Mini Reviews! (Cause I actually got some reading done)

I went from barely reading anything the past three weeks to three books in one week! It might not seem like a lot, but it is. I’m still too far back from my Goodreads reading goal to redeem myself but at least the race is close!

18692431“Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon

~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Goodreads Link

SO CUTE! This was a cutesy romance! It was fairly predictable, a good story line, and witty main characters. It touches on more sensitive subjects like domestic abuse and loss of family members but overall, it’s about teenagers falling in love and overcoming obstacles.

I loved Maddy as a character. For someone so secluded from the world, she is smart and perceptive. Her mom and her nurse are the only ones she is allowed to see and the way she was portrayed, I felt her loneliness with her. Going outside meant potentially dying but staying inside was its own kind of torture and witnessing her struggle made it more real.

~o~O~o~O~o~O~o~

19542841“More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera

~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Goodreads Link

This book was HEARTBREAKING and WORLD SHATTERING and ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS! More Happy Than Not is going up there with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. 

Aaron had recently tried to kill himself (after his father committed suicide) and had been hospitalized for it. But now, he is trying to be happy in his own life. As the story unravels and you realize everything Aaron has been through, you can’t help but love his character.

~o~O~o~O~o~O~o~

18692431“When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna Marie-McLemore

~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Goodreads Link

When the Moon Was Ours is magical realism at its finest. This was also HEARTBREAKING AND BREATHTAKING AND ALL THINGS IN BETWEEN. The magical elements in this world are as real as the most mundane of things in our world. This had the same feel to it as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender which I also loved but I think I enjoyed this more.

Miel is known as the girl who came from water because the townspeople found her inside a water tower when she was little. Sam is a transgender boy who is coming to terms with himself and who he wants to be known for. Their friendship is unique and strong and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in literature.

Like I said before, the magical elements are so real, I had no trouble believing it all. Miel growing roses out of her wrist, Sam painting moons and hanging them on trees to bring light to the darkness, Aracely taking lovesickness away from bodies, the Bonner sisters being four separate bodies but one entity.

Both Miel and Sam were wonderful, well developed and well-rounded characters with strengths and flaws. This was also the first book I’ve read about a transgender character never mind the first about a South Asian transgender character. The struggle Sam goes through in this book opened my eyes to issues I had known about before but never really thought about on a deeper level.

~o~O~o~O~o~O~o~

Have you guys read any of these?

Review: “Kids of Appetite” by David Arnold

22466429~o~Rating~o~

4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

~o~My Review~o~

“And when the kids needed someone most, someone to love and trust, they found one another, and they called themselves the Kids of Appetite, and they lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good.”

I received an ARC of this fantastic book and I really wanted to post my review before the release date but alas, I am the opposite of punctual when it comes to blogging.

All these awesome new contemporaries are gradually bringing the genre to the top of my YA favorites ladder. It can’t beat Fantasy of course, but it’s getting there. That said, I loved this book!

I loved David Arnold’s writing style! To me, it was a mix of John Green’s existential questions to Jandy Nelson’s beautiful imagery of the world. The writing itself gives the story more depth than it would otherwise have.

Victor – Vic – is a teenager with Moebius Syndrome which is a rare neurological disorder that causes facial paralysis. Vic cannot blink or smile or laugh. So instead he smiles with his eyes and he feels with his heart. I thought Victor was a fantastic protagonist, at times reckless and self-centered but with good intention and a broken heart (over his father’s death).

The other characters were just as good. Baz, the group leader, who leads this ragtag team and takes care of them. Nzuzi, Baz’ little brother, who doesn’t talk but is a constant presence in their lives. Little Coco with an obsession with cuss words and ice-cream. And the awesome Mad who is always in inner turmoil for leaving her grandmother in a house with her abusive uncle while she stays with Baz.

This book explores some diverse topics like the mentioned Moebius syndrome, kids coming from abusive homes, death of a parent, racism and basically what it means to be different in a society that is terrified of the other. 

The character relationships were developed well. My only complaint with the characters is the insta-love that is present, mostly from Vic’s side. It develops into something much more meaningful as the novel goes on so I was completely okay with their relationship. I do wish the relationships between the other characters were played out a little more but what was there was pretty fantastic.

