Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fate of Flames (Effigies Book 1) by Sarah Raughley

Fate of Flames is the first book in the YA fantasy series, Effigies. A couple of years ago, phantom monsters appeared and started to terrorize Earth. At the same time, four girls were gifted with control of one of the elements, created to be heroes. They are called Effigies. When one dies, another girl gains the power to fill her shoes. Recently, with technology in place to stop the attacks, the four girls just became celebrities and stopped defending the people.

When the technology that has held the monsters back fails, they must come together and fight again. Maia is a quiet girl with not many friends. She admires the Effigies from a far distance, until the Fire Effigy mysteriously dies. Maia discovers that she is replacing Natalya with control over fire. Now she is tossed into battle with Bella, Chae Rin, and Lake, who hate each other. Maia must learn to control her new powers and unite the team.

The concept is slightly similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender in the sense of power being connected to the past. Maia also gains the memories of her former Fire Effigies and can call on them for help, just like Aang. Internal conflict is huge in this book. Not only does Maia have to master new powers, she has to learn who she is. Maia is amazing. She always wants to do the right thing and is inspirational. It was cool to watch her go from being super shy to standing up and fighting like a warrior. Fate of Flames has a ton of action-packed battle scenes that I really enjoyed!

The cover is also super neat and the detail is outstanding! The setting was really cool because it kept changing, but yet still kept incredible imagery for every single city.  I also really liked that it's all girls fighting for once. Go girl power!

Fate of Flames is highly intriguing and kept me on edge until the end! One thing I disliked was the romance, which was confusing. I also did not like that there was practically no background knowledge provided, and there was a lack of clarity. However, I did still enjoy the book, and really want to read the next one!

The next book, Siege of Shadows, comes out on November 21, 2017! I cannot wait to read it!

Title: Fate of Flames
Author: Sarah Raughley
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 14, 2017

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

The one wish seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants right now is her own life. A life where she does not have to be the parent to her irresponsible, unpredictable mother and make sure all the bills are paid. Or, at least have a home for more than a couple months at a time. Now she must struggle to live in a house with her mom's new boyfriend, whose son is Grace's ex-boyfriend, Jay. Soon she meets Eva, a girl whose mother passed away. They become fast friends, and when Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, her world opens up. With Eva's help, Grace begins to see that maybe wishes can come true, and she might have a chance with happiness.

Grace is an amazing character and deals with almost every problem imaginable. I loved her sarcasm and attitude towards her dilemmas. Grief was a big element in this book, and it was captured so clearly that I teared up a few times. Eva is really sweet and lighthearted. Eva and Grace's romance was beautiful and magical, but yet showed the true complexity of all relationships.

Hope was the main feeling that powered these girls. Having hope for something better pushed Grace forward. I also really liked Luca. He was the clown of the group, and he was always there for Grace when she needed a laugh. It is rare to have guy/girl friendships in books without being romantic, so that was great. The love relationship was amazing, and I loved watching Grace become more confident in herself with her feelings.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: How to Make a Wish
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, July 10, 2017

Delirium By Lauren Oliver

Delirium is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy that I found at my school library. 64 years ago in a futuristic United States, love was declared a contagious disease. Love, or Amor Deliria Nervosa, is the cause of all evil. Love affects the mind so that the person cannot think clearly or make rational decisions. Essentially, love makes you crazy. Without love there is no war, no suffering, no pain. A life without love is safe and happiness. The government forces everyone when they turn 18 to have a procedure done that makes it impossible for them to love anybody. Shortly after, they are matched with somebody (of their limited choice) and married. Still with 95 days left until Lena's treatment, she is excited. She watched love destroy her mother and won't let it happen to her. That is, until she meets Alex and does the unthinkable- she falls in love.

This was a really interesting concept, especially since I don't normally read romance books. In fact, I share some of the viewpoints of the society in the book. Honestly, I did agree that love corrupts the mind and makes you do crazy things, but Delirium changed my opinion. This book really made me think. I used to think sometimes that life would be better off if teens weren't so distracted by love these days, but I never stopped to fully think it through, and I realize now that my thinking is wrong. This book is inspirational in the sense that it changed my mind. Thank you to Lauren Oliver for showing me this.

