Friday, December 29, 2017

Blackout (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 2) by Al Stone

Blackout is the second book in the YA fantasy T.O.E. trilogy. The author sent me this book to review. Charlie's life is not going well for him. Even though he has the Legion of light and the Talisman to protect him, trying to save mankind is harder than he thought. His visions of the future intrude, and soon he can barely tell the difference between reality and dreams.

He thinks his powers are just activating, but he is really showing signs of a deadly disease. Worse, his nemesis, Gaddis, plans on spreading the disease to all humans and ending mankind. In order to save humanity, Charlie must find the Stone of Raphael, the air diamond. It has healing powers. But Gaddis will stop at nothing to destroy Charlie's family and everyone he loves.

I absolutely loved Blackout, and I'd gladly read it again! Every page grabbed me into their world, and it was really hard to put down! The imagery and suspense in Blackout were even better than the previous book, The Talisman of El

Everybody's emotions were way more intense. Every character is highly stressed throughout the book and leads to lots of revelations about who they truly are. Readers explore Alex's varying emotion and the chaos in her family. Charlie loves Alex, and I loved watching him try to protect her and face his feelings about her. This book goes faster paced, and the battles with demons and evil angels explode into what felt like a live-action movie. 

The mystery aspect was highly internalized for Charlie. Again, he's trying to figure out who he is. He is constantly debating with who he once was as an angel and who he is as human. Not to mention the whole good-vs-evil thing. It is quite overwhelming for him to attempt to control destiny.

I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading the next book, Ground Zero

Read my review of the previous book, The Talisman of El!

Title: Blackout
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 449
Series: Yes, Book 2/3
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Books in 2018

One of the most exciting things on any day of the year is reading a new book! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish blog. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Top Ten New Releases I'm Looking Forward to in 2018.

I really want to read all of these exciting new YA books! The following are in order by the expected release date, with the earliest listed first.

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Release Date: January 2, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
18-year-old twins Adina and Tovah both had bright futures ahead of them. Until one of them tests positive for Huntington's, a rare disease where the nerves in the brain are destroyed, and the emotions come between them.

Release Date: January 30, 2018 (YA historical fiction)
This is the conclusion to the Front Lines trilogy. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy are now on their way to the Omaha beach for D-Day. The goal is to end WWII- take down the Nazis once and for all.

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
Release Date: February 27, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
This book tells the story of Linden, a homeless teen who is secretly living in her high school.

Release Date: March 6, 2018 (YA dystopian) 
Turns out Shatter Me wasn't a trilogy after all! Juliette was named the Supreme Commander of Sector 45, but she can still kill with a touch. Now she must figure out how to utilize her powers without hurting anybody.

Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss
Release Date: June 5, 2018 (YA realistic fiction)
Ten minutes after closing time at Cafe Flores, Scott and Winny become hostages. They must face their past and their fears in order to make it out alive. 

Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky
Release Date: July 19, 2017 (YA realistic fiction)
Theo Mackey lit a match that burned down his home, ending the life of his mother. It was an accident. The rest of that night he can't remember. But when a history project is assigned at his school, the memories from that night flood back, and Theo must face who he truly is and the truth about his family.

Nine by Zach Hines 
Release Date: August 7, 2018 (YA science fiction/dystopian)
In this alternate reality, everyone has nine lives and they want to burn through them. Apparently when one loses a life and rebirths, it is considered a mental and emotional "upgrade."Julian is bewildered at the desire of society to die. When he finally burns a life, he uncovers a brutal conspiracy.

Villain (Gone Book 8) by Michael Grant
Release Date: September 1, 2018 (YA Dystopian)
After reading Monster, the seventh book in the Gone series, I am ecstatic to read Villain. I can't wait nine months to read it!

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
Release Date: September 4, 2018 (YA fantasy)
Nita's mother defeats monsters and sells them on the black market. When her mother brings home a creature that is alive, she decides to follow her heart and help him escape, but Nita ends up being sold in the black market in his place. 

The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
Release Date: September 18, 2018 (YA fantasy)
In Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, every girl possesses a special power. For teens Rome, Lux, and Mercy, these powers are a curse. But while experiencing difficult times, they realize that friendship is the strongest power of all. 

I cannot wait to read these books! I am most eager to read Where I Live and Not Even Bones. What YA new releases are you excited to read next year?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story of the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor by Brendan McDonough with Stephan Talty

After watching the movie Only the Brave, I was eager to read My Lost Brothers, the memoir that inspired the documentary. Brendan McDonough was on lookout duty when the rest of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were burned alive on June 30, 2013. The Yarnell Hill Fire turned 180 degrees, cutting off their escape route. Their emergency fire shelters were no use against 3,000 degrees, and they all died in minutes. This was the greatest loss of firefighters since the 9/11 attack. My Lost Brothers is an inspirational memoir of how Brendan escaped the streets and turned his life around by joining the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and the day he lost the 19 men who saved him.

Before watching Only The Brave, I immediately went on the computer and read all about it, unaware that the crew was going to die. After realizing that Brendan wrote a book, I knew I just had to read it!

