Monday, December 31, 2018

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy. One day in 2024, a volcano erupts, which triggers a massive tsunami, which triggers an earthquake. In this specific town, the earthquake breaches a chemical plant, which creates a gas leak, making the air toxic. Under these circumstances, a school bus of kids becomes stranded in a superstore.

One of my pet peeves with this book is the fact that it is set in 2024. There is nothing futuristic, nothing that signifies anything out of the normal. We see toxic chemical poisoning and natural disasters all the time. The plot was also very anticlimactic. There was no escalation or surprise. Yes, there were lots of very good ideas but they weren't extreme enough for my liking. 

It seemed too easy to survive. Just live in a huge store with food and water for about a year and babysit. I was waiting and waiting for something to happen but nothing did. Needless to say, this book was boring, except for the occasional violence, romance, and drugs that are conveniently siting in the pharmacy, which was useless. I think many borderline "mature" scenes were just added for fun and there was no use or purpose whatsoever for most of the content of the book to begin with.

In general there wasn't really anything all that special or different. Apart from the concept itself, the characters were quite bland. Dean is just an average boy, and really isn't very good at anything. Yes, there was a wide range in personality of all the characters, but there was nothing solid or emotional to grow attached to. I didn't care for the characters, and therefore, the story. 

I might continue reading the series just to find out what happens, but I do not recommend this book. 

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emily Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 352
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 2 Stars

Monday, December 24, 2018

Agate Memory (Bronze Rebellion Book 3) by L.C. Perry

42956600Agate Memory is the third YA dystopian book in the Bronze Rebellion series. This book was sent to me by the author. Princess Irene joined the rebellion to end slavery, oppression, and slaughters ordered by her corrupt parents. She's fought in battles, but now she must take on her toughest challenge yet; taking over the castle from the inside. She'll return to her home and take over, using her power as future queen to free slaves and change the world. She soon finds that nothing is more powerful than secrecy, and her family's past might hold the key to topple the kingdom. Meanwhile, Ebony and the other rebels fight to the death, and Ebony will have to reveal her biggest secret to save her life.

I love how Irene blossomed into the queen we all knew she could be. She is ready to take over her kingdom and fix all of her parent's mistakes. She's ready to show her scars and use them to her advantage. I love how she walked each step with confidence and authority. The pressure she had to be carrying was enormous but not once did she crumble. I loved watching her take action and help free her people. She might be one of my favorite heroines of all time, especially considering her tremendous amount of growth in these past few books. Her persistence and morality is amazing- this world needs leaders like her.

This is by far the most dramatic book in the series so far, and I loved every page! Just as how I adored the scenes of brute strength, smug, and confidence, the fragile scenes of screaming and crying were breathtaking as well; these were so well written that I could feel her every cry piercing my heart, however I am also very proud. It was mind blowing to see how much strength and power radiated from Irene's body and how she could command even her own parents. I am impressed at the author's creativity, not only to build this world and the characters, but of the revelations she created towards the end of the book. They were bizarre enough to be believed, and yet catastrophic. I am very excited to see where the next book goes with the most recent confession.

I highly recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next and final book in the series, Obsidian Fragrance!

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Emerald Dream.

Title: Agate Memory
Author: L.C. Perry
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 495
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 4
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

The Taking is the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy about a girl who disappears for five years and emerges with special powers. Kyra awakens five years later next to a dumpster with no recollection of where she's been. To make things stranger, she hasn't aged a day, and has strange abilities. The last thing she remembers is being surrounded by fireflies and a bright light. It turns out that alien fireflies are the least Kyra has to worry about.

Kyra is not a heroine or a character that I would ever look up to. For one thing, her attitude is disrespectful and egotistical. She doesn't care about anybody, and doesn't even stop to care for herself, either. She's angry that the world went on without her and that her friends grew up. It's been five years! Right off the bat, there is another thing that really makes me angry- there's no freaking out. Where's the screaming? Crying? There is no emotion or huge anxiety- just a selfish, "whatever" attitude.

The only dramatic scenes really just revolved around Tyler, who was supposed to be 12 and a little kid. I also understand that maybe he secretly liked her all those years ago and was excited of the prospect of being with her, but anyone with a little common sense would freak that this girl disappeared for five years. Seriously, he wasn't the least bit concerned about aliens? The bottom line is that The Taking featured a character that I have no interest in with a plot that is too hard to believe. I was so excited to read this book, and it was a huge disappointment.

I do not recommend this book, and I will not be reading the rest of the series.

Title: The Taking
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 1 Star

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Flashback (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 7) by Shannon Messenger

Flashback is the seventh book in my favorite series ever, Keeper of the Lost Cities. Sophie's adventures and troubles are far from over, as the Neverseen proves to a bigger threat than ever. Healing from her previous endeavors, Sophie and her friends will learn how to finally fight back against the impossible- but the truth of the "Vacker Legacy" is far more shocking than what anyone could have believed.

I must admit that I don't love this one as much as I loved the past six books. The major breakthroughs and climatic events were almost too mind-blowing, and the pacing was strange to say the least. For 850 pages, it could have been structured better, and there were parts that could have been taken out as well as ones that I wish were expanded upon.

However, that is not to say that I did not love this book and will re-read it over 100 times just like all the other books in the series. Flashback was angled and structured in a heavy angle toward character development and is more of a story about the setting than it is about Sophie and her struggles.

I love the large strides it took in world-development, as the map of their universe expanded. Quite frankly, the best way I can describe this book is like the filling of an Oreo; the soft, filling, part rather than the violent, hard action cookie. The filling is sweet and full of love and support and character development. In some ways Flashback was a relief from the excitement in the previous book, like Messenger took a break from the suspense and excitement and focused on developing a "filling" of the other characters and their world, so to speak. Essentially, Flashback simply expanded on previous story lines, which is probably leading into something huge in the next book.

Overall, I felt that Flashback was a very interesting addition and I still enjoyed the book (as well the result of the love triangle and who Sophie will end up with!!!); however I had some issues and it could have been better than it ended up being. Don't get me wrong- I still completely adore this series and this book, however it felt short of my very high expectations.

I do recommend this book, and highly recommend this series, as I always will.

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Nightfall.

