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YA Reviews

YA Review- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: Feb 2017
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The Hate U Give is a timely and necessary novel that follows the story of Starr, a Black teen girl living in a rough neighborhood, but attending a private, and mostly white populated school. She often feels like she is split between two worlds. When her best friend is shot in front of her and killed by a cop, her entire world turns upside down – and the two parts of her collide in a poetic way.

Angie Thomas is a master of emotion. She writes her characters with such depth that you feel as if you know them. You will be immersed in Starr’s world, and gain a deeper understanding about Black Lives Matter is so important, why our culture is so divided, and how frustrating it must be to be Black in America in this day and age. This should be a must read for all high school students.

Recommended ages 14+

Trigger Warnings for violence, police brutality, under age drinking, drug use, gangs, sexual consent

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Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publishing Date: October 8, 2019
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WOW! This was a phenomenal story and a phenomenal audio book. In a dystopian world, women are born with magic and during their grace year, are banished from the community into the wilderness to burn it all off. It becomes clear the the main character, Tierney, that this is just a way to keep the women in control and to keep them oppressed, but when she tries to point the truth out to the other girls in her grace year, they turn on her.

Tierney is a wonderful and strong character in the likeness of other strong girls coming out of dystopian literature such as Katniss and Tris. She was relatable and likeable in many ways and imperfect in many ways. I was on the edge of my seat listening to this story, wondering what was going to happen to Tierney and the women in her community.

This is a YA book recommended to ages 14 and up. I definitely recommend it to women who like feminist works, anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, and those who are fans of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Divergent.

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YA Reviews

Bones of a Saint Book Review

Bones of a Saint is raw, emotional, and a much needed diverse read. This story is told in two different ways – once through the eyes of RJ in present terms, and once as stories told by RJ of his past to an old man he is suppose to rob for a violent gang.

RJ grows up in a very religious community in the past (1970s) and is dirt poor. He has several siblings, and they all have different, deadbeat dads. He tells his story through reminiscing of his Catholic roots as he tries to escape the clutches of the gang that has had his trailer park under their thumb for generations – but this generation will be the last if RJ has anything to do with it.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the twists and turns of a thriller, without being terrified, for YA readers wanting a different format, and to anyone who was raised Catholic who can appreciate the many religious references throughout this novel.

Add it on GoodReads / PreOrder on Amazon

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Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

My Lady Jane – YA/ TEEN BOOK REVIEW

I haven’t been on in awhile in part because I have been writing and in part because I have been working. I miss blogging though. I miss reviewing books and taking pictures and making book lists up.

I finished My Lady Jane last night written my the self-coined “Lady Janies” and man was this a FUN book.

Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2016
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Buy It: Amazon

Synopsis

My Lady Jane is the fantasy retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey. Jane Grey was the infamous 9 day queen between King Edward and Bloody Mary, the children of King Henry VIII. In this version of history, the country of England isn’t torn between the Catholics and the Protestants but rather those with magical abilities to transform into animals and those that admonish them. Lady Jane Grey is married off to a man she has never met and in a plot to overthrow England entirely, she is made into queen when Edward is pronounced dead.

Review

In short, this book was hilarious. Laugh out loud funny! While rather long, the pages flew by because the story and characters were interesting and there was humor in all the plots and narration. The plot is very vastly different than the actual historical events, and although you do not need to have background knowledge on this part of history it does help you as a reader, to know what was really going on. I definitely suggest reading a couple short articles about the history of Lady Jane Grey and King Edward before you read the story.

This story is told from 3 different points of view – King Edwards, Lady Jane Grey, and her husband, Gifford. Each character is so easy to relate to and has their own little back stories and complicated teenage thoughts – as they are all teenagers with very adult problems. My favorite character of the 3 was Lady Jane as she has an addiction to books and libraries and wants to make sure the country invests more in libraries and less money in war. A very admirable idea if you ask me.

Overall I LOVED this book and gave it 5 stars which makes it one of the first 5 star books I have read in awhile. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a little humor in their books, just as much action as romance, and anyone who enjoys a historical fiction novel.

For Parents/Teachers/Librarians

I thought I would start adding a section into my reviews to help out anyone who is looking to purchase this book so they know the content and the intended age audience of the books I am reviewing. I know as a librarian and teacher I cannot read all the books my students do, so I am constantly looking for reviews of the books.

