Book Reviews

Review: The You I’ve Never Known By Ellen Hopkins

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Published: January 24th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books


Source: Local Library


Format: Hardcover


Page Count: 608


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+


Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.


Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations.

 

Spoiler Free Review:

I thought it was about time I read some Ellen Hopkins since my sister really enjoyed her books, The You I’ve Never Known sounded the most interesting to me since it included LGBTQ+ aspect to it. I actually took out a part of the synopsis, due to it spoiling a huge part of the novel. If you do plan on reading this book and don’t want to be spoiled, I would recommend skipping over the synopsis.


Nearly all of Hopkins’ books are written in verse and this one was no different. Parts of the book were written in prose or journal format, but it was mostly in verse. I always enjoyed stories in verse anyway and it flowed really well together. But I also found the story to be very slow which was disappointing since I expected it to go pretty fast, due to the format. As for the plot, I felt like it didn’t really start until more than half way through. A lot of the story felt like filler and unnecessary drama. I also thought that the ending was very unfulfilling, there was no closure to a huge aspect of the plot and it ended up just disappearing. 


As my sister had warned, I really didn’t like any of the characters. Ariel was your average teenager and I really couldn’t stand her homophobia and biphobia, but obviously it was how she had grown up and apart of her development. In general, Ariel was kind of irritating and a stupid teenager. Then again, I really shouldn’t have expected anything different. I really liked her friend Monica, but I did feel like she was heavily stereotyped, having being Mexican. However, I myself am not Mexican so that depends on what people who are actually Mexican think. It is true that some stereotypes are true. Besides Monica, I really enjoyed Maya’s character, though I wish there was more from her perspective.


Overall, The You I’ve Never Known was an enjoyable read, I had some issues with the plot but it was entertaining as a whole. 

Rating: 3/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Book Thief By Markus Zusak

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Published: September 18th 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2005)

 
Source: School Book

 
Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II, Classic

 
Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Add to Goodreads. 

Spoiler Free Review:
Reading The Book Thief can be deemed as difficult to start, mostly on account of the raves and tears that so many have expressed. I was pretty apprehensive going into this book, the ending had been spoiled for me, but I decided to give it a try anyway. The Book Thief surprised me, inspired me, and opened my eyes to a part of a history that isn’t discussed nearly enough and is just as important. You will be introduced to a thought provoking and impactful story that will leave you reflecting for days on end.

The most interesting aspect of this book, I would have to say is the writing style. The narrator is Death. Some would think of it as a spirit, but Death truly felt like a human, almost. It was surprisingly witty and it was interesting to read from a perspective who saw everything.

The setting takes place on Himmel Street in Germany. Initially, I thought that since it was a World War II novel, there would be a focus on the Holocaust. The Jewish who were killed and tortured was a significant and terrible time in history. But what isn’t discussed is the Germans who lived in the midst of World War II. They were regular civilians, but were oppressed as well. This book focuses on the German civilians who weren’t Jewish, but were in poverty and them trying to survive as well.

The main character is Liesel Meminger who is adopted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann. I really loved her character and her personality. Despite her being very naive, she was mature for her age and very headstrong. The relationships she formed with each of the characters were very exceptional. Rosa seemed like a grumpy and mean woman, but behind the curse words and glares, she has a big heart. The relationship Liesel had with Hans was incredibly sweet and powerful. Hans became my favorite character, his kindness and compassion outshined every other character. As for the other characters, I think it is for the reader to discover by themselves.

The ending of this book was what I most terrified of. I knew what was coming and I didn’t want it to end. Despite the tragic ending, I found to be bittersweet. There was just enough hope to balance out the sadness.
All in all, I would highly recommend giving it a try. It may sound boring to you at first, but it’s a classic that can possible change your perspective on life. 

Rating: 5/5

Book Reviews

Review: The 5th Wave By Rick Yancey

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Published: May 7th 2013 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Series: The 5th Wave Trilogy #1

Source: Local Library

Synopsis: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. 

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SPOILER WARNING:

Dear Mr. Rick Yancey,

I am a huge fan of The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo in your Monstrumologist series. Well, I would say it is still unclear if Will Henry wrote and really exists. I did like The Isle of Blood but I felt like it was too long. The Final Descent really disappointed me. But, I’m not here to talk about The Monstrumologist series. I’m here to discuss my thoughts on your famous The 5th Wave which the movie trailer had leaked. I was tempted to watch the movie trailer first but made myself read the book  so I could imagine the characters in my head rather than see the trailer ruin it for me. I loved your writing style in The Monstrumologist series and I wondered if this would be just as good.  

