28 April 2015

Review: We All Looked Up

We all Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: March 24, 2015

A group of high schoolers, each with their own problems and their own labels, are suddenly faced with the possibility of dying prematurely when it is announced that Ardor, a meteor big enough to wipe out the earth, has a 66.6% chance of collision with earth. It is stated that everyone only has two more months to live.

Told from the perspectives of four different students, WE ALL LOOKED UP perfectly captures an apocalyptic atmosphere through the eyes of teenagers who have yet to live their lives, and are presented with the knowledge that they most likely will not get to live them. Desperation and vulnerability is prominent throughout the book as the story plays out, displaying different ways of coping, or lack thereof, with seemingly inevitable death. The writing style is very easy to get into and quite quirky at some parts. With a colorful cast of characters, displaying a brilliant amount of diversity, there are characters whom you can find relatable, or straight out hate, but will respect for being marvelous characters nonetheless. I'd recommend this book for people 14 years old and up, due to profanity and mature themes. I'd also like to say that if you struggle with anxiety then this book may be slightly triggering for you. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and have already recommended it to several of my close friends!

19 March 2015

Review: The Conspiracy of Us

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Publication date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Sixteen-year-old Avery Hall has never stayed anywhere very long. Her mom's job keeps them constantly moving from place to place. But then, one day in a small town, Jack Bishop shows up and changes Avery's life by telling her the truth about her family. He then leads her on a journey from Paris to the alleys of Istanbul with Stellan, another boy hiding many secrets. Of course, he is not the only one. Everybody is hiding secrets, including Avery, secrets that she didn't even know mattered. As Avery discovers more and more about who she really is, she also finds out that many people want to use her as a pawn, while others want her dead. What will she do to retain her freewill while rescuing those she loves?

THE CONSPIRACY OF US was an incredible book. It was action-packed and always suspenseful. I was rushing to get to the last page, was constantly wondering and needing to know every character's secrets, as they all were keeping something hidden. The characters all have fun and relatable personalities, and I loved the touch of romance and the forbidden love between Jack and Avery. I also loved the way that Maggie Hall created the Circle of Twelve. She did an incredibly good job introducing something complex and creative into today's already complex society. The only negative thing I can say is that the book ended on a cliffhanger, with the conflict unresolved. I can't wait for the sequel! (Because that can not have been the end, Maggie Hall).

05 March 2015

Review: My Best Everything

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Yesterday, I found myself thinking about Lulu and Mason driving into the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to go river rafting, as if it were a memory from my own life; that's how vivid and alive this book felt to me. The summer after high school, Lulu is desperately trying to make enough money to send herself to college, by making moonshine with the help of Mason and her two best friends. Sarah Tomp does a fantastic job of telling the story of a girl who realizes the rest of her life might depend on whatever happens in one summer. Lulu has always wanted nothing more than to get out of the small town of Dale, yet now she finds it hard to imagine truly saying goodbye to all she has known, and to the possibilities of what life could be like if she stayed. As Lulu faces bigger decisions than she ever had to before, she wonders about whether fate really does exist: is there such a thing as someone or something that's meant to be? This story perfectly captures emotions about the overwhelming idea of one's future I have often found so hard to articulate. I loved this book and wished it didn't have to come to an end! I would recommend it for anyone!

03 March 2015

Review: Tracers

Tracers by J.J. Howard
Publication date: January 8, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

I would rate TRACERS by J.J. Howard a five out of five. It is definitely one of my favorite books that I've read in the last few months, or even years. Not only is there a great love story between Cam and Nikki, but there is also a brilliantly woven plot. The writer expertly uses knowledge of parkour to enhance the experience for the reader and add an element of danger to this story. I could not put this book down. The characters are intriguing with their stories and struggles, and the complex web of relationships, loyalties, and betrayals leaves nothing to be desired. I am glad I had the privilege to read this book, because I really enjoyed it. With many a twist and turn, it is impossible to leave off at the end of a chapter, especially when you empathize with the protagonist, as you will, when you read it. I liked this book a lot and I think other people will too.

26 February 2015

Review: Mark of the Thief

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic

The book, MARK OF THE THIEF, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, is a great adventure story about a boy named Nic who discovers Julius Caesar's bulla, which gives him great power. However, this great power comes with a great cost. When he hears of his enemies' plans to defeat Rome, he and his friends know they must stop it. This is a great, jaw-dropping book that has intense action, comedy, and a little romance. I would recommend this book to ages nine and up due to all the action. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would like to see some of the authors other books, and can not wait for the sequel!

