Saturday, April 19, 2014

PolarityPolarity by Susan Meraki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

~I received this book for free from Susan Meraki through Goodreads. These opinions are my own~

Polarity is over 300 pages long, and every page makes a huge contribution towards what unfolds to be a well thought-out, thought provoking story.

I'll be vague at the beginning of this review, and leave content that may contain spoilers until the end, for people reading this that haven't read the book yet. Usually I can write a review without referring to specific plot points, but with this novel, there were some genius moments that I must react to individually.

I will say that the best part about the book is that it leads you to interpret the events a certain way, when they are, in truth, the complete opposite. You see characters and are only shown tidbits of their actions at a time, and often are left to guess at their motives. That is beautifully done, because it leaves the reader to search for small details that may lead them to the story's outcome, and even then, they can't be sure. For instance, you are introduced to two extremes of a sense referred to as 'polarity' and immediately want to dictate which side is 'good' and which side is 'evil.' When you think you have discovered the answer to this, you realize that actions you thought had good motives behind them, actually were quite contrary.

There are several places with slight errors, such as a sentence feeling incomplete, like, for example, "After grabbing her bag to make sure she had her notebook and pens." But there are only a few of these instances, and they do not heavily impact the reading experience.

As far as characters go, there was a strong variety of colorful personalities that are revealed throughout the narrative. Though the protagonist, Susie, could be seen as a "Mary Sue" character, I feel that this was an intentional choice; when you first meet her, she is supposed to be a girl trapped in a rather dull life, who won't allow anything in her life to be out of place. However, she is a dynamic character who, through her experiences with characters like Dan, grows into a person who strives to stop suppressing her true personality.

(view spoiler)

I was very happy at the open ending, which suggests a sequel. I am eager to read it as soon as it is released, and, in the meantime, will be recommending Polarity to several friends of mine. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this novel!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dallas Lalone: In Our Words

Dallas Lalone: In Our WordsDallas Lalone: In Our Words by Jodi R. Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book from Jodi R. Moore to review. A review of her other book, Let's Face It, can be found here:

Dallas Lalone: In Our Words, is a young adult novel about three girls, Ashley, Lauren, and Hannah, each learning to overcome their individual struggles. At the beginning of the book, Ashley is suffering from an injury that impedes her ability to participate in dancing, which is her passion. Lauren's parents are considering a divorce due to drama in the media about Lauren's father, a famous director, rumors of a presumable affair. Hannah is lacking confidence of her abilities and interests, and in turn is struggling to deal with bullying from her peers. The girls happen to meet over Thanksgiving break, when, upon meeting, Hannah introduces Ashley and Lauren to videos of her favorite YouTuber, Dallas Lalone. Throughout the rest of the book , through their friendship and shared interest in Dallas, the girls learn to cope with their circumstances.

It is amazing that this book encourages girls to look to their friends for support rather than do what so many teens are pressured to do- put out a false image of themselves in order to gain validation from others. Young girls need to know that the best way to have an enjoyable and satisfying middle and high school years is to stop stifling their real selves and spend time with people who don't force them to hide.

The novel is written in a simple style, almost like short journal entries from each of our protagonists. While each girl has individual quirks and interests, their voice in writing is almost uniform, which might be something to look at. For interest, in Let's Face It, Kaylin was intelligent and witty, so both characteristics clearly came across from her as the speaker of the book. It might have added to the personalities and relatability of the girls if they had each written a bit differently.

I found this book to be a simple, positive read, likely geared towards younger girls who have anxieties about putting themselves out there and embracing their unique talents, even those they didn't know they had. I am grateful for the opportunity to read this book and will likely pass it along to my younger cousin in a few years.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kashimashi Vol 1Kashimashi Vol 1 by Satoru Akahori
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book as a Christmas gift, as I'm up to read pretty much any shoujo manga I can get my hands on. I needed a new one to read, so this seemed good enough.

