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Between Gods Her Hidden Genius Where the Crawdads Sing

Between Gods by Alison Pick

I discovered this memoir, from my sister-in-law, on a recent visit to her home in Nova Scotia. She set her copy of this book aside for her sister Caroline's up-and-coming visit. Her Protestant Minister sister, she thought, might have an interest in the author's spiritual conflict of discovering her Jewish roots. The ensuing conflict of the author's Christian upbringing and an overwhelming desire to become Jewish, propelled the author into a period of deep soul searching in which Pick, the author, uncovers many truths that include: the persecution of some Jewish family members by the Third Reich during WWII. Simultaneously, the author candidly fights her own battles with depression, relationships, marriage and parenthood.

As I have been introduced to some celebratory Jewish rituals over the last few years by close friends, I thought this book too, would be of interest to me and might provide more insight into the Jewish faith. I did not want anything too heavy to read but I was interested in having a peak into what it means to be Jewish. The author's journey towards Judaism (researching, journaling, taking Jewish classes, and writing a memoir) was riveting.

Between Gods is a well-told, insightful, authentic and often lighthearted journey that addresses the reality of battling to change faith against a lack of family support and shared interest. I love how Pick, the main character/author, follows her instincts. Her resourcefulness as a writer helps Pick conquer her natural sense of belonging with her Jewish lineage... I highly recommend this book to those that want this peek into Jewish heritage and ancestry.


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Between Gods by Alison Pick

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

This is a fictionalized account of the career of post-war English scientist Rosalind Franklin who worked at King's College, London and whose meticulous research work in the early 1950's leads to the discovery of the DNA double helix.

The men who received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix (Watson, Crick, and Wilkins) used Franklin's research without her approval as the basis for their conclusions. They took advantage of the view of the 1950's world about women scientists and women's achievements.

Rosalind left King's College to work RNA that paved the way for antiviral vaccines. She died in 1958 possibly due to long-term exposure to X-rays.

Belatedly her work on the DNA double helix is being recognized.

This book made me realize that women have gained more recognition for their contributions to science and society since the 1950's and that it hasn't always been the case in the past.

On a personal note, my parents raised four children in the 50's & 60's. My mother worked mostly full-time as a nurse while we grew up. I knew that she enjoyed her job and was respected at work for her skills. I realized that it was important for a woman to have employment that not only helped support a family but was personally satisfying.


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Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This story takes place in a small town on the North Carolina coast, called Berkeley Cove. The events transpire in the 1960s. It is a story about a young girl who lives in a small shack in the march with her family and her abusive father.

By age 6, the unthinkable happens, Kya, is abandoned by her siblings and parents, and is totally alone to navigate life and relationships. Her playground and school is the waterways and tributaries of the marshland, as intertwined by a very small network of kindred spirits, namely 'black folks': Jumpin, and his wife Mabel. Other supporting characters include: naturalist Tate Walker and town favourite, Chase Andrews. We learn about her world, Berkeley Cove, which appears brutal and unaccepting towards Kya. She becomes known as the "Swamp Girl" and is shunned and looked down upon, more than she is helped. She is eventually accused and put on trial for the murder of the town's beloved Chase Andrews. It seems that the townspeople are all against her and make her jury in the trial. What will the verdict be?

This book has been highly acclaimed as a bestseller and was recently released as a movie. It is thus, no surprise, that I also highly recommend it! Merits include: its majestic imagery of nature, and character development in pure storytelling form, that keeps the reader captured. Kya's character development from a timid abandoned child, to an assertive, independent adult; highly educated and successful artist/writer. Delia Owens, the author, lays the groundwork so that Kya's transformation is relatable to many of life's challenges that we all face, and how nature can be used to guide and heal us.


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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Teen book reviews

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Allies: Review by MT The Clockmaker's Daughter: Review by KL Complete Identifier: Rocks, Crystals and Minerals: Review by CM The Devil Makes Three: Review by MG A Game of Thrones: Review by PS Good Girl, Bad Blood: Review by MS A Good Girl's Guide to Murder: Review by CGB The Hate U Give: Review by MM How to Draw Magical, Monstrous and Mythological Creatures: Review by CM Lilies: Review by CM The Lovely Bones: Review by AS The Maze Runner: Review by MM Ready Player One: Review by PS The Right Hand of Evil: Review by AW The Rules: Review by AJ Stamped from the Beginning: Review by MG Then She Was Gone: Review by KL This Book is Not Yet Rated: Review by KL

Allies by Alan Gratz (Review by MT)

Dee Carpenter, a former German, has one chance to shine and everything to lose.

