Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hyperion's Shield (The Scales of Torma Book 1) by Nathan Schivley

Hyperion's Shield is the first YA fantasy book in the Scales of Torma series. This book was sent to me by the author. After the Eighth Great War between the Reysa and the Gartune, the Gartune defeated the Reytanas and built a huge shield that prevented their sun-based powers. The citizens live fearful lives under their rule. Inside the city, twins Loras and Regan dream of being Reytanas and taking back their home. When their dream shockingly comes true, the twins, along with their best friend Tinko, are forced to flee for their lives. After discovering a refugee camp for fellow Reytanas, the twins participate in a massive battle to take back their city.

I loved Hyperion's Shield! While the book is quite long, it is worth the time! This strong, exciting story was very well written and captivating! The world-building was special and vivid. The literal battle between darkness and light was intriguing and ironic. It is a completely original and extremely creative plotline. I enjoy it when I get to read content that I've never thought of before.

I enjoyed Xander's vast internal conflict- if he decides to be with the girl he loves, he turns his back on his family. It was fun for me to predict what side he would be on. Tinko was enjoyable and confident. While he has no powers of his own, he still managed to stand out with his creativity, humor, and resourcefulness. I loved the twins' struggle to adjust to their powers and solve the mystery of their destiny. I was shocked by the identities and roles of Loras and Regan in the amazing final battle, and I loved the sweet cliffhanger at the end!

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Title: Hyperion's Shield
Author: Nathan Schivly
Publisher: Blue Avenue Media
Pages: 585
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Unfettered Child by Micahel C. Sahd

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The Unfettered Child is a YA fantasy book sent to me by the author. Long ago, the great magician Abizou became trapped inside a gem. He eventually is let out, and replaced with the evil elf Illtud. Years later, Abizou's spirit inhibits eight-year-old Samara, who discovers great power when fighting back against the elves who attack her village. Samara discovers the gem, and Illtud manipulates her magic with the goal of getting his revenge on the Havallan Empire. Meanwhile, her father fights to get his daughter back, no matter the cost.

I haven't read any concept like The Unfettered Child and highly enjoyed this unique magical story! I also liked the addition of Elves and their mischievous nature. I liked this unique approach to having a young child hold so much power. It was fascinating to watch her brain struggle to understand what she could do and the ramifications of her actions when she lost control of her magic.

I was amazed at how Samara was portrayed accurately to her age with emotional breakdowns. She also obtained a strong sense of moral beliefs and showed a massive amount of guilt that only a pure, innocent child could have. I felt bad for her struggle to overcome gullibility and traumatic memories. This much power caused quite the emotional turmoil in her, and my eyes teared up by the end of the book. Speaking of the end of the book, it was astonishing and I was totally shocked at the ending!

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: The Unfettered Child
Author: Michael C. Sahd
Publisher: Michael C. Sahd
Pages: 414
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Clash Of The Celestials (The Red Rover Book 2) by C.E. Whitaker III

46716261. sy475 Clash of the Celestials is the second YA scifi book in the Red Rover series that was sent to me by the author. Two years ago, the teens on the Red Rover became the last surviving members of the human race after the Galicia star system was destroyed. Their resources have fallen extremely low and they tempt a landing on a new planet to find a new energy source, food, and water. Not only did the teens discover all of the above- they are also drawn into a war.

I liked the introduction of new species and the expansion of their world. How the teens were able to drastically impact the worlds around them were fascinating to me. Clash of the Celestials definitely grew in intensity and the climactic huge fight at the end was spectacular and vivid! The spider monsters were very creepy, if I do say so myself.

I enjoyed the growth in maturity of the characters and their desire to become leaders, not followers. Their determination, teamwork, and heroism is a huge step up from the previous book. The reasons behind Andrew's parent's deaths were explored, and I liked watching his emotional breakdowns that provided a surge of realism.

I highly recommend this book!

Click here to read my review of the previous book in this series, The Red Rover: Origins

Title: Clash of the Celestials
Author: C.E. Whitaker III
Publisher: C.E. Whitaker III
Pages: 305
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

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 a freebie. 

I've chosen to write about a few of the many books that I've read over the years that never made it onto my blog. Below is a collection of 10 mini-reviews of some of my favorite 5-star books that never made it onto this blog. Those below are not in any particular order.

1. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau 
I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school and was mystified by the underground world. It was one of the first dystopian books I ever read and fell in love with the concept. I would rush through the pages searching for the solution to the mystery. Every time I reread it I discovered another detail I missed and loved. It's imagery was stunning and I still can vividly picture the tiny details of their world years later.

2. Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman 
Inspired by the story of Megan Mier, Backlash shows the dangerous consequences of cyberbullying and the horrible outcomes for everyone involved. What separates Backlash from other bullying stories is how it shows the POV's of both the bully and the victim. It was eye-opening to see how their lives are changed after Bree types words she can never take back. 

3. Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
The safety pin on the front cover is actually a very important part of the story- I love how simple, yet accurate, the cover illustration is. I had no idea what ARFID was until now, and I love how educational the story was. Pea's mental anguish was heartbreaking. I loved her determination to overcome her eating disorder and not let it define her. Ben is the perfect boyfriend and their romance was one of the most beautiful I've ever read.

4. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read this book back in 7th grade and still remember almost every page. Its striking and horrifying detailed deaths of the Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 are one of those images that don't leave your mind for a long time. Mattie is only 14 and suffers more loss in a year than most have in their lifetimes. She is extremely brave, in no means a hero, but just your average girl trying to survive against the most severe epidemic in U.S. history. If you like historical fiction, you must read this book if you haven't already!

5. Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau
While the situation was very unsettling, I loved how Time Bomb conquered the massive stereotypes and judgments regarding students who attack their school. Unfortunately mass shootings and bombings in school across the world are happening more and more often. This book addresses the stigma and false assumptions against those with mental illness and those of other races with a shocking ending that leaves readers questioning their own judgement and their political position on many gun-control laws.
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6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This is one of those books that is generally required reading in school, but I was awestruck reading it and fell in love with the reliability and anguish of these teens living with stereotypes not so different from our own still today, just trying to survive and find their place in the world. The language and writing style is very simple, yet it speaks volumes.

7. Transparent by Natalie Whipple
I've read this book more times than I can count and was hooked from the first sentence. Many wish they were invisible, but Transparent clearly showcases that being invisible comes with its own issues. Fiona is fierce and delicate at the same time, a balanced and reliable narrator that is easy to connect to and cheer for. 

8. The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo 
The Deepest Roots is a beautiful tale of friendship that is truly inspiring, magic or not. All three girls risked their lives for each other and are a family. This book teaches that even when all seems lost, the power of love and friendship will still prevail. The girls' powers were fascinating and I loved their hardships.
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9. Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey
I loved watching Charlie discover his identity and emerge from the shadow of his abusive childhood. By the end, I loved how Charlie was finally empowered and on his way to being a man and starting a real life.
10. Sparrow by Sarah Moon
Sparrow is a lovely testament to grief. Sparrow is a troubled young girl who is very misunderstood, and I adored her growth in finding her own voice, as well as the coping strategies that the book taught.
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Kingdom Soul (Kingdom Cold Book 2) by Brittni Chenelle

46447096. sy475 Kingdom Soul is the second book in the YA fantasy trilogy Kingdom Cold. This book was sent to me by the author. Five years after the fall of Besmium, Charlotte and her young daughter Morgana hide in a small village from Lancelot and King Arthur. Reeling from the death of his brother, Minseo has been drinking away his feelings. But when news arrives that Lancelot is close to finding her, Minseo runs away to find Charlotte and protect her. But even though Charlotte loves him, she can't tell him her secret just yet.

Kingdom Soul certainly served its purpose in showing the aftermath of Besmium's fall and introducing the major secrets that haunt the next book. It was fascinating how motherhood and grief changed Charlotte and Minseo's personality. I also enjoyed the very diverse set of characters, including LGBTQ people. I was very surprised at the major plot twists and very intrigued to learn more about King Arthur and the surprise addition of having Merlin as a character. I love how this medieval fantasy world keeps growing. It was very fast paced and I finished the book very quickly.

Despite enjoying it, I had a few issues. I found the romance a little rushed between Charlotte and Minseo, even though they had a connection in the previous book. And I would say that the final plot twist at the end was a little unbelievable. 

I do recommend this book and am excited to read the next book, Kingdom Untold, which comes out on August 22nd! 

Read my review of the previous book, Kingdom Cold.

Title: Kingdom Soul
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Brittni Chenelle
Pages: 248
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by [Kowalski, Charles]Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts is the first book in a middle grade series with a creative mix of historical fiction and mythology. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released in two weeks on August 1st.

In 1620, Simon Grey has always been able to see ghosts and spirits. Desperate for them to stop haunting him, Simon boards a ship set for the spice islands, but crashes on a Japanese coastline instead. He soon learns that he can see yokai, spirits and shadows- not just ghosts. He also learns that an evil sorcerer and shogun want to steal his ability to gain immortality, and must learn to fight back to free his friends and his life.