Recommended Age: 14+
Sexual Content: A hint that a marriage was consummated with no details as to what that means except it is referred to by Jane’s mother as “the special hug”. Lots of dreaming of kissing a girl from Edward and one kissing scene between Jane and Gifford after they are married.
Drinking: Gifford gets drunk on ale at the wedding feast. Wine and alcohol are mentioned as normal day to day life.
Drugs: None.
Violence: There is a bar fight and a battle scene, but both are very short and don’t have a lot of details.

Anything else you would want to know about a book as an adult looking to recommend it to students/patrons/ children ? Just let me know what I should put in this section of my reviews

Free Wallpaper

Enjoy this free wallpaper with a quote on it from My Lady Jane.

Download from this Link
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YA Reviews

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter Review

Oh hey I’m baaaackkkk! I have been in a reading/writing slump this summer and that makes me SO SAD. I did finish The Evil Queen in June ) and it was fantastic. (ARC provided by InkyardPress at the TLA 2019 conference

Title: The Evil Queen
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publishing Date: June 25, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buy It: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads

Synopsis

The Evil Queen is a Snow White retelling from, you guessed it, The Evil Queen’s point of view. This book is set in modern day America at the beginning of the novel, but the two main characters soon learn that they are from an alternate universe where magic is real . They also learn of a prophecy involving them and several others their age which makes them the characters of the fairytale, Snow White.

Everly discovers on accident that she can communicate through mirrors, a very powerful magic that allows her to see what is happening in other places, and communicate with a different version of herself, Foreverly. When she is told that she actually has to take power from others to gain her own she realizes that this could be used for good or evil. Is she destined to become The Evil Queen from the fairytale, or can she make her own destiny?

Review

I LOVED this book. The beginning was a little slow, but I couldn’t set this down after I reached the midway point. I ended up staying up until 2 am to finish. Everly was a complicated character which I loved. She seemed to swing between Evil and Good as most people do, but had trouble accepting that she could be both and didn’t have to be one or the other.

I absolutely LOVED the world building in this novel. While most first in series spend so much time on setting up the characters for the series OR setting up the world for the characters Showalter did a good job doing both. We got to know the main cast really well and each character had a unique personality. While some characters had similar names that could be confusing, the characteristics of each one stood out.

The world was well built as magical and beautiful. I loved this setting with the castles and of course the magic forest. The setting played such an important role in the plot and it was nice that it was set up so well and easy to imagine as I read.

This is a YA fantasy but does have some references to sex and some light curse words. I recommend for 16+, for any fans of fairytale retellings, and for those in the mood for a somewhat dark fantasy tale.

The Evil Queen Bookstagram Props

I thought I might start adding some fun things to my reviews, like free downloads that go with them, some lists of fun things that go with book, If you liked this, read this lists etc. So today I found some perfect props for your bookstagram photos to go with this book and I have a free desktop wall paper at the end of this post for you to download with my favorite quote from the novel. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

This vintage hand mirror which you could use for multiple photos. I love the look of this one!

These golden apples!

This Evil Queen crown which looks like it came straight from the forest.

Here is a full look at my amazon affiliates page to show you everything I recommend and like on Amazon. Feel free to take a look around. Amazon affiliates get paid on purchases from their links. You don’t pay any extra, affiliates just get a small cut of Amazon’s profit.

If you made it this far CONGRATS. Here is a link to the download for this desktop quote wallpaper.

Download Here

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YA Reviews

Book Review : Scythe by Neal Schusterman

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Schusterman
Publisher: Simon Schuster for Young Readers
Publishing Date: November 22, 2016
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
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Purchase: Amazon

Summary

In a perfect world, people have overcome hunger, disease, accidents and therefore death. Just turn back the clock whenever you want and *poof* you are back in your 20s. There is only one problem, if no one ever dies, then the world will be over populated. Therefore the Scythdom is born completely separate from society. The Scythes are the ones who are chosen to be the killers in this seemingly Utopia version of the world. They are charged with the task of deciding who lives and who dies. In this novel we follow two young Scythe apprentices who have been taken under the wing of a very moral scythe. But when he disappears the 2 apprentices are separated for the remained of the apprenticeship to two very different Scythe mentors. One will become a scythe, and one will be killed by the other.
Review

I LOVED this book. There are so many interesting concepts to discuss around this novel which made me wistful for the days I was an English teacher. I recommended this to our high school English teacher as a companion study to The Hunger Games which she reads with our 9th graders. This novel is an amazing answer to the question: What if we could all live forever? What would happen?

