Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Hunted (The Living #2) by Matt de la Pena

The Hunted is the sequel to The Living, a young adult dystopian book. When the earthquake hit, Shy was at sea working for a cruise ship, and he was one of the only survivors. Addie, the daughter of the head of LasoTech, tells him a huge secret, which is the reason for over a million people dying from Romero Disease, but as soon as they get to safety, she disappears with her dad. Shy and his friends return home, where everything is a disaster, and thanks to the secrets that he knows about LasoTech, he is a wanted man of one of the biggest companies in the world.

I love that The Hunted is a completely different atmosphere than the first book. The Living was about surviving nature, while this book is about surviving people. It was very exciting, and I liked the variety of setting.

The cover is actually very accurate. There is a scene where I pictured it looking just like the cover. Every detail on the cover art is incredible and very exact, which I do not come across often.

It was so busy, and the chapters felt like a paragraph instead of three pages. By the end of the book, I was so shocked that it was over since I felt like I was only reading for a short time. 

Overall, The Hunted is a great sequel, and I very much liked the ending. I recommend that you read the two books in this series.

Title: The Hunted (The Living #2) 
Author: Matt de la Pena
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 384 pages
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Firebrand (Elemental Trilogy #2) by Antony John

Firebrand is the second book in this young adult trilogy series. Thomas and his friends have managed to save the Guardians and steal the pirates' ship, but the danger is far from over. The pirates have control over their home, so they have to leave. With the help of Thomas' new element, they head south to Fort Sumter, a refugee colony. They quickly discover that as they leave Roanoke Island, their elements weaken. That is not the only problem. At Fort Sumter, Thomas discovers that they are all in danger, and their new home might be even worse than the one they left.

Firebrand was a definite improvement from the first book. Their elements were taken to a whole new level, and they discovered more things to do with them, which I greatly liked.

The characters were more emotional, and the book was not as fast, which gave more chances to connect with the characters. I kind of feel bad for them. Thomas has a hard life, and I admire him for standing up and taking charge even when he did not want to. 

The writing was not the best. The author told a lot of things, but didn't really show them. It was like a car without wheels. Instead of the author picturing the story for me, I had to do it myself and make up the story in my head. It made Firebrand more challenging than I would have liked.

I will still read the next book to finish the series, but if you have not read the series yet, I am not sure if you should.

Title: Firebrand (Elemental Trilogy #2)
Author: Antony John
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 304 pages
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Elemental by Antony John

Elemental is the first book in this young adult trilogy series. In the small colony of Outer Banks, Thomas is the only person to be born without the power of an element (water, earth, wind, and fire). At least, that is what everyone makes him believe. After a freak storm that nobody could predict, pirates set their island on fire and kidnapped the Guardians. Now, they are after the kids. Thomas and his friends must fight to stay alive and free the ones who were captured. They uncover secrets that nobody told them, and Thomas discovers that he might not be as useless as everyone told him.

For me, the element part was not as developed as I would have liked. For having power of an element, I expected them to be able to do more than predict storms and tell if water is safe to drink.

Other than that, Elemental was a fine read. The setting was very detailed, and you could picture where they were. I did not have to stop and clarify anything. There was never a dull moment; they were always doing something. I have not read a lot of books where it is consistent the entire time, which I was happy about.

Unfortunately, I could not really connect with the characters. There wasn't really time to connect with them; they were always doing something. Often, they were too rushed to get things done that they didn't really connect effectively with each other, either.

I will read the rest of the series, and although it was not my favorite, I do think reading it was worth my time.

Title: Elemental
Author: Antony John
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 326 pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 3 Stars

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Pitcher by William Elliott Hazelgrove

The Pitcher is an inspirational realistic fiction book for young adult readers. Ricky is Mexican, and he is constantly teased and called racist comments. His mom has lupus, and they don't have enough money for her to get the treatment she needs. It doesn't help that his abusive father comes back just to steal the only money they have. Yet, when Ricky discovers that he has an amazing arm that can throw a ball 74 mph, his mom uses all the money that they have to get him to play. Across the street, a former World Series player, Jack Longford, is living in his garage after his wife died. He eventually agrees to coach Ricky.

