Book Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Book: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Published October 2017 by Crown Books For Young Readers|210 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

I really wanted to like Dear Martin.  I really did, and while I can see why this book is popular, it wasn’t for me.

One thing I didn’t like was the format- the book went between scripts, letters, news reports, and the typical narrative you usually see in books.  It was really jarring, and the book would randomly switch formats.  It was disorienting, especially because you’d have a few paragraphs, then it would switch to a script format for three sentences, and back to paragraphs.  It took me out of the story, and it made me feel like I was being told what was happening, instead of seeing or experiencing it myself.

It also felt really heavy-handed and preachy at times.  I think what the book is about is really important, and I was intrigued by the connection to Dr Martin Luther King, but it didn’t really work for me.  I think I was expecting that to be more important than it really was- it turned out to be just a few letters, and those letters really felt like they could have been addressed to anybody.

Because Dear Martin is so short, it felt like an introduction to some of the issues we see in the book, like race, equality and justice.  There are a lot of points that come up but they felt glossed over, and they weren’t explored in depth.

There is a pretty big moment in the book as well, but I felt nothing when it happened.  I should have felt something, and I hate that I didn’t feel anything.  Considering the story reminds me of countless news stories and that there are books with similar subject matter, I wanted to be more upset.  I think it just felt like something was missing- in the acknowledgments, she does thank her editor for helping her cut the book in half, and I wonder if maybe I just wanted that other half.

I…I was just bored.  It didn’t do anything for me, and I do think there are better books that deal with similar themes and stories out there.  Like The Hate U Give and any of Jason Reynolds’ books, though in this case, All-American Boys is the one I’d probably mention.  It falls short, especially in comparison to some of the other books out there, and in particular, with the ones I already mentioned.

I do think this is an important story, and what it’s about is an important one to read.  The formatting and writing didn’t work for me, and while I can see why so many people love this book.  I do think the message is great, and even though this book didn’t work for me, I think it’s worth checking out.

2 stars.  I hate giving this book 2 stars, and I was really close to giving it 1 star, because it didn’t work for me at all.  But there are some really interesting (and uncomfortable) discussions that are worth reading.  I would still recommend it for the story it tells because I think what he goes through is important to read.

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Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Narrated by Robin Miles

Book: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Narrated by Robin Miles

Published February 2017 by HaperAudio|Length: 8 hours, 35 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

I really liked American Street, and I’m especially glad that I went with the audio book!

I liked Fabiola- she’s a great character and I really felt for her.  I loved following her as she navigated life in Detroit without her mother.  From living with her cousins, to the people in their lives, to trying to be reunited with her mother…there were times where I felt so heartbroken over everything these girls had to deal with.  Things weren’t easy for any of them, but they really did the best they could.

I thought the romance was interesting, and there was one moment in particular that was absolutely heartbreaking, especially on audio.  Robin Miles is amazing as the narrator, and I felt like she was Fabiola.  You could hear the emotion Fabiola felt, not just at that moment, but during many different moments.  I really felt like I was experiencing things alongside Fabiola.  Still, while I liked Kasim, I would have been fine with less romance, considering everything else going on with both Fabiola and her cousins.  Still, their romance was cute, and it felt…natural, and not insta-love.

I could have sworn I had listened to more books by Robin Miles, but apparently not.  Maybe I just have a bunch of books narrated by her that I haven’t listened to?  At any rate, she can certainly narrate a story, and now I want to listen to some of the other books she’s narrated.

There were times where I thought Fabiola was in over her head, and I was muttering about how she probably shouldn’t be doing what she was planning on doing.  I had the feeling it wouldn’t end well, and even then, I had no idea where things would go.  She did mean well, and she really did have the best of intentions.  To a certain degree, I don’t think she realized how badly things would go, and I think she is a bit naive at times as well.  There is a lot she didn’t know, but she is pretty observant, and when it comes down to it, it was interesting to see things through her eyes.