Title: Flashback
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 848
Series: Yes, Book 7
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Survivors of PEACE (Secrets of PEACE Book 3) by T.A. Hernandez

Survivors of PEACE is the final book in the thrilling YA dystopian trilogy, Secrets of PEACE! Sent to me by the author, this installation is released today! The PEACE Project has fallen, and the Republic has risen. With a nation desperately trying to heal, chaos and terrorist attacks are frequent. When an old friend comes to Zira asking for her help in tracking down terrorists, Zira, Tripp, and Jared are glad to help. However, they soon find themselves getting into much more than they bargained for in a final battle for democracy.

What I loved most about this book was how all the characters held each other up and supported each other. Tripp dealt with overcoming his addiction, and it was sweet how the whole group held him up. Zira suddenly must lead a team of special operatives for the federal government, and everyone welcomes her! Unlike in previous books where there's cruelty on every page, there's acceptance and love on every page of Survivors of PEACE, and that's amazing. There was an overall hopeful tone, which I really loved.

Even though they don't have to blindly follow orders from Ryku anymore, it is obvious that the horrors left their mark. While their country is moving forward, the characters must forgive themselves for what they've done in the past and be able to move on with their lives, too. I enjoyed how Zira and Jared fought their inner demons in addition to fighting Ryku and terrorism. Something I found special was how Survivors of PEACE brought up real-world issues and the fundamentals of democracy, as well as equality. I felt that this book wrapped up the series nicely.

I highly recommend that you read this series!

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Renegades of PEACE!

Title: Survivors of PEACE
Author: T.A. Hernandez
Publisher: Sanita Street Publishing
Pages: 281
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion is a YA realistic fiction book about struggling with sexuality and mental illness that I got from my school library. Suzette's stepbrother, Lionel, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She leaves her boarding school to come home and support him, only to fall in love with Lionel's girlfriend. Lionel has stopped taking his pills and made Suzette promise not to tell their parents, swearing that he'd no longer love her. Now he's trapped in a downward spiral, and she must find a way to fix her mistake and save her family before it's too late.

I truly loved this book! Anyone who has a family member or friend who's struggling with an illness needs to read this book. This serves as a guide as to what to do in response to alarming situations. I love how this book tackled stigma on mental illness, and disapproval of one's sexuality. An added bonus was the fact that Suzette is African American while Lion is white. The author packed in every controversial issue she could think of, which was amazing. What I loved most about this book was how it combined multiple issues into a beautiful, intense story.

I do not blame Suzette for her mistakes, and more than anything I love characters that mess up and aren't perfect. It's boring to read about people who are normal and never make a mistake. I was surprised that both characters had their own stories and their own problems. They both wanted the acceptance of others, and didn't stop to love themselves. Suzette was trying to understand what it meant to be bisexual while Lionel was trying to understand what it meant to be bipolar. I loved how both characters were on separate journeys but were united in their efforts. Little & Lion is an honest book that I highly recommend!

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 330
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, November 12, 2018

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is a truly inspiring autobiography that I read at my school at the advice of my favorite teacher. Before he became a world-famous comedian, Trevor Noah had to get through apartheid in South Africa. Born to a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was illegal. He struggled to find his place in a world that didn't want his "kind". Noah enlightens readers with through his funny, optimistic approach to his in life poverty, oppression, abuse, and how he escaped and became molded into the man that he is today.

This is one of the best books I've ever read, and I cannot wait to read it again! Trevor Noah is a huge inspiration. Throughout his childhood, he was able to turn desolate situations into opportunity and fun. His positivity and lightheartedness is incredible, and it is obvious that he is well-suited as a comedian. I admire Noah for defying the laws of society and becoming his own person.

He had the perfect balance of intense, alarming moments and topics (like colonialism) while also being lighthearted and optimistic. Of course there were awful scenes of ridicule, but he never got mad at the bullies- just smiled and cracked a joke. This story contains major trends of people being afraid of what they don't understand, the main basis of hate crimes and segregation. However, Trevor's fearlessness and passion for being himself inspires readers- if there isn't a place for you in society, make your own, and always face an obstacle with optimism.

I highly recommend this book!

In case you have no idea who this guy is, he has his own TV show, the Daily Show With Trevor Noah on the Comedy Central television station. After reading this book I've started watching him- he's hilarious!

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah's website

His YouTube Channel

Title: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Split by Swati Avasthi

Split is a YA realistic fiction book about the aftermath of abuse. After his father beats sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon and throws him out, he leaves behind his mother and drives to the home of his older brother, Spencer, who managed to escape years before. Jace is able to start at a new school and slowly build a new life, but both boys will soon learn that they can't keep running from their father- and their secrets.

I loved this emotional roller coaster! This is the definition of a love-hate relationship. Yes, their father is abusive and horrendous, but there were still happy times, which sometimes can overpower the bad. That's really the huge internal conflict, whether to miss him or hate him. The cycle of abuse is nearly impossible to get out of, and while I really don't like the outcome, not everyone can have a perfect ending.

What I loved the most about this book was how realistic it was in the sense that everybody is broken. Nobody is perfect and there was no perfect solution to the problems and the huge mistakes that the characters made. Jace struggled with that quite a bit, haunted by the fear that he is turning into his father. This story is not a happy one, however it is full of hope and love that readers will remember for weeks.

I recommend this book!

Title: Split
Author: Swati Avasthi
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 280
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, October 29, 2018

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus is a historical fiction book about the oppressed lifestyle of a Nigerian family that I found at my school library. Taking place in the 1960s during the Nigerian Civil War, Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a sheltered life in a rich family. They are completely blocked off from the rest of their world, surrounded only by religion, fear, and pain. As the military coup begins to take over the county, the children are sent away to live with their Aunt, who introduces them to freedom, laughter, and happiness. As the country falls apart, her family does as well, and Kambili must hold her family together after a tragedy long enough to escape to America.

This book was amazing! I loved the parallels between the war in their county and the war inside their home. I found myself not only fascinated with Kambili's strength and heart, but also the culture and the history of the country. In addition, the aspect of religious conflict in their culture was massive, half the population sticking with native polytheistic values while the other half, including Kambili's father, assimilates into the Church. It's a whole different set of beliefs between her father and her aunt, and it was amazing to watch how both influenced and gave her strength to conquer the harsh, unforgiving days she had ahead.

Kambili doesn't understand what is wrong with her life, she has worshiped her father and always tried to please him. It was amazing watching her first laugh and the first time she ever smiled with her aunt and cousins. Her inner turmoil was powerful, and Kambili found herself trying to save her family at all costs. She is brave and magnificent.

