Review #100 (We did it!)

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Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin and Margo used to be best friends, living right across the street from each other in Florida the two would play at the park together. Nine years later, Quentin and Margo had gone their separate ways until one night when Margo sneaks into Quentin’s room asking for help in a revenge plot. After a night of pranks, vandalism and break ins, Margo has disappeared. Quentin is desperate to find her and with a few of his friends and a series of clues, he embarks on a journey that he will never forget.


What I Thought of Paper Towns

I usually am not a big fan of romance novels because I feel like they are repetitive and dull. However, I decided to keep an open-mind and take a chance on this book, and I’m glad I did. This is not your classic sappy romance novel; Paper Towns is a compelling read with its smart characters and fast-paced plot. But what really separates Paper Towns from other YA fiction is its message. This book leads you on a wild adventure but ends with a thoughtful finish, providing needed closure while also making you think.

The most memorable moment was, like many books are, at the end. John Green sets readers up for a dramatic ending but instead he ends the novel with a surprising plot-twist.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Review #98 (9-21-16)

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Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Have you ever wondered what it would be like standing on the top of the world? Well it’s not as glamorous as it seems. On a writing assignment for Outside magazine, Jon Krakauer and his group members at Adventure Consultants attempt the ultimate achievement: climbing Mount Everest. But scaling the tallest mountain in the world wasn’t the only problem on Jon and his fellow climbers’ minds; a crowded mountain, inexperienced climbers and and unpredictable weather patterns make Everest a lot more complicated than it seems. And with little oxygen there’s no room for human error…


What I Thought of Into Thin Air

I used to think that if I was a good climber with enough experience, I would climb Everest. Not anymore! This book has opened my eyes to what really happens on the mountain and how agonizing climbing it can be, even for experienced climbers. However through all the pain and struggling, Into Thin Air is an extraordinary story of survival showing how even in the worst situations people can manage to pull through. Even as disaster struck, the climbers retained willpower and passion that ultimately determined their fates. But Into Thin Air isn’t just a captivating story, it asks some important questions regarding if places like Everest just aren’t for human exploration. Even though the writing style and descriptions didn’t blow me away, it is a must-read!

Out of all the action-packed events in this novel, the most exciting moment was when a helicopter came in to save someone’s, who I will not name for the sake of spoilers, life.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Review #96 (9-7-16)

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Liars Inc. by Paula Strokes

Max has always lied, but now it’s how he makes money. By selling fake permission slips and cover stories to his fellow classmates Max creates Liars Inc., and the cash starts flowing in. But when his friend Preston uses one of Max’s cover stories to visit a girl he meet online, Preston is never seen again. Preston is dead and all the evidence points to Max being the killer.


What I Thought of Liars Inc.

Most YA thrillers are boring, but not this one! This book will keep you up all night reading with a realistic protagonist and creative story. The fast-paced writing provides lots of suspense and a sense of urgency to solve the crime. Additionally, Max is clever and even funny at times. I recommend this novel to fans of The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen or Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger.The most memorable part of Monsters of Men is the ending. Out of all the books I’ve read, I’ve never seen a more sensational ending.

The most memorable moment is when the reader finds out Preston is murdered. It was shocking and made the book much more engaging!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Review #95 (6-1-16)

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The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The fifth wave is in full swing when Cassie, Ben and the other group members escape Vosch to an abandoned hotel. Cassie faithfully waits for Evan’s return, but the other group members know they can’t stay for long as Vosch and his army of brainwashed children are hunting them down. Ringer takes the responsibility of finding a new location and after scouting out a few locations, Ringer finds caves that would shelter the group for the winter. But before telling the rest of the group, she is captured by Vosch. Will Evan return? What happens to Ringer? And most importantly, will the group survive? Read the book to find out!


