Sunday, May 21, 2017

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything is a YA realistic fiction book about what you would do for love, and it is in movie theaters now! Maddy has SCID, meaning that she has no immune system and has no white blood cells. Her overprotective mother has made sure that she has not been out of the house for 17 years. One day, a moving truck arrives next door, and a very cute teenage boy named Olly moves in. One thing leads to another, and they fall in love. Maddy begins to take risks, and gradually begins to realize that not everything is as bad as it seems, and not everyone has been honest with her. 

For a whole book about SCID, they sure got some facts wrong. For one thing, Maddy describes herself as "allergic to the world." Allergies are from an overactive immune system, and Maddy has no immune system. SCID means that the child was born without white blood cells and has little or no immune system. While bacteria and viruses are dangerous to SCID patients, going in your backyard or walking down the street is not. Staying indoors all the time is not recommended.

There are many treatments and surgeries that may let people with SCID live mostly normal lives. Thanks to her overprotective, slightly-insane mother, Maddy knows none of this, which makes no sense since she is always on her computer. If you have a disease, I would think that you want to know more about it and look up about it. Also, everything in her life is described as white. Her whole house is white walls, white food, white clothes. But why? She is not allergic to color. There are some other plot inconsistencies that don't add up, but I'll let you figure out those for yourself.
Olly and Maddy were meant for each other. I don't mean it in that sweet, lovey way, but they have a lot of things in common. They are both trapped in situations that they don't like (Olly has a drunken abusive father). Olly was good for Maddy, and showed her what life was all about.

The ending was amazing, and I am very happy about it! While I could predict it, the twist at the end wrapped up the story nicely and was that classic Disney ending, if you know what I mean. This book actually felt kind of like a fairy tale, and that was interesting. The cover is beautiful and looks hand drawn. I loved Maddy's unique personality and character. She was sarcastic, and talked right to you. She does not complain about her life, she just finds ways to keep herself busy and happy. She is a total bookworm and reads constantly. That might be why she is so smart. Sometimes I forgot that she was only 18. 
Everything, Everything is about enjoying the little things in life. While some of those things are annoying to me now after researching and thinking, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, and it really is an interesting concept.
I do recommend this book to YA readers, and I will be watching the movie!

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 310
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Champions: At Fire's End by Charlotte Jain

Champions: At Fire's End was sent to me by the author, and is the first book in a YA Greek mythology series about a modern twist on the famous Olympian and Titan war. For decades, the Olympian Greek Gods have fought the Titans endlessly, causing destruction visible to mortals.
Desperate to just stop the fighting, the Gods come up with the Champion Solution. Four mortals would be given control of one of the elements, and fight the war for them. With control of fire and water, April and Kyle were raised from birth by the immortals, raised for the single purpose of winning the war by defeating the other champions. But the mortal body is not made to handle such power, and they must win before their powers corrupt them to a point of no return.
The imagery in this book was fantastic! I could effectively picture every scene in the book. It is fast paced and full of suspense. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, anxious to find out what happened.

Champions: At Fire's End was not what I was expecting. I was pleasantly surprised! It is nothing like the Percy Jackson series, or really any Greek mythology I have read. It focused more on the teens and their conflicts and their journey instead of just on the war. The four elements were the main difference, which I loved. It is unusual for fantasy and Greek mythology to be combined.

April has major character development. The pressure of having to solve somebody else's war really took a toll on her, and she had to make tough choices. Everyone can relate to her and the struggles she faced. Kyle had major internal conflict as well. He loved Kim, but she was on the other side. He has to choose between April and Kim, which does not settle well for him. 

Controlling the elements has always sounded amazing, but now I realize the consequences and sacrifices that comes with them. I have always wanted to control air. I also feel bad for the Champions since they are basically puppets.

The ending of this book is possibly the best ending I have ever read! A major twist was revealed that changes the whole game. The way that the author chose to end the book was brilliant, and really showcased how hard this war is and will continue to be.

I highly recommend that you read this book! I cannot wait to read the next book, Champions: Amid Fire's Betrayal!

Title: Champions: At Fire's End
Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: Charlotte Jain
Pages: 334 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic is a YA dystopian trilogy about acceptance and humanity. Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically enhanced humanoid. Diabolics are created for one purpose- to destroy anyone who threatens the person they have been created for. They are incapable of human emotions and feelings. Nemesis is a diabolic. She was created to protect Sidonia, heir to the galactic senate. They grew up together, and Nemesis would willingly sacrifice herself for her. Many years ago, the court ordered all Diabolics destroyed, but Sidonia’s family saved her.

In their world, science and knowledge are not allowed. They only rely on their technology. When the Emperor realizes that Sidonia’s father is part of the rebellion against the corrupt government, the court summons her to the imperial court as a hostage. There is only one way for Nemesis to protect her. She must become Sidonia and go in her place. To ensure that nobody finds out who she really is, Nemesis must find inside her what she was told she does not have- humanity.