The 5th Wave was very accurate and realistic on how the humans would react if the world was taken over by aliens. However, I did find the the”waves” confusing in the beginning but it cleared up towards the middle. Cassie, in ways was your typical female heroine, determined to find her little brother. I’m glad it was a little brother instead of the cliche, tough, bad-ass older sister who is determined to protect her sweet and innocent little sister. I found Sammy or Sams adorable. Though I do think Bear is not a good name for a teddy bear. Then again, my own teddy bear was called Beary so I guess that’s pretty hypocritical. 

When I first met Evan I was irritated at him. “Cassie for Cassiopeia was doomed, a breathing corpse. Run or stay, there was no hope. He was wasting time.” You think? If he wanted to kill her so badly shoot her already! He’s not human anyway. But, Evan Walker is a much more complicated character. Unfortunately, I could not like him. In some ways, he reminded me of Edward from Twilight, since he was a creeper. He read her diary, stalked her, and watched her while she slept. Creepy, indeed. Fortunately, Cassie was equally freaked out and angry as I was when she learned of this. This brings to the main problem I had with this book which is usually why I enjoy books less. 

I’m sorry to say that I found the romance irritable.What did Evan Walker see in this girl that he shot in the leg? He saw defiance, selflessness, beauty both inside and out, strength and determination. He nursed her back to health, yet at the same time lied to her. It was only a few weeks until he kissed her and said he wa sin love with her. I was confused. They had barely interacted in the beginning and Cassie didn’t know him well. It was so frustrating to read. How exactly did they fall in love? There was no chemistry at all and it was insta-love. 

I did enjoy Ben Parish’s story. His was much more interesting and you really were able to see what was going on in Camp Haven and how the aliens controlled the humans. I found their nicknames amusing especially Dumbo,Teacup, and Zombie. Ringer was my favorite character. She was so kick butt and reminded me of Lilah from the Rot and Ruin Series By Jonathan Maberry. I really wish she became squad leader rather than Ben. She taught  Ben a lot about leadership and was very clever. I really wish the story had switched POVS  with Ben and Ringer. To me that sounds like a much more intriguing story. The friendship with Ben and Ringer was my favorite relationship in the story. She was a mentor to Ben as well as a friend. 

The writing style in this book was also different than The Monstrumologist. This does make sense since the narrators are a bunch of teenagers and it is science fiction. To conclude, I would say this was part enjoyable and half irritating to read. I can see why many enjoyed this book. Sadly, I cannot get myself to like it fully. There were aspects of the book I liked but frankly I do not wish to continue with this series. This is not a horrible and it was very well written but I’m overall disappointed. I hope you understand Mr. Yancey. I do like most of your books but this just wasn’t one my favorites. If you ever read this review, Thank You for taking the time to read my rant. I truly appreciate it. 

Yours truly, 

Saowbia 

Rating: 2.5/5

Book Reviews

Review: Piecing Me Together By Renée Watson

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Published: February 14th 2017 by Bloomsbury


Source: E-ARC from Netgalley


Format: E-ARC, Kindle


Page Count: 272


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary


Synopsis: A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.


Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

Add to Goodreads.


Spoiler Free Review: 

As always, I am very late to reviewing books but as the cliche saying goes, better late than never? Piecing Me Together focuses on race, white privilege and womanhood. It’s an important story, especially towards teenagers who aren’t aware of the daily struggles of an African American teenager. But also for people who can relate to Jade’s life and understand where she’s coming from. 


The book isn’t written in verse, but the short chapters and poetic verses almost felt like it was a story written in verse. Art in all forms is significant throughout the story which really spoke to me. Jade is an artist and loves to draw and create collages. The art was symbolic of her life and Jade growing into herself. White privilege, racial profiling and police brutality are all topics brought up in this story. You really get to see how scary it is for black teenagers to be living in fear of being oppressed or arrested for no reason. 