What I Thought of The Infinite Sea

Everything is kicked up a notch in this stunning sequel to the 5th Wave. With even more characters, the same fast-paced storytelling and a clever plot twist you’ll never see coming, this book will please all fans of the previous novel. In the last book, Cassie grouped up with Ben and those from his military barrack which means we get to follow some more awesome characters! All of the characters have unique personalities and it’s interesting to see how the different characters react to a crisis and surviving without adults. Also, in this novel you really grow to love Poundcake! In addition to that, the Infinite Sea is action-packed and is never dull. Rick Yancey utilizes the same multiple POVs to tell his story which, although is still sort of confusing, makes the Infinite Sea fast-paced and captivating. And with a plot twist that blows minds, there’s no reason to dislike this book. I can’t wait for the sequel!

The most memorable part of this book is the plot twist mentioned above, again I am not spoiling anything! You have to read the book.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Review #94 (5-18-16)

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

At 5 a.m. Sunday morning, Craig’s suicidal ideation gets him checked into Argenon Hospital. Craig is stressed out by his school’s intense academic pressure, his inability to fit in, and his crush on Nia, who’s dating his best friend. Initally, Craig feels like he shouldn’t be in the psychiatric hospital, but as he meets some other patients just like him, he may be able to finally confront his depression.


What I Thought of It’s Kind of a Funny Story

The synopsis this book gives doesn’t sound very funny but believe me, if you take a chance on this book you won’t regret it! With lots of humor, a great message and interesting story I absolutely enjoyed this novel. The best part of It’s Kind of a Funny Story is the humor. Lighthearted and witty, I found myself laughing quite often. Because it’s such a sad concept, the humor really lifted up the story. The plot in this book is also fantastic.  It’s realistic, original and well-done. The author was actually hospitalized briefly for depression himself, so he was able to connect with those of the same problems, and educate the rest of the public. This is why It’s Kind of a Funny Story provides such a great message. It teaches us that mental illness is no ones fault and it’s a curable problem with the right help and support. So if you are looking for a new wonderful read, It’s Kind of a Funny Story will surely satisfy you.

The end is the best part of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It’s heartfelt and I’m glad it concluded the way it did.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Review #93 (5-4-16)

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Susan Caraway is a new student at Mica Area High School. But she’s not your average new kid, she calls herself Stargirl and her behavior is unusual to say the least. Stargirl doesn’t care what anybody thinks of her, she dresses in quirky clothes, she cheers for both teams at sporting events, she attends stranger’s funerals and even sings “Happy Birthday” to complete strangers. But even though she’s a bit eccentric, Leo can see that underneath all the weird, Stargirl has a big heart and her bravery may end up being a blessing in disguise.


What I Thought of Stargirl

Stargirl had a lot of potential, there’s a noteworthy theme, seemingly intriguing characters and a little bit of romance in the mix but, sadly, Stargirl does not live up to the hype for two reasons. One, there was no resolution. Throughout the book the storyline was all over the place. It was hard to follow, sometimes random and extremely predictable. It felt like the author was mashing his ideas and clichés into the book one after the other as he thought of them, and it was no different at the end. All of a sudden, Stargirl was just gone. In my opinion, this is not a proper way to end a novel, and it made me feel like the only reason why anything changed at the school was because she left, not because she was there. Secondly, I didn’t like Stargirl. She was supposed to be unconditionally kind and generous but to me she seemed inconsiderate. She did not ask anyone about what they wanted, she just assumed they would like whatever it was she would give them or do for them. Additionally, the other characters in Stargirl had little to no depth whatsoever. Everyone except Leo was a mindless robot who conformed just for the sake of conforming. Taking note of all of this, I strongly dislike this novel and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

The end is the most memorable moment in Stargirl is when Stargirl is on Leo’s show “Hot Seat”. It was by far the most eventful part of the book.

Overall Rating: 2 Stars

Review #92 (4-20-16)

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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Ponyboy Curtis is an outsider. He and his two brothers, Sodapop and Darry live without parents in the poor side of town. Known as “Greasers” they rival with “Socs”, the west-side rich kids who beat up Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny. When Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are outnumbered in the park by the “Socs”, Johnny panics and kills one of the “Socs”. Now Johnny and Ponyboy are on the run and the police are after them for murder. Even though it was self-defense, who will believe them when all the stereotypes are weighing against them?


