5 stars · reread review · young adult

Reread Reflection: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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How do you review a book after you’ve already read it? Review the reread!

Neal Shusterman is one of my all-time favorite authors. Unwind is simultaneously one of the most creative and one of the scariest novels I’ve ever read because this could totally happen in the future. I haven’t ever read book four, the last book, so now that I finally have it, that called for a reread of the series so I’m geared up for the conclusion. (Well, kind of. I really don’t want it to end, because I’ve been reading and loving these books for around eight years.)

Unwind is something you kind of have to read before you can really get it. It’s one of those books that sounds horrific when described (and is horrific in execution) but it’s still necessary. It’s still relevant. People today continue to fight over issues that, in this fictional universe, led to the Unwind Accords. That’s what makes these books so terrifying. They make us see what we as a country are totally capable of.

And yeah, I mean, people look at you kind of crazy when you try to describe these books. As in, “You know organ donors? Think doing that, but while you’re still alive, only parents decide to ‘donate’ their kids, and the kids have no choice about it, so they’re cut into a million different parts to help other people who were lucky enough to have parents who didn’t want to chop them into a million different parts.”

And then there are the complex characters, the ones you love, the ones you hate, the ones you hate that you’re beginning to feel empathy today. Shusterman takes societal misconceptions and turns them on their head. Kids who have anger problems, or acted out a lot–instead of getting the help and support they need, they’re being unwound. Even perfect kids, talented kids, are getting unwound because of messed-up reasons.

Unwind makes you think. It makes you cry. Most of all, it makes you want to read more, so it’s a good thing there are three more books after this one.

4 stars · science fiction · young adult

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman; a crazy ride

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full tilt

author : neal shusterman

pages : [paperback] 208

memorable quote :

Who am I? The sum of your dreams, the thrill you refuse to grasp, the unknown you fear.

favorite character : blake

summary :

Sixteen-year-old Blake and his younger brother, Quinn, are exact opposites. Blake is the responsible member of the family. He constantly has to keep an eye on the fearless Quinn, whose thrill-seeking sometimes goes too far. But the stakes get higher when Blake has to chase Quinn into a bizarre phantom carnival that traps its customers forever.

In order to escape, Blake must survive seven deadly rides by dawn, each of which represents a deep, personal fear — from a carousel of stampeding animals to a hall of mirrors that changes people into their deformed reflections. Blake ultimately has to face up to a horrible secret from his own past to save himself and his brother — that is, if the carnival doesn’t claim their souls first!

review :

love Neal Shusterman’s writing. He’s been on my insta-buy list for years when he comes out with new books. I’m fairly certain this was one of his first novels, and it’s the only one of his I’ve read that isn’t part of any series. It’s my least favorite, but that isn’t saying very much, because I still really liked it. It’s creative, it’s fun, and I feel like younger audiences will definitely fall in love with Shusterman’s writing after reading this.

Full Tilt at its core is a story of two brothers. It’s also a story about not letting your past overtake your entire life. Blake and Quinn are nearly complete opposites. Whereas Blake is quiet and reserved, Quinn is reckless and an adrenaline junkie. Blake is the one invited to this very strange, very dangerous carnival, but Quinn is the one who actually wants to go and Blake only arrives because he needs to save his brother from himself.

I love the creativity here. The carnival rides are simultaneously things from nightmares and also things that kids love seeing in movies or video games–but it’s another thing entirely when the players are gambling with their lives. If they die at the carnival, it’s game-over forever, and they’ll be trapped there forever. Blake isn’t sure what the rest of the world will think happened to them, but isn’t sure he wants to find out. Although he just wants to take Quinn and get home, it isn’t as simple as all that. It feels like this carnival has been built specifically to cater to each individual’s personal fears.

I was rooting for Blake, because I wasn’t sure if I’d do as well in his position. This carnival can literally read into your mind and worst nightmares–I don’t think I’d be able to beat the kind of games he has to play. It was interesting to see how every individual has their own strengths–for example, what’s impossible for one person to get through, another can overcome quite easily. I loved how Full Tilt managed to show that on an even playing field, there can still be an individualized experience. Not everyone reacts to identical life experiences in the same way. Just like Blake and Quinn need to learn to empathize with one another, readers do too. I feel like this is an important book to be read, because of those important messages linking these thrills.

I’m so glad that I reread this book, and Neal Shusterman continues to be one of my top recommended authors. His books are so fun, creative, and smart–everything you could want in a YA novel.