The symbolism of the purple flower was incredible. In darkness and oppression, the Purple Hibiscus is defiance and freedom, representing the beauty that can shine if one allows themselves to never give up, and always keep fighting against brutality. This flower is their beacon of hope, and the only thing more powerful than fear is hope.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 307
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Stuck on Earth by David Klass

Stuck on Earth is a combination of science and realistic fiction with a satirical twist about an alien who inhibits a human boy. Ketchvar III is a gastropod from the planet Sandoval. His species is alarmed at how humans are destroying their planet and pushing it to the brink of demise. Armed with the Gagnerian Death Ray, Ketchvar must inhibit the body and brain of a teenager, Tom Filber, and determine whether or not the human race should be annihilated for their own safety.

Stuck on Earth is super bizarre, nothing like I've ever read, and a book I can never forget! This book is very ironic and satirical, especially in the age of nuclear weapons and global warming. We often wonder ourselves if humanity is worthy of the Earth, and in the age of global warming we are destroying our precious home rather than saving it. I loved how this book conveyed those messages and spoke of real environmental issues, as well as what we can do as individuals to clean up our mess.

I also love how this book was still realistic, and for a few chapters even I doubted whether he was actually an alien or young bullied teenager with a vivid imagination. It was interesting how the book drew parallels between between being an Alien and feeling like one.

It has an amazing message about loving and caring for the environment, as well as our family, friends, and neighbors. Ketchvar became entangled in his disastrous family, and I really enjoyed how he unified his family and made friendships. His take with romance and kissing was hilarious and adorable. This is one of the few books that I've read recently where I know that I will still remember in years to come!

I highly recommend this book!

Also by this author, read my review of Second Impact, as well as Losers Take All

Title: Stuck on Earth
Author: David Klass
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 240
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hungry by H.A. Swain

Hungry is a YA science fiction book about a futuristic world where nobody needs to eat. In One World, food no longer exists. Instead, everybody is fed medicine with nutrients in it. The government of One World says this prevents famine, gets rid of obesity, and prevents war. Everything she believed changes when Thalia begins to feel hunger. She meets a boy from the underground movement to bring food back, and they run away together to find real food.

I was extremely disappointed, as I had very high expectations for this book. The original concept was incredible, and I loved the beginning so much. But the more the book progressed, the more it went off the rails with too many new ideas and too much of an abandonment of the ideas left unfinished. The ending of the book threw me off a lot with no indication of a sequel.

The plot with the farm was just so irrelevant and disturbing. It's a completely different story that I just had no interest in. The harvest is absolutely revolting and makes me sick to my stomach. The cities, One World, revolution, and government lies are really what I cared about, and it makes me sad that I did not enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. It started out a 5 star, but the more it went on the more it started to deteriorate.

I do recommend that you read this book, but don't get your hopes up.

Title: Hungry
Author: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 384
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Miles From Ordinary is a YA realistic fiction book about a girl attempting to care for her ill mother. Lacey's mother is very sick, and struggles with severe anxiety and depression. She also does dangerous and bizarre things because she hears the voice of her dead father telling her to. Lacey's aunt used to help care for her, but her mother kicked her out and even got a restraining order, leaving Lacey to take care of her by herself.

After Lacey's mother's latest spending spree that leaves them nearly broke, Lacey is forced to let her mother take a job at the grocery store while she goes to the library. However, four hours later, Lacey cannot find her mother, and is forced to confront her mother's demons.

While I found this book to be extremely fascinating and captivating, it is also very strange and frightening. I am not really sure what the author was trying to accomplish, but if it was horror, she succeeded. I have read my fair share of books with characters struggling with mental illness, but none as terrifying as the mother. The ideas were so twisted. This book would be better categorized as a physiological thriller.

It was also very short. I was missing all these details that I wanted, and I was very confused because some things weren't adding up. For example, if her mother is truly as sick as she seems, why wait until now to get her aunt, especially if they were almost broke. Okay, and common sense- her first mistake was leaving her mom alone. With a history like that, she should have hired a care-taker or something. 

Don't get me wrong- it is extremely well-written and I was completely engrossed in the book. It is also very different than anything I have ever read, but in this case it is too different. While I was reading Miles From Ordinary, I enjoyed it. However, it was just so strange. I commend the author for making me scared during it, and it was a great thrill, but I cannot get past how unrealistic and creepy it was. 

While I did not particularity enjoy this book, I will try another book from the author, The Chosen One.

Title: Miles From Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 197
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is a realistic fiction book about a five-year-old boy and his mother trapped in Room. When Jack's mom was 19, she was kidnapped outside of her college dorm, and held prisoner in Room, a converted shed. Eventually, she gave birth to a little boy. Told in the viewpoint of Jack, this story surrounds what happens when Ma reveals to him that there is a world outside of Room, and the two devise a plan to escape.

I love this book! Originally when I picked it up at my school library, I thought it'd be a fun, quick book to read. Boy, was I wrong! While the book is narrated by a five-year-old boy, being stuck in that room for five years his mom had lots of time to teach him advanced math, spelling, reading, and very big words. Yes, it is told in the viewpoint of of a little kid, but the ideas he was able to convey are huge. At this age he is able to articulate and notice that something is very wrong, and he is able to recognize his mother's depression. Jack is incredible. His love and protectiveness of his mother is enormous and heartwarming. He's a little superhero.

The author managed to voice a realistic child, somehow managing to make him seem his age, but also have critical thinking skills. I also loved his hilarious thinking patterns and rhetorical questions, about everything from baked beans to spiders. He is able to turn a serious, deadly situation funny, making the horrendous conditions light-hearted. There were so many times where you could tell that bad things were happening, but because it was told through the young eyes of Jack, they were easier to bear. It is quite intriguing to watch a little boy grasp the idea that the world is not this room. An ongoing theme was having Jack accept that (almost) everything on the TV was real! That's an extremely overwhelming situation, and even most adults cannot understand how big the world is. Room will leave you thinking for days!

I highly recommend this book, and I am excited to watch the movie adaptation!

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 321
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Emerald Dream (Bronze Rebellion Book 2) by L.C. Perry

40245192Emerald Dream is the second book in the four book Bronze Rebellion series. This YA dystopian book was sent to me by the author. Princess Irene, ignorant of the horror and torture her parents order for their citizens, is kidnapped by the rebels. While first living in fear of them, Irene begins to see the truth of her kingdom- slavery, human experimentation, and worse. After experiencing and witnessing the appalling state of women and children, Irene will no longer sit by and watch. She joins the rebels, and vows that once she is queen, she will transform the nation and fix her family's corruptness.

