Friday, May 29, 2020

Monster Problems by Jason R. Lady

49947590. sy475 Monster Problems is a middle grade fantasy book that was sent to me by the author. After being caught drawing in Brad's science class and being grounded from drawing, Brad's anger towards his annoying little brother, Daley, only worsens. Soon, a crow lands on his bedroom window and drops off a pen, of which Brad decides to draw Daley-Destroyer, a slimy green monster that would get rid of his brother. Problem is, this pen is magic, and suddenly the Daley-Destroyer comes to life! Brad must find a way to save his brother and erase the slimy monster.

Monster Problems is very relatable for most. Everyone has a talent or a skill that others are not happy with or do not respect, or a sibling who drives them crazy. Brad's anger and sadness is human and relatable, but over the course of the story he learns the importance of not taking out those feelings on others, and discovers his true feelings for his brother. What we decide to do with our emotions is what defines us.

I loved the magical pen! Personally, I have always loved to imagine bringing my art to life. The writing quality of Monster Problems was amazing. The similes and metaphors used on every page were fun to read and extremely effective in emphasizing the importance of his emotions or an idea. Saying you feel like you are trapped in a trash compactor, or feeling "like a knight ready to slay an evil dragon" is amazing! Lady goes above and beyond in his descriptions of everyday occurrences, which was fun to read. The fighting scenes against the monsters were terrific and like an action-movie! Monster Problems was fun and full of laughter!

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Monster Problems
Author: Jason R. Lady
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 174
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Gripping YA Opening Lines

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 Opening Lines.

The first page, paragraph, even the first sentence, of a book is extremely important in grabbing the reader's attention and interest. There are some where you can tell it will be an amazing read, and others where you aren't that excited anymore. Below are some of the most thought-provoking opening lines I have ever read!

1. Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu
"My mother takes the vase from the bookshelf and hurls it, smashing it to bits by my father's bare feet. My father doesn't even step back as the tiny pink and white pieces of ceramic skid past him on the hardwood floor. He just stands there, staring." I love the unusual nature of the father not instinctual moving, as well as the mother throwing it near the father. That signifies that whatever is about to come next, the context, is very important and very emotionally impactful.

2. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shawn David Hutchinson
"The boy is on fire. EMTs wheel him into Roanoke General's sterile emergency room. He screams and writhes on the gurney as though the fire that burned his skin away burns still, flaring deep within his bones, where the paramedics and doctors and nurses cowering around him, working desperately, will never be able to extinguish it." The imagery here is very skillful, instantly grabs my attention, and leaves me eagerly awaiting to find out more not only about this boy, but about how the narrator is able to witness it.

3. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
"If he touches her, I swear I'm going to rip his guts out with my bare hands and send them back to his next of kin for lunch." My first thought after reading this sentence was to think what a very rage-filled, slightly disturbing thought this was. Second thought was wondering "why"- the one word every writer should strive for.

4. Reality Boy by A.S. King
"I'm the boy you saw on TV. Remember the little freak who took a crap on his parent's oak-stained table when they confiscated his Game Boy? Remember how the camera cleverly hid his most private parts with the glittery fake daisy and sunflower centerpiece?" First, I love the rhetorical questions. Second, the crude imagery with a humorous, sarcastic note left me extremely intrigued in learning more of his character development since that time. 

5. Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
"There are mice. Lots of mice. Running all over my room. Letting out crying sounds that grate on my ears. They crawl on my feet. My legs. I feel them on my arms. Soft things with toenails like blunt needles." I have never read a first sentence that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the book like this one does. Miles From Ordinary maintains a creepy, at times disturbing, tone throughout the story. This first few sentences perfectly foreshadow the rest of the book and instantly hooks the reader.

6. The Taking by Kimberly Derting 
"My head was pounding. But not like a headache. More like someone was using it as a basketball against the pavement. For target practice. That was it, I realized, prying my eyes open at last. Something was hitting me." I love simile here, which provided an emphasis on how horrible her head must be feeling. What also makes this one gripping is the desire to know what is hitting her- and why. While I did not enjoy the story and did not end up reading more of the series, it still started out great!

8. How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
"She waits until we're driving over the bridge to tell me. This is a strategic move. Wait until your temperamental daughter is suspended over the Atlantic Ocean to drop the bomb, thereby decreasing the chance that she'll fling open the car door and hurl herself over the edge." The sarcasm in these first two sentences is awesome. In addition, now the reader really wants to find out what the mother will tell her, and why it is so awful that the main character references suicide over it?

7. Dry by Jared and Neal Shusterman
 "The kitchen faucet makes the most bizarre sounds. It coughs and wheezes like its gone asthmatic. It gurgles like someone's drowning. It spits once, then goes silent." I love the personification of the faucet in the opening lines, which emphasizes the importance of the object and the ramification in the rest of the story. The similes and imagery are skillful and one can tell immediately that Shusterman has written an incredible novel.

9. Cured (Stung Book 2) by Bethany Wiggins
 "A person can survive on sixty pounds of beans and three hundred pounds of rice a year. Dinner in the Bloom home tonight is beans and rice for the 365th night in a row. And we ran out of pepper yesterday." Well, that is... depressing, and quite dreadful to think of. So what will the narrator do to prevent the 366th night from being this way? That, I was absolutely dying to find out.

10. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
"I've been locked up for 264 days. I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space." This one is gripping because of the extremely short sentences describing the narrator's cell. Of course, now the narrator wants to know why she is locked up- and what could possibly change.

What books do you think have the best opening lines?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Boaters' Club by Deanne Baker

52416422. sy475 The Boaters' Club is a middle grade mythology book that was sent to me by the author. One day, Russian teen Matt and his friends run into Rusalka, a water zombie. Initially they hope it was just a hallucination- but when a house start catches fire and friends of theirs start losing their lives, it becomes clear that Rusalka and the monstrous mythical lizards must be stopped. Not by the police- but by Matt and his friends, Amy, Joe, and Tyler.

