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
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