Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Talisman of El (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 1) by Al Stone

The Talisman of El is the first YA fantasy book in the T.O.E. trilogy. The author sent me this book to review. Charlie Blake has had a tough life. Both his parents have died, and he is starting a new school. He is also not your average 14 year old; he can predict death in his dreams. The night before his father died, he dreamt it. Four years later to that day, he dreams of another death.

Things take an even stranger turn when he meets the boy whose father died in that dream, Derekin. It soon becomes very clear that Charlie does not belong in this world. He belongs in Arcadia, a dimension in the center of the Earth; he belongs with the angels. He embarks to Arcadia in a mission to find out the truth about who he really is.

This fun book combines many myths into one, including werewolves, angels, demons, Greek God/Goddesses, and reincarnation. It uses lots of illusions such as the Garden Of Eden. The author managed to combine all of these and more into one comprehensive, rounded tale. Be sure to suspend your disbelief, though!

The imagery was out of this world, and I loved viewing the surface of the Earth, as well as a dimension within it. All the characters had distinct personalities and were extremely relatable. From the first sentence of the Prologue, I was instantly hooked into Charlie and his epic expedition of self-discovery. I connected with him easily and all of his obstacles seemed very realistic. I cannot wait to watch him grow.

The Talisman of El also contains lessons and themes of what a family is, and shows the importance of friendship. The light, frequent humor added tremendous value, and I laughed out loud quite a few times. The pacing shifted frequently and accurately conveyed the mood of that section. This book is a real conversation-starter, and leaves readers with lots to think about, including interpreting the incredible cover!

I highly recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy, Blackout!

Title: The Talisman of El
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 398 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

The Safest Lies is a YA realistic fiction book about fear and strength. 17 years ago, Kelsey's mother was kidnapped. She barely escaped alive. Her kidnapper also got her pregnant, so she escaped with his baby inside her. 17 years later, she has still never set foot outside the house, afraid that he will come back for her and her daughter, Kelsey. Kelsey's life is ruled by fear, and she knows to not draw attention to herself for her safety. That goes out the window when she has a car accident and drives off a cliff.

Newspapers and reporters cover the story of how a classmate rescued her. A few days later, she realizes her mother was right to worry- she disappears. And soon Kelsey realizes that they are coming for her, too. In order to survive, she has to uncover the truth about who she is, and what really happened to her mother 17 years ago.

After I read it, I read the book again, because it was so good! The Safest Lies may be over 350 pages, but the print is big, and it really was a quick, fascinating read. "On the edge of my seat" doesn't even begin to describe how suspenseful and thrilling this book is. It is very memorable, and raises a lot of questions to think about. Not to mention the romance, which was a nice twist.

I loved how much faith Kelsey had in her mother. Regardless of what police think happened, she is confident that the kidnappers came back for them. She is brave and courageous, and did not want to put her friends in danger. The mystery was captivating and intense. I loved trying to guess the truth. I also liked how there were multiple climaxes. The plot was like one domino falling after another. Just one bad situation after another. With all the dots to connect, I was impressed how they all came together in the end.

The concept was interesting, too. Is fear genetically passed down in DNA or is it only environmental? If you spend all your life around someone who is afraid, do you become afraid of the same thing? The study of how fear evolves was a main point of the book, which provoked my curiosity. I loved getting to know Kelsey, and following her journey of discovery.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: The Safest Lies
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

Children of Eden is a YA dystopian book about the aftermath of a global disaster. When Earth's global warming reached a breaking point, scientists figured out a way to make the atmosphere cooler. The problem was when the artificial atmosphere clashed with the sun's radiation, it released a cascade effect that wiped out almost all plants and animals. Luckily, Aaron Al-Baz designed EcoPanopticon, a computer program that hacked all technology and redirected it to healing Earth. The rest of humanity has to wait thousands of years in Eden before the robots can fix everything.

With limited resources, families are only allowed to have one child. Rowan is an illegal second child; her mother had twins. For sixteen years, she has been hidden away. She is more desperate than ever to see more of Eden, and recklessly escapes, resulting in a tragedy that puts her on the run.

