Friday, July 12, 2019

The Wave by Todd Srasser

481743The Wave is a YA historical fiction book that takes The Third Wave classroom experiment from 1967 into a modern-day setting. Students in Burt Ross' history classroom don't understand how Nazism was able to become so powerful- surely the people would have realized their actions were wrong and stop it, right? Wrong. To illustrate how powerful peer pressure and human desire to gain social power can overpower moral beliefs, Mr. Ross creates a fake movement called The Wave. But the experiment grows quickly out of hand and it is up to two students of their school newspaper to expose the truth and stop it.

When I've learned about the Nazis in school I've had the same questions that these kids had. How could these ordinary people turn into monsters and think killing millions of children is acceptable? How can loving, kind people suddenly forget their morals and be brainwashed so easily? Like their teacher, mine haven't exactly had the best answers either. The Wave explains everything- it's like something clicked in my brain after reading it. How come I hadn't heard of this before? As an editor of my school newspaper, I also loved the influence of their newspaper.

I found this story absolutely fascinating. There is no question in my mind that this event should be taught in all history classes and this book should be required reading in schools worldwide to teach us a valuable lesson about the dangers of sacrificing moral beliefs in favor of social acceptance and self-worth. This book reminds and questions the readers beliefs and puts them in their shoes. The Wave is very thought provoking. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Would you blindly follow the leader regardless of the outcome or would you find the strength to think for yourself?

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Wave
Author: Todd Strasser
Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books
Pages: 138
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

44303513. sy475 A Shifting of Stars is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. In Meadow Sircha's kingdom, talk of rebellion or dislike of the sadistic Emperor results in a death sentence. However, dislike of the Tyjans is quite automatic as he neglects his citizens and forces them to fight to the death in his tournaments. After the 17-year-old's mother dies because the Emperor would not give her the medicine needed, Meadow speaks out, asking the villagers to boycott. When she and her father are captured, Meadow barely escapes with her life and journeys across her kingdom to find him, ending up in more trouble than she bargained for.

A Shifting of Stars has an amazing cover that captures the magical and somewhat tragic fates of the characters. Meadow faced plenty of tyranny in her life, but her I love how she was still afraid and angry at it. Meadow is very brave and modest, feeling powerless to help her people but trying everything she can anyway even with her anxiety. Vogel was my favorite character. He was beguiling and battled internal demons. He was darkness and Meadow was light, they balanced each other out. Their romance was beautiful and felt very realistic.

The torture shown was very vivid and evil. The plot surprised me and quickly threw me off course. The magical twist was fascinating and opens a whole new realm of possibilities. The ending was lovely and exactly what I wanted. However I wanted more clarity on how the magic spells worked and where they came from, and some of those scenes were bizarre and not explained.

I recommend you read this book! I'm excited to read the next book!
Title: A Shifting of Stars
Author: Kathy Kimbray
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 450
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 StarsGoodreads

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

28369599I Wish My Teacher Knew is a nonfiction book about the movement that transpired when Mrs. Schwartz had her third-grade class answer the open-ended question on a post-it. She gets heartbreaking answers and forms connections with her students that goes viral worldwide. Mrs. Schwartz tells her story, the story of her students, and how she creates a feeling of safety and unity in her classroom.

I plan to be a teacher, and I will aspire to follow in her footsteps, learn from her mistakes, and use her strategies. In addition to just this fill-in-the-blank sentence, Schwartz goes through her own education and mistakes she's learned from. I particularly loved how she pointed out key phrases to say and others to avoid or change to promote inclusivity. Some of her tips and tricks I never would have thought of.

I Wish My Teacher Knew is not only aimed for educators, but this also has appeal for students because it teaches steps they can take to make new friends and help the classroom become safer. This book also clearly showcases how teachers are not perfect and shows how good intentions can easily backfire. I Wish My Teacher Knew helps students understand their teacher better. This book is also important for policymakers and politicians to read as Schwartz makes important points about poverty in schools and what systems should be in place to help them. I was shocked at how thorough the research was and I found the statistics startling.

I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read it again! I cannot wait to read her new book, I Wish For Change.

Title: I Wish My Teacher Knew
Author: Kyle Schwartz
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Pages: 272
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Red Rover: Origins by C.E. Whitaker III

45305697. sy475 The Red Rover: Origins is the first YA scifi book in a futuristic series where the remaining humans live on a gigantic space station. When global warming and nuclear fallout made the Earth uninhabitable, humans from around the globe escaped on the Rover Base Alpha in search of a new home. When their current star system appears to be nearing a violent end of its life, seven teens are thrust into the role of hopefully finding a new planet to colonize.

One thing I enjoyed was the very wide range of characters that showed all aspects of society- from corrupt businessmen to complaining children, even throwing in mental health conditions and a touch of heartbreak. I loved watching the development of these teens and their growth in emotional maturity. They went from selfish, spoiled children to young adults who truly cared about their teammates and the greater good of their society. It was super fun to watch them in their action-packed challenges. I also loved how the book accurately depicted a star's life cycle and conditions in outer space.

I highly recommend this book! The author is currently finishing the next book in this series, Clash of the Celestials, and I cannot wait to read it! That cliffhanger was crazy!