While the book doesn’t focus on immigration as much as I thought, and while we don’t see a lot of Fabiola trying to get reunited with her mother, I still really liked seeing her adjust to life in Detroit.  We don’t see a lot of her aunt, but I really liked her cousins and the relationship she had with them.  They really looked out for her, and they did seem really protective but it was obvious they cared about her.

Another thing I really liked was her faith.  She practices Voudou, and it didn’t seem stereotypical at all, which was nice.  It was important to her, and other than one moment where her boyfriend thought she put a spell on him, it was seen/treated like any other religion.

Along with Fabiola coming to the US, we see drug dealing/drug abuse and relationship abuse, amongst other things.  I can’t say this enough, but Fabiola is amazing- she is determined to do the right thing, and she is such a strong, kind-hearted person.  I felt her loss at being separated from her mother, and happy at the thought that she might be reunited with her in the end.  Both she and her cousins are doing the best they can, and while things aren’t completely wrapped up, I feel confident that things will work for Fabiola and her family.

4 stars.  I didn’t love American Street, but it’s a great read.  If audio books are your thing, I’d definitely go with the audio, because Robin Miles did an excellent job at narrating.

Book Review: Slave To Sensation by Nalini Singh

Book: Slave To Sensation by Nalini Singh

Published September 2006 by Berkeley Sensation|338 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Psy-Changling #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Paranormal Romance

Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation” – the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was…

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion – and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities – or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

I really liked Slave To Sensation!  I don’t read a lot of romance, and I feel like I always say that I’m going to read more of it, but I never seem to do that.

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for ages, and I figured it was about time to read it.  Partly because I was in the mood, but also because I’ve been trying to read some of my owned but unread books in an effort to see what I want to keep and what ends up being donated to the library.

I did like the concept- two very different people, and two very different worlds.  I wanted to know more about both, and I really liked what I saw of the world Lucas and Sascha live in.  I was especially impressed with the world building, considering it’s a romance.  Granted, it’s a paranormal romance, but even then, you get a lot more then what you’d typically see from other books in the genre.  I liked both the Psys, who have psychic abilities, and the Changelings, who are shifters.  Both are very, very different, but I’m curious to learn more.  They both seem to be at war with each other, and I really want to know how it plays out.

As for the romance, I liked Lucas and Sascha together.  They have their obstacles, of course, and they do get their happily ever after.  It is a romance, after all.  But there is no insta-love here, and things felt very natural between them.  I guess it usually does with romance, but I also don’t read enough of it to know for sure.  I’m just going off of what I have read.  I think I’m also comparing it against the romance you see in YA, which is unfair since romance as a genre is very, very different then YA.

I definitely rooted for them, and I’m glad things worked out for them.  It was hard not to, but they really do belong together, and they really are cute together.  I have the feeling that the other books in the series won’t focus on Lucas and Sascha, but that they’ll make an appearance, and we’ll still get to see how things work out for them.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and while I’m not rushing to read the next book in the series, I still can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Shadowsong by S Jae-Jones

Book: Shadowsong by S Jae-Jones

Published February 2018 by Wednesday Books|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Wintersong #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

I really liked Shadowsong!  After reading Wintersong last year (and absolutely loving it), I knew I had to read Shadowsong.

Shadowsong is a very different book than the one that Wintersong.  It’s a lot darker than I thought it would be, but it’s just as vivid.  I didn’t like it as much as Wintersong, though.  It didn’t have the magic or dreaminess that I would have expected, and it didn’t have the poetic beauty that the first book did.

I hate to compare books, and they are intended to be two different books, if the author’s note at the beginning of the book is any indication.  I expected them to be different, but even with her note, I didn’t expect them to be so different.

I really appreciated that she had a trigger warning at the beginning of the book.  I really respect her for doing that, considering how this book is a lot darker and more serious than Wintersong.  We see characters struggle with addiction and self-harm, amongst other things, and even though those things aren’t triggering to me, I know that they are to other people.  I just really appreciate that she did this.

