Monday, July 31, 2017

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

At the Edge of the Universe is a YA science fiction book about moving on and letting go. Tommy and Ozzie have been dating since the eighth grade. One day, he was there. The next day, Tommy ceased to exist. Or more accurately, nobody can remember him but Ozzie. Not only is finding Tommy a huge priority, but Ozzie also has to deal with going to college, his parents' divorce, his brother going to the military, and his best friend becoming distant. He also has to deal with his developing feelings for his lab partner Calvin and a troubling secret. Furthermore, Ozzie suspects that the universe is shrinking. As more and more people begin to disappear, Ozzie must come to terms with a part of his past before his whole universe is (literally) gone.

Ozzie is very loyal and determined. He would do anything for Tommy to come back, and I loved that he persisted despite people saying that he is crazy. He also is loyal to his friends and family. Even after falling in love with Calvin, he wants to be respectful to Tommy. Ozzie had a lot of pressure on his shoulders. For one thing, his home life is not so great, and his boyfriend is gone. His "new boyfriend" is hurting because of a terrible secret, but he cannot tell anyone.

Ozzie tells a lot of crazy analogies and uses a ton of figurative language to express his thoughts. He is incredibly smart, and uses weird facts to convey ideas. He likes to go a little off topic in his thoughts, but it is amusing. There are a lot of diversity and cultures in the book, and a lot about LGBT.

The idea of the universe shrinking was a nice twist. I thought it was hilarious when states and countries fell off the map. I am not crazy about the ending because it does not exactly make sense, but wraps up the story nicely.

Warning: this book contains some mature scenes and subjects. This book is recommended for older YA readers.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: At the Edge of the Universe
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 496
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 28, 2017

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

I highly recommend that you read this book!

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fate of Flames (Effigies Book 1) by Sarah Raughley

Fate of Flames is the first book in the YA fantasy series, Effigies. A couple of years ago, phantom monsters appeared and started to terrorize Earth. At the same time, four girls were gifted with control of one of the elements, created to be heroes. They are called Effigies. When one dies, another girl gains the power to fill her shoes. Recently, with technology in place to stop the attacks, the four girls just became celebrities and stopped defending the people.

When the technology that has held the monsters back fails, they must come together and fight again. Maia is a quiet girl with not many friends. She admires the Effigies from a far distance, until the Fire Effigy mysteriously dies. Maia discovers that she is replacing Natalya with control over fire. Now she is tossed into battle with Bella, Chae Rin, and Lake, who hate each other. Maia must learn to control her new powers and unite the team.

The concept is slightly similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender in the sense of power being connected to the past. Maia also gains the memories of her former Fire Effigies and can call on them for help, just like Aang. Internal conflict is huge in this book. Not only does Maia have to master new powers, she has to learn who she is. Maia is amazing. She always wants to do the right thing and is inspirational. It was cool to watch her go from being super shy to standing up and fighting like a warrior. Fate of Flames has a ton of action-packed battle scenes that I really enjoyed!

The cover is also super neat and the detail is outstanding! The setting was really cool because it kept changing, but yet still kept incredible imagery for every single city.  I also really liked that it's all girls fighting for once. Go girl power!

Fate of Flames is highly intriguing and kept me on edge until the end! One thing I disliked was the romance, which was confusing. I also did not like that there was practically no background knowledge provided, and there was a lack of clarity. However, I did still enjoy the book, and really want to read the next one!

The next book, Siege of Shadows, comes out on November 21, 2017! I cannot wait to read it!

Title: Fate of Flames
Author: Sarah Raughley
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 14, 2017

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

The one wish seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants right now is her own life. A life where she does not have to be the parent to her irresponsible, unpredictable mother and make sure all the bills are paid. Or, at least have a home for more than a couple months at a time. Now she must struggle to live in a house with her mom's new boyfriend, whose son is Grace's ex-boyfriend, Jay. Soon she meets Eva, a girl whose mother passed away. They become fast friends, and when Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, her world opens up. With Eva's help, Grace begins to see that maybe wishes can come true, and she might have a chance with happiness.

Grace is an amazing character and deals with almost every problem imaginable. I loved her sarcasm and attitude towards her dilemmas. Grief was a big element in this book, and it was captured so clearly that I teared up a few times. Eva is really sweet and lighthearted. Eva and Grace's romance was beautiful and magical, but yet showed the true complexity of all relationships.

