30 May 2017

Review: When It's Real

When It's Real
by Erin Watt

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 30, 2017

WHEN IT'S REAL, written by Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy under the pseudonym Erin Watt, is a light, fun romance, perfect for a casual summer read. The story alternates between the perspectives of Vaughn Bennett, a completely normal teenage girl trying to make ends meet, and Oakley Ford, a privileged teenage megastar. Normally, their paths wouldn’t cross, but when Oakley’s illegal antics get him landed in tabloids again and again, his press team decides that he needs to rehabilitate his image. So they hire Vaughn as his fake girlfriend and the two are thrust into an elaborate charade. As they spend more time together, they begin to realize that they have a lot more in common than they’d initially thought. For me, this book was definitely a guilty pleasure read. It has very little literary value, but it is thoroughly entertaining and the budding romance between the two characters is very charming. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun beach read, but if you’re seeking a more substantial novel, look elsewhere.

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017

High school senior Eliza Mirk is quiet and reserved. She rarely speaks at school and spends most of her time drawing in her sketchbook. What most people don’t know, however, is that inside of that sketchbook is a world that Eliza created – the online comic Monstrous Sea. Eliza runs her fandom of millions of followers anonymously under the screen name LadyConstellation, but this anonymity is threatened when Wallace Warland, the number one MS fanfiction writer, arrives at her school and makes Eliza wonder if she can have a life both on- and offline.

ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS was a beautifully written book. Both Eliza and Wallace deal with personal and familial struggles, but through their shared loved of Monstrous Sea they connect with one another and develop a profound relationship. I thought that Zappia did an excellent job of writing about introversion, creativity, and mental health. Between chapters, she included sections of Eliza’s webcomic, Monstrous Sea, which was an equally captivating story and added to my perception of Eliza’s growth as a character while I read. The book also contained one other story, THE CHILDREN OF HYPNOS, which Zappia has released on her Wattpad page and which I cannot wait to read.

23 May 2017

Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere

Queer, There, and Everywhere
by Sarah Prager

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

While there has been amazing progress in the both publicity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, it is still considered a “minority” group, outside of the norm. The best gift that QUEER, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE gives everyone, regardless of their identity, is the normalization of being LGBTQ+. Exploring twenty-three figures throughout history, this fascinating and easy-to-read set of biographies reveals just how diverse our world is. From First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (lesbian) to an ancient Roman transgender empress, QUEER, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE forces us to confront our own assumptions about history that we may not even realize we have.

I found this to be both fascinating and humbling. The breadth and depth of the LGBTQ+ community is rarely explored in conventional history classes, and this book helped me see the world through an entirely new lens. The writing is very accessible and fun, though the author tries a little too hard to be “hip”—the attempted use of slang can be a little cringe-worthy at times. Overall, however, I think this book isn’t just a good read, but a necessary one, giving LGBTQ+ folks amazing examples of influential world-changers with struggles and triumphs to identify with, and helping allies better understand how we need to view the world in order to be compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

17 May 2017

Review: Zenn Diagram

Zenn Diagram
by Wendy Brant

Publisher: Hachette
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant follows 17-year-old Eva through her senior year of high school, but she's not an ordinary girl. Everything she touches gives her an overwhelming flood of all the owner's deepest fears and secrets, making it hard for her to be normal. So, being a math genius, she sticks to tutoring and only touching people's calculators to know what they're struggling with... That is, until she meets handsome Zenn with a dark past. Will she be able to resist touching him and getting his whole life's story? 
This book is definitely a page turner and is a look into the struggles of any teenage girl who is starting a new life in a different city. I loved the writing style and how much it shows what a look into the teenage brain is like.

16 May 2017

Review: Antisocial

by Jillian Blake

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

ANTISOCIAL by Jillian Blake is about a senior named Anna Soler who gets dumped by her boyfriend and finds herself without any friends. One day an anonymous hacker starts hacking all of the most popular people's phones and exposes their darkest secrets. Anna must save the people she cares about from getting exposed. I really enjoyed the book. It was a little confusing because of the texting but it became clear after a while. I enjoyed how the characters were portrayed and I felt connected to them. I liked the plot and the writing style. It is a solid debut novel. 