Review: “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green

1320817~o~Rating~o~

4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

Click here for the Goodreads page.

~o~My Review~o~

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

This was my second time around reading this book. If I had written a review the first time, I would’ve given this book two stars, maybe two and a half at the most. I’m really glad I decided to revisit.

Now, let me start off by saying, I LOVE John Green. As a person. I love the Vlogbrothers, (I’ve been a Nerdfighter for about five years now), love CrashCourse and Mental Floss and Dear Hank and John. But he isn’t the best author. Mostly because all of his characters tend to sound the same and have similar existential crises (had to look up the plural). But you know one thing John is awesome at? Ideas and Dialogues. His dialogues make you want to curl up into a thought bubble and play his words over and over again in your head.

All of his books focus on a big theme. This one is about mattering and how you will be remembered (similar to TFioS but less depressing). I think part of the reason I loved Abundance of Katherines the second time around is because currently, I’m in the same boat as Colin and Hassan. It’s the summer before college and I’m also thinking a lot about how much I matter and how I want others to remember me.

What I liked:

Colin is whiny and dramatic and sentimental and a guy. How many whiny/sentimental male MCs exist in YA? Not many. If a girl can kick a** (excuse the non-cussing), why can’t a guy be overly emotional? Now I would admit, if Colin was a girl, I would tell him to get up and get his act together but it’s nice to see the guy whining about a break-up for once. And when I say whining, I don’t mean sulking and brooding but I mean full on annoying sob-fest.

Hassan was by far my favorite character. He is Colin’s pudgy (his words) Muslim best friend. He is absolutely hilarious and I love that John Green doesn’t shy away from writing about Islam.

The footnotes. I read a lot of mixed reviews about the footnotes. I love them! I think the footnotes give a better glimpse at what goes on in Colin’s mind. And some of those facts were honestly pretty interesting.

The math. Even though I didn’t understand most of it, I’m a math geek. I love math. I tell everyone math is my true love (right up there with books of course). So Colin spending most of this novel trying to write a theorem was more than okay with me.

Disliked:

Sometimes, the talk about all the Katherines gets a bit much. Guy or not, excessive whining is never a good thing.

Unfortunately, I still couldn’t give this book five stars because it just didn’t have a WOW factor. But I think AAoK just made my Favorite Contemporaries list.

 

ARC Review: “What Light” by Jay Asher

29093326~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

Goodreads Synopsis: Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

Click here for the Goodreads page.

~o~Review~o~

I received the ARC of What Light for winning YA Trivia at b-fest in Barnes and Nobles. I was super excited when this came in the mail because I love Jay Asher!

If you read YA contemporary than most likely you’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. What Light is not nearly as emotionally heavy. It’s pretty much a typical- girl meets boy, they fall in love, there are some obstacles- love story. I don’t know if it’s an unforgettable love story but this was definitely one of the cutest things I’ve read in a while.

Sierra lives two lives, her life at home in Oregon where they own a Christmas tree farm and her life in California during Christmas where her family sells their Christmas trees. They haven’t been making as much profit lately so her parents think this year may be their last Christmas in California.

What I liked: 

Female Friendships. Sierra has friends who are girls. THREE of them. How often do you see female MCs in YA having female best friends? Who talk and hang out and are basically nice to each other? Not often. (Granted I don’t read a lot of contemporary so I might have just missed a lot of books). Seeing Sierra spending time with her best friends was a nice change from the female drama that usually happens in YA.

No Insta-Love. More like insta-infatuation that led to love. Caleb has a bit of a reputation around town and most of the other kids tend to avoid him. It was nice to see how Sierra tried to get to know him first and didn’t just jump into the rumor train. Their relationship progressed gradually and realistically. And Caleb is honestly pretty awesome.

Parents! She has parents! Sierra has both parents who love and support her and she actually listens to them. Shocking, isn’t it!? Parents are probably one of the rarest things in YA. Sierra’s mother and father have a huge presence in her life which is always interesting to see.

What I didn’t like:

The plot felt a little generic. Like I said before, it’s a typical love story which is fine. It was still cute, there just wasn’t anything new.