After moving to America at the age of five years old, Dee Carpenter at the age of sixteen decides to enlist in the army to fight the Germans and stop the madness Adolf Hitler had caused. After getting dumped on Omaha beach in the line of German fire Dee fights his way up to the hills of Normandy.

While Dee Carpenter is attacking the front with his comrades, Canadian James McKay and the other paratroopers are parachuting in to attack the Germans from behind. But after a catastrophe while in the air, James McKay and his best friend Samuel Tremblay end up isolated from the group and about eleven kilometers off course trying to attack the Germans before it is too late. Success could give them the upper hand in the war but failure could lose them the offensive movement.

Desperate after seeing friends and family taken away from them, Samira Zidane and her mother, with the help of other French freedom fighters, are working to sabotage the German forces and turn the tide of the war. When her mother gets taken to a Nazi Death camp all hell breaks loose.

I enjoyed this book because of the everlasting action and intense fights between the Germans and Americans. Also I enjoyed how detailed the characters' backstories are which put extra depth into the story. Finally I loved the ending and found it very interesting and satisfying.


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Allies by Alan Gratz

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton (Review by KL)

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a historical fiction mystery novel by Kate Morton published in 2018. In the summer of 1862, a group of youngsters led by Edward Radcliffe go to the Birchwood Manor to spend the summer month full of inspiration and creativity. But by the end, one woman has been shot dead, another has disappeared, a priceless heirloom missing, and Edward's life is in shambles. Then over a century later, Elodie Winslow, a young London archivist in 2017 discovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items. Why does this all seem so familiar to Elodie? As Elodie purses her clues, the lives of the people who have passed through Birchwood Manor are revealed. And flowing through the pages is the voice of a woman whose name has been forgotten through the ages, but the one who watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

Morton created end-of-chapter cliffhangers and switches them to an entirely different time and perspective which makes it captivating. She is also able to weave many different perspectives and timelines together flawlessly which makes it interesting to read as all the pieces fall into place. A nice detail in this novel is that it explains old London artifacts very precisely with many details which makes it feel incredibly realistic. Another neat feature about this book is that parts of this story are based on real people and things. Lastly, the word choices in some parts of the novel are especially good which makes it feel very unnerving sometimes.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is told by numerous voices across time. It’s a kaleidoscope of murder, mystery, art and love. It shows you how real places evolve into things you hear in legends. Morton shows you that history isn’t just an easy straight line, but an intricate web of different stories.

In the end, I would give this book a 3/5 for the reason that the whole beginning is very slow since nothing big has happened. But as things slowly start building up, it becomes a faster-paced novel.


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The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

Complete Identifier: Rocks, Crystals & Minerals by Rosie Hankin (Review by CM)

The Rocks, Crystals & Minerals book is really informative on rocks, crystals and minerals. Well, that might sound redundant, this book is a concise and scientific look at the topic.

This book, being sectioned off into the different categories of rocks, crystals and minerals, makes it easy to read and find the part you are looking for. It provides a quick resource of distinctive features, composition and physical properties that is perfect for both a novice and an expert person who is interested in the subject matter.

I have an interest in crystals, so if I go to that section and I am looking for amber, I will find the following information; two illustrated pictures, the Mohs’ Hardness rating, a short description of its appearance, some facts about it and where it can be found.

This book also contains information that is commonly known. Such as there being plenty of trivia on the subject matter. For example, sapphires come in many different colors, like pink, orange and green, just to name a few. A pink/orange sapphire is called a padparadscha sapphire which is a rare and absolutely gorgeous gem.

For anyone who is interested in rocks and crystals, I highly recommend this book, it’s very informative on the topic and is easy to read. Once again, this book is good for the person who is just starting out or the experienced geologist as a quick reference guide.


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Complete Identifier: Rocks, Crystals and Minerals by Rosie Hankin

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino (Review by MG)

Tess didn't fit in at Falk University. She never has and she probably never will. Her family is falling apart because of her fathers failed business, which landed her at this school. Where everyone whose parents had money ended up, except hers. The only reason she took her aunt's offer to join the school was because she knew her parents were not able to afford her or her little sister Nat anymore. Although she didn't have to, Tess moved her and her sister to Falk and took on the heavy role of a parent in order for Nat to succeed.

