Monday, December 30, 2019

White Blossom (Dark Irregular Book 2) by Kaitlyn Legaspi

49193969White Blossom is the second book in the YA Fantasy series Dark Irregular. This book will be published on January 31, 2020 and was sent to me by the author.

After sealing the Dark Irregular inside of her, Kanna is living life adjusting to the means of being a princess and studying her magic peacefully. However, soon she and her friends are thrown into action when the Dense Shadows start attacking. In addition, another irregular, the Lone Irregular, is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the shadow world from the living. In order to prevent this catastrophe, Kanna must find the White Flower of the Imperial Majesty- even if it means sealing another irregular inside her.

While the writing quality, plot development, world building and imagery were excellent as expected, it is the characters of this series that make White Blossom special and is what this review will focus on.

Kanna is a fearless leader who might be the most noble, selfless character I have ever encountered, and she never ceases to amaze me! She is constantly willing to risk her life for strangers and make the world better at any personal cost. We need more Kannas in this world with her kind and gentle soul. Kanna's character development was clear compared to the first book. She is now proud of who she is, and willing to accept her role as Princess. Her powers have also grown substantially.

The secondary characters have a wide variety of personalities that fully represent the types of people in the world. I enjoyed the reemergence of Kenneth's character and his darker side that drove a wedge between their relationship. I loved the mystery surrounding Ronan's character and the themes of acceptance and love regarding his appearance. I was concerned initially by the large amount of characters, but Legaspi was successfully able to maintain many storylines and personalities without it becoming too crowded. I liked how the "villian" of the story, the Lone Irregular, still had some light and kindness despite the frighting stories.

I love how the cover is simple, yet symbolic, with the red ribbon that will play a large role in Kanna's fate. I was very saddened by the ending of this book, and I hope the next book, Grey Heart, can still have an optimistic tone despite the circumstance and that her relationship with Kenneth can still find a way to succeed!

I highly recommend this book! Click here to see my review of the previous book in this series, Dark Irregular.

Title: White Blossom (Dark Irregular Book 2)
Author: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Publisher: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Pages: 282
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Frozen Secrets (Europa Academy Book 1) by Myles Christensen

53113684. sx318 sy475 Frozen Secrets is the first book in the Europa Academy series. This book will be released on January 25th, 2020 and was sent to me by the author. In a futuristic society, a colony is started on Jupiter's moon, Europa. Unfortunately, it's not all fun and games because soon the thirteen-year-old protagonist Max Parker and his friends witness a crime and learn more than they should regarding a tragic death, causing the criminal organization Xenon League to be determined to silence and end the life of these the teens. Sometimes, curiosity really can kill the cat.

The concept fascinated me since I learned in Astronomy about how Europa has a large potential for life and mineral resources. Just a few weeks ago NASA discovered the presence of water vapor. I enjoyed the author's invention of new hydrogen isotopes, elements, and molecules, like Catarium, Xenite, and Xenium. I was actually shocked to realize that the science mentioned wasn't real! It was clever how they were modeled after Xenon tri-Oxide since that isotope plays a large role in nuclear fusion. I loved the messages regarding the dangers of nuclear energy and the overall tone felt more realistic than science fiction. The amount of research, dedication, and effort put into making it as scientifically accurate as possible is extraordinary.

The imagery was superb and the cover is awesome! There was a clear plotline with a constant increase in intensity. I love how there were multiple climaxes throughout the book and the story kept evolving in new directions. I liked the irony of the name Max Parker as they are relatively average and common names while his character is anything but! I enjoyed the mystery of which characters were allies versus enemies, and I was surprised by the end. Speaking of the end, the book was wrapped up perfectly, resolving the main conflict but also leaving room for another tale. I particularly liked the touch of romance that has plenty of room to expand upon in the coming books.

I absolutely loved this book and it marks a great start to 2020 and the future of astronomy! I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Title: Frozen Secrets (Europa Academy Book 1)
Author: Myles Christensen
Publisher: Moon Zoom Press
Pages: 298
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, December 20, 2019

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand is a YA mix of fantasy and realistic fiction. Adam Strand has a relativity unique ability: he cannot stay dead. Ironically, even though Adam has died 39 times (suicide, accidental, and even murder), but somehow still wakes up the next day totally unharmed.

Initially I thought the irony was very clever, however I quickly became disappointed in this book.  According to the book, all Adam does is sleep, drink, and die. The reader gets bored very quickly of the same shenanigans and little to no plot structure at all. Several things in this "plot" make absolutely no sense. First, if Adam was truly immortal like the book says he is and he is viral on the internet, wouldn't the CDC or the FBI become involved and want to speak to him, quarantine him or experiment on him? The emotions and reactions of the characters in this book were also extremely unrealistic, especially Adam's parents, who one would think to be shocked and bewildered that their son is basically immortal.

I was also hoping for an inspirational message about the importance of life and an attitude change in Adam, but he had very little character development. There is nothing uplifting at all, not even a religious element. I was also disappointed in how it didn't even strike Adam how lucky he is- like think of how he could be a war hero or an astronaut? I am also fascinated by the magic of it all, and I would have loved some imagery of how his skin magically heals or how a bullet hole closes. 

All in all I found this book disappointing, confusing, and boring. I do not recommend this book!

Title: The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand
Author: Gregory Galloway
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan

38571446Here to Stay is a YA inspirational realistic fiction book that tackles bullying, racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia. When Bijan Majidi scores the winning basket in a varsity basketball game, his world is turned upside down. There are those who cheer for him, but jealousy and ignorance of his middle-east heritage leads to a bully emailing all the students in his school a picture of him photoshoped as a terrorist. However, Bijan refuses to let it break him or stop him from playing his favorite sport.