The majority of the book was in perfect unison with the documentary. This inspirational story teaches how to find one's purpose in life, and shows how millions of firefighters, police officers, and other first-responders put their lives on the line to save others. My Lost Brothers also teaches strength in the face of tragedy, and displays the importance of acceptance and moving on. This is a great book for someone who has faced death or PTSD, or knows someone who has. I learned a lot about the values of family and determination. I now also know more about firefighters than I ever did, and I have a stronger admiration for them. This book is heartbreaking and dramatic, and honors the men who died saving others.

Even though this book is intended for adults, it is perfectly suitable for teenagers as well. I highly recommend that you read this book and honor the sacrifice of these 19 brave men.

Title: My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor
Author: Brendan McDonough, Stephan Talty
Publisher: Hachette Books
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, December 15, 2017

Monster (Monster Book 1) by Michael Grant

Monster is the amazing first book in the Gone spin-off series, which takes place four years after the previous series. The Gone series is my favorite YA dystopian series, and I first discovered it back in 6th grade at my school library. An alien virus on a meteor attacked a nuclear power plant in Perdido Beach, California. When mixed with Uranium and human DNA, it formed a radioactive monster that called itself the Gaiaphage. It made an energy barrier that made everyone 15 and older disappear. Teens and animals also gained superpowers, and animals mutated. Four years ago, after defeating the Gaiaphage the barrier came down, children were reunited with their parents. The FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) was over.

But four years later, asteroids are hitting Earth again, with a worse alien virus. Monster is the story of the teens that mutate into monsters when ingesting the virus, and the story of the corrupt government trying to control them for experiments. Some are heroes, some are out of control. Instead of just Perdido Beach, this time it's all over the world. The only thing more terrifying than the FAYZ is when history repeats itself.

I absolutely loved this book! Michael Grant does not fail to impress! The book follows the perspectives of multiple characters, with the main characters of Shade and Dekka, a character from Gone. I loved how the book includes elements and characters from previous books. Monster is basically Gone dumped with gasoline, and it was incredible. I absolutely loved the plot! After six books, the author still manages to create new elements and revolutionize the already amazing series! I loved the concept before, and I still do. The dramatic battle and action scenes are even more gripping than before!

I really enjoyed the prospect of having to digest part of the rock to mutate instead of it happening against their will. This book really shows options, and how these teens had a choice to swallow the rock, a choice to change their lives. (Shade ate it with peanut butter.) Some are hungry for power, while some want to be the hero. Others were forced to take it by the corrupt government, like Dekka. The diversity of the characters is stronger than in the previous book because each character clearly has their own motivations.

A little detail that I liked was that Monster came out four years after Light, and the book takes place four years later. I like that it kept the time frame the same, and all the events made sense and aligned with that time jump. I also love that this book is a prime example of one of the reasons why we learn history in school, to prevent history from repeating. It will be very interesting to see how the past impacts their decisions. The last time I read the previous book, Light, was two years ago. I appreciated the balance of Monster talking about background information from previous books while not distracting from the main events.

Michael Grant has confirmed the release of two more books in this series, Villain, coming out September 1, 2018, and Hero in 2019. (Why oh why do I have to wait a whole year?)

I highly recommend that you pick up the Gone series, and/or his other series that I loved, Front LinesRead my review of the last Gone book, Light! My Light review has links to all my Gone reviews. In the Front lines/Soldier Girl series, read my reviews of Front Lines, and Silver Stars! The third book in that series, Purple Hearts, comes out January 30, 2018.

Title: Monster (Monster Book 1)
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 576
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (The Muse Chronicles Book 2) by Sara Crawford

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is the second YA urban fantasy book in the Muse Chronicles. This new book was sent to me by the author. Sylvia Baker used to love music. Listen to it, write it, sing it, and embrace it. She used to believe in Muses, goddesses of the arts that inspire artists such as Sylvia. But after staying in Ridgeview, Sylvia now believes that Muses' don't exist, and that Vincent was just a fragment of her imagination. She has ripped all music from her life, and tries to be a normal teen, with a job, friends, and loving nature. 

But in her dreams, she is forced to question all this, and wonders if maybe, just maybe she really is a half-muse, and maybe Vincent really did exist, as well as the war between traditional Greek Muses and modern Earthly Muses. And maybe Vincent's life is in grave danger, and Sylvia is the only one who can save him.

I loved Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, possibly even more than the first book! The cover art is stunning! I loved how in the last book, we watched Vincent save Sylvia, and now in this book, it's the other way around. Now Sylvia's the hero, a confident side of her that I adored!

It explores in more depth the damages of life without music, and expands upon the therapeutic side of singing and writing. For about the first half of the book, readers see Sylvia lost, sad, and confused, struggling to figure out who she is. Then she evolves into strength and determination, set on bringing back Vincent from an unconscious sleep. Her character development was extraordinary and her internal conflict and pain will strike a pin in the hearts of readers. I also enjoyed how the author incorporated LGBT themes, and also encouraged the acceptance of others.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the third and final book, You and the Night, coming out sometime in 2018!

Watch the YouTube video the author made talking about the book.

Read my review of the first book in this series, We Own the Sky.

Title: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (The Muse Chronicles Book 2)
Author: Sara Crawford
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 283
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Settings I Want to Visit

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 Ten Bookish Settings I'd Love to Visit.