Eliot, on the other hand, did fit in at Falk. Perfect family, straight A student, whose parents had money, and lots of it. That's all everyone knew about him at least. But behind doors, Elliot had a lot more to him than anyone knew. His parents were actually divorced, his mom was dying all the way in another country, He actually hated his dad, he was only at Falk as a punishment, and he was a witch. He had magic. Magic that gave him the ability to do a lot of things except cure his mother, which was the only thing he wanted to do. Is his magic strong enough to cure someone or even bring someone back to life? Maybe, but he didn't have the spells for such a thing. Tess did though.

Tess worked in the library and had access to places that held grimoires. Grimoires he would only dream of reading and maybe some containing spells that could help him cure his mother. Clueless Tess agreed to help him, but she had no idea what they were about to stumble upon or what they would become…

This book is very well-written and I found myself excited to keep reading. I thought the characters were super relatable and realistic. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in mysteries and the paranormal/ unexplained. Even though these things are hard to picture or explain sometimes, the author did a great job at describing everything in detail which made me (the reader) able to picture everything perfectly and almost made me feel like I was a part of it.


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The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (Reviewed by PS)

A Game of Thrones is a super good book. It does have its issues, but besides those few issues it is still one of the best books I have ever read. It deserves its reputation as one of the best books out there. The book was written by George R.R. Martin and it's the first in a book series called A Song of Ice and Fire. The book is set in a medieval world which is set up vaguely like Europe.

One of my favorite things about the books is the point of view of the characters. The chapters are eight different and unique characters' points of views in the world of A Game of Thrones. The book also discusses the politics of the Iron Throne, which is a saying for how much power the king holds in the feudal system. The book follows the different characters trying to make a claim to the Iron Throne when the king dies.

When I decided to read this book, I first thought that I would not like this read. The book is slow and even boring at times. I struggled to get through a decent chunk of this book just because of the parts where it was slow. The size of this book could also scare away readers who are new to reading books or just would like a good series to read. Although these may be issues with the book, it is worth it to read, and it is a good piece of literature.

I recommend this book to anyone who has time to spare and is a fan of thoroughly explored worlds.


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A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (Review by MS)

Have you ever wanted to solve a mystery? If the answer is yes, then pick up Holly Jackson’s Good Girl, Bad Blood, the second book in the Good Girls Guide to Murder series. The book begins a few months after the events of the previous book, with Pippa creating a true-crime podcast to document the events. Pippa swears that she will never go back to being an obsessive teenage detective but later, a new mystery is introduced that she cannot turn down. One of Pippa’s best friend’s brother, named Jamie, is missing. The police do not care, so Pippa revives her podcast with the help of her friends and takes on the responsibility to find Jamie.

I would give the book 4.5/5 stars. The structure and storytelling of the book felt very authentic and made me feel like I was listening to a true-crime podcast and actually involved in solving the mystery. The book was very organized and good at world building as it included many visual aids such as maps and pictures of evidence that I thought were helpful and a unique touch. I thought the clues and evidence found during the mystery were unlike any other mystery plots I have seen. The protagonist, Pippa, was a wise character. I was able to appreciate and root for her during the entire book, even though she was flawed. My only negative comment would be that the last few pages when the mystery unraveled felt rushed compared to how good the rest of the book was.

Overall, I would recommend this book and series to anyone interested in young adult books or mysteries.


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Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Review by CGB)

Filled with murder, lies, and mystery, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is the first in a young adult murder mystery series by Holly Jackson.

This story follows the life of Pippa Fitz-Amobi as she tries to uncover what really happened to two teenagers in her town years ago. Six years ago, Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh who committed suicide after because of his guilt. That’s what everyone in town believes, except Pip. So, she decides to find out what really happened for her school project. Pip goes back to the beginning, using clues and following leads with the help of Ravi who is Sal’s brother. They soon find out that Andie was hiding something and so are the people that were close to her. With more secrets being revealed, Pip must decide whether the truth should stay buried or not.

