Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick is a YA realistic fiction book about the special bond between two brothers. Stark McClellan has anotia. He was only born with one ear. He is called Stick for being tall and thin. He's constantly bullied for how he looks, but his brother Bosten always defends him at school and on the streets. But neither boy can defend themselves from their abusive parents. When Stark's parents find out that Bosten is gay, he runs for his life. Stark loves his brother, and runs after him, in search of his brother and people who will love them for who they are.

I must say- Stark is only 14. Yes, he is tall, but somehow I find it hard to believe that he can drive successfully 15 hours straight safely by himself. His voice also sound like he's 17. Stark was forced to grow up way too soon and learn to take care of himself. I had to constantly remind myself that he's only 14, which makes this tale even sadder and more infuriating. The level of responsibility on his shoulders is way too much for anyone. To say this book is emotional is a vast understatement. 

Stark is one of my favorite male narrators of all time. He has so much piled on him, but somehow he manages to keep a clear head and maintain a positive outlook. This kid gets up every time he falls, and isn't afraid of anything. He is the type of character who will always stick with you. Stark would be an amazing role model for everybody, and teaches others to be comfortable in their own skin. Stick teaches those in tough places to never give up searching for safety and love. While running away is not something I would recommend, know that there is always somebody in the world who will accept you for who you are. There is more to life than your burdens. 
I highly recommend this book, but only for older YA readers due to a few intense situations. I am looking forward to reading another book of the author's, Grasshopper Jungle.

Title: Stick
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 292
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, January 12, 2018

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a YA realistic fiction book about a girl's unfortunate, hilarious freshman year. Kelsey Finkelstein is starting freshman year at high school. She is dedicated to making a mark at her new school, but that doesn't go as planned. She navigates through being goalie on the soccer team with a captain who hates her and getting cast as a fat male butcher in the school play, Fiddler on the Roof. Combined with embarrassing pictures in the school paper and boy problems, she'll need a lot of optimism and self-esteem to get through freshman year.

Kelsey is a stereotypical popular girl. She is very concerned with boys, drinking, clothes, and parties. She is a whiny brat at times and constantly demands attention from her friends, and she is very rude to her parents and sister. Kelsey is very concerned with her appearance and appears shallow in quite a few instances. One thing that's very ironic is that Kelsey and her friends are very immature but the book tackles mature concepts like sex, drinking, and gay awareness.

This book was just okay. It felt cliché and boring at times. There were some funny moments, but some of the ideas were just very far-fetched, like the play. My school actually put on Fiddler on the Roof, so I am familiar with the story. Yes, it was very funny, but I just can't wrap my head around how the "disaster" could have happened for real, like some of the other phenomena. This book is not a good example of freshman year of high school at all, and while it is quite funny, this should no way be compared to the real thing.

I didn't hate Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, I just didn't like it very much. This is a fine book for a leisure read if you want something lighthearted and funny, but don't take it seriously and don't get your hopes up.

Title: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ground Zero (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 3) by Al Stone

Ground Zero is the third and final book in the YA fantasy T.O.E. trilogy sent to me by the author. Every 26,000 years, the Annus Magnus comes. It's the end of civilization. Sometimes, a few lucky people can survive. This time, nobody stands a chance. The only hope for civilization is Charlie Blake finding all four elemental diamonds to restore the talisman. As the lines between friends and enemies start to blur, Charlie must look deep inside himself to figure out what his destiny is and what he is truly fighting for.

It was really hard to put down this book, and I was mad when my Kindle suddenly decided to do a system update (which took 15 minutes) in the middle of the book! The imagery was so intense that it was physically hard to tear my eyes away from the pages.

I must say, there was a lot to wrap my head around. Almost every chapter, he's somewhere else and another huge event occurs. There were so many twists and turns it was sometimes quite overwhelming. I still have some questions that will require me to read the book again. On the bright side, I liked the book so that won't be a problem!

