Monday, August 21, 2017

Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

If you are looking for a fascinating YA realistic fiction book about revenge, read Premeditated. A week ago, Dinah's cousin Claire slit her wrists and ended up in a coma. Then Dinah read Claire's diary and found out why. Then she made a plan: out with the piercings, bleach her black hair, and put on a school uniform. She'll go to Claire's private school and find the boy who destroyed her cousin. Vengeance will be Dinah's.

I was ecstatic to read this! As we often find out, (in books and in life) revenge is not the answer and it often lands people in a larger mess than the reason behind it. The concept of revenge isn't the best idea in real life, but it is an amazing plot line for a book! Premeditated is not super dark and depressing. It actually is quite funny at times.

Dinah sacrificed her whole life to get back at the person who trashed her cousin and made her not want to live. It is sweet how much she cares about her cousin.

None of the characters are as they seem. Every character in the book has some sort of problem and secret, and it was fun guessing them all. They were not black or white, every character was different and like a lasagna. As you read Premeditated, you were eating different layers (personalities, behaviors, etc) and learning new things about who they are. Dinah had a lot of mixed emotions in the book, including anger, grief, confusion, sadness, and helplessness.

Wow, that twist at the end! I was quite happy about how it turned out. There is no need for a sequel; this story was wrapped up in its blanket and tucked into bed. But just because it is in bed, doesn't mean I can't read it again! I'll wake it up from time to time and read it again.
I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Premeditated
Author: Josin L. McQuein
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 18, 2017

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Underwater is a powerful, moving story about forgiveness and moving on. On October 15th, Morgan did a nice thing, and helped someone out. Unknowingly, the kind gesture made her indirectly responsible for a horrible, tragic shooting at her school. Logic tells her that she is not responsible for another person's actions, but her heart doesn't say the same. Now she is sick with guilt and panic attacks caused by PTSD and refuses to move outside her apartment. She also has to deal with scars from her father and divorce. Then one day, she gets new neighbors. She meets a boy named Evan, and with his help, she starts to realize that in order to come out of the water, and step outside, she has to forgive herself.

The author takes us into what happens after tragedy, and its lifelong impact. It opens a door for people to see what having a mental illness is like, and this book could help people become more understanding of someone's pain. Underwater also shows how emotional scars are often much more painful than physical ones. The tone of this book shifts a lot from so sad I want to cry to extreme happiness and humor! Basically, living life to the fullest is the message in this story, and it was well said.

This book also gives really good advice and coping strategies for people with panic attacks and anxiety. Morgan has posted on the walls of her apartment things to say to herself: 1. Breathe 2. You are okay. 3. You’re not dying. Regardless of any circumstance, that is really good advice, especially thought number 3. (Here's a life lesson from Underwater: Never tell somebody at a school that you are dying unless you actually are!)

The romance was outstanding, and I loved it. They had some rocky times like any relationship, and it was cool to see them progress, especially with Morgan thinking that she is a burden to him. Evan can be really sweet or really mean, and I personally thought that it made him more lifelike.

I highly recommend this book, especially for anyone suffering from trauma or mental illness.

Title: Underwater
Author: Marisa Reichardt
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops by Justin Lantier-Novelli

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is a new middle grade realistic fiction book that I received from the author. Coleman is the least popular kid in school, and the target of everyone's jokes. He's that overweight kid that raises his hand to every question and the kid that you catch picking his nose in the cafeteria. His last name is Stoops; the kids call him Stoopy. He hates that even more than how he hates himself for always finding a way to embarrass himself and play into their jokes.

So the last thing he would ever expect is for Trey, the most popular kid in school and the most mean to him, to want to be friends. He also claims that he wants to set him up with his cousin, Faith. Ignoring his gut feeling, Coleman agrees to do as Trey says, but he can't get rid of his suspicion that Trey could be tricking him.

The point of view was very unique and refreshing. Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is told by a bystander, watching the events unfold. I like this because it eliminates all bias and shows an accurate representation of how his peers view him. This is not very popular, and I enjoyed something different.

