Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Flashback (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 7) by Shannon Messenger

Flashback is the seventh book in my favorite series ever, Keeper of the Lost Cities. Sophie's adventures and troubles are far from over, as the Neverseen proves to a bigger threat than ever. Healing from her previous endeavors, Sophie and her friends will learn how to finally fight back against the impossible- but the truth of the "Vacker Legacy" is far more shocking than what anyone could have believed.

I must admit that I don't love this one as much as I loved the past six books. The major breakthroughs and climatic events were almost too mind-blowing, and the pacing was strange to say the least. For 850 pages, it could have been structured better, and there were parts that could have been taken out as well as ones that I wish were expanded upon.

However, that is not to say that I did not love this book and will re-read it over 100 times just like all the other books in the series. Flashback was angled and structured in a heavy angle toward character development and is more of a story about the setting than it is about Sophie and her struggles.

I love the large strides it took in world-development, as the map of their universe expanded. Quite frankly, the best way I can describe this book is like the filling of an Oreo; the soft, filling, part rather than the violent, hard action cookie. The filling is sweet and full of love and support and character development. In some ways Flashback was a relief from the excitement in the previous book, like Messenger took a break from the suspense and excitement and focused on developing a "filling" of the other characters and their world, so to speak. Essentially, Flashback simply expanded on previous story lines, which is probably leading into something huge in the next book.

Overall, I felt that Flashback was a very interesting addition and I still enjoyed the book (as well the result of the love triangle and who Sophie will end up with!!!); however I had some issues and it could have been better than it ended up being. Don't get me wrong- I still completely adore this series and this book, however it felt short of my very high expectations.

I do recommend this book, and highly recommend this series, as I always will.

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Nightfall.

Title: Flashback
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 848
Series: Yes, Book 7
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Survivors of PEACE (Secrets of PEACE Book 3) by T.A. Hernandez

Survivors of PEACE is the final book in the thrilling YA dystopian trilogy, Secrets of PEACE! Sent to me by the author, this installation is released today! The PEACE Project has fallen, and the Republic has risen. With a nation desperately trying to heal, chaos and terrorist attacks are frequent. When an old friend comes to Zira asking for her help in tracking down terrorists, Zira, Tripp, and Jared are glad to help. However, they soon find themselves getting into much more than they bargained for in a final battle for democracy.

What I loved most about this book was how all the characters held each other up and supported each other. Tripp dealt with overcoming his addiction, and it was sweet how the whole group held him up. Zira suddenly must lead a team of special operatives for the federal government, and everyone welcomes her! Unlike in previous books where there's cruelty on every page, there's acceptance and love on every page of Survivors of PEACE, and that's amazing. There was an overall hopeful tone, which I really loved.

Even though they don't have to blindly follow orders from Ryku anymore, it is obvious that the horrors left their mark. While their country is moving forward, the characters must forgive themselves for what they've done in the past and be able to move on with their lives, too. I enjoyed how Zira and Jared fought their inner demons in addition to fighting Ryku and terrorism. Something I found special was how Survivors of PEACE brought up real-world issues and the fundamentals of democracy, as well as equality. I felt that this book wrapped up the series nicely.

I highly recommend that you read this series!

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Renegades of PEACE!

Title: Survivors of PEACE
Author: T.A. Hernandez
Publisher: Sanita Street Publishing
Pages: 281
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion is a YA realistic fiction book about struggling with sexuality and mental illness that I got from my school library. Suzette's stepbrother, Lionel, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She leaves her boarding school to come home and support him, only to fall in love with Lionel's girlfriend. Lionel has stopped taking his pills and made Suzette promise not to tell their parents, swearing that he'd no longer love her. Now he's trapped in a downward spiral, and she must find a way to fix her mistake and save her family before it's too late.

I truly loved this book! Anyone who has a family member or friend who's struggling with an illness needs to read this book. This serves as a guide as to what to do in response to alarming situations. I love how this book tackled stigma on mental illness, and disapproval of one's sexuality. An added bonus was the fact that Suzette is African American while Lion is white. The author packed in every controversial issue she could think of, which was amazing. What I loved most about this book was how it combined multiple issues into a beautiful, intense story.

I do not blame Suzette for her mistakes, and more than anything I love characters that mess up and aren't perfect. It's boring to read about people who are normal and never make a mistake. I was surprised that both characters had their own stories and their own problems. They both wanted the acceptance of others, and didn't stop to love themselves. Suzette was trying to understand what it meant to be bisexual while Lionel was trying to understand what it meant to be bipolar. I loved how both characters were on separate journeys but were united in their efforts. Little & Lion is an honest book that I highly recommend!

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 330
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, November 12, 2018

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is a truly inspiring autobiography that I read at my school. Before he became a world-famous comedian, Trevor Noah had to get through apartheid in South Africa. Born to a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was illegal. He struggled to find his place in a world that didn't want his "kind". Noah enlightens readers with through his funny, optimistic approach to his in life poverty, oppression, abuse, and how he escaped and became molded into the man that he is today.

