Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nightfall (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 6) by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall is the sixth book in the middle grade fantasy series, Keeper of the Lost Cities. This is my all-time favorite series, and I own all the books! Nightfall was just released last week, and I was eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Even after a devastating loss, Sophie refuses to back down. But her next dilemma hits too close to home. The Neverseen kidnap her human parents, and Sophie's human sister, Amy, barely manages to escape. After hiding Amy safely in the Lost Cities, time is of the essence for Sophie to find her family. The stakes are higher than ever for Sophie to finally unravel the secret behind Nightfall, and destroy it.

After that cliffhanger in Lodestar, waiting an entire year for this book was so hard! Picking up right at the sentence where the last book stopped, Nightfall finally does what I have been waiting six books for! And then swoops in with the biggest, most shocking plot twist of any book I have ever read! Shannon Messenger did a great job keeping me on my toes.

Because I pre-ordered this, I was fortunate enough to get the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition that included an extra story at the end from Keefe's perspective, which was awesome! Nightfall is the most emotional book in the series yet, with the most risk for characters. Sophie's family's lives are at stake, which understandably puts a ton of pressure on Sophie. Nightfall focuses heavily on the characters' relationship with each other and their own internal conflicts, and I enjoyed watching them dig deep into who they truly are. Once again, the cover art blows me away, and it really showcases the true meaning of this book, the friendship and care for one another. 

Nightfall also dives deep into what fans argue about most- the love triangle. (Or wait- is this a square?) Will Sophie end up with Dex, Keefe, or Fitz? That question gets way more complicated and is finally tackled head-on with all three boys in adorable ways. I really want her to end up with Keefe! Go Team Foster-Keefe! Normally I don't care about fandoms or mention them in reviews, but I cannot ignore it in this series. Nobody can possibly read Nightfall or this series without having a strong opinion about who she'll be with, and that's one of the reasons I love this series and Shannon Messenger. She makes her readers care strongly and feel emotionally attached to the characters. 

As one could imagine for my favorite series ever, I hold these books to a higher standard than others. I have to say that compared to the other books in this series, this one has to be 4 stars. I would have wanted more variations in the pacing of the plot and intensity, and in some chapters it felt like the book flat-lined. I also thought that some of the character development seemed far-fetched. Those are usually Messenger's biggest strengths, so I feel like Nightfall wasn't her best work. Don't get me wrong: I still really loved this book!!! It's just that compared to the others in the series, this wasn't the strongest. 

I highly recommend that you start reading the Keeper of the Lost Cities series! I cannot wait for the seventh book in Fall 2018!

Read my reviews of the past five books:

Title: Nightfall 
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 800
Series: Yes, Book 6
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving is a YA realistic fiction book. 11 years ago, six kindergartners disappeared. Suddenly, five of them come back with no memory of the past 11 years. Everyone is dumbfounded. They somewhat remember each other, but nobody remembers the sixth child, Max. He doesn't return, and everyone wants answers, especially his sister, Avery. She doesn't believe that they don't remember, and she wants her brother back- dead or alive.

The premise was very intriguing, and it is quite unusual from all the other amnesia books I've read. The suspense was strong, and I loved the huge time gap. It's captivating to watch the characters struggle to integrate back into society. I can hardly imagine how awful this would be to deal with. Sadly, instances like this really do happen all around the world.

My main concern with The Leaving is that the plot was just too flat. There wasn't a real climax or a big revelation that you would expect from a mystery book. For 432 pages, I was expecting more. This could have been a shorter book for the amount of actually crucial scenes. Its clarity was a problem, and I had to re-read a few chapters here and there to totally make sense of it.

Another flaw is that there are too many characters. Now, with books like Gone by Michael Grant, having six or more main characters was awesome! With this book, they just weren't developed or connectable. In Grant's series, all the characters were essential and irreplaceable. In The Leaving, only a few are main characters, or even good secondary characters. However, while I do have more critiques than loves, The Leaving was not bad, it was just somewhat average.

I do recommend this book, but don't get your hopes too high. Even though I did not love this book, I am interested in reading another book of the author's, The Possible.

Title: The Leaving
Author: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 432
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Monday, November 6, 2017

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless is a YA realistic fiction book about strength in silence. Keeping secrets is not Chelsea's specialty. So at a party on New Year's Eve, she drunkenly shares a secret- one that leads to a classmate getting beat up and put in the hospital. Overwhelmed by her guilt, Chelsea tells the police everything, and two of the most popular boys in school end up in jail.

Now everybody hates her. The popular kids hate her for tattle-tailing, and everybody else hates her for inadvertently putting Noah in the hospital. Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence to stop anybody else from getting hurt. With the majority of the student body bullying and attacking her, staying silent is anything but easy. Shockingly, new friends start to come her way. They decide to forgive her- now she has to forgive herself.

