16 November 2018

Review: This Splintered Silence

This Splintered Silence
by Kayla Olson

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 13, 2018

Lindley Hamilton is the captain of the space station Lusca, a job she’s always wanted but never knew she would get so soon. Now, because of the deadly virus that killed all of the station’s adults including her mother, Lindley must run the ship as their struggle to survive intensifies. Still, Lindley believes that the worst has passed, and while they still must figure out a way to not run out of food and to communicate with Earth, morale remains high. That is, until a member of the surviving second generation dies from what looks like the same virus, the very virus the second generation thought they were immune from. Struggling to survive, Lindley must find a way to save the station before it’s too late, especially when clues point to one of their own being the killer.

Spooky, suspenseful, and powered by an amazing female main character, THIS SPLINTERED SILENCE is not a book to miss. From page one, I was sucked into Lindley’s story. The author blends past and present beautifully together, making everything seem like it's happening in real time. I loved how Olson continued this throughout the book, mentioning memories of Lindley’s mother, a character we never meet but who feels just as well constructed as any other character. This masterful storytelling is also present through the setting of the book, the space station Lusca, and the struggles it faces. Olson builds a well-thought-out world around this little station and makes sure that there are no gaps for plot holes. Everything that she mentions is carefully described and accurate to what people in that position might be dealing with. Often when books are set in space like this one, everything seems beautiful and technologically perfect. But for Lindley and her crew that is not the case, and I feel like this little dash of realism in this sci-fi novel makes it so readers can relate and immerse themselves in the story much better than they might have otherwise.

Throughout the whole book, the characters struggle with real problems while dealing with the space station. Working through these problems are Olson’s cast of characters, each more realistic than the last. At the top of the list is Olson’s main character, Lindley Hamilton. It was hard not to love Lindley from the start. A scientist in her own right, Lindley is the recently-promoted captain of their station, the role her mother used to occupy until a few weeks ago. This is a fact that Lindley doesn’t let readers forget as the story progresses. She does this through subtle things: mentioning her mother’s secret stash of chocolate, and stories about the sky she used to tell Lindley. I love how Olson didn’t do this in a way that was annoying or repetitive. Instead, she does it with grace and sadness, in a way that makes Lindley’s grief feel real. Often when books deal with grief, they force the idea of it down the reader’s throat, but in THIS SPLINTERED SILENCE that is not the case.

If you love realistic-seeming sci-fi where disease and deadly secrets lurk behind every corner, you will not be let down with THIS SPLINTERED SILENCE. This sci-fi thriller is perfect for people looking for a good spooky read.

Review: Your Own Worst Enemy

Your Own Worst Enemy
by Gordon Jack

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 13, 2018

It’s election season, and three candidates are putting everything on the line to win student body president in the charming new novel by Gordon Jack, author of THE BOOMERANG EFFECT. There is Stacey, the goody two shoes, overly-confident, and compost-friendly candidate, who, until recently, thought she was running unopposed. That’s when Julia Romero comes in, the rebellious new girl from Canada whose last-minute decision to run has caused a major flurry amongst the school. Finally, there’s Tony, the voice of the little guy. When he’s not stoned, he’s actively campaigning to bring back his favorite chocolate milk to the school cafeteria. What’s going to happen next? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out.

YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY is a delightful and hilarious take on high school politics. Not only is it laugh out loud funny, at times it eerily reflects the politics of today. I finished this 400+ page novel in just under a week, wrapped up in the lives of the characters and desperate to find out how they would get themselves out of each well set up disaster. YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY is a light and easy read that, while sometimes falling into YA cliches, keeps itself set apart from the crowd with wit and humor that we could all use a bit more of in politics.

14 November 2018

Review: Broken Things

Broken Things
by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 2, 2018

BROKEN THINGS by Lauren Oliver follows ex-best friends Mia and Brynn as they reconnect five years after the murder of their best friend, Summer. Mia and Brynn were the prime suspects in Summer’s death at the time, but are determined to solve the case years later and prove themselves innocent. The pair decides to dig into their past in order to do this, and the story alternates between their time in high school and the present. BROKEN THINGS was actually more like two books than one: the novel itself, and another story that is twisted into the girls’ relationships and Summer’s death. I loved how this collision between fiction and reality and the connection between past and present heightened the story’s eerie tone. While the actual mystery aspect of the novel seemed predictable at times, the dynamics and tension between Brynn, Summer, and Mia kept me engaged in the story. Overall, BROKEN THINGS is an excellent choice for fans of Oliver, and for readers looking for a captivating thriller.

13 November 2018

Review: The Black Bull of Norroway

The Black Bull of Norroway (Norroway, Book 1)
by Cat Seaton & Kit Seaton

Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: November 13, 2018

THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY is about Sibylla, an adventurous, bold girl who isn’t fazed by anything. And her husband. Who happens to be a 2-ton (I’m guessing) black bull with a horn-span as wide as a full-grown man’s arm-span. The bull isn’t very kind, or very interested in her, but she follows him to the ends of the earth anyways, and meets his dysfunctional family, for the sake of...adventure? That, and to undo a curse that has haunted the land for years.

