Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Saleena's reviews 11/14/17

Feeding my biography love is this fun graphic novel on the life of Agatha Christie, nicely done and well researched.  I found a lot of things I had no idea about, she really was an interesting person.

This book broke my heart, and it was an AMAZING story.  A boy is kidnapped, a young man named Dylan; and he is non-verbal boy with severe Autism.  When the police find him, they find another boy, Ethan who was kidnapped 5 years ago.  Ethan is not the same person he was when he was kidnapped at age 11; and he really isn't sure who he is or what to do with himself.  Ethan meets Caroline, Dylan's sister, when she comes looking for answers and they form a friendship.  Throughout the story, you see both Ethan and Caroline's views (alternating speaking in each chapter) and also see what they are going through individually.  Ultimately this book is about the journey through horrific circumstances of both characters, and it is definitely a journey that requires a lot of tissues.  I would encourage everyone to read this.

Gen and Ava are best friends, going to colleges on opposite sides of the country.  They are both determined to maintain their friendship and that "nothing will change"....but of course things do.  The whole story is told through emails and texts they send to each other.  I really like how different each character is and each person's journey is handled well.  As a reader you cringe when the character does something you know is a bad idea; but the author's show the reasons why and explore the consequences of those actions.   This is a book about college, so probably not appropriate for a young teen unfamiliar with life; but it's a quick and interesting read for older teens and could start some great conversations.

Mackenzi Lee has written a fascinating story with a fun premise; what if a young man who likes girls (but prefers boys) were a member of the upper class in England in the 1800s?  What would life be life for him?  The entirety of the novel takes place on Monty's "tour" where he is supposed to explore life and learn new things and then come home and be a proper lord and follow his father's orders.  What actually happens is that Monty and his sister and his friend (whom he is in love with) stumble onto a plot that has them running for their lives.  Lee balances serious topics with comedic moments and really gives you insight into the characters.  I love that all of the characters are fighting their own battles and the added danger elements just made the book more interesting.  I admit, I wasn't sure about this book as I thought it would devolve into a farce with a lot of prat falls and it really didn't.  A really interesting book that is well worth the read.

I have to admit, I listened to this story rather than reading it; and I'm kind of glad I did as it made the characters more real (different actors for each character helped).  However it also prevented me from skipping to the end when I got frustrated, so......
One of Us is Lying is a classic "whodunnit" book, with four suspects, one victim and the title that tells you someone is lying.  As a reader you are really trying to figure out what really happened and suspect everyone, but you won't figure it out (or maybe you will because you're smarter than me).  I wasn't surprised by the ending; but I was.....it was a whole "of course" moment that I felt that I should have anticipated (but I won't give it away as that would be cheating).  Anyway, highly recommended to read or listen to.

Friday, October 20, 2017

more reviews from Saleena 10/20/17

I really wanted to like this, it looked fun and sweet for a middle school reader; however the author really tried to do too much.  There is the angst of transitioning from child to teen; there's the sister away at college; there's the over-protective parents; there's the bullying older student; there's the best friend who has changed; there's the best friend who has a boyfriend; and finally there is the classic "I will turn this nerd into someone cool and fall in love with them" theme.  That is A LOT for one book and it gets very jumbled.  Sometimes I forgot that the characters were so young, because they acted and talked more like high school than middle school and the "absentee teacher" in an afterschool middle school....well, it is hard to believe given that every middle school I have seen seems to treat the students like bombs about to explode if they aren't watched and monitored every second of the day....it's the high school students who get that kind of leeway most often; and again, it was like the author kept switching from middle school to high school with problems, language, and situational handling of things.  Overall, I just don't think this is a great book, but tell me what you think.

It Looks Like This is a coming out story that includes conflicts with a very religious family and being sent to conversion camp.  The protagonist is young, early part of 9th grade and new to town.  As he finds himself attracted to a particular boy, he also finds friends who accept him before he can accept himself.  There is a lot to handle in this book, and yes, it's another "coming out" book; but it brings in a peek at a conversion camp and it's trauma which isn't seen as much.  I am not sure I buy the quick turnaround of the mother at the end, but it is technically feasible so I'm willing to give it a pass.  All in all a solid addition to LGBTQ literature.