This cover is my favorite of the series. It is simple, yet full of meaning. A regular boy infused with royalty and forced into leadership. This book is where Charlie really feels the huge pressure. Stopping an enemy or a demon is one thing, but the whole world ending is another. My heart goes out for Charlie and his extreme courage. The ending wrapped up the series very nicely and clearly shows the outcome of the rest of their lives.

I recommend that you read this series!

Read my review of the first book, The Talisman of El!

Read my review of the second book, Blackout!

Title: Ground Zero
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 565
Series: Yes, Book 3/3
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie

Personal Effects is a YA realistic fiction book about strength in the face of death. Matt's older brother T.J. was in the military and died in Iraq. Now Matt is broken, and his life is falling apart. After another student wore a T-shirt with T.J.'s name on it purposely to upset him, Matt fought him.

He's suspended and charged with paying for the trophy case he broke in the attack, and he's lucky he's not in jail. Matt's relationship with his dad deteriorates. One day, T.J.'s personal effects arrive with all of his belongings. His dad forbids him to touch anything, but Matt looks anyways for glimpses of his brother to remember. He discovers that he wrote a letter that never got sent, and Matt goes on a mission to track down the person and deliver the letter in his brother's memory.

Matt is very angry, which is understandable. However, I love how he took that anger and used it to do something good. He had strong character development and went from fragile and broken to being able to stand up to his father and knowing that he can have a future of his own. I also loved the aspect of independence. He travels across the country without parent permission and successfully takes care of himself. I loved watching him prove to himself and the world that his father is wrong about him and his potential.

This book is full of emotion. The anger, grief, and betrayal jumped off the pages and stabbed my heart in its core. Personal Effects displays the struggles of millions of people all over the world. 4,486 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, and over 32,000 were wounded. This book yells out loud and clear the pain of death, and how hard it is to cope. For anyone who has lost a family member or friend, this would be a special read. It teaches others that they are not alone in their pain and strategies to help heal the wounds.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Personal Effects
Author: E.M. Kokie
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 352
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, December 29, 2017

Blackout (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 2) by Al Stone

Blackout is the second book in the YA fantasy T.O.E. trilogy. The author sent me this book to review. Charlie's life is not going well for him. Even though he has the Legion of light and the Talisman to protect him, trying to save mankind is harder than he thought. His visions of the future intrude, and soon he can barely tell the difference between reality and dreams.

He thinks his powers are just activating, but he is really showing signs of a deadly disease. Worse, his nemesis, Gaddis, plans on spreading the disease to all humans and ending mankind. In order to save humanity, Charlie must find the Stone of Raphael, the air diamond. It has healing powers. But Gaddis will stop at nothing to destroy Charlie's family and everyone he loves.

I absolutely loved Blackout, and I'd gladly read it again! Every page grabbed me into their world, and it was really hard to put down! The imagery and suspense in Blackout were even better than the previous book, The Talisman of El

Everybody's emotions were way more intense. Every character is highly stressed throughout the book and leads to lots of revelations about who they truly are. Readers explore Alex's varying emotion and the chaos in her family. Charlie loves Alex, and I loved watching him try to protect her and face his feelings about her. This book goes faster paced, and the battles with demons and evil angels explode into what felt like a live-action movie. 

The mystery aspect was highly internalized for Charlie. Again, he's trying to figure out who he is. He is constantly debating with who he once was as an angel and who he is as human. Not to mention the whole good-vs-evil thing. It is quite overwhelming for him to attempt to control destiny.

I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading the next book, Ground Zero

Read my review of the previous book, The Talisman of El!

Title: Blackout
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 449
Series: Yes, Book 2/3
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Books in 2018

One of the most exciting things on any day of the year is reading a new book! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish blog. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Top Ten New Releases I'm Looking Forward to in 2018.

I really want to read all of these exciting new YA books! The following are in order by the expected release date, with the earliest listed first.