I learned briefly about yokai in my A.P World History class when we discussed animism and the Edo Period of Japan, and I was excited to learn more about them! I loved the historical accuracy of the story, like including the Sakoku Edict of 1635 and their war on Christianity. I found this book very educational on Japanese folklore, but fun and light at the same time. I enjoyed the very imaginative concept that provided lots of entertainment!

I found many of the scenes very funny and mystifying. The adventure continuously raised the stakes and I was anxious to find out the ending! Simon was a sincere narrator with tons of character development. He goes from feeling alone and expressing hatred for his ability to appreciating the need of it to save his new friends. The story is very empowering and can teach young readers to embrace who they are.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts
Author: Charles Kowalski
Publisher: Excalibur Books
Pages: 192
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Wave by Todd Srasser

481743The Wave is a YA historical fiction book that takes The Third Wave classroom experiment from 1967 into a modern-day setting. Students in Burt Ross' history classroom don't understand how Nazism was able to become so powerful- surely the people would have realized their actions were wrong and stop it, right? Wrong. To illustrate how powerful peer pressure and human desire to gain social power can overpower moral beliefs, Mr. Ross creates a fake movement called The Wave. But the experiment grows quickly out of hand and it is up to two students of their school newspaper to expose the truth and stop it.

When I've learned about the Nazis in school I've had the same questions that these kids had. How could these ordinary people turn into monsters and think killing millions of children is acceptable? How can loving, kind people suddenly forget their morals and be brainwashed so easily? Like their teacher, mine haven't exactly had the best answers either. The Wave explains everything- it's like something clicked in my brain after reading it. How come I hadn't heard of this before? As an editor of my school newspaper, I also loved the influence of their newspaper.

I found this story absolutely fascinating. There is no question in my mind that this event should be taught in all history classes and this book should be required reading in schools worldwide to teach us a valuable lesson about the dangers of sacrificing moral beliefs in favor of social acceptance and self-worth. This book reminds and questions the readers beliefs and puts them in their shoes. The Wave is very thought provoking. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Would you blindly follow the leader regardless of the outcome or would you find the strength to think for yourself?

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Wave
Author: Todd Strasser
Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books
Pages: 138
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

44303513. sy475 A Shifting of Stars is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. In Meadow Sircha's kingdom, talk of rebellion or dislike of the sadistic Emperor results in a death sentence. However, dislike of the Tyjans is quite automatic as he neglects his citizens and forces them to fight to the death in his tournaments. After the 17-year-old's mother dies because the Emperor would not give her the medicine needed, Meadow speaks out, asking the villagers to boycott. When she and her father are captured, Meadow barely escapes with her life and journeys across her kingdom to find him, ending up in more trouble than she bargained for.

A Shifting of Stars has an amazing cover that captures the magical and somewhat tragic fates of the characters. Meadow faced plenty of tyranny in her life, but her I love how she was still afraid and angry at it. Meadow is very brave and modest, feeling powerless to help her people but trying everything she can anyway even with her anxiety. Vogel was my favorite character. He was beguiling and battled internal demons. He was darkness and Meadow was light, they balanced each other out. Their romance was beautiful and felt very realistic.

The torture shown was very vivid and evil. The plot surprised me and quickly threw me off course. The magical twist was fascinating and opens a whole new realm of possibilities. The ending was lovely and exactly what I wanted. However I wanted more clarity on how the magic spells worked and where they came from, and some of those scenes were bizarre and not explained.

I recommend you read this book! I'm excited to read the next book!
Title: A Shifting of Stars
Author: Kathy Kimbray
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 450
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 StarsGoodreads

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

28369599I Wish My Teacher Knew is a nonfiction book about the movement that transpired when Mrs. Schwartz had her third-grade class answer the open-ended question on a post-it. She gets heartbreaking answers and forms connections with her students that goes viral worldwide. Mrs. Schwartz tells her story, the story of her students, and how she creates a feeling of safety and unity in her classroom.

I plan to be a teacher, and I will aspire to follow in her footsteps, learn from her mistakes, and use her strategies. In addition to just this fill-in-the-blank sentence, Schwartz goes through her own education and mistakes she's learned from. I particularly loved how she pointed out key phrases to say and others to avoid or change to promote inclusivity. Some of her tips and tricks I never would have thought of.

I Wish My Teacher Knew is not only aimed for educators, but this also has appeal for students because it teaches steps they can take to make new friends and help the classroom become safer. This book also clearly showcases how teachers are not perfect and shows how good intentions can easily backfire. I Wish My Teacher Knew helps students understand their teacher better. This book is also important for policymakers and politicians to read as Schwartz makes important points about poverty in schools and what systems should be in place to help them. I was shocked at how thorough the research was and I found the statistics startling.

I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read it again! I cannot wait to read her new book, I Wish For Change.

