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. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

The You I've Never Known is a YA realistic fiction book about learning who you are. Arial lives with her dad, and her mom disappeared when she was two. She has never stayed in one place for more than a school year, mostly less. With her dad who is an alcoholic with a fiery temper, Arial feels as though she is walking on glass. Life gets more complicated when she has feelings for both her friends, Monica and Gabe. The task of figuring out who she is becomes more difficult when a lady shows up claiming to be Arial's mother stating that her father kidnapped her. Arial tries to figure out what to believe and who to trust, and confront her dad once and for all. 

The You I've Never Known is written in a combination of verse and prose. More often than not, I find that books written in poetry are underdeveloped. I was pleasantly surprised! Somehow the author managed to take regular text and dialogue and turn it into poetry, while still containing full sentences. I was stunned because the writing felt really strong, and even better than other books!

The part about Arial's mother did not really come up until towards the end, which I honestly did not mind. While in the description it sounds like the whole book is about the mother, most of it is about Arial and who she is, and her already chaotic life. Personally, I loved how the author built up Arial's life before her mother walked in. I think that Arial handled the situation as best as she could, and she is lucky to have such great friends to support her. All the secondary characters were completely developed and play a huge role in who Arial is. Hillary is a character that I was really interested in, and enjoyed getting to know her. I would definitely want to be her friend in real life! 

A lot of teenagers experience the daunting question of "Who am I?" This book clearly shows all of the factors that change who we are. While I would not categorize The You I've Never Known as inspirational, it does teach a lesson loud and clear to live in the moment, and to make everything you do count. The pacing was smooth and flowed like water. It is so easy to get lost in this book, and I could not put it down! I hope I have time to read it again before I have to return it to the library.

Hopkins is not afraid to bring up those heavy topics. 99% of the time Arial's dad is around, he is drunk. He spends more time with other women than his own daughter, and his humor is borderline inappropriate. Abuse is in there as well. A lot of hearts will be touched by Arial's story. (Note: Because this book heavily involves alcohol, child abuse, and contains a few imitate scenes, I would recommend it only for older YA readers.)

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The You I've Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 608 Pages
Series: No 
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, September 4, 2017

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Nobody is a YA science fiction book about literally being nobody. A lot of people feel like they are nobody, or complain that nobody ever listens to them, but what if you actually were? Seventeen-year-old Nix is a Nobody. He has so little energy in his body that people don't notice him or remember him. Harnessing his lack of energy, he can also become transparent and fly. The Institute managed to find him when he was little, and with great difficulty, raised him to do their dirty work. Essentially, he is assassinating "bad" people. Nix goes along with what they say, until they tell him to get rid of Claire.

Nix always thought he was the only Nobody, until he meets Claire. Nix finds himself falling head over heals for Claire, and teaching her how to use her powers. Along the way, Nix realizes the real reason he was told to get rid of her. One Nobody is powerful enough, but when Claire and Nix put their powers together, they are unstoppable. As Nix discovers the truth about what the Institute's motives really are (basically world domination), the only way to survive is to take them down together.  

I would have liked Nobody more if there was less romance and more action. 80% of the book is all about them in love, which took away from the other storyline about the evil Institute. I feel like the love is situational love, not real. There is literally nobody else in the world who would look at them, so they kind of have to be together. Despite the situation of the fact that they are Nobodies, this is a prime example of instalove. (Instalove is a more extreme version of love at first sight.) This is made worse when the two characters act and talk like 10-year-olds instead of 17. The amount of romantic thoughts and dialogue threw me off track and lost my interest. However, this is also personal taste. All those Romeo and Juliet fans would probably like this more than me.

The Institute, the corruption, and their powers were underdeveloped. If I could change this book, it would be to cut half the lovey dovey. I would replace it with more about the Nobody's abilities and their mission to take down the Institute. All the information about Nulls and energy amounts are fascinating, and I think that the author focused too much on the wrong thing.

Other than all the romance, I did enjoy the book. The plot was so imaginative and thought out! I loved the immense detail and creativity. The suspense and drama was compelling, and I was anxious to untangle the mystery of The Institute and their world. The development of the setting and its imagery was well done. A lot of people can relate to the feelings these characters experience with not being noticed. I am very conflicted about Nobody.

While I enjoyed reading some of Nobody, I can't say that I like it or would read it again because of my personal taste in books. If you are a person who enjoys a lot of romance, I recommend this for you. Although I was not a huge fan of this particular book, I do want to read another book of the author's, The Naturals.

Title: Nobody
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 393 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars
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