Review: “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman

19549841~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

~o~Review~o~

“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”

Seraphina is quite possibly the best book about dragons I’ve ever read. Hartman is a good writer and her world building is very detailed and thorough. Although some parts of the book are a little slow, I think Hartman did a marvelous job creating her Fantasy world.

In the kingdom of Goredd, there is an uneasy alliance among the people and the dragons after years of war. Some dragons live among humans as scholars or teachers but mostly the dragons live in their region and the humans in theirs.But now, the fortieth anniversary of their peace treaty is coming and the queen of Goredd invited the dragon leader and ambassadors to Goredd to celebrate.

My favorite thing about this book is Seraphina  herself. She is intelligent, bold and resourceful. I think she is a well developed character who is flawed in her own way  (**Mild spoiler** she is half dragon. A weredragon? She has scales all around her body and has to wear a full-sleeved, full body dress at all times **End of spoiler**). Her relationship with all the characters were gradual and were developed in a realistic way.

Prince Lucian – Kiggs – was another fantastic character. He is the leader of the crown’s guard and is engaged to his cousin, Princess Glisselda.  He isn’t overly good-looking or a master at fighting but he is good match for Seraphina’s sharpness. They are both smart and logical and are willing to do what others aren’t.

Princess Glisselda was another high point of the book. I was expecting her to be a snooty princess, almost like the mean girl of the book. I’m so glad I was wrong because I would not have enjoyed this book as much if I had been right. Glisselda is also intelligent and she tries her best to keep an open mind about things other people won’t appreciate.

Overall, Seraphina is a great epic fantasy and should be read by all dragon lovers should read. Or you know, Fantasy lovers in general.

Review: “The Hidden Oracle” by Rick Riordan

26252859~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

Warning: The following contains spoilers for its two prequel series Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus both by Rick Riordan. This is the first book to the Trials of Apollo series. 

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

~o~Review~o~

Do you have to read the other two series to read this? No, not really. But it would help with your understanding of the book so it is highly recommended. And wouldn’t you rather know the full history behind these characters?

**Note: Again, spoilers for the first two series coming up. Not major ones but beware anyway.

I am SO glad I liked this book. Because, well, Blood of Olympus was horrible. I refused to consider that book a true conclusion so I was very excited for this chance to revisit my favorite characters. I kept my expectations at bay because after BoO and Magnus Chase (which was another disappointment), I didn’t have much hope left. I was not disappointed!

Back to first person point of view! Honestly, the third person of HoO wasn’t working out very well. Apollo’s pov is nothing like the usual sarcastic-jokester Riordan protagonist. Apollo is whiny, self-centered and egocentric and I LOVED it. His mortal name? Lester Papadopoulos. Any other character who acted so pathetic would bother the Hades out of me but this is Apollo. He gets a freebie.

Meg was a wonderful addition to this world. She is a fierce twelve year old demigod living in the streets. She rescues Apollo right after he, quite literally, falls from Heaven. Apollo and Meg have a pure friendship and it seems like this is the first time two main characters won’t be in a relationship in these series.

To those who are wondering if you see Percy and gang. Kind of. You definitely see Percy. And SOLANGELO IS CONFIRMED! It is no longer a thing of fanfiction!

Four stars because as much as I liked it, it didn’t have enough WOW factor to make me love it. And I wish it was longer. Only 361 pages? That’s not nearly enough.

~o~Spoilers Alert!~o~

Since I can’t help myself, here are some of my favorite scenes.

“Yep,” Percy agreed. “That pretty much describes my entire life: Because Poseidon.”

Percy is just so done with this world.

“But the truth is we gods are a little in awe of you mortals. You spend your whole lives knowing you will die. No matter how many friends and relatives you have, your puny existence will quickly be forgotten. How do you cope with it? Why are you not running around constantly screaming and pulling your hair out?”

Apollo gave me a serious existential crisis.

And I love all the jabs Riordan makes at, dare I stay it, stupid people.

At this point, you may be wondering how I felt seeing my son with Nico di Angelo. I’ll admit I did not understand Will’s attraction to a child of Hades, but if the dark foreboding type was what made Will happy…

Oh. Perhaps some of you are wondering how I felt seeing him with a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. Is that’s the case, please. We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had… let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.