The Pitcher teaches about believing in yourself, and moving forward even when things get rough. Ricky has it hard, but he keeps going. This is an emotional book, and it shows that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

You don't need to know anything about baseball to read the book. All the terms and expressions about baseball are explained. I was a little worried about that, but it was not a problem at all, so I was pleasantly surprised.

My only complaint is that Mr. Longford uses way too much inappropriate language. The guy calls everyone a rockhead, and says the same three cuss words tons of times in the book! He is a very strong character, but maybe a little too much.

I recommend you read this young adult book if you don't mind all the cuss words.

Title: The Pitcher
Author: William Elliott Hazelgrove
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 241 pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Living by Matt de la Pena

The Living is a wonderful dystopian novel about being stranded at sea and trying to survive. It is the first of two books. Shy just wanted to get some money to help out his family with the bills. He didn't ask to be one of the few survivors of a deadly earthquake and tsunami. He is working on a cruise ship, and only after a couple weeks, the biggest, strongest earthquake ever recorded hits California, even spreading in to the border of Mexico, his home town.

Following is a huge tsunami, leaving almost everyone on the ship dead. To make matters worse, Romero disease is spreading rapidly, and threatens his entire family back in Mexico, as well as all his friends and coworkers that managed to stay alive. Shy and the other survivors are in a life and death situation.

The cover is way scarier than it actually is. The hand sticking out of the ocean is an exaggeration, which I found very misleading. I kind of wished that the book would be more scary. For a dystopian book, I kind of wanted a little more action.

Regardless, The Living is a great book, and I am happy I read it. It is also a mystery, which I very much enjoyed. There is also a conspiracy that is kind of surprising. I am not going to give anything away, but I was shocked that people would actually do something as thoughtless as what these people did. 

There is a sequel called The Hunted, which I cannot wait to read! I totally recommend you read this book. 

Title: The Living
Author: Matt de la Pena
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 320 pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lies (Gone Book 3) by Michael Grant

Lies is the third book in the young adult dystopian series, Gone. Seven months ago, everyone 15 or older vanished, leaving the kids trapped inside the FAYZ. (Their word for the mysterious barrier surrounding them.) Sam and his friends thought that they had defeated the darkness, but they are wrong.

Drake is back from the dead to finish off Sam, and that is the least of their problems. A girl named Orsay claims to have the power to hear and see the adults outside the barrier, and communicate through their dreams. Sam and Caine found a way to stay after your 15th birthday, but she says that you go on the other side and are reunited with your parents. She also says that death is a way out, which causes chaos. 

Lies is definitely a super third book. It was kind of alarming how quickly things spiraled out of control. The second one problem was solved, another happened. Nobody could rest, and some never slept. It was also a prime example of how power can go to your head, and how things can't just appear overnight. That caused a lot more trouble than it should have.

A good thing that happened was that there was two pages told from Sam's mother's perspective about life without the kids. That completely changed my entire outlook of the series, but I just wish that had happened sooner. I also felt that there were too many characters, but it did not really affect the book as a whole. 

The Gone series keeps getting better, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Plague.

See my reviews of the other books in the series:

Title: Lies (Gone #3)
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 447 pages
Series: Yes, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Threatened is a survival story about a boy named Luc and the Chimpanzees. Luc is living at an orphan shelter where he is barely surviving. Hope is very little until a man called Prof comes along. Luc tries to rob the man, but instead of being mad, the man offers him a job. They venture into a jungle in Africa to study Chimpanzees. Little do they know, their new friends are in grave danger. They are being hunted by leopards and other humans. Luc is not just going to stand there and let his new family be killed. It is time to take action.

With reading Threatened, you probably gain more information about Chimpanzees than you would reading a non-fiction book about them. Luc's experiences and observations are nothing that you can get elsewhere.

Many fiction books about animals are just some story about a pet that ran away, or ones for younger kids. It is rare that I find a book about an animal that is actually for teens. The author loves animals, and most of his books are animal-based, and I don't see that everyday.

You could connect the Chimpanzees, and see a different side of them. Most things you read or see in a movie make them sound scary, but they are just like us in some ways. The book was interesting, and I really liked it. I recommend this book for anyone who likes animals or survival stories.