This is a really cool one for me. A good part of a story is having good imagery for the reader to be able to see the setting and put themselves in the situations. However, we don't often stop to think whether we want to be there. Below are the top ten settings I'd want to visit, in order of priority. It just so happens that all of these are from YA and middle grade science fiction and fantasy books. What book setting would you like to visit?

This is sort of a no-brainer for me. Who wouldn't want to live in a virtual world where one can live forever and shape their own reality? 

2. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
This would also apply to the follow up series of Percy Jackson, The Heroes of Olympus, as well as The Trials of Apollo, since they have the same setting. These settings consist of a universe where the Greek Gods exist and have kids known as Half-Bloods (half human, half immortal). I would love to visit Camp Half-Blood, and I have always been fascinated with Greek Mythology.

3. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann 
I must admit that I am doing badly with keeping up with the series, but I still love the setting. Basically, in a land called Artimé, they teach creative people to use their talents for magic. People definitely call me creative, and I would love to learn magic!

4. Backwards Glass by David Lomax
While I did not like the book, I really want to go there so I can have a mirror to travel through time! 

5. Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
This is my favorite series ever, so it stands to reason that I would want to visit there. I want to travel by light leap, be in a glittering castle, see dinosaurs, and meet gnomes and goblins and all the creatures! Actually, living there would be pretty cool, since I would have a special ability.  

6. Consider by Kristy Acevedo
Despite the very stressful circumstance, I would really want to see Earth in 2359! If I was in that circumstance, I would step through the portal. 

7. Gone by Micheal Grant
This is one of those books that I am emphasizing the word "Visit." Look, it'd be cool to visit a place with no adults for a few hours! I would not want to live in this series, but it could be fun for a while. 

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Again, I would not at all want to live there, but I would like to visit from a scientific standpoint of the Earth dying and studying how and why.

I would like to go see the advanced tech and find out how it is humanly possible to deal with being part robot. Seeing robots up close and personal would be pretty cool, too. 

10. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
It would be a nice break to go to a school where love isn't allowed. It would be interesting to see what happens without the distractions of dating and romance in the halls and classrooms.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shoeburn and the Ill-Fitting Necklace (The Ruffet Conundrum Book 1) by Shoeburn Ruffet

Shoeburn and the Ill-Fitting Necklace is a new middle grade mystery book that I received from the author. Shoeburn is your average kid, just trying to get by in life. Occasionally spying on his father at work is the only real interesting thing he has done, until a very special necklace is stolen, and Shoeburn is pinned the thief. He is forced into finding it from Regina Wendle, the owner and most powerful person in their town. She will stop at nothing to get it back in comical ways. Meanwhile, Shoeburn will stop at nothing to find out what is so special about it, and why the necklace is related to his deceased mother. 

This is a quirky, simplistic adventure book that will hook young readers' minds, and at times will make them laugh out loud! Shoeburn is a character thrown into an unconformable situation but handles it nicely, lifting the darkness with entertaining word usage and thought-provoking metaphors that barely remain in context. Despite the unrealistic, hilarious circumstances, Shoeburn still appears realistic and connectable to readers. This book is a fun, leisure read that is sure to pass the time!

This is not an autobiography; the actual author (Chad Durling) is using a pseudonym representing Shoeburn, which is very unique and commendable. This book was originally scheduled to release on October 31st, but is postponed until December 7, 2017, due to adjustments with the cover. The cover was well worth the wait! It is gorgeous, and might be one of my favorites!

I highly recommend that you read this book! I can't wait to eventually read the next book in this series!

Title: Shoeburn and the Ill-Fitting Necklace
Author: Shoeburn Ruffet
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy that was recommended to me by a friend. In a future United States when children hit puberty, they get a strange illness called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN). The kid either dies or gets superpowers. Getting superpowers sounds cool, right? Not when the corrupted government hunts them all down and shoves them in color-coded concentration camps. (Red is most powerful, Blue is least powerful.)

On Ruby's tenth birthday, she awakes with mind control powers (Orange) and accidentally makes her parents forget who she is. She is then shipped off to Camp Thurmond. Terrified, Ruby takes on a disguise of a Green (intelligence) because they are one of the least dangerous. Six years later, she barely escapes after her cover is revealed. She is on the run for East River, the only place relatively safe for kids like her.

Ruby is rebellious and difficult to get a hand on. She is highly protective of her friends and is constantly questioning what is right. At times her choices can be hard to understand, but readers will be hooked on her journey through a twisted world. I liked the premise of different colors for abilities, and shows how prejudiced can be expressed in different ways. Something highly repeated was that because she is an Orange, she will always be alone. A huge part of Ruby's internal struggle was coming to terms with how society views her as a monster, even those with powers of their own.

I really liked how it wasn't Good vs. Evil. There was no good side at all, just the best of the worst. This made every obstacle and decision 10x more thought-provoking and complicated. I can't imagine how confusing and aggravating it would be to be in Ruby's shoes, jumping out of one loophole and into another. The plot can be confusing and contrasting at times and leaves lots of facts up to the reader's inferences. However, I have no doubt that much more will be explained in the second book, Never Fade!

I recommend that you read this book! I cannot wait to read the second book in this trilogy, Never Fade!