I love this book so much! Irene shows such maturity, and completely defies the stereotype brought on her. A princess is not a defenseless little girl. Ebony and Irene are complete opposites, but are united in their goal to end suffering. Irene brings out the vulnerability in Ebony, while Ebony brings out the soldier in Irene.

Asher's past is extremely complicated, and he pushes away everyone he cares about due to his self-deprecating nature. I loved how Irene refused to listen to him, and was constantly there for him. The added romance was terrifyingly strong. There was many, many, many pages of describing the emotions and physical yearning and desire involved in a relationship, and I say she outdid herself. I have no idea how Perry will top this book in the rest of the series.

Emerald Dream is emotionally raw and inspiring. It would take multiple pages to describe a single minute of emotions, and contains jaw-dropping painful references that made me teary-eyed. The author does not shy away from harsh violence, but rather focuses on the emotion that fuels the violence rather than the act itself, making it easier to read, and easier to connect to. Emerald Dream jumps enormously in the amount of intensity, violence, and tearful scenes. This was a real mission, many real human deaths the characters had to try to prevent. This was extremely stressful, and I could not tear my eyes away.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait for the next one!

See my review of the first book in this series, Gold Shadow!

Title: Emerald Ream
Author: L.C. Perry
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 520
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 4
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Everybody Sees the Ants is a YA magical realism book about a boy who goes to another world in his dreams. Lucky Linderman is bullied and tortured by a fellow classmate, whose abuse goes too far. After his grandfather never comes home from the Vietnam war, his father is a ghost, and his mother barely knows him. While reality falls apart all around him, in his dreams he can escape to a prison camp in Vietnam and speak to his grandfather, who teaches him how to stand up for himself and take back control of his life.

The author also wrote Reality Boy, which I enjoyed very much. Sadly, I was very disappointed by this book and failed to understand and appreciate the story. Multiple things about this book irked me. Everybody Sees the Ants also switched chapters between the past school year and the present summer. I felt confused as to the setting and timeline of the story.

He also references a lot seeing ants jumping up and down, cheering, and speaking to him. I am still not sure if he is schizophrenic or just has a very detailed imagination. I also was not interested in the magical dreaming part since it was not explained very well. His dreams were referred to as dreams, not reality, but when he wakes up he is wet or covered in mud. It was not clear if he was actually traveling/teleporting there, sleepwalking, or dealing with a mental coping mechanism.

The book overall was quite boring for me. It did not feel like the story went anywhere or accomplished anything. I just didn't get the point. Similarly to how Lucky is lost in his jungle world, the book was lost, as well.

I don't recommend this book.

Title: Everybody Sees the Ants
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 279
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Nice Girls Endure by Chris Struyk-Bonn

Nice Girls Endure is a YA inspirational book about finding self-love and defying discrimination. Sophomore Chelsea Duvay's days involve being tormented and bullied because of her weight. So she tries to hide, not drawing attention by sitting in the very back of the room. Chelsea stays away from people, because they always have something to say about how she looks. After the night of the Spring Fling Dance when the bullying takes a humiliating turn for even worse, she thinks she can never move on. But with the help of her new friend, Melody, she gains the courage to love herself and stand up for herself.

This book is raw and powerful, exposing unfortunate truths about the world and how we view others. The tricky part for most is registering that what they say, do, and act hurt others, and accepting that they are wrong. While the classic lesson of "treat others the way you want to be treated" is well-known, Nice Girls Endure puts a spin on it, including body image and themes of acceptance of loving who one is on the inside, not the lie on the outside.

Unlike most other books regarding weight issues and "fat-shaming", Chelsea shows a positive representation and makes readers feel hope. There is a recurring message of not enduring, and not to let them get away with hurting you. And I truly believe that this book could make a real difference in somebody's life, whether the bully, the victim, or just someone learning to accept themselves for who they are past their appearance.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Nice Girls Endure
Author: Chris Struyk-Bonn
Publisher: Switch Press
Pages: 285
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Renegades of PEACE (Secrets of PEACE Book 2) by T.A. Hernandez

Renegades of PEACE is the second YA book in the Secrets of PEACE trilogy. After escaping the PEACE Project, Zira now works with the rebels to destroy the Project. As Chairman Ryku starts completely taking over the country, Zira is asked to put an end to his reign of terror- permanently, putting her moral values and ethics into question. On the inside, Jared and Aubreigh struggle with defining their loyalties. As everyone tries to do the right thing and protect the ones they love, their paths will cross in a fateful battle for freedom.

I really enjoyed this installment! The first book and the second book are totally different, and I love them for different reasons. Contrary to the previous book where the characters uncovered the secrets of their world, this time they are uncovering the secrets of themselves and where their true loyalties lie. The main theme of this book is dealing with the consequences of their actions. They love each other, but they stand on opposite sides of war, each with their own strong beliefs. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. Morally, this book reigns superior.

Zira has always followed her heart instead of her brain, and questions everything. I admire her persistence and refusal to accept the norm. The mystery, suspense, and external conflict was what I loved about Secrets of PEACE, but I love the internal conflict in Renegades of PEACE. Here I got to understand Jared and the other kids. These kids don't know any better, and while I started to hate Jared, I understand him better now. The tricky thing with this dystopia is that there is not a clear black and white difference like some others. They've lost who they are and their beliefs. I enjoyed the expansion of new characters, especially how Aubreigh, Zira's best friend, blossoms and enveloped hard decisions. She realized her potential, and in the end, she was a true hero.

I am excited to read the last book in the trilogy, Survivors of Peace, which will be coming out sometime later this fall!

Read my review of the first book in this series, Secrets of PEACE! 

Title: Renegades of PEACE
Author: T.A. Hernandez
Publisher: Sanita Street Publishing
Pages: 358
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read this Fall

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here.

This week's theme is Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR. This is quite difficult, since I have 376 books on my to-read  shelf on Goodreads. In order of priority and likelihood of acquisition, these are the books I want to read this fall!

1. Munmun by Jesse Andrews
In an alternate reality, everyone is as tall as their finances. So, if you're broke, you're like the size of an ant, while rich billionaires are as tall as the Eiffel tower!

2. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Everywhere Maguire goes, bad things happen. She is a universal bad luck charm; awful, dangerous accidents happen whenever she is outside. So she is perfectly happy to stay in the house all her life- that is, until Jordy shows up and shows her a life worth living.