I would give this book 4/5 stars. The writing was very well done and did not waste time with unnecessary sub-plots. The storyline was well planned and did not just allude to one possible outcome. The dialogue and relationships between the characters also seemed realistic. There were a lot of cool extra things in the book like maps, interviews, and evidence pictures that help to build this world and help the reader to follow along. I liked how persistent and firm Pippa was when trying to uncover the truth. I believe that it makes her more of a relatable character because it shows how stubborn she was and how she would not stand down in defending what she believed. It is important to search for the truth and not give up. The only thing I didn’t like was how predictable part of the ending was.

I would recommend this book if you like mysteries and solving them.


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A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Review by MM) 

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas is a young adult novel about the reality revolving around police brutality. Thomas was inspired to write this novel because of the shooting of Oscar Grant, a young black man, and thus The Hate U Give was created. The book follows the main character, Starr, as she witnesses the unjust death of her best friend, Khalil, who was shot 3 times by a police officer. The book then continues to follow Starr’s life as she tries to survive her healing journey, unsafe neighbourhood and maintain friendships and a boyfriend, all the while trying to get justice for Khalil. The novel shows the ugly truth and deceit that one wouldn’t normally see on TV.

Personally, I believe that The Hate U Give is a heartbreaking, reality shocking novel. I have read the book twice, the first time being several years ago, and it never fails to make me feel such strong emotions- anger, sadness, disgust. While reading the novel, I am compelled to relate it back to this current time, and I believe that this book, especially within these recent years, is extremely important to understanding the way the world works. The Hate U Give dives into the uncomfortable truth about police brutality and the victims of those crimes. The novel also centres around living in a dangerous neighbourhood and the truth about drug dealers and gang-members. I love how the author, Angie Thomas, made every detail seem so realistic, and every emotion was conveyed perfectly. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those who like to learn about the systematic inequality and racism that plagues our world.

I would rate this book a definite 9/10, as it hooks you in and makes you unable to put it down. However, as time progresses, certain things in the book are somewhat awkward, such as once popular dances like the “Whip and Nae Nae” and the “Dab.” Despite that, the book is a great read, and I would undoubtedly recommend it.

However, to potential readers, be warned: the book discusses heavy topics, such as racism, police brutality, gangs, racial profiling, poverty, and death.


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

How to Draw Magical, Monstrous and Mythological Creatures by Bob Berry (Review by CM)

When I first saw this book titled How to Draw Magical, Monstrous and Mythological Creatures written and illustrated by Bob Berry, I was ecstatic because I thought it would help me with designing characters. I have a great interest in mythology and especially the creatures that come from it. I like to make simple characters and was hoping this would help me make my characters look more unique.

How to Draw Magical, Monstrous and Mythological Creatures covers a variety of drawing techniques. The opening sections discusses drawing tools and materials as well as basic pencil techniques, color basics, and color media. It also shows examples of numerous creatures, such as: Dragons, Pegasi, Nessie, and Elves. I found the illustrations really cool looking, except I didn’t like how the wings looked on many creatures. The author discusses various effects and styles with step-by-step instructions. He does give some background to each creature. Mr. Berry in his 128-page book has numerous examples and pictures that touch on almost every aspect of the topic.

After reading this book, I found it lacking in direction and instruction with very little specifics on how to draw magical monsters and mythological creatures, which was very disappointing as it did not meet my expectations. I found that the ‘variety’ of creatures was very lacking as most of them were very humanoid, I expected a Quetzalcoatl or snake creature and clearer directions on drawing. As I stated in my introduction, I was looking for something to help me enhance my character, this book did not assist me. I was hoping to provide a drawing after reading this book but was not inspired to do so.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book as it does not meet my needs.


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How to Draw Magical, Monstrous and Mythological Creatures by Bob Berry

Lilies by Pamela McGeorge, with photography by Russell McGeorge (Review by CM)

This book is about its namesake, Lilies, it is a non-fiction book that provides an in-depth look at lilies, talking about the history, how to grow them, what lilies are exactly, any pests and diseases that pose a threat to the flora, and more.

The book is very well illustrated with various pictures of lilies, showing their natural beauty. Beyond the eye-catching pictures, there is a wealth of information throughout the book. Examples are a historical discussion about lilies. Did you know that lilies were originally really hard to grow until hybridization of the flower, which greatly increased the health of the flora? Nowadays, lilies are available everywhere, from backyard plants to floral arrangements for weddings to just a simple bouquet in someone’s home.