So one thing I’ve noticed in some YA books is after an event, the main character kind of just gives up on their education. I was really glad to see Jade still trying to strive for success. Her mother pushing her to try and pursue a great education was very reminiscent to my own parents and I’m sure to many others. I also liked the relationship between Jade and her mentor. Her mentor didn’t fix Jade and was not perfect at all. There was some miscommunication in the beginning, but the friendship was genuine and encouraging. 


Overall, I really enjoyed this story, I especially loved the poem at the end which was on police brutality. The story really did pack a punch especially towards the end and i would highly recommend reading it.

Rating: 3.75/5

Book Reviews

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet By H.P. Wood

Published: June 7th 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark


Source: Won in a Giveaway


Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

SynopsisA hypnotic debut in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, where an abandoned girl collides with a disgruntled menage of circus freaks.


Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island’s newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty’s mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone, and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty’s new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island…or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.

With shades of Water For Elephants and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet sweeps readers into a mesmerizing world where nothing is as it seems, and where “normal” is the exception to the rule.”

Spoiler Free Review: 

First off, I’d like to thank Joce from squibblesreads for hosting this giveaway and choosing  me as one of the winners. Congratulations on 3k!


I’m going to be honest and say I had no clue what this book was about. Besides the fact that it was an adult circus themed book, I went in blind. I came out in love with this wonderful story, entranced by the writing and the attachment I developed with each and every one of these characters. As time passes by, I continue to appreciate and adore what an amazing debut this book was. 


The story was very well written and ended up being a little haunting. It’s hard to describe but it reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. There was an eccentric and whimsical feel to it. I loved that the setting took place in New York City as well as Coney Island, I’ve never thought about how Coney Island was back in the early 1900s and it was interesting to learn about all of the circuses and entertainment back then.  


The plot was very original and unlike anything I had ever read about. It definitely went into a darker and deeper place that I didn’t see coming. It’s amazing to think that this book is historical fiction and that H.P. Wood managed to weave facts with fiction. She also brings up important topics such as race and sexuality. Initially, I thought nearly all the character would be white since it is, after all the early 1900s. Instead, there’s several characters that are of different ethnicities and backgrounds. New York City was extremely diverse right from the very beginning and it was awesome to see representations of it in this book. 


The characters was what truly shined for me in this book. They were all so distinct and unique. I grew to love all of them, their individual personalities and experiences. The relationships that they developed with one another and as a group was incredibly sweet. It was very easy to grow attached to them. I would have to say Zeph is my favorite out of all of them, though it was hard to choose. I would love to see more from these characters and their adventures.


Overall, this is a very underrated book. Honestly, this story needs to be put out there. Trust me, reading this book will be a wonderful experience. From the writing and unique plot and wonderfully eccentric characters, this is the perfect package of a story. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Reviews

Review: Highly Illogical Behavior By John Corey Whaley

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Published: May 10th 2016 by Dial Books


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness


Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.


Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there? 

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

Spoiler Free Review: 

After reading a few YA mental illness books, I noticed a common factor of romance taking over the plot and an inaccurate depiction of the mental illness. Obviously, I’m not referring to every young adult mental illness book out there, but there are quite a few, in my opinion. However, Highly Illogical Behavior is not on that list. It is on the list of books that depicts an accurate and relatable of agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic attacks. There is also a wonderful family dynamic, humor, and best of all, a beautiful friendship.

When it comes to writing styles, it’s a bit difficult to describe. The book is told through dual perspectives, switching from Solomon to Lisa. Unlike a few books I’ve read, you could easily distinguish the differences in their voices. As for the actual plot, it is pretty slow moving, but it reads very quickly. The whole  book takes place over the course of several months, so there was a lot of progression with each of the characters.

Before reading this book, I had no clue on what “agoraphobia” meant. Honestly, I initially  saw a phobia as an antic and nothing too serious, but it can become a real and serious mental illness. There isn’t just agoraphobia discussed, but anxiety as well. I really love how authors are coming out with books that deal with topics or illnesses aren’t discussed. I also found to be very relatable. Like Solomon, I am a nerd. But not only that, the anxiety the Sol faces hits close to home and even though he’s not real, it feels like he is and it’s nice to be able to resonate with him. I absolutely loved his character and he is my pure, sweet little cinnamon roll. No questions asked. (Well, Aang is still first.)

