Friday, January 31, 2020

The Stranger by Albert Camus

49552The Stranger is a realistic fiction book that I recently read in my AP Literature and Composition class. Normally, I do not review books that I am required to read, however I have strong opinions regarding this book that I wish to voice. It follows the character Meursault, who committed a murder that issued him a death sentence and reflects upon the meaning of life and death. The Stranger is known for its foundations on existentialism.

For me, the most important factor in whether or not I enjoy a book is a realistic character with emotions that I can invest myself in. Meursault is perhaps the most emotionless main character I have ever read. Quite honestly, he is so apathetic that I would almost characterize him as a sociopath. All he cared about, if he cares about anything, is himself, and yet that is not even obvious as he does not have a care in the world during his trial and the death of his mother. I was not invested in his fate and by the end, I didn't exactly care about his execution. I understand that the writing of his detachment from the world around him was deliberate, however he was also detached from the audience and I was left disappointed by the lack of humanity in his soul. Now, I could still like the book if there were strong secondary characters, but even Marie felt distant and almost made of glass or shadows.

Yes, the execution was very unfair and there are good points about existentialism, but it could have been executed better. For instance, the targeted audience is confusing. It is at a seventh grade reading level, but yet full of mature concepts that are inappropriate for that audience. The Stranger was also bland and unsophisticated with a strangely simplistic sentences. There is a very narrow way of looking at life and his message at the end with life being meaningless is downplayed by Meursault’s lack of indifference and bleak, almost non-existent morals.

This book should be known for its ideas, but Camus is not a writer worth the amount of attention the book received. I was missing an "it" factor, something to excite me, but rather the book is narrated with such  monotone that it is perfect for only one task- a bedtime story.

I don't recommend this book.

Title: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
Publisher: Vintage International
Pages: 123
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star
Goodreads

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

1669331Gym Candy is a YA realistic fiction book that exposes the dangers of steroids and the mental/physical consequences of playing football. Mick Johnson is a Runningback for his school football team, and he has dreams of being a hero and winning games instead of being the reason the team loses- because he isn't strong enough. Fast enough. Desperate to fit and become better, he tries steroids. After that one dose, his life is changed forever and begins to deteriorate.

Gym Candy emphasizes one of the many dangers of football and one of the main reasons why I dislike the sport. Aside from physical injury, this book explores emotional and psychological damage. More than most sports, Football encourages its players to be the absolute best and is the nightmare of body image and peer pressure. The immense pressure involved in the popularity and idolization of the game leads to body image issues and a desperation to be accepted by any means possible. Football is by far the most cruel sport there is, and I love how Gym Candy thoroughly showcases these risks and consequences.

This was an extremely intense and sad books that I know will move others to change themselves and their beliefs. The end of this book can make you cry. Mick has a conscious and he is an extremely intelligent boy. He just made a mistake and became sucked into a fantasy with strong ideals that ended in catastrophe- but he is still an inspirational, good person who simply gave into peer pressure and made a mistake. Deuker will keep you on your toes until the very end, and I came to care immensely for Mick.

I cannot wait to read even more books by Deuker! I highly recommend this book!

Read my review of another book by this author, Gutless! If you are interested in other books portraying the negative effects of football, I recommend that you read Hit Count and Second Impact.

Title: Gym Candy
Author: Carl Deuker
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Odriel's Heirs (Odriel's Heirs Book 1) by Hayley Reese Chow

50245628. sy475 Odriel's Heirs is the first book in its YA fantasy series. This book was sent to me by the author and will be released on March 1, 2020! Kaia is the Dragon Heir, trusted with the power of fire. An outcast from society, she hates her ability and hides on her family's secluded farm. But after her father is kidnapped and the necromancer’s undead attack, she runs away to join up with the Shadow Heir and save Okarria.

This book's fast pace and epic battle in the first few pages surprised me, and I quickly became engrossed in Kaia's story. She had extreme inner conflict, self-hatred, and fear of her own powers. I loved her character development as she learned to embrace her fire and her destiny. By the end, her confidence in herself and her fire was so powerful that she could be a true goddess. The cover art's fire is beautiful, yet powerful- just like Kaia.

The world-building was incredible and beathaking. The village of the Maldibor Clan felt so peaceful and warm. The imagery of her fire was extraordinary and I enjoyed the graphic battle scenes. It is no wonder that the scenes of war were so amazing, considering how the author is an Air Force Veteran and reservist. Ha, maybe every war veteran should write novels!

I highly recommend this book! I cannot wait to read the next book, Idriel's Children!

Title: Odriel's Heirs
Author: Hayley Reese Chow
Publisher: Hayley Reese Chow
Pages: 332
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Monday, January 13, 2020

Before the Legend by J.U. Scribe

21780308Before the Legend is a short middle grade historical fiction story that was sent to me by the author. Troy, the four year old youngest son of the king of the Roman Empire, had a nightmare that there was an earthquake that swallowed his parents. Three days later, a similar event comes true and Troy must face a future without the love of his parents.