Still, I loved the world and the story, and how completely immersed I was in Liesl’s world.  It’s dark and twisty and haunting, and there were times where I understood why Liesl acted the way she did.  I think, if I were in her position, I would too.

I do admit to skimming over the letters at the beginning and ending of the book.  I have no problem with reading cursive, but this…it was hard to read, and so I ended up skimming.  I’m not sure if maybe I missed something in those letters, and that’s why I didn’t like it as much as I thought, or if maybe I loved Wintersong so much that nothing would live up to it.

This book is the perfect follow-up to Wintersong.  We see what happens once Liesl leaves the Goblin King, and what happened with the Goblin King ages and ages ago.  And we learn his name as well.  Though he is mostly absent from this book, I still feel like he was with Liesl, and there for her no matter what.

4 stars.  I really liked Shadowsong, though I didn’t love it.  I really appreciated the author’s note at the beginning, and I loved seeing how Liesl’s story ended.  There is something about this world that lures you in, and this book is very haunting, though some of the things I loved about Wintersong weren’t present in this one.  It’s still worth reading, though!

Book Review: Map Of Fates And The Ends Of The Earth by Maggie Hall

Book: Map Of Fates by Maggie Hall

Published March 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons|311 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Conspiracy Of Us #2

Genre: YA Thriller/Mystery

Two weeks. 

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny. 

Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day despite her best intentions, making her question what she believes at every turn.

But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem.

This series is fun!  I really liked Map Of Fates, and I thought it was a pretty good follow-up to the first book.  We really get more into this world, and what the prophecy could be.  We also get more into the Circle and the Order, and we’re definitely sent on a wild goose chase.

There’s a lot of travel and a lot of clues, and Avery is scrambling to get this thing figured out.  I don’t know that I necessarily liked it more than The Conspiracy Of Us, but I didn’t like it exactly the same either.  I think I liked it slightly more, but not enough to give it a higher rating.  Which we’ll get to eventually.

I wish I connected more with Avery.  I don’t know how I’d act if I were in her situation, and I’d probably be a hot mess if any of what happens in this series actually happened to me.  I just want more with her, and I especially want more of her mom.  The whole using her mom to get her to do things didn’t completely work for me, and I think it’s because we barely see her mom.  And that was in the first book.  She does make an appearance in this book as well, but I feel like we didn’t get enough with her mom for me to completely be on board with it.

Especially since it seemed like maybe her mom knew something but kept it from Avery.  Which I get, given what happens in this book.  But still.  I think there’s more to her childhood and her relationship with her mom, and I really think her mom knew what was going on.  Maybe her mom was trying to protect her, but who knows?  We never get a clear answer in this book, and while it’s possible we’ll get one in the next book, it’s doubtful.  Very doubtful.

It is fun, though, and it still reminds me of a YA version of The Da Vinci Code.  There’s something else I’m reminded of, but I can’t place it.  It will probably come to me after I’ve finished this review, which would be par for the course. It didn’t get good until the second half of the book, and maybe that’s why I liked it only slightly more than the previous book.  It makes me want to read the next just to see how it all ends.

Things did seem rushed and a little underdeveloped, which…I don’t know.  It didn’t really work, because I thought it could have bridged the gap between the previous book and the next book a little bit.  Maybe my opinion will change after reading the next one, but I expected a little more with this one.  As entertaining as the book is, I wanted something a little more.  Still, I’m not complaining too much because it is what I had expected.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked Map Of Fates, and thought it was a good sequel.  There were some things I didn’t particularly like, but it was expected, and I still want to read the next book to see what happens.

Book: The Ends of The World by Maggie Hall

Published July 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Conspiracy Of Us #2

Genre: YA Thriller

The Circle is hers. But Avery West has lost everything else: her mother, the family she’d just found, and the one boy she trusted. In their place are unfathomable power, a staged relationship that makes her question every real feeling she’s ever had, and a mission to find the cure to the virus that’s made her own blood a weapon.