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the family dynamic in Sol’s family. I adored all of them, particularly the grandma. Not only did they give Sol endless support and love, but were all endearing and hilarious. Our next main character is ambitious Lisa Praytor. Personally, I saw her as a definite Hermione Granger. She works her butt off, gets straight A’s and is very hardworking. I will say she is not my favorite character, there were a few decisions she made that I could not agree with. Lisa did have a bit of character development, but I liked her more towards the end.

Then we have Clark, Lisa’s boyfriend and another precious cinnamon roll. I loved how even if Lisa had a boyfriend, the very little romance felt real and the book focuses more on the theme of friendship, which rarely happens in a YA contemporary. Frankly, I saw Lisa and Clark to have more of a friendship than a relationship. Either way, Clark is freaking adorable. The bond he has with Sol gave me all the warm and happy feels. It’s nice to see a sweet and respectful character like Clark. 

I did find the ending to be a bit rushed and things went by a little quickly. I also hated the bits of jealousy and teenage drama. Why can’t people have faith in their relationships? Though their teenagers, which kind of explains it. 

All in all, I loved this book. There are contemporaries that you really wish were more well done and then there are ones that end up becoming a beautiful story. This is that story.  

Rating: 4.25/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Thief By Megan Whalen Turner

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Published: October 31st 1996 by Greenwillow Books


Series: The Queen’s Thief #1


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure


Synopsis: The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. 


What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
 

 
 

Spoiler Free Review:

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while since I heard of it from PeruseProject on Booktube. It seemed like a fun fantasy filled story about a sarcastic thief. Which is exactly what it was along with so much more adventure.


The writing is quite simplistic and forthright. There wasn’t any flowery, over the top descriptions or figurative language. I’ve been reading quite a few books with lyrical writing, so to read a book with simple prose was refreshing. The narrator is Gen and it’s told in first person so you really do get an insight into his snarky remarks. 😉


The world seemed to be your standard fantasy setting. Several kingdoms, kings and queens, marriage alliances, you get the idea. I did find it pretty cool that the landscapes were inspired by Greece as well as some Greece’s history. The pacing did vary, however. It did get very slow and boring, but it eventually sped up towards the end.


As for the plot, it seemed simple enough, a thief is taken out of prison to help find a hidden treasure. However, there was a pretty unexpected plot twist. I’m glad I didn’t peek at the ending (like I always do). The twist took me by surprise but I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome of events. 


As for the characters, there’s the main character, Gen. He’s in every way snarky and hilarious. He also complains a ton and I can see why the magus hated him in the beginning. Gen reminds me of a Flynn Rider type. There weren’t many side characters, I really liked Sophos and Pol and even came to like the magus.


Overall, this was a very enjoyable adventure story. If you liked The False Prince By Jennifer A. Nielsen, I would recommend giving The Thief a shot or vice versa. I’m genuinely interested in what will happen next so hopefully I’ll get around to the sequel. 

Rating: 3/5

 
Book Reviews

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child By Jack Thorne & John Tiffany

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Published: July 31st 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Synopsis: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.


Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.


Review:

 Like majority of the Harry Potter fandom, I was eagerly anticipating the “eighth book” in the Harry Potter series after so many years. Of course after I discovered that J.K. Rowling didn’t actually write the play, I was pretty skeptical. I decided I would try and read after the hype died down. Did I enjoy this story? Some of it, but not all. Is it the worst story in the world? Not in the least, but I can agree with most of the complaints people had about it. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this play, though. There were definitely times where I wanted to chuck the book out the window. There were very few redeeming qualities, to say the least. For now, I deem this book as just okay.


Starting with the format of the book, it’s in play format. Which could be the norm for some people who are used to the format. I’ve read a few plays, but I found the format to be very disconcerting. There were so many lines that appeared awkward or confusing. There were times where I honestly had no clue what was going. I think part of that has to do with the both the plot and format. I think if the actual story was released, rather than the rehearsal edition script, I would have found it be a lot less confusing. 