Title: Threatened
Author: Eliot Schrefer
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 288 pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Miracle Wimp by Erik P. Kraft

I found this funny realistic fiction book while browsing at my public library. Welcome to high school, where nicknames and labels are the main event in everyday life. Tom's last name is Mayo, which makes for the perfect nickname. Tom is a wimp, and he admits it. The "Donkeys" think that Miracle Whip is a type of mayonnaise, and since all you have to do is change two letters to get wimp instead of whip, they called him Miracle Wimp. 

Tom is funny and smart, which can gain him attention, but the wrong kind of attention from the wrong people. In this funny book, Tom has to live through high school with girls, crazy teachers, driving, bullying, and jobs. 

This book is definitely different. First off, all the chapters are only like, half a page long. Also, at the end of each chapter, he draws a picture of the thing he talked about, which can be funny. It is just random information about his life. There is even a chapter just on why he doesn't like to talk on the telephone! 

Miracle Wimp is a funny, relaxing book that is for everyone of all interests, and it has a little bit of everything. If you want to read, but don't know what to read, this is a great book. If you are being forced to read, or don't like reading, this might change your mind, and I know you won't regret reading it. I highly recommend this great book. 

Title: Miracle Wimp
Author: Erik P. Kraft
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 256 pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Visit to the Library of Congress

I got the chance to visit the Library of Congress, the "world's largest repository of knowledge and creativity." I hope you will enjoy these cool facts about the Library of Congress and tips for visiting this amazing DC attraction.

The library is 120 years old, and houses a little over 160 million books. If you put all the books on one bookshelf, it would reach 850 miles! Every time something is copyrighted, the author has to give two copies to the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress cost about 6.2 million dollars to build, which is kind of ironic considering there is a map called the Waldseemüller Map, which cost 10 million dollars for them to get in 2003! 

One thing that makes this different from anywhere else is the architecture. There are pillars all over the place with carved marble, as seen in the picture on the right. Carvings and paintings are all over the place, and they all have different themes.

On the wall leading up to the balcony overlooking the main reading room, there is a mosaic of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of learning and wisdom. Every single little thing in it has some symbolism. (See picture to the left.) Every touch of detail in this building is amazing, and it all is nothing like I have ever seen before.

Thomas Jefferson's original library
One of the exhibits I got to see was a collection of Thomas Jefferson's original library. After the original library the Congress used was burned down by British troops in 1814, he offered to sell his private one to replace what was lost. Thomas Jefferson had 6,487 books, and he sold them for $23,950, which is about $4 per book. Some of the books there included The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England from the year 1720, and The History of Chess from 1764.

There is also an hour long tour with a guide that tells you a lot of really cool information, and I think it is way better than wandering on your own. If you are hungry, there is a cafeteria with a large selection of food at the top floor of the Madison building. You can get there through a tunnel connecting the buildings, and on the way there is also a Subway and a Dunkin' Donuts. If you want to do research at the Library of Congress, you need to be at least 16-years-old.

I really think that going to the Library of Congress is a really cool experience, and I had fun! I definitely recommend that kids, teenagers, and adults visit the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ignite Me (Shatter Me Book 3) by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me is the third book in the Shatter Me series, a young adult dystopian trilogy. Omega Point is destroyed, and Juliette has no idea if her friends are still alive. She discovers that Warner is not who she thought he was, and he saved her life. Juliette trusts him now, and she has to make her friends who survived trust him too, while managing to take down the Reestablishment. She is finally ready to step out of the shadows and take charge.

I think that the other books were better than this one. For one thing, the ending was too rushed. The plot was not as developed, and I thought it lacked some action. I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, Ignite Me is still a good book, it is just not as great as the others.

I loved how Juliette came out of her shell. All this time she was scared and hesitant, and finally decided to lead. All the characters changed, bolder and more eager. Adam changed the most. I could not even tell it was him! I liked the extent of their abilities, and it was great for them to finally become who they were supposed to be. 