Basketball is personally my favorite sport to play, and I loved how accurate the descriptions of the games were and I felt like I was playing right there with him. Bijan is extremely brave. He never let the bullies win or bring down his confidence. He was not afraid to stand his ground and prove himself equal. I love how Here to Stay proves that even when it seems like the world is against you, there will always be people by your side who will continue to stand up for what's right.

Racism and Islamophobia are real issues and very present at this time in America and all over the world. Here to Stay clearly illustrates how ignorance leads to fear.  Especially in sports, jealousy is a powerful force that often results in hatred. This book combats the hatred with kindness and relentless determination. It's extremely diverse set of characters in races, religion, and sexual orientation adds to the inspirational tone.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Sara Farizan
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Sleeper by MacKenzie Cadenhead

26059415. sy475 Sleeper is a YA science fiction book. Sarah suffers from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which makes her act out her dreams, endangering herself and others. The experiential drug Drexid paralyses her when she sleeps, so she cannot hurt others anymore. However, this new drug allows her to jump into people's bodies when they are dreaming. This new power lets her have fun and get back at the bullies who taunt her- but soon the path of revenge threatens her sanity and those she loves most.

Sleeper is a very strange and, at times, disturbing book. I was hooked from the first sentence! I enjoyed reading it and there were definitely some scenes where my pulse was racing in fear. I liked how it contained elements of addiction and is very relevant with the opioid epidemic. Despite the very stressful and high paced book, I was very happy with the ending and was surprised to find calmness and satisfaction with no unanswered questions.

Sarah's character had some of the most internal conflict I've ever read. On one hand, she has this great power and has the chance to do right the people who wronged her, but deep down she knows what she is doing is wrong. She also has an abusive boyfriend who is a very bad influence, and I enjoyed seeing her struggle to do right and wrestle with the guilt of her actions.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Sleeper
Author: Mackenzie Cadenhead
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 272
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, November 29, 2019

Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 8) by Shannon Messenger

44150974. sy475 Legacy is the eighth book in the middle grade fantasy series, Keeper of the Lost Cities. Sophie Foster is tired of endless secrets and is determined to uncover the truth about her family and her friends' legacies. As the Dwarves land in danger and Keefe ultimately launches headfirst into his destiny, Sophie must face that some mysteries might be better left unsolved.

My favorite element of Legacy is the involvement of more characters shown in different lights. Messenger has a true talent for world building with dozens of characters emphasized in balanced amounts of attention and value. In addition, I love how Messenger is able to shock me with plot twists and revelations that are extreme but also believable.

Stina had extremely interesting character development because now she is no longer simply a "mean girl" or an enemy but an alliance with a developing friendship. I also enjoyed the greater role of Maruca and other previously backseat characters. Keefe's mom has always been a mysterious villain in the sense of her devoted love for her son and righteous points of view, and her development and plan by the end was rather shocking. The introduction of Glimmer as a character is fascinating and mysterious, and I cannot wait to see what Messenger has in store for her in the next book!

I also really liked the further development of Sophie's inflicting ability. In addition, I am so happy that one of Sophie's genetic parents is revealed! As usual, Messenger wrote an incredible cliffhanger and I cannot wait to read the ninth book when it is released next year! I started reading this series back in seventh grade and it amazes me that in next November when the ninth book comes out I'll be in college already! This is a series I will always keep with me.

I will say that I did have a few issues- primarily the pacing. For 800 pages, the huge climactic event at the end seemed too short and fast paced while other parts, like the beginning of the book, were slow and drawn-out and had the potential to be removed. While I do have tremendously high standards for Messenger as this is my favorite series, I love some of the previous books, like Neverseen, more.

I recommend you read this book!

Read my previous reviews of books in this series here.

Title: Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 8)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 816
Series: Yes, Book 8
Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Poseidon's Trident (War on the Gods Book 2) by A.P. Mobley

Poseidon's Trident is the second book in the YA Greek mythology trilogy, War on the Gods. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released next week on December 3. While Andy and Zoey have managed to steal the Helm of Darkness from Hades, they will need much more than that if they have any chance of defeating the Gods and restoring humanity's freedom. Next on their list is Poseidon's most powerful weapon: the Trident. In order to get it, the teens will have to enlist the aid of the Giant Prometheus and battle demigods, all whilst discovering the truth of their past and why they were chosen to complete the prophecy.

I love that contrary to Percy Jackson or most other mythology books surrounding demigods, this series uniquely discusses the potentially evil side to the Gods and the moral conflict that surrounds their children as a result, like Karter. While he has experienced terrible tragedies due to his father's (Zeus') selfish, horrific decisions, he still feels indebted to him and tempted to serve out his destiny and make his father proud. I vastly enjoyed watching him struggle with his choice to save humanity or to stand with his family. As consistent with the previous book, the imagery was substantial and Mobley has created a full world packed with intense action and emotion.

I also enjoyed the major plot revelations regarding Zoey and Andy's past and their true destinies. Choice verses destiny was a huge theme of this book. Speaking of Zoey and Andy, they are truly inspiring characters who never gave up, no matter how bleak their future looked. The dedication they had to keep fighting and save the ones they love is a rarity. Something else I enjoyed was the added hint of romance between Andy and Zoey, and I love how all the characters and their worldview keeps evolving.

I highly recommend this book! If you would like to know how to enter to win the presale/giveaway prizes, click here. It expires on December 17th, 2019.

Read my review of the previous book in this series, The Helm of Darkness. I can't wait to read the final book in this series, The Master Lighting Bolt!

Title: Poseidon's Trident (War on the Gods Book 2)
Author: A.P. Mobley
Publisher: Sea of Ink Press
Pages: 320
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Grape! by Gabriel Arquilevich

44025422Grape! is a middle grade realistic fiction book set in 1976 that was sent to me by the author. Gaby, (who changes his name to Grape) is a fifth grader at Rolling Hills Elementary school. You see, Grape is not an ordinary kid. He's got these spiders in his brain that make him do strange things and be quite impulsive at times. After he punched a teacher, the principal gives him one last chance, and he must write for an hour a day, reflecting on himself and explaining his side of the story.

I loved Grape!! One of my favorite things about this book is how honest and revealing it is regarding peer pressure and bullying. Grape is also quick to apologize and I love his explanations regarding the spiders in his brain. Yes, Grape acted impulsive and made not-so-great choices, but he is still a wonderful boy who had best intentions at heart and never meant to cause trouble or hurt anybody. A lot of the cringe-worthy embarrassing scenes were hysterical, and I would have liked to be his friend.

As a future teacher, I love how the book proves the value of second chances and the importance of taking the time to understand the motivations and reasons behind children's actions and not jump to punishing conclusions. It was also shockingly honest regarding issues like bullying, jealousy, crushes, immigration, divorce, and religious disagreements. Grape! also would be a great guide to teachers, and there are a lot of amazing excuses and reasons for his behavior that I wouldn't have thought of if I were in those situations.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Grape!
Author: Gabriel Arquilevich
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Pages: 185
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, November 15, 2019

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

35516439. sy475 Where I Live is a YA realistic fiction book. Linden Rose is homeless, living in the dirt behind her school. After her mother was beat to death by her father, Linden has been on the run, living in the back of her school. Flying under the radar used to be her specialty, but when she gets involved in a classmates' abuse and a reporter starts digging around, her cover may be blown.

The issue of domestic abuse was definitely represented clearly, but a surprising element that made me question the focus of the novel. The plot didn't have a clear path or real climax, jumping all over the place in no particular organization. It also felt like the author shoved too many serious issues in one book.

I was ecstatic to read this book, but it did not turn out at all what I had hoped. I wanted something touching and tear-jerking about the real issue of teen homelessness, but I was disappointed when it became a discussion about domestic abuse and running away rather than actually forced to live on the streets with nowhere to go. Linden had it easier than most and had friends she could rely on for food and a shower. Yes she was technically homeless, but she had a support system that undermined the gravity of homelessness that I was looking forward to.

However, this book can go to show the importance of having true friends and how to earn them. The support system of her teachers and friends saved her life and does prove that people are kind and willing to help you if you let them. It also still clearly illustrated how burdensome not having a home was, and could help educate people to look for the warning signs. I also love the inspirational tone of hope and learning to speak up for yourself and tell your story.

I do recommend this book and I enjoyed reading it, but just don't get your hopes up too high.

Title: Where I Live
Author: Brenda Rufener
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Anger is a Gift is a YA realistic fiction book about police brutality and racism in a high school. West Oakland High School is literally falling apart at the seams. Instead of purchasing textbooks and science equipment the principal is spending money on metal detectors. The police sweep the halls, randomly inspecting lockers and patting down the students for "weapons", inappropriately touching the girls and physically assaulting them with zero probable cause. When the police attack the students during a peaceful walkout, Moss Jefferies decides to use his anger to earn justice for his fallen friends.

Anger is a Gift made me very angry- though I suppose that was the point, to show readers that their anger and sadness can be turned into a force for change and inspire people to stand up for what's right. This book is shocking, and it is hard to imagine that these atrocities occur, especially by the ones who are supposed to protect us. The police are supposed to uphold the law, not break it. Obviously I know from the news about police brutality but it is entirely different to watch it unfold in your lap and be powerless to stop it. It felt real. I would say this book serves as a scary wake-up call to alert people that racism and police brutality is real.

My one complaint would be that I wished the book explored the legal side of the issue. Everything that occurred in this book completely breaks the Eighth Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, and even parts of the 14th Amendment. In all these meetings and town hall discussions and media coverage I am shocked that nobody ever discussed how the entire department could be criminally prosecuted- any lawyer watching the news with common sense could have jumped on this.

Other than that, I recommend this book!

Title: Anger is a Gift
Author: Mark Oshiro
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 463
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Spirit of London (Spirits Book 2) by Rob Keeley

25713716. sy475 The Spirit of London is the second middle grade fantasy book in the Spirits series. This book was sent to me by the author. After Ellie's parents get divorced, Ellie, Charlie, and their mother move back to London. Ellie figures everything will return to normal until she starts having visions and receiving panicked pleas for help from the ghosts of Mary and her father Henry, who are in danger after the evil murderer James Meadowes escapes his imprisonment. As Ellie tries to put her family back together and help Mary, she finds her worlds colliding- and realizes that nobody is who they seem.

I loved the family conflict. Ellie was caught in the middle of her parent's messy divorce and living in a tiny cramped flat with her mother acting bizarrely neglectful. For me personally, her conflict in the real world with her seemingly insane mother and scheming father was more interesting than the spirit world conflicts. Her emotion and fear was raw and I could connect to her easily.

I enjoyed the vast change in setting from the rural castle to the busy city. Similar to the previous book, I also saw the clear plot escalation with a terrifying climax. I loved how the intensity and mystique increased so drastically throughout the book. The mind-controlling aspect was superb and it was really cool when reality blurred with the spirit world. For a children's book, it was skillfully written with great imagery. This is a great mystery children's book that is easy to get into and hard to stop!  On a side note, I also love the cover!

I highly recommend you read this book! I cannot wait to read the third book in this series, The Sword of the Spirit! See my review of the previous book, Childish Spirits!

Title: The Spirit of London
Author: Rob Keeley
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Pages: 152
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 5
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Scary Books For Halloween

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 a Halloween freebie! I'm not personally one for thrillers or scary stories, but in case you are, below is a list of the top ten (mostly in order) terrifying books I've ever read!

3. H20 (The Rain) by Virginia Bergin
Regardless of whether or not I enjoyed the series, the concept of the bacteria-infested rain and the descriptions of the dead bodies was gruesomely horrifying. This was the ultimate apocalypse that was truly frightening!
2. Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
This book is hands down the creepiest, most thrilling book I've ever read! Don't be fooled by the seemingly harmless concept of a girl looking for her mother- it's a physiological thriller that was extremely terrifying by the end! 

3. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
This book definitely is one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. No spoilers, but by the end I was seriously freaked out!

This was required reading in my AP English class last year- and it's safe to say that it's not a book to read before bed! 
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5. After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
It's basically a book of all the ways the world could end- how is that not terrifying?

6. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I read this book a little more than two years ago in one of my English classes. The Lord of the Flies's initial survival concept is not scary, but what happens to these characters' personalities and what their new "society" becomes is one of the creepiest things to ever be envisioned.

7. Screamcatcher: Web World by Christy J Breedlove
The entire setting of this book is in a world created by nightmares and filled with monsters- while the book itself wasn't very scary, the ideas certainly were!

8. Wake by Lisa McMann
By the end this book definitely became terrifying- but you have to be patient for about 100 pages first before it truly starts to be disturbing. But I would say that Wake is probably one of the most well-written books on this list.

9. The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M Obrien
Oh boy, by the end here it's totally terrifying when the mystery is solved! While creepy in it of itself, the more you read the more freaky it becomes.

10. The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda
While this is one of the most thrilling books I've ever read, I never was truly scared or disturbed, which is why this is last. However, this fast-paced mystery is one to read!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Dark Irregular by Kaitlyn Legaspi

38917596. sy475 The Dark Irregular is the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy. This book was sent to me by the author. While previously published in March 2017 by Page Publishing, in one week on November 1 the author will be self-publishing it.

In a world of fantasy, humans, elves, and spirits roam. But there is also the Void, where shadows and irregulars live. Those shadows attacked the royal family, killing the queen but sparing her newborn daughter- Kanna. Years later when the innocent orphan turns 15, Kanna is invited to the palace to train as a magical apprentice. This excitement soon turns to mystery when the dark shadows attack her everywhere she goes- ultimately endangering somebody Kanna cares about and forcing her to make a life-altering, sacrificial decision.

Kanna has a kind-hearted, strong spirit that blew me away! I love how her confidence increased drastically over the course of the novel. I also enjoyed how Kanna opened herself up and became more friendly and willing to trust others and have friends for the first time. Her selfless acts to help Kenneth were inspiring and shocking. Her bravery, as well as her emotional outbursts, were extremely realistic and relatable. In association with her tenacity, I saw a lot of myself in Kanna and eagerly hoped for her success and well-being.

The fantastical setting was really cool and I enjoyed the sharp contrasting imagery of the magical beauty of nature compared to the darkness of shadows. I also liked the clear presence of a climactic event. The mystery surrounding the Irregular kept me intrigued until the end. And unlike my original predictions of him being an evil demon of some sort, I feel sympathetic to him and look forward to further exploring his complexity in the next book.

I highly recommend this book! The next book is expected to come out in February 2020.

Title: Dark Irregular
Author: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Publisher: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Pages: 244
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's Key is a historical fiction book that intertwines the lives of a present-day reporter and a 10-year-old girl who survived the holocaust. In Paris, 1942, Sarah thought her family was leaving the house for a few hours, not going to a concentration camp. She locks her younger brother in a closet to keep him safe from the police. Little does she know she'll not be back for years, leaving her brother to die while Sarah escapes and survives. 60 years into the future, a reporter investigating the holocaust finds a surprising connection between her and Sarah.

I loved Sarah's story and would have loved a whole book just about her! She was so innocent and determined to save her brother that it broke my heart. Unfortunately, Julia didn't appeal to me very much. I kept being disappointed whenever Julia's pages started and Sarah's ended! Sarah's story was so amazing and I wish that Julia's was held up with the same excitement. A concern of mine is how the book targets two separate audiences for two completely different characters. The connection between Sarah and Julia doesn't even really come until very far into the book at which point I am quite bored of Julia's romantic drama. I don't think the two stories were integrated together enough.

Sarah's Key is unique in the fact that it is not focused so heavily on the trauma that occurs in the concentration camps, but rather the events that led up to it and how to move on and have a life after losing everything and everyone you love. This book tells the story of a girl that managed to escape and showcases the kindness in people's hearts. This book also makes us realize how quickly we are to forget the atrocities in our past and teaches that we still have much to learn from them. Many people in this world are still extremely ignorant. But because I basically only liked half the book, I have to give it 3 stars.

Read this book if you want to.

Title: Sarah's Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffen
Pages: 353
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

24723223A Step Towards Falling is a YA realistic fiction book about two teens who fall in love while struggling to make up for their mistakes. Emily and Lucas froze that night at the football game. They both saw Belinda, a fellow classmate with disabilities, being attacked by the football players. They both froze and did not interfere. Sick with guilt, they try to find a way to help her while volunteering at a community center for people with disabilities.

I found this book tough to get into and somewhat confusing. For one thing, half of Belinda's POV was in the past and half was in the present with no indication of which time it was. The plot was also very simple and felt dragged out. I feel like there were scenes that could have been cut and the pacing could have been quicker. The plot also felt very predictable. Lucas and Emily's romance was very sweet and I adore them being together- however it did feel slightly circumstantial.

I also wished the book explored the psychological side of why they froze. The book also definitely stereotyped people with disabilities. And while the point may have been to prove them wrong, how many of the characters were described is somewhat offensive. A Step Towards Falling wasn't bad, it just wasn't great and I wouldn't be enthusiastic to read it again. I did appreciate how Lucas and Emily took to helping Belinda and saw how she deserves to have the same opportunities as others.

Read this book if you want to, just know that you may be disappointed.

Title: A Step Towards Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 361
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

29905711. sy475 The Art of Feeling is a YA realistic fiction book about two teens who fall in love while learning to deal with different types of pain. Since the car accident that killed her mother, Samantha has been in emotional and physical turmoil- not just from losing her mother, but the fact that she'll never walk normally again. Eliot has Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, which means that he can never feel physical pain. Eliot has let himself become a human punching bag and is trying to understand what emotional pain means as well. The two misfits fall in love while uncovering the truth behind the fatal car accident.

Eliot and Samantha could not be more different; Eliot cannot feel pain while Samantha feels too much. They made each other better people and I enjoyed watching them learn to experience and handle their emotions. Eliot is so socially awkward but very sweet and determined. It was funny and sad when he had to google what friendship was when he met her. I loved watching him learn what friendship meant and what it feels like to emotionally have pain and love and care for someone.

I liked the romance and it was very sweet. The love for each other grew gradually on the course of the novel and the romance felt real and genuine by the end. Before I read this book, I thought it would be awesome to not be able to feel pain, but now I know it's vast physical and physiological consequences. As much as we all hate pain, Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis does not make Eliot lucky in any way. The Art of Feeling teaches the surprising importance of having emotions and pain and the consequences of not dealing with them.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Art of Feeling
Author: Laura Tims
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Character Traits I Love

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 Character Traits I Love.

A book is nothing without an amazing character to lead it. If I cannot connect to the character and view him/her as a real person then the story isn't believable or interesting. A good story always starts with a character. Below are some of the character traits I love in random order! These traits are based on teenage characters, however they can apply to adult characters, too. 

1. Empathetic
For me to enjoy and love a character, he/she must have compassion and empathy for others. Empathy goes beyond simply being kind. The best example is Alix from Hidden. Alix broke the law and risked her life to protect an innocent stranger. While this is an extreme scenario, I love characters who take the time to understand other's feelings and put other's feelings and needs above their own.

2. Honest
Unreliable narrators are tricky for me. While people do lie, I generally want the character to be honest to themselves and to the reader of the realities of their situation- not just seeking the truth, but telling it. A clear example for me is Tandy in Confessions of A Murder Suspect. While Tandy is unreliable with her own memory, I love how she was honest with herself about it and clearly dictated to the reader her honest feelings regarding her own dishonesty and internal conflict of having a lack of perfect memory.

3. Reflective/4. Imperfect
I'm combining 3 and 4 because they go hand in hand. Imperfect is a huge one for me because in order for the character to feel real, they need to mess up and make mistakes like humans do, as nobody is perfect. At the same time, that character should acknowledge their mistakes and become reflective of them. The clearest example I can think of is from Little and Lion. Both Lionel and Suzette made huge mistakes, and I love them not only for being human, but for admitting they made those mistakes and learning from them. 

5. Heroic 
One doesn't need to have special powers or be characters from the Gone series to be heroic. I love it when characters are willing to defy the societal standard or their government to stand up for what's right or to save others from bullying or other various tragedies. Speth in All Rights Reserved is a clear example for me in this sense. She has no special powers other than a clear mind and a determination to stand up for equality and freedom of speech. There is heroism in journalism, like Carla in Second Impact, who is willing to write and expose the truth. 

6. Encouraging
Of course I love characters who are inspirational and encouraging, those who can offer me wisdom and strength. I adore characters who are role models, who prove that anything is possible and encourage readers to believe in themselves, keep their head up, and peruse their dreams. Hayley from Radiate is the first character that comes to my mind. Her positivity while facing cancer was stellar. 

7. Funny
Besides satirical humor and funny plots in general (ex: Losers Take All), I personally love characters who have the confidence to laugh at themselves or who can take awful situations and find light hearted silver linings in them. For example, Trevor Noah in Born A Crime grew up during difficult apartheid and even as a young child he could joke about abuse and poverty but still acknowledge it's seriousness. 

Well, that's 7- what do you think the last 3 should be?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Childish Spirits (Spirits Book 1) By Rob Keeley

45992224Childish Spirits is the first book of five in the middle grade fantasy series Spirits. This book was sent to me by the author. When Ellie and her family move into an ancient manor, she makes friends with the ghost of a little boy, Edward, who lived there over a century ago. Quickly it becomes clear that someone is trying to hurt Edward and Ellie will do everything in her power to protect him from the evil spirits.

I liked the unique setting combining the past and present day. I loved the mystical vibe! The castle was super creepy, mysterious, and fascinating! I also loved cool idea of the spirit world and I found their magic powers to be fascinating. I enjoyed how the spirit world and magic was blended into the real world so that readers weren't always sure if what was happening was real or not!

It was also really funny when Ellie's family saw her talking and interacting with a spirit/ghost they couldn't see! That also raises the question of why Ellie can see the spirits in the first place- but hopefully that will be answered in the next books! I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding Edward's family history. While I did guess most of what happened, there were definitely moments that blew my mind! My one critique is that the cover seems a bit dull and undersells the magic and excitement of the story.

I highly recommend this book!

I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, The Spirit of London!

Title: Childish Spirits
Author: Rob Keeley
Publisher: Matador
Pages: 119
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 5
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, September 27, 2019

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration Edited by Rose Brock

34959355. sx318 Hope Nation is a YA collection of short stories written by authors describing times when they were able to find hope in seemingly hopeless circumstances. These authors (Atia Abawi, RenĂ©e Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, James Dashner, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I.W. Gregorio, Kate Hart, Brendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, and Jeff Zentner) share personal stories about their life with the goal to inspire their teen readers to remain hopeful in the face of peril.

Hope Nation teaches that even in the darkest times, there are always ways to find hope and optimism. Ranging from issues of death and tragedy to racism and the current President, Hope Nation explores a variety of dark times and circumstances where those victimized still manage to find hope. Libba Bray's essay was definitely my favorite. She described how she still managed to find hope and happiness after a horrifying car accident. I also enjoyed the essays describing the foundation of our country and the importance of protesting racism and violence, as well as those discussing immigration and moving on after terrorist attacks. If you are looking for uplifting stories by some of your favorite authors, read this book!

I highly recommend you read this book!

Here are some books I've reviewed by these authors:

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi 
Warcross by Marie Lu
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 

Title: Hope Nation
Editor: Rose Brock
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, September 23, 2019

Merged by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl

Merged is a YA science fiction book sent to me by the publisher. New technology has allowed one to merge minds with another- seven gifted teenagers will be hosts for genius minds whose bodies are about to perish. For some, it could lead to another lifetime of scientific breakthroughs- but at the cost of the health and mental well-being of the teens. When teens Orfyn, Lake, and Stryker start losing control of their minds, they attempt to fight back and reclaim themselves.

I loved every page and found the concept of merging minds fascinating! The creepy vibe was cool. I also loved the vivid degeneration of the character's minds. When reading Lake's passages with her memory loss and her bizarre new personality, I felt like I had Alzheimer's or was going crazy myself just reading it! It's awesome that the writing was still coherent and messy at the same time. In addition, this cover is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen! I also loved the mystery element. The ending was very bittersweet and satisfying.

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: Merged
Author: Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 300
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Kingdom Untold (Kingdom Cold Book 3) by Brittni Chenelle

46009292. sy475 Kingdom Untold is the stunning final book in the YA fantasy trilogy Kingdom Cold. While Minseo and Young try to get along without Charlotte, she bonds with a dragon and attempts to escape captivity in Camelot. Camelot is threatening war, but Morgana's elemental magic is stronger than Merlin. Her magic, along with Charlotte's new dragon, may be the key to defeating Camelot forever and gaining a peaceful home.

I loved the ending and the terrifying war that nearly brought me to tears with a shocking twist. It was my favorite book in the series by far! The ending was perfect and concluded the series nicely.  Morgana's powers were incredible and it was ironic having a child of just 5 years old have more power than Merlin! I enjoyed having Merlin be portrayed as a woman with real emotions and traits of humanity. As a woman, the original Arthurian legends definitely changed in this book- but I honestly prefer this version by the end. Merlin felt real and modern- as did Arthur's immaturity and childishness- despite being alive centuries ago.

In Kingdom Untold, Young must face that his wife has chosen his brother over him- and it obviously hurts, changing his personality and ambitions As he's next in line to be king as well, it was interesting to witness the corruptness and downfalls of having such power. I enjoyed how Minseo matured over the course of the series and how Charlotte made him a better man. In addition, Charlotte has vastly matured with motherhood in this book.

I highly recommend this book!

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

Title: Kingdom Untold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Brittni Chenelle
Pages: 320
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Audacity is a YA historical fiction book about the real life story of Clara Lemlich. A Jewish refugee fleeing Russia, Carla came to New York with an eagerness to read and write English, against her families' wishes. Carla is forced to endure harsh conditions at a shirtwaist factory whilst trying to help her family put food on the table. Carla couldn't stand how the women were being treated and with her newly acquired English skills, she created a union for women workers and fought for equality and safety in her new country. She is known today for organizing The Uprising of the 20,000, a strike that revolutionized the rights of a female in the workplace.

My favorite thing about this book is how it is written in free verse poetry. This choice was extremely fitting given that Carla didn't know much English, so naturally poetry would be easier to write than sentences and paragraphs. Crowder is seriously an incredible poet! Her endless similes fly off the page and the extensive inner dialogue lets me see into Carla's heart.

Carla's inner turmoil was extreme. She believed in her duty to be educated to defend her gender and stand up for worker's rights but at the same time she wanted desperately to be a doctor and go to college. By defying the female stereotype and role in a household she was hurting and betraying her family. Every protest or stance for a long time earned her vast beatings and broken ribs. At such a young age Carla went through so much and saw things that couldn't be unseen. She had an incredible amount of tenacity and a fearless determination that truly made a difference for millions of lives.

In history classes at school I learned about the New York shirtwaist strike of 1909. I learned about the sweatshops and child labor and the extreme maltreatment and abuse of young women, but it was entirely different and electrifying to practically see it happening right before my eyes. Audacity is inspiring in not only advocating the importance of education but the importance of always standing up for what's right. Lemlich proves that even the smallest voices can make a huge difference, and that women are just as powerful and significant as men.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Audacity
Author: Melanie Crowder
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 400
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Stone Man and the Trail of Tears by Charles Suddeth

44453832Stone Man and the Trail of Tears is a middle grade historical fiction story that was sent to me by the publisher. This book will be released in exactly one month on October 8th. As the Americans continued to explore the westward areas of the United States, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 allowed the military to take the Native tribe's land and relocate them- by force if necessary. When twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s village is attacked by soldiers and his family kidnapped, he and his younger sister are on the run. With the help of a white man named Johnny, Tsatsi must become a Cherokee warrior and find the strength to get to Oconaluftee.

I enjoyed how the story accurately conveyed the historical attacks against the Cherokee tribes. Stone Man and the Trail of Tears could be a useful educational tool. I also thought it was extremely important and beneficial how Stone Man and the Trail of Tears proves that not all white men were evil and discriminatory. Johnny took unfathomable risks to protect these two kids, inspiring others to do the same and reach out to those in need. The scenery was wonderful and I loved the action-packed scenes. As sad as the story was, I liked how all the characters were still hopeful and did not give up. We should all have the mentality of these characters. I adored the ending and it warmed my heart!

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: Stone Man and the Trail of Tears
Author: Charles Suddeth
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press LLC
Pages: 162
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Girl of All My Memes by C.S. Johnson

The Girl of All My Memes is a YA realistic fiction book sent to me by the author. Tommy has always been second in class ranking to Kara. His GPA only being a few tenths lower than Kara caused immense jealousy, and even hatred for a few years. When they are both entered in a competition to gain a full scholarship to their first choice college, Tommy begins to change his mind about Kara- even finds himself starting to fall in love with her. However, his chance at love could be destroyed by a silly decision he made to create memes about her.

I enjoyed how this book showcased the importance of forgiveness and understanding. It is essential to rise above hate, become better people, and learn from your mistakes- but not drown in them. The Girl of All My Memes is also unique in how it expresses how boredom, not just hatred, is a direct link to cyberbullying. Boredom breeds the most awful form of creativity, and it doesn't mean that Tommy is a bad person. A lot of cyberbullying instances don't stem from evil intentions- rather an accidental lapse of judgement. 

I love how The Girl of All My Memes was lighthearted and fun whilst still showing serious issues of mental illness and cyberbullying. It's much easier to read and digest than a serious book like Backlash or Here to Stay, yet they both expose mostly the same truths. Tommy and Kara's romance was very sweet and defies all obstacles. It was amazing to see how their love overshadowed the competition and jealousy between them. Kara's personality is radiating and vibrant. Besides how yellow is her favorite color, her positive and inspiring outlook on life is one that everyone should embody.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Girl of All My Memes
Author: C.S. Johnson
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 340
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Screamcatcher: Web World (Screamcatcher Book 1) by Christy J. Breedlove

45181000. sy475 Screamcatcher: Web World is a YA fantasy book sent to me by the author. Ever since Jory Pike lost her parents to a car accident, she has been haunted with terrible nightmares. She reluctantly agrees to try the original Chippewa dream catcher during a sleepover with her friends Choice, Darcy, and Lander. However, the dream catcher works too well- not only catching their dreams- but the teens as well! They get sucked into an alternate universe created by centuries of nightmares. Jory and her friends must attempt to survive their own worst nightmares and find the center of the dream catcher where they can escape through the light.

Screamcatcher is a very creative concept. I've always thought of dream catchers as pretty, peaceful items, so it was intriguing for them to be representative of evil. I loved the alternate universe! The setting was extremely fascinating and creepy at times, especially with the humongous insects. The book was very mysterious, and I enjoyed the mix of danger and excitement. I also love how theories of evolution and the nature vs nurture debate came into play. It was fascinating to watch how Lander's personality and characteristics changed after being stuck in this opposing environment.

I love how the end turned out and the progress of Choice and Joy's relationship. The contrast between the character's personalities, especially Darcy, was humorous. It was also really sweet how Choice and Joy refused to leave Darcy behind, even though she was a weak link. Screamcatcher also showcased the importance of having a positive attitude, and Darcy's circumstances amusingly reminded me of The Little Engine That Could.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Screamcatcher: Web World
Author: Christy J. Breedlove
Publisher: Fire and Ice Young Adult Books
Pages: 219
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hidden Scales (Merrows Book 1) by A.M. Robin

Hidden Scales is a middle grade fantasy book about a girl who finds out she's a Merrow. This first book in the Merrows series was sent to me by the author. Hidden Scales will be released on September 1st! When eleven-year-old Mira and her friend Peter discover that she has grown actual scales on her feet, the discovery triggers a curse that has them running for their lives. With the help of their new friends, Mira learns that she is a Merrow, and must master her new powers to fight back against the Empress of the Sea.

I enjoyed the major thematic similarities to Keeper of the Lost Cities. If you enjoy that series, you’ll definitely love this book! The plotline was fun to read and easily understandable. I enjoyed the unique representation of many types of magical creatures, like gnomes, pixies, and dragons. I also liked that humans were able to coexist and share the same kingdom with the magical species, an idea often not written about. I wish I could live there! The setting was vivid and realistic with lighthearted, peaceful imagery that makes you feel happy.

I liked how even though Peter is human, his intellectual ability and determination to protect his friends still made him a beneficial ally and an important character to the story. Mira's internal conflict and growth was instrumental. She goes from being insecure and terrified of her powers to embracing her identity and having newfound confidence. The cover art is also beautiful and captures both the dangers and the wonders of the ocean and their abilities.

I am excited for the next book in this series!

Title: Hidden Scales
Author A.M. Robin
Publisher: A.M. Robin
Pages: 324
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hyperion's Shield (The Scales of Torma Book 1) by Nathan Schivley

Hyperion's Shield is the first YA fantasy book in the Scales of Torma series. This book was sent to me by the author. After the Eighth Great War between the Reysa and the Gartune, the Gartune defeated the Reytanas and built a huge shield that prevented their sun-based powers. The citizens live fearful lives under their rule. Inside the city, twins Loras and Regan dream of being Reytanas and taking back their home. When their dream shockingly comes true, the twins, along with their best friend Tinko, are forced to flee for their lives. After discovering a refugee camp for fellow Reytanas, the twins participate in a massive battle to take back their city.

I loved Hyperion's Shield! While the book is quite long, it is worth the time! This strong, exciting story was very well written and captivating! The world-building was special and vivid. The literal battle between darkness and light was intriguing and ironic. It is a completely original and extremely creative plotline. I enjoy it when I get to read content that I've never thought of before.

I enjoyed Xander's vast internal conflict- if he decides to be with the girl he loves, he turns his back on his family. It was fun for me to predict what side he would be on. Tinko was enjoyable and confident. While he has no powers of his own, he still managed to stand out with his creativity, humor, and resourcefulness. I loved the twins' struggle to adjust to their powers and solve the mystery of their destiny. I was shocked by the identities and roles of Loras and Regan in the amazing final battle, and I loved the sweet cliffhanger at the end!

