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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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Kingdom Soul (Kingdom Cold Book 2) by Brittni Chenelle

44556294. sy475 Kingdom Soul is the second book in the YA fantasy trilogy Kingdom Cold. This book was sent to me by the author. Five years after the fall of Besmium, Charlotte and her young daughter Morgana hide in a small village from Lancelot and King Arthur. Reeling from the death of his brother, Minseo has been drinking away his feelings. But when news arrives that Lancelot is close to finding her, Minseo runs away to find Charlotte and protect her. But even though Charlotte loves him, she can't tell him her secret just yet.

Kingdom Soul certainly served its purpose in showing the aftermath of Besmium's fall and introducing the major secrets that haunt the next book. It was fascinating how motherhood and grief changed Charlotte and Minseo's personality. I also enjoyed the very diverse set of characters, including LGBTQ people. I was very surprised at the major plot twists and very intrigued to learn more about King Arthur and the surprise addition of having Merlin as a character. I love how this medieval fantasy world keeps growing. It was very fast paced and I finished the book very quickly.

Despite enjoying it, I had a few issues. I found the romance a little rushed between Charlotte and Minseo, even though they had a connection in the previous book. And I would say that the final plot twist at the end was a little unbelievable. 

I do recommend this book and am excited to read the next book, Kingdom Untold, which comes out on August 22nd! 

Read my review of the previous book, Kingdom Cold.

Title: Kingdom Soul
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Brittni Chenelle
Pages: 248
Series: Yes, Book 2 of 3
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts by [Kowalski, Charles]Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts is the first book in a middle grade series with a creative mix of historical fiction and mythology. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released in two weeks on August 1st.

In 1620, Simon Grey has always been able to see ghosts and spirits. Desperate for them to stop haunting him, Simon boards a ship set for the spice islands, but crashes on a Japanese coastline instead. He soon learns that he can see yokai, spirits and shadows- not just ghosts. He also learns that an evil sorcerer and shogun want to steal his ability to gain immortality, and must learn to fight back to free his friends and his life.

I learned briefly about yokai in my A.P World History class when we discussed animism and the Edo Period of Japan, and I was excited to learn more about them! I loved the historical accuracy of the story, like including the Sakoku Edict of 1635 and their war on Christianity. I found this book very educational on Japanese folklore, but fun and light at the same time. I enjoyed the very imaginative concept that provided lots of entertainment!

I found many of the scenes very funny and mystifying. The adventure continuously raised the stakes and I was anxious to find out the ending! Simon was a sincere narrator with tons of character development. He goes from feeling alone and expressing hatred for his ability to appreciating the need of it to save his new friends. The story is very empowering and can teach young readers to embrace who they are.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts
Author: Charles Kowalski
Publisher: Excalibur Books
Pages: 192
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Wave by Todd Srasser

481743The Wave is a YA historical fiction book that takes The Third Wave classroom experiment from 1967 into a modern-day setting. Students in Burt Ross' history classroom don't understand how Nazism was able to become so powerful- surely the people would have realized their actions were wrong and stop it, right? Wrong. To illustrate how powerful peer pressure and human desire to gain social power can overpower moral beliefs, Mr. Ross creates a fake movement called The Wave. But the experiment grows quickly out of hand and it is up to two students of their school newspaper to expose the truth and stop it.

When I've learned about the Nazis in school I've had the same questions that these kids had. How could these ordinary people turn into monsters and think killing millions of children is acceptable? How can loving, kind people suddenly forget their morals and be brainwashed so easily? Like their teacher, mine haven't exactly had the best answers either. The Wave explains everything- it's like something clicked in my brain after reading it. How come I hadn't heard of this before? As an editor of my school newspaper, I also loved the influence of their newspaper.

I found this story absolutely fascinating. There is no question in my mind that this event should be taught in all history classes and this book should be required reading in schools worldwide to teach us a valuable lesson about the dangers of sacrificing moral beliefs in favor of social acceptance and self-worth. This book reminds and questions the readers beliefs and puts them in their shoes. The Wave is very thought provoking. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Would you blindly follow the leader regardless of the outcome or would you find the strength to think for yourself?

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The Wave
Author: Todd Strasser
Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books
Pages: 138
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

44303513. sy475 A Shifting of Stars is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. In Meadow Sircha's kingdom, talk of rebellion or dislike of the sadistic Emperor results in a death sentence. However, dislike of the Tyjans is quite automatic as he neglects his citizens and forces them to fight to the death in his tournaments. After the 17-year-old's mother dies because the Emperor would not give her the medicine needed, Meadow speaks out, asking the villagers to boycott. When she and her father are captured, Meadow barely escapes with her life and journeys across her kingdom to find him, ending up in more trouble than she bargained for.

A Shifting of Stars has an amazing cover that captures the magical and somewhat tragic fates of the characters. Meadow faced plenty of tyranny in her life, but her I love how she was still afraid and angry at it. Meadow is very brave and modest, feeling powerless to help her people but trying everything she can anyway even with her anxiety. Vogel was my favorite character. He was beguiling and battled internal demons. He was darkness and Meadow was light, they balanced each other out. Their romance was beautiful and felt very realistic.

The torture shown was very vivid and evil. The plot surprised me and quickly threw me off course. The magical twist was fascinating and opens a whole new realm of possibilities. The ending was lovely and exactly what I wanted. However I wanted more clarity on how the magic spells worked and where they came from, and some of those scenes were bizarre and not explained.

I recommend you read this book! I'm excited to read the next book!
Title: A Shifting of Stars
Author: Kathy Kimbray
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 450
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 StarsGoodreads

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

28369599I Wish My Teacher Knew is a nonfiction book about the movement that transpired when Mrs. Schwartz had her third-grade class answer the open-ended question on a post-it. She gets heartbreaking answers and forms connections with her students that goes viral worldwide. Mrs. Schwartz tells her story, the story of her students, and how she creates a feeling of safety and unity in her classroom.

I plan to be a teacher, and I will aspire to follow in her footsteps, learn from her mistakes, and use her strategies. In addition to just this fill-in-the-blank sentence, Schwartz goes through her own education and mistakes she's learned from. I particularly loved how she pointed out key phrases to say and others to avoid or change to promote inclusivity. Some of her tips and tricks I never would have thought of.

I Wish My Teacher Knew is not only aimed for educators, but this also has appeal for students because it teaches steps they can take to make new friends and help the classroom become safer. This book also clearly showcases how teachers are not perfect and shows how good intentions can easily backfire. I Wish My Teacher Knew helps students understand their teacher better. This book is also important for policymakers and politicians to read as Schwartz makes important points about poverty in schools and what systems should be in place to help them. I was shocked at how thorough the research was and I found the statistics startling.

I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read it again! I cannot wait to read her new book, I Wish For Change.

Title: I Wish My Teacher Knew
Author: Kyle Schwartz
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Pages: 272
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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