I enjoyed the foreshadowing, and while I could predict most of the events, it was awesome when something unexpected happened. I enjoyed learning about the Ruslka and other Russian mythology and culture, which made The Boaters' Club unique and fascinating to read. I also loved the frightening imagery of the creatures! The story was certainly terrifying at times and was very fun!

I love how each main character had extremely distinct personalities. Amy is my favorite character in the story, mostly because of Amy's involvement in commanding a scene and being a leader. She is an inspirational character and I enjoyed following her brilliant personality and her humorous, proactive approaches to troubling situations. Baba, the supernatural woman, was creepy and mystifying. I loved the wide range of emotions and character types in the story. For Matt, I was disappointed with the how his Synesthesia did not hold immense significance to the plot, and while it provided him with some internal conflict, he seemed much duller than all the other characters. However, him being the narrator with a calmer, constant temperament held the story together and allowed for more extraordinary scenes.

I recommend you read this book!

Title: The Boaters' Club
Author: Deanne Baker
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 205
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher Book 2) by Christy J. Breedlove

52386572. sy475 Dream Chasers is the second book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the author. After Jory and her friends escape her dreamcatcher, the group of teens decide to create The Badlands Paranormal Society, so those in their neighborhood who also have evil spirits inside their dreamcatcher can receive help. So into another dreamcatcher they go to save those trapped inside and banish another evil spirit.

This one is super creepy and much more intense than the last! Simply reading the horrific giant insects eating them alive surrounded by snakes made me feel as if I was in a nightmare and sent shivers down my spine. The added boost of skillful imagery certainly makes this read perfect for a spooky campfire story or Halloween. It's like a voluntary, fantasy, less-evil version of Lord of the Flies- not that I'm complaining. Similarly, I appreciated the increase in violent tendencies from the characters and the darkening of the boy's personalities.

These main characters are insane for signing up for going back into another dream catcher after last time. Even if I was Jory and had a special heritage connection to these, I would have run away as fast as possible. These teens went though pure agony and never gave up. They are absolutely incredible characters. The diversity in the characters' personalities is enjoyable to say the least. Choice is the fun, comical relief from the madness, and Darcy contributed scientific facts that made the book more fascinating.

I highly recommend this book! The next book will be released in summer 2020, according to the last page of the book.

Read my review of the previous book in this series, Screamcatcher: Web World

Title: Dream Chasers (Screamcatcher Book 2)
Author: Christy J. Breedlove
Publisher: Melange Books, Fire & Ice
Pages: 240
Series: Yes, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

18222767I figured with the global coronavirus outbreak, this YA historical fiction read on the 1918 Spanish Flu couldn't be more timely! Teen Cleo Berry of Portland, Oregon sneaks out of her quarantined school and joins the Red Cross as a volunteer nurse, going door-to-door to save her neighbors. Experiencing first-hand the severity of the illness, Cleo sacrifices her well-being to save strangers.

Cleo is such an inspiration to humanity and I pray that there are more girls like her in the world right now. Her passion for helping people and doing the right thing no matter consequence to herself is enormous. I was so nervous for Cleo near the end! There is also surprisingly a lot of depth to Cleo, who ends up dealing with her traumatic past. Besides Cleo, it was the relationships that made this story extraordinary. The friendships and bonds that these volunteers made and the courage they gained together created the inspirational tone. Edmond is such a sweet guy, and I love the gradual increase in romantic intensity.

The amount of research and dedication the author spent on this is obvious, as the exact horrific details of the illness are described- I actually learned a ton about viruses reading A Death-Struck Year and I found it fascinating. The imagery of these people dying was astonishing and startling. I loved how this book managed to be very descriptive, but not too gory. One lesson I've learned from reading this book is knowing that viruses like the Spanish Flu and the Coronavirus pandemics are not the end of the world, despite how it may seem that way in the overwhelming moment.

I highly recommend you read this book!

Title: A Death-Struck Year
Author: Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, May 1, 2020

Gray Heart (Dark Irregular Book 3) by Kaitlyn Legaspi

52633485Gray Heart is the final book in the YA fantasy Dark Irregular series that was sent to me by the author. Gray Heart is released today! Kanna has lost her voice and her ability to feel emotion after sealing two of the Irregulars inside her body. But she has more obstacles ahead of her with the importance of sealing all four inside her. As the third nearly destroys her, Kanna must face the truth about who she really is and regain control of her own destiny before people she cares about get hurt.

The main character, Kanna, is what makes this trilogy unique, beyond writing quality, fantastic setting, or plot development. I love Kanna's passion for helping others, her sense of morality, as well as her selflessness. Her strong stance for humane treatment of everyone, including irregulars is an inspiration to all. It is understood why she is a princess- but she is also a fierce warrior to be admired. I love her bravery to continue to fulfill her legacy regardless of those limitations.

I adore how accurate the cover is to a main theme of the book, restoring Kanna's red and vibrant soul previously tainted by the Irregulars inside of her. A recurring obstacle is simply getting Kanna to wear the color anymore, and I enjoyed watching her vast internal conflict on how to still be herself despite losing her emotions and voice. When she truly unraveled and those emotions and darkness burst, it made a breathtaking climax. The series was wrapped up nicely and I am satisfied!

I highly recommend you read this series!

Click here to read my review of the previous book, White Blossom.
Click here to read my review of the first book, Dark Irregular. 

Title: Gray Heart (Dark Irregular Book 3)
Author: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Publisher: Kaitlyn Legaspi
Pages: 270
Series: Yes, Book 3 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars
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