What I Thought of The Outsiders

There’s a reason why this novel is viewed as a YA classic by critics and teens alike. The Outsiders is a suspenseful, appealing read with notable themes and lovable characters. Usually, I don’t like the summer reading books that my county provides but this book wasn’t like the rest. Instead of being dull and childish, The Outsiders was action-packed and thoughtful. It gives a realistic interpretation of gang activity in the 1960’s and showed me how I shouldn’t judge people based on status or wealth. In addition, I loved the characters who were smart, kind and tough. All in all, the Outsiders, with all it has to teach us about stereotypes and kindness, is an impressive read that deserves it’s critical acclaim.

The most memorable moment in this novel is when Ponyboy and Johnny save the little kids from the burning church. It was heroic, and showed both Ponyboy and Johnny’s true character and selflessness.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Review #91 (4-11-16)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

220px-Aristotle_and_Dante_Discover_the_Secrets_of_the_Universe_coverAristotle and Dante have very little in common. Aristotle is angsty, a fighter, and unsure of who he is. Dante is poetic, emotional, and 100% himself. But when they meet, they form a unique bond that will alter their lives forever.


What I Thought of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

For a reasonably long story with almost no plot, this book is nearly impossible to put down. Although it certainly has its flaws, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe contains beautiful characters, simple yet meaningful life lessons, and a timeless depiction of the awkwardness of growing up.

At first, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to relate to Ari or Dante at all as a result of their characterization. Since they are both Mexican-American boys in the late 80’s, I simply assumed that their conflicts would be difficult for me to understand. However, the author managed to make their teenage experiences relatable to everybody. From Dante’s conflicted relationship with his ethnicity to Ari’s confusion about where he belonged in the world, their views of growing up were completely authentic and understandable. Through Ari’s straightforward and honest voice, little wisdoms were shared that masterfully summed up his situations and are entirely unforgettable.

There is no doubt in my mind that the characters and their relationships are the absolute best part of this book. Ari and Dante were so well described that by the time I was finished reading, I felt as if I had known them for years. In addition, their bond was more realistic than most book friendships I’ve ever read. As nice as it is to pretend like friendships come without issues, that just isn’t the truth. These two disagreed and passive aggressively fought over little things that wouldn’t bother most people, and that’s what made them so perfect together. My second favorite relationship in this book is that of Aristotle and his father. It was interesting to see Ari slowly come to understand why his father was the way he was and to see their relationship grow stronger as they opened up to each other more and more. Although both of them were imperfect people, it was plain to see that they shared similar characteristics that made their father-son connection so truthful.

Though I have provided nothing but praise for this book so far, there were a few things that were off-putting. For starters, the dialogue wasn’t exactly great. I would often have to reread conversations multiple times to figure out who was saying what, and even then it felt choppy and unreal. Some of what they said also seemed forced. Occasionally, it felt like this book was trying a little too hard to be insightful. Finally, the plot was a bit too slow for my liking. On the one hand, I am aware that this was intentional. Everything in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe occurred so gradually, it felt as if it was real life. However, some parts were so eventless that it was boring to read.

Overall, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe offers wonderful characters, intriguing perspectives on teenage life and growing up, and beautiful sentiments that everyone can relate to. Although the dialogue wasn’t perfect and the storyline would put action lovers to sleep, this book still deserves a respectable 4 star rating.

The most memorable part of this book is the ending. I got so wrapped up in reading, I was shocked yet satisfied by the simplistic, happy conclusion.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Review #90 (4-6-16)

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Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Sonny lies about everything. That’s all she’s ever known. Whether it’s about her dad being in prison, or the reason her mom kicked her out, Sonny struggles to tell the truth as she’s afraid of what others will think. Her friend Amy is the only person Sonny tells everything to honestly. They even share a nemesis Ryder who ironically likes Amy. And when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, Sonny sees the perfect prank opportunity. Except as they talk Sonny realizes that she might actually like Ryder. But here’s the catch, Ryder thinks he was talking to Amy. Sonny is once again caught in an elaborate lie, and now she’s starting to regret it.


