Margin Notes

GUEST WRITER HANNAH MCKAY RECOMMENDS SILVER IN THE BONE BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN

Mar
26

Meet Tamsin Lark, an aspiring Hallower, and current tarot card reader working to support her younger brother. In Tamsin’s world, a Hallower is someone who possesses a magical talent and uses those talents to find magical objects and then sell to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, Tamsin does not possess a magical talent, however her brother does. After their guardian mysteriously disappears, Tamsin and her brother, Cabell, are left to fend for themselves. The siblings work together utilizing Cabell’s magical ability and Tamsin’s photographic memory and knack for language to find displaced magical artefacts to sell. The pair’s life is turned upside down when Tamsin is offered an extremely large sum to find an artefact that would also break a curse placed on Cabell when he was young. In the process of retrieving this artefact Tamsin and Cabell become friends with their arch nemesis, Emrys and a sorceress, Neve. The four of them embark on a dangerous and fantastical journey to retrieve the magical artefact and break Cabell’s curse. This journey leads the four unlikely friends to another realm where they find others who are in more desperate need of this magical artefact that can undo curses.

Alexandra Bracken’s “Silver in the Bone” is an exciting novel that offers an amazing fantasy realm revolving around an Arthurian world, with references to King Arthur, Merlin and Sir Bedivere throughout the novel. “Silver in the Bone” is action packed, and filled with romance and betrayal, offering something for readers who enjoy fantasy, action or romance. The novel offers 470 pages of thrilling storyline; however, the font is on the larger side, with not too many words per page so readers may get through the book faster than they think! This novel is the first of a series, with a strong hook at the end of the book, which may encourage readers to continue their reading journey by reading the following books in the series.

 

Hannah is currently attending UNB to obtain her teaching certificate through the Bachelor of Education program. If she isn’t at work or school, you can find Hannah out hiking, playing board games with family and friends or getting cozy while reading a good book!

 

GUEST WRITER ZACHARY MCCOY RECOMMENDS THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF RUDOLF DIESEL BY DOUGLAS BRUNT

Mar
19

The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I by Douglas Brunt is a succinct chronology of the Second Industrial Revolution, highlighting the pursuits of its representative cast of preeminent innovators, political figures, and business tycoons, all striving in a tense rat race to outdo and outlast one another. Brunt’s topical chronicle follows the fascinating life of Bavarian inventor and mechanical engineer Rudolph Diesel in his tiring ambition to create a world less reliant on the petrochemicals and coal which then and now corrupt our fragile biosphere, and, in doing so, developing the engine that bears his name today. Raised in the smog-filled industrial centers of Europe, Diesel became disenchanted with the polluting and inefficient methods of production of his day and thus sought, with matchless intellect and dogged determination, to produce a mechanism in which the type of fuel could be universalized, and the fuel itself utilized more efficiently. His untimely death at sea in September 1913 lends considerable weight to the suspicion that the great coveters of political power and industry, such as the Rockefellers and Hohenzellerns, had succeeded in maintaining the status quo and therefore the continued proliferation of fossil fuels into the modern age.

For those young adult students so willing to delve into this admittedly extensive historical narrative, they are sure to be gripped by the genius and forward-thinking nature of a man now inextricably connected to his now problematic namesake. Brunt presents compelling evidence that Diesel in fact aspired for a future emancipated from the contaminating sources of power that drove humanity into modernity, a sentiment that most of us hold unequivocally today. As a source of historical understanding, students will be inundated with cases of intrigue, sabotage, coercion, and power politics, but also conversely collaboration, innovation, progressivism, and even love. I strongly recommend The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel to any student with an interest in history, technology, politics, and/or economics. This latest of Brunt’s work appeals to a wide audience and engrosses the reader with a lead so thoroughly buried that one cannot help but read from start to finish.

GUEST WRITER KATE MATTHEWS RECOMMENDS LANDBRIDGE: LIFE IN FRAGMENTS BY Y-DAN TROEUNG

Mar
12

Landbridge: Life in Fragments by Y-Dang Troeung is a memoir that is fundamentally a reflection of the author’s family’s experiences as Cambodian refugees who fled the Khmer Rouge regime, ultimately finding sanctuary in Canada. However, this book can also be seen as a powerful exploration of the human experience as seen through the lens of a fragmented world.