The characters in this novel are all so different and unique and all though Scythe Goddard is the ultimate villain in this story, we can all see in him the terror we feel from those people on the news that cause mass murders. He is someone to fear in total awe. The two apprentices are different yet understand what the meaning of a scythe has to mean sometimes. I really related to Citra throughout the novel who lives mostly in fear of becoming a Scythe, but feels the duty of what she has been chosen to do. I cannot imagine being tasked with an awful and powerful, yet necessary (in this fictional world) job.

I would recommend this to fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels as well as to fans of clean YA books. Would advise against to those sensitive to violence. There is nothing grisly visual in here like in a Stephen King novel, but there are several described mass shootings which I know can be a trigger to those who have experienced one.

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YA Reviews

Book Review – I am Number Four

Book Title: I am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: August 3, 2010
Series: Lorien Legacies #1 
Genre: Teen Sci Fi
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Synopsis

Years ago the remaining Lorien children came to Earth with their mentors. There were nine of them, and the first three have been murdered by the other alien race. Number Four has been on the run his entire life. He looks like a human and he and his mentor blend in as a father and son team while they wait for Four’s legacies to take hole. When they arrive in Paradise, Ohio, Four goes by John to blend in and soon makes a best friend and falls for the girl in his home ec class. He doesn’t want to leave, even when his legacies show up and when his life, and all those he cares about are in danger.

Review

This reads as a classic YA book with some obvious troups and fantasy elements. This is the classic origin story of a hero, with some death, some mistakes, the love of the girl next door, the dorky sidekick best friend. It has the works. Although this did come out in 2010 so this makes sense that all the classic troupes of YA would be there.

I did enjoy this story even if the characters were a little too far fetched. But this is sci-fi so anything can happen. I did really like the background information about the alien planets and their wars as well as all the action in this book. Normally books this length take me forever to read, but I raced through this one to find out what was going to happen next.

The only problems I had with this novel were some of the too neat wrap-ups including with the police and the house fire, the bully all of the sudden being nice and helpful, and the best friend and girlfriend being severely understanding of being lied to as well as finding out Four is really an alien.

I ended up giving this book 3.5 (rounded to 4) out of 5 stars. I am not sure I will follow up with this series even though I enjoyed the book. I do recommend it to fans of science fiction YA and to teens. There is hardly any curse words, and nothing sexually explicit in this book (some making out and kissing scenes but nothing beyond that) so it would be a good one for parents to recommend to their teenagers and young adults as well as a good pick for conservative high school libraries.

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YA Reviews

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys Review

As soon as I picked up this book from this year’s TLA conference I knew I had to read it immediately. I am a huge fan of Sepetys novels. She writes so thoughtfully and you can tell how much research goes into each of her historical fiction novels.

The Fountains of Silence

Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publishing Date: October 22, 2019
Publishing Company: Philomel Books
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Order It: Amazon

Synopsis

The Fountains of Silence takes place in Madrid, Spain in 1957. In the aftermath of World War II, most European countries are no longer under dictatorship, but Spain is still at the mercy of their ruthless Catholic dictator Francisco Franco. Most of the Red Republicans from the war have been arrested, sentenced to death, or worked in labor camps to death. Their children and relatives are still suffering under Franco’s rule and things aren’t as they seem.

Daniel is recently 18. His dad is an oil tycoon in Texas and expects Daniel to follow suit with a petroleum degree from Texas A&M. Daniel loves photography and wants more than anything to travel the world and photograph the truth. He is applying for a prestigious scholarship to his dream photography program, much to the chagrin of his father who does not believe photography is the right career path for Daniel. Daniel’s mother is a native Spaniard so for Daniel’s last summer between high school and college Daniel’s mother takes them to the new Hilton hotel in Madrid.

The maid assigned to Daniel’s family is Ana who is around Daniel’s age. She is mysterious and beautiful. She is also the daughter of a Republican and lives in extreme poverty with her older sister, a seamstress, and her husband and their daughter as well as her brother who is a gravedigger by day and aspiring bull fighter promoter by night.

