Thursday, August 31, 2017

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth is a middle grade realistic fiction book. Ry is supposed to take a train to summer camp while his parents go to the Caribbean. During the trip, the train stops for repairs. Ry gets off the train for phone reception, and the train takes off when it wasn't supposed to for another 40 minutes. Now Ry is all alone in the middle of nowhere in Montana, with no way to get in contact with anyone. He walks a couple miles to a small town, where he meets Dell, a man who loves adventure and spontaneous thinking. Dell decides to go across the country with Ry to find his way back to his parents and missing grandfather. They meet many people along the way, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

The story really doesn't make much sense. Common sense fell off the face of the Earth. Seriously, trust a random stranger who wants to go across the world? Drive with no map and no idea where you're going. Fly an airplane that's definitely built wrong and falling apart. Sail across the ocean just to go find your parents! Call the police, for heaven's sakes! I get it, they're in the middle of nowhere, but you don't just place your life in the hands of a random stranger. With all the people they stopped to talk to, surely one of them would have the common sense to get in touch with the FBI or something.

Aside from the suspending-your-disbelief thing, the book was pretty enjoyable. It is a relaxing book and good for leisure reading. I also really liked that every 5-10 pages or so, there is an illustration or a cartoon. There is even some images about what the dogs are doing, which was strange, but actually relevant. It also has a ton of figurative language. Practically half the book is all imagery. It was cool to visualize a town and lifestyle in the middle of nowhere. I felt like I was watching TV in some parts of As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth.

It's a very weird story, but it was still fun to read. I know a lot of people would really love this book, but I just couldn't get over the missing puzzle pieces and how unrealistic the book is. I recommend that people really good at suspending their disbelief read this book!

Title: As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
Author: Lynne Rae Perkins
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 368
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West

The Secrets of Islayne is a unique mix of YA fantasy and mystery, which was sent to me by the author. The island of Islayne gives some of its residents the special ability to see memories, and help people remember them clearer. These people are called Luminators. 16-year-old Ronan desperately seeks to become one and join their ranks.

Just when it looks like he has the world on his fingertips, Ronan and his friends discover a shocking secret that would turn the island upside down. Ronan, Cassie, and Eli try to understand what is happening, and question everything they thought they knew about their society. Little do they know, their hunt for answers is sending them in deep waters.

I really enjoyed this book! I loved how much detail the author put into this world. I felt like this island really was real. The "power" in this book is sharpening memories and seeing them more clearly. None of the scenes in The Secrets of Islayne need to be brightened; I could see straight into the book like a piece of glass.

There were six different points of view in this story. I think that this was a very wise choice and made their world more realistic. I especially loved the few sections towards the end from the "enemy." Regardless of how the characters see the actions, readers can make their own judgments. I personally love it in books when the antagonist shares their thoughts, providing a little window into another world.

I loved that I could not guess at least half of what was going to happen. Every turn was important and surprising. The only thing that I did not enjoy so much was the romance. It felt like Disney, if you know what I mean. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my opinion it felt forced. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading this.

I highly recommend that everyone read The Secrets of Islayne!

Title: The Secrets of Islayne
Author:  Kari Lynn West
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 240 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy that I bought. In the future United States, there was another war. Most cities are down to rubble, and almost everybody lives off of food stamps. This war also destroyed all American values. Bill of Rights? Gone. Doesn't exist. Instead, the president and government created the Moral Statutes, all the things defining the perfect citizen, including sticking with traditional gender roles and national religion. People who get arrested don't come back. No more trials or fines- either end up in jail for life or executed.

Ember Miller clearly remembers what life used to be when the US was a democracy. But she has learned to hide and blend in. That is, until now. The latest changes to the Statutes include that you cannot have a "valid" kid without being married. Ember does not have a dad. This violates the 5th article, causing the Moral Militia to arrest her mother and take Ember to a rehabilitation facility where she is government property. To make things worse, the officer that arrests Ember's mother is Chase, her ex-boyfriend.