NORROWAY was supremely chaotic -- I couldn’t tell what was going on half the time, and Sibylla is unfazed to the point of unbelievability, which I feel was due to rushed writing –- but fun. The art was amazing, the character interactions and dialogue were golden, and the plot was really interesting –- based off a classic Scottish fairy tale -- and could’ve been more complete had the writer slowed down and smelled the roses, as it were. Somewhat ironically, the main thing keeping this book together is the illustration. Maire, keeping an eye on Sibylla and her bull-husband Brom from the very beginning, makes for a very unique frenemy. She clearly cares a lot about the well-being of the two other lead characters, but her mission is to separate them and send them through trial after trial. At first, Sibylla is unaware that her older witch friend is the orchestrator of it all, but when she finds out -- again, with very little digesting time –- she immediately starts asking questions without needing more than a few minutes to digest what could’ve been a big twist. Sibylla prefers to get angry about things she doesn’t understand, and immediately desires more information, rather than get flustered for even a second. All in all, I have mixed feelings about this book, but I do think it’s worth reading, for the fantasy of it.

06 November 2018

Review: Sawkill Girls

Sawkill Girls
by Claire Legrand

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 18, 2018

SAWKILL GIRLS by Claire Legrand takes place on the quiet island of Sawkill Rock, where the cliffs are high and the tides are crisp. However, the island’s seemingly remote town is not as safe as it seems; girls have been going missing for years, their bodies never found. Newcomer Marion Althouse, having just moved to Sawkill Rock with her sister and mother due to the recent death of her father, is unaware of the ancient mysteries plaguing the island; at least, until she crosses paths with the town’s teenage sweetheart, Val Mortimer, and the Sawkill sheriff’s spunky daughter, Zoey Harlow. Three girls, all completely different. But they have one thing in common—something others would kill for.

SAWKILL GIRLS is by far one of the wildest books I’ve ever read. With a rich plot and complex characters, SAWKILL GIRLS kept me turning each page with anticipation. However, though this book is very well written, it may not be for everyone; be warned that it contains some graphic descriptions of gore and sex, just in case that isn’t your thing. Otherwise, I definitely recommend this book for anybody who would enjoy a chilling mystery with a tinge of horror, or just genuinely likes to get creeped out. With that, I leave you to decide if SAWKILL GIRLS is right for you, and if you do decide to give this book a try, you’re in for real treat. Enjoy!

01 November 2018

Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 13, 2014

When my friends ask me for book recommendations, I’ll often direct them to WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart—it’s one of my favorite YA books because of its combination of suspense, character development, and lyrical writing. The premise is simple: an extremely wealthy family spends its summers on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. However, the relationships between the characters (specifically, the four teenagers on the island) make the story unforgettable. Lockhart’s writing style is metaphorical, but she maintains a matter-of-fact tone that is genuinely fun to read. Anyone who likes novels with unreliable narrators (think A CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME ) and hasn’t read this book definitely should.

30 October 2018

Review: Where She Fell

Where She Fell
by Kaitlin Ward

Publisher: Point
Publication Date: October 30, 2018

WHERE SHE FELL is about a deep hole in a swamp, near a relatively small town. And the girl who falls into it. Our not-exactly-a-hero Eliza is that girl, and she only reason she survives is because she is an aspiring geologist with a passion for caves. Hers is the type of nerdy knowledge that saves lives, and she certainly wouldn’t have lived another hour if she had listened to her friends’ unspoken judgments and chosen a less nerdy career path. But she does live another hour – she lives beyond another day, she survives. But not alone. There exists within the tunnels and caverns of the world she’s stumbled into a colony of humans, humans who have fallen in at separate times, and at separate locations – leading Eliza to realize the cave system is bigger than one single state. The colony’s resident geologist (what a coincidence!), Mary, enlists Eliza to help her with her work and unwillingly allows Eliza to uncover the colony’s secrets – even Mary’s own lies – one…by…one. If Eliza was an outcast above ground, she is an alien below – and she has to consider who her topside friends are, and what the colony leaders’ intentions will lead to.

I loved WHERE SHE FELL. A story about an imperfect introvert is always refreshing, and story about an imperfect introvert stuck underground for a few weeks is even better. Eliza stays herself, the whole time, and she “rises to the occasion” in a unique, realistic way. She nearly has a breakdown multiple times, and doesn’t think of herself as the hero – which is why I don’t, either. She is amazingly courageous, yes, but I don’t think she’s a hero. I don’t think she’s some far-off standard of awesomeness. I think she is herself, and even in a life or death situation, that is the best you can be. Eliza’s topside friends don’t appreciate her very much, but I think it was a slight mistake on the writer’s part to have Eliza completely ditch them after coming to her philosophical and spiritual breakthroughs. They could’ve still been in her life, just…less. But however overwhelming her topside friends were, her colony friends made up for it: Alice, Eleanor, Grayson, and Mary were all bringers of peace and understanding in a time of turmoil and rejection. Also Grayson was hot as hell. Overall, WHERE SHE FELL is a very good, darkly whimsical book.