23 February 2015

Review: The Third Twin

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte

As children, Lexi and her twin, Ava, made up a third twin sister, Alicia. Alicia was constantly blamed for the small mischievous wrongdoings that the girls would do. If something broke, if the cookies got eaten, Alicia was always to blame. Now the girls, as seniors, use Alicia in a completely different way. Alicia is their way to date boys that they would never date as themselves. But suddenly, one of Alicia's boyfriends has turned up dead. Lexi is ready to stop being Alicia altogether, but Ava insists on continuing the game and that nothing is wrong. Coincidences start piling up, and DNA evidence of the murder points to one suspect: Alicia; a girl who doesn't exist. Is Alicia real? Or could Ava be a killer?

This book is a total page-turner. The murder mystery and suspense constantly keeps you wondering and curious. The characters are all very interesting, and I like how the narrator is one of the twins. I think that it would have been even better if the book switched perspectives between the twins. I think that this could have increased the suspense and deepened the mystery of the story. Other than this, though, I think the plot and writing are great overall. I would recommend this book for people 14 and over, as there are sexual scenes and references throughout the book.

09 February 2015

Review: Inherit Midnight

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers
Publication date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

INHERIT MIDNIGHT is about a girl named Avery who races around the world doing challenges based on her ancestor’s past, and competing to win the family inheritance. There is a lot of action in this book, but it is mixed in with a lot of details about her stuck-up family and her love interest, who by the way, seemed very realistic, which I normally find never happens. The bits to do with her family were very relatable to me, even though I don’t think anyone’s family is as full of secrets as Avery’s. Another reason I particularly liked this book is because the main character is such a strong and independent female, who doesn't let her love interest get in the way of her main goal; winning the family inheritance. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes action fiction, but who doesn't necessarily want that to be the only thing they get from a novel. Ages 12 and up.

02 February 2015

Review: I'll Meet You There

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publication date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

I couldn’t put this book down. Heather Demetrios’ vivid descriptions brought the characters and setting to life, and by the end of the story I felt as if I’d grown up alongside Skylar and knew the trailer park town of Creek View inside out. Told over the course of the summer before college, the story follows Skylar as she prepares to move away from all she has known, while trying not to leave behind the relationships and people she loves. Not only is her summer filled with goodbyes, but also with beginnings, such as her unlikely friendship with Josh, the boy she is only just getting to know after many years, who starts working alongside her at the Paradise Motel. Skylar is an extremely relatable character who struggles with trying to stay connected to her family and childhood friends, yet at the same time, desperately wants the independence of beginning her own life. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy a truly hopeful and uplifting story!

29 January 2015

Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen

TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS by Liz Czukas is both an endearing and lighthearted book that embraces mystery and humor. Chloe Novak is your simple teenage girl, head over heels for her crush Tyson, working a job at her local grocery story, GoodFoods, and trying to merely survive high school. Nothing in her life is out of the ordinary, and Chloe is hardly ready for the action packed day she is about to receive. When Chloe heads to work at GoodFoods on Christmas Eve, nothing is out of the ordinary besides the unappealing Christmas sweaters and light up jewelry customers have decided to wear. That is, until Chloe and five of her coworkers are accused of stealing $10,000! It is up to them to prove their innocence and try to determine who is to blame for the missing money.

TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS is a cozy read with a light mystery, keeping the reader fully engaged. Czukas does a phenomenal job touching on humor, romance, and mystery to attract a broad range of readers. The diversity in characters makes for an interesting plot line and resembles The Breakfast Club, in the sense that a group of assorted teens are forced together, all being accused or punished for a crime. I applaud Czukas’ incredible job of having the majority of the story take place in the time span of a day and in one location, the grocery store. With such a simple idea, Czukas creates an intricate story and manages to make it hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. I would recommend this book for ages twelve and up.

26 January 2015

Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
Publication date: December 23, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME is a hilarious and sarcastic memoir by Josh Sundquist, a Paralympic ski racer and cancer survivor. Sundquist goes on a "scientific" journey to discover why he has only ever had one girlfriend...for 23 hours...in eighth grade. The book is funny and has cute little graphs drawn throughout the book. I enjoyed the sarcasm and relatable writing style. It was hard to put down and very well organized in the format of a scientific experiment. I highly recommend this book. There is nothing overtly inappropriate about the book; there are a few mentions of sex, but nothing graphic. I would say that it is appropriate for ages 12 and up (the publisher's recommendation). However, I think slightly older readers, perhaps 15 and up, would be able to appreciate the story and humor more.

23 January 2015

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray is a science fiction romance novel about parallel universes, betrayal, love, and deception. Marguerite's parents are genius scientists, who along with their students Paul and Theo, invented an alternate dimension jumper known as a Firebird. Marguerite's father is murdered and the Firebird and Paul disappear, so it is up to Marguerite and Theo to cross the parallel universes to find Paul, and avenge her father's death. In each new dimension, they must live out the life of their counterparts while trying to hunt Paul down. However, not all is what it seems and Marguerite must find out who to place her trust in or risk getting killed.