This book is a real dystopian. Everything caused by humans, no aliens or natural disasters. Instead we have brutality, lack of compassion, and rights and liberties out the window like they never existed. The thing readers don't know is why the world is the way it is. Yes, there was a war three years ago. But we don't know what country attacked us, or if we attacked them, or if it was a civil war. That is really the only thing that bothers me.

The cover is amazing! The immense detail of the buildings is extraordinary. The cover really drew me in, more than anything. Another thing I really liked was Ember's personality and values. She is definitely not perfect, and she showcases what it means to be human. She is also a big rebel. She probably sets the record in their world for the most laws broken. She is so determined, and she faces internal conflict with not knowing what to do or how to fight, she just knows she wants to protect Chase and rescue her mother. She grows in confidence throughout the story.

This book is an epic journey of taking Ember to safety. It was also sweet. Chase and Ember were together before Chase was pulled away into war. Along their journey, they discover each other again and realize that they never actually broke up and that they are still in love. This would be an amazing movie.

I recommend that you read this book, and I am glad that I bought it! I cannot wait to read the next book, Breaking Point, which I plan to buy as well!

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 384
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, August 21, 2017

Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

If you are looking for a fascinating YA realistic fiction book about revenge, read Premeditated. A week ago, Dinah's cousin Claire slit her wrists and ended up in a coma. Then Dinah read Claire's diary and found out why. Then she made a plan: out with the piercings, bleach her black hair, and put on a school uniform. She'll go to Claire's private school and find the boy who destroyed her cousin. Vengeance will be Dinah's.

I was ecstatic to read this! As we often find out, (in books and in life) revenge is not the answer and it often lands people in a larger mess than the reason behind it. The concept of revenge isn't the best idea in real life, but it is an amazing plot line for a book! Premeditated is not super dark and depressing. It actually is quite funny at times.

Dinah sacrificed her whole life to get back at the person who trashed her cousin and made her not want to live. It is sweet how much she cares about her cousin.

None of the characters are as they seem. Every character in the book has some sort of problem and secret, and it was fun guessing them all. They were not black or white, every character was different and like a lasagna. As you read Premeditated, you were eating different layers (personalities, behaviors, etc) and learning new things about who they are. Dinah had a lot of mixed emotions in the book, including anger, grief, confusion, sadness, and helplessness.

Wow, that twist at the end! I was quite happy about how it turned out. There is no need for a sequel; this story was wrapped up in its blanket and tucked into bed. But just because it is in bed, doesn't mean I can't read it again! I'll wake it up from time to time and read it again.
I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Premeditated
Author: Josin L. McQuein
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 18, 2017

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Underwater is a powerful, moving story about forgiveness and moving on. On October 15th, Morgan did a nice thing, and helped someone out. Unknowingly, the kind gesture made her indirectly responsible for a horrible, tragic shooting at her school. Logic tells her that she is not responsible for another person's actions, but her heart doesn't say the same. Now she is sick with guilt and panic attacks caused by PTSD and refuses to move outside her apartment. She also has to deal with scars from her father and divorce. Then one day, she gets new neighbors. She meets a boy named Evan, and with his help, she starts to realize that in order to come out of the water, and step outside, she has to forgive herself.

The author takes us into what happens after tragedy, and its lifelong impact. It opens a door for people to see what having a mental illness is like, and this book could help people become more understanding of someone's pain. Underwater also shows how emotional scars are often much more painful than physical ones. The tone of this book shifts a lot from so sad I want to cry to extreme happiness and humor! Basically, living life to the fullest is the message in this story, and it was well said.

This book also gives really good advice and coping strategies for people with panic attacks and anxiety. Morgan has posted on the walls of her apartment things to say to herself: 1. Breathe 2. You are okay. 3. You’re not dying. Regardless of any circumstance, that is really good advice, especially thought number 3. (Here's a life lesson from Underwater: Never tell somebody at a school that you are dying unless you actually are!)