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

Title: Hyperion's Shield
Author: Nathan Schivly
Publisher: Blue Avenue Media
Pages: 585
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Unfettered Child by Micahel C. Sahd

52340361. sx318 sy475 The Unfettered Child is a YA fantasy book sent to me by the author. Long ago, the great magician Abizou became trapped inside a gem. He eventually is let out, and replaced with the evil elf Illtud. Years later, Abizou's spirit inhibits eight-year-old Samara, who discovers great power when fighting back against the elves who attack her village. Samara discovers the gem, and Illtud manipulates her magic with the goal of getting his revenge on the Havallan Empire. Meanwhile, her father fights to get his daughter back, no matter the cost.

I haven't read any concept like The Unfettered Child and highly enjoyed this unique magical story! I also liked the addition of Elves and their mischievous nature. I liked this unique approach to having a young child hold so much power. It was fascinating to watch her brain struggle to understand what she could do and the ramifications of her actions when she lost control of her magic.

I was amazed at how Samara was portrayed accurately to her age with emotional breakdowns. She also obtained a strong sense of moral beliefs and showed a massive amount of guilt that only a pure, innocent child could have. I felt bad for her struggle to overcome gullibility and traumatic memories. This much power caused quite the emotional turmoil in her, and my eyes teared up by the end of the book. Speaking of the end of the book, it was astonishing and I was totally shocked at the ending!

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: The Unfettered Child
Author: Michael C. Sahd
Publisher: Michael C. Sahd
Pages: 414
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Clash Of The Celestials (The Red Rover Book 2) by C.E. Whitaker III

51038229. sx318 sy475 Clash of the Celestials is the second YA scifi book in the Red Rover series that was sent to me by the author. Two years ago, the teens on the Red Rover became the last surviving members of the human race after the Galicia star system was destroyed. Their resources have fallen extremely low and they tempt a landing on a new planet to find a new energy source, food, and water. Not only did the teens discover all of the above- they are also drawn into a war.

I liked the introduction of new species and the expansion of their world. How the teens were able to drastically impact the worlds around them were fascinating to me. Clash of the Celestials definitely grew in intensity and the climactic huge fight at the end was spectacular and vivid! The spider monsters were very creepy, if I do say so myself.

I enjoyed the growth in maturity of the characters and their desire to become leaders, not followers. Their determination, teamwork, and heroism is a huge step up from the previous book. The reasons behind Andrew's parent's deaths were explored, and I liked watching his emotional breakdowns that provided a surge of realism.

I highly recommend this book!

Click here to read my review of the previous book in this series, The Red Rover: Origins

Title: Clash of the Celestials
Author: C.E. Whitaker III
Publisher: C.E. Whitaker III
Pages: 305
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

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 a freebie. 

I've chosen to write about a few of the many books that I've read over the years that never made it onto my blog. Below is a collection of 10 mini-reviews of some of my favorite 5-star books that never made it onto this blog. Those below are not in any particular order.

1. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau 
I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school and was mystified by the underground world. It was one of the first dystopian books I ever read and fell in love with the concept. I would rush through the pages searching for the solution to the mystery. Every time I reread it I discovered another detail I missed and loved. It's imagery was stunning and I still can vividly picture the tiny details of their world years later.

2. Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman 
Inspired by the story of Megan Mier, Backlash shows the dangerous consequences of cyberbullying and the horrible outcomes for everyone involved. What separates Backlash from other bullying stories is how it shows the POV's of both the bully and the victim. It was eye-opening to see how their lives are changed after Bree types words she can never take back. 

3. Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
The safety pin on the front cover is actually a very important part of the story- I love how simple, yet accurate, the cover illustration is. I had no idea what ARFID was until now, and I love how educational the story was. Pea's mental anguish was heartbreaking. I loved her determination to overcome her eating disorder and not let it define her. Ben is the perfect boyfriend and their romance was one of the most beautiful I've ever read.

4. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read this book back in 7th grade and still remember almost every page. Its striking and horrifying detailed deaths of the Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 are one of those images that don't leave your mind for a long time. Mattie is only 14 and suffers more loss in a year than most have in their lifetimes. She is extremely brave, in no means a hero, but just your average girl trying to survive against the most severe epidemic in U.S. history. If you like historical fiction, you must read this book if you haven't already!

5. Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau
While the situation was very unsettling, I loved how Time Bomb conquered the massive stereotypes and judgments regarding students who attack their school. Unfortunately mass shootings and bombings in school across the world are happening more and more often. This book addresses the stigma and false assumptions against those with mental illness and those of other races with a shocking ending that leaves readers questioning their own judgement and their political position on many gun-control laws.
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6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This is one of those books that is generally required reading in school, but I was awestruck reading it and fell in love with the reliability and anguish of these teens living with stereotypes not so different from our own still today, just trying to survive and find their place in the world. The language and writing style is very simple, yet it speaks volumes.

7. Transparent by Natalie Whipple
I've read this book more times than I can count and was hooked from the first sentence. Many wish they were invisible, but Transparent clearly showcases that being invisible comes with its own issues. Fiona is fierce and delicate at the same time, a balanced and reliable narrator that is easy to connect to and cheer for. 

8. The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo 
The Deepest Roots is a beautiful tale of friendship that is truly inspiring, magic or not. All three girls risked their lives for each other and are a family. This book teaches that even when all seems lost, the power of love and friendship will still prevail. The girls' powers were fascinating and I loved their hardships.
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9. Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey
I loved watching Charlie discover his identity and emerge from the shadow of his abusive childhood. By the end, I loved how Charlie was finally empowered and on his way to being a man and starting a real life.
10. Sparrow by Sarah Moon
Sparrow is a lovely testament to grief. Sparrow is a troubled young girl who is very misunderstood, and I adored her growth in finding her own voice, as well as the coping strategies that the book taught.
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