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Braken
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 488 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, November 20, 2017

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

Words on Bathroom Walls is a YA realistic fiction novel. Adam has schizophrenia; he sees and hears things that aren't there. Some of the illusions are obvious, but others are believable, making for a very confusing, stressful life. He only finds relief and comfort in cooking. As Adam starts at a new private school, he participates in a trial for a medication that helps him ignore his visions. His world opens up, including love for an intelligent girl named Maya. When the miracle drug fails, Adam is determined to be the guy she thinks he is, fearful that Maya won't love him anymore if she finds out that he has schizophrenia.

The cover is amazing! All that detail must have taken forever! It looks like scribble, but if you look really close you can see that it is drawings and real words. (Spoiler: he does not draw graffiti in the bathroom. The title is deeper than that.) I also love the fact that the book is written through deep and emotional letters. (Not that it matters, but I also love that the author and I share the same first name!)

I also loved Adam's parents. They are defending of Adam and supportive through thick and thin. The only school they could get to accept Adam was a Catholic school, and it is very interesting to see how Adam deals with going to a Catholic school when he doesn't believe in God. Dwight is Adam's first friend at the school, and he is an extremely loyal, well-developed secondary character. It is really awesome that Adam loves to cook; normally books about cooking feature a female protagonist, so it's amazing that this book defies traditional gender roles.

Adam is so sweet! He cooked for Maya's entire family lasagna and brownies to surprise her on a bad day. He is also brutally honest about his condition, and he knows when he is losing control. Words on Bathroom Walls is not a pity party about schizophrenia; the majority of the book is his life at school and his love for cooking. This book is also about how people react to mental illness, and I love how it reveals that many people are afraid of what they don't understand.

Walton is an author to keep an eye on, and I hope she writes more books! This was her debut novel. I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Words on Bathroom Walls
Author: Julia Walton
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nightfall (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 6) by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall is the sixth book in the middle grade fantasy series, Keeper of the Lost Cities. This is my all-time favorite series, and I own all the books! Nightfall was just released last week, and I was eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Even after a devastating loss, Sophie refuses to back down. But her next dilemma hits too close to home. The Neverseen kidnap her human parents, and Sophie's human sister, Amy, barely manages to escape. After hiding Amy safely in the Lost Cities, time is of the essence for Sophie to find her family. The stakes are higher than ever for Sophie to finally unravel the secret behind Nightfall, and destroy it.

After that cliffhanger in Lodestar, waiting an entire year for this book was so hard! Picking up right at the sentence where the last book stopped, Nightfall finally does what I have been waiting six books for! And then swoops in with the biggest, most shocking plot twist of any book I have ever read! Shannon Messenger did a great job keeping me on my toes.

Because I pre-ordered this, I was fortunate enough to get the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition that included an extra story at the end from Keefe's perspective, which was awesome! Nightfall is the most emotional book in the series yet, with the most risk for characters. Sophie's family's lives are at stake, which understandably puts a ton of pressure on Sophie. Nightfall focuses heavily on the characters' relationship with each other and their own internal conflicts, and I enjoyed watching them dig deep into who they truly are. Once again, the cover art blows me away, and it really showcases the true meaning of this book, the friendship and care for one another. 

Nightfall also dives deep into what fans argue about most- the love triangle. (Or wait- is this a square?) Will Sophie end up with Dex, Keefe, or Fitz? That question gets way more complicated and is finally tackled head-on with all three boys in adorable ways. I really want her to end up with Keefe! Go Team Foster-Keefe! Normally I don't care about fandoms or mention them in reviews, but I cannot ignore it in this series. Nobody can possibly read Nightfall or this series without having a strong opinion about who she'll be with, and that's one of the reasons I love this series and Shannon Messenger. She makes her readers care strongly and feel emotionally attached to the characters. 

As one could imagine for my favorite series ever, I hold these books to a higher standard than others. I have to say that compared to the other books in this series, this one has to be 4 stars. I would have wanted more variations in the pacing of the plot and intensity, and in some chapters it felt like the book flat-lined. I also thought that some of the character development seemed far-fetched. Those are usually Messenger's biggest strengths, so I feel like Nightfall wasn't her best work. Don't get me wrong: I still really loved this book!!! It's just that compared to the others in the series, this wasn't the strongest. 

I highly recommend that you start reading the Keeper of the Lost Cities series! I cannot wait for the seventh book in Fall 2018!

Read my reviews of the past five books:

Title: Nightfall 
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 800
Series: Yes, Book 6
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving is a YA realistic fiction book. 11 years ago, six kindergartners disappeared. Suddenly, five of them come back with no memory of the past 11 years. Everyone is dumbfounded. They somewhat remember each other, but nobody remembers the sixth child, Max. He doesn't return, and everyone wants answers, especially his sister, Avery. She doesn't believe that they don't remember, and she wants her brother back- dead or alive.

The premise was very intriguing, and it is quite unusual from all the other amnesia books I've read. The suspense was strong, and I loved the huge time gap. It's captivating to watch the characters struggle to integrate back into society. I can hardly imagine how awful this would be to deal with. Sadly, instances like this really do happen all around the world.

My main concern with The Leaving is that the plot was just too flat. There wasn't a real climax or a big revelation that you would expect from a mystery book. For 432 pages, I was expecting more. This could have been a shorter book for the amount of actually crucial scenes. Its clarity was a problem, and I had to re-read a few chapters here and there to totally make sense of it.