Not having read the first book, Bluescreen, I nonetheless quickly caught up on the world building Wells had done.  This future dystopia has everyone with implanted devices and corporate greed run amok.  The main story involves a group of teens who play an online game and have managed to land a coveted spot in a tournament.  Marisa, the main protagonist, finds herself determined and in a position to take down one of the corporate giants that is threatening her family's livelihood through monopolies and buyouts in addition to a chance at winning her favorite game and making a name for herself.  There is a lot of excitement and suspense in this novel and I love that it is not only multi-cultural but international because the girls live across the globe but are best friends due to online connections.  This was a fun ride.

Evangelista has written a true romance that just happens to have two boys falling in love.  The real conflict isn't the "I'm attracted to a boy" thing, but the "do I lose my best friend if we become more" idea; and she does a great job.  No Holding Back is a quick romantic read that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those.

Ryan Quinn is a sort of Alex Rider character but he has been training his entire life, moving around the world with his family and their cultural connections through their lives as ambassadors.  When his father goes missing and his mother is kidnapped, of course he manages to find a way to go rescue everyone....it's a given.  McGee makes a rousing and adventurous story that is a fast and exciting read.

Shuffle, Repeat is a standard romantic tale of two opposite who fall in love.  There is nothing bad about it, however, there is also nothing outstanding about it. 

Ashlee Vance really likes Elon Musk.  You can see the admiration on every page of this biography.  Maybe it's more obvious due to it being a "young readers' edition" but perhaps not.  Either way, it's a well written and topical biography with lots of photos and interesting stories.  As a librarian and a skeptic though, it's hard not to wonder what else might have been told if the author weren't so attached to her subject. 

American Street was a book I did not expect to like.  It has been highly touted by everyone and that usually indicates a book that is "literature" and I just like good stories.  However, Zoboi DOES give a good story.  She tells us about Fabiola who has ended up alone in Detroit with her mother's sister and her cousins after a lifetime spent in Haiti.  She was supposed to be emigrating with her mother, but ICE detained her mother and had to let her go due to being born an American citizen.  Fabiola is a smart girl and has a good heart, and figuring out how to handle things is part of the journey, so I don't want to spoil it....let's just say, things get exciting and crazy and you might cry a bit....but it will be worth it.  I love the interactions and the connections Zoboi makes and the characters she has built in this story really stick with you. 

I wanted to read this book before I watched the movie, and it was really good.  I have a feeling that the movie will not have quite as much information on the history and the connections between people; but I will enjoy it for having had the information prior to watching it.  Definitely a book to read for everyone and very well done indeed.

Clash of Empires finishes out the alternative history begun in Rampage at Waterloo.  Now the author can lose the historical accuracy and just dig into the story and it gets really good very quickly.  This is another surprisingly dense but quite enjoyable historical alternative fiction novel....it feels like historical fiction but reads like SF...really nicely done.

Mesrobian tells us a story of a girl who's been determined to be "easy" but isn't sure she agrees.  Rianne likes boys and sex, and isn't ashamed of enjoying a good time.  She does however hate the reputation and the awkwardness of being THAT girl in a small town.  This story is really just an exploration of the character of Rianne, and it is well done.  I'm not sure I agree with the ending, but the fact that I wanted to argue with Rianne's choices says a lot about how realistically written Mesrobian's character is.

Tess is forced to move in with her sister in Washington, D.C after it is discovered that her grandfather has Alzheimers.  Tess ends up at an exclusive school full of movers and shakers and finds out that her sister has a reputation as a "fixer" or the person you call when you need something fixed.  Tess doesn't realize it, but she is well on her way to being the junior version of the same thing....and all she really wants to protect her friend.  What she gets is caught up in a political mess that ends up revealing corruption and murder...with implications that go all the way into the White House.....and leave her knowing way too much.   Barnes does a great job of telling an intense story with a strong character that you really root for. 

Vengeance Road is a classic Western tale of revenge...so I expected to hate it...but I couldn't help admiring the gumption of Kate Thompson who is determined to do whatever it takes to bring vengeance to the gang who killed her father.  She is an amazing character and the writing is really well done.  There are parts that are a bit far fetched, but it's all in good fun, so enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

reviews from Saleena 9/22/17

Here we go.

