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

Friday, July 28, 2017

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The First Time She Drowned is a YA realistic fiction book about overcoming your past and learning to be okay with who you are. Two and a half years ago, Cassie O'Malley's mother dumped her in a mental hospital just to get rid of her, and spun lies to make sure they kept her. She did not have mental health issues at the time.

Now at 18 years old, Cassie can no longer be held against her will. Entering college, she is excited to be free and experience the world again. However, Cassie is not out of the water yet. The mental and emotional damage done to her by her mother will continue to haunt her, and secrets she has kept to herself for years and years threaten to consume her once again. Cassie must confront her past and come to terms with it before she drowns in her own memories.

The book was suspenseful, and I could not put it down! I loved the theme and the idea. This book is powerful and emotional. It will make you want to cry, laugh and scream. The First Time She Drowned is an uplifting novel about coming to terms with your past and moving forward. The title of this book is perfect. Literally and metaphorically she has drowned. The book is basically about accepting the life raft that is handed to you to come to shore and learning to trust and hold on. The past will always be there, but it is up to you whether or not you let it become your future, too.

Cassie's main character development was the element of trust. Letting somebody in to help her took a while for her to understand. She also changed in the sense of being more self-confident and not caring so much about what other people think of her. Cassie grew in the understanding that she could also make her own choices, and stand up for herself.

The First Time She Drowned was incredible, and I hope that the author comes out with more books! I will read it again, and I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: The First Time She Drowned
Author: Kerry Kletter
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 352 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Willful Machines is a YA science fiction book that I discovered from reading another book review blog, The Tales of the Ravenous Reader. Christy wrote an incredible review that inspired me to read this book!

Scientists create Charlotte, a robot with artificial intelligence. Things go well at first, but then Charlotte escapes. She transfers her brain into the internet and attacks the United States, demanding equal rights and for the other robots like her to be released from government captivity.

For the President, this is a nightmare and a disaster. For the President's son, Lee, well... whatever. Lee has other things to worry about, like the secret service following him everywhere and giving him no privacy. He has other things to worry about, like trying to prevent his dad from knowing that he is gay and likes another student. But when that student, Nico, is revealed to not be who he says he is, Lee realizes that Charlotte has plans for him and his family. He must decide who to trust and follow his heart.

The concept of the book is "what makes us human?" If somebody was in a bad accident and they had to get tons of robot parts, are they still human and protected by the law? When you google the word "human," there is no real definition. The main point why Charlotte was rebelling was because she wanted rights. The scientists created her to be like a human, and she got mad because she was not being treated like one. They gave her life, but took away what makes life worth living. Charlotte may be a robot, but she still counts as a character. And I say that her motives make sense. In the future when artificial intelligence becomes more prominent, human rights debates will increase dramatically.

One thing that sort of scares me is the fact that even though we have not made huge advances in this technology yet, it is highly probable that the future we see in this book could come true! This concept in books is very common, such as Revolution 19 or Bot Wars. But this is the first that I have read where the plot seems more realistic. There is even LGBT romance in this book. Being the son of the president makes it a cool book, regardless of robots. The robotics just takes it to the next level.

I want a second book!!! After this ending, I am craving a second book, but there is not one yet! There is a new mission revealed in the ending! There was the biggest cliffhanger in the world with Nico. Luckily, on Goodreads, the author responded to a question about writing a sequel with, "I do hope to write a sequel at some point--though to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure when that'll be."  So, in the meantime, he also has a book out called Tattoo Atlas, which is a similar concept.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Willful Machines
Author: Tim Floreen
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 358
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Champions: At Fire's End by Charlotte Jain

Champions: At Fire's End was sent to me by the author, and is the first 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 endlessly, causing destruction visible to mortals.
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, raised for the single purpose of winning the war by defeating the other champions. But the mortal body is not made to handle such power, and they must win before their powers corrupt them to a point of no return.
The imagery in this book was fantastic! I could effectively picture every scene in the book. It is fast paced and full of suspense. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, anxious to find out what happened.

Champions: At Fire's End was not what I was expecting. I was pleasantly surprised! It is nothing like the Percy Jackson series, or really any Greek mythology I have read. It focused more on the teens and their conflicts and their journey instead of just on the war. The four elements were the main difference, which I loved. It is unusual for fantasy and Greek mythology to be combined.