3. If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan
Hilary detests Jewish people, and is part of a Nazi gang. When she gets in an motorcycle accident, she lands in a coma. Ironically, she goes to a Jewish hospital and is sent back in time to live the life of a Jewish girl in the Holocaust.

4. Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge
Ryan and his friends steal coins from a well to pay for their bus fare home. Shortly afterward, the Well Witch claims them to serve her and grant the wishes of the coins in the fountain.

5. The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Sammie has a rare disorder that causes her memory to deteriorate. She starts a journal, addressed to her future self, of all the things she wants to remember.

6. The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
Amadou and his younger brother, Seydou, are slaves on a chocolate farm in Africa. One day, Khadija arrives, and reminds the boys of the importance of freedom. They band together and try to escape, one last time.

7. Can't get There from Here by Todd Strasser
Maybe is a homeless teenager who lives on the streets, her only family the other teens sharing the curb. One day, a 12-year-old joins them, Tears. Maybe tries to help her and get Tears off the streets before it's too late.

8. The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Gläser
In an abandoned library, Emma finds a magical book. Anything written in the book will come true!

9. Slated by Teri Terry
The government claims that they wipe the minds of terrorists and criminals before giving them a second chance. For Kyla, their story isn't adding up, as she regains partial past memories.

10. Hannah's Touch by Laura Langston
After getting stung by a bee, Hannah acquires the power the heal with the touch of her hand.

What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Returnable Girl by Pamela Lowell

Returnable Girl is a YA realistic fiction book that I found at my school library. Ronnie Hartman's mother moved to Alaska, abandoning her kids. At thirteen years old, she's been returned from multiple foster homes due to her lying, stealing, and impulsive behavior. Alison, her latest foster mom, is a therapist who wants to help her. At school she desperately tries to fit in with the popular crowd, ultimately hurting the only true friend she has. Just when she's starting to actually fit in, a letter arrives, presenting her with a choice to either be adopted by Alison or go to Alaska with her mother.

I am conflicted about Returnable Girl. While I enjoyed the book, it was extreme and the events were unrealistic. Roonie is in eighth grade. The complexity of the dilemmas and the maturity of the situations is shocking and not at all for that age level. The bullying, occasional violence, alcohol, and mature topics brought up are more like 11th or 12th grade. Even the most popular girls I know would not go as far and wild as the book went. Some of the scenes were uncomfortable even for me, so upper class high school students would be the targeted audience regardless of the age of the protagonist.

Other than the unrealistic maturity and conflict, I did enjoy the book! While some would say Roonie is selfish and heartless, I say that she is a good person at heart stuck in a tough situation. Yes, she made a lot of questionable decisions and she could have done things differently, but she's just trying to find her place in the world, learning from her mistakes as she goes. And while some people would say she is immature, I remind readers that she is only 13, and nobody at that age should have to deal with topics like these.

When I re-read the book, and suspended my disbelief I actually really enjoyed it! I think that the key to loving this book is to not overthink it. But even though the flow of the words, the writing style, and the character development is extraordinary, I cannot get past some of the content and the realism of multiple events. I would re-read this book, and I actually do recommend it, but be prepared for the extremity.

Title: Returnable Girl
Author: Pamela Lowell
Publisher: Cavendish Square Publishing
Pages: 229
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon is an inspirational realistic fiction book about an autistic teenager trying to save her little sister from her birth mother. Ginny was placed in foster care four years ago, after police took her away from her abusive and neglectful mother. Now she is living with a family who loves her and supports her, but all she wants to do is escape and go back. Not because she misses her birth mother, Gloria, but her desire to protect her little sister and take care of her when Gloria cannot. This is the story of a girl trying to find her role in life and struggling to communicate and have a life without her past.

This book is classified as adult but I have no idea why, as this is perfect and relatable to teens everywhere, inspiring kindness and patience with kids of special needs. Ginny shows a lesson to everybody not to bully others and advocates empathy. The book shows the thinking and logic behind behavior that looks illogical on the outside. Every punishable thing she did was out of good intentions, and in this day in age it is especially important for kids to understand others.

On the other hand, it also shows adults how not to behave and interact. Every adult in the book has major flaws and were very misinformed of how to care for Ginny. While some see this as a negative, I see the silver lining in that this book teaches foster parents and teachers everywhere what not to do and how to be calm, patient, and understanding.

Ginny is hurting a lot, and cannot always find ways to communicate effectively. She is extremely smart, but to others it appears not due to her behavior and the way she forms sentences. However, she is just a girl scared for her sister with a paternal instinct that she does not understand, PTSD scars, and autism to top it all off. I really feel for this girl. Ginny Moon is an extremely emotional, tense book with a protagonist that one will remember for a very long time.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Publisher: Park Row Books
Pages: 368
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, September 7, 2018

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes is a YA historical fiction book about the war in Syria and conflict in the Middle East. Tareq and his family struggle with their newfound sense of normal in a country torn in two by war. It is manageable, until the government bombs his apartment. With his father and sister, they must escape their country before they lost their lives, as well. They must take the trip to Europe in hope of a better life.

The book is called A Land of Permanent Goodbyes because time and time again, they must say goodbye to the people and places they love. Syrians and refugees from the Middle East know more loss than we can imagine. The author enlightened readers about the terrors that Syrians and victims of war face.

It also showed a unique perspective from the narration of Destiny. The idea of fate was turned into a person, observing the characters and commenting on what is destined for them in the future. I loved how this unique perspective provided background knowledge and set the environment of the story. Very strange, however beneficial and intriguing to readers.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes teaches about religion and has a recurring theme of prayer. The book attempts to acknowledge that religions are not that different from one another, and everyone should be treated as equals.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
Author: Atia Abawi
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, September 3, 2018

Aaru: Halls of Hel (The Aaru Cycle Book 2) by David Meredith

Aaru: Halls of Hel is a YA sci-fi fantasy book sent to me by the author. This is the second book in the Aaru Cycle series. After Rose died, her brain was uploaded into Aaru, a utopian virtual world. In Aaru, Rose has nearly a perfect life where she has the power of a God, but wants more in her life. Meanwhile, her sister's life is falling apart as well. As pressure mounts on both the girls, they need each other more than ever. But the Magic Man is not finished with them, and his new sinister plan will tear the girls apart and destroy Aaru.

I loved this second installment! The author built on previous themes but added so much more emotion and heartbreak. Mental illness was an added theme, with people ending their lives just to escape into Aaru. They isolated those with mental illness in quarantine, and I adored the moral conflict of what to do with them.