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Release Date: January 2, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
18-year-old twins Adina and Tovah both had bright futures ahead of them. Until one of them tests positive for Huntington's, a rare disease where the nerves in the brain are destroyed, and the emotions come between them.

Release Date: January 30, 2018 (YA historical fiction)
This is the conclusion to the Front Lines trilogy. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy are now on their way to the Omaha beach for D-Day. The goal is to end WWII- take down the Nazis once and for all.

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
Release Date: February 27, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
This book tells the story of Linden, a homeless teen who is secretly living in her high school.

Release Date: March 6, 2018 (YA dystopian) 
Turns out Shatter Me wasn't a trilogy after all! Juliette was named the Supreme Commander of Sector 45, but she can still kill with a touch. Now she must figure out how to utilize her powers without hurting anybody.

Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss
Release Date: June 5, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
Ten minutes after closing time at Cafe Flores, Scott and Winny become hostages. They must face their past and their fears in order to make it out alive. 

Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky
Release Date: July 19, 2017 (YA realistic fiction)
Theo Mackey lit a match that burned down his home, ending the life of his mother. It was an accident. The rest of that night he can't remember. But when a history project is assigned at his school, the memories from that night flood back, and Theo must face who he truly is and the truth about his family.

Nine by Zach Hines 
Release Date: August 7, 2018 (YA science fiction/dystopian)
In this alternate reality, everyone has nine lives and they want to burn through them. Apparently when one loses a life and rebirths, it is considered a mental and emotional "upgrade."Julian is bewildered at the desire of society to die. When he finally burns a life, he uncovers a brutal conspiracy.

Villain (Gone Book 8) by Michael Grant
Release Date: September 1, 2018 (YA Dystopian)
After reading Monster, the seventh book in the Gone series, I am ecstatic to read Villain. I can't wait nine months to read it!

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
Release Date: September 4, 2018 (YA fantasy)
Nita's mother defeats monsters and sells them on the black market. When her mother brings home a creature that is alive, she decides to follow her heart and help him escape, but Nita ends up being sold in the black market in his place. 

The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
Release Date: September 18, 2018 (YA fantasy)
In Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, every girl possesses a special power. For teens Rome, Lux, and Mercy, these powers are a curse. But while experiencing difficult times, they realize that friendship is the strongest power of all. 

I cannot wait to read these books! I am most eager to read Where I Live and Not Even Bones. What YA new releases are you excited to read next year?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story of the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor by Brendan McDonough with Stephan Talty

After watching the movie Only the Brave, I was eager to read My Lost Brothers, the memoir that inspired the documentary. Brendan McDonough was on lookout duty when the rest of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were burned alive on June 30, 2013. The Yarnell Hill Fire turned 180 degrees, cutting off their escape route. Their emergency fire shelters were no use against 3,000 degrees, and they all died in minutes. This was the greatest loss of firefighters since the 9/11 attack. My Lost Brothers is an inspirational memoir of how Brendan escaped the streets and turned his life around by joining the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and the day he lost the 19 men who saved him.

Before watching Only The Brave, I immediately went on the computer and read all about it, unaware that the crew was going to die. After realizing that Brendan wrote a book, I knew I just had to read it!

The majority of the book was in perfect unison with the documentary. This inspirational story teaches how to find one's purpose in life, and shows how millions of firefighters, police officers, and other first-responders put their lives on the line to save others. My Lost Brothers also teaches strength in the face of tragedy, and displays the importance of acceptance and moving on. This is a great book for someone who has faced death or PTSD, or knows someone who has. I learned a lot about the values of family and determination. I now also know more about firefighters than I ever did, and I have a stronger admiration for them. This book is heartbreaking and dramatic, and honors the men who died saving others.

Even though this book is intended for adults, it is perfectly suitable for teenagers as well. I highly recommend that you read this book and honor the sacrifice of these 19 brave men.

Title: My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor
Author: Brendan McDonough, Stephan Talty
Publisher: Hachette Books
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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