I’m sure this goes for so many reviewers, but the plot was just…terrible. Honestly, it was absolutely ridiculous. I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but I found the plot to be ridiculous to the point of laughter. Highlight for spoiler: I mean, going back in time to save Cedric Diggory? How stupid can Albus get? Cedric’s death was completely unnecessary, but why is the plot revolved around it? Also, why didn’t Amos come to Harry much earlier about the bringing back Cedric? Things did not add up at all. In addition, Voldemort reproducing a child with Bellatrix revolts me so much. That aspect was definitely felt like fanfiction. But to be completely honest, fanfiction writers would have done a much better job. There were so many inconsistencies with the Time Turner and far too many plot holes. If it were up to me, I would scrapped the entire Voldemort idea. I mean, why bring up Voldemort at all? Couldn’t they have written an entirely different plot? There is so much to this world, it’s not that hard. The plot was definitely the worst part of the story. Sorry to those who loved but I could not get past the inconsistency of it.


 As for the characters, I’ll start off on the positive side of the spectrum. Scorpius is ray of a sunshine and a precious cinnamon roll. I absolutely loved him. One of the only redeemable qualities of this book. I could read a whole book on him. He’s not just the voice of reason, but what really held the story together. I also loved his friendship with Albus. The two were friends through everything and it was so sweet and adorable. As for Albus, he is literally the epitome of an angsty teenager. Like 5th book Harry to the max. I really felt like going through the book and slapping some sense into him. I can see why he didn’t want to be Harry’s son, but at least be grateful for all he’s done for you.  Highlight for spoiler: I don’t care what anyone says, but their relationship was total queer baiting. It was so clear to me that they liked each other. Wouldn’t it great if they were actual LGBTQ+ aspects to the story? But of course Scorpius had to like Rose, even though she’s terrible to him. Because she is such a wonderful character. I hated Rose as a character. I expected their to be another Golden Trio with Albus, Scorpius and Rose. Sadly, she literally appeared for a few seconds and she was jerk. I mean, I’m sure Ron and Hermione taught her better. Lily and James were also absent as well. I would have loved to see some sibling bonding. Also, where is Teddy Lupin? The Granger-Weasley-Potter family dinners? There was none of that. 😦


As for the Golden Trio, I really couldn’t come to like any of them. Hermione was okay, I did like she was the Minister of Magic. Harry’s character really disappointed me, though. The things he said to Albus were terrible and I couldn’t get past it. I know for a fact that the Harry Potter I know would never say something so terrible to his son. However, Ron was the biggest disappointment. What was even the point of his character? He was just their for comical relief with his stupid, lame jokes. Ron contributed so much to the series, but he was just an idiot in this book. I did like Ginny, I think it’s cool she works for The Daily Prophet. Surprisingly, I also thought Draco was hilarious. 

DRACO: “Keep up, old man.”

HARRY: “We’re the same age, Draco.”

DRACO: “I wear it better.”

I guess he got the redemption arc everyone was waiting for. Though, I think it could have been done much better. 

Overall, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had very little redeemable qualities to me. The plot was ridiculous, most of the characters I wanted to be present were absent or present for two seconds and a few were just terrible or unnecessary. Like I’ve said, Scorpius is the biggest reason I enjoyed parts of this book. Do I consider this the eighth book? Not at all. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed since I went in with low expectations. But I am really sad about how the story turned out. I really wish I could have liked it. It did have me craving to reread Harry Potter which is always a good thing. 🙂

Rating: 2.25/5

 
Book Reviews

Review: Nora & Kettle By Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Published: March 15th 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing 


Series: Paper Stars #1


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale Retellings


Synopsis: “What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”


Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, “a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.”

Spoiler Free Review:

TRIGGER WARNING FOR PHYSICAL ABUSE. 

When I first heard of this book from LovingDemBooks, I was like, “Yep. Never gonna read that.” Little did know it would become one of my favorites of 2016.  Initially, I expected a story where a Peter Pan esque character that whisks away our Wendy like character to some Never Land and they fall in love. Not my cup of tea.  I guess I should not only not judge a book by its cover, but its synopsis as well. Lesson learned. I wouldn’t call this a direct retelling, more like it is loosely based off of the original tale. Either way, this book was a brilliantly crafted story. 


One of my absolute favorite aspects was the writing. The author has beautiful prose and it is very lyrical. There is also quite a bit of figurative language incorporated, which I personally adore. I felt like the writing resonated with the characters, specifically the figurative language. The two main protagonists have very difficult lives and the metaphors managed to capture their emotions perfectly.