Let' s just say... it was interesting. Like most mangas, it only took me a couple hours in total to complete. The story was about a boy named Hazumu, who takes notice of all the beauty around him and is even told by one of the three main characters, Yasuna, that he has "the power to make the world beautiful". He has always been thought of as a bit feminine and fragile, and has been picked on since childhood. His childhood friend, Tomari, has always acted as sort of a body guard for him, in the process secretly developing feelings for him. One night, after being rejected by Yasuna when he finally had the guts to ask her out, he runs off to the mountains. Then, BOOM! He is squashed by an alien spaceship. That' s where the story starts to get really bizarre.

The aliens reconstruct his body, but for they accidentally make him a girl. For some unexplained reason, this is irreversible. Oops. And if what has happened so far isn't unrealistic enough, everyone around Hazumu starts acting like he/she can just automatically adjust to this change. All the guys around her, including her former best guy friend, suddenly start acting like HUGE perverts, and both of the girls that used to have a crush on him are just plain shocked, but still sort of forcing her to become girlish. Her parents are oddly delighted about the accident, and seem hardly concerned about Hazumu's feelings. These are some of the many reasons why I found that the plot didn't really fit together, or make sense.

It was an interesting idea for a story I guess; a guy suddenly being forced into the confusion of being a teenage girl. But, all said and done, it just wasn't something that worked. At least not for me. In a way, it was interesting, or at least enough so that I read to the end, but I don't think I would recommend it to anybody. It was just too unrealistic for me, with too many unexplained concepts that were just forced on the reader.

Maybe someone else would enjoy this type of story,it just wasn't one for me, other than to occupy a few lazy hours of my day.

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Just a Little CrushJust a Little Crush by Tracie Puckett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I found this ebook, I was looking for a short, young adult sort of romance story. I wanted something that would catch my attention and keep me occupied, but at the same time be an easy read that I could recommend to my friends. That's exactly what I found in Just a Little Crush.

It didn't take very long to read, but at the same time it had a developed storyline, that was both unique and believable. You meet this teen that has been struck hard by the death of her parents, and becoming aware that she needs to face what' s been troubling her. She has to shadow a handsome young police officer as part of a school assignment, and naturally, being underneath it all a hormonal teenager, she starts to fall for him. The officer isn't a perfect Prince Charming, known for his snide remarks and straight-to-the-point attitude, but come on, who doesn't get tired of YA stories always having "perfect" guys. His unique personality just added to the story in my opinion.

All that being said, I do have a few criticisms. For me, I would have to say that the relationship developed a smidge too quickly. I mean, it wasn't long after they met each other that they started recognizing each other's feelings outside of the assignment at hand. One second they'd be arguing, then the next they' d be walking in a forest, hand in hand (literally). But I didn't see this to be a HUGE take-away from the story, as by the end, I wasn't ready to stop reading. I didn't really feel like the story should be over quite yet, which is probably partly due to the short length of the story. But I do feel like it ended smoothly, rather than just crashing to an end abruptly. Of course, there are also the other books in the series, which I look forward to reading. This is definitely a story that leaves you wanting more!

At first, I wasn't sure if I should take the time to read such a short story, that seemed like it couldn't possibly amount to anything in Just 80-something pages. But once you read the story, you' ll see that it really does.

Just a Little Crush is a quick, feel-good read with a unique plot and believable characters that add up to story that is definitely worth your time!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Touching Spirit Bear

Touching Spirit Bear (Spirit Bear, #1)Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Touching Spirit Bear is one of those books that you pick up in the early afternoon because you don't have anything else to do, but then you get so lost in the plot that you can't go to sleep until 1 a.m., when you've read it cover to cover. It had been way too long since I had read another book like that.