Throughout the novel, the author takes us on a journey through time and space, weaving together narratives from different eras and regions. This book is not just about history, it’s about how history shapes our lives today. It spans continents and generations, revealing the hidden threads that bind us all. Through this book, we are invited to reflect on the concept of a “landbridge” and the idea that land is not just a physical space but a bridge between cultures, peoples, and memories. Troeung opens a window with her stories for readers to catch a glimpse of the challenging landscapes of immigration, memory, and family. This book challenges us to rethink our understanding of borders and divisions, showing us how they can be both unifying and divisive forces in our world.

Landbridge is a celebration of diversity and a call for unity. It’s a book that reminds us of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage while embracing the interconnectedness of our global society. This is a thought-provoking read that will stay with you. For students interested in history, culture, and the human experience, ‘Landbridge: Life in Fragments’ is a must-read. Y-Dang Troeung’s storytelling will captivate your mind and touch your heart.

Kate is a student in the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick and is passionate about teaching. She is dedicated to fostering a love for learning and believes books in the power of books to inspire and teach.

GUEST WRITER SPENCER MACKEEN RECOMMENDS DUCKS BY KATE BEATON

Mar
05

Ducks tells the emotional story of the author, Kate Beaton, and her journey from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to the oil sands of Alberta. Her story will resonate with many Canadians, but especially those from the East Coast who so often need to leave their hometowns for financial reasons. This familiar theme makes Ducks a great addition to the classroom library as many students would have someone close to them who must travel for work, and will empathize with the issues Beaton articulates. The trials and tribulations Beaton experiences during her time in the oil sands of Alberta are very real, and because of this Ducks is best suited for mature readers who are prepared to grapple with, and reflect on, experiences of misogyny, coarse language and assault while working in the predominately male centered fields. On the whole, this slice of life story is a great way to get readers interested in different types of texts and can be a great resource to show that autobiographies can come in many more forms than students may have previously realized.

Besides the emotion present in Beaton’s story, the decision to make it a graphic text allows it to beautifully illustrate her journey.  This element allows readers a clearer window into the reality of these events to the point where one can almost feel as though they were present. As well, because this work is the culmination of many individual comics, it can be broken into smaller, individual, sections rather than needing to be read as a whole, and as well makes her story accessible to a wider audience of readers. Overall, the images and text work together to reveal Beaton’s struggles in a thoughtful manner.

Spencer is currently working towards his BEd at the University of New Brunswick, focusing on English, Social Studies and the International Baccalaureate. He grew up in Nova Scotia and studied at ST.FX University before continuing with his education in New Brunswick. Spencer has been an avid reader through much of his life and wants to promote different forms of texts, like graphic novels, as an equal form of literature, compared to traditional texts, in his future teaching.

GUEST WRITER ISABELLA LIRETTE RECOMMENDS THE DARKENING BY SUNYA MARA

Feb
27

Vesper Vale feared the Storm just as much as most in the fifth ring did. Being in the outer most ring of this dystopian society, meant that Vesper and those she loved were on the cusp of death, or worst, the curse that the Storm bestowed on those who merely touched it. If the Storm didn’t get to them, then the unrelenting hunger might. When Vesper’s father is taken away for his revolutionary past and illegal use of magic by the men tasked to save their society, Vesper must sneak into the inner circles of society to save him. Navigating an unknown society of wealth and abundance, Vesper befriends Dalca, the son of the Regia and leader of the society. Yet, she may end up getting closer to Dalca than she had planned, putting everything into question: What was it that divided their people? What is the story behind her parents’ secretive past? What brought on the Storm? And what is Vesper willing to sacrifice to save them all? Confronted with her growing affection for Dalca and her conflicting feelings for her father, Vesper must decide for herself what she really wants, before others decide for her.

This novel covers themes of friendship, love, family, class discrimination, and the often complicated need for revenge. Woven together with stunning imagery and magic, this novel is perfect for high school students, especially those who enjoy genres of  fantasy and dystopian. Furthermore, this is the first of two novels in the series and the cliff hanger at the end will have any reader reaching for the next novel!

Isabella Lirette is a graduate of Mount Allison University and a current Education student at the University of New Brunswick. She is an avid EcoLiterature and Indigenous Literature fan and is eager to bring her love of reading and writing into the classroom.

