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Teen book reviews

We are looking for teen guest reviewers to read and write book reviews. Each approved book review will earn you five hours of community service! Reviews will be published here and on social media accounts. Contact us for more information if you want to participate.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt Escape: Don't Stop Running by Linwood Barclay Fourth Dimension by Eric Walters The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read The Night Country by Melissa Albert On the Come Up by Angie Thomas The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah Secrets in the Shadows by Heige S. Boehm S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding The X Gang : Age of Unreason by Warren Kinsella

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (Review by VR)

Before She Knew Him is an electrifying, deep, and powerful novel about two couples who have dark secrets and unflattering pasts. This book takes you along the ride of murder, love, and hatred. This book is awesome if you like sitting at the edge of your seat while reading. Before She Knew Him has a lot of unexpected events and it will keep you intrigued.

The two couples in this book are connected in multiple ways and throughout the book they discover more information about each other and their secrets; they discover more information to hold against each other. Once I started reading, I did not want to stop, I always had to know what the main character was going to do!

One thing I disliked about the novel is that not much happens for long periods of time. The dramatic events all happen in a cluster and they are not spaced out, in my opinion. This book is so twisted and dark but in such a good way! I have never read a book of this genre and I am happy I chose this one! One thing that I also enjoyed about this book is that there is three different parts and every chapter it seems to be a different character's perspective so you can understand everyone's side of the story.

Peter Swanson has a way of writing that is so addicting and you just want to keep going! This was my first Peter Swanson book and I would definitely read another!


Find "Before She Knew Him" today in our catalogue. 

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt (Review by EP)

This book is mystery fiction. It is a story about a lawyer, his wife, and their two dogs. The lawyer takes legal cases about dogs and their owners because he loves dogs. One case he has is about a retiring police officer and his German Shepherd partner, Simon. The officer wants Simon to retire when he does, because Simon is old and has arthritis and hip pain. The police department claims they still need Simon and want him to continue working. The lawyer decides to defend Simon, so that he can retire. The main case in this book is about a little boy called Danny, who leaves his Christmas wishes on Christmas tree in a local pet store. The three Christmas gifts that Danny asks for are: a coat for his mother, a sweater for his Dachshund called Murphy, and for the safe return of his father who is missing.

When the lawyer finds out about the boy’s missing father, he takes the case. It is a hard case. Not only does he have to find Danny's father, but he also must prove him innocent. Danny's father is in hiding and he has been charged with murder. The lawyer must prove that Danny's father is just an innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The prosecutors have his DNA at the scene as proof he is guilty, so this makes it a very difficult case. It is also an urgent case because he must prove it by Christmas. The lawyer is a very good person. Reuniting Danny with his father after proving his innocence is all the payment he wants. He knows Danny's family can't afford a good lawyer.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery stories, especially ones that include dogs, humour, and Christmas stories. But I personally didn't enjoy it that much. I only enjoyed parts of it. I enjoyed some of the humour especially about dogs. It was the title and the cover art that made me interested in the book.


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Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt

Escape: Don't Stop Running by Linwood Barclay (Review by KJ)

I would say that this book is a suspense thriller. The main character is a young boy named Jeff, who is suffering the loss of his parents. They died in a plane crash, when they were going to New York on a business trip. Escape: Don’t Stop Running is a great book for beginners, since the vocabulary of this book helps broaden yours too. This book is filled with lots of twists and turns, almost every page has something unexpected.

Every morning I would look forward to reading this book. I would definitely recommend this book to people who like to read. There were some nights in which I couldn’t sleep because I kept wondering what was going to happen next! In this book, there are two parts to the story. In part one, Jeff must run from a sinister government organization called The Institute. There is another part of the story where the Institute is trying to catch Jeff, and his dog, Chipper. It was exciting to read about how the Institute was trying to capture these two characters, and the problems they encountered along the way. Escape: Don’t Stop Running is the sequel to a book by Barclay Linwood called: Chase: Get Ready to Run.

It was very hard to write a review and discuss how much I enjoyed the book without revealing any spoilers.


Find "Escape: Don't Stop Running" today in our catalogue.