The character development is huge in The Diabolic. Nemesis goes from being practically a robot to having feelings of love and being able to laugh. She has a ton of internal conflict. She was made and told to be “less human.” She has a journey of finding herself and self-acceptance, and debates whether or not to let herself feel. This book can also apply to real life. Stereotypes and acceptance are problems in today’s society, and everyone can connect to Nemesis’ character.

I loved the relationship between Sidonia and Nemesis. Even though Nemesis was chemically altered to protect her, their friendship became real over time. Nemesis’ battles over human emotion was powerful and insightful. She was constantly torn between being what she was engineered to be, and what she could be.

The cover is amazing!!! I love the butterfly and what it represents. The bottom of the butterfly is steel or metal, representing Nemesis as what she was in the beginning of the book, and the top of the butterfly with color represents emotion and what she became. A butterfly is also very fragile, which shows how careful Nemesis had to be. Of course I could be totally wrong and this could all be a coincidence, but I still adore the cover!

The book ended very abruptly, right in the middle of the ending climax event. It felt unfinished. An epilogue would have been nice since the ending was not the best. I was pretty mad when I finished the book about the ending, but now that I know that there are more books I am not so mad anymore.

I recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy, which comes out on November 7, 2017!

I found this book in a Top Ten Tuesday blog post by My Thoughts Literally. Thank you Cassi for showing me this book!

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World by Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak

Breakthrough is a YA autobiography about Jack Andraka, an innovator who created a strip of paper capable of detecting cancers 400 times more effective than the testing before. When Jack's uncle dies of pancreatic cancer due to not catching it early enough, Jack decides to invent a way to detect cancer earlier.  At 15 years old he does it. He makes a strip of paper that detects multiple types of cancer, generating media attention from all over the world. His story was not easy. He tells how he overcame the horrifying homophobic bullying, depression, and all the rejections and doubt. He urges kids to make themselves be heard and to chase after their dreams. Jack was only 18 when his book was published.

The thing I loved most about this nonfiction book was the 50 or so pages in the end. They contained 10 science experiments that are simple and fun to do, as well as tricks for math problems. He also included information on bullying, LGBTQ issues, and Open Access programs. 

I learned a lot by reading this book. I learned more about cancer and proteins just by reading the book. Breakthrough is very educational in teaching about math and science. I also learned a math trick about dividing long numbers by nine! The book is very inspirational. The message that Jack teaches is that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. The amount of bullying that Jack received was mind blowing! The teachers were even mean to him about his sexuality. This book teaches people not to judge somebody and that words and actions hurt. 

The reading level is middle grade, but due to some of the content and language, this book is more for YA readers. I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World
Author: Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 256 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Silver Stars by Michael Grant

Silver Stars is the second book in the YA historical fiction series, Front Lines, also known as Soldier Girl. It is WWII, but not as students would learn in history class. Women and girls are not cooking and cleaning while the men fight. Michael Grant creates an alternate reality of the war in which women could be drafted. 

Three brave girls decide to enlist in the war. Rio Richlin enlists because she wants to do her part and avenge her sister's death in the war. Frangie Marr enlists to be a medic and help pay bills. Rainy Schulterman enlists because she wants to get rid of Hitler and stop what is happening to her family. In book 2, the three soldier girls move to their next target- Sicily, Italy.

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy's personalities changed from being at war. This painted a big picture of how war can change a person. Their outlook on life and death changed. Rainy's sections were my favorite. I loved her bravery and her focus to do the right thing. How she survived would seem a miracle, and she was an incredible person that anyone would look up to. I also still love the idea of having women fight in the war, and it really shows how women can do anything men can. This story also teaches bravery and acceptance of others.

There was a focus difference in the second book. Front Lines, the first book, was more focused on Rio, Frangie, and Rainy getting through training and into the war, while this one is more focused on the real war life. There were some scenes that were hard to read and get through because of the graphic war violence.  

I also felt like the development of the characters were different. In Silver Stars, I was less drawn to Rio and I was more intrigued to Frangie and Rainy. I found myself wanting to skip passages to get to what happens next. (Luckily I stopped myself.) Just like the first book, Rio had most of the chapters, but in the other book I liked all of the characters equally. The balance of characters and the length of each character's perspective was really strong in Grant's Gone Series, so I was a little surprised. 

Just like in the first book, the names of the battles and the places they went were real. The amount of research that had to go into writing this had to be really extensive. It was very obvious that he knew what he was talking about, and I admire the hard work he put into this. (Take a look at the bibliography page at the end!)

There are two other books in the Front Lines collection. Soldier Girls in Action is book 1.5, and Dead of the Night is an extra short story that Michael Grant wrote exclusively for World Book Day 2017. 