Title: I Wish My Teacher Knew
Author: Kyle Schwartz
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Pages: 272
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Red Rover: Origins by C.E. Whitaker III

45305697. sy475 The Red Rover: Origins is the first YA scifi book in a futuristic series where the remaining humans live on a gigantic space station. When global warming and nuclear fallout made the Earth uninhabitable, humans from around the globe escaped on the Rover Base Alpha in search of a new home. When their current star system appears to be nearing a violent end of its life, seven teens are thrust into the role of hopefully finding a new planet to colonize.

One thing I enjoyed was the very wide range of characters that showed all aspects of society- from corrupt businessmen to complaining children, even throwing in mental health conditions and a touch of heartbreak. I loved watching the development of these teens and their growth in emotional maturity. They went from selfish, spoiled children to young adults who truly cared about their teammates and the greater good of their society. It was super fun to watch them in their action-packed challenges. I also loved how the book accurately depicted a star's life cycle and conditions in outer space.

I highly recommend this book! The author is currently finishing the next book in this series, Clash of the Celestials, and I cannot wait to read it! That cliffhanger was crazy!

Title: The Red Rover: Origins
Author: C.E. Whitaker III
Publisher: C.E. Whitaker III
Pages: 286
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Viperob Files by Alister Hodge

45444300The Viperob Files is a YA dystopian book about a group of teens who discover a conspiracy and race to prevent it. This book was sent to me by the author. Fast forward to an island off the coast of Australia in 2194. The misuse of fossil fuels led to a global warming catastrophe with sea level rise over 30 meters and ocean acidity so high that trilobites proliferate. Ethan, Jaego, and Gwen live on an island fiercely controlled by the Viperob company. Its citizens are nothing more than slaves. When the three teens come across a secret project where the Viperob are planning to invade the country, they must leave the island and get to the mainland to warn the Australian military before it's too late.   

The cruelties of the Viperob honestly remind me of the BEIC in India or King Leopold II of Belgium and what he did to the Congolese. Lieutenant Harris disgusts me and angers me. He is extremely violent and has no empathy for others. He is a manifestation of humanity at its worst- and he's just a mindless robot following the orders of someone even crueler. I don't think I've been this angry reading a book in a long time. I love it!! Creating powerful protagonists and making the reader care about their success is just as important as creating terrorizing antagonists and making the reader hope for them to fail. I did!

I am amazed at the courage and bravery of these three teens. My mouth dropped in awe at some of the major close calls. These kids are surviving by the skin of their teeth. The Viperob Files was absolutely thrilling and terrifyingly realistic. Having the trilobites come back to life was a humorous twist that I, being the science nerd that I am, found completely fascinating!

Hodge has told me that he is in the process of writing the sequel. I cannot wait to find out what happens next! I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Viperob Files
Author: Alister Hodge
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Pages: 217
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Releases in Late 2019

One of the most exciting things is discovering new books to read! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019. The following releases I look forward to the most are in order of release date.

1. The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair
Expected Publication: July 2nd 2019
Vesper Montgomery has the power to make somebody's worst fear come to life. She is terrified of her ability, but is forced to use it when she enters a fierce competition for the chance to rewrite the past.

2. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Expected Publication: July 9th 2019
A bizarre and deadly plague called the Tox has infected Hetty's boarding schools. After all the teachers died, the students were left to fend for themselves in quarantine. 

3. Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé
Expected publication: August 1st 2019
Skye always knew that her younger sister was strange, but she never thought that the imaginary creatures she plays with in the woods would ever come to life.

4. I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
Expected publication: August 6th 2019
When what was supposed to be a normal football game suddenly turns into a city-wide riot, two girls have to stick together and help each other survive the night and get home safe.

5. A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth
Expected publication: September 10th, 2019
Violet's house has magical powers and kept everything beautiful and happy, until her father is killed and Violet is forced into fleeing. When she returns to the house years later, she finds it has become dark and twisted, poisoning nature. Violet will do everything she can to make her house happy again.

6. Suggested Reading by Dave Connis
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 
When Clara's school principal starts banning dozens of meaningful books, she starts a secret library in her locker to fight back.

7. Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 
Morgan is an African American teen struggling with depression. She feels too much pressure to be the "right kind" of black, but will now decide to not let her skin color define her.44139408

8. The Memory Thief  by Lauren Mansy
Expected publication: October 1st, 2019
In this city, memories are money, and sold to the highest bidder. Ones with magical gifts can simply steal a memory with a slight touch. When Seventeen-year-old Etta's mother's memories are up for grabs, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her.

9. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Expected publication: October 15th, 2019
In 2172, global warming and nuclear war has decimated the majority of Earth. The only way to even go outside is to wear bionic body parts and artifical organs to protect themselves from the deadly climate. In Nigeria, two sisters will sacrifice everything to try to restore peace.

10. I'm a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni
Expected publication: October 29th, 2019
When Johnny and Alison accidentally unleash an earthquake while practicing their magic, they get recuirted to the Marduk Institute and must use their magic to defend their new world.

What releases are you looking forward to?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Whispers of Nowhere by Shannon Rohrer

38729689Whispers of Nowhere is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. When Gwen's father brings home magical artifacts from work, Gwen mistakenly touches them, causing their seals to break and open the magical prison gates to Nowhere, allowing demons and criminals to escape into the moral world. Gwen's special ability to sense and wield the artifacts makes her a prime target of demons. Gwen takes off in the middle of the night with guardians Phenex and Forneus to clean up her mess and find the artifacts before the monsters do.

I love how the book combined mythology from different religions and cultures, like Greek, Egyptian, and even aspects of demonology engraved in Japanese folklore. It was very mind-boggling to now see the Gods and Demons of multiple religions and cultures existing in the same realm. The author did a great job building a world that I could envision and comprehend. The fighting scenes were perfectly executed and I loved the vivid imagery describing the almost unfathomable magic. The book felt like a fun treasure hunt, and I very much enjoyed the adventuring aspect of the novel.

I loved the complicated relationship between the three teens and the boys' desire to protect Gwen. The almost love-triangle feel between the three of them was very sweet. Phenex's complicated and traumatizing history leaves a roughness and fear to him, and  I loved it when he showed his true vulnerable self. I will always remember his ultimate fiery display in the final battle.

There were some inconsistencies in the plot that bug me, but will hopefully be resolved in the next book. I wanted Gwen to have more power or unearth a grand evolution which feel a little short. I would have liked to see more character development from her. She mostly remained weak but I am hoping that will change in the next book. My love of Phenex and Forneus, however, overshadowed my irritations with Gwen.

I recommend this book! I'm looking forward to reading the next book that I'm told will come out sometime next year.

Title: Whispers of Nowhere
Author: Shannon Rohrer
Publisher: Shannon Rohrer
Pages: 483
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, June 3, 2019

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days is a YA realistic fiction book about one text message that took three lives. When Carter's friends Eli, Mars, and Blake were running late to pick him up from work, he asks them where they are- but when Mars goes to answer the text, he gets into a car accident, resulting in the boys dead. Carter begins having panic attacks and massive feelings of guilt and shame. To make matters worse, he could potentially be going to jail for negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter. 

I enjoyed many parts of the book, like the very strong lesson of not texting and driving. Usually something that we can think be so obvious, but in the moment you can just forget and make a mistake, like what happened to Carter. He didn't stop to think before he texted his friends, and while it was Mars' fault that he chose to respond, Carter did have a role. It is one of those books that teaches a major lesson in the worst case scenario. Carter's panic attacks were also extremely realistic. The book overall was written very well, but I had some issues with the characters.

I felt no sadness for Eli, Mars, and Blake. They were extremely irresponsible people with little to no compassion for others. Some of the jokes they made are just plain mean and borderline inappropriate. I’m not happy that they’re dead, but I saw no reason to care for those boys. They were just classic teenage boys and class clowns. I think they were a bad influence on Carter. This is one of the most masculine books I've read. While I felt like there was nothing to connect to and shake my head in exasperation at the boys' ridiculous behavior, it would make a lot more sense to a male reader. I will say that the audience for this book is definitely teenage boys, not girls.

I do recommend that you read the book, but don't get your hopes up on the characters.

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 399
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini

Be More Chill is a YA science fiction book about a boy who swallows a computer. In 2015, it was made into a hit Broadway musical. Jeremy Heere is the opposite of popular and is teased every day. He desperately wants to gain the attention of the girl he likes and be cooler. So, he swallows the Squip, a tiny computer that will instruct him how to be a better, more popular person. However, even a computer might not have all the answers his society wants.

I initially thought it was a funny concept to have a computer in your brain, but the scifi aspect was extremely underdeveloped and downright idiotic at best. I hoped there would be an inspirational feel to it where all the characters learn a big life lesson about how it's best to be yourself, but I was totally wrong and this ended up being one of the worst books I've ever read in my life. I am shocked at how in the world this got made into a musical on Broadway!

First off, it portrayed girls in an incredibly sexist way and basically treated girls like a toy or an object to have fun with. I was appalled and I am extremely proud that I even finished the book. Some pages were extremely uncomfortable to read and made me horrified and outraged. As a woman, I was personally offended by this book's messages of women being nothing more their bodies. There are no moral values of any kind present in any characters. They are extremely hypocritical and homophobic- they treat the idea of gay people as worst than terrorists.