Another flaw is that there are too many characters. Now, with books like Gone by Michael Grant, having six or more main characters was awesome! With this book, they just weren't developed or connectable. In Grant's series, all the characters were essential and irreplaceable. In The Leaving, only a few are main characters, or even good secondary characters. However, while I do have more critiques than loves, The Leaving was not bad, it was just somewhat average.

I do recommend this book, but don't get your hopes too high. Even though I did not love this book, I am interested in reading another book of the author's, The Possible.

Title: The Leaving
Author: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 432
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Monday, November 6, 2017

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless is a YA realistic fiction book about strength in silence. Keeping secrets is not Chelsea's specialty. So at a party on New Year's Eve, she drunkenly shares a secret- one that leads to a classmate getting beat up and put in the hospital. Overwhelmed by her guilt, Chelsea tells the police everything, and two of the most popular boys in school end up in jail.

Now everybody hates her. The popular kids hate her for tattle-tailing, and everybody else hates her for inadvertently putting Noah in the hospital. Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence to stop anybody else from getting hurt. With the majority of the student body bullying and attacking her, staying silent is anything but easy. Shockingly, new friends start to come her way. They decide to forgive her- now she has to forgive herself.

For nearly a year now, I have wanted to read this book, and it was so worth the wait! At first readers see a popular, selfish girl, but not long after, her true colors arise that even she did not know she had. Guilt is the major theme of the book and how it can change someone, but the power of speech is a close second. Through this book, the audience learns that words do not always equal power. In fact, silence shares a special message of confidence, bravery and acceptance that words cannot express. Listening is more important than talking. I learned a lot about the powerful message silence can carry, and how words are special.

I really loved the diner and all of the staff. Chelsea's new friend Asha works at a diner, and Chelsea ends up being their new dishwasher. They provide shelter from all the negativity. I love how washing the dishes is basically a metaphor for her washing away all the blame she puts on herself. The diner becomes the place where she can be herself, where she heals.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Pages: 268 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Traditions of Their Fathers (The Sieger Chronicles Book One) by Cory Ellsworth

Traditions of Their Fathers is the first YA dystopian book in The Sieger Chronicles. This book was sent to me by the author. In the year 2060, the world has been ravaged by a nuclear war. Over 3 and half billion people died. The "President" (Glanville Bose) is really a dictator set on being the President of Earth. Too keep his power, he has created a depressant cocktail (HR23) that is distributed through the air and in drinking water to get rid of crime and calm mental illness, secretly changing people's personalities. Anyone who goes against the government will be eliminated on national television, and the number of people executed or being spied on goes above 400.

15-year-old Ben's grandfather attempted to expose the government's true intentions. He was executed on television, and the government swore to do the same to everyone in his family. Ben and his family has been hiding in a bunker for the past 15 years. Shortly after Ben learns all this information, the government destroys the bunker with a missile, killing his whole family. Ben is now a refugee on the run, sworn on following in his family's footsteps, taking the corrupt government down, no matter the consequences.

The concept of putting drugs in drinking water is very original. In all my years of reading dystopian books or books about freedom fighters, I have never read anything like this, and I am craving more! This is also in a futuristic, realistic setting which actually could happen. I adored the rebellion and the inside look at people who risk their lives fighting for freedom and justice for society. I enjoyed the imagery and the suspense with the dangerous missions.

I also enjoyed Ben's passion and how he handles tragedy. Ben is years beyond his age, and his character development in maturity and bravery is enthralling. He is a gentleman, and always apologizing and thanking everyone. Ben is a good-hearted person that anyone would be lucky to know. Abby goes from being a sweet, innocent girl to confidently leading a rebellion. Watching her evolve through personality and belief changes was beautiful.

My only concern would be that some events seemed too coincidental. Like one random day, Ben's parents decide to suddenly tell him the truth and then the same day the government blows the house up? Other than that, everything else was great!

I cannot wait to read the next book, which should come out in a few weeks, followed by books 3 and 4, each about a month apart!

Title: The Sieger Chronicles Book One: Traditions of Their Fathers
Author: Cody Ellsworth
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 224
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem With Forever is a ya realistic fiction book. Growing up, the home Mallory ("Mouse") Dodge had was filled with abuse. Every day consisted of hiding in her closet, always trying to avoid the wrath of her foster parents. She learned always to stay silent. The one person that made her feel safe was Rider Stark, her foster brother. He would do anything to protect her, regardless of the consequences. Because of Rider, Mallory was able to get a second chance at life. Four years after she escaped the nightmare, she is ready to go to a public high school for senior year. The last thing she expects is to run into Rider on her first day, the first time seeing him in four years.

They realize that the connection they shared in childhood never went away. The more time they spend together, the more Mallory realizes she is not the only one battling scars. As she watches his life spiral out of control, she must find the strength to speak.

This was a gripping tale that was hard for me to put down! Mistakenly, I decided to read it before I went to bed. (Not to mention, this is not exactly a bedtime story.) Halfway through, I had to stop and go to sleep, and I was not happy. Not only did I end up stopping at the worst possible time, but it was really hard to fall asleep because I couldn't stop thinking about the book! Thankfully, the wait was worthwhile because the second half was even better than the first!

