30 September 2014

Review: Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing date: September 30, 2014

RETHINKING NORMAL by Katie Rain Hill is a memoir in which the author shares her personal journey of transitioning from male to female. Katie explains how she never felt comfortable as a boy. Even before high school, Katie realizes that the only thing that would ever make her feel completely comfortable in her own skin is if she were to live her life as a girl. Throughout the novel, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood through bullies and her own depression, and the events leading up to the decision to transition fully from one sex to another. I found this book to be very original and interesting, especially considering that I personally haven’t read many books that talk about LGBTQ related subjects written in the first person. This book is completely non fiction, something a bit more uncommon for YA novels. I would recommend this book to anyone who has curiosity on the subject. From reading this book I really learned a lot about gender reassignment surgery and what it actually entails, but I also learned a person’s story that I found brave and genuine. It’s definitely a unique topic, so if you have any curiosity I would definitely recommend it!

29 September 2014

Review: Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing date: September 16, 2014

In Stefanie Gaither's FALLS THE SHADOW, America is trying to recover from an illness that plagued the country, and what was known as the Silent War. To help keep the population stable, scientists have come up with a new process-- cloning, and Catelyn knows all too much about the whole thing. Catelyn's an origin, or someone who has a clone waiting to take their place, and her sister, Violet, is now a clone, after the old human Violet died. However, when new Violet is accused of murder, Catelyn's less-than-normal life is turned upside down.

Gaither creates an interesting, morally twisting read with FALLS THE SHADOW. Taking the readers on a journey they won't soon forget, she paints a devastating view of America after a treacherous war, and the vulnerableness it awakens in people as they struggle to keep what's close to them safe. Even though parts are confusing at some points, it ties together well as you read on. With bitingly sarcastic characters who are well-rounded and quite lovely to read about, combined with the fast-paced writing style Gaither possesses, FALLS THE SHADOW is a must read for anyone ages 12 and up.

25 September 2014

Review: Vivian Divine is Dead

Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publishing date: June 3, 2014

Lauren Sabel's VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD tells the unlikely story of, you guessed it, Vivian Divine. Vivian is your average teenage girl, if by average you mean the daughter of one of the most iconic couples in Hollywood, who just so happens to be an actress with a net-worth somewhere north of 10 million. After her mother's murder and father's failed suicide, Vivian doesn't think her life could get any worse. She was wrong. As with any actress, Vivian has her fans, even some crazy ones. What she was not expecting was a video of her death, dated later that same week! Vivian must find a way to avoid her impending doom, so at the suggestion of her body guard, Vivian sheds her Hollywood look and life and flees to the only place the murderer won't look for her. South of the border. On Vivian's journey she meets an unexpected companion. Nick is everything her cheating ex-boyfriend was not: nice, genuine, smart, funny, and basically just a decent human being. As their journey through rural Mexico progresses, Vivian learns who exactly is trying to kill her, what really happened to her mother, and who she really is. Vivian must learn to face reality and that her life is not like her childhood in front of the cameras.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of Hollywood thrillers but would rather read about a teen semi-runaway than watch Liam Neeson race across roof tops in Istanbul. Although not explicitly scary, it is also not quite as tame as Mean Girls, since there's like, you know, murder and stuff...

Although not a difficult read, it is not what you would expect from your average YA girl meets boy storyline and has some interesting turns along the way.

22 September 2014

Review: Divided We Fall

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Publishing date: January 28, 2014

DIVIDED WE FALL is a great story about Private First Class Daniel Wright. On his first ever mission, he is sent to control a riot in Boise where he is hit with a rock, and because of the surprise, he shoots the bullet that starts a war between Idaho and America. This story is slow throughout but I would expect this is a set up to future sequels. The end of the book throws an intense plot twist that will have your jaw drop. I would recommend this book to ages fourteen and up due to alcohol, language, violence, and sexual references. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to see if there is a sequel.

18 September 2014

Review: Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam
Publication date: April 8, 2014

In Rachel Hawkins' REBEL BELLE, a fast-paced novel that's sure to make you turn pages quicker than you can say "y'all," Harper, a teenage Southern belle, has her life turned upside down on the night of homecoming. Thanks to a near death experience in her school's restroom during the dance, Harper soon finds herself busting out ninja moves left and right, flipping her boyfriend over, and driving cars like a regular James Bond. To complicate things further, she finds out why she suddenly can do all these things: Harper is a Paladin, an agile guardian of the Oracle. And the person she has to protect is none other than her nemesis, David Stark.

I love Hawkins' taut writing, and found REBEL BELLE easy to pick up and hard to put down. Staying true to her teenage protagonist’s voice, Hawkins essentially captures the sass and biting wit of a high school girl through Harper’s narration. All the characters react to their situations the same way most teenagers would, and I found I could easily see myself behaving similarly if I were ever faced with their dilemmas. This book is definitely one I'd recommend if you are looking for a quick, fun read. I'd suggest this book for ages 13 and up due to mild profanity, and slight references to adult subjects. When the sequel comes out, you can bet you'll find me with a copy in my hands!

08 September 2014

Review: Falling into Place

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
Publishing date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

FALLING INTO PLACE by Amy Zhang is a tragically powerful novel about Liz Emerson and her heart wrenching view of life. The novel starts with Liz testing death by running her Mercedes off the road, hoping it will be the last action she ever takes. Instantly after, the reader is taken on a journey through Liz’s life as the most popular junior in school. The reader witnesses snapshots of her earlier life, and the countdown of events that lead Liz to the day she tries to die. An abundance of anticipation grows throughout the book as to whether or not Liz Emerson will survive her now critical condition after the accident. Alone and afraid, her family, friends, and entire school, wait to hear if Liz Emerson can heal from her physical and emotional wounds that have been around longer than anyone expected.

This novel is a tragically captivating story that is sure to have the reader engrossed from start to finish. With a character-driven plot, I was emotionally invested in Liz Emerson’s life and all the misfortunes it held. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story that will keep them at the edge of their seat, always wanting more. With an emotional roller coaster of a plot, the story will venture into new and thrilling places at every turn of the page. After finishing this book, the reader will be stunned to hear that the author, Amy Zhang, is in high school herself, but as experienced as any other writer. I would recommend this book for ages fifteen and up.