This book was written differently than what I expected it to be. For the dystopian sense, I was thinking it would go a bit faster. There were times in the book when I was bored, and there were times in the book that it was amazing. There were some holes in the plot development. Part of it might just be because romance books are slower and less action. 

Delirium is not just about love, it's also about rebellion against society. Similar to books like The Program and Flawed, the society aspect was what I liked most. Lena was a very likable character, and she was brave and strong. Unlike other books, she started out believing in the disease at first. Then the development started to kick in, and readers watched as she realized that everybody was wrong. Alex was the dream boyfriend that any girl would want. Forbidden love was huge in this book, and the secret relationship was intriguing and suspenseful. The allusions to Romeo and Juliet were significant and true. This book has similar components to Shakespeare's play.

I recommend you read this book! I cannot wait to read the second book, Pandemonium. There is an ebook number 1.1 in the series told in the viewpoint of Alex and what happens to him after this. The famous Book Of Shhh that was quoted in nearly every chapter in Delirium is also out as an ebook only. 

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 441
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance (Champions Book 3) by Charlotte Jain

Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance was sent to me by the author, and is the third book in the YA Greek mythology Champions series. Following the last major conflict between Kyle and April, Caria is in grave danger. The Sky Realm is deteriorating, causing darkness and detrimental lightning storms. The moon even disappeared, and several Gods are losing their immortality.

While Noah works with Apollo to try to stabilize the sky, Kyle and April head on separate adventures to find special objects in the Underworld that will turn the tides in their war.

This book's main focus is adventure. Basically, it is as if they said, "Let's put a pause on all this fighting, and go into the Underworld and find magical objects!" I am not saying that in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed the adventure, and it showed a different side of the author's writing. Imagine The Hobbit infused with Greek mythology. This was very unique.

The whole central being of this book was darkness. The sky was all dark and the moon vanished, and the Underworld is all dark and death. Even some characters, especially Kyle, were depressed! (The cover is dark, too.) I thought it was pretty cool, and the darkness was very symbolic of the dark, tense time in the war.

Kyle was really struggling. His girlfriend's mind is breaking, his dad is locked away in the Underworld. He had a lot on his plate, especially given Caria's destruction. I loved his unwillingness to quit. I also liked that the Gods were more involved. Readers got to see drama in the immortals' life, and it showed that being a God and being immortal is not easy.

The only thing I did not like is that there was too much explaining. The majority of the dialogue was really Apollo or Ares explaining historical events or Gods in mythology, which felt a little too educational.

I cannot wait to read Champions: Into Shattered Ice, which comes out in November 2017!

Read my review of the first book in this series, Champions: At Fire's End.

Read my review of the second book in this series, Champions: Amid Ember's Betrayal

Title: Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance
Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: Charlotte Jain
Pages: 250 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Second Impact by David and Perri Klass

Second Impact is a YA sports fiction book written by a brother and sister exposing the dangers of football and head injuries. The city of Kendall is obsessed with football. For Jerry Downing, that is great news since he is the quarterback of the high school. After a car accident, he was barely given a second chance. Carla Jenson is a former soccer star and the lead reporter of the sports section of their newspaper. She recently recruited Jerry to co-author a blog about the current football season from their perspectives.

When Jerry's best friend gets tackled too hard and gets hurt, Carla starts to research about head injuries, and questions whether the injuries are worth playing. But in a town fixated on football and a mean principal, not everyone wants to hear this news, and Jerry and Carla find themselves in deep waters.

Unlike David Klass' Losers Take All, this is a serious book about head injuries and dangers of football. I loved this book and would gladly read it again! Second Impact is told through alternating blog posts that Carla and Jerry write, something I have not seen before. The format caused there to be quite a few tangents, but I did not mind.

