Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father by Jonathan Hennessey and Justin Greenwood

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: 10 Speed Press
Pages: 176
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 15+

Who was Alexander Hamilton? What led him to become such an important, and at times controversial, figure in American history? Learn about the man and legend through this graphic novel.

I have to start by admitting that I'm not very familiar with graphic novels; this may only be the third one I've ever read in my life. With that admission, I have to say that I just didn't feel that a graphic novel was the best form to use for this. I usually think the words and pictures work together to tell the story, but I didn't even look at the art most of the time. The only time that I felt it was done well was at the end during the duel, where the story was told by the characters speaking and by the pictures showing their actions. Most of the rest of the time, there was hardly any dialogue, just exposition.

This book would be much more approachable to younger readers if the author had taken a more creative nonfiction direction. As it was, it took a long time for me to read because it was things that I already knew and presented in a way that wasn't too interesting.

Some of the art was interesting. When Hamilton first came to America, he was a teenager, but he was drawn like a middle-aged man. Then there was some symbolic or metaphorical art that I could never really understand. I also felt that all the women were drawn too modern, with smirks and sass (this especially bothered me with Elizabeth Schuyler, Hamilton's wife).

There was talk of sex, with pictures of Hamilton in bed with a woman, which is why I put the age where I did.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 287
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 14+

The day Kit decides to sit with loner David at lunch is the day that both of their lives start changing. Kit is dealing with the aftermath of losing her father in an accident and is tired of the exasperated pity and sympathy she gets from her friends. David lives his life to be invisible and to survive high school—a place that he doesn't understand no matter how hard he tries. Can the two of them help each other overcome what they are both going through?

This book is told through alternating the POV from David to Kit and back, each chapter. I think this is really important because to see things from just one point of view wouldn't have worked for the story. David is very literally, falling on the autism spectrum, so if it were told completely from his view we wouldn't get the nuances and subtleties. Kit is seeing things very emotionally, so we need David's straight forward view. They perfectly balanced each other out.

The book plays with tropes usually found in high school movies and novels, sometimes completely rejecting them and sometimes embracing them. I liked that our main characters were different than the majority of main characters in American novels.

There was very minor language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 339
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

What is it about some villains that make them so intriguing? How did villains become villains? What is it that the villains really want? Through 13 different short stories we find the answers.

Each short story in this collection was inspired by a question asked by a book blogger, who then includes commentary after that story.

I had two favorite stories: "The Sea Witch" by Marissa Meyer, which shows how the sea witch who provides the Little Mermaid with legs came to be the sea witch. The other was "Beautiful Venom" by Cindy Pon. Pon takes the Greek myth about Medusa and transplants it into China in one of the best ways possible. I think the reason I liked both of these stories so much is that it really does show how these familiar villains became who they are. In the case of Meyer's story, the sea witch was an outcast who thought she found love only to be heartbroken. In "Beautiful Venom," Pon focused more on the part of the Medusa story that we tend to glaze over.

I was a little disappointed in some of the stories because I was expecting all of them to be like the ones I mentioned above—the origin stories of villains. Which did happen in some of the stories, but a lot of them turned the villains into heroes.

I did like the commentary from the bloggers; in fact, some times those where my favorite parts.

One of the stories does use the f-word repeatedly.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 357
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 16+

After years of helping her mom plan weddings, Louna has become a cynic about love. If love does exist, than true love--walking in the sunset love--only happens once and Louna already had her chance. Then she's forced to work with the annoyingly optimistic and commitment-phobe Ambrose. As if working with bridezillas wasn't enough. But through the course of the summer, and a bet they make, Louna might discover that loving and losing doesn't mean love is gone.

Sara Dessen is one of the reigning YA romance authors. She's able to put forth a story, that, if I tried to tell it, would come across as completely unbelievable and contrived. Louna's first love happens in such a way, but is told with such sincerity that I have no problem suspending my disbelief.

I liked the characters, too. Each one was complex and lifelike, instead of just there to move along plot or Louna and Ambrose. The relationship and care between Louna, her mother, and William was wonderful. It's nice to have adult characters who respond well and understand teenagers.

There were some f-words and mentions of sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

More info*
Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 119
My rating: 5 Stars
Ages: 8+

Do you know who the first woman figure skater was? Or that a woman dressed as a man for 20 years in order to play polo? This book explores the life and achievements of women in sports from the 19th century to the present.

Just like in Ignotofsky's previous book, this book was just as wonderful and charming! It's colorful and bright, with fun illustrations and interesting facts. Each athlete gets a two page spread, with a one page bio.

While there are obviously a lot more women who could have been featured in this book, Ignotofsky chose women who were trail blazers, record breakers, or especially respected in their sport. There are mountaineers, coaches, weightlifters, jockeys, and so many other kinds of sports.

This is a must for anyone and is particularly good for children to learn more about athletes and sports history.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 375
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 17+

For years, Sydney and Leela have been planning their trip to Europe. When it finally comes, it's overshadowed by Leela's recent break-up and Sydney's worry about her family back home. When Leela's ex and his very attractive best friend show up, Sydney must adjust her plans for this trip.

To be honest, I didn't like the girls from the start. Part of that was that I couldn't make the way they really were fit with my first impression. We first meet the girls in the airport, running for their flight. Sydney is presented as a neat, rule following, good girl, while Leela was a wild, chaotic, party girl. Come to find out, it's just the opposite and learning that really made me bothered for some reason. And then I started to not like Leela even more because she never seemed to think about Sydney and how she might feel. Meanwhile, Sydney never seemed to stand up for herself to her friend. I was really expecting them to have a big fallout and go their separate ways.

The writing was good and it was fun to "visit" all the different places that they went, but it's hard to like a book when you don't really like the main characters.

There was also drug and alcohol use, sex, sex talk, and sexual situations.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 15+

Genevieve Grace woke up in the hospital with no memory of the accident that landed her there and killed her famous boyfriend, Dallas Kade. With the internet exploding with accusations against the man in the other truck and reporters camping out on her front lawn, Gen decides to escape and spend the summer with her dad in Utah. But as Gen's memory of that night starts to come back, she starts to realize that things may not have happened the way everyone else thinks.

This was a book that I wanted to keep reading, to discover what Gen would do and how people would react. I'm not sure if there has been a book that has focused so well on the downfalls of living in the digital age, where netizens become judge and jury, condemning people in trial by media.

Having been born and raised in Utah, I was a little apprehensive about the portrayal of the state and its people, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was nice to have a Mormon character in a nonreligious book that wasn't overdone or made of stereotypes. It was also great have some appreciate the beauty of the state, which some people miss because it isn't green and lush.

There was some mild language, sexual topics, and talks of suicide.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.