Michael Grant is also the author of the Gone series, which I highly recommend for YA dystopian fans. Read my review of the first book in the Gone series. I am thrilled to know that Grant is coming out with a follow up series to Gone called Shade Darby. The first book is titled Monster and comes out on October 17, 2017.
Title: Silver Stars
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 576 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, April 24, 2017

Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Disconnected is a YA realistic fiction book that I received from the author. Teen Milly Norris is suffering from schizophrenia and DID (dissociative identity disorder). Milly is being bullied by Amelia, the voice and alternate personality in her head. Amelia used to be her imaginary friend, but over time she turned into her enemy. Filled with hallucinations and missing memories, she is not even sure what is real or not anymore. After a mysterious fire, Milly and her grandfather move in with her Aunt Rachel and begin to unravel what really happened to her family. Amelia is hiding her memories, and her dreams might be the only way to recover the past. She must remember her past and who she is before it's too late and Amelia takes control over Milly forever. 

I absolutely loved this book! From the very first page I was hooked and couldn't put it down. This book hands down has the most internal conflict ever. Amelia is bullying Milly, which technically means that she is bullying herself. Unlike regular bullying, there is no report to fill out at school, there is really no solution, and there were times when she felt helpless. Milly has a really strong voice, and she was firm with standing up to Amelia.  

The author did an amazing job developing the hidden memories and the forgetfulness. DID usually is a reaction to trauma to help the person avoid bad memories. Milly has some pretty awful memories, and all the timelines made sense. I really love books where the character has amnesia or something like that, but the addition of schizophrenia took it in a different direction that I am not used to seeing. Bullying is also something common in books, but the angle of writing makes this book so much different than anything I have read before.  

The mystery concept was intriguing and mesmerizing. There are so many twists and turns that I was hooked the whole time. I also loved the romance between Milly and Blake. The sweet relationship was the cherry on top. The sensory details were amazing, especially imagery with the Magnolia tree, the garden, and her dreams/hallucinations. I liked all of the different settings, and I loved meeting other characters at the hospital. This is a dark book, however there are elements to it that lighten it up. I loved the little details such as the cat and the hospital food. I loved the ending section that is three weeks later. This wrapped up the book quite nicely and is satisfying.

Sometimes people question me as to why I would read books over and over again if I already know what is going to happen, especially a mystery. There is so much more that goes into a book than just the suspense, and this is the type of book I will gladly re-read over and over! I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: Disconnected
Author: Lisa M. Cronkhite
Publisher: Poisoned Pencil
Pages: 200
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Black Tempest (The Time Shift Trilogy Book 2) By Ryan Dalton

I received this brand new science fiction YA book for free from the publisher (Jolly Fish Press) in exchange for an honest review. The Black Tempest will be released on April 25, 2017, and is the second book in The Time Shift Trilogy. Malcolm and Valentine are just starting to adjust back to normal from their battle with Lucius when Asha and Tyrathorn fell into their lap. From the kingdom of Everwatch, their war is now leaking through the timeline into the present. They came to stop this enemy, the Black Tempest, said to control time and ice. In order to beat this new foe, Malcolm and Valentine must unlock the Chronauri power hidden inside of them. The power of time is calling to them, and it is impossible to ignore.

It was a positive thing that The Black Tempest was structured and formatted very similar to the first book. Since I knew what happened in the other book, I was not as surprised with the outcome of this book. I was able to guess a lot of what was going to happen, and I picked up on some other things that were similar, as well. Anyone who has read the first book would quickly realize that the two are related. This kept the sense of The Year of Lightning still at the front of my mind, and I was able to notice things that I had not noticed before.

In the previous book, it was obvious that Malcolm and Valentine had powers, but they were fully explained and enhanced in this book. I loved the descriptive adjectives and sensory details when they were using their powers. I agree with the author’s decisions about Winter. There are a ton of characters already, and I liked how her plot line went in a different direction, but was at the same time still involved. I loved seeing the fragile side of Winter, and I am sympathetic to her family situation. Fred was hilarious, but yet he took protecting his friends seriously. Fred is also very rich, and I still like that he is not conceited about it. Asha broke my heart when I learned the source of her power. She is such an incredible warrior and character, and I look up to her. Asha had strong character development that I loved. She gradually showed the girly side of her as the book progressed.

There was a ton of action in the book. There were parts when I thought that the book was over because every plot line had a different climax, not to mention all the battles and training. The thing I actually liked the most was the family moments with Malcolm, Valentine, Dad, and Callie. I also loved everything when they were at school or at home. Readers got a sense of them attempting to act like normal teenagers, and there are other sides to characters in certain settings. I especially loved it when they actually traveled through time.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: The Black Tempest
Author: Ryan Dalton
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Pages: 448
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars