Monday, October 2, 2017

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Point
Pages: 352
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 13+

Maddie spends most of her time studying, when she isn't at her job at the zoo. With the money problems her family has, she needs to get a scholarship for college and earn money to help out. So it's on a whim when she buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday. Her life changes over night when she realizes she won the 50 million prize.

This is the second book I've read this year about a teenager winning the lottery. I'll admit that Windfall was a better story, but Lucky had a simpler plot with more likable characters. Of West's books that I've read, I think this is probably the weakest. I just couldn't believe that Maddie, who we know is really smart with a GPA above 4.0, would be so dumb after she wins the lottery. Every time she mentioned that she should meet with a financial adviser, I'd yell at her in my head "Yes! Go! Now!" But who knows, maybe I would have been the same if I had won the lottery when I was 18.

The book does put forth the problem of not knowing if people are your friends because you have a lot of money or not. I think that I might have been more suspicious earlier than Maddie was, but seeing her trust and positive outlook on life crash down was a little heartbreaking. I'm glad that she had Seth, who was the one person who treated her the same after she won.

There is no language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Banned Books Week takes place the last week of September every year. It's a time to bring awareness of the banning and challenging of books that is still prevalent in our society. To support the freedom to read, I choose a banned/challenged book that I've never read before. Because of this, my review is slightly different, as I tend to focus on the reason it was banned or challenged for most of the review. For more information on Banned Books Week, visit ala.org.


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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 325
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

New girl Eleanor is too different, with her wild curly, red hair and her men's shirts. Park is different too, but since his family has lived in town for generations, he can get away with it. When Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus, neither of them could have guessed how things would turn out.

Eleanor and Park was challenged on the basis of the profane language used throughout the novel. I won't lie, there was quite a bit of language (including the f-word), maybe a little more than *I* am comfortable with. But it's not up to me, or anyone, to control what society can read or consume. There is also some references to sex and sexual situations.

Despite the language, I think that the story that is told is important and heartbreaking. It's so much more than just learning to stand out and stand up. It's about being strong enough to know when to fight back or leave.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

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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