The casual he talks about homosexual relationships in a middle grade book is honestly one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. Hats off to Riordan!

“Nico,” I said at last, “shouldn’t you be sitting at the Hades table?”

He shrugged. “Technically, yes. But if I sit alone at my table, strange things happen. Cracks open in the floor. Zombies crawl out and start roaming around. It’s a mood disorder. I can’t control it. That’s what I told Chiron. “

“And is it true?” I asked.

Nico smiled thinly. “I have a note from my doctor.”

Will raised his hand. “I’m his doctor.”

“Chiron decided it wasn’t worth arguing about,” Nico said. “As long as I sit at a table with other people, like … oh, these guys for instance … zombies stay away. Everybody’s happier.”

Will nodded serenely. “It’s the strangest thing. Not that Nico would ever misuse his powers to get what he wants.”

“Of course not,” Nico agreed.  

Every Solangelo scene in was just too perfect! I’m glad I read this at home because I would just start squealing whenever they came up. A few more of these and I’ll put them above Percabeth! (Well… maybe a tie).

Nero waved dismissively. “But the Christians were terrorists, you see. Perhaps they didn’t start the fire, but they were causing all sorts of trouble.”

As a Muslim, I found this contrast absolutely hilarious.

“Eh,” Leo said. “We took Gaea in, like, forty seconds. This’ll be easy squeezy.”

I seemed to recall that the lead-up to the fight with Gaea had involved months of suffering and near misses with death. Leo, in fact, had died.

Who trolls their readers better than Riordan? I believe this was a jab to all those (including myself) who complained about the BoO end scene to be too short and anti-climactic. And that none of the heroes died, which was actually great.

Other random thoughts:

Percy studying for the SAT’s just so he could go to college with Annabeth. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. Especially since we know, Percy Jackson hates studying.

Austin and Kayla were pretty great and I’m glad we finally got to know them a little more.

Little Harley is so cute!

Leo and Calypso are going with Apollo! Not going to lie, I’d much rather have Will and Nico go but Leo is good too.

That Percy and Calypso reunion! I wish Annabeth was there.

I did not see the Meg thing coming! She’s Nero’s stepdaughter! This is one of the first times a Riordan book actually surprised me.

 

Review: “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

19547856~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

~o~Mini Review~o~

“Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.”

This book was super cute! The writing is simple without sounding childish. The scenario seemed very realistic. I’ve always liked the trope of pen-pals falling in love because then it really is two people falling in love with each other’s minds long before there is any physical attraction.

As a high school student in Georgia, it was uncanny how similar these characters were to some of my classmates (so much that I couldn’t help but assign each character to someone in my class. And now I’ll never see them the same way again :D).

I’m giving it 4 stars because even though I loved all the characters, I felt like there could have been some more individual interaction between Simon and the others. There were some great scenes between Simon and his best friends as a group but I wanted more of him just talking to his friends individually. But it is easy to see that he has a great relationship with all of them and they all care about him a lot.

This is a tiny review but I honestly can’t think of anything to say except “This was SO cute!” 

 

Review: "The Scar Boys" by Len Vlahos

22318571~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Playing in a punk rock band brings peace to a bullied teen in Len Vlahos’s debut novel.

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock ‘n’ roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world…even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay–help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores–Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality.

The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry’s description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he’s looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.

~o~Review~o~

Don’t judge a book by its’ genre is a lesson I am starting to understand. I have only recently started reading more contemporary books and they’re actually not all that bad. I went into this book expecting it to be a two star, three at most. So when it ended up being four star worthy, I was joyous!

Harbinger (Harry) Jones went through a traumatic childhood experience in which he was tied to a tree during a lightening storm. On top of that being absolutely terrifying, he was literally and metaphorically scarred for life. His face was deformed and he was forever cast an outsider.

The Scar Boys is basically Harry’s story of how he became comfortable with himself. It’s about society and what being different really does to someone’s confidence. It’s about friendship and how much impact friends have on your identity. It’s a search for identity story told through a college admissions essay.

Short review, I know. Read it though!

