and being a “good Muslim girl.” Janna is a Misfit. She is torn between being Muslim (and being the only girl to wear a hijab at school) and being part of the non-Muslim community (by liking a white boy). However, there is also a Monster. The Monster is her friend’s cousin, Farooq. Everyone thinks he is a Saint because he has memorized the Qu’ran. One day he tried to rape Janna, so she knows he isn’t as nice as everyone thinks. But since everyone from his family to Janna’s family thinks Farooq is the perfect Muslim boy, Janna can’t say anything against him. Janna must find her inner strength to stand up for herself.
The conflicts that Janna faces are very realistic. It’s hard for Janna to go to a non-Muslim school and follow her religion by wearing her hijab, when the other girls in her class don’t wear it. The mean girls at her school also don’t understand what it stands for, because they post pictures of Janna without it. Janna’s other Muslim friends go to a Muslim school so they don’t face this problem.
Janna also has the dilemma of liking a boy who her family wouldn’t approve of. I think most girls have had this problem before too. However, Janna’s problem is unique because Farooq, who tried to rape her, is friends with the boy she likes and he tries to come between them.
I would have liked the relationship between Janna and her father to have been explored more. The first half of the novel shows him not approving of her wearing a hijab and being completely covered at the beach. He has a new wife who isn’t Muslim so he thinks Janna should be more open like her. This would have been an interesting aspect to explore, since part of Janna’s family also didn’t accept her Muslim beliefs.
This is a very good YA book. I hope there are more to come that put Muslim characters at the forefront. It’s important for everyone to have role models in literature, especially young adults.
Title: Follow Me Back
Author: A.V. Geiger
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Tessa Hart has severe agoraphobia following an incident at a writing program she attended in early summer. She can’t leave her bedroom. Her therapist holds sessions for her in her room. Tessa is obsessed with the pop star Eric Thorn. She wrote a fanfiction story about him that went viral. She even started the hashtag EricThornObsessed that was trending at number one. Meanwhile, Eric Thorn’s manager and PR team are loving the attention he’s getting from this hashtag. But Eric isn’t as into the attention. He is still freaked out by the death of a fellow singer. Dorian Cromwell was stalked by a fangirl and then she slit his throat. Eric is worried about this happening to him too. He creates a fake account to try to give himself some negative attention, so his fans will move on to someone else. But his interactions with one fan leads to more than he ever expected.
I almost read this entire book in one sitting. I read until 2 AM and then continued as soon as I woke up in the morning! It was so thrilling!
The narrative of Tessa and Eric is interspersed with police transcripts about an incident that happened involving both of them. This hinted at them meeting one day and something serious happening!
The premise of all of these interactions happening on twitter is so realistic. You never know who you’re talking to online. This story really shows how dangerous it can be to blindly throw yourself into an online relationship.
The ending was amazing! There were so many twists and turns, until the very last page. It’s also amazing that this story was first published on Wattpad. A.V. Geiger is very talented. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future!
Title: Hockey Karma
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Jeremiah Jacobson is a 32 year-old hockey player. He has back problems and his game is suffering from it. Everyone can see that he is close to retirement. He starts taking a lot of pain medication, so much that he forgets to spend quality time with his wife and children. His friend Tom Leonard wants him to look over a plan he has to improve their neighbouring city, Bump City, but Jeremiah keeps forgetting. Meanwhile, Tom is having his own romantic issues. He is dating his high school crush, Jaelithe, but she lives across the country in Pittsburgh. Tom goes back to a high school reunion and is reunited with his old bandmates. Jeremiah has to deal with his new drug problem, while Tom has to decide what to do with his new relationship.
I loved this graphic novel! It’s the third and final part in the Friends Forever series from Howard Shapiro. This one is definitely my favourite in the series. I love that it brings together the points from the first two books. I didn’t see as much of a connection between the first and second books, but this one brings back all of the characters from the series in a reunion.
The only part that was a little confusing was determining which character was which while they played hockey. Since they were all wearing helmets, I couldn’t tell which character was speaking at first glance.
I really enjoyed this series. This third book was a great conclusion to this heartfelt series.
Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who has been living in a prisoner camp for a year. One day the Crown Prince Dorian requests to visit her. He has selected her to be his champion in a battle to find a new champion for his father, the King. He promises her that if she wins, she can work for them as their champion for four years and then she will be free. The captain of the guards, Chaol, trains her and supervises her security. She has to be under lock and key at all times, since she is the most talented assassin in the world. Her identity is kept a secret throughout the competition for her protection and to help her win. The champions in the competition are eliminated through tests. However, some are murdered under mysterious circumstances. The murders don’t follow a pattern though, so Celaena is scared that she could be next. Her only wish is to make it to the end of the competition so she can win her freedom.
This was a very exciting book. It was fairly long, but the pace was consistent.
It has a third person narrative. It switches to give the perspective of different characters, though it usually follows Celaena. This gives some insight into what the other characters are doing or thinking. It also builds the mystery of who is behind the attacks, because it makes many people look suspiscious.
I really like this story and I’m excited to read the rest of the series!
Title: Speed of Life
Author: Carol Weston
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: April 1, 2017
Sofia Wolfe lives in New York with her father. Her mother died from a brain aneurysm a year ago. She goes to an all-girls private school. One day, Dear Kate goes to her school to do a presentation. Dear Kate is an advice columnist for Fifteen magazine, and Sofia’s best friend Kiki is obsessed with her. They sneak into the presentation for parents at night, which both girls convinced their parents to attend. Kiki hopes that her mother and Sofia’s father will start dating. As Sofia deals with confusing issues about growing up, and without a mother figure to speak to, she starts emailing Dear Kate her questions. When Sofia’s dad starts dating someone, she doesn’t want to hear about it, but she emails Dear Kate asking for advice. This all derails when she meets her father’s new girlfriend. Then Sofia not only has to think about the loss of her mother, but also her dad’s new girlfriend, his girlfriend’s teenage daughter, having her first boyfriend, and the possibility of moving and starting at a new school.
I couldn’t put down this book! I liked that the age level for it is between middle-grade and young adult. I don’t think there are enough books for this in between age, which is important to have. Sofia’s perspective is more middle-grade since she is just graduating from middle school and starting high school. However, she has to face many teenage issues when it comes with her dad’s girlfriend’s daughter.
This book also talked about many issues that teens face but may be afraid to ask. This comes out in the questions that Dear Kate is asked in her column. Girls, such as Sofia, feel more comfortable asking her questions through email, rather than speaking to someone in person about these awkward topics.
Sofia also mourns her mother and faces the possibility of her father remarrying, which is a real issue for many young girls. I like the way this story deals with these difficult parts of life in a positive way.
This is a great book for both young readers and parents alike!
Title: The Hockey Saint
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2014
Tom Leonard is a hockey player and a sophomore in university. His coach made him assistant captain for the team and he may get a full scholarship for his next year at school. He lives with his grandmother because his parents were killed in a car accident when he was a kid. He loves hockey and his favourite player is Jeremiah Jacobson. When he finds out where Jeremiah lives, he goes and sits outside his house, just to think about the problems in his life. Jeremiah goes outside and starts talking to Tom. Jeremiah tells Tom that he lost his father as a child too, so he understands what Tom is feeling. He invites Tom to go out with him the next day.
When Tom meets him the next day, they go to a food bank where Jeremiah volunteers every week. Tom assumed that Jeremiah went there to sign autographs but he wants to help people. Then he takes Tom to his next stop at a hospital to visit with veterans and children with cancer. Jeremiah continues to defy Tom’s expectations of who a stereotypical athlete should be.
Tom learns that his idol is very generous. Jeremiah is a famous hockey player who uses his status to help people who are less fortunate. Tom is shocked when he does this without asking for recognition. There are some celebrities that do this in the real world. Celebrities, whether they are athletes, singers, actors, or another profession, have a lot of influence over large portions of the population so they could make a positive impact on the world if they use their influence in a good way. However, many don’t use their power to make positive changes.
This is a really good graphic novel because of the way it looks at helping people who are less fortunate. Tom’s assumptions of Jeremiah looking for recognition of his good deeds are also knocked down. I like this positive message in the story. It is the third graphic novel in a trilogy from Howard Shapiro. The first one is called The Stereotypical Freaks. You can find my review of it here.