Escape: Don't Stop Running by Linwood Barclay

Fourth Dimension by Eric Walters (Review by BB)

Imagine. You are going about your day, when suddenly: the electricity turns off, all modern transportation comes to a halt, and all phones appear to die. What would you do? Panic? Flee? Hide? Refuse to believe? Well for the characters in Eric Walters’ Fourth Dimension this becomes their new reality.

The story starts with a family of three, an ex-Marine mother, a teenage girl, and her younger brother preparing to leave on a weekend long camping trip, but when the power cuts out and all vehicles and phones stop working, society falls apart. Their mother decides it would be best if they escaped to an island off the coast and waited it out for a few days. But as days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months thing get worse. Groups begin to form, buildings are set on fire, people become desperate for food and shelter, and fights arise to claim resources. Everyone must make decisions that could better or end their lives. As teenagers turn into soldiers and innocent people die, everyone's only concern is staying alive at all costs. The mother’s marine experience clicks back in and together the families have to make many life altering decisions.

The book left me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. This book is well-written, gripping, and hard to put down. It left me wondering, would I have been that brave, make the right decision and end up surviving? I would highly recommend this book.


Find "Fourth Dimension" today in our catalogue.

Fourth Dimension by Eric Walters

The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read (Review by AW)

This book is about a curious girl named Emily who lives in London, England near the Big Ben clock. At the beginning of the novel, Emily lives with her mother and father, but she argues with her mother often. When her mother suddenly leaves to sort out a mysterious family issue, the house becomes very quiet. The silence between Emily and her father becomes more apparent, as Emily and her mother were always the ones who talked. Then after a few days, her father disappears too.

Emily is a lonely girl with no friends. She has no pets, because she thinks animals shouldn’t be owned. After her mother leaves, Emily feels like she does not know her mother anymore. Emily wants to know what she is really up to. Emily goes on to search for both her mother and father to find them. This lead her on an adventure where she discovers a secret world called the “Midnight Hour,” a Victorian London frozen-in-time.

The Midnight Hour is a really curious book and it's the questioning of where her mom is, and what she is doing, that made me read more of the book. The author really knows how to make the story more interesting with cliff-hangers throughout the book.

I would recommend this book to readers who like books with a bunch of cliff-hangers, curious characters, and only a few characters (so it’s easy to keep track of what’s going on). If I was to rate the book, I would rate it at a 3 because I feel it doesn't give enough details at the start or even throughout the whole book.


 Find "The Midnight Hour" today in our catalogue.

The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah (Review by Memphis)
The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah is an intriguing Hercule Poirot mystery written in the style of Agatha Christie. It incorporates many of the classic traits and charms of the character Poirot. It also contains an unexpected, surprising ending that I was not able to guess, but clearly makes sense after reading it. I liked how the author had Poirot use psychology more than physical evidence, just like in the original books by Agatha Christie. The book is great, and I was excited to read it every time I picked it up!

In The Mystery of Three Quarters, Hercule Poirot learns that four different people have been sent letters accusing them of the murder of Barnabus Pandy and they are signed in Poirot’s name. He wants to find out who has sent the letters and investigate as to whether or not Pandy was actually murdered. His discoveries become a long adventure in which he learns of the many secrets people are hiding and what actually happened to Barnabus Pandy. Later in the story, another unexpected event occurs and Poirot must figure out the answer to that as well. With the help of Police Inspector Edward Catchpool, and a slice of cake, Poirot is able to solve the mystery and catch the culprit.

Overall, I found the book very enjoyable to read and the revelation at the end very intertwined and complex. It is fun to try and solve along while reading any kind of mystery novel and this book was no exception. There were all kinds of hidden secrets, surprise relationships, clues and red herrings which all played some part in the solving of the crime. The style of writing was similar to Agatha Christie, but the one big difference I noticed was that it was written in the perspective of the police inspector. Besides that, I think it would be almost impossible to differentiate between the writing of Agatha Christie and Sophie Hannah.