4/5 stars

 

5 stars · series · young adult

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo; amazing, astounding, astonishing

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Crooked Kingdom

Six of Crows #2

author : leigh bardugo

pages : [hardcover] 536

memorable quote :

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together.

favorite character : matthias

summary :

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

review :

I’ve avoided reviewing this book, probably because reflecting on it reminds me that it’s one of the most painful stories I’ve read. Beautifully written, wonderfully executed, and the kind of book that makes me cry so much I kind of resent it.

If you haven’t read Six of Crows, you absolutely need to. Not only because it’s book one in this duology, it’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, or inventive new worlds, or great character novels, or heist schemes, you’ll love this book. Then you’ll crave more of it. These books are incredibly hefty–basically, the length of four books compiled into two. I think the duology option was incredibly smart because there’s no room for “middle book syndrome” here. Just nonstop action. And heartbreak.

I still can’t think of Crooked Kingdom without being filled with a curious mixture of happiness and devastation. It worked for me perfectly, and ensured this duology will remain as one of my favorite reads.

But, you know. No spoilers.

Crooked Kingdom picks up just where Six of Crows left off, introducing even more characters (and a few familiar faces for fans of the original Grisha trilogy. I might have squealed). The plot is so intricate. Kaz Brecker, one of the main characters, is truly a master of twisting things toward his will. Often in painful and unexpected ways–painful for his enemies, of course, not always the reader.

Matthias has always been my favorite. But, honestly, all of the main characters are just very adorable–though I think all of them would kill anyone who called them such to their face, apart from maybe Wylan. I loved how this book delves more into everyone’s backstories. It explains so much, not only their actions from the books but their motivations throughout their entire lives.

The book ends, I believe, with a perfect balance. There is room left to expand and create more stories within the Grisha universe, but this particular story arc is complete. Not all ends of it are happy, but . . you’ll just have to read to find out what happens. Honestly, it’s such a wild ride that even a very detailed spoiler review would take pages and pages and pages to write. Leigh Bardugo is exceptionally talented at weaving these intricate plots together and I love it!

Read it. Please. And then you must discuss with me.

5/5 stars

 

books to movies · fiction · young adult

Books to TV Shows: 13 Reasons Why

To start off, I have to admit that I watched the show without reading the book first. Sometimes I like doing that because often reading it will get my expectations too high–but there was so much hype and controversy about this series that I wanted to start watching it without having any of it spoiled for me.

First I wanted to talk about Thirteen Reasons Why visually. It wasn’t particularly stunning, structured like a typical teenage TV show. Most of the scenes take place in a high school, or a coffee shop it seems that every kid in school goes to at all hours of the day. If you’re going to tell a story about contemporary teens, you don’t have very many choices, so I’ll give them that. What really got to me was that it seemed like, eventually, half of every episode was spent with multiple, extremely slow, zoom-ins on characters staring soulfully at nothing, while various other characters repeated their name. Seriously, I think that’s how I learned everyone’s names, because these scenes happened so much. I just wanted to fast-forward and push on.

Speaking of, let’s talk characters. Most of them are pretty unlikable throughout; only a few seem to have a spark of redemption, or explanation for why they may act they way they do throughout the series. Jeff and Tony were my absolute favorites and probably the only people that I would really want to befriend. High school is rough for everyone, but this one seems exceptionally horrific.

There aren’t too many characters seen that don’t attend or work at the school. Most of those other characters are the parents of those involved in some way–most importantly, Hannah’s and Clay’s. Hannah’s parents . . . I felt terrible for them. I could understand their struggle to find something, someone, to blame for this tragedy, because to them it came completely out of nowhere. It was impossible for them to know her school life as intimately as her classmates did.

On the other hand, there are Clay’s parents, who seem to know there are horrible things happening to him, and that he has problems with anxiety, and yet can’t seem to enforce any rule that might help him heal, grieve, or grow. To me it felt like every time they doled out a punishment or decided they were going to force him to do this or that to help him, there was absolutely no follow through. No mention of it again, beyond a few arguments after he disobeys them. Obviously Clay has realized his parents have no real intentions of forcing him to do anything.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the tapes or anything, though if you do watch it or have read it and want to discuss more specifics I’d be happy to in the comments! Honestly, I think what confused me the most is that I never really had a clear idea of what Hannah’s intentions were by making these tapes. Some kind of revenge? Desperation? Or did she just want everyone else to feel that same nothingness she had been? By the end of it, I was left feeling like she’d created them to make others feel so guilty, so bad, that they might be driven toward suicide, too.  I’m not sure this was the intention, but it slowly ate away at how I’d felt for Hannah throughout the series.

