Monday, January 29, 2018

The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie

The Pain Eater is a deep YA realistic fiction novel that is full of pain, but also of hope. While Maddy was walking home after a play, five boys jumped out from the shadows and attacked her. Ashamed and afraid, Maddy keeps it to herself. Seven months later, at the start of a new school year, Maddy's goal is to sit quietly and hide. That task becomes rather impossible when two of her attackers show up in her English class. The bullying worsens, to the point that she doesn't know what to do or how to cope.

Meanwhile, in her English class, the teacher assigns a group novel, where every student has to contribute a chapter. The book the students write is The Pain Eater, about how everybody in a village makes a girl (Farang) literally consume their pain, so the rest of the people can be happy. As the story evolves, the students turn on Maddy, and fact and fiction blur together. With the help of Maddy's new friends, she beings to realize that her silence just gives them more control. Speaking up may be what can save her and Farang, too.

It is very rare to encounter two stories in one. Both Maddy's story and Farang's story were amazing, and I would read Farang's story even if it was just a book on its own! The parallelism and juxtaposition were extraordinary, and it really showed through. It is very obvious as the story goes on and the two worlds collide. Farang's life is basically a huge metaphor for Maddy, and I have never read anything quite like it!

I was disappointed that the teacher did not do much to help. Sure, Ms. Mousumi was concerned, but with the direction that the class discussions took, the correspondence and allegory was so blatantly obvious that I am surprised she did not realize. However, it is an accurate representation of how things really are in high school.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: The Pain Eater
Author: Beth Goobie
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pages: 236 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Contribute (Holo Book 2) by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute is the YA sci-fi sequel to Consider in the Holo series. The holograms lied to all of Earth, and Alexandra is the only person who knows the truth. She took a leap of faith into the vertex at the last second to tell everyone the truth in 2359. Alex struggles to cope in a seemingly perfect allusion without her anxiety medication, her family, and the knowledge that everybody is lying. She joins the Umbra, a secret rebellion formed by former Earth leaders to take down the holograms and get everyone get back home.

I am glad I bought this book! One thing I loved was Alex's evolution in this book, and in the series. She is terrified and just wants her family and friends and to go back home. Readers watch her evolve from that, out of her shell of anxiety and able to lead the people of Earth. Being the face of Earth is terrifying on its own; this takes pressure to a new level. Honestly, I don't think I would have been brave enough to do some of things she did.

This book also reveals truths about Earth and shows the attitude of people. Most of the humans did not want to go home; they did not want to earn their future. I loved that specific conflict of whether or not truth even matters, and the laziness and selfishness of humanity. However, Contribute clearly showcases that even one person can make a difference and change the planet. This book also teaches a lesson to not blindly trust the government.

I was very impressed at the vast amount of imagery and how much the book pulled me into the world. This is 300 years later, and apparently they figured out how to make light a solid, so their whole world and surroundings are customizable and created entirely by light. Surprisingly, this could be realistic. The Harvard Gazette claimed to have achieved this fate in 2013. They shot a lazer into a cloud of Rubidium that created what they described as "light sabers." Theoretically, it wouldn't be so far off if in 300 years from now we could make furniture out of light. So, I have to give the author credit for coming up with a setting that is is crazy, but also believable.

I highly recommend this series, and I hope the author writes more books!

Read my review of the previous book, Consider!

Title: Contribute
Author: Kristy Acevedo
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Pages: 330
Series: Yes, Book 2/2
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick is a YA realistic fiction book about the special bond between two brothers. Stark McClellan has anotia. He was only born with one ear. He is called Stick for being tall and thin. He's constantly bullied for how he looks, but his brother Bosten always defends him at school and on the streets. But neither boy can defend themselves from their abusive parents. When Stark's parents find out that Bosten is gay, he runs for his life. Stark loves his brother, and runs after him, in search of his brother and people who will love them for who they are.

I must say- Stark is only 14. Yes, he is tall, but somehow I find it hard to believe that he can drive successfully 15 hours straight safely by himself. His voice also sound like he's 17. Stark was forced to grow up way too soon and learn to take care of himself. I had to constantly remind myself that he's only 14, which makes this tale even sadder and more infuriating. The level of responsibility on his shoulders is way too much for anyone. To say this book is emotional is a vast understatement. 

Stark is one of my favorite male narrators of all time. He has so much piled on him, but somehow he manages to keep a clear head and maintain a positive outlook. This kid gets up every time he falls, and isn't afraid of anything. He is the type of character who will always stick with you. Stark would be an amazing role model for everybody, and teaches others to be comfortable in their own skin. Stick teaches those in tough places to never give up searching for safety and love. While running away is not something I would recommend, know that there is always somebody in the world who will accept you for who you are. There is more to life than your burdens. 
I highly recommend this book, but only for older YA readers due to a few intense situations. I am looking forward to reading another book of the author's, Grasshopper Jungle.