Review: "Passenger" by Alexandra Bracken

 ~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

~o~Goodreads synopsis~o~

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

~o~Review~o~

“The only way out is through.”

My expectation for this book was very high. I mean, I have declared Alex Bracken as my favorite YA author because the Darkest Minds books. So when I started reading this book and didn’t have that gripping feeling of finishing it as soon as I could, I was slightly disappointed. But as I said, my expectations were unnaturally high and that doesn’t in any way mean Passenger was a bad book. It’s a good book. It just isn’t the masterpiece I was expecting it to be. Which, again, isn’t very fair to expect anyway.

It took me a while to get into the book. The first half of the book is mostly world-building and character development, which is great don’t get me wrong, but it’s also dull. I was left confused for the first hundred pages or so and kept wondering what was going on. Now, even though I did have to sludge on through a few chapters because of the heavy description, it’s a known fact that Alex Bracken is a fantastic writer. (Well…known to me at-least). Once I got past the first few chapters, it got A LOT better. I loved reading about the different time periods they traveled to.

Passenger is written in two perspectives: Etta and Nicholas. Etta is a violin prodigy with an eccentric mother who has a very strange ways of showing affection. She has no other family, her mother never talks about Etta’s father. The only other present person in her life beside her mother is her violin instructor: an elderly woman named Alice. Etta is your typical YA female protagonist: smart, stubborn, doesn’t take no for an answer, determined, doesn’t listen to authority figures, prideful and thinks she can do anything alone, etc. But as far as protagonists go, she’s actually pretty cool. She’s confident but isn’t ashamed of accepting help when she needs it.

Nicholas is a black man (or boy, I guess. He’s about 20ish) living in the very racist society of the 1770s. The two perspectives actually sounded like two different people which is a rarity in YA fiction. Nicholas grew up as a slave and his freedom was later bought by a captain of a ship. Coming from a society that judged him openly for his skin color, all Nicholas wanted was complete independence and a ship that he could own.

Their relationship is gradual and doesn’t overpower the plot which is a huge bonus for Bracken. And sadly, Nicholas is one of the only African-American main love interests I’ve encountered in YA so far.

It might seem boring at first, but it does get better. Read it! And if you haven’t already, pick up The Darkest Minds books which are also by Alexandra Bracken.

Review: “Then I Met My Sister” by Christine Hurley Deriso

8494435~o~Rating~o~
4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~ 

It’s not exactly easy living in a shrine to your dead sister. Since birth, I’ve known that everyone loved Shannon. She was perfect–beautiful, smart, talented. And me? Not so much. My parents always expected me to live up to her greatness. But I could never measure up to her, so why even try?

This summer, I’ve started reading the journal Shannon kept just before she died . . . and suddenly nothing is what I thought it was. The more secrets I learn about Shannon and our family, the more everything changes. And as it turns out, facing the truth is no cakewalk, either.

~o~Review~o~

The blurb of a book doesn’t usually catch my attention but this one did. And it was fairly small so I picked it up. For a book I had never heard of before, it was an interesting and mostly enjoyable read.

Summer’s parents had her as a coping mechanism after they lost their daughter, Shannon, in a car accident. Her sister was pretty much the perfect daughter: straight A student, never acted out, etc. Summer hates being in her shadow so she tries to act as different from Shannon as possible. Then one day, her aunt gives her Shannon’s journal and Summer “meets” her sister for the first time.

Now, when I read the blurb, I was expecting Summer to be one of those typical rebel teenagers who go out of her way to do the exact opposite of what her parents say. Gladly, that was not the case. Summer was, for the most part, pretty sensible and smart.

Although the story had a romantic aspect, it was more focused on family and Summer’s relationship with her parents. While getting to know who her sister was, Summer was also getting to know who her parents were before the accident.

The romantic interest, Gibs, was actually my favorite character. After some long and painful YA books with overbearing bad-boy boyfriends, sweet and intelligent Gibs was a nice change. And he was a good influence on Summer instead of the other way around which seems to be the norm these days.

Cons: The writing, though not bad, could have been better. And some of the characters felt a little one-dimensional to me, but that’s understandable since it was a small book and the author was mainly focusing on Summer.

Overall, it was a nice read.