Looking for a short, action-packed story? 

Ages 10 – 14: Orca Currents

Ages 10+: Orca Sports

Ages 12+: Orca Soundings

Home Invasion

Home Invasion by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers, 2005) is the story of Josh who has found a new interest: sneaking into other people’s houses. Josh is a regular teenage boy who goes to school, plays sports and chases after girls. He never thought he would become a home invader. But when Josh finds out that there have been a number of home invasions, one near his house, he decides to take a closer look and study the home invader’s mind. Because he has been caught by the police doing things he’s not supposed to do, there is a court order stating that he has to be constantly supervised by his new stepfather, a man he dislikes. Josh wants to break those rules and catch the home invader before he strikes again, but will he be able to do it in time without being captured himself? (Ashley in grade eight)

Chat Room by Kristin Butcher (Orca, 2006) is a book about a girl who doesn’t have a lot of friends and doesn’t really know what she is doing with her life. When she goes to a chat room, her life completely changes. She goes to school one day and is sent to an assembly about online chat rooms and how the school just made one. She thinks there is no way she is going to go in these chat rooms, but that isn’t true. That night when she goes home, she logs onto a chat room just to check it out. She quickly makes up her mind to make an account and signs on. Soon she realizes that she has made a mistake. Bad stuff starts happening to her: she loses her best friend and her date never shows up. Read this great book to find out what happens at the end. (Ryan H.)

Chat Room by Kristin Butcher (Orca Currents, 2006) is the story of a girl named Linda who is sort of living two lives: one on the computer at home and one at school. When her school opens up a new chat room on her school website, she starts to get to know a “virtual” boy who shares some of her interests. Linda is not very popular at school, so even though her only friend is telling her to back away quickly, she really wants to get to know who Cyrano is in person. Is he a nerd? Is he a jock?  After a whole lot of complications, Linda finds out the surprising truth and happily ends up with two friends instead of one! (Taylor in grade eight)

Have you ever thought about how life can be without a father? Especially if you saw your own father kill himself just because he’s gay? Shaw, in The Hemingway Tradition by Kristen Butcher (Orca Soundings, 2002), has gone through that exact life. It seemed as if Shaw’s father, author of serious fiction, was living a famous and flourishing life but secretly had his own problems. Even though he was gay, he still married Shaw’s mother and gave her everything she wanted: fame, fortune and a family. But he fell into major depression and committed suicide in front of his own son! After that tragedy, the Shaw who used to adore his father now hated him. Proud wasn’t exactly the word that came into his mind. Hurt, humiliated, angry and confused, maybe. But certainly not proud. Every time someone would mention his dad, the memory would rip his mind. All Shaw wants is answers, just answers. He tries to run away but how long can he run? Will Shaw be able to understand his father’s reason for committing suicide? To find out, read this short novel about love and hate. (Simran)


Reckless by Lesley Choyce (Orca Currents, 2010) is the story of a teenager named Josh who knows he’s riding recklessly when he knocks down an old man he suspects is the hermit of Loggerman Creek. But he is shocked when, after the accident, the hermit walks into the forest with Josh’s bike. Being without his beloved bike for a week motivates Josh to hike into the woods and confront the ‘crazy old man’. The hermit, Jonathan, has fixed Josh’s bike and Josh learns that he has more in common with the old man than he ever imagined. When Jonathan needs help, Josh has to respect the old man’s choices in order to save the hermit’s life. This book was a very interesting and exciting story about intergenerational and social relationships: teenager and old man; loner teenager and hermit old man. It made me see hermits differently. They aren’t crazy old men living in the middle of nowhere, but instead are people who feel comfortable living away from urban areas and multitudes of people. Teenagers are also trying to find their place in life and sometimes feel more comfortable living apart from lots of people and close to nature. Relationships are about balance and feeling comfortable with yourself and others. It doesn’t look the same for everybody. (Jake in grade eight)