The setting takes place in the 1950s after World War II has ended. But the oppression continues. I love that the author took the stories from her grandparents to bring back a part of history that isn’t discussed. At school, students delve deep into the Holocaust, which is wonderful and important as well. However, the Japanese Americans that were placed in internment camps are briefly spoken about and are merely brushed over. This is a part of history that should be acknowledged and discussed. Anyway, I really appreciated the author for weaving a fairytale at a pivotal and forgotten time in history. 


Besides the writing, the characters are beautifully crafted as well. Nora is the naive, rich girl. Or so it seems. It may seem like she is a weak character, but Nora is truly a strong protagonist. The amount of abuse Nora endured was horrendous. It was so heartbreaking and very painful to read. She sacrificed so much and is enduring this abuse to protect her little sister, which takes a lot of courage. Nora was very naive, but not snobby at all. She was inquisitive and quiet. Even if she grew up privileged, she would try to understand where the Lost Children came from and I came to appreciate her. 


Then there is Kettle, who I adored as soon as he was introduced. He is Japanese American, which is awesome because we have a person of color as one of the protagonists. I love how he is completely different than Peter Pan from the original tale. Personally, I hated Peter Pan’s personality. Rather than being conceited, Kettle is compassionate and kind. He tries to help people and thinks of others before himself. He was also not in any way stereotyped because of his race. Additionally, Kettle has been through a lot in his past, especially with the internment camps. I loved seeing him develop and grow from what he has been through.


I also adored the relationship Kettle had with his adoptive brother/friend. It was interesting to see the contrast between these two characters and their dynamic. Kin was more prideful and rash whereas Kettle was a lot more humble and tended to blend into the background. Together they had this wonderful dynamic. They were like parabatai, incomplete without the other. Then there was Nora and Kettle’s relationship. I do think their relationship developed a little too quickly and I would’ve liked a bigger time span. Either way, they had a connection. Their pain and loss brought them closer. They realized they are more alike than different and are not alone in their struggles. I cannot wait to see more of Nora and Kettle develop and grow, both separately and together.


All in all, I was surprised by how much I adored this story. I cannot recommend enough and I hope that the sequel arrives fast because I need it ASAP. 

Rating: 4.95/5

 
Book Reviews

Review: Salt to the Sea By Ruta Sepetys

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Published: February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, World War II


Synopsis: Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.


Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

 

Spoiler Free Review: 

Recently, I’ve been reading quite a bit of historical fiction novels, so I’m pretty sure this will be the last one for a while due to the impact it had on me. Salt to the Sea  was an emotional roller coaster. Ruta Sepetys really knows how to write impactful stories focusing on people and events that are most forgettable. In this story, there are four main characters and one big tragedy. This documents their journey.


In Sepety’s previous book, Between Shades of Gray, another World War II novel, the writing was absolutely beautiful. The same goes for this book. The way she weaves words together is amazing. Each of the main characters have a distinct voice and all come from different backgrounds. In a way, the writing style differed depending on the person. 


Another aspect I found to be interesting was that both Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray are linked. One of the main characters in Salt to the Sea is teh cousin of Lina in Between Shades of Gray. Despite the connection, you don’t have to read either of the books in order. 


Moving on to the characters, I’m not going to say very much about them. They should probably be discovered on your own. I will briefly mention the. There is Joana, the oldest of them all. She is truly an admirable character and manages to stay strong even when she is at her weakest point. Emilia, who is the youngest at 15 years of age. She did act a little young for her age, however giving the circumstances she has to grow up early as well. Florian was a difficult person. He began as a pretty standoffish character and I really didn’t like him. He did grow on me and I came to appreciate him as well. Lastly, there was Alfred. I’m going to be honest and say I didn’t feel much of an attachment to him. I did not enjoy his chapters, he was to say the least,crazy. Let’s just leave it at that.


The ending definitely did make me want to tear up and I’m not a book cryer. But it honestly was not as tragic as I was expecting. It leaves you with some hope and ends on a good note. I will say, it does follow a similar ending like in Between Shades of Gray, but the story is its own. Overall, I would highly recommend reading this book. I flew through it in one sitting and it has short chapters, which is awesome. I didn’t have any knowledge on The Wilhelm Gustloff and it was intriguing to explore a dark tragedy. I really am looking forward to reading more of Ruta Sepety’s books and hopefully they will be just as good. 🙂

Rating: 4.5/5