I appreciated the added internal conflict for the girls. In a utopia where one can shape their world at will, and have everything they've ever wanted, what is their purpose? What is there to work for, to set goals for, to be motivated, when all of that can be done with a snap of a finger? There is no such thing as a utopia. I loved the theme of how one who has everything also has nothing. Aaru: Halls of Hel leaves readers with much to contemplate about and the purpose of life.

Hel is a very enthralling character. The main villain of this installment is Hel, a broken young girl brainwashed into atrocious acts. I feel very sorry for her, and what has happened to her. All she knows is pain and sorrow. The detailed descriptions of the torture she endured by the Magic Man brought tears to my eyes. I don't believe that she is all evil, and I feel that there is still light inside of her.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait for more to come in the series!

Click here to read my review of the first book in this series, Aaru!

Title: Aaru: Halls of Hel
Author: David Meredith
Publisher: Bowker
Pages: 386
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Gutless by Carl Deuker

Gutless is a YA inspirational book that challenges one's character and morality. Brock Ripley is a football player who is afraid under pressure, and is very reluctant to tackle someone in the game. Off the field, he has the same dilemma. His new friend, Richie Fang, is being bullied by Brock's teammates, and he needs to find the strength and bravery to stick up for his friend before it's too late.

I greatly enjoyed this book! Gutless replays a scenario that we know all too well these days, and shows teens what can happen when you pretend that everything is okay. No matter how much Richie hid behind humor and jokes, it was obvious that he was in really deep pain, and it really angers me that these people never get what they deserve.

Brock struggled a lot being the bystander. On one hand, he can stand up for Richie and do the right thing, but betray his team and put himself in the line of fire, as well. On the other hand, he can just give Richie moral support, which was what he ended up doing most of the time until it was too late and he missed the warning signs.

All sports fans will understand the emotion of victory and painful loss. Teens struggling with fear and pressure to succeed will also relate to Brock. It's a story of triumph over fear and learning how to do the right thing even when it doesn't seem to be the right thing at all. This book teaches people to always speak out if someone is in danger, regardless of the social consequences with their peers. I liked how he made mistakes and was not always a great friend because that teaches the readers what to do differently, how to support and stand up for someone before things get taken too far.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Gutless
Author: Carl Deuker
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Gold Shadow (Bronze Rebellion #1) by L.C. Perry

Gold Shadow is the first book in the YA dystopian series, Bronze Rebellion. This book was sent to me by the author. Ebony was born a slave in the underground cities. For the past 18 years of her life, Ebony has learned to become a fierce statue, showing no pain and doing as told, trying to avoid the attention of her master. All seems hopeless until a pair of rebels venture underground, and allow Ebony and some of her fellow slaves a chance to escape. With her newfound freedom, Ebony decides to join the rebellion against the monarchy. Meanwhile, their Princess, Irene, is naive to the horrors her parents cause, and Ebony has a plan to show her the truth and change the world.

While I loved Ebony more than I liked Irene, I appreciated their clear contrast. I relished witnessing both sides of the story, and how clearly they juxtaposed each other. I was fascinated at how impregnable Ebony is. The horrific savagery and abuse she endured only made her stronger.

I love how the author took a historical issue like slavery and made it futuristic and so relatable. The intensity is raw and pure, and better than any textbook. I love the added element of the underground cities, and the plotline of being clueless to what food is, or automatic doors, or the sun. Just the slavery itself is awful enough, but these kids not knowing what the sky looks like makes me feel anger and even more sympathy for the characters.

According to the About the Author page in the back of the book, L.C. Perry is a college student, only a few years older than me. The fact that, at her age, she has written such an amazing book, blows me away. The level of skill she has is beyond her years, and I really, really enjoyed Gold Shadow.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book, Emerald Dream! The series is planned to have a total of four books.

Title: Gold Shadow
Author: L.C. Perry
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 343
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 24, 2018

Secrets of PEACE by T.A. Hernandez

Secrets of PEACE is the first YA dystopian book in a trilogy that was sent to me by the author. After another nuclear war, the PEACE Project rose to power as the new government, controlling the population by any means necessary to prevent conflict. Zira has been raised in their compound, and trained as an assassin to eliminate threats to national security. But the further she ventures from the walls, the more she starts to realize that PEACE is lying and having her hurt innocent people. Her revelations land her in grave danger, and before she can save the world, she must escape it.

Zira is far beyond her years, but sweetly innocent at the same time about the ways of her world. Her internal conflict was amazing, having to choose between morality and loyalty. I loved watching her rebel and struggle to survive. I am impressed at how realistic Zira was, and I am proud of her for following her heart and sticking with human values.

Secrets of PEACE is an excellent thrill and page-turner, and I loved all the action. I also love the irony of PEACE not being peaceful. The writing style was superior, especially for a third-person narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the futuristic setting and uncovering the secrets of their world, and I was fixated on every detail!

I recommend this book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Renegades of PEACE! The author has told me that the third book, Survivors of PEACE, will be released sometime in the fall.

Title: Secrets of PEACE
Author: T.A. Hernandez
Publisher: Sanita Street Publishing
Pages: 293 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, August 20, 2018

Nice Try, Jane Sinner By Lianne Oelke

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a YA realistic fiction book about a girl competing in a college reality show. After Jane attempts to take her own life and fails out of school, her parents make her finish her high school diploma at the nearby college. She agrees, on the condition that she can move out, and joins the college's reality TV show as a way to start over.

The characters are annoying and unrealistic. Jane disguises her depressive feelings and pain by pretending not to care and being numb. She built this wall in front of herself, preventing her from expanding out and preventing others from coming in. She is never serious with herself or anyone else, and makes a joke out of everything with no loyalty. She was portrayed as obnoxious and conceited. I would not want her as a friend.

Many of the characters were made up in her head, and it felt really unpleasant and further supported the fact that she was psychotic and really needed help. I hated how her mental health issues were portrayed, and it felt like that was just thrown in there to make people feel pity for her.

The reality show plotline was really unoriginal, as it is modeled off of Big Brother. Most of the activity in the book was idiotic, such as the McNugz club, where a teacher encourages kids to eat chicken nuggets until they are sick. It took way too long to get to the main point- and I'm not even sure what the point is. Nice Try, Jane Sinner dragged on forever and could have been good at half the length.

I do not recommend this book.