Title: The Red Rover: Origins
Author: C.E. Whitaker III
Publisher: C.E. Whitaker III
Pages: 286
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Viperob Files by Alister Hodge

45444300The Viperob Files is a YA dystopian book about a group of teens who discover a conspiracy and race to prevent it. This book was sent to me by the author. Fast forward to an island off the coast of Australia in 2194. The misuse of fossil fuels led to a global warming catastrophe with sea level rise over 30 meters and ocean acidity so high that trilobites proliferate. Ethan, Jaego, and Gwen live on an island fiercely controlled by the Viperob company. Its citizens are nothing more than slaves. When the three teens come across a secret project where the Viperob are planning to invade the country, they must leave the island and get to the mainland to warn the Australian military before it's too late.   

The cruelties of the Viperob honestly remind me of the BEIC in India or King Leopold II of Belgium and what he did to the Congolese. Lieutenant Harris disgusts me and angers me. He is extremely violent and has no empathy for others. He is a manifestation of humanity at its worst- and he's just a mindless robot following the orders of someone even crueler. I don't think I've been this angry reading a book in a long time. I love it!! Creating powerful protagonists and making the reader care about their success is just as important as creating terrorizing antagonists and making the reader hope for them to fail. I did!

I am amazed at the courage and bravery of these three teens. My mouth dropped in awe at some of the major close calls. These kids are surviving by the skin of their teeth. The Viperob Files was absolutely thrilling and terrifyingly realistic. Having the trilobites come back to life was a humorous twist that I, being the science nerd that I am, found completely fascinating!

Hodge has told me that he is in the process of writing the sequel. I cannot wait to find out what happens next! I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Viperob Files
Author: Alister Hodge
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Pages: 217
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Releases in Late 2019

One of the most exciting things is discovering new books to read! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019. The following releases I look forward to the most are in order of release date.

1. The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair
Expected Publication: July 2nd 2019
Vesper Montgomery has the power to make somebody's worst fear come to life. She is terrified of her ability, but is forced to use it when she enters a fierce competition for the chance to rewrite the past.

2. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Expected Publication: July 9th 2019
A bizarre and deadly plague called the Tox has infected Hetty's boarding schools. After all the teachers died, the students were left to fend for themselves in quarantine. 

3. Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé
Expected publication: August 1st 2019
Skye always knew that her younger sister was strange, but she never thought that the imaginary creatures she plays with in the woods would ever come to life.

4. I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
Expected publication: August 6th 2019
When what was supposed to be a normal football game suddenly turns into a city-wide riot, two girls have to stick together and help each other survive the night and get home safe.

5. A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth
Expected publication: September 10th, 2019
Violet's house has magical powers and kept everything beautiful and happy, until her father is killed and Violet is forced into fleeing. When she returns to the house years later, she finds it has become dark and twisted, poisoning nature. Violet will do everything she can to make her house happy again.

6. Suggested Reading by Dave Connis
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 
When Clara's school principal starts banning dozens of meaningful books, she starts a secret library in her locker to fight back.

7. Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 
Morgan is an African American teen struggling with depression. She feels too much pressure to be the "right kind" of black, but will now decide to not let her skin color define her.44139408

8. The Memory Thief  by Lauren Mansy
Expected publication: October 1st, 2019
In this city, memories are money, and sold to the highest bidder. Ones with magical gifts can simply steal a memory with a slight touch. When Seventeen-year-old Etta's mother's memories are up for grabs, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her.

9. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Expected publication: October 15th, 2019
In 2172, global warming and nuclear war has decimated the majority of Earth. The only way to even go outside is to wear bionic body parts and artifical organs to protect themselves from the deadly climate. In Nigeria, two sisters will sacrifice everything to try to restore peace.

10. I'm a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni
Expected publication: October 29th, 2019
When Johnny and Alison accidentally unleash an earthquake while practicing their magic, they get recuirted to the Marduk Institute and must use their magic to defend their new world.

What releases are you looking forward to?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Whispers of Nowhere by Shannon Rohrer

38729689Whispers of Nowhere is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. When Gwen's father brings home magical artifacts from work, Gwen mistakenly touches them, causing their seals to break and open the magical prison gates to Nowhere, allowing demons and criminals to escape into the moral world. Gwen's special ability to sense and wield the artifacts makes her a prime target of demons. Gwen takes off in the middle of the night with guardians Phenex and Forneus to clean up her mess and find the artifacts before the monsters do.

I love how the book combined mythology from different religions and cultures, like Greek, Egyptian, and even aspects of demonology engraved in Japanese folklore. It was very mind-boggling to now see the Gods and Demons of multiple religions and cultures existing in the same realm. The author did a great job building a world that I could envision and comprehend. The fighting scenes were perfectly executed and I loved the vivid imagery describing the almost unfathomable magic. The book felt like a fun treasure hunt, and I very much enjoyed the adventuring aspect of the novel.

I loved the complicated relationship between the three teens and the boys' desire to protect Gwen. The almost love-triangle feel between the three of them was very sweet. Phenex's complicated and traumatizing history leaves a roughness and fear to him, and  I loved it when he showed his true vulnerable self. I will always remember his ultimate fiery display in the final battle.

There were some inconsistencies in the plot that bug me, but will hopefully be resolved in the next book. I wanted Gwen to have more power or unearth a grand evolution which feel a little short. I would have liked to see more character development from her. She mostly remained weak but I am hoping that will change in the next book. My love of Phenex and Forneus, however, overshadowed my irritations with Gwen.

I recommend this book! I'm looking forward to reading the next book that I'm told will come out sometime next year.

Title: Whispers of Nowhere
Author: Shannon Rohrer
Publisher: Shannon Rohrer
Pages: 483
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

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