I’m still left with conflicted thoughts. It wasn’t the best series I’ve watched, just judging from composition, and wasn’t the best when it came to content, either. I don’t like how I felt while watching it. I don’t like how I felt after watching.

Have you watched the Netflix series? What did you think of it?

 

 

5 stars · reread review · young adult

Reread Reflection: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

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How do you review a book after you’ve already read it? Review the reread!

I loooooooooove this book.

I don’t just like it, L-O-V-E it. So much so that I needed to buy a physical copy of it after first reading the ebook, probably because I needed something to hug with delight after my re-read.

I’ve honestly never read something like Because You’ll Never Meet Me. That stands true even in the re-read. What fascinated me this time around was that there are details in here, tiny ones, that seem irrelevant unless you know what’s going to play a role in book two. Author Leah Thomas was already dropping hints about that plot, and it’s amazing because it isn’t particularly necessary but makes everything seem that much cooler to me.

Just knowing the ending of Nowhere Near You, the sequel, makes reading Because You’ll Never Meet Me even more of a pleasure. No spoilers, of course, even though I could gush about Ollie and Moritz for days. Their characters are so nuanced, imperfect, lovable, kind, frustrating . . . There aren’t many books these days that make me think back to my roots of fanfiction and what I’d want to write about these characters if there aren’t more books made of them. Please give me more books with them.

Basically, Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a book that grows even bigger in your heart, the more often you read it. So if you haven’t picked it up yet . . . what are you waiting for?

Basically me throughout the whole book:

znopej4

 

 

promotion · young adult

Cover Reveal: Don’t Kiss the Messenger

Hey all! Today I’m very excited to bring a super cute cover reveal to all of you! It’s YA, it’s romance, and it’s a retelling–if you’ve been here long enough,  you’ll know I’m immediately attracted to anything that’s an interesting retelling, so I am already a huge fan!

book: don’t kiss the messenger
author
: katie ray
For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the
not-so- polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar
on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him. CeCe
never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football
darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is
blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball
teammate. Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett.
CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees
anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she
sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in
his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong
girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who
wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the
new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings
them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love.

 

KR_EHS1_DontKisstheMessenger FINAL COVER

Check back next month for an amazing author guest post and a book review!

 

5 stars · series · young adult

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: chilling and amazing

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Scythe

Arc of a Scythe #1

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote :

“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”

favorite character :  scythe faraday

summary :

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

review :

I’ve never met a Neal Shusterman novel I haven’t loved.

Honestly, he’s one of the best, most creative, most terrifying authors out there. His books will captivate you until the very end because you honestly cannot predict what will happen next. He’s the kind of author more than willing to kill off any character, so no one is safe–especially not in these worlds he builds. Which is a little ironic, because Scythe is in a way about a society of immortal people.

Imagine a world where people kill themselves for fun. You jump off of a building ten stories up and know in three or four days you’ll be fully healed–best of all, that first fix is free. Legally, they aren’t allowed to not bring you back. No one left in the world remembers a time when everyone born knew that they had only a certain amount of time left to live. Now, death is controlled by the Scythes. They are the only ones who can kill–or ‘glean’, as they call it to make it sound less like murder–and after they’ve chosen someone, they die for good. They’re really the only things to fear in this new world.

I loved this book. But it literally gave me nightmares. I’d stay up just to see how much I could read before I’d really have to get to sleep, and this is the kind of plot sure to give you an existential crisis. There’s some talk about what the point of life is when in the past, all of those people were going to die, anyway. But without death, or war, or hunger, or anything to struggle against, and with even nanites in their blood to keep them from feeling anything too strongly, there’s no art. No inspiration for it. People have all of these years and they just don’t know what to do with themselves in that time. It’s why Rowan and Citra are intrigued by the idea of becoming a scythe’s apprentice; it gives them each a purpose in life.

They each tell part of the story and  I loved hearing each of their voices. Essentially, they’re having the same life experience, but it impacts and twists them in completely different directions. Still, this is the one decision that will unite them forever, although they hadn’t known one another before the apprenticeship.

I don’t want to say anything more because I don’t want to give anything away. I mean, even in the summary of the book it says something that doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. This is the kind of novel you should dive into and just let yourself be immersed in the world and the characters.

It’s so good. I don’t think I can say that enough. Book two can’t come to me fast enough!

5/5 stars