I found the book tough to get into, mostly due to the lack of imagery and development. Instead of show and tell, Children of Eden was almost all tell and no show. Reading the book, I was hit with a ton of information at once. Reading in-between the lines was a lost cause, and all the holes in the plot did not help. The society is so complicated that a majority of the book is just explaining, which made it feel less eventful. I feel like the book was going in a lot of different directions. I think that the author tried to cram in too many ideas at once to wrap my head around. For this book to really be developed with all of his ideas, Children of Eden would have to be way longer.

The characters' development felt forced. They were whatever they needed to be in the moment. Instead of letting Rowan grow, she was molded into something different almost every chapter, which makes her feel dull and unrealistic to the readers. It also really bugged me that they made up new curse words, such as "bik." No other words changed, so it feels strange.

While there were some nice twists here and there, there is nothing super special or unique about this book. I really wanted to love it, but it was the nitty-gritty details that really jumped out. Because I looked at this from a reviewing standpoint, I found more things wrong than other people might.

However, I enjoyed the ending! I think the ending was the best part. Overall, Children of Eden got better the more I read it. Even though I had a lot of problems with Children of Eden, I did not hate it. I do want to know what happens next, so I will read the second book, Elites of Eden, which came out on October 3, 2017. (Besides, I believe in second chances.)

I do not recommend this book.

Title: Children of Eden
Author: Joey Graceffa
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Pages: 278
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 2 Stars

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hands of Ruin (Book 1) by Dylan Lee Peters

The Hands of Ruin is a YA scifi/fantasy book sent to me by the author. In a futuristic society, social classes are divided into different counties, all separated by huge walls. After Zigmund and Zerah's parents died, they are sent to live in a rich community with their uncle Rainart. Quickly the twins realize that their uncle is not what they thought. He possesses a type of dust called zulis that can give people magical powers from a planet called Ferren.

While Zerah learns to use her newfound powers, Ferren is facing a major and unusual threat- dark butterflies that completely destroy with a touch. Chapters alternate between the stories of Ferren and Earth.

The two stories don't overlap until the end but are equally fascinating. The imagery was out of this world and crystal-clear. Both worlds and their characters were thoroughly developed and diverse. The background knowledge was immense, leading to complete understanding of the plot and setting. The premise of the butterflies was unique, and I have never read anything like it! The tone changes frequently and keeps the reader's emotions on edge. The book ended with a major cliffhanger that topples both worlds, and I was sad when it ended!

I highly recommend that you read this book! I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book, The Hands of Ruin (Book 2)

Title: The Hands of Ruin Book 1
Author: Dylan Lee Peters
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 171 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, September 29, 2017

Beast by Brie Spangler

Beast is a YA modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Dylan does not look like his age. Instead of fifteen, he looks fifty being nearly seven feet and hairy like an animal. That's where his nickname came from- Beast. He prefers to hide under his long hair and baseball cap. The bullying worsens when the school bans both. After shaving his head, Dylan goes up on his roof to relax, only to fall off and break his leg. Thus, the hospital makes it mandatory to attend group therapy, even though he swears it was an accident. 

At the therapy, he meets Jamie, a beautiful girl. Soon, their relationship evolves to become more than just friends. However, that first day in group, he was not listening when Jamie was talking about being transgender. That should not change anything, right? Society says otherwise, and Dylan is so blinded in self pity that he might just lose the only girl he has ever loved.

Beast was meant to be a contemporary version of Beauty and the Beast, but it should not be defined by that movie. It is much more. The movie was inspirational enough already, but Beast takes the powerful message to a whole new level!

This book clearly showcases society's biggest downfall, and forces readers to think about their own actions. People say that what you look like does not matter, but out in the "real world," it does. Society holds standards and expectations that are nearly impossible to hold up to. Discrimination is real, and those who read this book are forced to admit it. After reading this book, even I will look at certain people differently. Beast challenges the audience to look at the hard truths about themselves. It forcefully conveys that everybody is equal, no matter what they look like, especially what gender they are.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Beast
Author: Brie Spangler
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages:336 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not is a YA realistic fiction book that I found at my school library. Aaron has trouble finding happiness in life since his father died, and his family lives in extreme poverty. His friends can help him with temporary relief, but the smile-shaped scar on his wrist is a constant reminder of what he would rather forget.

