13 March 2018

Review: Twelve Steps to Normal

Twelve Steps to Normal
by Farrah Penn

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown
Publication Date: March 13, 2018

In TWELVE STEPS TO NORMAL by Farrah Penn, the story is told from the perspective of Kira as she tries to recover her old life. After having to leave her whole life behind for for a year because of her dad’s alcohol addiction, she returns to her town as a junior in high school and must figure out what friendships and relationships are worth saving after so much time has passed. She comes home to many surprises (some good and some not so good) that she must face head on and fix before she loses everything… But will she really? I thought this book was very well written and it was very easy to relate to her attitude as a teenager and some of the struggles she faced with relationships, freedom, and parents.

06 March 2018

Review: The Poet X

The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel THE POET X tells the story of a young Dominican high-schooler living in Harlem, named Xiomara, who must tread the line of expectations and expression. Her mother expects her to obey the order of the church, but Xiomara has so much she yearns to say. 

THE POET X is a fantastic verse novel that covers topics relevant to teens today, like how to live for yourself instead of others. For those who are a fan of poetry, Acevedo — an experienced slam poet — delivers on all fronts! The verse is beautiful, and anyone can see a bit of themself in Xiomara. It might not be the typical YA novel, but THE POET X is an unprecedented must-read! 

Review: The Place Between Breaths

The Place Between Breaths
by An Na

Publisher: Atheneum
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

The PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS by An Na explores the impact of schizophrenia on a family. After her schizophrenic mother disappears and likely dies, Grace's father devotes himself to finding a cure for the disease. As an intern in her dad's lab, Grace works at her own personal dream of becoming a scientist, while juggling high school and her best friend's personal dilemma. Without the attention of her father and an absent mother, Grace slowly slips into her own world, succumbing to the disease herself.

I really wanted to like this book, and although it was beautifully written, I was definitely confused for most of it. There were abrupt time shifts back and forth without much explanation or background, and it took me a while to figure out what was happening. Plot lines were started and never finished, and big details were left out. However, the flashback scenes of Grace's childhood with her mother were incredible and raw, provoking real emotion. The book ended a bit abruptly, but it almost felt like all of the faults I found within the book were intentional, invoking the effects of schizophrenia itself. Still, this was a wonderful and quick read and I would highly recommend it!

27 February 2018

Review: The Traitor's Game

The Traitor's Game
by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: February 26, 2018

In the newest fantasy novel by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Kestra Dallisor has been in exile for three years from the kingdom where her father serves as the king’s second in command. But as she is on the journey to come home, she is stopped by a band of rebels who blackmail her into finding the Olden Blade, the one thing that could kill the seemingly immortal king and change the kingdom forever. As she goes on this mission, filled with ulterior motives and mysterious secrets, Kestra now must decide if the regime she once protected is really worth it, and if she can do what it takes to save her kingdom.

I really enjoyed this book! Filled with magic and warring families, the author was able to build up a wonderful world for the reader to be immersed in. For one thing, this book had some of the best character development I have ever read! Starting as a strict loyalist, then becoming an amazing heroine, the character of Kestra changed so much as the book went on, making her feel real and fleshed out. The side characters as well were like this as the author did not miss a single chance to make each character shine.

Another aspect of this book that was enjoyable was the world itself. Filled with just the right amount of magic, it never felt like it was too crazy. I could easily see myself reading more of this series because it is just so immersive and makes you constantly want to further explore the world.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves royal intrigue mixed with magic. Despite the novel sometimes doing things that seem stereotypical at the start, the author keeps you hooked with secrets and plot twists that you will never see coming.

20 February 2018

Review: Hooper

by Geoff Herbach

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: February 20, 2018

HOOPER by Geoff Herbach is about a Polish teen named Adam Reed. In Poland his mom died and his dad left him.  He was adopted and moved to Minnesota. He loves playing basketball more than anything else in his life. When trouble arises he has to keep a level head or lose everything. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a real page turner, at times I couldn't put the book down. The plot was fast, moving, and interesting. There were many layers and I thought the writing style was interesting.

13 February 2018

Review: When Light Left Us

When Light Left Us
by Leah Thomas

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

WHEN LIGHT LEFT US by Leah Thomas is a thrilling, contemporary novel that is incredibly hard to put down. When the father of Milo, Ana, and Hank Vasquez inexplicably deserted his family, the three siblings were suddenly left with a gaping hole in their lives. But in the darkness of their backyard one summer night, that hole was filled. A foreign, shimmering light entered into the three bodies of the Vasquez children and slowly took control of their actions. After doing irreversible damage on the three children, this light abandons them, much like their father. When the light left them, the children were forced them to embrace the things that made them human and learn to live again without the alien presence that they had become so familiar with.

WHEN LIGHT LEFT US took my breath away. Leah Thomas brilliantly captured the separate thoughts and personalities of three very different children while characterizing them in such a way that I forgot they weren’t actually real. The setting was designed in a way that made me feel like I too was in rural New Mexico. At its heart, WHEN LIGHT LEFT US is not an alien book, it is a coming-of-age story about how an alien presence forever changed the perspectives of a family. In the end, this is an utterly engrossing story that I never wanted to end.

Review: Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves
by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

One hundred years after the Leviathans, living alien ships, came to Earth to help humanity, Zara is selected for a year long trip aboard one of them. Zara, not used to trusting anyone, is unsure of how to proceed or if she can trust the Leviathans. The trip is to ideally prepare Zara for the Journey, which no one seems to know much about and is surrounded by mystery throughout the book. It is interesting to read from the perspective of an alien ship, and how this book explores communication between Leviathans and Humans: Leviathans have basic telepathy but sometimes have trouble ‘translating’ their thoughts into something understood by the humans. I also found it interesting how Leviathans are biologically able to do what they do. They are biological, yet they are able to be upgraded and modified by technology and are aware of what goes on inside themselves. There is a lot of mystery surrounding what exactly the purpose of the trip is, and Zara does not appreciate how little she is informed. 

HONOR AMONG THIEVES heavily draws elements from DIVERGENT, LEGEND, THE HUNGER GAMES, and DOCTOR WHO. While at times the similarities can be annoying, I mostly enjoyed how it takes many familiar ideas and puts them into one story.