I'm not sure how to feel about this book.  I like the back and forth-ing and the character development.  Mike and his friends aren't specifically any group, just guys with a sort of band and they kind of hang out and do lots of nothing.  Then Mike starts to realize a few things, and yes, part of it is liking guys; but my problem is not that, it's that Mike says "he guesses he's bi now" and everyone sort of takes that as an excuse; like when are you really going to tell us you are gay?  So I was waiting for the author to throw in moments of "nope, I like guys and girls" but instead, he actually does have the character come out as gay.  The reason I bring this up is that being bi-sexual is so many times relegated to someone who just won't "pick a side"; and I was hoping that this would actually fill in some gaps instead of playing to the stereotype.  Other than the issue raised above, it is pretty well done.  Mike has a supportive family and his struggle is really figuring out if his friends will still like him (a valid concern for a teen); and if the boy he likes is worth all the aggravation of coming out.  Goslee does a good job, and I like the solid and supportive environment he provided and the characters felt spot on.  I just wish the bi issue hadn't been mentioned, or had been addressed at all, instead of as a place holder status until the character was ready to admit he was gay.

Ok, I admit that the cover pulled me into this one.....and I think, for the right reader, this would be a good book.  For me, it was rough, for a number of reasons.  The action is good, the main characters nicely written (if a bit predictable); but my sticking point was the constant references to "the great creator" and lessons about the nature of god and creation (it felt like a church lecture); and also, the massive amounts of math/geometry references.  I really struggle with geometry and spatial relationships, so it pulled me right out of the story every time they referenced "divine geometry" or whatever other terms they used.  I did like the bird-like "geniuses" that somehow magically focused your talent; but....why focused on MATH?  SHAPES?  For someone who is looking for a more intellectual fantasy with puzzles and such; this might be good...for someone looking for a fun escapist adventure; definitely not.

Cloud and Wallfish was NOT one I expected to like, but I genuinely fell in love.  Wallfish is actually Noah, who is pulled unexpectedly out of school one day and told that he is going along with his parents on a grand adventure, to East Germany (this was set during the time just before the wall came down and Germany was unified).  He has been given a new name, Jonah and he has a whole bunch of rules to follow, because they will be spied on and they don't want anyone to think they are spies.  But ARE his parents spies?  It's alluded to, but not specifically addressed, because this is Noah's story.  In East Berlin, he has no friends (because he stutters and he is an American Spy); but meets Claudia and due to pronunciations, they become Cloud and Wallfish (the German word for whale sounds like wallfish to Noah).  Claudia is struggling because her parents have disappeared and her grandmother is a mess, paranoid and falling into a depression.  We are told her parents died, but Claudia is convinced that they are in "heaven" which is West Berlin and they just abandoned her.  The two of them are pulled into the intrigues and tension of the times and Noah is struggling to figure out the world, his parents, his role and how to be Claudia's friend and supporter.  I really love this book.  I think what made it even better is that every so often a "secret file" would interrupt the story to explain what was going on, or provide outside detals none of the characters knew. All of those details really helped place the reader right there and understand what was happening, even more fully than the characters.  Check this one out, it's worth the time.

I put off reading this for a long while.  Not because I don't like Garth Nix or the Abhorsen trilogy but because I LOVE them; and I was SO disappointed with Clariel that I thought this would be just as awful.  It wasn't, it was wondeful.  Goldenhand starts a few years after the events of Abhorsen and features Lireal (one of my favorite characters).  There is a new big bad, who is really the same one, that didn't really die due to sorcery.  Lireal finds out how to truly send Chlorr into death, and it's by finding her original body.  Can she do it with an army of barbarians on the way to destroy them all?
I can't wait to hear this on audio (it's not out yet); and I am so glad Nix put this book out, it was amazing.

Teen Hyde just looked like a fun creepy book....and it was.  Baker does a good job of explaining the two parts of the main character (Cassidy and Marcy).  There is murder and mayhem and intrigue....it is a fun, quick read for teens who enjoy horror stories.

I misunderstood this one, thinking it was giants doing smuggling (like really big pirates); but instead it's about a boy who finds a giant that is being hunted for his extraordinary DNA by evil scientists...and he has to smuggle the giant to safety and also the kids have to defeat the evil scientists.  This is a cute adventure that will definitely appeal to younger tweens and teens....a fun, fast read.