Title: Stick
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 292
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, January 12, 2018

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a YA realistic fiction book about a girl's unfortunate, hilarious freshman year. Kelsey Finkelstein is starting freshman year at high school. She is dedicated to making a mark at her new school, but that doesn't go as planned. She navigates through being goalie on the soccer team with a captain who hates her and getting cast as a fat male butcher in the school play, Fiddler on the Roof. Combined with embarrassing pictures in the school paper and boy problems, she'll need a lot of optimism and self-esteem to get through freshman year.

Kelsey is a stereotypical popular girl. She is very concerned with boys, drinking, clothes, and parties. She is a whiny brat at times and constantly demands attention from her friends, and she is very rude to her parents and sister. Kelsey is very concerned with her appearance and appears shallow in quite a few instances. One thing that's very ironic is that Kelsey and her friends are very immature but the book tackles mature concepts like sex, drinking, and gay awareness.

This book was just okay. It felt cliché and boring at times. There were some funny moments, but some of the ideas were just very far-fetched, like the play. My school actually put on Fiddler on the Roof, so I am familiar with the story. Yes, it was very funny, but I just can't wrap my head around how the "disaster" could have happened for real, like some of the other phenomena. This book is not a good example of freshman year of high school at all, and while it is quite funny, this should no way be compared to the real thing.

I didn't hate Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, I just didn't like it very much. This is a fine book for a leisure read if you want something lighthearted and funny, but don't take it seriously and don't get your hopes up.

Title: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ground Zero (T.O.E. Trilogy Book 3) by Al Stone

Ground Zero is the third and final book in the YA fantasy T.O.E. trilogy sent to me by the author. Every 26,000 years, the Annus Magnus comes. It's the end of civilization. Sometimes, a few lucky people can survive. This time, nobody stands a chance. The only hope for civilization is Charlie Blake finding all four elemental diamonds to restore the talisman. As the lines between friends and enemies start to blur, Charlie must look deep inside himself to figure out what his destiny is and what he is truly fighting for.

It was really hard to put down this book, and I was mad when my Kindle suddenly decided to do a system update (which took 15 minutes) in the middle of the book! The imagery was so intense that it was physically hard to tear my eyes away from the pages.

I must say, there was a lot to wrap my head around. Almost every chapter, he's somewhere else and another huge event occurs. There were so many twists and turns it was sometimes quite overwhelming. I still have some questions that will require me to read the book again. On the bright side, I liked the book so that won't be a problem!

This cover is my favorite of the series. It is simple, yet full of meaning. A regular boy infused with royalty and forced into leadership. This book is where Charlie really feels the huge pressure. Stopping an enemy or a demon is one thing, but the whole world ending is another. My heart goes out for Charlie and his extreme courage. The ending wrapped up the series very nicely and clearly shows the outcome of the rest of their lives.

I recommend that you read this series!

Read my review of the first book, The Talisman of El!

Read my review of the second book, Blackout!

Title: Ground Zero
Author: Al Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing Ltd
Pages: 565
Series: Yes, Book 3/3
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie

Personal Effects is a YA realistic fiction book about strength in the face of death. Matt's older brother T.J. was in the military and died in Iraq. Now Matt is broken, and his life is falling apart. After another student wore a T-shirt with T.J.'s name on it purposely to upset him, Matt fought him.

He's suspended and charged with paying for the trophy case he broke in the attack, and he's lucky he's not in jail. Matt's relationship with his dad deteriorates. One day, T.J.'s personal effects arrive with all of his belongings. His dad forbids him to touch anything, but Matt looks anyways for glimpses of his brother to remember. He discovers that he wrote a letter that never got sent, and Matt goes on a mission to track down the person and deliver the letter in his brother's memory.

Matt is very angry, which is understandable. However, I love how he took that anger and used it to do something good. He had strong character development and went from fragile and broken to being able to stand up to his father and knowing that he can have a future of his own. I also loved the aspect of independence. He travels across the country without parent permission and successfully takes care of himself. I loved watching him prove to himself and the world that his father is wrong about him and his potential.

This book is full of emotion. The anger, grief, and betrayal jumped off the pages and stabbed my heart in its core. Personal Effects displays the struggles of millions of people all over the world. 4,486 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, and over 32,000 were wounded. This book yells out loud and clear the pain of death, and how hard it is to cope. For anyone who has lost a family member or friend, this would be a special read. It teaches others that they are not alone in their pain and strategies to help heal the wounds.

I highly recommend that you read this book!

Title: Personal Effects
Author: E.M. Kokie
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 352
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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