Things take a confusing turn when a new kid, Thomas, shows up. He helps Aaron feel happier and start to enjoy life again. Unfortunately, the Bronx is a dangerous place to be gay. Luckily, the Leteo Institute specializes in memory altering, and has a procedure that can (literally) straighten somebody out. When a mistake leaves him with more pain than he ever imagined, he turns to Leteo to alter his memories and change who he is.

The setting of this book is amazing. Readers get a very accurate look at what life on the streets is like, and how it shapes you. More Happy Than Not openly tackles prejudice and shows ugly truths that many wouldn't dare to admit. It goes above and beyond to represent diversity and honesty. Despite the sadness, heartbreak, and negativity, hope shines through all of it. This is a pure example of how pain can turn into strength.

More Happy Than Not teaches the importance of living life to the fullest, and to always look for the positive in life. "Every cloud has a silver limning" is the heart of the book. The ending is nothing like I have ever read, and it will leave readers speechles. I can't say that I liked the outcome, but the lesson definitely showed through. Anyone who feels the need to change who they are to fit in or to be accepted must read this.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 304 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read in Fall 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish blog. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Top 10 Books On My Fall TBR List. This is really hard because I have 234 books in my TBR list on Goodreads.

Below are the YA books I really want to read. This list contains several genres, including YA realistic fiction and sci-fi. What books do you want to read this fall?

1. The Girl Who Cried Wolf by Bella James
Anna hates school so much that she constantly makes excuses to call in sick. The last thing she expects is to find out is that she actually is sick. In between life and death with cancer, she learns what life is actually about. 
2. The Taking by Kimberly Derting
One day, Kyra wakes up in a dumpster to find that five years have gone by- and she can't remember a thing. She discovers that maybe her father was right when he blamed her "disappearance" on aliens...

3. The Vault Of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
At the Forge School for the Arts, every moment of the students lives are filmed on television. The student's schedule includes 12 hours of sleep. When Rosie skips her sleeping pill one night, she discovers that her dreams might not be hers. 

4. Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Taylor Truwell tries to run away. Her plan backfires when police catch her with a stolen car. Instead of facing a court trial for resisting arrest and theft, her father convinces the judge to an alternative- treatment in a psychiatric correctional facility. 

5. Glitch by Heather Anastasiu 
In The Community, there is no more pain or violence. Computer chips have gotten rid of destructive emotions and implanted calm thoughts. Zoe glitches and starts to have her own thoughts and emotions. With the glitches come telekinetic powers she cannot control.

6. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Adelina Amouteru survived the blood fever, a disease that took over the world. Most of the infected died, and the ones who survived were left with strange markings. Some are rumored to possess powers, and Adelina has the most powerful abilities their world has ever seen.

7. Being by Kevin Brooks
It was supposed to just be a check-up, but what the doctors found shouldn't be possible. Inside of Robert Smith is moving metal parts- Robert is not human. He manages to escape, and embarks on a journey to find out what he is.

8. My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith
In Britain 1941, the beginning of World War II, Peter doesn't think about the war too much; after all, it is being fought far away from him. It suddenly comes too close to home when a German jet crashes with a young man inside seriously wounded. Even though he is technically the enemy, helping him seems like the right thing to do. 

9. Yellow by Megan Jacobson
Fourteen-year-old Kirra's life is a disaster, and to make matters worse, she talks to a ghost in a broken phone booth. Desperately, she makes a deal. She'll prove who killed him 20 years ago if he makes her popular, gets her parents back together, and doesn't haunt her.

10. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shawn David Hutchinson
Andrew's parents and sister died in a car crash. He was the only survivor. Now he hangs out at the hospital and sleeps in a closet. The sun starts to shine when he meets Rusty, a patient in the ER. Unfortunately, he learns that his life is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. 

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