Don't read this book. However, if you do decide to read this book, take it as a lesson who not to be.

Title: Be More Chill
Author: Ned Vizzini
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 287
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Monday, May 20, 2019

Secrets of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith

Secrets of Hawthorne House is the first book in a middle grade and YA fantasy series about a family of magical Druids. This book was sent to me by the author. After a drunk driver kills his mother, fifteen-year-old Matt, his twin sister, and their father move to a small town in Indiana. It just so happens that they move next door to the famous Hawthorne house, rumored to house a witch. Matt doesn't believe in such fairy tales, but when he becomes best friends with Old Lady Hawthorne's nephew, Gerallt, he finds a whole new world.

I loved this book and never took my eyes off the pages! I've never heard of the Goddess Modron or the Druids before, but I certainly know a lot about them now. Magic intertwining with religion and history is fascinating! How Gerallt used his magic to defend himself from the bullies was hilarious and I found myself frequently laughing out loud! The plotline was extremely creative and I loved how it kept constantly changing and evolving into new issues. Every chapter was a new adventure. This book was like the game Wack-A-Mole but I was surprised at how everything was still blended together evenly.

Mythology aside, I loved the real life message of being friends with people regardless of how they look or the reputation that they have. The theme of acceptance is very clear and the bullying extremely realistic. I'm not typically a fan of male protagonists, but Matt has such a kind heart that he is impossible to dislike. I enjoyed the journey of these two families coming together in the hardest of times.

I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! I highly recommend this book!

Title: Secrets of Hawthorne House
Author: Donald Firesmith
Publisher: Donald Firesmith
Pages: 411
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Scarecrow and the Princess by Maggie Archer

The Scarecrow and the Princess is a middle grade fantasy book about a young prince who is cursed into being a scarecrow. This book was sent to me by the author. After Prince Harvey insults a the witch Bettina's daughter, Bettina turns him into a scarecrow. The curse can only be broken if a girl wishes him to come alive during a full moon. Luckily for Harvey, he's placed in Princess Sasha's orchard. She is longing for a friend, and may have also found the perfect husband.

This review will be short and sweet, just like the book! This magical story is very cute and sweet, teaching the importance of always treating others with kindness. While on the younger side of middle grade, The Scarecrow and the Princess is relevant and inspiring for all ages. This book is guaranteed to make you smile! This book is an extremely quick and short read that will leave you in a better mood. Even for just 67 pages, the author still put in plenty of character development and a lovely storyline that won't disappoint!

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Scarecrow and the Princess
Author: Maggie Archer
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 67
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

38355098From the author of Bruiser comes Dry, a realistic fiction book about what happens when a California area runs out of water. The drought in California has been survivable with major conservation. But when the states of Arizona and Nevada break a treaty agreement and block water from the Colorado River from entering California, claiming they need it more than California does, the taps run totally dry. As neighbors turn on each other and thirst turns to violence, teenagers Alyssa, Jacqui, and Henry must make the tough choices and fend for themselves.

In my mind the book was perfect! The situation was alarming, but still realistic. The desperation and violence was frightening and disturbing but still justifiable and coherent. It was the perfect balance between educational and disturbing. Every scene raised intensity and I couldn't tear my eyes away!

People label this book on Goodreads as science fiction and dystopian, but I completely disagree. 1 in 9 people in the world currently don't have access to clean water and 3-4 million people worldwide die of dehydration and water-related illness a year. Running out of water is a real threat and a real issue that millions currently deal with in this exact situation.

Hopefully books like this can enlighten minds to the dangers of running out of water and encourage people to be grateful for what they have and advocate for water rights around the world. We need the EPA to enforce water quality laws, we need more desalination plants on coastlines, we need farmers to use drip irrigation and cover crops and rotational grazing. We need better wastewater treatment plants and limiting run-off and water pollution, holding industry accountable for toxic waste dumping out back in bodies of water.

I highly recommend this book!

Read my review of Bruiser, another book by Shusterman.

Title: Dry
Author: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 390
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, April 28, 2019

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End is a YA realistic/science fiction book about two boys who decide to make the most of their last day alive. In a futuristic society not too different from our own, people are notified by Death-Cast 24 hours before they die. Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both screwed up their lives and live in awful situations. Quite frankly, they never thought they'd have much to live for. When these two unhappy souls decide to spend their Last Day together, they aim to live for decades in a single night and accomplish their dreams, falling in love with each other in the midst.