In conclusion, the book was extremely well thought out and made my time reading it fun and entertaining. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic Agatha Christie novels or just mysteries in general. It contains the original charm and slight strangeness of Hercule Poirot as well as an incredibly complex plot. For these reasons, I think The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah is a fun, interesting read and I would definitely recommend reading it!


Find "The Mystery of Three Quarters" today in our catalogue.

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

The Night Country by Melissa Albert (Review by Jocelyn)

The Night Country is the amazing and dark sequel to The Hazel Wood. Alice Proserpine, an ex-story*, goes back into her fascinating world of dark fairy tales known as The Hinterland. The Night Country tackles the issue of Alice and other ex-stories making their way into the human world, and whether or not they should adapt to fit in with the many humans living around them. Alice, however, has something many of these ex-stories don't have: a home and someone who loves her, which has an impact on her decisions. This modern, sometimes disturbing, story addresses the truths children’s fairy tales sometimes hide from us.

As I read The Night Country, I noticed a few confusing plot lines, but overall it’s a great read, especially if you liked The Hazel Wood. The characters are so well-written and you really start to like and dislike them respectively. If you aren’t a big fan of fairy tales, or the darker versions of them, Melissa Albert’s book probably isn't for you, but this novel really shows that fairy tales aren't just for little kids. There’s this beautiful dark twist that the author puts on the regular expectations of fairy tales which is really entertaining. Not only that, but Alice goes through many relatable struggles throughout The Night Country, making her a likeable character, although Sophia, her friend, is my absolute favourite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes fairy tales, or to someone who used to and wants to rekindle that flame.

*All of the characters from The Hinterland, where Alice is from, that move to the human world are referred to as “ex-stories.”


Find "The Night Country" today in our catalogue.

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Review by BB)

Fueled by the desire to achieve her dream and save her family, sixteen-year-old Bri dreams of finishing what her father, Lawless, started. His dream was to become the greatest rapper of all time. Unfortunately, Bri’s journey is full of doubts, frustration, trauma, but ultimately hope.

After being given the opportunity to help kickstart Bri’s career and dream, a video of her rapping goes viral! This was not the way she wanted or expected to be seen. Bri begins to be labeled as a ‘hoodlum,’ ‘thug,’ and a ‘hood rat’ simply because people misunderstand the lyrics and are judging her by the colour of her skin. In turn, she begins to become someone she isn’t and loses herself, all in the hopes of saving her mother and older brother from losing their home and keeping them fed and clothed.

Growing up in a dangerous part of town with gangs and drug dealers that are looking for trouble, makes Bri determined to overcome these circumstances. Bri isn’t going to let her troubled past and unpredictable future stop her from having her dream. This thrilling book by award-winning author Angie Thomas, not only shines a light on the stereotypes of people of colour, but will make you never want to put the book down.

This book is also an inspiring story about never giving up and overcoming anything that may come your way. I would highly recommend this book for everyone, from book to music lovers. I would also recommend checking out her first award winning book The Hate U Give. Both books are available at the Port Colborne Library.


Find "On the Come Up" today in our catalogue.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Secrets in the Shadows by Heige S. Boehm (Review by EP)

This book is not a true story, but it is based on historical facts. It takes place during the Nazi Regime. The main characters are two young boys named Michael and Wolfe, who are best friends. The story is about them growing up in Nazi Germany from when they are seven years old to sixteen years old.

At the beginning of the story, they are innocent. They are not aware of the many evils of the Nazi Regime. They are so innocent that they are actually proud to be members of the Hitler Youth programs. They even feel lucky to be the sons of Nazi SS officers. But as they grow older they feel less proud or lucky.

When Michael is sixteen, his father forces him to become an SS soldier. Wolfe joins with him. They see the horrors of anti-Semitism all around them. They see that white supremacists, like the Nazis, are sick with hatred. Michael and Wolfe stop believing in the Nazis. By 1944, the Hitler youth SS lost half of its boys. Many ran away. By then Michael is no longer fighting for Hitler. He is trying to keep his promise to his mother. He promised her that he and Wolfe would return to her.