Coleman is a very determined character, and he always does the right thing. Sure, he's gullible, but he doesn't let it bother him too much. Yes, he hates himself for jumping right into their traps, but he doesn't let that get him down. Instead he ignores them and still remains himself. For a sixth grader, he has the maturity of an adult. This felt strange at times, due to the fact that he is only 12.

The book is also an accurate representation of sixth grade. This is a great book for all middle school students and is very relatable! It shows the adjustment to middle school and demonstrates social classes very accurately. I remember in sixth grade having to get used to the idea of "popular" kids and cliques. This is a must-read for incoming sixth graders!

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is scheduled to be release on August 29, 2017. I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Don't Mess With Coleman Stoops
Author: Justin Lantier-Novelli
Publisher: Justin Lantier-Novelli
Pages: 113 pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1) by David Meredith

Aaru is a YA sci-fi fantasy book sent to me by the author. Rose used to be a normal teenager. That is until Leukemia got the better of her. Now she is skin and bones, too weak to even move. All seems lost until a strange man approaches Rose and puts a machine on her head, claiming that he can make her live forever. Surprisingly, he was telling the truth. After Rose died, her brain, including her personality, was uploaded into a virtual world called Aaru.

In Aaru, members have the power to shape their own reality and live without pain forever. Of course it is almost impossible to believe that technology can beat death, so the company makes Rose's sister, Koren, their spokesperson to verify that this is real. Shortly after, readers are introduced to "Magic Man," a stalker and hacker who takes great interest in Aaru. As both the sisters' worlds become in great danger, they discover that the bond between them is the most powerful of all.

All the emotions were raw and honest. Anybody can connect to the family's situation and their emotions. The anger and angst was so powerful that I feel like it punched my heart. Regardless of the specific situation, the feelings explored are universal. People who have a sibling would especially understand and connect. The book also explored the negative, exhaustive side of fame and fortune. This is eye-opening, revealing a side of a story not told very often.

Aaru is very thought-provoking. Life after death is a huge "what if," and this book really explores a new type of question, and not religious. After I was approached by the author, I was immediately interested. This is a type of story that is completely unique and lovable. I also liked that even though the book was suspenseful and intense at times, there were a lot of light-hearted, fun moments. This book is a mixture of love, sacrifice, humor, and hope.

The character known as "Magic Man" plays a huge role, and I really enjoyed guessing who he was and what he wanted. He is the antagonist in the story and executed that role beautifully. I especially enjoyed that it was written in third person because this allowed the author to write a lot of different perspectives.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it. I would gladly read it again! I am excited for more to come in the Aaru Cycle series!

Title: Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1)
Author: David Meredith
Publisher: Bowker
Pages: 305
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

We Own the Sky (The Muse Chronicles Book 1) by Sara Crawford

We Own the Sky is the first book in a YA urban fantasy series that was sent to me by the author. Sylvia can see the "flickering people." Nobody else can see them but her. She sees them around other people, too, especially artists and musicians. During chorus class, she sees another one. Sylvia later learns that his name is Vincent, and he is a Muse. Muses are minor goddesses of the arts and literature. There were nine original Muses, but when special artists and musicians die, they can choose to go to heaven or be a Muse. They inspire creation, and can choose somebody to inspire. With Vincent's help, she is able to write music and sing better than she ever could.

However, soon the original nine Greek Muses wake up to a world of the internet where anyone can be an artist. This is a problem, especially to Clio, who wants to go back to old traditions. As a war ensues, Sylvia learns the real reason why she can see all Muses, and discovers that this conflict puts her in serious danger.

This story shows the power of music, and how it truly can save a life. The purpose of music is to touch others and convey emotion. Just like reading, music is a way to escape our problems. We Own the Sky proves how life changing music can be. Speaking of music, the artists and songs that Sylvia likes are still around and popular with teens today, which also makes the book connectable on another level. There is also a band called Muse, and I thought it was ironic how their music was tied into the story.

We Own the Sky is emotional and will touch the hearts of many teens. High school life and its struggles are a big element, and I could definitely relate to a lot of it. It has a little bit of everything: magic, mythology, romance, and it even hit mental health issues.