Carla is strong and brave. She stood up for what is right and was not afraid to speak her mind on the issues. She was a soccer player, but stopped because of an injury, and she learned that sometimes injuries can be more serious than the coach tells you. Jerry is passionate, hard working, and honest. The two of them tell a great story.

A lot of information was told through this book and it is very educational about concussions and other brain injuries as well as surgeries. This book is not just about football, it's also about journalism and ethics. Freedom of the press came up a lot, and right to privacy. If somebody exposed a real issue and a huge problem, does it really matter that they broke a law to get it?

The ending was amazing, and really shows the main idea- a player's health is more important than the game. Second Impact teaches about teamwork, safety, and responsibility.

I highly recommend that you read this great book!

David Klass is also the author of the hilarious Losers Take All! Read my review of Losers Take All!

Title: Second Impact
Author: David Klass, Perri Klass
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Because You'll Never Meet Me is a mix of realistic fiction and science fiction. This YA book has a sequel. Ollie has a deadly allergy to electricity. At least, that's how he explains it. Basically Ollie and electricity do not agree. If Ollie gets anywhere near the cable line at the end of his driveway, he is thrown backwards. That means no cell phones, no music, no cars, and no television. Exposure to these things causes him to have excruciating seizures. So he lives out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. The closest neighbor is a mile away.

Moritz was born without eyes. He has the space for them, but there are no eyeballs in the sockets. Because of no sight, his ears adjusted and he can use echolocation to "see" anything. Of course he can't explain this, and he has to wear thick goggles around where his eyes should be because the sight of no eyeballs is quite disturbing. He also has an electric pacemaker for his heart. Ollie and Moritz can never meet due to Moritz's pacemaker, but they both are lonely and disconnected from the world. Told through an exchange of letters, this book tells about the friendship that formed and saved their lives. 

I have definitely read my fair share of sci-fi books, but I have never read anything about somebody who has no eyes. I have also not read much about echolocation. I was really intrigued!  Fitting in and going to school is really hard for him. He can't just walk in and say "I have no eyeballs and I use echolocation." There are some things you really just can't explain, unfortunately for him. 

If you met Ollie in real life, you would probably ask him how many cups of coffee he had that morning. The characters' voices are almost opposites. Ollie is energetic and childish while Moritz is mature, dark and condescending. I like the contrast between them. I liked the mystery of figuring out how they ended up with their abnormalities, and their secret connection. The book is written so well that half the time I forgot I was reading letters! Books about male friendships are not common, and I liked the direction Because You'll Never Meet Me took. 

While I would not say that this book is inspirational, it does teach about making the best with what you have, and does show the value of friendship. Having someone to talk to benefited these boys and opened up their worlds. 

I highly recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the sequel, Nowhere Near You! 

Title: Because You'll Never Meet Me
Author: Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Pages: 344
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Champions: Amid Ember's Betrayal (The Champions Book 2) by Charlotte Jain

Champions: Amid Ember's Betrayal was sent to me by the author, and is the second 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. 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.

After a major twist was revealed, the line between friend and foe is thin. The four Champions are divided and conflicted. To add on to the new circumstances, everyone is getting impatient for the war to finally end, and two powerful immortals come to Caria, set on destroying the Champions and taking control for themselves. The Champions must figure out how to work together again before their town is destroyed, and finally end the war. 

It is hard to pinpoint exactly why I loved this book, but I just know that I do! Everything flowed together nicely, and I could not stop reading it! The writing is amazing, and if it was turned in for a grade in school, the teacher would give it a perfect score.

The pressure on the characters to finally end the war forced them to a breaking point, and I greatly enjoyed the action towards the end! April's bravery and strength tripled in the second book, and readers saw more of her powerful side in this book, rather than being more vulnerable in the first. I love the characters, but I know that somebody has to die. I really hope it's not going to be who I think it will be, given which side wins in Greek mythology.

The ending was satisfying, and I am excited to read the next book, Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance. 
Read my review of the first book in this series, Champions: At Fire's End

Title: Champions: Amid Ember's Betrayal
Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: Charlotte Jain
Pages: 350
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars
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