I recommend this book. It is an interesting dive into the minds of the Hitler Youth. You get to see how these boys were raised and how passionate they were to serve Hitler. You get to see the horrors of white supremacy and anti-Semitism through their eyes. You get to see the downfall of the Nazi through their eyes.


Find "Secrets in the Shadows" today in our catalogue.

Secrets in the Shadows by Heige S. Boehm

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett (Review by Allan)

Despite being the most common classification for S.T.A.G.S. online, I cannot find one greater than “psychological thriller.” S.T.A.G.S. contains the classic, proven formula for enticing young adult novels (cliques, romances, friendships, plot twists etc.), but against an unprecedented, exceptional backdrop. S.T.A.G.S. is the acronym for “St. Aidan the Great School,” an elite private school in the English countryside, ancient in conception.

Greer MacDonald is an exceptional student, but from an average British background, attending on a scholarship. What she soon discovers is that the school is nothing close to saintly. The students’ lives are dominated by the pervasive influence of the school prefects, known as “Medievals.” Greer soon finds herself feeling out of place among the children of royalty and millionaires. Starved of social connection, she jumps at the opportunity to spend her midterm break “Huntin,’ shootin,’ fishin’” at the luxurious, ancient country mansion of the Medievals. Everything Greer thought she knew about her new school and the people running it was completely revolutionized over the course of those three days.

M.A. Bennett utilizes the beauty of fiction to perfection. By constructing an entirely fictitious world, she can create her own rules when it comes to the characters and change our perception of them at will. But what truly enraptured me about this novel, was how I felt that I had to devise my own view of the characters and deduce their true motives. I was constantly second guessing my original impressions as the plot unfolded, making the book a bonafide page turner. The novel offers a commentary on the role of modern technology in our world, and whether it truly is a force for good, as well as illuminating the dangers of clinging to old-fashioned social ideologies. Oh, and did I mention there’s humour too? This novel is magnificent and I recommend it to anyone over thirteen who enjoys reading.


Find "S.T.A.G.S." today in our catalogue.

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding (Review by RH)

I would give this book five stars because it was the perfect book and the right time for me to read it. I went through an intense friendship breakup in late 2020. I really connected with James and Kat’s friendship, because they went from growing up together, to growing apart from one another. This book was very entertaining.

James and Kat are childhood best friends about to start their senior year of high school. James has just broken up with her boyfriend and her parents are separating. Meanwhile, Kat is dating a girl for the first time, and she is adjusting to her dad looking for a romantic love too. James and Kat are also graduating from high school and they are waiting to hear back about whether they’ve been accepted to the colleges that they’ve each applied to.

What I like about this book is, I got to find out about the character’s personality traits. For instance, with Kat, I noticed that she can be happy, fun, caring and sweet. James is shy, responsible, and nice.

My thoughts and how I felt about this book? I loved it. I would definitely read it again. I would one hundred percent recommend it to anyone who’s going through a hard time, whether it’s a breakup in a relationship, dating, your parents are getting separated or divorced. It’s also good if you are starting high school for the first time or if you are about to graduate.


Find "We Used to Be Friends" today in our catalogue.

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

The X Gang : Age of Unreason by Warren Kinsella (Review by Allan)

DISCLAIMER: This novel contains numerous instances of explicit language, explicit drug and sexual references and possibly disturbing topics.

The third installment of Warren Kinsella’s series The X Gang, Age of Unreason is a fictional account of how a unique and often marginalized group of punk rockers grapples with a tragedy. Their city of Portland, Maine had been the victim of a horrific, fatal bombing by an ultra-right terrorist; who had since disappeared. Weaving in a mixture of legal, philosophical, ethical, political, psychological and sociological themes, we hear the story unfold through the eyes of law enforcement, the bomber himself, and a young punk rocker named Kurt. With the help of his punk rock pals, new and old, including the infamously controversial and unflappable punk rocker-turned-journalist “X”, Kurt embarks on a struggle to recover from crippling addiction and rejoin society in the midst of a local crisis.

It is reassuring to note that such a complex story, including actors that are possibly unfamiliar, is penned by a qualified author. Warren Kinsella is a Canadian lawyer and political consultant, which validates the pervasive themes of legal loopholes, courthouse struggles and toxic political philosophies. Additionally, he is a bassist in the Toronto punk rock band “SFH”, which qualifies him to write about such an exclusive demographic. 