Hope was the main feeling that powered these girls. Having hope for something better pushed Grace forward. I also really liked Luca. He was the clown of the group, and he was always there for Grace when she needed a laugh. It is rare to have guy/girl friendships in books without being romantic, so that was great. The love relationship was amazing, and I loved watching Grace become more confident in herself with her feelings.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: How to Make a Wish
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, July 10, 2017

Delirium By Lauren Oliver

Delirium is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy that I found at my school library. 64 years ago in a futuristic United States, love was declared a contagious disease. Love, or Amor Deliria Nervosa, is the cause of all evil. Love affects the mind so that the person cannot think clearly or make rational decisions. Essentially, love makes you crazy. Without love there is no war, no suffering, no pain. A life without love is safe and happiness. The government forces everyone when they turn 18 to have a procedure done that makes it impossible for them to love anybody. Shortly after, they are matched with somebody (of their limited choice) and married. Still with 95 days left until Lena's treatment, she is excited. She watched love destroy her mother and won't let it happen to her. That is, until she meets Alex and does the unthinkable- she falls in love.

This was a really interesting concept, especially since I don't normally read romance books. In fact, I share some of the viewpoints of the society in the book. Honestly, I did agree that love corrupts the mind and makes you do crazy things, but Delirium changed my opinion. This book really made me think. I used to think sometimes that life would be better off if teens weren't so distracted by love these days, but I never stopped to fully think it through, and I realize now that my thinking is wrong. This book is inspirational in the sense that it changed my mind. Thank you to Lauren Oliver for showing me this.

This book was written differently than what I expected it to be. For the dystopian sense, I was thinking it would go a bit faster. There were times in the book when I was bored, and there were times in the book that it was amazing. There were some holes in the plot development. Part of it might just be because romance books are slower and less action. 

Delirium is not just about love, it's also about rebellion against society. Similar to books like The Program and Flawed, the society aspect was what I liked most. Lena was a very likable character, and she was brave and strong. Unlike other books, she started out believing in the disease at first. Then the development started to kick in, and readers watched as she realized that everybody was wrong. Alex was the dream boyfriend that any girl would want. Forbidden love was huge in this book, and the secret relationship was intriguing and suspenseful. The allusions to Romeo and Juliet were significant and true. This book has similar components to Shakespeare's play.

I recommend you read this book! I cannot wait to read the second book, Pandemonium. There is an ebook number 1.1 in the series told in the viewpoint of Alex and what happens to him after this. The famous Book Of Shhh that was quoted in nearly every chapter in Delirium is also out as an ebook only. 

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 441
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance (Champions Book 3) by Charlotte Jain

Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance was sent to me by the author, and is the third book in the YA Greek mythology Champions series. Following the last major conflict between Kyle and April, Caria is in grave danger. The Sky Realm is deteriorating, causing darkness and detrimental lightning storms. The moon even disappeared, and several Gods are losing their immortality.

While Noah works with Apollo to try to stabilize the sky, Kyle and April head on separate adventures to find special objects in the Underworld that will turn the tides in their war.

This book's main focus is adventure. Basically, it is as if they said, "Let's put a pause on all this fighting, and go into the Underworld and find magical objects!" I am not saying that in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed the adventure, and it showed a different side of the author's writing. Imagine The Hobbit infused with Greek mythology. This was very unique.

The whole central being of this book was darkness. The sky was all dark and the moon vanished, and the Underworld is all dark and death. Even some characters, especially Kyle, were depressed! (The cover is dark, too.) I thought it was pretty cool, and the darkness was very symbolic of the dark, tense time in the war.

Kyle was really struggling. His girlfriend's mind is breaking, his dad is locked away in the Underworld. He had a lot on his plate, especially given Caria's destruction. I loved his unwillingness to quit. I also liked that the Gods were more involved. Readers got to see drama in the immortals' life, and it showed that being a God and being immortal is not easy.

The only thing I did not like is that there was too much explaining. The majority of the dialogue was really Apollo or Ares explaining historical events or Gods in mythology, which felt a little too educational.

I cannot wait to read Champions: Into Shattered Ice, which comes out in November 2017!

Read my review of the first book in this series, Champions: At Fire's End.

Read my review of the second book in this series, Champions: Amid Ember's Betrayal

Title: Champions: Under Fractured Brilliance
Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: Charlotte Jain
Pages: 250 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars
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