For nearly a year now, I have wanted to read this book, and it was so worth the wait! At first readers see a popular, selfish girl, but not long after, her true colors arise that even she did not know she had. Guilt is the major theme of the book and how it can change someone, but the power of speech is a close second. Through this book, the audience learns that words do not always equal power. In fact, silence shares a special message of confidence, bravery and acceptance that words cannot express. Listening is more important than talking. I learned a lot about the powerful message silence can carry, and how words are special.

I really loved the diner and all of the staff. Chelsea's new friend Asha works at a diner, and Chelsea ends up being their new dishwasher. They provide shelter from all the negativity. I love how washing the dishes is basically a metaphor for her washing away all the blame she puts on herself. The diner becomes the place where she can be herself, where she heals.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Pages: 268 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Traditions of Their Fathers (The Sieger Chronicles Book One) by Cory Ellsworth

Traditions of Their Fathers is the first YA dystopian book in The Sieger Chronicles. This book was sent to me by the author. In the year 2060, the world has been ravaged by a nuclear war. Over 3 and half billion people died. The "President" (Glanville Bose) is really a dictator set on being the President of Earth. Too keep his power, he has created a depressant cocktail (HR23) that is distributed through the air and in drinking water to get rid of crime and calm mental illness, secretly changing people's personalities. Anyone who goes against the government will be eliminated on national television, and the number of people executed or being spied on goes above 400.

15-year-old Ben's grandfather attempted to expose the government's true intentions. He was executed on television, and the government swore to do the same to everyone in his family. Ben and his family has been hiding in a bunker for the past 15 years. Shortly after Ben learns all this information, the government destroys the bunker with a missile, killing his whole family. Ben is now a refugee on the run, sworn on following in his family's footsteps, taking the corrupt government down, no matter the consequences.

The concept of putting drugs in drinking water is very original. In all my years of reading dystopian books or books about freedom fighters, I have never read anything like this, and I am craving more! This is also in a futuristic, realistic setting which actually could happen. I adored the rebellion and the inside look at people who risk their lives fighting for freedom and justice for society. I enjoyed the imagery and the suspense with the dangerous missions.

I also enjoyed Ben's passion and how he handles tragedy. Ben is years beyond his age, and his character development in maturity and bravery is enthralling. He is a gentleman, and always apologizing and thanking everyone. Ben is a good-hearted person that anyone would be lucky to know. Abby goes from being a sweet, innocent girl to confidently leading a rebellion. Watching her evolve through personality and belief changes was beautiful.

My only concern would be that some events seemed too coincidental. Like one random day, Ben's parents decide to suddenly tell him the truth and then the same day the government blows the house up? Other than that, everything else was great!

I cannot wait to read the next book, which should come out in a few weeks, followed by books 3 and 4, each about a month apart!

Title: The Sieger Chronicles Book One: Traditions of Their Fathers
Author: Cody Ellsworth
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 224
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Problem Wtih Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem With Forever is a ya realistic fiction book. Growing up, the home Mallory ("Mouse") Dodge had was filled with abuse. Every day consisted of hiding in her closet, always trying to avoid the wrath of her foster parents. She learned always to stay silent. The one person that made her feel safe was Rider Stark, her foster brother. He would do anything to protect her, regardless of the consequences. Because of Rider, Mallory was able to get a second chance at life. Four years after she escaped the nightmare, she is ready to go to a public high school for senior year. The last thing she expects is to run into Rider on her first day, the first time seeing him in four years.

They realize that the connection they shared in childhood never went away. The more time they spend together, the more Mallory realizes she is not the only one battling scars. As she watches his life spiral out of control, she must find the strength to speak.

This was a gripping tale that was hard for me to put down! Mistakenly, I decided to read it before I went to bed. (Not to mention, this is not exactly a bedtime story.) Halfway through, I had to stop and go to sleep, and I was not happy. Not only did I end up stopping at the worst possible time, but it was really hard to fall asleep because I couldn't stop thinking about the book! Thankfully, the wait was worthwhile because the second half was even better than the first!

Similar to Stronger Than You Know and SpeakThe Problem With Forever is inspiring and heartfelt. It teaches that no matter what, you have the power to change your life. Even in the face of darkness, you can choose to heal and survive. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." This book inspires and empowers others to stand up and change their life. I enjoyed going on the journey and seeing how Mallory and Rider's childhood influenced who they became.

I highly recommend that you read this book! I am excited to read another book of the author's, If There's No Tomorrow, that was published in September 2017.

Title: The Problem With Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 474 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

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
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