This book was super original, and I loved learning more about Muses! I love Greek mythology. I have not read much about Muses before. Sure, in sixth grade we had a Greek mythology unit and briefly went over them, but I have never known more than the fact that they are children of Mnemosyne (Goddess of memory) and Zeus. And I still had to press my memory hard on that.

I learned a lot more fascinating information about them. It is hard to come up with a new concept, and I applaud the author for that. I asked her how she came up with the idea, and in 2006, she wrote a play called Painted. It followed a similar story line, with some of the same characters, including Vincent. In the play, it never specified what Vincent was. But while Crawford was in college, she was reading a poem that talked about Muses, and it clicked that he could be a Muse.

Watch the YouTube video that the author made talking about the book!

I highly recommend that you read this book! It comes out on August 15th, 2017.

Title: We Own the Sky (The Muse Chronicles Book 1)
Author: Sara Crawford
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 297 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games is a YA science fiction book. Fia and Annie are powerful sisters. Fia has flawless intuition; her first instinct is always right. Annie is blind, but can see the future. Ever since their parents died, Fia has always protected Annie. When the two sisters are offered a position at a special boarding school, Fia knows something is wrong, but she did not realize the mess she was in. Fia is soon used for awful criminal activity. If she refuses to follow their orders, they threaten her with taking Annie's life. She is sick of this, and is ready to fight back.

This possibly could be the worst science fiction book I have ever read. One thing I disliked was the fact that every other chapter it switched from past to present. This was annoying and distracting from the point of the story. The sad part is that I enjoyed the past chapters more than the present. Honestly, I was bored reading this. I kept reading it solely for the fact that I wanted to write a review of this. The romance was strange and felt inappropriate for the circumstances, not to mention slightly disturbing. 

The characters were underdeveloped and not likable. Fia is irresponsible and makes bad choices. Right when she gets the opportunity to make a good decision she blows it and does the wrong thing. She is immature in her choices and drinks a lot. (Warning: there is lots of alcohol consumption in this book.) 

I felt that the book ended early and was rushed. The cover is totally amazing and the description is intriguing and very misleading. Sisterly bonding and protection was really not emphasized enough and is not the point of the book. Quite frankly, I'm not even sure what the point was. There is a sequel called Perfect Lies, but I will not read it. 

I strongly recommend that you do not read this book.

Title: Mind Games
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 1 Star

Monday, July 31, 2017

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

At the Edge of the Universe is a YA science fiction book about moving on and letting go. Tommy and Ozzie have been dating since the eighth grade. One day, he was there. The next day, Tommy ceased to exist. Or more accurately, nobody can remember him but Ozzie. Not only is finding Tommy a huge priority, but Ozzie also has to deal with going to college, his parents' divorce, his brother going to the military, and his best friend becoming distant. He also has to deal with his developing feelings for his lab partner Calvin and a troubling secret. Furthermore, Ozzie suspects that the universe is shrinking. As more and more people begin to disappear, Ozzie must come to terms with a part of his past before his whole universe is (literally) gone.

Ozzie is very loyal and determined. He would do anything for Tommy to come back, and I loved that he persisted despite people saying that he is crazy. He also is loyal to his friends and family. Even after falling in love with Calvin, he wants to be respectful to Tommy. Ozzie had a lot of pressure on his shoulders. For one thing, his home life is not so great, and his boyfriend is gone. His "new boyfriend" is hurting because of a terrible secret, but he cannot tell anyone.

Ozzie tells a lot of crazy analogies and uses a ton of figurative language to express his thoughts. He is incredibly smart, and uses weird facts to convey ideas. He likes to go a little off topic in his thoughts, but it is amusing. There are a lot of diversity and cultures in the book, and a lot about LGBT.

The idea of the universe shrinking was a nice twist. I thought it was hilarious when states and countries fell off the map. I am not crazy about the ending because it does not exactly make sense, but wraps up the story nicely.

Warning: this book contains some mature scenes and subjects. This book is recommended for older YA readers.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: At the Edge of the Universe
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 496
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars
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