This is one of the best books I've ever read, and I cannot wait to read it again! Trevor Noah is a huge inspiration. Throughout his childhood, he was able to turn desolate situations into opportunity and fun. His positivity and lightheartedness is incredible, and it is obvious that he is well-suited as a comedian. I admire Noah for defying the laws of society and becoming his own person.

He had the perfect balance of intense, alarming moments and topics (like colonialism) while also being lighthearted and optimistic. Of course there were awful scenes of ridicule, but he never got mad at the bullies- just smiled and cracked a joke. This story contains major trends of people being afraid of what they don't understand, the main basis of hate crimes and segregation. However, Trevor's fearlessness and passion for being himself inspires readers- if there isn't a place for you in society, make your own, and always face an obstacle with optimism.

I highly recommend this book!

In case you have no idea who this guy is, he has his own TV show, the Daily Show With Trevor Noah on the Comedy Central television station. After reading this book I've started watching him- he's hilarious!

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah's website

His YouTube Channel

Title: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Split by Swati Avasthi

Split is a YA realistic fiction book about the aftermath of abuse. After his father beats sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon and throws him out, he leaves behind his mother and drives to the home of his older brother, Spencer, who managed to escape years before. Jace is able to start at a new school and slowly build a new life, but both boys will soon learn that they can't keep running from their father- and their secrets.

I loved this emotional roller coaster! This is the definition of a love-hate relationship. Yes, their father is abusive and horrendous, but there were still happy times, which sometimes can overpower the bad. That's really the huge internal conflict, whether to miss him or hate him. The cycle of abuse is nearly impossible to get out of, and while I really don't like the outcome, not everyone can have a perfect ending.

What I loved the most about this book was how realistic it was in the sense that everybody is broken. Nobody is perfect and there was no perfect solution to the problems and the huge mistakes that the characters made. Jace struggled with that quite a bit, haunted by the fear that he is turning into his father. This story is not a happy one, however it is full of hope and love that readers will remember for weeks.

I recommend this book!

Title: Split
Author: Swati Avasthi
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 280
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, October 29, 2018

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus is a historical fiction book about the oppressed lifestyle of a Nigerian family that I found at my school library. Taking place in the 1960s during the Nigerian Civil War, Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a sheltered life in a rich family. They are completely blocked off from the rest of their world, surrounded only by religion, fear, and pain. As the military coup begins to take over the county, the children are sent away to live with their Aunt, who introduces them to freedom, laughter, and happiness. As the country falls apart, her family does as well, and Kambili must hold her family together after a tragedy long enough to escape to America.

This book was amazing! I loved the parallels between the war in their county and the war inside their home. I found myself not only fascinated with Kambili's strength and heart, but also the culture and the history of the country. In addition, the aspect of religious conflict in their culture was massive, half the population sticking with native polytheistic values while the other half, including Kambili's father, assimilates into the Church. It's a whole different set of beliefs between her father and her aunt, and it was amazing to watch how both influenced and gave her strength to conquer the harsh, unforgiving days she had ahead.

Kambili doesn't understand what is wrong with her life, she has worshiped her father and always tried to please him. It was amazing watching her first laugh and the first time she ever smiled with her aunt and cousins. Her inner turmoil was powerful, and Kambili found herself trying to save her family at all costs. She is brave and magnificent.

The symbolism of the purple flower was incredible. In darkness and oppression, the Purple Hibiscus is defiance and freedom, representing the beauty that can shine if one allows themselves to never give up, and always keep fighting against brutality. This flower is their beacon of hope, and the only thing more powerful than fear is hope.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 307
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Stuck on Earth by David Klass

Stuck on Earth is a combination of science and realistic fiction with a satirical twist about an alien who inhibits a human boy. Ketchvar III is a gastropod from the planet Sandoval. His species is alarmed at how humans are destroying their planet and pushing it to the brink of demise. Armed with the Gagnerian Death Ray, Ketchvar must inhibit the body and brain of a teenager, Tom Filber, and determine whether or not the human race should be annihilated for their own safety.

Stuck on Earth is super bizarre, nothing like I've ever read, and a book I can never forget! This book is very ironic and satirical, especially in the age of nuclear weapons and global warming. We often wonder ourselves if humanity is worthy of the Earth, and in the age of global warming we are destroying our precious home rather than saving it. I loved how this book conveyed those messages and spoke of real environmental issues, as well as what we can do as individuals to clean up our mess.

I also love how this book was still realistic, and for a few chapters even I doubted whether he was actually an alien or young bullied teenager with a vivid imagination. It was interesting how the book drew parallels between between being an Alien and feeling like one.

It has an amazing message about loving and caring for the environment, as well as our family, friends, and neighbors. Ketchvar became entangled in his disastrous family, and I really enjoyed how he unified his family and made friendships. His take with romance and kissing was hilarious and adorable. This is one of the few books that I've read recently where I know that I will still remember in years to come!

I highly recommend this book!

Also by this author, read my review of Second Impact, as well as Losers Take All

Title: Stuck on Earth
Author: David Klass
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 240
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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