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 420
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions Book 1) by James Patterson

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is the first of four YA mystery books in the Confessions series. Tandy Angel and her three brothers are not normal. They have unnatural abilities that separate them from everybody else. Unlike their last name, life in their billionaire family is not angelic at all. Still, it is quite a shock when her parents are murdered in their own bedroom. The only suspects are Tandy and her siblings, and all of them have a motive. She cannot trust anyone, even her own fuzzy memories. So she decides to solve the case herself, uncovering bizarre and freaky scandals surrounding their sister's death, the family fortune, love affairs, and the origin story of their supernatural gifts.

Considering that James Patterson has written 147 books and holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers, this book had a huge reputation to live up to, and it did! I must say, this was the best mystery book that I have ever read! The final end result of how their parents died I was able to guess, but this is not a murder mystery. This is a mystery of her past, and how Tandy and their brothers came to be, and all the lies told to them every day. I can count at least 10 revelations that the characters did not know about, and I was stunned by all of them.

I loved the flashback chapters, of memories that were somehow erased from her mind. I loved discovering who Tandy really is and her story. I also loved how she speaks to the reader directly, like she is actually telling me, personally, a story. I also loved how the story was shocking and unbelievable, but partnered with how alive Tandy was, it actually felt realistic. Their family scandals were stressful, suspenseful, and very unusual to say the least, but extremely fascinating.

I highly recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next book, Private School Murders!

Title: Confessions of a Murders Suspect
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 372
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 4
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

The Masked Truth is a YA realistic fiction book about facing your fears and staying alive. Riley Vasquez is traumatized by the shooting of a couple she was babysitting for, and feels guilty for not doing enough to stop it. She, along with five other teens, are mandated to attend therapy sleep away camp for the weekend, only to become entangled in a twisted, elaborate scheme. That Friday night, three armed, masked men come and take the group hostage. As one thing leads to another, Riley is forced to face her past. With the help of another teen, Max, they try to save everyone and escape.

I absolutely loved this book! The Masked Truth is one of the most intense, thrilling, and suspenseful books I've ever read! Not to mention that the imagery was amazing. I felt inside the book and very scared with the characters. Armstrong is brilliant at making seemingly coincidental events in fact not coincidental at all. The author did an amazing job with writing things that nobody can see coming and shocking me with every plot twist, which never stopped until the very last page, and I was really surprised with how the book turned out.

The romance between Riley and Max was stunning and it soothed some of the horror of their surroundings. They were really sweet and I loved how they supported each other though everything. The book wrapped up beautifully, and although in these tragic circumstances there can be no happily-ever-after, the characters are inspiring in positive attitudes and showing how to deal with tragedy and cope with it. 

I loved how the book showed prejudice and hatred in America. There are so many stereotypes angled towards people with mental illness and this book tackled that heads-on. The characters were so real, and the impersonation of their struggles touched my heart and really can educate others of what can be going on inside someone's head. 

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Masked Truth
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 340
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds Book 2) by Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade is the second book in the YA dystopian series, The Darkest Minds. Ruby has mind control abilities, and is labeled an Orange, one of the most dangerous children to have survived the disease. Now that she has escaped East River and the horrible rehabilitation camps, she is working for the Children's League. After learning a really big secret, she takes some kids with her and leaves, off to find her once-boyfriend, Liam. In his hands is a special flash drive containing information about the cure. The plan is to find Liam, get the flash drive, and into the hands of the right people who will shut down those torturous rehabilitation camps and expose the government's lies.

Ruby is so much stronger since the first time readers met her, in many ways. Her powers are stronger, her determination is fiercer, and she is more willing to fight. In the first book, readers saw a scared girl with powers that frightened her. Now she is owning up to those powers, and using them to fight for her life, a life she never thought she could have.

I enjoyed the reunion with some older characters, as well as the new ones, such as Vida and Jude. They helped add kerosene to an already blazing fire. Vida's attitude and sarcasm was light hearted at times and helped add variety to the personalities. I loved Jude's emotions, and how human he felt. Sure, Ruby is human, too, but Jude has empathy and concern for others that is rare to find. The conflict between the characters was very strong, and loyalties were always questioned, making them even sweeter when someone saves the day.

This book capitalized on adventure rather than action, but when there was action, it was super violent to make up for it. The book generally has a dark theme, and I felt scared at times. The fear was incredible, amplified especially at night. However, I would say that the plot line was underdeveloped a little, and I, personally, liked the first book better. The plot dragged on in some places where it wasn't really necessary, and lost my interest at times.

I recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next book, In The Afterlight, as well as a recently announced 4th book, The Darkest Legacy, released on July 31, 2018. I am excited to see the movie based on the first book, The Darkest Minds, in theaters August 3, 2018!

Click here to read my review on the first book, The Darkest Minds.

Title: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds Book 2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 507
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 4
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Almost Home is an inspirational middle grade book about a girl and her dog fighting against the odds. Sugar is in the sixth grade, and has a lot of burdens to carry. Her grandfather died, her father stole money and ran off, and she is losing her home. When the two end up on the streets, her mom Reba falls apart, landing her in a psychiatric hospital and Sugar in foster care. Luckily, Sugar has her puppy, Shush, and the inspirational emails of her favorite teacher to help her. Through writing poetry and positive thinking, Sugar begins to realize that she has more power to change her life for the better than she thinks. 

I read this book many times when I was younger years ago, but I recently picked it up again. I loved it then and I love it now! The puppy on the cover is adorable, and Shush proves the need for therapy dogs. Animals really do help people feel better, and Shush made Almost Home lighthearted and hopeful in depressing times.

Sugar is just as sweet as her name, writing thank-you letters to everyone and always being nice to the bullies. She has a desire to make the world become as sweet as she is, and Sugar demonstrates qualities of compassion and empathy for others, as well as a very clear insight to life. She writes poems in every chapter, putting words to her pain and observations. Sugar is twelve years old, and she is able to articulate the ignorance of others and the reality of situations. She has a gift for seeing the world for what it really is. Sugar is as sweet as an angel, and inspires children and adults to be kind to everybody. 

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Almost Home
Author: Joan Bauer
Publisher: Puffin Books
Pages: 264
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is the first book of two in a YA historical fiction series with a sci-fi twist of the hypothetical scenario in which Hitler would have won WWII. In 1956, the Axis powers of Japan and Third Reich (also known as Nazi Germany) rule. The allies lost, and Hitler rules the world. Yael has lost everything she loved. She was a prisoner. She was also a victim of human experimentation, and it worked too well, leading to her secret ability to skinshift, allowing her to morph into other people. She escaped and joined the Resistance, what is left of the Allies.