Then disaster strikes, turning Avery, Stellan, Jack, and Elodie into the most wanted people in the world. To clear their names and the growing rift between the families of the Circle before the world dissolves into World War Three, they’ll have to make a desperate, dangerous final race for Alexander the Great’s tomb. What they will find inside will mean the world’s salvation—or destruction.

Avery will have to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice—for the world, for family, and for love—in this conclusion to the Conspiracy of Us series.

This is one of those series where I liked each book less and less.  The concept is really cool and all, but I just wasn’t a big fan of this book.

I’m having a lot of trouble even remembering this book a couple months after finishing it.  I know I had all kinds of thoughts about when it finished, but clearly, they haven’t stuck.  While I usually have some sort of impression about a book weeks later, I have no impression of this book at all.

Which isn’t good, because even though I obviously read this book, I don’t remember much of anything.  It’s also not a good thing, because you’d think the last book in a trilogy would be more memorable, but not in this case.  Maybe it says something about this book, if it’s not memorable enough to actually properly review it.

Pretty much all I do remember is the search for clues, and that it seemed to be a race against time to figure everything out.  That’s about it, and I feel like I was just bored with it.  And I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seemed like a lot was going in this book.  Of course there it, since it’s the last book and all, but…I don’t know, it just seemed strange in this case.

I did like it, even though I can’t remember why, and it is a quick read, so that’s good too.  I don’t think it was painfully slow, unlike some other books I’ve read.  Although it did have this conspiracy vibe going on, it also seemed different somehow, though I could be wrong about that.

My Rating: 3 stars, though I’m not sure why.  Other than remembering I liked it, which isn’t really detailed.  But since I can’t remember much about the book, it doesn’t warrant a higher rating, and for reasons I can’t remember, I did like enough that I don’t want to give it a lower rating.

Book Review: The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Narrated by Arielle DiLisle And The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book: The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Narrated by Arielle DiLisle

Published April 2017 by HarperAudio|Length: 7 hours, 58 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love–she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often but always in secret, because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness–except for the part where she is.Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss, and she’ll get her twin back.There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him–right?

I really liked The Upside Of Unrequited!  It’s a really cute romance, and I really liked Molly.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of her sister, Cassie, who I thought was rude and irritating and she totally treated Molly like dirt.  And Molly let her.  But Molly was really cool otherwise, and so I’m glad the book was narrated by her.  Better her than Cassie, because I don’t think I could take it if the book were about Cassie instead.

Molly was really easy to relate to, and she was so easy to relate to.  I can’t relate to how many crushes she’s had, and while I will fangirl over certain pairings in the books I read, I’m not the hopeless romantic she is.  But the fact that she felt like everyone around her was growing up and that she wasn’t?  That was very easy to relate to.  She’s just at a different point in her life, and she’s not less of a person just because she wasn’t experiencing things at the same time that her sister and her friends were experiencing them.

Molly did seem shy and anxious but it wasn’t seen as a bad thing.  And while her sister seemed to believe that Molly needed to put herself out there, her shyness never seemed to be shamed.  Putting yourself out there can be hard, especially if your shy and anxious, but again, everyone does that at different points in their life.  Just because Cassie does it, doesn’t mean Molly has to do it at the exact same time.

Still, she seemed really uncomfortable with the idea of kissing or actually talking a guy or basically anything relating to relationships.  And yet, there seems to be this determination for her to be kissed and to have a boyfriend.  If that’s what she wants, that’s totally cool, but she just seemed really uncomfortable with it all.  I kind of got the sense that it was to say she had done it, and so that she felt like she was experiencing what everyone else was.

It wasn’t quite as funny or nerdy as Simon, of course, and I didn’t like it quite as much, though I still liked it.  Apparently not as much as other people seemed to like The Upside Of Unrequited.