GUEST WRITER ALISHA HATHI RECOMMENDS NEVER LIE BY FREIDA MCFADDEN

Feb
20

The novel Never Lie written by Freida McFadden is an exhilarating thriller underlined with multiple compelling relationships between characters. The book is centered around Tricia and Ethan, a newly wedded couple in search of the perfect house to grow their relationship. They stumble upon the most beautiful mansion, one previously owned by a famous psychiatrist named Adrienne Hale. The house recently entered the market after the investigation of Adrienne’s mysterious disappearance was concluded. The police were unsuccessful in finding out what happened to the renowned psychiatrist, and the house appears to hold no answers.

The couple makes a trip to view the mansion during a snowstorm, and unfortunately, they get trapped at the house, with no reception or means of leaving. While waiting for the snowstorm to pass, Tricia stumbles upon a secret room filled with tape recordings of every session Adrienne had with his patients. The tapes unravel events up to the disappearance of Adrienne Hale. Each tape has Tricia more and more on edge as she discovers more about Adrienne’s lies leading up to her disappearance.

This novel is the perfect thriller for any high school student who enjoys a great mystery as well as compelling love stories. Learning about the love Tricia and Ethan share, and what they would do to keep that love alive, as well as the toxic relationship Adrienne was in at the time of her disappearance, gives the reader much to consider. The short chapters make this novel a quick read and easy to pick up when you have a minute to spare. If you enjoyed The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, then Never Lie will also pique your interest. The plot twists throughout the story make this a page-turner!

Alisha Hathi is a first-year education student at the University of New Brunswick.

GUEST WRITER RYAN HARB RECOMMENDS MISSED TRANSLATIONS BY SOPAN DEB

Feb
13

Sopan Deb’s Missed Translations is a touching and humorous memoir about his journey of self-discovery and reconciliation with his immigrant roots. Despite his success as a New York Times writer and comedian, Sopan realized that he was often hiding his insecurities behind humor. While he told stories and jokes typical of an Indian immigrant, it was not true to his background.

The parents of Sopian immigrated separately to America, and, although not compatible, they married in an arranged marriage. Shortly after the birth of their second son, Sopian’s father returned to India without warning or saying goodbye.As a result of not knowing his father and isolating himself from his mother, he sought refuge in the homes and lives of his white-American friends. As Sopian approached his 30th birthday, he began to reflect on the fact that he knew nothing about his parents. How old they were, where they were born, if they had any siblings, and he didn’t even know his own mother’s phone number.

As a result of these reflections, Sopan travels to India to reunite with the father he hasn’t seen or spoken to in nearly a decade. The outcome is the discovery of a man who is thinking, passionate, and proud of his son. He makes discoveries about his father as well as his extended family, eventually leading him to reconcile with his past and reunite with his estranged mother.

Using Missed Translations in an English classroom to explore themes of identity and belonging or cultural perspectives would be a great use of this memoir. It could be used as a mentor text in many ways, including:

Voice and Style: Examine Sopan deb’s writing style and voice. Analyze his use of humor, wit, and emotional depth. Discuss how his unique voice contributes to the storytelling and engages the reader.

Character Development: Study how the author portrays himself and other characters in the memoir. Explore the development of his character and his family members. Discuss how dialogue, actions, and inner thoughts reveal character traits.

Transitions and Pacing: Study how the author manages transitions between different parts of his life and how pacing is used to maintain reader engagement.

Reflection and Analysis: Focus on how the author reflects on his experiences and analyzes their significance.

 

Ryan is a dedicated educator with a Master’s in English Language Teaching and a Bachelor’s in English Literature. With over a decade of international teaching experience, he specializes in innovative methodologies and teacher mentoring. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Education with an Englih and IB specialization, he’s passionate about advancing education.

GUEST WRITER KIE GATES RECOMMENDS LIGHTLARK BY ALEX ASTER

Jan
30

Six realms. Six terrible curses. Only one chance every hundred years to break them. This is what is on the line for Isla Crown, ruler of the Wildling realm and Aster’s protagonist, as she prepares to compete in the Centennial: a deadly event on Lightlark, an island which appears only once every hundred years for one hundred days. To break their curses – and gain immense power in the process – the rulers of each realm must fulfill a prophecy. What makes the Centennial so dangerous, though, is that fulfilling this prophecy requires the death of one ruler, and consequently, their entire realm. And to make matters worse, since the five hundred years the curses have affected them, the realms have been getting weaker and weaker. Now more than ever, the rulers are feeling the pressure to break their curses, once and for all. As the Centennial goes on, so many questions arise – will Isla and her best friend and fellow ruler Celeste’s secret plan to break their curses work out? Can she trust the cold, distant King of Lightlark that seems to despise her? Why is the Nightshade ruler so familiar to her, and why can’t she stop thinking of him? No one is safe as secrets are revealed, lies are told, trust is broken, and love blooms.