The book gives the common name and scientific name, which stems from the Latin language. An example of a scientific name is Lilium Canadense also known as the Canada Lily or Meadow Lily. Obviously, we have a Canadian connection to this subspecies of lilies.

An interesting fun fact about lilies is that there are three different bulb structures, depending on the species of lily, the bulb structure is different. These types of structure are the Stoloniferous bulb, the Rhizomatous bulb, and the Concentric bulb.

I personally really enjoyed this book, I found the information fascinating and the photographs to be absolutely gorgeous. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about lilies


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Lilies by Pamela McGeorge

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Review by AS)

The Lovely Bones is a psychological fiction novel. The point-of-view of the novel is unique, as it is told from the perspective of Susie Salmon, a girl who had her life taken from her when she was only 14 years old. She was brutally raped and murdered by a man living only two houses down. Susie was a part of a small community who throughout the novel Susie sees cope with her loss in different ways. She begins to understand how loss is different for everyone and how her murder changed the course of people lives indefinitely.

Susie Salmon works from heaven to help her family find her killer while also accepting the fact that she will never be with them again. Throughout the novel she watches her little brother and sister grow up without her along with her friends. She stays in her 14-year-old body while she watches her siblings experience life. She learns to understand people far more deeply than before her untimely death.

This novel is heartbreaking, thrilling, and exciting all at once. It will have you on the edge of your seat asking questions you never had before. I would suggest that those who are opposed to violence refrain from reading this novel. There are many unpleasant and heavily weighted topics discussed that may upset others.

Overall, I would rate this novel a 9/10 due to the amazing writing and plot that had me hooked from the beginning.


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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Review by MM)

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner is the first book in the dystopian trilogy. In the novel, you follow the main character, Thomas, as he wakes up in the middle of a giant maze with no memories of his past life. Thomas finds that he’s not the only one that was put into this troubling situation, as there’s about 50 other boys in the maze with him. The novel brings you through everyday life in the Glade (the centre of the maze), and the different jobs that each boy has. Thomas learns that the maze changes every night, it’s patrolled by deadly half-machine, half-animal creations, and that the only safe place is the Glade. Despite this terrifying news, Thomas feels a pull towards the job of a Runner- the boys who run through the maze, looking for a way out. As if life in the Glade couldn’t get any weirder, the day after Thomas’ arrival, a girl is sent up into the maze. Even with the lack of memories, Thomas feels a constant familiarity with not only the maze, but the unconscious girl. Who sent them here? How do they escape? Why does Thomas feel as if he knows this place?

Personally, I am a huge fan of The Maze Runner. The suspense and action in the novel make for a great read. No matter how many times I read this book, I can never seem to put it down. Despite the many books I’ve read, The Maze Runner series stands as one of my favourites. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the way that Dashner portrays the confusion and reactions to certain events, and how he allows the reader to form a sort of love for the characters. With this connection, Dashner seems to play with your emotions- happiness, sadness, anger (I can admit that I had my fair share of tears while reading this book). For the characters, I personally loved the character Newt, and until this day he’s my favourite character from any novel I’ve read. The Maze Runner also seems to throw in a plot twist every time you start getting comfortable, which always kept me interested. The book is very good at keeping the readers guessing, and is full of action. If you’re looking for a book that you can obsess over, I would definitely recommend The Maze Runner.

I would rate The Maze Runner a 10/10. While it may be due to my obsession with the series, I got obsessed with it for a reason. Not only does the book keep you hooked, but it takes you with it as it unfolds further into the series. It makes you question right from wrong, and good from bad, and if there’s even a difference to begin with.

However, to potential readers, be warned: this book contains blood, death and violence.

Side note: If you read (and enjoy) The Maze Runner, I highly recommend reading the other two books in the main series, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.


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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Ready Player One by Ernest Clive (Reviewed by PS)

Ready Player One is a book where humans spend most of their time in a video game. The world has been destroyed by climate change and is going through an energy crisis. When a famous billionaire dies it's revealed that he has made a contest in the video game for all his possessions and wealth. That's when the world starts the hunt for the egg, and we get taken into the life of the main character Wade. It's about his path to try to find the egg and win the contest while battling the oppressive corporation that tries to take over the game and ruin what good is left in people's lives.