The romance was outstanding, and I loved it. They had some rocky times like any relationship, and it was cool to see them progress, especially with Morgan thinking that she is a burden to him. Evan can be really sweet or really mean, and I personally thought that it made him more lifelike.

I highly recommend this book, especially for anyone suffering from trauma or mental illness.

Title: Underwater
Author: Marisa Reichardt
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops by Justin Lantier-Novelli

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is a new middle grade realistic fiction book that I received from the author. Coleman is the least popular kid in school, and the target of everyone's jokes. He's that overweight kid that raises his hand to every question and the kid that you catch picking his nose in the cafeteria. His last name is Stoops; the kids call him Stoopy. He hates that even more than how he hates himself for always finding a way to embarrass himself and play into their jokes.

So the last thing he would ever expect is for Trey, the most popular kid in school and the most mean to him, to want to be friends. He also claims that he wants to set him up with his cousin, Faith. Ignoring his gut feeling, Coleman agrees to do as Trey says, but he can't get rid of his suspicion that Trey could be tricking him.

The point of view was very unique and refreshing. Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is told by a bystander, watching the events unfold. I like this because it eliminates all bias and shows an accurate representation of how his peers view him. This is not very popular, and I enjoyed something different.

Coleman is a very determined character, and he always does the right thing. Sure, he's gullible, but he doesn't let it bother him too much. Yes, he hates himself for jumping right into their traps, but he doesn't let that get him down. Instead he ignores them and still remains himself. For a sixth grader, he has the maturity of an adult. This felt strange at times, due to the fact that he is only 12.

The book is also an accurate representation of sixth grade. This is a great book for all middle school students and is very relatable! It shows the adjustment to middle school and demonstrates social classes very accurately. I remember in sixth grade having to get used to the idea of "popular" kids and cliques. This is a must-read for incoming sixth graders!

Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops is scheduled to be release on August 29, 2017. I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Don't Mess With Coleman Stoops
Author: Justin Lantier-Novelli
Publisher: Justin Lantier-Novelli
Pages: 113 pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1) by David Meredith

Aaru is a YA sci-fi fantasy book sent to me by the author. Rose used to be a normal teenager. That is until Leukemia got the better of her. Now she is skin and bones, too weak to even move. All seems lost until a strange man approaches Rose and puts a machine on her head, claiming that he can make her live forever. Surprisingly, he was telling the truth. After Rose died, her brain, including her personality, was uploaded into a virtual world called Aaru.

In Aaru, members have the power to shape their own reality and live without pain forever. Of course it is almost impossible to believe that technology can beat death, so the company makes Rose's sister, Koren, their spokesperson to verify that this is real. Shortly after, readers are introduced to "Magic Man," a stalker and hacker who takes great interest in Aaru. As both the sisters' worlds become in great danger, they discover that the bond between them is the most powerful of all.

All the emotions were raw and honest. Anybody can connect to the family's situation and their emotions. The anger and angst was so powerful that I feel like it punched my heart. Regardless of the specific situation, the feelings explored are universal. People who have a sibling would especially understand and connect. The book also explored the negative, exhaustive side of fame and fortune. This is eye-opening, revealing a side of a story not told very often.

Aaru is very thought-provoking. Life after death is a huge "what if," and this book really explores a new type of question, and not religious. After I was approached by the author, I was immediately interested. This is a type of story that is completely unique and lovable. I also liked that even though the book was suspenseful and intense at times, there were a lot of light-hearted, fun moments. This book is a mixture of love, sacrifice, humor, and hope.

The character known as "Magic Man" plays a huge role, and I really enjoyed guessing who he was and what he wanted. He is the antagonist in the story and executed that role beautifully. I especially enjoyed that it was written in third person because this allowed the author to write a lot of different perspectives.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it. I would gladly read it again! I am excited for more to come in the Aaru Cycle series!