Similar to Stronger Than You Know and SpeakThe Problem With Forever is inspiring and heartfelt. It teaches that no matter what, you have the power to change your life. Even in the face of darkness, you can choose to heal and survive. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." This book inspires and empowers others to stand up and change their life. I enjoyed going on the journey and seeing how Mallory and Rider's childhood influenced who they became.

I highly recommend that you read this book! I am excited to read another book of the author's, If There's No Tomorrow, that was published in September 2017.

Title: The Problem With Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 474 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Talisman of El (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 1) by Al Stone

The Talisman of El is the first YA fantasy book in the T.O.E. trilogy. The author sent me this book to review. Charlie Blake has had a tough life. Both his parents have died, and he is starting a new school. He is also not your average 14 year old; he can predict death in his dreams. The night before his father died, he dreamt it. Four years later to that day, he dreams of another death.

Things take an even stranger turn when he meets the boy whose father died in that dream, Derekin. It soon becomes very clear that Charlie does not belong in this world. He belongs in Arcadia, a dimension in the center of the Earth; he belongs with the angels. He embarks to Arcadia in a mission to find out the truth about who he really is.

This fun book combines many myths into one, including werewolves, angels, demons, Greek God/Goddesses, and reincarnation. It uses lots of illusions such as the Garden Of Eden. The author managed to combine all of these and more into one comprehensive, rounded tale. Be sure to suspend your disbelief, though!

The imagery was out of this world, and I loved viewing the surface of the Earth, as well as a dimension within it. All the characters had distinct personalities and were extremely relatable. From the first sentence of the Prologue, I was instantly hooked into Charlie and his epic expedition of self-discovery. I connected with him easily and all of his obstacles seemed very realistic. I cannot wait to watch him grow.

The Talisman of El also contains lessons and themes of what a family is, and shows the importance of friendship. The light, frequent humor added tremendous value, and I laughed out loud quite a few times. The pacing shifted frequently and accurately conveyed the mood of that section. This book is a real conversation-starter, and leaves readers with lots to think about, including interpreting the incredible cover!

I highly recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy, Blackout!

Title: The Talisman of El
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 398 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

The Safest Lies is a YA realistic fiction book about fear and strength. 17 years ago, Kelsey's mother was kidnapped. She barely escaped alive. Her kidnapper also got her pregnant, so she escaped with his baby inside her. 17 years later, she has still never set foot outside the house, afraid that he will come back for her and her daughter, Kelsey. Kelsey's life is ruled by fear, and she knows to not draw attention to herself for her safety. That goes out the window when she has a car accident and drives off a cliff.

Newspapers and reporters cover the story of how a classmate rescued her. A few days later, she realizes her mother was right to worry- she disappears. And soon Kelsey realizes that they are coming for her, too. In order to survive, she has to uncover the truth about who she is, and what really happened to her mother 17 years ago.

After I read it, I read the book again, because it was so good! The Safest Lies may be over 350 pages, but the print is big, and it really was a quick, fascinating read. "On the edge of my seat" doesn't even begin to describe how suspenseful and thrilling this book is. It is very memorable, and raises a lot of questions to think about. Not to mention the romance, which was a nice twist.

I loved how much faith Kelsey had in her mother. Regardless of what police think happened, she is confident that the kidnappers came back for them. She is brave and courageous, and did not want to put her friends in danger. The mystery was captivating and intense. I loved trying to guess the truth. I also liked how there were multiple climaxes. The plot was like one domino falling after another. Just one bad situation after another. With all the dots to connect, I was impressed how they all came together in the end.

The concept was interesting, too. Is fear genetically passed down in DNA or is it only environmental? If you spend all your life around someone who is afraid, do you become afraid of the same thing? The study of how fear evolves was a main point of the book, which provoked my curiosity. I loved getting to know Kelsey, and following her journey of discovery.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: The Safest Lies
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

Children of Eden is a YA dystopian book about the aftermath of a global disaster. When Earth's global warming reached a breaking point, scientists figured out a way to make the atmosphere cooler. The problem was when the artificial atmosphere clashed with the sun's radiation, it released a cascade effect that wiped out almost all plants and animals. Luckily, Aaron Al-Baz designed EcoPanopticon, a computer program that hacked all technology and redirected it to healing Earth. The rest of humanity has to wait thousands of years in Eden before the robots can fix everything.

With limited resources, families are only allowed to have one child. Rowan is an illegal second child; her mother had twins. For sixteen years, she has been hidden away. She is more desperate than ever to see more of Eden, and recklessly escapes, resulting in a tragedy that puts her on the run.

I found the book tough to get into, mostly due to the lack of imagery and development. Instead of show and tell, Children of Eden was almost all tell and no show. Reading the book, I was hit with a ton of information at once. Reading in-between the lines was a lost cause, and all the holes in the plot did not help. The society is so complicated that a majority of the book is just explaining, which made it feel less eventful. I feel like the book was going in a lot of different directions. I think that the author tried to cram in too many ideas at once to wrap my head around. For this book to really be developed with all of his ideas, Children of Eden would have to be way longer.