Her mission is simple. Kidnap Adele Wolfe and skinshift into her, taking her place in an annual motorcycle race, which awards her a dance with Hitler himself at the Victor's ball. Finally, stab him and topple his empire. However, it soon becomes much more complicated than she had planned when having to deal with her twin brother and former boyfriend.

I enjoy alternative history very much, and I loved the author's train of thought of "what if," and I would certainly hope that if this happens at all in the future with another war, there will still be people willing to fight. I also enjoyed that the author made the setting believable. The book was so exciting and fast-paced!  The adventure aspect was very strong, and I loved how every chapter was going somewhere- literally. I felt at times that I was on that motorcycle, racing as well.

Yael doesn't remember what she looked like before. She spends her life impersonating other people, so much so that the real Yael is just a faint memory. She is an extremely unique character. Held together with the memories of torture and those she's lost, Yael is wild, strong, and brilliant. She has done what many of us try our whole lives to do; she has used her pain and turned it into strength. Her fire to succeed and her determination is stronger than any other female heroine that I know. The romantic interest between Yael and Luka was very interesting to say the least, especially when she doesn't know about the huge elephant in the room, whatever big thing happened between them. Even though she was in the lead of the race, she was far behind in becoming Adele. Pretending to be someone else is a very hard feat to accomplish. The book was quite stressful, and I was scared for her a few times.

My only critique would be that there was so much action and adventure with the race that I wanted more action and adventure with Hitler, what he's up to, and how evil he is currently. Readers see her need for revenge given her past, but not any reasons given the present. My concern is that it was not made clear how the world would be better off without him. This is something that I hope will be expanded upon in the next book.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the next one, Blood For Blood!

Title: Wolf by Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 388
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, July 19, 2018

All Rights Reserved (Word$ Book 1) by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

All Rights Reserved is the first YA dystopian book of two in a series about freedom of speech. In this world, every gesture, word, and form of communication is trademarked or copyrighted, and using them costs money. Instead of buying food, clothes, and a home, the people buy the words that they speak. If one speaks more than they can afford, they get tortured or enslaved.

Speth witnesses her friend jump off a bridge rather than be enslaved to pay off his debt, and she is not allowed to convey sadness or express it. Too traumatized to speak, she vows never to speak again, rebelling against the fabric of society and fighting back against the cruelty that took her friend's life and countless others. She inspires others to fight back as well, sparking a revolution for the forgotten first amendment.

The creation of the futuristic world was incredible and horrifying. There's 3-D printing of food and whole cities made of plastic with huge screens and holographic projections everywhere one looks. But at the same time, there are cameras everywhere, implants in your eyes that can shock your eyes, and wristbands that can burn off your arm. I was fascinated by their world and all the means of control over the people. My eyes were glued to every page, and the level of detail and the precision of every fact was astonishing.

I loved the pattern of thinking related to this concept and the inspiration of standing up for what you believe in. I cannot even imagine the level of greed that must cripple the society. Yes, this book takes place very far in the future, but I cannot believe that the Supreme Court would ever allow this. Let's hope for the good of the Earth that the government never becomes this corrupt in the hands of corporate bribes and greed.

Today in our society with the current president, fake news, and freedom of speech and press in controversy, All Rights Reserved is very relevant to current issues and is a must-read for all adolescents soon making their way into adulthood in this complex world. It also reminds us that our freedom should never be taken for granted.

Readers discover that silence is more powerful than words. Words are not essential to forming a human being or a personality. It is what one stands for that defines a person. Speth is extremely humble. She did not want to be a hero, and constantly worked for the better of her friends. It was nearly impossible for her to resist the urge to speak and defend herself, and I doubt I would be able to hold on as long as she did. She was able to channel her rage into power and motivation to change the world.

I highly recommend this book. I cannot wait to read the next book, Access Restricted, which comes out on August 28, 2018!

Title: All Rights Reserved
Author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 400
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hit Count by Chris Lynch

Hit Count is a YA realistic fiction book about brain injury and the dangers of football. Arlo Brodie loves playing football, just like his brother, following in his footsteps all the way to the top. Hitting others, and getting hit back. Arlo becomes known as "Starlo," showing no mercy and helping to win games. As his personal life spirals downward, he pushes himself harder and harder, ignoring concern from the coaches. Despite the grueling headaches, blackouts, dizziness, and confusion, the cheering crowds convince him that he is fine. However, the brain can only handle so much.

This book largely expands on how football makes people violent. Football promotes violence, and Hit Count shows the story of two brothers who became almost addicted to the rush of adrenaline they got from tackling someone. All the time, Arlo would talk about wanting that rush, no matter the pain. Football shaped him into almost a sadist. The depiction was extremely accurate and almost scary. I loved it and the thrill!

I also loved the intense account of pain. Specifically, how he felt after every tackle. I have never seen a picture of pain quite like this, especially since he did not give in and cry or ask for help. It just kept building and building. I also enjoyed the conflict with his family and following in his brother's footsteps. It was fascinating to witness how once he saw a brother consumed by violence and doing everything wrong, to doing almost exactly what he was doing, not able to stop it. The cause and effect scenario relating to football was very loud and clear.

Even with the clarity of the theme, it lacked the clarity for Arlo. My one major issue with this book is the lack of guilt and reflection. Arlo never once says "I shouldn't have hit as hard," or "I should have listened to the coach," or "I should've payed attention to my body and stopped." It is inferred that he learned  his lesson and reflects on his life, but he is so indirect about it that I find Hit Count's argument not as productive. It was very show and not tell. Usually that is a good thing, but I wanted more of him telling the reader what not to do, actually voicing to the reader the danger and not to push themselves. Again, the correlation to the changes in his personality and the personality of his brother was extremely clear to the reader, however it was not so clear to the character.

It was so good in the beginning and the middle, but I feel like the book fell flat at the end and failed to fully deliver its real message and warning to football players. However, I did really enjoy the book and its vivid descriptions, imagery, and emotion. Hit Count is a 5-star book up until the end, which is the real downfall; the lack of reflection and regret.

I recommend that you read this book for fun and for a firsthand account of pain. However, if you are interested in more of the seriousness of the theme, I recommend that you read Second Impact instead, which is more developed in theme, guilt, and life lessons.

Title: Hit Count
Author: Chris Lynch
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 368
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars
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