Despite being a fictional storyline, the book offers a crash course education on the sociology of punk rock. However, it should be noted that the novel is 225 short pages long. Collectively, reading time is under four hours. Due to this, many of the novel’s plot points are condensed and therefore are unable to be fully developed. This leads to a bit of character generalization. All of the punk rockers begin to blend together. If one is looking to make meaningful character connections, this may not be their type of read. 

Due to the lack of depth, some (but certainly not all) climactic plot points are quite predictable. Additionally, the ending is quite rushed and can seem unrealistic and disconnected. However, all of this considered, this novel certainly tackles unfamiliar topics which makes for an exciting, if slightly brief, read.

I would recommend it to any mature audiences interested in stories of come-backs, underdogs, rebels, politics, journalists and punk rock.


Find "The X Gang : Age of Unreason" today in our catalogue.

The X Gang : Age of Unreason by Warren Kinsella

Recommendations for kids by kids

Read any good books lately? We are looking for book recommendations written for kids by kids! Participating is easy:

1. Check out a library book.

2. Read & enjoy!

3. Write down your name, age, the title of the book, the reason why you liked it, and how many stars you would give this book out of five. You can include a drawing or photograph!

4. Then email us your book recommendations.

Recommendations will be published here and on our social media accounts.

Too Much Junk Food by Stan Berenstain It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

 Our friend Billie had a teddy bear picnic with her favourite bears, the Berenstain Bears!
Her favourite is Too Much Junk Food and Billie says, "I like when we see inside the bear's body and the skeletons."

She rates it 5/5.


Find "The Berenstain Bears: Too Much Junk Food" today in our catalogue.

Billie's picnic

Kobi recommends the book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw.

Kobi told us that after reading the story, his family likes to watch the clouds in the sky to see what shapes they make. He gives the book 5/5. Thanks, Kobi!


Find "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" today in our catalogue.

Kobi's pick

Take & make kits

Did you know we have simple craft projects for families to take home and make together? You can pick up your kit during our curbside hours. All craft kits have been quarantined for four days. Instructions and most supplies included (some glue or common household items may be required). Available while quantities last.

Starting April, kits will have a small cost. Please have exact change.

Easter egg house
Easter egg house

Available Apr 1.
Ages four to eight.
$1 per kit.

Friendship bracelets
Friendship bracelets

Available Apr 16.
Ages nine and older.
$1 per kit.

Octopus paper craft
Octopus paper craft

Available Apr 23.
Ages four to eight.
$1 per kit.

Monarch butterfly garden
Monarch butterfly garden

Available Apr 30.
All ages.
$1 per kit. 

Every year we celebrate the official opening of the Welland Canal with a Top Hat Ceremony. This year, pick up your free craft kit to make your very own top hat! We still have lots of kits available. Share your pictures with us! Call the library at 905-834-6512 or contact us to reserve a kit.

Online programs

Did you know we have a YouTube channel? You can watch follow-along craft tutorials, activities and story times. Some videos are only available for a limited time, so check back for any updates.
Exploring the Birds of Ontario with David T. Chapman
View Exploring the Birds of Ontario with David T. Chapman
Available March 8 to June 8, 2021
If you enjoy bird watching, then this is the presentation for you! Everything from the small backyard visitors that we all know and love, to some of the largest birds like the Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron. Check out rare visitors to the Niagara area like the Painted Bunting and Northern Hawk Owl. Watch an owl family grow up and leave the nest. Learn how you can enhance your birding experience. See both still images and video of these fascinating and colourful characters and more.
Register for 3-2-1 Weather Launch: Atmosphere Traveler with David T. Chapman
Register for 3-2-1 Weather Launch: Atmosphere Traveler with David T. Chapman

Available April 12 to July 12, 2021
Become your family's weather forecaster by learning to read weather patterns just from looking at the sky outside your window. Our travel guide, weather expert David T. Chapman, takes us on a journey literally from the ground up.
All ages. Free.