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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Celebrating Two Years of Blogging: My Favorite Books

In the past two years since I started blogging, I have read and reviewed over 150 books! I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back on my reviews and share my favorite YA and middle grade books.  See my first review from exactly two years ago, The Running Dream. It is hard to rank my favorite books, so this list is mostly in order of favorites.

One of my favorite parts of blogging these past two years has been getting the amazing opportunity to receive several books from authors and publishers to review. I can't wait to see what new and exciting books I receive in the coming years!
1. Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger
This middle grade fantasy series is my all-time favorite series! The covers of all the books are amazing and the books are addicting. They are my favorite to read over and over again!
2.  Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry
This is extremely inspirational, and I love the character development and internal conflict. Joy showcases strength and is an amazing example of how experiences shape who you are.

3. Losers Take All by David Klass
The concept of this realistic fiction book was hilarious, and is the funniest book I have ever read! Everyone can laugh out loud while watching the characters purposely lose.

4. Gone by Michael Grant
This first book was fascinating, and this YA series was thrilling! The book was suspenseful and the prospect of having no adults around makes for my favorite dystopian series! The powers that they gain are an amazing twist.

5. Losing It by Erin Fry
This realistic fiction book shows that you can do anything when you put your mind to it, and shows the difficulties in losing weight and being healthy. It also shows great examples of how to handle bullying.

6. Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
This book is about discrimination and being comfortable in who you are. It went deep into many teen issues, including self-confidence. Maisie teaches about honesty and taking care of yourself. This book is inspirational and I love it!

7. Rule of Three by Eric Walters
What I really liked was that even though it is dystopian, it seemed a little more realistic, seeing that the communities did not completely fall apart, and there was still some order.  

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
This is one of the only books I have read where I don't have unanswered questions! The plot structure was intriguing and Juliet's character is well-written and developed. I would not change anything!

9. Numbers by Rachel Ward
I have never read a book like this, and it must have been really hard to write! I loved the internal conflict and I thought that the topic was brilliant. I was able to easily connect to Jem, and her optimism and bravery made up for the fact that the series is a little sadder than what I normally read.

10. Radiate by Marley Gibson
I love that this book is based off of a true story! I also like how the book tackles generalizations about cheerleaders, and I loved reading her journey to recovery.

This was one of the options on a school summer reading list, and I never imagined I would love it as much as I did! This funny book about patriotism is for everyone!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program is the first book in a YA dystopian series. In this futuristic society, suicide is a national epidemic, and if a person is depressed, they are claimed to be “sick.” Not mentally ill or as a mental disorder, but sick. It is also claimed to be “contagious.” With 1 in 3 teens committing suicide in the United States annually, the government has created the Program, the only proven way to get rid of depression- erasing their memories that “gave” them depression. With handlers from the Program all over the schools, nobody is allowed to show any emotion but happiness. Everyone must remain a blank slate or else they will be taken. (Until they turn 18, then they cannot force you.)

Salone has first-hand experience with these things. Her older brother committed suicide in front of her, and several of her friends have been taken in, not remembering her anymore when they come out. Salone buries her feelings deep down and does not let anything show. Not at school, not at home. Her mother thinks the program is the best thing in the world, and will do anything to keep her from getting “sick.” Salone only shows emotion with James, her boyfriend. He has promised to keep her out of treatment, and Salone is confident their love can sustain anything. Gradually, it becomes harder to hide the truth. Salone must continue to fight if she wants to remember James and who she is.

Teen suicide is not the point at all of this book, and it is about so much more.  It is about control, privacy, human rights, and expressing who you are. The Program is about finding yourself and who we are on the inside. If somebody took away everything that we had, who we are, would we be the same? This book is also about the power of love. The Program is very thought-provoking and with a concept that I have yet to read. I loved the romance between Salone and James. They are that perfect couple that you see in movies. Readers saw relationship development and it was obvious how much they both cared for each other. I also loved how they were holding hands in the cover.

I have many strong feelings about this book. I am so angry at The Program. It is unconstitutional and a violation of human rights. I feel so bad for everyone in the Program, and I really hope nothing like this ever happens in the future. I am angry about how they treat these people. Depression is not a contagious illness. The pattern of thinking is just so wrong. On the other hand, having a book like this is practically a guide for how not to handle depression.

I loved the setting in the facility/mental hospital part. I liked the gradual erasing of memories, and how strong Salone fought. The therapist was aggravating, and I hated how the handlers treated Salone, especially one in particular, Roger. There were so many times in the book when I wanted to help Salone, warn her or jump in the book and get her out. The characters were extremely well-developed and I care about all of them, except for Salone’s mom. I am really glad she is not my mother!

