Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

In her debut novel Love, Hate, and Other Filters; Samira Ahmed weaves a story that is bittersweet and beautiful. In Ahmed’s tale we can easily see the similarities and differences that both create and bridge the gaps between us. The story follows Maya Aziz, an Indian Muslim girl growing up in modern day America and the challenges she faces at home and at school after a terrorist attack whose main suspect is a Muslim.

After the attack Maya faces bullying and prejudice at school and work. As the only Muslim family in town- one with the same last name as the suspect, Maya’s family receives threats and hate from the people around them. As their fear grows, Maya’s parents begin to tighten their grip on Maya’s life, making her dreams harder to follow, and her future seem more full of fear than hope. As Maya does her best to walk the line between her parents wishes and expectations for her, and her own dreams, she encounters a wide cast of characters, both friend and foe.

These will help her find her way as Maya navigates the treacherous waters of high school and college. Love, Hate, and Other Filters is a timely novel that many people would benefit from reading. Not only does the story address racism and prejudice, but also manages to capture the essence of what it is to be a teenager.

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

The city of Kos is a place of divisions. From the dust of the city commons, the Forum, to the gold and marble halls of the royal palace, the line between the lives of the rich and poor is clear and unbroken. But perhaps even more pronounced is the line between the normal people, and those with gifts: the mages, and the Aki.

Mages have the power to draw a person’s sins from their hearts, forcing them to take the form of great beasts made of shadow, the inisisa. Taj is an Aki, a sin-eater. He and his kind kill and absorb the insisa that the mages conjure. But despite what they do for them, Aki are despised by the people of Kos, shunned for the “sin spots” that mar their skin. But Taj is special, his sin spots don’t fade like others do, and more importantly, he can command the insisa. But as Taj’s gift grants him privilege and prestige in the palace, Taj is drawn into a web of conspiracy and deception. With traitors in their midst and rebellions on the rise, Taj must find a way to keep himself– and the beautiful princess Karima– safe, and the city of Kos standing.

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Christina Masika doesn’t exist. For four years she’s been a ghost, a shadow. It’s been four years since she’s been a girl with a family and a home. Four years since her mother was found dead in her employer’s office. Now living with the Goondas (Sangui City’s local gang), Tina is out for revenge. It is with the Goondas that she finally finds a way to strike back at the man who murdered her mother and destroyed her life.

But with the reappearance of a familiar face everything Tina thought she knew is called into question. With the help of Michael (her childhood playmate), and Boyboy (a tech genius from her time with the Goondas), she travels to her birthplace for answers. But some secrets are better forgotten and the more Tina uncovers about her mother’s past– and her own– the deeper she is pulled into a world of corruption, violence and danger.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

In the book All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater, the Soria family lives with many secrets from the past, and many to come. The Sorias live in the town of Bicho Raro, located in the Colorado desert. The large family lives with pilgrims occupying the rest of their empty rooms. The Sorias fall in between the line of magic and faith. They have a designated person called the Saint, who can perform miracles to whoever passerby has searched for the famous miracle desert town and wants to be healed. The miracles happen by the Saint bringing out whatever darkness is in the person. These miracles are done in two parts. The Saint performs the first part, and the pilgrim themselves have to finish the second part. The first part is where the pilgrim’s darkness is brought out, usually in weird physical forms that make them abnormal. The second part is the pilgrim realizing what their darkness is, and solving it so they return to normal. Some of these crazy first miracles end up with pilgrims growing to be twenty feet tall, or gaining the head of a coyote. However, the Soria family cannot interfere with the pilgrims on their journey to the second miracle, or the Sorias themselves will end up with their own even greater darkness. Lately, the pilgrims haven’t been completing their second miracles though. Our three protagonists, Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin, run a pirate radio station on the side with none of their family in on the secret. Soon, they realize they can somehow help the pilgrims finish their second miracles with the help of their radio, as long as they are cautious about the long-known taboo and extreme darkness.

All the Crooked Saints presents a new take on family values, and coming together after years of drifting apart. This story is different from everything else you can imagine. Reading this fills you with hope and a newfound sense of miracles. Stiefvater writes with a description so real, the feelings of the characters come alive. This book is great for anyone who believes in miracles, or who believes family and friendship is a huge part in one’s life. Or with a taste for magical adventure. Magic is presented in a new way in All the Crooked Saints.