I am very torn about this book for many reasons. One of my issues is the lack of background knowledge about the mysterious Death-Cast system. How does it know when people are going to die? Predictive analytics or a higher power? Plus, I was hoping for an inspirational vibe of trying to change fate, which left me disappointed. I also had major issues with the romance between the boys as it felt way too forced and unnatural.

However, I loved the characters and grew attached to Mateo. I also loved the balancing act between the personalities of Rufus and Mateo and how they changed each other. Rufus made Mateo more fearless and Mateo made Rufus more considerate and careful. They largely benefited from each other and I admired their bravery. They Both Die at the End was a beautiful concept and I personally love Silvera's writing style from More Happy Than Not. I loved the concept and the plotline, but the execution did not turn out as I hoped. That being said, I still enjoyed reading it.

I do recommend this book as it still tells a special story- just be sure to suspend your disbelief!

Click here to read my review of More Happy Than Not, also by Adam Silvera.

Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 373
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Hidden (Hayling Cycle #1) by Miriam Halahmy

Hidden is the first YA historical fiction book in the trilogy Hayling Cycle. Fourteen-year-old Alix lives on Haying Island, a small island off the coast of England. During World War I, the community is blind to the terrors that occur in the Middle East. One day at the beach, Alix and her friend Samir find Mohammed, an illegal immigrant who was tortured in Iraq for helping the Allies. Not wanting him to be deported, the two young friends try to protect and hide him from the authorities.

I loved this historical fiction book! What I love the most about his book is the compassion for others that is developed inside the characters. Ignorance and stereotyping is wrong, and I loved how gradually even the people who I thought were the enemy became close allies. The toxic racist tone by many of the secondary characters at first was honest and revealing, and I was surprised how they changed their mindset. I love how the characters were able to set politics aside and look at Mohammad as a human being. I haven't read many books like this.

Immigration is an extremely relevant topic, especially in America with the current opinions of President Trump. These situations, fleeing war and poverty and torture happen way more than one can possibly imagine. I bet there is a 14-year-old right now somewhere in the world struggling with this same dilemma. Hidden is an extremely inspirational book that teaches the importance of caring for others and respecting those who are different from yourself.

I highly recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, Illegal. I am also interested in another book by the author, Behind Closed Doors.

Title: Hidden
Author: Miriam Halahmy
Publisher: Holiday House
Pages: 224
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kill Code by Clive Fleury

Kill Code is the first book in a YA dystopian series about corruption and abuse of power. I received this book from the author. In this dystopian society in 2031, global warming has decimated the Earth with increasing rising seas and deadly heat. The world is ruled by the few rich and powerful, supposedly hosting soap kitchens and helping the poor. Actually, all the NSC do is steal money and power for themselves. Tricked by massive propaganda, ex-cop Hogan Duran is excited to face the trials to join the NSC and help the poor community. As he becomes immersed in their world, Hogan discovers the truth and must try to fight back against their cruelty.

I absolutely loved this action-packed book! I was completely sucked into their world and I couldn't take my eyes off the pages! This book would make an excellent movie as the fighting scenes were perfectly executed and full of suspense. The intensity grew with each page, and I was anxious for them. I was sad when the book ended with an amazing cliffhanger. It is rather short book, so I was shocked at how the effectiveness of the pacing made it seem a lot longer.

The issue of the rich abusing their power is painfully obvious even today, so the predictions Kill Code makes are very realistic. I enjoyed how the concepts and technology felt crazy but still probable at the same time. I love how he and Ruby worked together as a team, defying the central idea of their society that everyone should fend for themselves. Hogan has a huge amount of empathy for others, something unique to the set of characters featured.

I highly recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Blood Code, which will be out before the end of the year.

Title: Kill Code
Author: Clive Fleury
Publisher: Tck Publishing
Pages: 148
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down is a YA realistic fiction book about a band of suicidal misfits who decide to help each other stay alive. On New Year's Eve, four people make their way to the roof of the Topper's House in London, prepared to jump off. Instead, the four of them decide to be friends and help each other sort out their lives.

I discovered A Long Way Down at my school library and was instantly intrigued. However, I extremely disliked this book and I barely finished it. The book was essentially a huge chunk of random dialogue with sarcasm and swear words. The characters were downright annoying. To me all of the character's attitudes and stigmas towards each other felt extremely offensive.

I felt that it completely underestimated suicide and made it seem like less of an issue than it is. Jess, the 15-year-old teenager, was extremely selfish and a major drama queen. She made the aspect of teen suicide laughable and downplayed the seriousness of suicide. I had absolutely no interest in any of the characters as they all felt bizarre and ridiculous. I honestly don't even see the point of this book and despite my hopes, it was not inspirational at all.