This is part two of the Devil's Engine series, and even though I didn't love the first one, I figured I would try the next section anyway.  Honestly, some of the issues I had with the first one, were dealt with in this issue, and the writing is strong.  Some parts of it were predictable, but it was creepy and interesting and well paced.  Not my favorite book series, but I think teens will love it; and that is who should love it.

Argos was my most disappointing book; because I was hoping that either Argos would have some adventures, or maybe he snuck along somehow and was there with Odysseus on his adventures.  Instead I have a dog who is at home, recounting the troubles at home, while hearing about the adventures of his master from birds he has scouting and looking for him.  It makes the adventures of Odysseus very dry (they are told second hand and in a very brief synopsis....from BIRDS); and the rather intriguing things happening at home became also boring ...lots of "I wish my master were here" moments...not the book I was hoping for.  On a side note, kudos to the cover artist, that dog looks AMAZING and truthfully was one of the main reasons I tried to love this book.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

book reviews from Saleena 9/9/17

Between my love of reading about Native Americans and my having lived near a town named after him (it's in upstate PA); I had a familiarity with who Jim Thorpe was; but Sheinkin really delved into his life as well as into the lives of those around him.  He took the time to explain who Pop Warner was and why he cared about football, along with other historical figures and happenings.  Sheinkin also carefully pointed out the racism of the times and how they affected everyone, but especially the impact they had on the life of Jim Thorpe.  This book was really well done, not too long, not too difficult but VERY informative.   Loved it.

I really wanted to love this book....it has everything I love; fairy tales twisted up; some of my favorite authors....and they are short stories so, quick and easy read!   First of all, I DID enjoy the stories for the most part, and some of them really stuck in my head (especially the story about Ursula from Little Mermaid).  But the book, for me, felt ....not fun and just awkward with the long vignettes after each story, talking about where the story idea came from; why it was written, and on and on.  Some of them were written by the author, and were interesting; but some were written by someone else and seemed to have no bearing on the story....while others seemed like fictional companions to the story we had just read.  It was confusing....and honestly, it felt unnecessary.  Why not just have the stories, and if you wanted to give a bit of background, have an intro to each?   It just left a bad taste in my mouth for the whole thing, which is a shame because I did enjoy some of the stories, but the book was so hard to read and it was hard to figure out what to read and what I could skip or avoid.

Something light and easy was definitely called for; and in walks Chi.  I love these books, so adorable and fun...and if you've ever had a kitten, very true.
Can't wait to read the next one.

Flunked was suggested by a few teens and I thought, "why not"; since it was another story based on fairy tale characters.  Overall, it was a fine book, interesting use of fairy tales & characters if a bit formulaic....but if I were in 7th grade....I would have devoured this entire series.  So, if you aren't old and jaded and like simple fun with traditional tales; give it a try.

Now Alex Flinn KNOWS how to twist a fairy tale.  I absolutely adored this book.  It's sort of the character of the wicked stepmom; and sort of not....it also encompasses Rumpelstitlzkin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon and a few others.  I found the idea of the long lived witch who is encountering these people while trying to find the love of her life and interesting way to stitch together so many disparate stories.  Really nicely done!

I am really not sure about this book.  I liked the frank presentation of the characters and the two points of vew; but there were so many moments of "really?" when each of them were dealing with each other....so many nerdy stereotypes "popular vs nerdy"  "nerds must be awkward" ....it really took away from the story.  And the twist ending, really kind of ruined it for me (also, it wasn't so much of a twist as a creepy wink and a "know what I mean, nudge nudge")  So overall, not horrible; but not something I would recommend either.

Given that I am not familiar with the TV show or characters that this book is very much a part of, it was difficult to figure out what was happening; however, I quickly realized that I didn't actually care either.....it was a very typical "teen novel" with all of the tropes and stereotypes that come with it.  A forgettable book that I am happy to forget.

Who Killed Christopher Goodman is really good.  The beginning that throws you in, and then the "let's go back and see how we got here" I was not a fan of; but the characters were well written, the time period (it's set in the 1970s) is accurate and the interactions of the kids in this very small town seemed real.  This is a mystery that isn't really a mystery but is also a book about grief and the guilt we all feel when someone we know dies....as if we could have or should have made different choices and that somehow, they wouldn't have died.  I highly recommend this book.

I really had never read a biography about Isaac Newton, so thought it was time.  Losure does a fabulous job of explaining the time period and the man as well as his interactions with the world.  A fascinating biography with lots of interesting photos and actual copies of some of his notes.

