Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Synopsis: 

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Date Finished: 8-29-15

Rating: 5/5

Thoughts:

*Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children’s for providing me with an e-copy in exchange for an honest review!*

The moment I read the synopsis of this novel, I knew I had to read it. Instantly I thought of The Fault In Our Stars, and the train wreck of feels that it was. Luckily Everything, Everything isn’t as much about life and death as it is about simply living and taking advantage of the life we have to live. It had very much a Carpe Diem, Seize The Day type of feel to it, and I loved that about it.

This book isn’t completely text. All throughout, we have snippets of IM and Email conversations, journal entries, medical charts and documents, book reviews and cute little sketches. This, coupled with the short chapters, makes it a fast, but memorable read. Nothing is put in this book just for fluff though. Every word and image have a purpose to bring Maddie’s story to life.

Speaking of Maddie, I absolutely loved her. She’s a reader, just like me, but mostly because she’s got nothing better to do that read and do homework due to her isolation. I loved that she’s actually half black, and half asian. DIVERSITY! I also loved than Nicola Yoon didn’t use Maddie’s race as a plot point. She simply is who she is, with her interesting curly hair and features. She’s brave and daring despite her sheltered life, and we really get to see how love changes her perspective on life.

Olly is a great character as well. He’s got family problems, but that doesn’t define him. He’s still a caring, thoughtful, and deep character, and you can really see that he comes to care for Maddie very much. To be honest, he felt more like he could be a real person than Augustus Waters ever could (I’m so sorry, Gus, but it’s true!)

The plot is really interesting. I won’t give any spoilers, but the last bit of the book threw me for a whirlwind of emotion. I loved that last chapter though, and I’m sure that if you read this and love it as much as I did, you will too. I couldn’t put the book down, always curious if the relationship would work out, if Maddie would be ok, and what would happen next! It’s definitely a page turner!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves contemporary novels, and especially John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. This book is thoughtful and unique, and explores what it really means to live your life.

Step aside, Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster. Maddie and Olly might just be the next big thing. 😉

Review: Go Ask Alice

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Synopsis:

Date Finished: 2-26-15

Rating: 2/5 

Thoughts: *spoilers ahead*

I never really thought I’d find a book I didn’t like as much as this book. I’ve always heard about Go Ask Alice, but I didn’t have the chance to read it until recently. Let me just say that I’m glad I was able to read it online for free on PulseIt Reads, because if I had paid for this book, I would have been quite disappointed.

Let me just start with the unnamed narrator. Um…. Whiny! After her first drug experience, she sort of just goes along with the whole drug thing, hanging with the wrong crowd and selling stuff for one of her boyfriends. She goes back and forth between wanting to be a good girl and a bad girl, swearing off drugs one moment, then falling back to it’s influence within the next 20 pages. We learn her voice through a series of journal entries which seem a bit too… unreal for them to be the true journal entries of a teenage girl, especially one getting involved in some serious illegal drugs. She seems to bounce back between sobriety and drugs a bit too easily, which, in addition to other reviews and information I’ve read, leads me to think that this is a fictionalize tale. Nevertheless, I still have some more problems with Go Ask Alice.

One problem that I had was our narrators parents. I mean, they obviously punish our protag when she and her friend were caught with drugs, but that’s it. When she and a friend run away to San Fransisco and LIVE THERE for a while, the parents didn’t even go looking for her. They just came to pick her up from the airport like nothing was wrong. Um, maybe it’s just different for my family, but if I ever ran away, I probably wouldn’t even make it to the airport without my parents snatching me back home, grounding me for life, and probably punishing me severely. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I couldn’t like this as much as I could. Plus, that isn’t the only time she runs away. She runs away again later to Denver! There, she has some more drugged out experiences, and then goes home again, vowing to stay clean. UGH. Her parents didn’t do nearly enough to help her! If I were a parent and discovered that my child was having some drug problems, I would probably temporarily isolate the kid and keep them within my sight at all times to keep them clean, for their own good. Gosh, the parents made me so mad.

And WHAT HAPPENED AT THE END??? She just dies? Literally just 2 weeks after she mentions everything getting better? Of course, we don’t know if it was on purpose, or if it was another drugging like what happened during the babysitting incident, but still. By the time I got to that epilogue, I was already quite done with reading this story, but I finished for the sake of reviewing it.

Now, I guess I should talk about some redeeming qualities of Go Ask Alice. From what I understand about drugs, it’s a fairly realistic depiction of addiction, life, and all the demons that come along with it. Despite everything I’ve said about it, it might actually help some people, especially young teens in middle school or early high school, to learn the consequences of drug usage. It’s got everything it needs to teach someone about what could happen, and this is exactly the type of stuff that they don’t tell us about in Health class. Sometimes you get the best info on real life from books instead. In that aspect, I would recommend it.