Shatter Me is a trilogy, but there are short additions in between them. In between Shatter Me (book 1) and Unravel Me (book 2), there is Destroy Me, which is told from Warner's perspective following his injury. In between Unravel Me and Ignite Me (book 3) is Fracture Me, which is the last moments of the battle told from Adam's perspective. The two individually are only available as an e-book, but there is Unite Me, which is a paperback book of both of them together that was available at my public library. I read both of them, and they are not necessary to understanding the series. The series makes perfect sense without them, and they are just bonus material.

I think the Shatter Me series is a must-read for young adult readers, and I recommend that you read them. It was recently announced that ABC will be making the Shatter Me series into a television show.

See my reviews of the other books in the series:

Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 416 pages
Series: Yes, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, August 10, 2015

Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2) by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me is the second book in this young adult dystopian trilogy series. Whenever Juliette touches someone, she causes them pain. With the help of Kenji and Adam, she is free from the Reestablishment and their plan, and has escaped to Omega Point, the place for people with gifts, like her. Little does she know, Warner is still alive, and wants Juliette now more than ever. She will have to make choices that make the difference between life and death, for her, and her friends.

This book was very similar to the first. In fact, you could just add it on and not even know that they were two separate books! In Unravel Me, Juliette's emotions are more intense, and cause more damage, but it was reasonable considering the turn of events. I have to say, wow! There were some real game-changers in this one, and I actually had to re-read some of it to make sure that it really happened!

When I was reading, it felt like I was in the book, living and seeing everything that was happening. When I was done reading, I wished there were more pages, because it felt like it ended in the middle of this huge game-changer, but I guess that is what happens when you have a really good cliffhanger.

I very much recommend that you read this series, and I am super excited to read the third and final book, Ignite Me

Title: Unravel Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 461 pages
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 7, 2015

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me is the first book in this young adult dystopian trilogy series, and it is one of the best books I have ever read! Juliette has a power that can kill. Whenever she touches someone, she causes them excruciating pain. Juliette has not made contact with anyone in 264 days. The last time she did, she accidentally killed a little boy, and was sent to jail. The world is too busy falling to pieces to worry about some 17-year-old kid with powers. Birds don't fly, clouds are the wrong color, and people are being killed and tortured by the Reestablishment. They promised a better life, and things that were too good to be true, and failed to give it. Instead, they enslaved people into fear and desperation.

The people who are still alive are about to start a war against this. Warner, the leader of the Reestablishment, has his eyes set on Juliette, and wants her as his weapon to stop these, and to create a "better" world. Juliette meets Adam, who went to school with her, and was the only person who looked at her like a human being. He is also immune to her touch, and provides her with a chance she never thought she would get, to be free.

I love Shatter Me! I have never read a book such as intriguing as this! I was constantly wanting more and more, and was sad when it ended. I found Juliette to be scared and confused at first, but over time she came out of her shell and fought. Juliette had trouble hiding her emotions, and whenever something happened, she would be the first to react, to show emotion. She is a character that is well-written and well-developed. I would not change a thing about her.

The plot was put together perfectly, and the order of everything made perfect sense, and really came together. There was so much detail, and I did not wonder about any questions, which is very rare. The writing in Shatter Me is fantastic, and I really loved it.

I highly, highly recommend Shatter Me, and I cannot wait to read the next book!

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 340 pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

How to Be Popular is an enjoyable middle grade realistic fiction book. One day in the sixth grade, Stephanie Landry accidentally spilled a Big Red Super Big Gulp (a type of soda that makes the worst stain in the world) on the most popular girl in school. Whenever someone did something really dumb or embarrassing, they would say, "Way to pull a Steph Landry!"

Five years later, nobody has forgotten, and pretty much the entire town uses the saying, and Stephanie is the complete opposite of popular. She has two friends in the whole world, and they don't care about their social ranking, but Steph does. She is tired of living on the bottom, and wants a chance at the high life. In an old box, she finds a book called How to Be Popular, which she believes is her ticket in. It is easy to get in, but is it easy to stay in?

First off, the cover is amazing. I spent a good three minutes reading all the sayings on it. After each chapter there is a page from the book she found with good advice on it with a clue as to what could be in the next chapter. The advice the book gives is not just for people who want to be popular; it is just good advice that anyone should know. My favorite one is "The best way to win an argument is to avoid one in the first place" from page 227.