What I Thought of Lying Out Loud

At times, it’s good to have your expectations broken, but not for Lying Out Loud. With The Duff being such a great novel, I thought Lying Out Loud would have more of the same great characters and creative concept. Instead, however, I got an exasperating main character and an uneventful plot. I’ll admit, I did enjoy aspects of the concept in Lying Out Loud but nothing close to what I had anticipated. This was disappointing to me and I almost didn’t read the whole book! To tell the truth, (pun unintended) the book was dull, predictable and really nothing happened. To put it lightly, this was a very hard book to enjoy. So why did I even give this book three stars? Well, like I said earlier I liked the concept of a compulsive liar being the lead role. Kody Keplinger has some great ideas, but the execution in this book was poor. On the other hand, I do hope Kody Keplinger won’t be a one-hit wonder, and I’ll surely read another one of her books.

A memorable moment in Lying Out Loud was when Sonny was confronted by Amy’s parents. It’s one of the best scenes in the novel!

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Review #89 (3-28-16)

Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S. King

the antsLucky Linderman has a lot to deal with. His father cares more about food than family, his grandfather never came home from the Vietnam war, and his violent bully Nader cannot be stopped. Lucky finds solace in his dreams, where he’s on a rescue mission to bring his MIA grandfather back from the jungle. But will his second reality be enough?


What I Thought of Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S. King

Never would it have occurred to me that this book would make me laugh so hard. Once again, I have been proved wrong. Everybody Sees The Ants was a perfect blend of humor and poignant yet dark realities. It was odd and slightly off-putting in its uniqueness at times, but good nonetheless.

To begin, this book offered sarcastic, satirical humor that was exactly what I love and nothing like what I expected. I was prepared for a depressing, tear inducing book about bullying, which can also be fantastic. However, Everybody Sees The Ants cracked me up with how Lucky described his crazy family and life without being insensitive to those in his situation. Lucky was never really a reliable narrator, but that only made me love him more. No teenager in the history of high school has told the truth all the time, and his reluctance to do so made the story unfold in a very slow and methodical way. Little by little, his confessions came together to deal with big, important topics. The “banana incident”, questionnaire answers, and other Nader encounters came to a point where all the blurry spots were cleared up. This also seemed highly realistic; kids like Lucky don’t just suddenly open up. It takes time.

Next, the characters were one of a kind, frustrating, and incredibly real. From Lucky’s mom (the “squid) to insane Jodi, Everybody Sees The Ants made characters feel like actual, believable people. Their relationships study how families fall apart, the different types of terrible parents, and what drives people to do hurtful things. Although some characters are the kind of people that you wish didn’t exist, they teach important lessons.

One part of this book I wasn’t exactly on board with were the weird dream sequences. As a result of Lucky’s metaphorical, ironic descriptions of life, I could never really tell if what was happening during and after the dreams was some sort of figurative message or actual plot points. After a while, the dreams dragged on and became boring. I understand why they were used, but I found them unnecessary after a while because they took a perfectly realistic book and confused it by adding fantasy. The ending was even more infuriating. I’m sure that Lucky’s dad was just as skeptical to Lucky’s words as I was and the conclusion offered no closure whatsoever. On the other hand, I loved all the information about the Vietnam war and the POW/MIA movement. Learning interesting facts through books is always an added bonus of reading.

Overall, Everybody Sees The Ants had amazing characters, amusing humor, and a slightly strange writing style that made it so unforgettable. Though I wasn’t exactly in love with the rescue mission dreams, the rest of the plot was impeccably executed. Everybody Sees The Ants gets a 4.5 stars rating from me.

The most memorable part of this book is the “banana incident” reveal. It was definitely the most unexpected and dramatic confession that completely changed everything I thought I knew about this book.

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars