Friday, June 15, 2018

Wake by Lisa McMann

Wake is the first YA book in a paranormal mystery trilogy. Janie has a gift and a curse. Against her will, she has been getting sucked into other people's dreams ever since she was eight years old, creating endless torture day and night. After being transported into one nightmare too many, she opens up to Cabel, a boy at her school. He comforts her, and protects her. But he has secrets of his own, and they might be the key to Janie learning to control her powers.

This book was amazing and is a fast-paced thrill! It was creepy and frighting at times, but so captivating and full of suspense and anticipation! I enjoyed the concept, which is fascinating and unique. If you think you've got a secret or really hate your life, read this book and discover how truly awful life could be. The mystery part of the book is a huge surprise and I loved the twist at the end! I was surprised when the book ended, and I was so immersed into their world that I actually forgot where I was when I finished reading.

Janie is very strong. I don't know how in the world she manages a 3.8 GPA while dealing with all this day and night. Cabel is an amazing guy and I loved seeing him help her recover and navigate the scary nightmares. Janie is perfectly imperfect and realistic. She makes a lot of mistakes and makes questionable decisions but at the end of the day she is human (I think) and is going through a lot. She cries more than any other character in the books that I have read, and it makes my heart ache for her. 

I highly recommend this book! I am excited to read the next book in this trilogy, Fade, and I look forward to seeing how Janie's powers progress!

I would say that the book is for older readers given that some of the dreams she is sucked into involve mature actions and descriptions. 

Title: Wake
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 210
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles

Breathing Room is a middle grade book about a girl's experience in a Sanatorium to cure her tuberculosis. Evvy Hoffmeister is just one of the hundreds of thousands of children sent to Loon Lake Sanatorium in the 1940s. At just 13 years old, the process is very scary, especially when death is just around the corner. But with the help of her new friends, Sarah, Pearl, and Dena, she finds the strength to fight the illness.

I learned a lot about tuberculosis and I was shocked at some of what the girls went through. Old forms of medicine consisted of risky surgical procedures. We should be truly grateful for the extent and power of medicine today. I also really liked the posters, flyers, propaganda, and other historical illustrations that added to the story and showed the culture of America in that time period.

I loved the backdrop of WW2 and the elements of Judaism and fear, a nice opening into the past. I have not read many books like this one and I was captivated with the girls' journeys of getting better or getting worse. The book was sad and alarming at the deaths and extent of the illness.

However, in the midst of all the death around them, the girls at least had each other, and the friendships that were formed were so sweet. The book contains a great theme to always keep fighting for your life and always look ahead into the future and be positive. This is a unique read for girls of all ages!

I am glad I bought this book and I would gladly read it again! I highly recommend this book!

Title: Breathing Room
Author: Marsha Hayles
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages: 256
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

I got The Light of the Fireflies for free on Amazon for World Book Day on April 28th. Only now did I finally read it. This story is quite interesting to say the least.

The book centers around the youngest boy of a family who is living in their basement and will not go upstairs, due to an "incident" involving his older, mentally ill brother. The boy, whose name is never provided, is growing quite suspicious of the family and the abuse of his sister. As he starts to understand some of the lies his family has been feeding him for years and years, he wants to leave.

My first complaint is how none of the characters have any names! So that made the story confusing at times. I also cannot agree at all with the themes or the ending, or the tone of the book, which felt sexist and absurd. The girl who is mature, selfless and sensible is abused by the family and blamed, all while the eldest son, who is awful and evil and a criminal is protected and loved? The story is completely backwards and sad.

In some parts of the world it is like this where women are treated like garbage but instead of acknowledging that it is wrong and giving a lesson, the main character reflects years later and defends his parents and says that family always comes first? The daughter (who deserves a name!) is family, and she deserves protection. Readers enjoy the main character, the youngest son, and expect him to become better than his family, but yet becomes poisoned by their thoughts and fails to get away when he has the chance.

There are essentially two points of view for this book. Either the importance of family goes above criminal actions, or doing the right thing is the most important, no matter how painful. However, both do show how our upbringing impacts how we view the world and the moral choices we make. The Light of the Fireflies is surprisingly very well written, and the mystery drew me in a lot. I also do think that the book was fascinating, and it was a very captivating read. While I dislike the main idea and theme, it was a decent book.

Even though I disagree with the main idea, I do sort of recommend this book.

Title: The Light of the Fireflies
Author: Paul Pen
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Pages: 338
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Helm of Darkness (War on the Gods Book 1) by A.P. Mobley

The Helm of Darkness is the first book in a YA Greek mythology trilogy. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released on June 3, 2018.

The Greek gods are real, and they are angry because humanity stopped believing in them. To take control, the Gods created a storm that destroyed most of humanity and allowed them to rule once again. Andy and Zoey are two teenagers who are killed in the storm. However, thanks to a demigod's sacrifice, they are awakened 500 years later to help lead a war against the Gods and take back the rights of humanity. With the help of two demigods, Diana and Spencer, they must travel to the underworld and steal the Helm of Darkness from Hades.

These are ordinary kids who just lost everybody and everything they knew and loved, thrust into a war that they handled with surprisingly vast amounts of mental strength. They are just mortals, normal teenagers. There is no god-complex about them, and they don't have any powers, which makes the story more interesting and is a differentiator to most other books in the mythology space. Each of the characters also have had something traumatic or tragic happen in their lives, and it is interesting to witness how their past shapes their future roles and decisions. 