I do not recommend this book.

Title: A Long Way Down
Author: Nick Hornby
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 333
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Monday, April 1, 2019

An Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder

An Uninterrupted View of the Sky is an inspirational YA historical fiction book about the corrupt justice system in South America. In Bolivia 1999, the government prosecutes and targets the poor, uneducated minority. When Francisco's father is falsely accused of harboring drugs, he is sent to prison. When their mother panics and abandons them, the seventeen-year-old and his little sister must move into the jail with their father.

It was tough to read because the situation was so desperate and desolate. The main reason I was able to get through this book was because of the enormous love between Francisco, his sister, and their father. Beyond the sadness of the beginning of the story, there was still a definitive form of hope that Francisco was able to power himself with. As saddening as this story was, Bolivia's prisons today still hold the same corrupt, dangerous conditions. As I started researching more about Bolivian prisons and speaking to my friend who was born there, the inspirational, uplifting feeling became replaced with sadness for the people still suffering there today.

Books such as these bring attention to issues that need to be solved, and I personally am happy that this book was written so that I could learn about his injustice. An Uninterrupted View of the Sky showed that one can overcome these odds and become successful, but the sad reality is that many, many more are still trapped in the world of crime and poverty- which is yet a reason why this book was written- to educate and encourage others to be activists and become involved in trying to fix the situation.

I highly recommend this book! I look forward to reading another book of the author's, Audacity

If you are interested in this book, I also recommend that you read Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez as well as Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Title: An Uninterrupted View of the Sky
Author: Melanie Crowder
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, March 25, 2019

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Eight Keys is a middle grade realistic fiction book about friendship, kindness, and forgiveness. 12-year-old Elise is starting middle school, and she doesn't fit in. She is bullied and tormented every day by her locker partner. She doesn't fit in, and drifts away from her only true friend in an effort to gain acceptance. She is not alone, as before her father passed, he left her an intricate puzzle to solve. As keys start showing up all over the place, Elise unlocks the hidden rooms in her barn. Her father's messages teach her to have confidence in herself.

Eight Keys is an extremely realistic depiction of sixth grade and how schools tend to handle cases of bullying and harassment. Sixth grade is a huge transition year where everyone is trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and how to fit in. I loved to watch Elise's development from being scared, embarrassed, and insecure to being confident and able to stand up for herself.

Elise's journey of self discovery was beautiful, and I loved the vast support system of her family helping her though these tough times. Elise was far from perfect but lovely all the same. Elise felt very depressed at times, and I loved witnessing her evolve and find happiness. This book is extremely inspirational and shares the importance of standing up for yourself and loving who you are. Every girl should read this sweet story.

I highly recommend this book, and I am looking forward to reading another book of the author's, Love, Aubrey

Title: Eight Keys
Author: Suzanne LaFleur
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 216
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read This Spring

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 Top Ten Books On My Spring 2019 TBR. In order of priority, these are the books that I look forward to reading the most this spring!

1. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Moss Jefferies has had enough of the constant racial discrimination in his school and decides to stand up for himself and his humanitarian rights.

2. The Wave by Todd Strasser
Based on a true event at a school in California in 1969, a history teacher invents a "game" to help the students understand how Nazism was created, but the simple experiment quickly grows out of hand.

3. Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey
Charlie Porter is the world's youngest author having published a book when he was seven about a talking beetle. Now Charlie is 18 and must figure out how to put his past behind him.

4. As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
Mojave Desert, Madison is a magical town where every person gets one wish that always comes true. With anything he could possibly want at Eldon's fingertips, he struggles with what to ask.

Dashka Slater
In this nonfiction story, two teens (Sasha and Richard) on a school bus in Oakland, California became involved in an "accident" that ended up with severe consequences. 

6. Educated by Tara Westover
This inspirational autobiography follows the story of Tara Westover who lived in the mountains of Idaho, forbidden to go to school. Against her parent's wishes, she teaches herself to read and write, eventually earning a PhD at Cambridge University.

7. Dreadnought by April Daniels
After the superhero Dreadnought dies, his powers are passed down to Danny. Finally feeling like herself, she must learn to master her powers and defeat an evil cyborg.

8. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
The only home Carey and her little sister Jenessa have ever known is a cabin deep in the forest with their mother, who one day disappears. The girls soon are swept up in Child Protective Services and start a new life; but their past threatens to never let them go.

9. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Just a year after 9/11, Shirin is constantly stereotyped and bullied for being a Muslim.

10. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
High school senior Emoni Santiago has a passion for cooking and becoming a real chef one day, but her dreams are crushed when she gives birth to her daughter.

What are you excited to read this spring?
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