Review: A Million Junes

A Million Junes
by Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

A MILLION JUNES by Emily Henry offers a stunning imaginary world and a story with so many layers it's almost hard to keep track. June has always been interested in the Angerts. Ever since she was little her father’s only rules were “stay away from the Falls” and “stay away from the Angerts”. But now that her father is dead she’s determined to hate them- heeding her dad’s wishes. But when she meets Saul Angert, no matter how hard she tries, there's something that draws them together. As they spend more time together, Saul and June begin to learn more about each other’s pasts and the curse between their two families. As they piece the mystery together they realize they are in danger too and have to stop the curse before it's too late.

Emily Henry has managed to bring together mystery, love, and fantasy gracefully into one story. I felt the author’s writing style allows for the readers to imagine the beautifully described scenery clearly which is something that some other books don’t do as well. Her characters are well developed and the interactions they have over the course of the book impact who they are by the end of it. The love story holds the rest of the plot aloft and is very sweet and honest. The book visits the past of June’s family often which is a bit confusing because her father, grandfather, and great grandfather are all named Jack. The author still manages to differentiate them, it is just a bit disorienting. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to kids who like fantasy elements and a pure love story.

09 May 2017

Review: It's Not Like It's a Secret

It's Not Like It's a Secret
by Misa Sugiura

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

11th-grader Sana Kiyohara has only recently moved from her small Midwestern town to California, but she’s already acquired her fair share of secrets. Her mother’s constant criticism is wearing her down, her father’s probably having an affair…oh, and she’s got a huge crush on a gorgeous girl at her new school.

This sweet, funny, captivating coming-of-age novel is a fantastic read. The author’s lively, conversational style grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go; I read the entire book in one afternoon. The characters are honest and sympathetic. Readers will find themselves cheering Sana on as she navigates high school life.

02 May 2017

Review: Dreamfall

by Amy Plum

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

DREAMFALL is the newest book by Amy Plum, a psychological thriller filled with science and monsters. Seven subjects, all who suffer from lack of sleep from nightmares, are put through a new test to help get rid of their nightmares and help them sleep. The test is highly experimental, so when it goes wrong because of an earthquake, the seven subjects are thrust into a nightmare world called DREAMFALL. There, they must survive each others' worst nightmare, or face being killed both in the dream and in real life.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was the diversity of the characters: everyone seemed to come from different places. All the characters also had their own psychological issues, and while some authors completely over-play this, the characters' issues weren't just thrust into the reader's face. I also enjoyed the mystery behind all the characters. The reader is given little bits of their background stories through reports read by a student who is watching the test with the doctors in the real world. This helped to add dimension to the characters which might have otherwise been lacking. The dreams were very suspenseful, mainly because of the fact that they were really nightmares, but also because the reader is experiencing them at the same time as the characters.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for their next suspenseful read. Some of the “dreams” might be a little intense for some younger readers, but this book is worth it for those psychological thriller fans. The ending of this book is also very good, and will leave readers desperately waiting for the next book.

Review: Deep Water

Deep Water
by Katherine Nichols

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Based on a true story, DEEP WATER depicts the drug smuggling journey of Eddie Otero over the span of about ten years. Eddie starts his operation by swimming across the ocean, eventually moving up to trucks and boats loaded with millions of dollars of marijuana. Eddie and his friends from school and work escalate from a two-man team in Coronado to an international smuggling operation. The main story is sporadically interrupted by interludes of the police trying to catch them, but not in a way that creates two major storylines. The police are like a secondary story that runs parallel to, but does not overwhelm, the main plot.

I really liked this book, and found it very interesting, especially because it really happened. Every few chapters cover one to three years, which helps portray the amount of time passed very well. This book is very gripping and usually builds great suspense right before, during, and right after each shipment. I found it interesting how the dynamics of the group worked, how they interacted with larger drug lords, and why they continued their illegal business.

Review: Windfall

by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

WINDFALL by Jennifer E. Smith is a story about luck and the rearranging of one’s life after a “windfall.” When Alice buys her best friend and first love, Teddy McAvoy, a lottery ticket when he turns eighteen, she has no idea of the repercussions that will follow. When Teddy wins big, Alice is wary of the choices he will make now that he has more money than he could ever have imagined.

This novel is essentially about acceptance. Alice is trying to accept herself after both of her parents have died, and trying to accept her friends into her life rather than keeping them at a distance. I enjoyed this book because of the struggle Alice has with herself and those around her, attempting to heal a wound that seems impossible to mend. Despite the premise, the story is quite upbeat and fun. Throughout the book, there isn’t really an antagonist: each character has ups and downs and they sometimes take it out on those around them, but it's clear they all love each other. I especially enjoyed the ending, which was satisfying and gave closure to the story. This is a good book to read if you're looking for a light-hearted, romantic story.