World Beneath is a difficult read.  It's set in apartheid era South Africa and really is the story of one boy who is caught up in things and what it does to his life.  This is an important book, as it really highlights the horrors of what apartheid and Jim Crow (in the US) laws did to people......but it is not an easy or a comfortable book.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall By Stephanie Garber BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
By Stephanie Garber


I’m tired of the clique after clique in recent YA contemporary. I’ve never actually enjoyed the genre, but for some reason I could not stop reading it, no matter how stupid they were. This book has finally convinced me to steer away from contemporary once and for all.

This is a book about second chances. A book about a misjudged girl and a guy with a disabilities. I know, I know, you’re thinking “How on earth can she not like a book with such diversity?! She’s heartless!”  But please, hear me out.

This book was a stale and feeble attempt at a story about two characters in their period of self-actualization after making terrible decisions. I say attempt because it could have been so much more.

While reading the reviews for this book, I noticed a very interesting point. MC Nikki, who after a cyberbullying incident was solely blamed for almost causing a girl to commit suicide, never actually regrets doing what she did, even though it was not completely her fault. Instead, she regrets the consequences. I don’t think that’s exactly a good message to send from a book like this.

The author might have thought the romance was the selling point, but that just made it all the worst. It practically started at 10 pages into the book with a random guy she literally just meets.

I went so far as to give this book a star for its concept. It’s really nice to see so many YA authors focus on diversity, not just in race but in mental health as well. There are those books who just nail it and illustrate a perfect sense of what their character is going through. And then there are those who have the right idea but don’t entirely do it well. Guess what category this book falls into?

But without its diversity, this book is nothing. The romance is basically love-at-first-sight *CRINGE* and takes up practically the whole book ( well, I wouldn’t know cause I didn’t actually finish the thing, but it’s pretty accurate ). It honestly would’ve been so much better off without it. I didn’t know where this book was even going halfway into it. It had no plot, no characterization, nothing. It was boring and bland, like ( hey I’m fasting and like really hungry right now and thinking about food so blame the stomach ) spaghetti without sauce ( mentally cringing at the prospect ).

It shared themes and cliques, God even scenes that I have seen in so many other novels. I get that they were supporting each during tough times and I get that their lives weren’t easy, but that shouldn’t be the only thing drawing me to the book. While it had a great idea, it lacked creativity and an anticipation that I want to feel while reading any book.

“Fresh starts, okay? Maybe you're not ready to take it, but at least know one's here.”

Check it out at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 1/5 and DNF

“Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine -- A Mystery Series You HAVE To Read” by Vanditha Krishnan

“Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine -- A Mystery Series You HAVE To Read”
by Vanditha Krishnan

I reviewed two contemporaries this month, and I’m taking a break from those cheesy companion novels and moving on to a genre I adore -- mystery. Yup, Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine, is author Stephanie Tromly’s first book, and it’s a classic tale of mystery. But that’s not all. This fantastic story has it all; relatable characters, hilarious dialogue, and teenage sleuths you’ll never forget!

Plot: Zoe Webster is living a normal life until she opens the door to find Philip Digby, or simply Digby, standing on her doorstep. That’s right, ever heard of the term, ‘stranger danger?’ Digby doesn’t seem to agree. He’s rude and acts like he knows everything about her. The only problem is, whatever he says is actually true! No matter how much she tries to stop, Zoe’s allowed brilliant Digby to bring her into dangerous schemes all related to the kidnapping of a young girl in their town years ago. Unfortunately, Zoe just can’t say no. Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine was one of the most interesting mysteries I’ve read, and the plot is enticing!

Characters: Okay, let me just tell you straight up that Digby is the ONLY male character I’ve actually wanted to meet in real life, that is if he existed. He’s a prodigy, astute and perceptive. He’s annoying but knows just about everything in the criminal world. And most importantly, he’s a good guy. Zoe, or Princeton, as she is more commonly addressed, is his ideal henchman. Or henchwoman in this case. She’s always there for him and his sudden needs but manages to treat him decently. She’s quirky but sensible, and her presence just adds so much more to the novel. This dynamic duo was sensational in every way!

Thoughts: If you like mystery, go for it. If you like adventure, read it. If you want a taste of Stephanie Tromly’s masterpieces, enjoy it. But if you need a book that will keep you up for three hours straight, PICK IT UP AT THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW!!!