If you get the chance to read this for free, perhaps a borrowed copy from a friend or library, go ahead, I guess. But if you’re considering buying this one, I’d skip it. Unless, of course, you don’t mind having this joke”journal” on your bookshelf. I personally didn’t like it, but who knows. Perhaps those of you who have an interest in drug-related books would be interested in this. I’ve never done drugs, nor have I really been exposed to people who have, so I’m not sure if this is an accurate depiction of a drug problem, but who knows? Maybe this book will ring true for someone. Maybe it’ll save a life.

I’d recommend the Crank Series to people who enjoyed this, but not necessarily vice versa. Meh.

Book Browsing Friday

You’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover…. but sometimes you just can’t help it! These books were all chosen at random just because of their covers and descriptions! Welcome to the 2nd ever Book Browsing Friday!

1. For The Record – Charlotte Huang

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The cover is amazing! It’s simple, but you can get a lot from it, and it’s really appealing. The synopsis makes it sound a bit like Guitar Girl, which is exciting to me because I remember liking that book when I read it years ago. I can’t wait for this to come out!

2. Violent Ends – Various Authors

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A school shooting novel told from the POV of the gunmen? Sounds terrifying…..and thrilling. I’m seriously excited to get my hands on a copy of this, because while school shootings are obviously terrible and devastating, to get into the heads of the actual attackers would be quite interesting. Plus, the cover is very interesting. As an art student, I was drawn in by the perspective, but the synopsis is what hooked me!

3. The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin

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THERE’S A JELLYFISH ON THE COVER. NEED I SAY MORE? Yes? Okay, the synopsis sounds like this will be one of those tear jerking, coming of age novels that I love-hate, so I’ll probably like this one very much. Seems sentimental, both from description and cover. Can’t wait to read!

And that’s it for this weeks BBF! I’ll see you here next week for more super cool books to add to your ever growing TBR list. Happy Reading!

Review: The Body Institute by Carol Riggs

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Synopsis: Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Date Finished: 8-26-15

Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book!

I’ll admit that when I first saw this book, I immediately thought of Starters by Lissa Price, a book that also involves loaning out bodies for others to use… but for a completely different reason. I’m not going to compare the two books (at least not in this post!) but I will say that the two books are unique enough that you won’t be claiming plagiarism with every turn of the page. In fact, the books are very different. If you’re a fan of Starters/Enders, you should check this out, and even if you weren’t, The Body Institute might just have what the other book was lacking for you.

Now, to get into the review, let me just say that I really did like this book. There were twists that I simply didn’t expect, and there were times when I was doubting the wrong characters. I was on the edge of my seat as I hurried to finish the last half of the novel. There are plenty of supporting characters, such as Morgan’s family and friends, in addition to the characters that we meet along the way. Some are more fleshed out than others, but our protagonist, Morgan Dey, is the real shining star in this book. We actually see her change over the novel, not only in physical body due to her job, but in viewpoint as well. At the beginning of the novel, all she wants to do is help support her family, and by the end, she’s willing to break the rules. It’s really great to actually see a dynamic character like this. 🙂

Some reviewers have stated that they didn’t like the book due to the “fat-shaming” theme in the novel. In the novel’s defense, TBI is a futuristic, dystopian novel. Dystopian novels often take a stand against a current issues, and TBI, by the end of the novel, takes on a very anti-body shaming message as various truths come to life. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or it’s initial message. Things aren’t always what they seem…. just like The Body Institute within the book. 😉

I would definitely suggest this to any science fiction/dystopian fan, and especially to fans of Starters by Lissa Price.

Review: Lumière by Jacqueline E. Garlick

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Synopsis:

One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.

Date Finished: 8-22-15

Rating: 5/5

Thoughts: 

*I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

They always tell us not to judge a book by it’s cover, but with a cover as gorgeous as Lumière’s, it’s almost hard not to. I was initially drawn in by the interesting title and amazing cover, but it was the synopsis that sold me on this book! And I’m so glad that it did, because Lumber was simply amazing!

Jacqueline Garlick’s writing is amazing as she crafts a wonderful steampunk world of dangerous vapors, magic, and machines, inhabited by awesome characters such as our protagonists, Eyelet and Urlick!