I did like it as an audio book, and Arielle DeLisle was a good choice as narrator.  I could definitely picture Molly sounding like her.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, but not a lot.

Book: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Published May 2015 by HarperTeen|346 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship. 

I like that her books are, for the most part, cute, light, fluffy romances.  They’re good reads for spring and summer, but I think I might have overdone it with them recently, because this was not one of favorites.  I mean, I liked it, but it’s one of my least favorites.  At least, as far as her contemporary novels go.

There’s the mean girl drama, of course, and it’s your typical rom-com in book form.  I knew how the story would end, especially with both the drama and the romance.  It was entertaining, though, and I didn’t hate it.  I also didn’t love it, so we’re settling for like.  I knew what to expect going into this book, and if I’m ever in the mood for some predictable but also cute and light, her books are the way to go.

Honestly, though, I don’t have much else to say, so onto my rating, I suppose.  It’s your typical Kasie West book, and it’s good if you want something light and fluffy.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, and it’s a cute book, though it is predictable.

Book Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence and Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Book: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Published October 2012 by Delacorte Books For Young Readers|397 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Mystic City #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

For fans of  Matched, The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Blade Runner comes a tale of a magical city divided, a political rebellion ignited, and a love that was meant to last forever. Book One of the Mystic City Novels.

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud – and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection – and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city – including herself.

It’s taken me a while to actually review this book, so I’m a little bit fuzzy on what actually happened, and what I thought about the book.  The last months have been…rough…to say this least, but I’ll at least try to review the book.

So, it’s compared to quite a few things.  I didn’t really get why it was compared to The Hunger Games, and I don’t completely get why it was compared to Matched either.  X-Men is a pretty good comparison, though it’s not the best comparison.  And I’ve never seen Blade Runner (nor do I know what it’s about) so I don’t know how that holds up.

The world was…different, I supposed.  It makes me wonder what happened to the rest of the world, but you could probably say that about any other sci-fi/dystopia/post-apocalyptic book out there.  I wish we got a little more of the world than what we got, but this is the first book in a series, so there is probably more about this world in the books to come.

*I feel like I say that about a lot of series, and it almost never goes the way I want it to, information wise, so who knows if that is actually the case in this book.

It does seem very convenient that Aria and Thomas are getting married just when their families need to get along and unite against a rival politician who will ruin everything.  (I’m being slightly sarcastic here, but things do seem very convenient).  It’s also convenient that she loses her memories and that they don’t come back.  I can’t remember if they ever come back. which obviously isn’t helpful, and I know I wasn’t into the book enough to re-read it.  Or continue onto the next book.  Maybe I’ve just read too many dystopias and post-apocalyptic novels to be completely in love with the book.

Maybe I would have liked it a lot more had I read it when it came out.  As is stands, it sounds like a cool idea, but I thought it was okay.  Keeping in mind I have only a vague memory of this book, of course.  Maybe if you haven’t read a lot of YA dystopias, you’d like it.

My Rating: 2 stars.  While I did like the premise of the novel, it wasn’t enough to warrant more interest in the book or continuing the series.

Book: Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Published April 2014 by HarperTeen|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Charlotte Westing Chronicles #1

Genre: YA Paranormal

The blockbuster film Inception meets Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy in this dark paranormal thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Aprilynne Pike. This supernatural young adult novel is perfect for fans of Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noël, Richelle Mead, and Kimberly Derting.

Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn’t do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern day Oracles are told to fight their visions––to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate’s death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.

I’ve really liked Aprilynne Pike’s books, so I knew I had to read this one.  It’s not my favorite of hers, but it was still interesting and different.  I’m curious about their visions, and Charlotte really was determined to put a stop to the serial killer in her town, even if it meant going against everything her aunt taught her to do.

I feel like a lot of what happens in the book could have been avoided had her aunt just been honest with her.  Then again, if she had been honest, this would have been a very different book.