This book was already one that I was going to have to read for a class, but since the reading is at our own pace, I decided to get a head-start. At first, the title bothered me. This story was going to be deep, I could tell that, so my first thought was- BORING! But first impressions are usually incorrect, and it wasn't long into the story that I realized that was the case. As you can tell from the synopsis, the story is about a juvenile delinquent, who was forced to choose between jail and time on an Alaskan island. He chooses the island, but gets way more than he bargained for, with a bear encounter he will remember forever. Whenever the main character of a story has some spunk,you're in for an interesting, and quite humorous story. Humor between Cole, his parole officer Garvey,and the Tinglit Indian, Edwin, keeps the story light enough through all of the heavy themes discussed. I found myself laughing out loud at times.

At the beginning of the story, Cole is stubborn, and thinks his manipulating people is the only way for him to keep power. Throughout the book, however, though the Indian rituals that he used to mock, he learns things like how false that power really is. If you're looking for an example of a dynamic character, Cole definitely fits the bill. I won't say how, but by the end of the story, you can definitely tell a difference.

This book is very gruesome at times. Keep in mind that Cole gets mauled by a bear and is taking desperate measures to stay alive. But I don't think that this is anything that even, say, a ten year old couldn't handle, so don't let it stop you from reading it! It doesn't take away from the story at all, and if anything it supports how Cole is feeling. If this doesn't make any since now, just trust me. It will when you read the book.

I will be honest and say that as a teenager, this year I have found very few books that I would spend my whole day reading, and have trouble putting down. Most were a chore to read at times, and I would gladly take the end of a chapter as an opportunity to take a break from it for a while. With this book, I would see that I was on chapter 9, then next thing I know I'm starting chapter 17! And these were pretty reasonably-sized chapters.

Coming out of reading this book, I can definitely say it was a feel-good one. Though there were many trails Cole had to face, you find yourself proud of what he accomplishes, and wonder if the island could do anything in your life. It's one of those books that you have a hard time imagining viewing the world the same way afterwards. I am so glad I was required to read Touching Spirit Bear, because I'm almost positive I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. It's one of those books that you just wish you could show everyone. I didn't know how much I needed one of those books until I read it. And I'm so glad I did.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flightless Goose by Eric D. Goodman

  Truly heartwarming story about goose named Gilbert, who learned to live with a terrible injury, even though it made him different.  With the help of his friend Charlie, a little boy that is also physically impaired, he becomes the biggest hero of all.  I think this uplifting story has all a children's book needs.  The copy I have came with a CD, where the story really comes to life, with the perfect readers and vivid sound effects.  My younger cousins kept begging me to play it again so they could here the "creepy" part with the bad guys.  But not only were they entertained by it, but I could really tell that they understood the valuable message being told.  So really, the way the theme is presented is wonderful to help young children grasp the lesson.  In this way, I feel like it would be a great resource for a guidance counselor to use when teaching a lesson about bullying or diversity, without the ideas feeling forced.  It would also simply be a good babysitter's companion, to keep the kids busy.  So I give this a 5, for the illustrations, CD, and most importantly, the essential message of the story, that you can thrive even with your differences, and overcome whatever is holding you back, because that can make you stronger!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Voyage On The Great Titanic (Dear America)Voyage On The Great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

     The story of the Titanic has been told in many ways, from many perspectives. Yet, no matter how many times I hear the testimony of a survivor, their stories of love, and loss, I can't help but be pulled in by the haunting event. This book brought tears to my eyes, and made me feel for Margaret, because by the end of the book, I felt like I really knew her. For an author to create a character that makes you feel that way, is just amazing!

      This book is not long, or complex, but it contains the intriguing story of a girl who by chance, gets the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime on the Titanic, which, of course, takes a turn for the worst. You see the luxury and beauty of the Titanic through the eyes of a girl who would never have dreamed of gaining passage on it, especially not on First Class. This story has the perfect mix of humor, a surprising dash of romance, and sadly, when it came to it, tragedy. And it was so realistic!

      I've been reading books from the Dear America and Dear America Royal series for years, and they will not stop striking me with their historical charm and feeling of girl power in every story. Two thumbs up to Ellen Emerson White, who continually amazed me in this tear-jerking spin on the mysterious tragedy that affected so many.

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