Running the Risk by Lesley Choyce is about a robbery at a burger shop. It was a night shift and all teenagers were working. They thought it was just going to be a regular night but they were wrong. When the door flew open with two guys with ski masks and guns up in the air, everything stopped. Sean wanted to press the big red button but if he moved,  he would be shot. So he did the right thing: gave the burglars the money and they left. Everyone there was terrified and ticked off at Sean. But what could he have done? Stand there and let everyone one get shot? Ummm, no.  Sean and the rest of the workers got laid off for a week or two.  Sean’s parents refused to let Sean go back. But he did anyways. The first day back,he thought no one would show but basically everyone was back.  Read this book to find out if they ever find out who the robber was. (Brooke in grade eight)

Impact by James C. Dekker is a good book. I picked this book because the title and the cover made mind think if it was going to be a murder book. Then again I was right. Impact is about a boy getting killed. A lot of people think that Jordan, the younger brother of Mark, knows more than he’s telling . Mark was the first born son a good hard worker and his family was so proud of him. But why Mark? Why did Mark get killed? Read this book to find out this good ending. (Brooke)

Kicked Out

Have you ever felt like your parents hate you? Well this is how Dime, a fifteen-year-old girl who is always angry, feels in the novel Kicked Out by Beth Goobie (Orca Soundings, 2002). Dime’s parents don’t like her attitude, her clothing or her boyfriend. She goes to live with her older brother, Darren who was paralyzed in an accident. She feels like her parents wish she were the one in the wheelchair. As Dime overcomes her problems, she realizes the only way to find happiness is to take responsibility for her actions. This is hard. It takes courage and dedication for Dime to confront her problems and work through the issues. But finally, once she dumps her boyfriend and tries to get along with her parents, she begins to change. She cleans up her act and feels a sense of belonging in her family. (Natalie in grade eight)

Dead-end Job

Have you ever fallen in love so deeply that it makes you flat out clueless? Have you been so close to death that you just decide that there’s nothing else you can do? Well, if you have, then you know exactly how Frances feels when a scary stalker decides to express his love for her in a peculiar way. Dead- End Job by Vicki Grant (Orca Book Publishers, 2005) is about Frances who will be leaving for art college soon, or so she thinks. There are tons of complications. She has to decide if she wants to stay with her jock boyfriend, who doesn’t have much in common with her,or go for the guy she met one night on her graveyard shift who just happens to have the same interests as she. Devin, her new crush, is the perfect guy: funny, handsome and rich. Sounds too good to be true, don’t you think? But head over heels falls Frances. In the end, well… you’ll have to read this addicting novel yourself to find out what happens. Will she stay with the love of her life and happily go off to college with Leo or will she give up like a limp noodle and take a life changing risk? (Ashley in grade eight)

The Big Dip by Melanie Jackson, (Orca , 2009) is the story of Joe and his friend Skip who are enjoying the thrill of riding the Big Dip, a famous rollercoaster at Vancouver’s PNE. Then they learn the old man in the seat in front of them has been shot. The old man mutters, with his dying breath, something about getting a ‘Margaret Rose’ to the police. Joe leaves the crime scene to get on with his life. But someone is desperate for the Margaret Rose jewel and thinks Joe has it. When Joe’s sister is kidnapped, it turns out the ransom is the Margaret Rose jewel. Joe is in a race against time to solve the mystery. Initially, I was drawn to this mystery because the setting was in Vancouver. I myself have been on the rollercoaster and it is a thrilling ride. But the actual mystery of the disappearing jewel held my attention and I would rate this book as an interesting suspense story. The plot line had different twists so it was not easy to predict who the thief was. For example, the thief turned out to be the main character’s best friend, Skip. I certainly did not see that coming. Another surprise in the plot line was when Skip’s partner turned out to be an undercover cop. I like mysteries that keep you guessing and are not too predictable, and this novel kept me in suspense right to the end. (Jake in grade eight)