The concept of Oracles is pretty cool, and I did like that there were consequences to changing things.  It could have easily been very different, but there is something very refreshing about there being actually consequences to changing things.

Charlotte puts her trust in some very questionable people, and why she didn’t go to her aunt is beyond me.  We do see the consequences of that, of course, but still.  If only her aunt actually talked to Charlotte, or if Charlotte went to her aunt for help, things would have been very different.  We can do the what if game all we want, and things went how they went, but I couldn’t help but think how they could have gone differently.

This book is strange too, because it had an open-ending.  I mean, things were pretty resolved, and it did seem like a stand-alone, and yet, there is a sequel…

…that I don’t think I’ll read.  I love her books, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t really have an interest in picking up a sequel.  I feel like I probably wouldn’t like it, and this isn’t my favorite book by her.  There was a lot that didn’t make sense, and I don’t know that reading the sequel would help or add to the world.  Part of me is hoping I’m wrong, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.  Not only that, but I didn’t really like this book enough to even want to pick up any other books in the series.

My Rating: 2 stars.  This was an odd one, and it was just okay.  Certain things were frustrating and confusing, and while I wanted to like it more, I couldn’t.

Book Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday and Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Book: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Published September 2011 by Simon Pulse|509 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Hollow #1

Genre: YA Paranormal/Re-telling

When Abbey’s best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead…rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen’s funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey’s life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he’s the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again…but also special. 

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen’s betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

I didn’t like The Hollow as much as I thought I would.

I mean, it is a re-telling of Sleepy Hollow, so that part is cool. And I like that Abbey knows what she wants to do- make and sell perfume for a living.  It’s really different, and it is odd to see a character who will probably take some college classes, but doesn’t have a plan to go to college.  College isn’t for everyone, and yet, she still knows what she wants to do, and has things planned out.

There is a little bit of a mystery, but I was bored by it.  It’s the typical best friend goes missing and turns up dead mystery, and of course, the missing best friend is basically Abbey’s only friend.  I know this book came out years ago, but what is with that sort of story?  It’s frustrating to read, and I’m not sure why.

I just wasn’t invested in Abbey’s story, to the point where I don’t think I’ll keep going with the series.  While there are some things I’m wondering, like everything with Caspian and the secrets Kristen was keeping, I have no burning desire to move forward with this series.

It seems like Abbey, especially at the end of the book, needs a lot of help, and I did like that she recognized she needed help.  But again, I just wasn’t invested in her story, and while I want to feel some sort of sympathy for her, I found I didn’t.

My Rating: 2 stars.  There were some things that I liked, but The Hollow ended up being okay.

Book: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Published April 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers|360 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Aristotle & Dante #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

I know everyone LOVES this book, but unfortunately, I didn’t.  I liked The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life a lot better than this one.

It felt like I was reading snapshots of their lives, as opposed to a story about them.  I mean, there is a story there, and we see them hang out and become friends and discover things about themselves.  But I really felt like I was reading a lot of smaller stories that formed one big story.  It felt like there were a lot of scenes that were missing, and the pacing and timeline felt off.  It’s hard to believe this book took place over the course of the year, because it felt a lot shorter.  Again, I don’t think we saw everything that happened over the course of that year.

I did like the strength of their friendship.  That stood out, and there is strength in friendship.  I also liked the focus on family, and if there’s something Saenz does well it’s having parents be involved while also showing how much characters can grow and do things on their own.  He does fully-formed friendships really well too, but what really stands out is how much their parents are around and involved in their lives.  They’re actually there, and have really important roles, which is nice to see in YA.  It’s not very common to have parents actually around and involved.  Especially when the parents are still together.  I’m glad their parents were around, alive and still together.

I can see why people love the characters and story so much, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them.  As much as I want to believe that I just didn’t read this book at the right time, that just wasn’t the case.  I found myself bored and eventually, there were times where I skimmed the book because I just wanted to get through it.  It seemed a little slow, and while not a lot happens, I just wasn’t feeling it.