I enjoyed seeing a darker side to the Gods. Mostly in books and in real life, we picture Gods as being heavenly light and pure with good intentions. I liked how the readers for once see the greedy, hateful, controlling side as well. There is always two sides to a person, and I enjoyed guessing which Gods were actually trustworthy and relatively good. I also liked all the different scenery and the variety of the places that they went. I was able to picture almost their whole world. The imagery of that storm was intense and captivating as well as the word choice and usage. The metaphors were really good, and I loved the repeated fixation with the word "myth."

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Poseidon's Trident!

Title: The Helm of Darkness
Author: A.P. Mobley
Publisher: Sea of Ink Press
Pages: 268
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Dystopian Books I'd Never Want to Live in

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live in.

I decided to focus on the second option, places I would not want to live, which is essentially dystopian. Below is a list in order of the top ten worst dystopian settings to live in, all found in YA books.

1. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
An alien invasion at the end of the world. What could go wrong? 

2. The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M Obrien
I would never, ever, ever, want to live in a place where people poke around in my head while I sleep and spy on my dreams. That is so creepy and haunting. 

3. The Living by Matt De La Pena
 Just the fact that everybody is dying from a disease is awful, but if I actually lived where the main characters are for the majority of the book, I'd be stuck at sea, and all my friends would be dying.

4. H20 (The Rain) by Virginia Bergin
  This is one of the most scariest settings. If I get wet, I die a gruesome, painful death.

5. The Program by Suzanne Young
 I do not at all want to live in a world where emotion is not allowed and a hint of sadness makes government officials wipe my memory. 

6. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
I do not want to live in fear about my evil twin who will try to kill me and have to constantly watch my back. That's way too much anxiety.

7. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
 I think this one is obvious; it would be awful to live in the middle of a war with no food, water, or shelter. 

8. Glitch by Heather Anastsiu
I want to have my own emotions, and my own thoughts! Not to mention the fact that the idea of having a piece of technology in my body is quite weird and scary.

9. Gone by Michael Grant
If I had super-powers, maybe I'd make a difference and try to help and make peace. If I was one of the kids who don't, well, death is imminent. 

10. Breathe by Sarah Crossan
 Regardless of whether or not I live in a safe, protected dome, there are no trees and there is no air on Earth!

What books would you never want to live in?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Six by Mark Alpert

The Six is the first book in a YA trilogy about terminal illness and artificial intelligence. Adam has muscular dystrophy, and in less than a year his life will end. He spends his days in virtual reality computer games where he can be free, run and move like he used to. Adam's father created Sigma, an artificial intelligence program. When it became dangerous, Sigma was locked away. But it escapes and hacks into Russia's nuclear base, threatening to bomb the major cities of the world. Adam's father and the military create a top-secret operation for six terminally ill kids to sacrifice their bodies and be uploaded in weaponized robots that can do everything Sigma can.

I loved this book! I've read many books with robots taking over and humans vs technology, but I've never read anything like this! Humans sacrificing themselves to become a machine is a brave feat, and their adventure of transforming their minds and bodies was fascinating to watch! It would be really amazing as a movie.

Honestly, I have no clue what I would do if I was given this choice, but I do know that this book made me think. What does it mean to be human? Especially for Adam's mother, who believes that Adam won't be her son anymore if he's not connected to his body. On the other hand, it's one's thoughts and beliefs that make them human. For these kids, their internal conflict of who they are is huge, not to mention what the world would think of them. I loved that over the course of this book Sigma actually experiences emotion of its own, sparking another debate similar to the one in Willful Machines.

I love how The Six shows the challenges of living with disability and terminal diseases, not just the physical side of it, but the isolation and loss of relationships and independence. These kids are still just kids, forced to take on a challenge that the old military guys can't handle. Adam and the other teens don't have relationships, and are forced to work as a team and actually interact with each other. They are under so much stress, and the bonds that the characters end up forming are extraordinary to witness. 

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book, The Siege!

Title: The Six
Author: Mark Alpert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point is the first of two YA books about seeing the future. Addie is a Searcher, meaning that she can search the future. This comes in handy, because she can ensure that the choices she makes are correct. However, there is no correct choice when she is forced to choose which parent to live with. Either stay with her mom in the Compound or leave with her father to live with the normal people, and not use her abilities. Told in alternating chapters of the future with her mom or with her dad, Addie is forced to realize that any future will have its flaws. With tragedy on both sides, she must choose between her own happiness or the protection of her friends.

I have always wanted to see the future! My first thought after reading the synopsis was that I was jealous of her ability. If I could see both outcomes, it would be really easy to decide, right? Not for Addie. With loss and fear on both sides, there is no good option. If I was faced with that decision, I don't know what I would do. I think that her decision at the end of the book is controversial. I personally believe that Addie is extremely strong and brave.

Having two parallel story lines was really fresh and unique. At first, I was not sure about reading two different stories, but they are alike more than I thought, especially towards the second half of the book. It was very interesting to see how the two parts overlap and intersect each other. I really enjoyed the concept of the "normal" people, and how they live. Even though the book is fantasy, it really felt realistic, which I liked. This book is also insanely dramatic, containing a murder-mystery that shocked me. I had a lot of fun guessing what was going to happen, especially when the two stories overlapped.

I highly recommend this book! I am excited to read the sequel, Split Second!

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 343
Series: Yes, book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars
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