Review

This story is told in many alternating points of view which helps us get a good grasp on the mysterious backstory of both Ana and Daniel and their extremely different families. Though Ana and Daniel are the main characters we do get POV from many of their family members and friends in addition to their chapters. Sepetys also gives us snippets of documentation of the history of Spain during this time to help support the historical part of this novel.

Ana and Daniel were both very relateable characters. I was very excited about Daniel’s character in the beginning because he is from a Texas oil family (much like I am) and is suppose to be attending Texas A&M (my alma mater). He also loves photography which is one of my hobbies. I love the way the author would describe his photographs. Even though you couldn’t see them in the book her imagery made you be able to picture what his photographs must look like. Ana is also very relateable even though the majority of the readers of this book probably won’t be living like Ana. She is empathetic, hardworking, smart, courageous, and a typical teen who falls head over heels in love for the wrong boy.

There is so much mystery in the plot of this book sometimes you feel like you have no idea what is going on, but the author does a good job at giving you pieces of the answer to the mystery one at a time. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the final twist in this book until the moment it was revealed. Even though the main twist is heart wrenching, there are also many smaller plot mysteries happening in this book that make you unable to put down this book despite the length.

I 1000% think everyone needs to pick up this book. I will not reveal the historical terror that this book is based upon because it will most likely give away the ending, but this is a piece of history I knew nothing about and don’t think many people do, because even though this happened in the 1950s the documentation of the horrible events in this book did not come about until the 2010s. You need to read this! Seriously, I gave this 5 stars.

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Uncategorized YA Reviews

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Unravel Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Date Published: February 5, 2013
Publishing Company: HarperCollins
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Buy It: Amazon

Unravel Me is book 2 in the Shatter Me series. I really liked the first book in this series and was so excited to read the second book. I hoped that it would include more world building into the dystopian future that Shatter Me had presented.

Unravel Me picks up where Shatter Me ended with Juliette and Adam in the underground community of government resistors. Juliette is finding out more about her powers and so is Adam. Juliette is having a hard time making friends with anyone else and is still thinking about her enemy… Warner.

I really hated this book. Like a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved Tahereh Mafi’s unique writing style and the world that she created but the only character I liked in this book is Kenji and he doesn’t get nearly enough page time or credit in this novel. The majority of this book is just 300+ pages of Juliette’s feelings about Adam and/or Warner. She treats other people like crap. Her relationship with Warner is just grossly emotionally controlling and abusive and yet romanticized. I would not want any teen or young adult reading this book and thinking that this type of relationship is normal or healthy. It’s not. I cringed the last 100 pages and really had to force myself to finish it.

I gave this book 2.5 stars and rounded to 3 instead of 2 because I loved the first book so much. The only people I would recommend this to is those who finished Shatter Me and are hopeful in reading book 3. I have heard book 2 is the worst in this series.

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Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Book Review

** spoiler alert ** 4.5/ 5 Stars

Carry On is a magical story that is a reminder of the magic we felt when we first read Harry Potter without being too much like Harry Potter. Sure the beginning seems like it is desperately trying to be Potter, but as you get into the details, the plot, and most importantly, the characters, you realize that it isn’t much like Harry Potter except that there is magic and it takes place at a magic school in Britain.

The characters were believable and well thought out. The Mage was a complicated character who was the antihero throughout the novel. Each character, even minor characters like Ebb the goat herder, had a complicated and twisted past.

My favorite character was Baz who was broody, moody, and dark because of a past that haunted him, a family that ignored who he really was, and his secret crush: his roommate, Simon Snow. Though Simon has a girlfriend and so Baz knows he will never be with Simon.

I think I mostly related to Agatha, who seemed determined to keep herself safe no matter what that meant. She seems hated among the fans of this novel, but I think she acted the most realistically of the characters. Most 17/18 year old girls would act the way she does in this novel, at least on certain subjects. I also liked the way her story ended – saving a dog and running away to California.

The only thing I really didn’t like was the corniness in the way that spells were cast. It just seemed like saying normal phrases in a “magic way” would end up in a lot of disasters which are mentioned throughout the book “Be careful or instead of flying, Up, Up and Away could rip your lungs up out of your mouth” LIKE WHAT.

Seriously though, I recommend this 100% to anyone who is craving that “reading Harry Potter for the first time” feeling.