I highly recommend that you read this book! I cannot wait to read the next book, The Treatment! The third book, The Adjustment, (staring different characters) was released on April 18, 2017. The fourth book comes out sometime in 2018. There is a prequel series titled The Remedy and The Epidemic (also different characters) that I might read.

Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 405 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Realistic Fiction Books I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish blog. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Top 10 Books From X Genre That I've Recently Added To My TBR List. I have adapted it to be realistic fiction books that I want to read. 

A reason why I love realistic fiction is that you can open a door into somebody else's life, one that is actually possible. Realistic fiction characters are the easiest to connect to because they feel real. Their stories can actually happen somewhere in the world, if they haven't already. The following list is in order of priority. 

1. Ultimatum by K.M. Walton
Ever since Oscar and Vance's mom died, the two brothers have drifted apart. When their dad's liver fails, they must figure out how to put aside their differences and work together. 

2. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
For Mallory Dodge, silence is a shield, and when she was little she quickly learned that saying nothing was the best way to survive. After years of homeschooling, she will be at a public high school for her senior year. When things start falling apart, she must choose between silence and speaking the truth. 

3. A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Adam Blake got the best elective his senior year- an aid for the school psychologist, and he thinks it's going to be easy. Then when she asks Adam to track down a student for her, it ends up to be Julian, a foster brother he hasn't seen in five years, troubled with a hard secret.

4. Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen
One day, Regan Flay arrives to school to see that every text, email, insult or lie she has ever told or written was taped to all the lockers in school.

5. A Door Near Here by Heather Quarles
15-year-old Katherine is basically the mother to her three younger siblings. There is no stability, food and money are running out, and the school is suspicious. On top of everything, her youngest sister is obsessed with finding a door to the imaginary land of Narnia.

6. Scrawl by Mark Shulman
When Tod and his friends get caught doing something bad, his punishment is to write his life story to why he is a bully. Hopefully, this can teach him to stop.

7. Ironman by Chris Crutcher
Bo hates his father, and they are at "war". The anger he feels gives him strength to be a triathlete, but also translates into yelling at his teachers. Close to expulsion, he is put in anger management class.

8. The Year Without Michael by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Last year, Jody's younger brother disappeared, and her family is falling apart.

9. Panic by Sharon M. Draper
Diamond was just at the mall. She was left alone for two minutes, and then makes a stupid mistake. One that leaves her as captive after being kidnapped.

10. How to Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Grace just wants a normal life, one that does not involve moving every three months, and having to worry whether or not the electric bill is paid. She is just trying to lay low until graduation. Then Grace meets Eva, a girl with her own share of demons.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey is a YA realistic fiction book told in journal entries about knowing when to ask for help. In 16-year-old Tish's English class, her teacher (Mrs. Dunphrey) requires the kids to keep a journal. She promises to not read anything marked "Do Not Read." Usually this is the type of thing that Tish would not try or do well on, as a straight C student. But with her current home life, she needs somebody to talk to, even if it is venting in a journal. Her father is abusive and her mother still loves him and neglects her children. The situation takes a turn for the worse when her mother runs off to find Tish's father and leaves her to care for her brother with only the small amount of money Tish makes at her part-time job at the Burger Boy.

This is quite a short book, but holds the worth of 1,000+ pages. This book contains subjects of child abuse, neglect, mental illness, and death. It reminds me of a book I read recently, 15 Days Without a Head, which follows a similar plot line. However, this journal is filled with more emotion and was written in a different direction. While I was reading it, I felt like I could hear Tish talking. There are a lot of ramblings and tangents, which I loved. Don't You Dare Read This is written in a way just like the thoughts in one's head, like Tish projected all her thoughts on a page. I would love to be able to write like Haddix and give as much insight as she did.

On top of that, this book is inspirational. It teaches about asking for help and shows that adults and teachers care about their students. It teaches about strength and the difference between right and wrong. Tish was one of the most round characters I have ever met. (A round character is basically the proper terminology of a complex character.) She started writing in the assigned journal feeling embarrassed and having huge trust issues. But as the book progressed she was so desperate that she is driven to write all the details. She goes from a straight C student to failing and having to pay bills and go job hunting. She even considered dropping out of school to provide support. She was so torn about whether or not to ask for help, and she really wanted to care for her little brother. She was battling so many emotions at once, and Tish should not have to had to go through what she did.

I've always wanted to be a teacher, and this book makes me wonder what I would do in the situation of Mrs. Dunphrey. In fact, it would be really amazing if there was a sequel told from the viewpoint of her. (Unfortunately, this book is from 2004, so my wish comes too late.) This is very different from most of the other works by this author. I read a lot of her books when I was younger, including her Shadow Children series, The Missing series, and Double Identity. Those were all sci-fi books.

I absolutely loved this book, and I am glad I bought it! I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey
Author: Margret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 128 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

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
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