The characters' development felt forced. They were whatever they needed to be in the moment. Instead of letting Rowan grow, she was molded into something different almost every chapter, which makes her feel dull and unrealistic to the readers. It also really bugged me that they made up new curse words, such as "bik." No other words changed, so it feels strange.

While there were some nice twists here and there, there is nothing super special or unique about this book. I really wanted to love it, but it was the nitty-gritty details that really jumped out. Because I looked at this from a reviewing standpoint, I found more things wrong than other people might.

However, I enjoyed the ending! I think the ending was the best part. Overall, Children of Eden got better the more I read it. Even though I had a lot of problems with Children of Eden, I did not hate it. I do want to know what happens next, so I will read the second book, Elites of Eden, which came out on October 3, 2017. (Besides, I believe in second chances.)

I do not recommend this book.

Title: Children of Eden
Author: Joey Graceffa
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Pages: 278
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 2 Stars

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hands of Ruin (Book 1) by Dylan Lee Peters

The Hands of Ruin is a YA scifi/fantasy book sent to me by the author. In a futuristic society, social classes are divided into different counties, all separated by huge walls. After Zigmund and Zerah's parents died, they are sent to live in a rich community with their uncle Rainart. Quickly the twins realize that their uncle is not what they thought. He possesses a type of dust called zulis that can give people magical powers from a planet called Ferren.

While Zerah learns to use her newfound powers, Ferren is facing a major and unusual threat- dark butterflies that completely destroy with a touch. Chapters alternate between the stories of Ferren and Earth.

The two stories don't overlap until the end but are equally fascinating. The imagery was out of this world and crystal-clear. Both worlds and their characters were thoroughly developed and diverse. The background knowledge was immense, leading to complete understanding of the plot and setting. The premise of the butterflies was unique, and I have never read anything like it! The tone changes frequently and keeps the reader's emotions on edge. The book ended with a major cliffhanger that topples both worlds, and I was sad when it ended!

I highly recommend that you read this book! I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book, The Hands of Ruin (Book 2)

Title: The Hands of Ruin Book 1
Author: Dylan Lee Peters
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 171 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, September 29, 2017

Beast by Brie Spangler

Beast is a YA modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Dylan does not look like his age. Instead of fifteen, he looks fifty being nearly seven feet and hairy like an animal. That's where his nickname came from- Beast. He prefers to hide under his long hair and baseball cap. The bullying worsens when the school bans both. After shaving his head, Dylan goes up on his roof to relax, only to fall off and break his leg. Thus, the hospital makes it mandatory to attend group therapy, even though he swears it was an accident. 

At the therapy, he meets Jamie, a beautiful girl. Soon, their relationship evolves to become more than just friends. However, that first day in group, he was not listening when Jamie was talking about being transgender. That should not change anything, right? Society says otherwise, and Dylan is so blinded in self pity that he might just lose the only girl he has ever loved.

Beast was meant to be a contemporary version of Beauty and the Beast, but it should not be defined by that movie. It is much more. The movie was inspirational enough already, but Beast takes the powerful message to a whole new level!

This book clearly showcases society's biggest downfall, and forces readers to think about their own actions. People say that what you look like does not matter, but out in the "real world," it does. Society holds standards and expectations that are nearly impossible to hold up to. Discrimination is real, and those who read this book are forced to admit it. After reading this book, even I will look at certain people differently. Beast challenges the audience to look at the hard truths about themselves. It forcefully conveys that everybody is equal, no matter what they look like, especially what gender they are.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Beast
Author: Brie Spangler
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages:336 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not is a YA realistic fiction book that I found at my school library. Aaron has trouble finding happiness in life since his father died, and his family lives in extreme poverty. His friends can help him with temporary relief, but the smile-shaped scar on his wrist is a constant reminder of what he would rather forget.

Things take a confusing turn when a new kid, Thomas, shows up. He helps Aaron feel happier and start to enjoy life again. Unfortunately, the Bronx is a dangerous place to be gay. Luckily, the Leteo Institute specializes in memory altering, and has a procedure that can (literally) straighten somebody out. When a mistake leaves him with more pain than he ever imagined, he turns to Leteo to alter his memories and change who he is.

The setting of this book is amazing. Readers get a very accurate look at what life on the streets is like, and how it shapes you. More Happy Than Not openly tackles prejudice and shows ugly truths that many wouldn't dare to admit. It goes above and beyond to represent diversity and honesty. Despite the sadness, heartbreak, and negativity, hope shines through all of it. This is a pure example of how pain can turn into strength.

More Happy Than Not teaches the importance of living life to the fullest, and to always look for the positive in life. "Every cloud has a silver limning" is the heart of the book. The ending is nothing like I have ever read, and it will leave readers speechles. I can't say that I liked the outcome, but the lesson definitely showed through. Anyone who feels the need to change who they are to fit in or to be accepted must read this.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 304 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read in Fall 2017

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 On My Fall TBR List. This is really hard because I have 234 books in my TBR list on Goodreads.

Below are the YA books I really want to read. This list contains several genres, including YA realistic fiction and sci-fi. What books do you want to read this fall?