Final Words: Mystery is not for everyone. It’s an accepted fact. But this book has awesomeness written in all 336 pages. And if you’re a sucker for great novels, I suggest you read this as soon as possible. Enjoy!

P.S: Don’t be disappointed by the ending. There’s a sequel!!!!!


By Meagan Spooner

                           I’d like to first thank HarperTeen for the ARC version of this book.

Hunted was on my list of most anticipated YA novels of 2017 and it did not fail to impress. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with mentions and incorporations of Russian folktales  Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa, and Vasilisa the Beautiful.
Yeva, or as her father likes to call her Beautyaches to ditch her aristocratic life in the city to hunt in the forest with her father, just like they had when she was younger. After her father loses all of his fortune, Yeva’s family is forced to move back to their winter home in the outskirts of town. Yeva is secretly glad : finally she can hunt alongside her father. Yeah….except this is YA and obviously things aren’t going to be so happily ever after.

When her father goes missing after a hunting trip, Yeva, despite the protests of her sisters, decides to go after him. When she discovers his corpse, she makes it her goal to find the creature responsible for his death - the same creature her father was obsessing over before he left. But soon, Yeva finds herself captured, put in a cell, and concealed from seeing the face of her captor.

Yeva was a very developed character. Her genuine love for hunting and the wilderness, her distaste for the aristocratic ways of the higher class - definitely a refreshing change from the original Beauty and the Beast. I also enjoyed the side characters like Yeva’s sisters and Solmir aka Gaston. Gaston’s character was completely different, not made out to be the villain like he was in the Disney version, and I actually came to like him.

Unsurprisingly, when reading the reviews for this book, I noticed Stockholm syndrome come up. I haven’t seen many works of literature or entertainment with this condition to fully understand what it means , but based on this:

I believe Yeva did not have Stockholm syndrome. Throughout the book, she does not create a psychological alliance with the Beast, rather she puts up with what she’s told to do so she can eventually kill him as revenge for supposedly killing her father. It wasn’t a strategy that her mind just came up with as a means of survival; she deliberately chose to do this all while fully being aware that Beast was potentially dangerous and untrustable. Her change in attitude towards Beast is conscious and slow, and only shows after Beast himself changes his ways. And like Belle, Yeva actually wanted to leave, and she does. When she returns, it is not to be his prisoner, but to help him as she senses he is in danger.

That all said, I think Spooner did an excellent job of incorporating this enthralling classic with feminism, independence, and her own little Russian twist.

“To the girl
who reads by flashlight
who sees dragons in the clouds
who feels most alive in worlds that never were
who knows magic is real
who dreams

This is for you”

“If you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.”

An enthralling retelling of Russian folktales and Beauty and the Beast
Check it out at the library and goodreads :

RATINGS: 4.5/5

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

8/15/17 reviews from Saleena

I love the Moon Girl series, and they keep being strongly written and fun.  I like that they are showing growth, and though the protagonist is young, they aren't writing down; so it works for older and younger audiences.  Can't wait for the next one.

I tried this purely driven by the cuteness of the cover.....and OMG is it equally cute to read.  Following the life of Chi as he discovers his family and the world around him is endearing and adorable.  The manga really captures the world of a young kitten and a family....can't wait to read the rest.

Wasn't sure what to make of this, since I hadn't read the first one; but decided to try it.  It matches nicely with the rest of the Apprentice series from Delaney; but now it's the apprentice of the apprentice's turn.   Still dark and broody and creepy and interesting with stories that keep a reader engaged.  Not my cup of tea; but for those who love the series, it will be loved.

I really thought that The Cruelty was going to be a sort of female spy novel that has been done to death; (you know, teen finds out dad is a spy who has been captured and has to secretly rescue him) but Bergstrom really went for the reality of being a spy in enemy territory....so this novel has lots of blood and guts and is definitely not for the younger crowd.
However, by showing how hard everything is and making sure that nothing is easy or perfect; Bergstrom really engages the reader who worry along with the characters who will survive.  I really enjoyed this more than I thought I would; now if only it had a better cover.