Speaking of Eyelet, Garlick handled Eyelet’s epileptic episodes quite well. I don’t have epilepsy, so I can’t verify if it’s an accurate depiction of the condition, but from what I understand about it, it was done well. Her condition wasn’t romanticized, and it also doesn’t run the story. Eyelet learns how to deal with it on her own, and how to keep it a secret from those who would use it to have her locked away in the madhouse. Unlike was also quite accepting of it, which just made me love him more.

All in all, I really enjoyed Lumière, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I feel like Fans of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy might enjoy this series, possibly more than Leviathan! 

Book Browsing Friday

Hey Starlight-Readers! I’m thinking about starting a new little “segment” within this blog, which will pretty much consist of me browsing Goodreads and finding a few new books to put on my TBR list… and maybe on your list as well! Without further ado, let’s jump right into Book Browsing Friday!

1. Push Me, Pull Me – Vanessa Garden

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Push Me, Pull Me doesn’t come out until the 25th (just a few days from now) so I’m super excited. There are no advance reviews out yet, so I have no idea what to expect! I think I’ll buy an e-copy on the release date. The synopsis seems pretty interesting, and I like the simplicity of the cover and the emotions it expresses. You can find it for preorder here.

2. All We Have is Now – Lisa Schroeder

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This cover is gorgeous, with it’s sunset-esque colors and sillhouttes. On top of that, the synopsis seems so thrilling. Only 24 hours left to live? Oh. My. Gosh. From what I’ve read, it’s not about trying to fight back or escape death, but just to live out the last day. I wonder how it will end? Will our main characters die, or will they survive somehow? I definitely want this book on my bookshelf! You can buy it here on Amazon.

3. Under Different Stars – Amy A. Bartol

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This book cover is really what got me, along with the work “stars.” (I mean, I am Starlight-Reads!) It’s the first in a series of aliens and powers and romance. I think it’ll be an interesting read, and the 3rd book comes out just next month. You can find it here on Amazon. 

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So there you have it! The first ever Book Browsing Friday! (BBF, maybe?) This was actually a lot of fun for me, finding books I had never heard of, and hopefully it’ll help you out as well. 🙂 Happy reading, and I’ll definitely be doing this again next Friday!

Review: Nil by Lynne Matson

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Synopsis: 

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought … and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

Date Finished: 8-10-15

Thoughts: 

I’ll admit that I bought an copy of this book on a whim. I had a free 3 dollar amazon credit that expired at midnight on August 2nd, and I was hoping to find a good book for cheap so that I could get it for free. I was actually about to buy a different book when I stumbled across Nil, it’s interesting synopsis, and after reading the sample, I immediately bought the book.

Now, Nil isn’t your typical novel. With this strange island known as Nil, we’re dealing with exotic animals, strange scenery, teenagers from all over the world, and a deadline. As stated in the synopsis above, those trapped on the Island of Nil have 365 days to escape, or else they die there with no hope of ever going home. Lynne Matson managed to create a world both beautiful and dangerous, with vivid descriptions of a parallel world that make it come to life. Mason isn’t afraid to spare characters, and with the stakes on Nil Island being so high, she shows how fragile life and time can be, with either time, a gate, or other factors taking out characters.

The cast of characters was awesome. We get to see the Island through Charley, a girl new to Nil, and Thad, the boy who acts as lead in The City, which is the community where most people on Nil live. Throughout the course of the book, new characters drop in, all with different assets to add, all from different places, and it’s interesting to see how all of them accept the news of the Days and everything. I love that there’s a wall of names, showing the fate of the countless people who have come before, and, as it’s revealed later in the story, to

One thing that I loved was how Charley came to piece together a pattern for the  gates. There were issues, and there were things she never figured out, and for me, that adds to the realism of the characters. Charley isn’t a brilliant character with all the answers. She’s just another of these Nil kids, trying to make sense of her circumstances and find a way to keep herself and her friends alive and to escape. She has some ideas that are wrong, but I like that. I hate it when characters are too perfect and figure out the solution all at once. I love a slow build up, which is exactly what we get here.

Now, the one thing I wish we had gotten more of was the character of Ramia and her premonitions. She was only mentioned a few times, as a girl from before Charley’s time, but it would have been interesting to hear more about her and how her presence affected the city. She seems more like an afterthought thrown in to create conflict and drama. Aside from that, this book was pretty much perfect. We have a slow building romance, and high stakes, and selfless acts and….. oooooh. It was just such an awesome book!

I would recommend Nil to fans of James Dasher’s The Maze Runner Trilogy, or of Alexander Gordon Smith’s Lockdown series. If you’re a fan of a tale with friendship, a bit of romance, survival, escape, and tons of action, this is the book for you.