My Heart and Other Black Holes
2015 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
ISBN – 9780062324672
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
Aysel cannot get away from the crimes her father committed, the one that landed him in prison and her at the bottom of the social ladder for the entirety of high school. He killed a young rising local sports hero. Now she must live with her mom and her step family, who all act like she is non-existent. Lately, she has been checking out a suicide website, and not the kind that helps you when you are feeling down, but the kind that encourages the sad act. Through this site, she meets up with Roman, a high school boy from a neighboring town, that has a date picked out, but is looking for a partner, one who won’t flake out.
I listened to the audiobook, and found that the author had a very Daria-esque tone to her voice. Partly sarcastic, partly monotone, but in a way that worked for the feel of this book. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love this book. I didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between Roman and Aysel. I get that being a teenager is hard, I do remember that far back, but its like they are both completely blind. Then again, maybe that is the whole point. But in a world where lots of people love them, for some strange reason it takes the sarcastic musings of complete strangers in order to make their lives bearable. I guess I can see the big picture, but it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I can, however, see the value in this book. The availability of it to a hurting teen, a book that is relate-able to a dire situation, a book with sadness and hope has its place in the YA literature world.
The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum
2009 by Schwartz & Wade
ISBN – 9780375841972
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – Middle School
From working at a grocery store to running the most famous circus in the world, this book describes the life and the making of a legend, P.T. Barnum. We learn not only about the business aspects of Mr. Barnum, but the good, the bad, and the ugly of his personal life as well. Fleming does a good job of noting all that made Barnum such a well known man, but she also took care to talk about those aspects that humanized him. He battled with his own vices, and had to work hard to make his family happy, just like the rest of us, but not all of us have the ability to build opulent homes, with elephants in our gardens. Not all of us can buy all the entertainment in the world, but we can all read about someone who did. The evolution of his growing business is as fascinating as his growing notoriety, and those who performed with him. The pictures were a great way to really visualize the over the top world that Barnum created and lived in. I felt like the story was a bit choppy at times, and it read in a way that did not leave me hooked, but all in all it was an interesting read.
Throne of Glass
Sarah J. Maas
2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
ISBN – 9781599906959
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
The crown Prince retrieves Celaena from Endovier, where she has served one year of hard labor for being an assassin. He promises her freedom if only she can win the competition that the king is holding to name a royal assassin. If she wins, she must serve four years, and then she will be free. She has little doubt that she will win the competition, but she might have to worry about surviving long enough to win. When something mysterious begins killing competitors in a very gruesome manner, she must use all of her resources to find out how to avoid being killed, while staying strong enough to win the competition.
In a recent turn of events of my to read list enters the fantasy genre. I have begun to like these more and more for several reasons. I like the world building. This book seems to fall a tad short on that aspect because there is not much of a world to build. It mostly just consists of the castle, however, there are some interesting characters that are described impeccably. I feel like man, woman, and beast are given special attention in this book, and it does them each justice. I also like the awesome strong female lead in many of these fantasies. Celaena does not disappoint. She is incredibly strong and also brutally unapologetic for the circumstances that led her to the paths in her life. Her bad luck is not all her fault, but she feels no remorse for the decisions she has made each step of the way. I also appreciate that cheesy romance and love triangles aren’t always at the forefront of this genre. Although this book may have a touch of romance and even hints of the triangle, it is not so over the top in your face that makes you want to gag. Although, I think that might change in book two. Comparatively to some others in this genre, it wasn’t an amazing book, but it made me really curious about book two, so there you have it.
We’ll Never Be Apart
2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780544482005
Genre – Suspense
Age – High School
Alice and Cellie are twin sisters that have been living in the foster system since their grandfather died when they were young. After years of dealing with psychological issue, they find themselves at Savage Isle, a mental hospital, for the second time. After they escaped the first time, Cellie set fire to a bar that killed Alice’s boyfriend Jason. Alice has finally had enough of Cellie and her destructive ways, and she vows to get revenge. She wants to kill Cellie and end her reign of terror once and for all.
For some reason, there are all sorts of YA books with twins surfacing. This one seemed the least creepy to me. It was the only one that wasn’t didn’t have to do with one twin dying and the remaining twin pretending to be the dead one. I’m always intrigued by books in mental hospitals, combine that with the awesome, in my opinion, cover, and I was sold. This book had a slight bit of intrigue from the beginning. It felt as if you were really getting only one layer at a time. Using that style definitely held my attention. I am not sure when, but at some point, all of that fell to the wayside. The ending became obvious, and I almost immediately lost interest. I still finished, but the second half wasn’t nearly as enjoyable to read as the first half. Let me just say, I hated Jason, I thought he was the biggest tool. The entire time, I just kept asking myself and the author, WHY? Even Cellie, despite her absolute jerky insanity had some redeeming factors as a character, but Jason, no. I did appreciate the fact that Alice really did have a support system in her life. Despite all of the enemies the threesome made throughout their lives, people genuinely cared and wanted to help. It goes to show that hope is never completely lost.
Shadow and Bone
2012 by Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN – 9780805094596
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
Alina is a mediocre map maker. She doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere, she only has one good friend, Mal. When they must venture out into the folds, the border of a war torn world, Alina discovers she has a special gift. Being a sun summoner has made her valuable not only to her people, but also to her enemies. She must be trained in the court of the Grisha along with the other magical citizens of Ravka. She leaves her life and everything she has ever known to fulfill her duties to her country, and just maybe she will feel like she belongs for the first time in her life!
I loved the scenery in this book, I felt like this dark and magical world was surrounding me as I listened to this audio book. Just a note, I listened to this on a ten hour road trip all the way through. It made the trip fly by, not once did I feel bored or tired! The narrator had a solid and believable voice. It was hard, but not too hard, and not over dramatized. I liked the characters, I fell for each and every one of them. It is always easy for me to relate to someone who feels like she doesn’t belong. I liked that each character had strengths and weaknesses. I have been enjoying the kinds of fantasy, that almost make you feel like this could be the real world. I feel like the characters, outside of their magical powers, could exist in my world. The plot kept my attention, and that is saying a lot based on the circumstances. It was exciting, but not over the top. Will definitely be reading the sequel!