Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey is a YA realistic fiction book told in journal entries about knowing when to ask for help. In 16-year-old Tish's English class, her teacher (Mrs. Dunphrey) requires the kids to keep a journal. She promises to not read anything marked "Do Not Read." Usually this is the type of thing that Tish would not try or do well on, as a straight C student. But with her current home life, she needs somebody to talk to, even if it is venting in a journal. Her father is abusive and her mother still loves him and neglects her children. The situation takes a turn for the worse when her mother runs off to find Tish's father and leaves her to care for her brother with only the small amount of money Tish makes at her part-time job at the Burger Boy.

This is quite a short book, but holds the worth of 1,000+ pages. This book contains subjects of child abuse, neglect, mental illness, and death. It reminds me of a book I read recently, 15 Days Without a Head, which follows a similar plot line. However, this journal is filled with more emotion and was written in a different direction. While I was reading it, I felt like I could hear Tish talking. There are a lot of ramblings and tangents, which I loved. Don't You Dare Read This is written in a way just like the thoughts in one's head, like Tish projected all her thoughts on a page. I would love to be able to write like Haddix and give as much insight as she did.

On top of that, this book is inspirational. It teaches about asking for help and shows that adults and teachers care about their students. It teaches about strength and the difference between right and wrong. Tish was one of the most round characters I have ever met. (A round character is basically the proper terminology of a complex character.) She started writing in the assigned journal feeling embarrassed and having huge trust issues. But as the book progressed she was so desperate that she is driven to write all the details. She goes from a straight C student to failing and having to pay bills and go job hunting. She even considered dropping out of school to provide support. She was so torn about whether or not to ask for help, and she really wanted to care for her little brother. She was battling so many emotions at once, and Tish should not have to had to go through what she did.

I've always wanted to be a teacher, and this book makes me wonder what I would do in the situation of Mrs. Dunphrey. In fact, it would be really amazing if there was a sequel told from the viewpoint of her. (Unfortunately, this book is from 2004, so my wish comes too late.) This is very different from most of the other works by this author. I read a lot of her books when I was younger, including her Shadow Children series, The Missing series, and Double Identity. Those were all sci-fi books.

I absolutely loved this book, and I am glad I bought it! I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey
Author: Margret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 128 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything is a YA realistic fiction book about what you would do for love, and it is in movie theaters now! Maddy has SCID, meaning that she has no immune system and has no white blood cells. Her overprotective mother has made sure that she has not been out of the house for 17 years. One day, a moving truck arrives next door, and a very cute teenage boy named Olly moves in. One thing leads to another, and they fall in love. Maddy begins to take risks, and gradually begins to realize that not everything is as bad as it seems, and not everyone has been honest with her. 

For a whole book about SCID, they sure got some facts wrong. For one thing, Maddy describes herself as "allergic to the world." Allergies are from an overactive immune system, and Maddy has no immune system. SCID means that the child was born without white blood cells and has little or no immune system. While bacteria and viruses are dangerous to SCID patients, going in your backyard or walking down the street is not. Staying indoors all the time is not recommended.

There are many treatments and surgeries that may let people with SCID live mostly normal lives. Thanks to her overprotective, slightly-insane mother, Maddy knows none of this, which makes no sense since she is always on her computer. If you have a disease, I would think that you want to know more about it and look up about it. Also, everything in her life is described as white. Her whole house is white walls, white food, white clothes. But why? She is not allergic to color. There are some other plot inconsistencies that don't add up, but I'll let you figure out those for yourself. Olly and Maddy were meant for each other. I don't mean it in that sweet, lovey way, but they have a lot of things in common. They are both trapped in situations that they don't like (Olly has a drunken abusive father). Olly was good for Maddy, and showed her what life was all about.

The ending was amazing, and I am very happy about it! While I could predict it, the twist at the end wrapped up the story nicely and was that classic Disney ending, if you know what I mean. This book actually felt kind of like a fairy tale, and that was interesting. The cover is beautiful and looks hand drawn. I loved Maddy's unique personality and character. She was sarcastic, and talked right to you. She does not complain about her life, she just finds ways to keep herself busy and happy. She is a total bookworm and reads constantly. That might be why she is so smart. Sometimes I forgot that she was only 18. 
Everything, Everything is about enjoying the little things in life. While some of those things are annoying to me now after researching and thinking, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, and it really is an interesting concept.
I do recommend this book to YA readers, and I will be watching the movie!

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 310
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Champions: At Fire's End by Charlotte Jain

Champions: At Fire's End was sent to me by the author, and is the first book in a YA Greek mythology series about a modern twist on the famous Olympian and Titan war. For decades, the Olympian Greek Gods have fought the Titans endlessly, causing destruction visible to mortals.
Desperate to just stop the fighting, the Gods come up with the Champion Solution. Four mortals would be given control of one of the elements, and fight the war for them. With control of fire and water, April and Kyle were raised from birth by the immortals, raised for the single purpose of winning the war by defeating the other champions. But the mortal body is not made to handle such power, and they must win before their powers corrupt them to a point of no return.
The imagery in this book was fantastic! I could effectively picture every scene in the book. It is fast paced and full of suspense. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, anxious to find out what happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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