Tag: Reading Lounge

Safe As Houses

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Safe As Houses is a very true to life novel written by Red Maple Award Winning author Eric Walters. In this novel, Walters retells the story of Hurricane Hazel and the flooding of the Humber River through the eyes of thirteen year old Elizabeth Hardy. On October fifteenth of 1954 Hurricane Hazel moved all the way from the coast of Grenada up the US coast and then landed right here in Vaughan. It was a real life disaster that hit right here in our own backyards. The Hurricane flooded much of Vaughan, especially around Weston and the Humber River.

Elizabeth is used to the Humber river spilling over its banks in the spring because of snowmelt, but when it starts to rain weeks on end in the middle of fall, she suspects something odd. One of her jobs during her daily routine is to babysit eleven year old David and seven year old Suzie McBride. She walks them home from school and babysits them for two hours. At first they just think of it as a lot of rain and that it has to stop soon. Elizabeth gets a little bit worried when she gets a call from David and Suzie’s parents telling her that they might come home late because of all of the rain and Elizabeth might have to stay the night. She begins to worry even more when the power goes out. She knows that for the rest of the night she is responsible for two children.

All seems well when everyone is in bed sleeping, but when she wakes up she realizes that the first floor is filled with at least two feet of water. With the water levels rising very fast, all three kids have to find a way to survive the flood. Once their second floor begins to fill with water as well, they know that they are in serious trouble. They go from the second floor, to the rafters in the roof and finally on top of the roof. Once they think they are safe on the roof of their house, their house starts moving out of its foundations and moving down river in the flood. Elizabeth, David and Suzie are “safe as houses”, which in this case is not that safe at all.

This book was very thrilling and fast paced. It was a real life historical adventure that happened right around the corner at the Humber River. The book was fascinating because it was a devastating moment in Canadian history, but the plot and situation were both dangerous and exciting. Eric Walters has written so many great novels and Safe As Houses is a perfect read for anyone.

Theodore Boone: The Accused

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Theodore Boone: The Accused is the third book in the Theodore Boone series written by John Grisham. Theodore Boone is Strattenburg’s local kid lawyer. Both his parents are lawyers, so he knows quite a bit about the law. Along with this, he’s a pretty nosy kid. In fact, he has gotten into some very dangerous places in the past and has been part of his fair share of trouble. However, in The Accused, Theo doesn’t go looking for trouble, rather, trouble comes to him. While Theo is living a regular life as an eight grader, the last thing he expects is to get accused of crime.

Theo comes to school one day to find that his locker has been robbed; he can’t find his asthma inhalers or his Minnesota Twins cap. Later that day, his bike tire gets punctured by what seems to be the work of a penknife, and his home office at his parents’ law firm gets pelted with rocks. A few days later, a computer store on Main Street called Big Mac’s gets robbed and the police receive an anonymous tip that Theo has the stolen goods in his locker.

The police come to Theo’s school pull him out of class, question him and then go to his locker only to find the stolen goods. Theo tries to tell them that he has been set up, but they aren’t buying it. To Theo and his family, it is pretty clear that he has been framed, but there is too much evidence against him. At the robbed computer store they find Theo’s belongings, his inhaler and his Twins cap. His life is over; the whole town is gossiping that Theo Boone, the only child of two lawyers is accused of theft. The sabotaging continues relentlessly, his bike tires get punctured twice more and he is being followed and photographed coming out of the police station. Theo has to find out who is behind this all and get his name cleared before the police take him in.

This book was very involving and it made me feel like I was right there. This was a great feeling because it was really exciting, but at the same time it made me feel worried as if I was being accused just like Theo. It was both a thrilling and adventurous novel. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes a real life crime thriller with high stakes.


The Book Thief

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The Book Thief is a well-written book by Markus Zusak and has won many awards and has also been adapted into a film. In this book, a young girl named Liesel Meminger lives in Germany during World War II under the rule of Adolph Hitler. Her mother abandons her, leaving her alone with her younger brother, who unexpectedly dies on the train ride to her foster parents’ home. During her brother’s burial, she manages to steal a book from the grave digger and from there, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery but she struggles to understand the horrors of the Nazi regime.