I liked the touch of Greek mythology and the historical culture.
I was also fascinated by the magic involved of Troy basically predicting the future. It will be interesting to read in the future if he has the magic ability to predict the future or not. The father's character development was extraordinary and I love how the brothers grew closer together by the end. While it was sad, it was nice to have a hopeful tone.

It took me a little less than half an hour to read, so it is great to read while taking a break from day-to-day stress. I was disappointed when it ended. This was a wonderful tale and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future!

I highly recommend this very short story!

Title: Before the Legend
Author: J.U. Scribe
Publisher: J.U. Scribe
Pages: 52
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Book Releases in Early 2020

One of the most exciting things about a new year is new books to read! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2020. The following books are in order of release date (alphabetical if same date).

1. Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
                                              Expected Publication: January 7th, 2020
The king's daughter just became Queen- but she's a Nameless, part of a peasant social class so disrespected that they don't even have names. With a kingdom in chaos, this girl needs to make a name for herself (literally), and fight for her class.
46322138. sy475

 2. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Slim 
Expected Publication: January 7th, 2020
Amaya has been held prisioner on a debtor ship for years with no hope for escape. But one day after rescuing a stranger from drowning, he frees her and offers Amaya a life of luxary. But all Amaya wants is revenge.
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3. Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Expected Publication: January 14th, 2020
This historical fantasy book tells the story of a magical pair of red shoes that causes uncontrollable dancing. When Rosella is cursed by the shoes, she must find the truth about what happened back in 1518 the last time the magic shoes were worn.
44218347. sy475

4. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Expected Publication: January 21st, 2020
Pepper's family owns the fast food chain Big League Burger, and she steals a grilled cheese recipe from a nearby deli owned by Jack's family. Soon both companies are engaged in a huge twitter war. What's ironic is that in real life, these two are falling in love with each other while destroying each other anonymously online.
45045129

5. The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Expected Publication: February 4th, 2020
Cal is a senior in high school with plans to become a journalist and he finally landed his dream internship at BuzzFeed. But Cal's father just got selected to travel to Mars, meaning they have to move to Houston, plus take part in a silly reality TV show. The silver lining? He's falling in love with Leon, another astronaut's son. 
44281034

6. Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
Expected Publication: March 3rd, 2020
From author of Heroine and The Female of the Species comes a survival story similar to Hatchet. One night Ashley goes out hiking with her friends in the Smoky Mountains to a party. When she gets drunk and catches her boyfriend cheating, she runs off and trips down a ravine. She must survive with nothing but her clothes and a nasty cut down her leg.
34604348. sy475

7. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Expected Publication: March 3rd, 2020
From author of Warcross, The Young Elites, and Legend comes a historical fantasy retelling the story of Wolfgang Mozart.
34213299. sy475

8. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Expected Publication: March 10th, 2020
Harley Milano dreams of being a professional trapeze artist. After a fight with her parents who insist she stay in school, she runs away to join a traveling circus.
38326343. sy475

9. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Expected Publication: March 17th, 2020
Six students who couldn't be more different are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover that it was all a trap, and become locked in a room with a bomb.
41443369

10. Loveless by Alice Oseman
Expected Publication: April 30th, 2020
Georgia is 18 years old and has never been in a relationship or had a crush on anyone. Now at university, coming to terms with being Aroace, she must try to find a source of happiness.
42115981. sy475

What books are you excited to read this year?

Friday, January 3, 2020

Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball by Phyllis J. Perry

41217744. sy475 Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball is a middle grade inspirational book that was sent to me by the publisher. Fifth-grader Jack is having trouble at school dealing with bullies Steve and Cliff. They steal his lunch, flatten his bike, ruin his work and steal items precious to him. Jack has pretty much given up hope until a new kid shows up to school- Hans, from Germany. They soon become great friends, and while working on a project together, Hans gives him the strength to stand up for himself.

The cover is cool and I enjoy the symbolism of the yellow. This short, cute read is perfect for leisure reading! Its concept is one that (mostly) everyone can relate to. While being a relatively common topic of overcoming bullying, this book still managed to include some unique elements, like its inclusivity of other cultures and languages. I enjoyed Jack's character development. He went from being scared and pessimistic to being confident and willing to stand up for himself.

I enjoyed how Steve's character was portrayed by the end and the important messages he gave with the origins of his mean behavior stemming from his difficulty at home. Sometimes we forget that school is not all that a person is. I could totally see myself in Lizabeth's character. Hans was a unique character to say the least. I liked how this book tackled stereotypes and common assumptions, showing that despite his not knowing English, he still is intelligent and has many talents.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball
Author: Phyllis J. Perry
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Pages: 104
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads
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