April has major character development. The pressure of having to solve somebody else's war really took a toll on her, and she had to make tough choices. Everyone can relate to her and the struggles she faced. Kyle had major internal conflict as well. He loved Kim, but she was on the other side. He has to choose between April and Kim, which does not settle well for him. 

Controlling the elements has always sounded amazing, but now I realize the consequences and sacrifices that comes with them. I have always wanted to control air. I also feel bad for the Champions since they are basically puppets.

The ending of this book is possibly the best ending I have ever read! A major twist was revealed that changes the whole game. The way that the author chose to end the book was brilliant, and really showcased how hard this war is and will continue to be.

I highly recommend that you read this book! I cannot wait to read the next book, Champions: Amid Fire's Betrayal!

Title: Champions: At Fire's End
Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: Charlotte Jain
Pages: 334 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic is a YA dystopian trilogy about acceptance and humanity. Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically enhanced humanoid. Diabolics are created for one purpose- to destroy anyone who threatens the person they have been created for. They are incapable of human emotions and feelings. Nemesis is a diabolic. She was created to protect Sidonia, heir to the galactic senate. They grew up together, and Nemesis would willingly sacrifice herself for her. Many years ago, the court ordered all Diabolics destroyed, but Sidonia’s family saved her.

In their world, science and knowledge are not allowed. They only rely on their technology. When the Emperor realizes that Sidonia’s father is part of the rebellion against the corrupt government, the court summons her to the imperial court as a hostage. There is only one way for Nemesis to protect her. She must become Sidonia and go in her place. To ensure that nobody finds out who she really is, Nemesis must find inside her what she was told she does not have- humanity.

The character development is huge in The Diabolic. Nemesis goes from being practically a robot to having feelings of love and being able to laugh. She has a ton of internal conflict. She was made and told to be “less human.” She has a journey of finding herself and self-acceptance, and debates whether or not to let herself feel. This book can also apply to real life. Stereotypes and acceptance are problems in today’s society, and everyone can connect to Nemesis’ character.

I loved the relationship between Sidonia and Nemesis. Even though Nemesis was chemically altered to protect her, their friendship became real over time. Nemesis’ battles over human emotion was powerful and insightful. She was constantly torn between being what she was engineered to be, and what she could be.

The cover is amazing!!! I love the butterfly and what it represents. The bottom of the butterfly is steel or metal, representing Nemesis as what she was in the beginning of the book, and the top of the butterfly with color represents emotion and what she became. A butterfly is also very fragile, which shows how careful Nemesis had to be. Of course I could be totally wrong and this could all be a coincidence, but I still adore the cover!

The book ended very abruptly, right in the middle of the ending climax event. It felt unfinished. An epilogue would have been nice since the ending was not the best. I was pretty mad when I finished the book about the ending, but now that I know that there are more books I am not so mad anymore.

I recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy, which comes out on November 7, 2017!

I found this book in a Top Ten Tuesday blog post by My Thoughts Literally. Thank you Cassi for showing me this book!

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World by Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak

Breakthrough is a YA autobiography about Jack Andraka, an innovator who created a strip of paper capable of detecting cancers 400 times more effective than the testing before. When Jack's uncle dies of pancreatic cancer due to not catching it early enough, Jack decides to invent a way to detect cancer earlier.  At 15 years old he does it. He makes a strip of paper that detects multiple types of cancer, generating media attention from all over the world. His story was not easy. He tells how he overcame the horrifying homophobic bullying, depression, and all the rejections and doubt. He urges kids to make themselves be heard and to chase after their dreams. Jack was only 18 when his book was published.

The thing I loved most about this nonfiction book was the 50 or so pages in the end. They contained 10 science experiments that are simple and fun to do, as well as tricks for math problems. He also included information on bullying, LGBTQ issues, and Open Access programs. 

I learned a lot by reading this book. I learned more about cancer and proteins just by reading the book. Breakthrough is very educational in teaching about math and science. I also learned a math trick about dividing long numbers by nine! The book is very inspirational. The message that Jack teaches is that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. The amount of bullying that Jack received was mind blowing! The teachers were even mean to him about his sexuality. This book teaches people not to judge somebody and that words and actions hurt. 

The reading level is middle grade, but due to some of the content and language, this book is more for YA readers. I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World
Author: Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 256 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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