I liked the voice and how different the characters are from each other. There is no way to mistake a character for someone else. The descriptions are very detailed, and I could picture the events of the entire book. There are not many books that can do that. 

I agree with what the book told her to do for the most part. I think that it was a little too exaggerated, but maybe it is just how it was in their setting. All the book told her to do is to change her clothes so people would like her, and to be overall nicer. I do NOT agree with the clothes part. For everyone reading this, let me tell you that someone who only likes you based on the clothes you wear or how you look is not your friend. A true friend should like you regardless of your clothes and respect your opinion.

I recommend you read this well-written book, and it is one I will be reading again.

Title: How to Be Popular
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 320 pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Owning It by Donald R. Gallo

If you like short stories, this may be a book for you. This is a collection of 10 short stories by 10 different authors about fictional teens with "disabilities," and them facing everyday life.

I have to say, I really did not like this book. One of my many issues with this book is the lack of similarity. Some stories are super easy, while some are pretty hard. It is hard to categorize a reading level for this because they are all different. Some stories involve things like curse words, drugs and alcohol, while others are complete opposites. All the authors took it in their own way, and I think that there should have been some guidelines.

I also do not like the title. I think using "disabilities" could be offensive to certain people. It is so negative, and I don't think that should be in the title. I think a better word could be challenges, or something more vague and less intense.

Some of the stories I don't think should be short stories. Some of them I think could have said more than they did, and I think a couple of them felt too limited, while others were too long! Overall, there was just too much variety, and it was like random pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that don't go.

I really do not think you should waste your time with this fictional book. However, I do recommend that someone write a book like this about true stories of kids overcoming health challenges.

Title: Owning It: Stories About Teens with Disabilities
Author: Donald R. Gallo
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 224 pages
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Monday, August 3, 2015

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Last year, someone did something to Alexis that she will never forget. A year later, she has not told anyone, and deals with it by crying in her closet and scratching the skin off her neck. When Bodee's mom dies, he moves into Alexis' house. He is the only one who understands her, and they deal with their traumas together. With Alexis' help, Bodee might be ready to talk to the police, and with Bodee's help, Alexis might be able to finally tell what happened to her.

Faking Normal teaches about courage, and about being true to yourself. It has elements of friendship, family, and honesty. The characters deal with a lot of different teen things. 

It was paced perfectly. Everything flowed together and was laid out nicely. The one thing I would change could be the end. All of the sudden at the end of Faking Normal it was all happily-ever-after. It caught me off guard. It was kind of like something you would see on a Disney movie. I do think that it could have been improved, and I think it was too sudden, but considering the ending as a whole, it was okay.

The book did not tell you what happened to Alexis until almost the end, although there were some clues. Throughout the book, I was waiting and waiting for it to tell you what happened. It did keep me going to the end to find out.

I just discovered that there is a digital prequel called The Blue-Haired Boy about Bodee. I definitely recommend this book, but only for older teens given the subject matter.

Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336 pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hunger (Gone Book 2) by Michael Grant

Hunger is the second book in the young adult dystopian series, Gone. Three months ago, everyone 15 or older vanished, leaving the kids on their own. Some developed supernatural abilities that set them apart. Ever since, it is powerful vs powerless. Bullies become power-hungry and fight non-stop to get what they want. Food is running out, and nobody wants to take on the role of getting food. The battles become worse every day. Resources are limited, and everyone is struggling to stay alive. Meanwhile, the students at Coates Academy plot to take over the power plant, which the ultimate source of power.

The title is literal, and also not. True, everyone is hungry, but that is just a small part of it. Hunger is the combination of hunger for power, and also hunger for food. In the beginning, I thought it was just about food, and I did not understand until much later. In this book, it is important to look at it from all angles, and there are a lot of hidden meanings that you have to look hard to find.

There is one thing that did not make sense. Over and over throughout the book, it says it has been three months. When the first book (Gone) ended, it was around October, right after Sam's birthday. In the beginning of this book, it says it is March. October to March is not three months, so I think the author forgot to explain something.

Overall, this was a good book. I liked the concept and the continuation of events. I am excited to read the next book, Lies.

Read my review of the first book in this series, Gone.

Title: Hunger (Gone #2)
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 590 pages
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 4 Stars
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