One of the best things about this book is its detail. For example, when walking into a bar or someplace new, the author really describes the place super well and you can really get a good idea of what the place looks like. Another thing I really liked about Ready Player One was the technology that was shown in it and how he addressed what could be reality in the future of our lives. One of the things I disliked about the book were the slow parts of it. Sometimes there would be a couple pages where it was just building up the story for future plot points and I felt that it was kind of slow. Something cool also is the 80s games and movies referenced through this entire book, it made me want to explore the 80s films and play the 80s video games that were in the book.

I understand that some people will see this book and learn that it's about video games and think it's geeky but I seriously think that if you read it you would enjoy it.


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Ready Player One by Ernest Clive

The Right Hand of Evil by John Saul (Review by AW)

The Right Hand of Evil is a gruesome and horrific book written by John Saul. After a distant Aunt passes on, the Conway family finds themselves in the ownership of a rundown and abandoned two-story mansion. The house is the promise of a new beginning for the Conways, which is almost too good to pass up. At the brink of a divorce, Ted and Janet Conway, along with their two teenage twins and fifteen-month-old daughter, decide to move to the small Louisiana town of St. Albans. There are only two hopes for the family; to turn the ancestral Conway home into a pleasant hotel, and to finally rid Ted of his alcoholic tendencies. Unbeknownst to the Conways, but well known by their neighbors, their newfound home has a twisted history filled with gore, tragedy, and soul-shattering secrets. The Conway name has been haunted for centuries, as it’s filled with rituals, suicide, rumours of murder, and indescribable disappearances. This story follows the Conways as they begin their journey of betrayal, hardships, horror, and discoveries. How long will it take the Conways to see the darkness seeping from the mansion's walls, and will they be able to escape before it’s too late?

Who would I recommend this book to?

Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes predictable horror. The storyline is pretty clear throughout the entire book, and the reader can easily guess which way the story is going to turn. There were some parts that threw me through a loop, such as the animal mutilations and murders; as the majority of them seemed to be thrown in there. I’m guessing this was to add another horror aspect into the story. Along with predictable horror lovers, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read and get scared at night. Although the story is very expected and obvious, it still manages to give the feeling of dread to the reader. It’s the type of book that can give the reader goosebumps.

How would I rate this book?

Overall I would give this book a three and a half out of five stars. It’s not one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read, but it kept me interested throughout the majority of it. Most of the characters were very intriguing, as their relationships were thoroughly developed and easy to understand. Personally, I prefer characters that aren’t complicated and have an easy storyline. Another thing I really enjoyed about this story is the random horror aspects. Even though the story is meant to be creepy, there were moments where I was shocked at what was added. One of these moments was the animals being mutilated and disfigured. John Saul did an excellent job at keeping me intrigued throughout these scenes.

One of the main things I didn’t like was the predictability of the story. During the very beginning of the story, I was very confused and didn’t understand which direction it was going to go in. However, after reading about a quarter in this story, I already guessed the majority of what was going to happen. The story went from being really intriguing to very dull and expected. To say the least, it began to bore me and at one point I wanted to stop reading and put the book down for good. Any book that makes me as bored as this one loses at least one star. At the very end of the book, I wasn’t as intrigued, and it didn’t leave me wanting to read it again.


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Ready Player One by Ernest Clive

The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié (Reviewed by AJ)

The Rules is a dark thriller by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié, published in 2015. The book has a wide variety of interesting and fun to read characters. The story focuses on the rules created by the characters. These rules vary from person to person.

August DeYoung, a student attending Callabrese High, invited everyone to his final scavenger hunt party before graduation. However, August has an ulterior motive, and has bigger plans for the last scavenger hunt. He planned to have everyone think back on how they treated his sister, Alexa DeYoung, before her death. However, another student, Robin, joins the party thinking she was invited. Instead, she was only invited by her friend Beth. Not counting Robin in the hunt, August must tweak his plans a small bit to include her.

Once everyone starts the scavenger hunt and is gone looking for their items, people start to find things that they believe August had laid out. But once these found decorations find their way back to August, he reveals that he doesn’t know about them either. As it turns out, August wasn’t the only one who had ulterior motives for the last scavenger hunt party.

The Rules is a great book, and I would recommend it to everyone. Every chapter has a new twist that made the book impossible to put down. The story is so well written, and it was very fun to try and figure out what was going on with all the characters. As you continue to discover the character’s past, the more interesting the story becomes.