One day, her foster father, Hans Hubermann, agrees to teach her how to read secretly and she slowly learns how to read and write and goes to school like other children. When suddenly, a family friend asks the Hubermann family for a favor; to help hide a Jewish man named Max. Hiding a Jewish person during World War II in Germany one of the bravest decisions anyone can make. And so, Liesel develops a friendship with Max and also learns of the real reason why her father died and her mother disappeared and why she was abandoned as Hitler rises to power in Germany. During this time, she also starts to steal books from the mayor’s wife who doesn’t seem to mind. Max is forced to leave one night and shortly after, Hans is also conscripted to join the war. So Liesel decides to start writing her own book, called The Book Thief. She spends most of her time writing in her basement and one night, her street is bombed.

In all, The Book Thief was a beautifully written book that has a very unique style of narration. The story itself is captivating and I really enjoyed reading the book. I would definitely recommend The Book Thief to anyone who wants to read an enthralling yet moving novel that involves friendship, courage and love during war.



The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner, a national bestseller is the first novel written by Khaled Hosseini. In his debut novel, the protagonist, Amir, is faced with a life shattering dilemma that encompasses friendship, betrayal and morals which shapes the rest of his life. Amir betrays his best friend when they are children and is offered redemption as an adult, but struggles to come to terms with himself.

The story takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan where Amir lives with his father, Baba and their servants, Ali and his son, Hassan. Amir tries to seek approval of Baba who sees his son as a weak-willed, poetry-loving boy by trying to win a kite flying competition. He does so successfully and the last step to victory is to chase down the defeated kite and tells his friend, Hassan to run the kite down for him. Hassan does so without hesitation but encounters a group of older no-good boys who harm Hassan and violate his privacy. And all the while, Amir simply watches from the alleyway, too scared to do anything.

The boys pretend as if nothing happened and Amir has won the kite flying competition, but now he is plagued by the guilt of not helping Hassan. But Amir knows he has committed a grave sin that cannot be forgiven so he decides to accuse Ali and Hassan of theft, forcing them to leave. Baba and Amir move to America and continue their lives when suddenly, Amir receives a phone call from Baba’s old friend, who tells him that there is a way to find redemption for his past. So Amir returns to Kabul in a gruelling journey not only to find Hassan’s son, Sohrab, who is an orphan, but ultimately to find a way to be good again.

Overall, The Kite Runner was a gripping book that is hard to put down. The Kite Runner is a national bestseller for a reason and that is because the novel explores some very powerful themes including the love, betrayal and reconciliation. Anyone who wants to read an unforgettable and extraordinary novel should definitely try The Kite Runner.



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Have you ever thought about climbing Mount Everest? Well you certainly can in Roland Smith’s adventure packed novel Peak. Peak Marcello isn’t your normal fourteen year old. At the start of the novel he is hundreds of feet off the ground climbing a skyscraper in New York City. This gets him in some serious trouble because climbing buildings and tagging them isn’t exactly legal. Things get worse when another kid tries to copy Peak’s stunt but falls and dies. Peak faces jail time in a juvenile detention centre for what he’s done.

Luckily Peak’s estranged father comes to the rescue, he offers to take Peak out of the country and into Asia for a couple of years so that all of the problems he’s caused in New York settle down. The truth is that Peak loves climbing, his dad is a professional climber and mountain guide, and his mom was also a professional climber. Peak arrives in Kathmandu, Tibet and is surprised to learn that his father is taking him to climb Mount Everest. If he succeeds in climbing the mountain he will be the youngest ever person to climb Mount Everest.

Along the way to base camp (the first pit stop along the climb) he meets Zopa, a friend of his father and Sun-Jo another kid on the climb. Peak begins climb the mountain with the rest of the climbers and two sherpas (Tibetan mountain guides) named Yogi and Yash. Peak soon realizes how dangerous the climb is when he sees people suffering from high altitude pulmonary edema. Peak’s father finds out that Sun-Jo is also trying to be the youngest person on the mountain and that he is Zopa’s grandson. When the other climbers find out that Peak’s father is trying to get the youngest climber on the mountain, they are quick to tell him that they are frustrated because the kids are holding them back. Peak and Sun-Jo are secretly moved to another part of the mountain where they continue their climb. Peak finds out that Sun-Jo’s father died saving Josh (Peak’s dad) and that because of his father’s death him and his sister’s are all living in poverty. Peak learns to connect with Sun-Jo and makes the decision of a lifetime to repay Sun-Jo’s family.

Peak was a really good book because it combined the thrill of climbing the highest mountain in the world with a thoughtful plot. At first I thought this book was only going to be about the dangerous conditions and a very “person vs. nature” type book but it was more about a personal connection between Peak and Sun-Jo. The author did a great job of explaining all of the mountaineering terms and made the whole book really exciting. I would recommend this book for any adventure lovers.