This book has been getting a lot of press, so I decided to check it out.  It really is well done; though the ending confused me a bit.  Basically Greenidge takes the reader on a journey, through several viewpoints.  Starting with a family who move to a small town to teach a chimpanzee sign language as part of an experiment; then tracing back to the history of the town and the institute running the study.  Race plays a big part in the story, in all parts of the stories; and sometimes you just want to cringe or shout in horror; but all the issues raised are based in facts; so the reader is invested to see what happens.  Definitely a page turner.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


BOOK REVIEW : Shatter Me
By Tahereh Mafi

I did not know I could hate a book this much, but apparently I can. Shatter Me, unlike the praise it’s received, was in my opinion a disappointment to YA fantasy. I was astonished to see this was the same Shatter Me that got so much praise in the last six years.

The novel is told from the perspective a girl named Juliette (AKA WORST YA CHARACTER EVER) whose touch can inflict pain on her victims (HMMM sounds familiar ) . She’s locked up in this asylum with other delinquents, closed off from the rest of the world. Conveniently, this is a good thing because the rest of the world is pretty much more hellish than her cell. There’s a shortage of food, a necessity to kill off people who aren’t worthy enough , and writing is banned ( so basically like many of those dystopia out there ).

Anywho, my biggest problem with this book like was the prose. When reading a book, I usually don’t pay attention to the writing style, but that was only because it’s never been a problem. As Emily May put it, ¨This is not a dystopia, it is a romance. This is not a novel, it is a collection of similes and metaphors, most of which do not make sense,”. For example:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.

In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

And that’s nice and all until you get to things like:

“I'm oxygen and he's dying to breathe.”   (GAG)

The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I'm so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”  ( do you really, though ? )

“His eyes are two buckets of rainwater: deep, fresh, clear. Hurt.”

“My body is a carnivorous flower, a poisonous houseplant, a loaded gun with a million triggers and he's more than ready to fire.” ( ??????????)
"Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch." ( This actually makes no sense )

“Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never, ever sleeps.”

AND THERE’S MORE. I’m not exaggerating when I say there is more of this than there is plot. If I ever meet this author, I’d like to remind her that she is writing a YA fantasy novel, not some try-hard poetry book.

Another problem I had were the characters and the storyline. The story starts out with an imprisoned Juliette describing her time at the asylum until this new guy Adam moves in. Soon after, Juliette is bailed out and it turns out Adam has been working with the “bad guys” this whole time. Except he, “unlike” the rest of the “bad guys” * COUGH COUGH WALTER*, doesn’t hate her at all. Despite barely knowing each other ( other than being in the same class in the fifth grade or whatever excuse Mafi used ), they are under the belief that they  are“completely in love” and run off together from the “bad guys”.

Little did they know.

And remember how I said her touch is fatal? Conveniently, the only two people that rule doesn't apply to are the love interests, and there are no explanations as to why. Then again I didn’t finish the book so maybe it was in there...Honestly, it was just another really stupid excuse by Mafi to include the romance and the love triangle.

Walter, a “big baddie” ( these quotations are very deliberate by the way )  who tries to make Juliette’s life a “living hell” by forcing her to use her powers on him, plays one of the love interests. As a character in novel, he’s rather empty. Like, in other books, the girl gets to know the guy yada yada yada and the relationship is deliberate. Here, it’s like Mafi added in this guy last minute and was like “ hey just be the bad boy Juliette falls in love with and the fans will be all over you,”. And Walter isn’t even like those bad boy YA characters that you kinda just fall in love with in other YA; no - Walter is a psychotic stupid excuse of a villain-turned-lover. You know something is wrong when you’re kinda rooting for the bad guys side in a book.

Last but not least, what is this author’s deal with crossing things out????? I’m guessing she thought it made her book look more poetic but for me, it was a nuisance.

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back”

“His lips soften into a smile that cracks apart my spine. He repeats my name like the word amuses him. Entertains him. Delights him.

In seventeen years no one has said my name like that”

I guarantee this book will actually make you go crazy, for better or worse ( though I cannot possibly see the former being true .) I checked out all three books in the series from the library with genuine expectations for this book.  I heard the making a tv show out of it *HELP US GOD*. I’m hoping it will be better to watch than to read, though I highly doubt it.

Check it out at the library ( I recommend one book at a time ) and goodreads :


Saleena's reviews 11/14/17

Feeding my biography love is this fun graphic novel on the life of Agatha Christie, nicely done and well researched.  I found a lot of thing...