1. The Girl Who Cried Wolf by Bella James
Anna hates school so much that she constantly makes excuses to call in sick. The last thing she expects is to find out is that she actually is sick. In between life and death with cancer, she learns what life is actually about. 
2. The Taking by Kimberly Derting
One day, Kyra wakes up in a dumpster to find that five years have gone by- and she can't remember a thing. She discovers that maybe her father was right when he blamed her "disappearance" on aliens...

3. The Vault Of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
At the Forge School for the Arts, every moment of the students lives are filmed on television. The student's schedule includes 12 hours of sleep. When Rosie skips her sleeping pill one night, she discovers that her dreams might not be hers. 

4. Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Taylor Truwell tries to run away. Her plan backfires when police catch her with a stolen car. Instead of facing a court trial for resisting arrest and theft, her father convinces the judge to an alternative- treatment in a psychiatric correctional facility. 

5. Glitch by Heather Anastasiu 
In The Community, there is no more pain or violence. Computer chips have gotten rid of destructive emotions and implanted calm thoughts. Zoe glitches and starts to have her own thoughts and emotions. With the glitches come telekinetic powers she cannot control.

6. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Adelina Amouteru survived the blood fever, a disease that took over the world. Most of the infected died, and the ones who survived were left with strange markings. Some are rumored to possess powers, and Adelina has the most powerful abilities their world has ever seen.

7. Being by Kevin Brooks
It was supposed to just be a check-up, but what the doctors found shouldn't be possible. Inside of Robert Smith is moving metal parts- Robert is not human. He manages to escape, and embarks on a journey to find out what he is.

8. My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith
In Britain 1941, the beginning of World War II, Peter doesn't think about the war too much; after all, it is being fought far away from him. It suddenly comes too close to home when a German jet crashes with a young man inside seriously wounded. Even though he is technically the enemy, helping him seems like the right thing to do. 

9. Yellow by Megan Jacobson
Fourteen-year-old Kirra's life is a disaster, and to make matters worse, she talks to a ghost in a broken phone booth. Desperately, she makes a deal. She'll prove who killed him 20 years ago if he makes her popular, gets her parents back together, and doesn't haunt her.

10. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shawn David Hutchinson
Andrew's parents and sister died in a car crash. He was the only survivor. Now he hangs out at the hospital and sleeps in a closet. The sun starts to shine when he meets Rusty, a patient in the ER. Unfortunately, he learns that his life is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

Send Me a Sign is an emotional YA realistic fiction book about life with cancer. Mia is a superstitious person, and she looks for signs everywhere. A sign that she never thought she would have to look for is if she survives leukemia. Her friends would never understand, and Mia does not want to be pitied. So she keeps her diagnosis a secret and attempts to still be a normal teen, AP classes and all. All signs with treatment show a high chance of survival, but her social and family life has a high likelihood of crumbling. She used to have everything- friends, cheerleading, a boyfriend, and a supportive family.

But as her condition worsens and becomes harder to hide, she slowly loses everything that has ever made her happy. Mia starts to wonder if a life like this is worth living at all, and begins to give up. Just when it feels like she has nothing left to hold on to, she realizes that what she wanted was right in front of her the whole time.

This is a shockingly realistic, emotional view of what having cancer is like. Mia's pain and mental agony screamed out at me. I wish I was in the book to comfort her, or at least be her friend. Despite the strength she showed on the outside, she was this little girl scared and alone. She made some pretty awful decisions that come back to haunt her, and teach a valuable lesson in friendship.

While some readers will think that Mia is inexcusably self-absorbed, I will say that once again, we see that nobody is perfect. Mia clearly showcases humanity's imperfections. Out of all the books I have read, Send Me A Sign has some of the rawest emotions. Regardless of cancer, everybody will be hit hard with this book and question their own values and friendships.

I highly recommend Send Me A Sign, and I would gladly read this book again!

Title: Send Me a Sign
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 384 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Loved the First Year I Started My Blog

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 a throwback freebie, and this was one of the options.

I started my blog back in June 2015. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish in only two years. Below are some of my favorite books I read in 2015, with number one being my favorite.

This is easily my favorite book of all time, and I love everything about the series. I own all the books and have read them more times than I can possibly count! 

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

3. 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 examples of how to handle bullying.

4. 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. Her optimism and bravery made up for the fact that the series is a little sadder than what I normally read.

5. Nothing But the Truth by Avi
This was one of the options on my 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 of all ages!
This is the first book I reviewed on this blog! The Running Dream calls attention to a lot of real life problems and concerns that most of us fail to notice, even when they are right before our eyes. The book showcases struggles that everyone can relate to. It is powerful and inspiring!

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. This made it easier to believe and allowed the story to really come alive. I own the trilogy, and re-read them all the time!

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The prospect of not being able to ever touch anyone is heartbreaking, and Juliet is incredible! Throughout the series, her character development exceeds expectations. The imagery is crystal clear, and the environmental catastrophe was well illustrated.

9. Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn
This is a great inspirational read for younger students adjusting to middle school! Where I Belong teaches lessons in friendships and acceptance. It also shows the power of imagination and positivity!

10. Frozen In Time by Ali Sparkes
Frozen In Time is a funny science fiction read for all ages!  Polly and Freddy's reactions to present day things are hysterical. Freddy's solutions to problems are quite odd, but they work, and they're very funny! The general idea of the book is a great idea, and fun to imagine. 

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