At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Shaun David Hutchinson writes At the Edge of the Universe with so many amazing characters. He evicts every feeling possible out of us. It’s impossible to put down. This book is a great story about a boy named Ozzie, and his boyfriend Tommy. One day, Tommy vanishes, and Ozzie discovers the universe is shrinking. Rapidly. And weird events keep taking place, targeting Ozzie specifically. While searching for Tommy, Ozzie gets paired up with a weird kid in physics named Calvin. They grow closer as the universe grows smaller. Ozzie’s life soon becomes a mess, with too many things happening all at once, and the world getting tinier and tinier.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves John Green with a hint of sci-fi. At the Edge of the Universe is an amazing story filled with love, sadness, and laughter. It is a touching story about adventure and finding yourself. Everyone needs to read this sometime in their life.

La Belle Savauge by Phillip Pullman

Over a decade and a half after the release of The Amber Spyglass, the last book in his groundbreaking  His Dark Materials trilogy, Phillip Pullman returns to the world of Lyra Belacqua. In this debut novel La Belle Savauge, first, of a new trilogy titled The Book of Dust, Pullman introduces new characters, while at the same time giving us a closer look at the pasts of some old ones. Set in a time when the church has nearly every scrap of power, Pullman manages to perfectly demonstrate both the good and bad sides of religion.

Nearly a decade before the events of The Golden Compass, a boy named Malcolm roams the streets and canals of Oxford with his daemon Asta at his side. As the son of an innkeeper and the holder of a dozen odd jobs, Malcolm is the kind of boy who hears a little too much for his own good. When he finds a message meant for an agent of an organization known as Oakley Street, dedicated to fighting the church’s chokehold on politics and science, he is drawn into a world of secrets and spies. However, when he meets Lyra, the baby girl the nuns in the local priory are taking care of, his entire world is flipped upside down. Since Malcolm has no siblings, he begins to think of Lyra as his little sister, one he would do anything to protect. And Lyra needs protection.

Malcolm finds himself caught between the opposing sides of the Magisterium and Oakley Street. In a web of secrets and conspiracies Malcolm and Asta struggle to keep themselves and Lyra safe, but as the forces of the church close in, together with mysterious strangers and dark rumors, that is not an easy task. With the help of a peculiar and unlikely cast of characters, Malcolm and Asta navigate their way through this surprising and wonderful tale.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is a harsh and beautiful book, vivid and brutal and haunting from the from the first page.  Wolf by Wolf is set in 1956 Germany, with one twist– the Nazi’s won the war, and Adolf Hitler rules most of the world. The protagonist, Yael, is a girl with the ability to alter her appearance at will, due to experiments conducted on her in the prison camp before she escaped. Now Yael is an agent of the resistance, an agent with the most important mission of all upon her shoulders—assassinate Hitler.  Yael is one of the strongest female characters I have ever encountered in YA literature, strong and smart and fearless. Wolf by Wolf provides a hauntingly plausible look into an alternate past that is powerful and engaging.  The book is brutal and beautiful at the same time, making for an amazing story as Ryan Graudin blends historical fiction with science fiction, and adventure in this brilliant YA novel.

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashmore

In a tale as delightfully confusing as the mismatched halls of Tu Reviens, Kristin Cashore brings to life a world of art and mystery. The story winds through five alternate universes that take place if Jane had made a different choice in the first half of the book. Each retelling solves a separate mystery that takes place at the same time and place but is never really revealed in the others. Each choice spins the tale into a new direction and genre, be it sci-fi, mystery, adventure, fantasy or romance. With its colorful setting, dark secrets, and unique and quirky characters Jane, Unlimited more than lives up to Cashore’s previous books.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints is a heartwarming tale of family and friendship. The whole book is filled with magic and miracles, darkness and redemption, Saints and Pilgrims, romance and friendship- and of course the odd illegal radio station. As you read you will find complex and unique characters, Beatriz (The Girl with No Feelings), Daniel (The Saint), Joaquin (The rogue radio DJ Diablo Diablo), Peter (the boy with a hole in his heart), Marisita (the girl who blames herself) and a whole bevy of others. In this amazing novel, Steifvater explores the complicated relationship between science and religion in some of the most beautiful and profound words possible: “By relegating the things we fear and don’t understand to religion, and the things we do understand and control to science, we rob science of its artistry and religion of its mutability.” It is a powerful and timely novel for young adults at the moment, and many teens could benefit from reading it.

Maggie Stiefvater is coming to bookshop Thursday, Oct. 12 at 7 pm.