Title: Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1)
Author: David Meredith
Publisher: Bowker
Pages: 305
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

We Own the Sky (The Muse Chronicles Book 1) by Sara Crawford

We Own the Sky is the first book in a YA urban fantasy series that was sent to me by the author. Sylvia can see the "flickering people." Nobody else can see them but her. She sees them around other people, too, especially artists and musicians. During chorus class, she sees another one. Sylvia later learns that his name is Vincent, and he is a Muse. Muses are minor goddesses of the arts and literature. There were nine original Muses, but when special artists and musicians die, they can choose to go to heaven or be a Muse. They inspire creation, and can choose somebody to inspire. With Vincent's help, she is able to write music and sing better than she ever could.

However, soon the original nine Greek Muses wake up to a world of the internet where anyone can be an artist. This is a problem, especially to Clio, who wants to go back to old traditions. As a war ensues, Sylvia learns the real reason why she can see all Muses, and discovers that this conflict puts her in serious danger.

This story shows the power of music, and how it truly can save a life. The purpose of music is to touch others and convey emotion. Just like reading, music is a way to escape our problems. We Own the Sky proves how life changing music can be. Speaking of music, the artists and songs that Sylvia likes are still around and popular with teens today, which also makes the book connectable on another level. There is also a band called Muse, and I thought it was ironic how their music was tied into the story.

We Own the Sky is emotional and will touch the hearts of many teens. High school life and its struggles are a big element, and I could definitely relate to a lot of it. It has a little bit of everything: magic, mythology, romance, and it even hit mental health issues.

This book was super original, and I loved learning more about Muses! I love Greek mythology. I have not read much about Muses before. Sure, in sixth grade we had a Greek mythology unit and briefly went over them, but I have never known more than the fact that they are children of Mnemosyne (Goddess of memory) and Zeus. And I still had to press my memory hard on that.

I learned a lot more fascinating information about them. It is hard to come up with a new concept, and I applaud the author for that. I asked her how she came up with the idea, and in 2006, she wrote a play called Painted. It followed a similar story line, with some of the same characters, including Vincent. In the play, it never specified what Vincent was. But while Crawford was in college, she was reading a poem that talked about Muses, and it clicked that he could be a Muse.

Watch the YouTube video that the author made talking about the book!

I highly recommend that you read this book! It comes out on August 15th, 2017.

Title: We Own the Sky (The Muse Chronicles Book 1)
Author: Sara Crawford
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 297 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games is a YA science fiction book. Fia and Annie are powerful sisters. Fia has flawless intuition; her first instinct is always right. Annie is blind, but can see the future. Ever since their parents died, Fia has always protected Annie. When the two sisters are offered a position at a special boarding school, Fia knows something is wrong, but she did not realize the mess she was in. Fia is soon used for awful criminal activity. If she refuses to follow their orders, they threaten her with taking Annie's life. She is sick of this, and is ready to fight back.

This possibly could be the worst science fiction book I have ever read. One thing I disliked was the fact that every other chapter it switched from past to present. This was annoying and distracting from the point of the story. The sad part is that I enjoyed the past chapters more than the present. Honestly, I was bored reading this. I kept reading it solely for the fact that I wanted to write a review of this. The romance was strange and felt inappropriate for the circumstances, not to mention slightly disturbing. 

The characters were underdeveloped and not likable. Fia is irresponsible and makes bad choices. Right when she gets the opportunity to make a good decision she blows it and does the wrong thing. She is immature in her choices and drinks a lot. (Warning: there is lots of alcohol consumption in this book.) 

I felt that the book ended early and was rushed. The cover is totally amazing and the description is intriguing and very misleading. Sisterly bonding and protection was really not emphasized enough and is not the point of the book. Quite frankly, I'm not even sure what the point was. There is a sequel called Perfect Lies, but I will not read it. 

I strongly recommend that you do not read this book.

Title: Mind Games
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 1 Star
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