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The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Review by MG)

No matter what our opinions are on it, as humans we all know that racism is very much a real thing and these past few years the world has gotten some big wake up calls surrounding it. Whether we pay attention to it or not we still live in a world where racism is real and happening everyday. But how educated are we on this very important issue? Some may know a lot about it, and some of us may not, but still support the fact that racism as a whole is wrong. Then of course there's the racists themselves. No matter what category you fall into this is a great book to read to learn about the history of racism not only in America but in the world.

This book starts off explaining how racist ideas originated dating back to the year 1635 all the way to more recent years and events in 2005. Also talking about figures like Cotton Mathers, Benjamin Franklin, Malachy Postlethwayt as well as more recent figures like Henry Villard, Carlton S. Coon, George Wallace, and of course the most recent and well-known Barack Obama. To say that this all started a long time ago would be an understatement, but we are still living in a world where racism is very much a real thing and as sad as it is, it's seen all around the globe.

Read, educate yourself and do your part so one day we won't have to see it at all.


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Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (Reviewed by KL)

Then She Was Gone is a dark mystery written by Lisa Jewell and published in 2017. The novel is unique considering it is written from the perspective of the missing girl's mother, Laurel Mack. Ellie Mack had the presumed “perfect life.” She had everything a 15-year-old girl could want. She was loved by her parents, friends and teachers. She and her boyfriend became their high school's golden couple and she was days away from idyllic summer vacation. Then she was gone. There was no trace left of her. No video evidence, no suspects. Nothing. The question remains, where did she go? No one ever just, disappears. Now Laurel is trying to put her life back together 10 years after her disappearance when a new clue about Ellie's case is unearthed.

Jewell is a genius writer. The way she can balance switching between multiple perspectives and time. The characters are also written incredibly, each character has distinctive character traits and small habits that make them seem very realistic. The way she describes each character is brilliant. From the simple details to the change in nature when they’re around someone else. She truly builds up the psychological suspense and tension created by leaving intense cliffhangers while she switches to a different perspective or time. The way the story is formatted also contributes to how eerie some of the parts were. Watching it all fall in place and the answers unfold is one of the amazing parts of a wonderful mystery.

Then She Was Gone is an amazing novel about uncovering truths from the past, and the epitome of the cliché “not everyone is who they seem to be.” At the end of the day, people should be grateful for all those around us because we will never be able to look into the future. Who knows what’ll happen tomorrow, the next month or the next year.

I would give this book an overall 4/5 because the beginning was slow and the downtime between some parts is a little bit slower. But near the end, it is most definitely a fast-paced page-turner filled with unexpected plot twists. This is a definite recommendation for anyone who loves dark unnerving mysteries.


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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This Book is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni (Review by KL)
This Book is Not Yet Rated is a contemporary YA fiction novel by Peter Bognanni published in 2019. This book is about a 17-year-old character Ethan Ashby whose life revolves around movies, especially after his father passed away three years ago. So, when developers come in and say that the classic Green Street Cinema is going to be demolished to create luxury condos, Ethan is ready to prepare for battle and save the place he loves with his crew of cinema employees. Still, it’s going to take a movie miracle to save Green Street and love and life are always as picture-perfect as they are in the movies.

This novel was very detailed in the way it described new locations and feelings. Descriptive words were used which make each scene and situation easy to picture. A few more special features of this book are that our protagonist, Ethan, speaks directly to the reader and breaks the fourth wall. Secondly, the book flips from past to present, usually every chapter which makes you understand what they’re truly feeling. Another nice touch was the short description of film terms written from Ethan's perspective which shows up every other chapter or so. Finally, it pays tribute to old and classic films you might’ve never heard of.

This Book is Not Yet Rated is about growing up and finally letting go, and this doesn’t mean you have to forget all the memories along with it. It just means you should cherish them deeply. It shows you that you shouldn’t give up on the things you love no matter how difficult it is. The places that we love, the people who teach us, the first loves who leave, and lives that fade in and out are all important things that shape us. This novel teaches you that home may not be a place, it might just be the people that are around us.

Overall, I would give this book a 3.5/5 or 4/5 because it was a bit of a slower book to get through, though near the ending it gets quicker. From the middle to the end, you start to put yourself in Ethan's shoes and are able to empathize with what he’s feeling. It has a sweet ending leaving little to no loose ends. As a final word, I would say this book is a beautiful cinematic experience about love and life.


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This Book is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni

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