Full of action, mystery, and plot twists, Lightlark is sure to capture the attention of high school fantasy, dystopia, and/or romance fans. And the best part? It is the first book in Aster’s Lightlark saga so readers can continue embarking with Isla on her adventures in Nightbane, its newly released sequel.

Kie Gates is a student from the Bachelor of Education program at the University of New Brunswick When she is not busy with school, Kie loves going for walks, hanging out with friends, listening to music, and of course, cozying up with a good book. Her favourite part of the day is drinking her morning coffee.

GUEST WRITER MATTHEW FLANAGAN RECOMMENDS A SCATTER OF LIGHT BY MALINDA LO

Jan
23

Malinda Lo’s A Scatter of Light is a quintessential coming of age novel about identity, sexuality, and self-discovery. Lo introduces us to Aria Tang West, a young woman whose plans for the future are cruelly disrupted when intimate photos of her are distributed online. Her ideal summer plans now ruined, Aria heads to California to spend the summer with her grandmother. It is this diversion that exposes Aria to the ideas, relationships, and experiences that will truly define who she is, and who she is becoming.

The core tension in A Scatter of Light is between Aria’s perceived identity and her real identity. Anyone who has learned to appreciate how much growth is born from disruptions, disappointments, and failures will appreciate how this tension plays out. Aria comes from an affluent family, is preparing to attend MIT, and considers herself heterosexual. However, in California she develops a strong bond with her artist grandmother, forms friendships with working class young adults, and (most importantly) falls in love with Steph. These relationships alter how Aria understands her identity, but none more than her connection with Steph. This connection allows Aria to accept who she really is and who she could become.

Anyone who enjoyed Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club will appreciate the issues covered in A Scatter of Light and the explicit connections between both stories. More than a celebration of sexual identity, A Scatter of Light is a bittersweet reminder that our identity is a product of our positive and negative experiences and Lo provides a reflective journey that reminds us that self-discovery and acceptance are often the result of things going wrong.

 

 

GUEST WRITER JULIA COPELAND RECOMMENDS FORGIVE ME NOT BY JENNIFER BAKER

Jan
16

Forgive Me Not by Jennifer Baker is a moving and emotionally charged young adult novel that explores the complexities of forgiveness. The story centers on the protagonist, Violetta Chen-Samuels, a fifteen-year-old girl who makes one bad decision that causes life-altering repercussions.

The story opens with a devastating accident that upends Violetta’s entire existence when she chooses to drive drunk, taking the life of her young sister. Violetta not only faces incarceration, but she also must confront the challenge of seeking forgiveness from the people she has harmed – her family. However, Violetta not only seeks the forgiveness of her family; she is also in pursuit of self-forgiveness.

In Jennifer Baker’s compelling portrayal of the justice system, a complex dynamic emerges where the family of the victim holds the power to determine the punishment for the youth offender. Violetta, at the crossroads of her fate, confronts three possibilities: a return home to her family if forgiveness is immediately granted, a prolonged sentence upstate, or a difficult path through the Trials – a series of daunting tasks designed for youth rehabilitation. While the Trials were invented to improve the youth justice system, it is evident that the system remains broken and flawed, possessing the same biases as before: racism, sexism, and classicism.

What truly distinguishes the story is the dual perspective that it offers, allowing readers to intimately experience both Violetta’s journey within the justice system and the profound impact her situation has on her family through the lens of her older brother, Vince. While the reader witnesses Violetta’s inner turmoil and her struggle within the justice system, they also are exposed to the heart-wrenching transformation of the family as they navigate grief and forgiveness.

Jennifer Baker empathetically addresses a multitude of heavy topics, including death, grief, drug abuse, suicide, and the inherent racism present within the justice system. This book is great for high school students who wish to engage with literature that sparks discussions about the justice system, the heavy struggles that teenagers may face, and societal issues at large.

Julia Copeland is from a small town in Ontario. She is currently a Bachelor of Education student at the University of New Brunswick in hopes of becoming a French and English high school teacher!