When I first started this book, I thought that it was going to be a cliché story. However, after a few chapters, I easily saw how utterly wrong I was. The severe and sudden plot twists completely shocked me and I physically could not bring myself to put the book down. I would have appreciated a bit more foreshadowing throughout, but I still read the entire book in one sitting. The sci-fi tone of the story intertwined perfectly with the historical and futuristic aspects in a smooth and appealing way. I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up for mentions of drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence.

19 January 2015

Review: The Prince of Venice Beach

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

THE PRINCE OF VENICE BEACH is another great book that I have recently read. This tale describes a young man, Robert “Cali” Callahan and his adventures on Venice Beach. He spends most of his days playing basketball or skateboarding until he is approached by a private detective who seeks to hire him. After two of these jobs, Cali gets approached with an offer that seems too good to be true. For four times the pay, Cali began to comb the boardwalk until he runs into his target, the beautiful Reese Abernathy, and his whole life is changed. One of the reasons this book is so good is due to the simple fact that it’s interesting. Who doesn't want to read about someone who is disadvantaged their whole life making a name for themself in the often cutthroat world of private investigating? I would probably rate this book 4 out of 5 stars because it kept me occupied, interested, and most importantly, reading. This book can be read and enjoyed by anyone from ages 14 to 18.

16 January 2015

Review: For Real

For Real by Alison Cherry
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte

Claire has always lived in her older sister Miranda’s shadow. While Miranda loves adventure, parties, and people, Claire feels more at home with watching that on reality TV. However, when Miranda finds her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her right before they graduate from college, it’s Claire who saves the day with a plan. The sisters will get revenge on Samir by winning “Around the World,” a reality TV show where competitors participate in a race around the globe in order to win a million dollars. But when shy, careful Claire finds out the show has a twist, she’s not sure that she’s as ready as she thought she’d be.

Reading FOR REAL was like watching a TV show! It is paced well, and I was pleasantly surprised at the many plot twists. I also really enjoyed how different Claire and Miranda are. In the beginning of the novel, their differences cause problems between the girls, but by the end, they learn to use their differences to support one another. The romance aspect of the book was definitely unexpected, and it was interesting to find out where things ended up! Overall, I would recommend this for girl’s ages 12/13 and up.

12 January 2015

Review: One Man Guy

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Have you ever read a book so good that at a certain point your fingers are flying, trying to turn pages as quickly as you're reading? Have you ever read a book that you couldn't put down, despite your best efforts? A book that, once finished, leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling within you for days? To clarify, have you read ONE MAN GUY by Michael Barakiva?

ONE MAN GUY centers around Alek, a young, awkward, and Armenian highschooler, who has just been sentenced to spend his vacation in summer school. However, while there, he meets Ethan, a free-spirit who takes a particular interest in Alek. A new take on the coming-of-age-romance genre, ONE MAN GUY is by far one of the best standalone books I've read. Barakiva has a sharp, quick, and witty style that makes the book easily accessible, and easily enjoyable. Not only is the writing style spot-on, but the characters are brilliantly diverse and exceptionally intricate. I very rarely read coming-of-age stories, but I'm glad that I read this one, because ONE MAN GUY definitely made it onto my list of favorite standalone books. If you're 13 or older, don't mind some profanity, and are looking for a sweet and fun read, I'd definitely recommend this book to you!

09 January 2015

Review: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Random House

What really makes life worth living? This is the question that Finch and Violet both face. An unlikely pair of teenagers from opposite ends of the high school spectrum; Violet who blends in seamlessly and conceals her troubles beneath the surface, and Finch, a non-conforming outcast whose wild personality is out for the world to see, find themselves exploring their state of Indiana together on a school assigned project. As they wander from one place to another, and really get to know each other for the first time, Finch and Violet help each other confront the dark fears of their past and learn to experience life again after loss.

I became so immersed in both the uplifting and the heart wrenching moments of their story, that I deeply missed the presence of Violet and Finch long after I finished reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a story that made me feel as many different emotions as ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES did. Jennifer Niven does a wonderful job illustrating how the simplest moments of everyday life can be made beautiful just by being shared with the right person.

05 January 2015

Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Poison has struck St. Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies! When the cantankerous headmistress and her scoundrel of a brother mysteriously drop dead during Sunday dinner, the seven girls who attend the school face a new and difficult challenge. While the demise of their frankly unlikable guardians causes the girls little grief, they have no desire to be split apart and sent home. Led by the clever and ambitious Kitty, the group uses wit and talent to cover up the murders and maintain the facade of uninterrupted normal life. In order to remain both safe and undiscovered, the sisterhood must discover the killer and his (or her) plot before the killer discovers them.