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
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