There was a moment where I wanted one of the characters to come to the realization that his parents did.  Unfortunately, we never see him come to terms with it in his way, or even talk about it on his terms.  Instead, he’s told by his parents, and I thought that took away from it, because we never see him actually think about.  I felt like he’s being coaxed into it, and that didn’t work for me.  However, I do understand that people may feel differently, and that maybe he did feel that way, but just didn’t want to admit it.

My Rating: 2 stars.  I didn’t actively dislike it, and while a few things things were done really well, it wasn’t enough to change the rating either way.  It wasn’t for me, obviously, but if it sounds like it’s up your alley, I’d say go for it.

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson

Book: Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson

Published January 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

I’m not sure what to think about Allegedly.  Part of me is angry, for how Mary was treated, and everything she had to go through.  But part of me is also wondering what really happened.

I felt angry that people would actually threaten a 9 year-old.  I felt so angry (and now that I think about it, sad) that people actually wanted the such strong punishment for a 9 year-old.  She was 9.  And I do wonder, what if it had been a white 9 year-old who was accused of murdering an infant.  Would it have been a completely different outcome?  Probably, and that makes me even more angry.

Not only that, but the people running the group home she lived in were horrible.  She wasn’t in a good situation, even after she left prison.  She was stuck, and as much as she wanted to try to get herself out, she had to jump through so many different hoops.  She was surrounded by people who told her that employers and colleges wouldn’t want her because she’s a murderer.  It makes you wonder how people are supposed to better themselves if that’s what our society really thinks of them, and won’t give them a chance to move on.  Now that I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t seem like there’s an easy answer, and one that I probably can’t answer.  Partly because I don’t know enough about it, but also, this is a book review, not a post on answering life’s questions.

This book definitely has its twists and turns, but by the end of the book, I was wondering if Mary really did it or not. She is a pretty sympathetic character, but I also felt like, by the end of the book, I wasn’t sure what to believe.  She did seem like an unreliable narrator by the end of the book, and while I was convinced that she didn’t do it, I wasn’t too sure by the end of the book.  You’re questioning everything, though I’m not sure about the ending.

I’m not sure if Mary’s a better liar than everyone thought or if she really didn’t do it, but deciding to be honest about what really happened, and then changing her mind….I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Maybe you’re supposed to be so angry, and then question everything.  Maybe things aren’t what they seem, and that in some cases, we’ll never know for sure what happened.  That not everyone is reliable.

It didn’t take away from the dark grittiness we see in the book.  It didn’t take away what the justice system is like, and there’s a lot I don’t know, like what happens to the children who are born to a mother in prison.  We see other issues, like mental health, how our environment affects us, and how the media sees certain cases.

Speaking of the media, throughout the book, we see excerpts from interview transcripts and from books about both Mary and her trial.  They really showed how people see Mary, and they are an insight into what people think of her trial.

While Jackson tackles a lot of different topics, she also did it well.  Everything felt equally important, and I wasn’t overwhelmed by everything we see.  It came together to paint a picture of a girl who needs a lot of help, but isn’t necessarily getting it.

4 stars.  I don’t know that you can necessarily like a book like Allegedly, and I wasn’t sure about the ending, which is why it gets a rating of 4 stars.  But Jackson has set a very high standard for her future books, and I hope they’re as good as this one.

Book Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins And Rapture By Lauren Kate, Narrated By Justine Eyre

Book: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Published April 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Book For Young Readers|264 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Rebel Belle #3

Genre: YA Paranormal

Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

I didn’t like Lady Renegades as much as I thought.  I did like it, but it’s been so long since I first started this series that I had some trouble remembering what had happened, and how we got here.  I did re-read the first book a few months ago, and never got around to re-reading the second one, so I was a little bit confused about what was going on.

Thankfully, we do get just enough that I was able to figure out, but it didn’t stop me from wishing that I had re-read the series before reading this one.