Fastback Beach by Shirlee Smith Matheson (Orca, 2003) is the story of Miles, who is working at an old folk’s home cleaning out the basement. In the basement, there is an old hot rod. Miles decides to help restore the old car with Mr. Barmier, one of the people living at the home. Miles is really good at fixing things. He wants to be a mechanic when he gets out of high school. But then he is framed for stealing the completed hot rod. Miles’ girlfriend has told an old friend of Miles about the car, and these two characters don’t really like each other, so for payback, the old friend steals the car. In the end, fortunately, the friend is caught by the police with the car at Fastback Beach.
I liked the mystery in this story, the feeling of knowing Miles didn’t steal the car despite the apparent evidence showing he had. Miles was determined to prove his innocence throughout the book. The fact that the book was about old cars also drew me to the story because I really have an interest in old cars and things from the 50’s and 60’s. Finally, the relationship between Miles and Mr. Barmier was interesting because it showed me that you don’t have to be the same age to be friends because friends can come in all different ages. (Jake in grade eight)


I just finished reading the book Bang by Norah McClintock (Orca, 2007), a novel about two boys named J.D. and Quentin or Q. When a man gives them a hard time at the park for smoking pot and catches them stealing snacks, J.D. knows the man will call the cops. So with the brand new gun that J.D. has tucked in the back of his pants, he uses it for what it is made for and kills the man. As the boys try to lie low, the cops are hot on their trail. Then when the boys think it’s all good, the cops find them and take them into custody. They put J.D. in jail and want to interrogate Quentin. Detective Tanne is told by Quentin how things happened and puts Quentin under arrest for being party to murder. But he knows he won’t be in as long as J.D. I thought this book was interesting because of the crazy lengths that someone would go to not go to jail. (Christian in grade eight)

Ryan, Darlene. A Saving Grace. Victoria, BC, Orca, 2006.
Evie, a fifteen-year-old girl, has a baby but is not allowed to keep it. Her dad, who is really mad, tells her that she has to put it up for adoption. Since her mom is not alive to comfort her and actually say she can keep it, she is torn apart. Evie, however, gets an idea. She decides that she should take her baby back. Is it kidnapping?  Justin, the father of her child, and Evie decide to get away. Later on, Justin realizes that her idea is crazy and leaver alone. But being brave and strong, Evie manages to find her way and start a life with her beautiful baby, Brianna. (Aria in grade eight)


Ryan, Darlene. Responsible. Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
I recently read a book called Responsible, a book about a boy named Kevin who has just switched to a school where he is forced to bully people. Kevin doesn’t want to do this, but he kind of just ends up with friends who like doing these things. Kevin has to make a hard decision. His dad wants him to stop hanging out with this group of friends, but Kevin doesn’t want to because if he does, he won’t be cool anymore. Nevertheless, Kevin decides to stop hanging out with them because everything he does that involves these friends gets him in big trouble. This decision is the right one, especially since by doing this he manages to save a girl’s life and become a hero.
I can relate to this situation. Everyday, even at my school, people are bullied. Kids are forced to make this decision everyday – either bully kids or stop and make people’s lives much better. (Ryan H.)


Hell on earth. Dante Griffin’s definition of that is an eternity at school. Inferno by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2009), is about sixteen- year- old Dante Griffin who thinks school is a hell on earth. She hates her homeroom teacher, her best friend moved away during summer and doesn’t even talk to her anymore, and she meets a stranger who hands her a flyer saying. “Woof, woof. You are not a dog. Why are you going to obedience school?” Dante thinks she’s found a soulmate, someone who really understands her and her thoughts, until she meets the stranger’s friends who all hate school and are planning to burn hers to the ground. Will Dante be able to stop her newly acquired friends? Or will her school be burned to ashes? (Tina)

I recently read a fantastic book called The Darwin Expedition by Diane Tullson (Orca, 2007). Two teenagers, Tej and Liam, drive up a mountain to go snowboarding for the day. When they turn off to take a short cut over a treacherous side road, they end up discovering that they have chosen the worst short cut imaginable. They are now fighting for their lives after their truck plummets off the road. Will a bear end their lives for them? You will have to read this exciting novel to find out for yourself. (J.S. in grade eight)

Knifepoint by Alex Van Tol is an extraordinary good book. I LOVED it. It is about a teenage girl who works at a summer ranch. This girl rounds up the horses and takes the people who own a cabin on the ranch for horse rides. One day, Jill rounds up the horses all by herself. A young man comes and says they should go for a ride out on the trails. Of course, Jill is like any other girl who is attracted to a handsome man. When the day comes up for Jill to take this guy out for a ride she doesn’t even think to look up anything about him… [But] it turns out this man is a pedophile, rapist and a killer. Jill has to find away out of this disaster; someone needs to help her. But no one is around. Read Knifepoint to find out this amazing book’s ending. (Brooke)

Lockdown, by Diane Tullson, is an amazing book. It shows how kids can lose their temper. In the book, the principal comes on the P.A and yells, “lockdown!” but the kids don’t believe it until all the teachers are yelling at them to get inside the classrooms. Three kids get locked out of the room and no one will let them in. They run to the boy’s bathroom to see another kid there who didn’t think it was real. It was more than real. Terrifying. Shivering. Goodbyes. They hear gunshots all over the place. The intruder comes into the boy’s bathroom. Right then and there they know who the intruder is. A peer. They get pretty lucky when their peer does not shoot them. But he does fire and it skids past one of them. Scared as they are already, they know they have to stop him. Just then everything gets horrifying. Read this intense book if you like action. I recommend that grade eights should read this book. They can find out to always believe when things are not a joke. (Brooke)


Branded by Eric Walters is about a high school principal who wants the kids to wear uniforms. Some kids agree. Of course, most of the kids don’t want uniforms. And then there is always going to be that one person who nags and nags: why should there be  uniforms? Julia is that kind of person. She thinks that if they are uniforms how will students get to be different? Who wants to look the same? Why do they have to wear those depressing uniforms? Ian, on the other hand, doesn’t know what side to take. He’s stuck. He doesn’t mind the uniforms, but he doesn’t want to upset Julia. What more can he do? Read Branded to see how it turns out! (Brooke in grade eight)


Walters, Eric. Grind. Victoria: Orca, 2004.
Phillip and his best friend Walter, skateboarders, make a website to show off their cool stunts, but soon they feel pressured to do more dangerous tricks and push their limits. Is it too much for them to handle? [A.R. 3.7; Courage – fiction;  Fear – fiction; Dating – fiction; Adventure – Fiction] (Jake in grade eight)

House Party

In House Party by Eric Walters, a typical teenage girl’s parents leave for the night and her friend encourages her to throw a party. The word spreads. The friends that they had first invited told their friends, and then those friends told their friends, and so on. The girls think it won’t be a party without alcohol, but they don’t know that people are adding more and more alcohol to the punch. Casey as five or six glasses of punch and Jen has way more. They try to get everyone out and try to clean up some stuff, but more and and more people start showing up and it gets harder and harder to get everyone out. Some older boys try to get in, and it takes two boys and the two girls to overpower them and shut the door. But the boys who wanted to come in get mad and throw bricks through the windows. One of the girls gets a cut in her head from the glass. Then someone else throws the stereo out a window. But when people start to hear sirens, they start to leave. They all run away, except one girl who has passed out on the lawn. There are spilled cups, chairs flipped over, walls with holes in them and garbage everywhere. The police tell the girls to call an adult, and Jen’s mom comes to help them clean up. They clean up the garbage, straighten out the chairs, wash all the carpets. Finally, by two o’clock the next afternoon, Casey’s parents arrive home to hear their daughter say to them, “Mom, dad, I have something I want to tell you.” (Taylor in grade eight)

I recently read a book called Living Rough by Christy Watson (Orca, 2011). This book is about how bad things can happen to people and they can end up on the streets. In this novel, Edgar is living in a tent with his father, after his mother died. His father spent a year with his mother in the hospital and when she died they had no money left to live anywhere. After living in a tent for several months, they are revealed on TV and his life makes a dramatic change from bad to good. I can connect to this in real life because there are many homeless people where we live in Abbotsford. For some of them, it is not their fault and in this story it shows how it can go from bad to good in a split second. (Ryan H.)

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