I did feel for Harper, who had a lot to figure out.  She had some tough decisions to make, and I can’t imagine being put into the position that she would need to make those decisions.  She did it, though, and yet…things still worked out, though not in a way I expected.  Part of me wishes that we had a little more at the end, to see how things really worked out, but at the same time, I think knowing would have taken away from it a little bit.  Harper did change a lot, and from what I remember from the first book…let’s just say that Book 1 Harper would not have done the things that Book 3 Harper did.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, and I liked seeing the changes in Harper.  I don’t have much else to say about this book, but it wasn’t as action-packed as I thought, considering it’s both the final book in a trilogy and a book about Paladins.

Book: Rapture by Lauren Kate, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Published June 2012 by Listening Library|Length: 11 hours, 40 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: Fallen #4

Genre: YA Paranormal

The sky is dark with wings…

Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.

Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this — live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies…and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.

And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her — and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters.

In the fight for Luce, who will win?

Rapture is the astonishing conclusion to the Fallen series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

Goodness, this book was a struggle to get through.  It took me weeks, because I’d listen to 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and then stop because I was bored out of my mind.  This was not a good book to do on audio.

For one thing, there was no action.  Everything moved at a snail’s pace, which is not what I want in a series finale.  It was boring, and absolutely nothing happened.  I feel like a lot of the series finales I’ve read recently have been really boring.

Everything’s coming to a conclusion, and even though the book took place over the course about 9 days, it felt like so much longer.  Everything was in excruciating detail, a lot of which was unnecessary.  Unfortunately, I had no option to speed it up or skim, because I went with the audio and had no option to adjust the speed.  I suppose that is what I get for going with a physical copy of the audio book.

While this wasn’t the choice content wise, the narrator was actually great.  I’ve listened to a few books narrated by Eyre before, and she’s a pretty good narrator.  I think that was one of the few things about this book that I actually liked.

I did like Dee, who I thought was a really cool and interesting character.  It’s too bad we also had her around for a little bit.

Other than Eyre’s narration and Dee, there’s not much I actually liked about Rapture.  I already talked about how slow the book is, but Luce is an idiot, and Daniel is a terrible angel.  I’d say person, normally, but that doesn’t really fit.  He seems like such an ass, and I don’t get Luce’s interest in him.  He’s too moody and angsty, and it was just annoying.  I had no interest in their relationship…and to be honest Cam (or maybe even Lucifer, if you want to take in some of what happens at the end) would be a better choice for Luce.  Or least, a choice that’s not annoying.

Luce, more often than not, does seem like she’s too stupid to live.  That’s not a phrase I use often (if at all), but it somehow seems appropriate.  There was a point with Dee that I thought was going to turn out very differently, and I was yelling at Luce to not go outside without an explanation.  It didn’t go the way I thought, but there were so many secrets that were being kept from her that I was really irritated.  With a lot of characters.

Not really Cam, because he did try to warn Luce, but no, that girl was blind in her determination to do whatever Daniel and everyone else wanted.  She didn’t question anything at all, and I really wanted her to be less passive.  She was a little proactive, I suppose, but not really.

You’d think, this being the 4th book and all, she would have changed at least a little.  But she’s still the same clueless Luce we saw in Fallen.  After everything she’s seen and remembered, I would have expected at least some sort of change from Luce.  But alas, nothing.

One interesting thing is that, in comparison to a lot of other books out there that are about angels, this one is somehow more…religious.  It’s not preachy or anything like that, but the mythology or theology (or whatever you want to call it) is very different than what I usually associate with angels.  It’s more biblical, I suppose, though it’s been ages and ages since I’ve gone to church.  So I could be wrong, but that’s what I was reminded of for most of this series.  I liked it enough, I suppose, though not enough to have wanted to see more of it.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It was hard to listen to because it was moved very slow, and it was pretty boring.  I definitely lost interest by the end, and the last couple of hours of it ended up being background noise.