Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre


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Title: Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter
Author: Carmen Aguirre
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Pages: 277
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Year Published: 2011
Format: Paperback Copy (Own It)
First Line: "As my mother bit into her Big Mac, her glasses caught the reflection of a purple neon light somewhere behind me."

"A gripping, darkly comic first-hand account of a young underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile.

On September 11, 1973, a violent coup removed Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, from office. Thousands were arrested, tortured and killed under General Augusto Pinochet's repressive new regime. Soon after the coup, six-year-old Carmen Aguirre and her younger sister fled the country with their parents for Canada and a life of exile.

In 1978, the Chilean resistance issued a call for exiled activists to return to Latin America. Most women sent their children to live with relatives or with supporters in Cuba, but Carmen's mother kept her precious girls with her. As their mother and stepfather set up a safe house for resistance members in La Paz, Bolivia, the girls' own double lives began. At eighteen, Carmen herself joined the resistance. With conventional day jobs as a cover, she and her new husband moved to Argentina to begin a dangerous new life of their own.

This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the eventful decade from 2979 to 2989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet's Chile. Writing with passion and deep personal insight, Carmen captures her constant struggle to reconcile her commitment to the movement with the desires of her youth and her budding sexuality. 'Something Fierce' is a gripping story of love, war and resistance and a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life."

My Rating: 4/5

I've always had trouble rating no fiction reads because who am I to rate someone else's opinions, life or memories. I'm not someone who can do that so the number rating that you see above is based purely on my enjoyment of the writing style and approach. I think that this Carmen Aguirre does a great job of giving a huge over lay during a difficult time in South America as well as a difficult time in her life. That being said at some points in this book I had to take a break from reading, to get caught up with the idea that she had moved to another country, or it had been a large gap of time. Still, she has a unique perspective since she was directly involved in the revolution, after being involved with her family. I think that this book is an important read, especially if you're like me and don't know a lot about historical happenings. It really opened my eyes to the struggles of those in Latin America, as well as helped me to understand things that I'd heard as a child but did not understand. My family would listen to the news and I remember hearing things about protests in the streets in the south, but I didn't really remember anything else about it. I'm very privileged to lead the life I do, and this book has inspired me to reach out those for those who can't. I hope to read more nonfiction in the future, especially on serious matters.

Thanks for reading,

Sidny


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


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Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series/Standalone: Shatter Me (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Pages: 338
Publisher: Harper
Year Published: 2011
Format: Hardcover Physical Copy (Own It)
First Line: "I've been locked up for 264 days."

"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.

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior."

My Rating: 4.5/5

So this was a book a pulled out of my most anticipated reads tbr jar and I'm glad that it didn't disappoint. This first installment did such a wonderful job of setting up the world, introducing the characters and starting us on what appears to be an action packed adventure. Tahereh Mafi's writing style is beautiful and flowing, but still manages to shock the reader with the idea of this dystopian world. Based on other's opinions of the third book in this series (did you guys know we're expecting 3 more), I'm curious to see how the writing changes and how the story unfolds. I can't wait to get to the rest of the series and hope to order the rest of the books soon.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: Shatter Me by Taereh Mafi

So as per usual I'm the last one on the hype train, and at this point maybe the only one. But hot damn this was a really fun read. I caught myself remembering how I started reading dystopian and how much I enjoyed them Tahereh Mafi's writing style is so lyrical and beautiful but also gets the reader to the point. I think that the way the main characters thoughts are crossed out throughout this book is also an interesting aspect and I wonder where this will take us in the upcoming novels. I know that people either really love this series or they really hate it and that makes me nervous, but it's also nerve wracking that I thought this series was over but apparently 3 more books are coming out. I'm not panicking at all. 

Characters:
Juliette: She is an interesting main character to hear from someone who has been in captivity while the world has literally fallen apart around her. For her to remember the world as we know it and see it go to shit so quickly.  She also has the interesting experience of neglect based on "what" she is. To see her able to touch another person was amazing, but to quickly realise that she could touch both Warner and Adam made me worried. Also what else is she capable of. Anyone else get Rogue from X-Men vibes.

Adam: Am I the only one who has read this first book and thought that this guy was too good to be true? I understand that they knew each other in the past, but they never even spoke. It doesn't make sense to me how they can feel so much for each other in such a short amount of time. Especially under such crazy circumstances.

Warner: He's also crazy, but like in the need to be locked up for stalking kind of way. Too freaking bad The Reestablishment is for in the most part in control. I wonder how he will hold on to power after he loses Juliette and what will happen to him once his father finds out. Also what is his past like? Is that what the novellas are about? Ugh so many questions, not yet enough cash to purchase the books.

James: This kid has seen too damn much for his tender young age of 10. And if Adam's power is to not be influenced by Juliette's touch does that mean that James has a power. I wonder how his life in the Omega Compound will change in comparison to what he's known.

Kenji: Who the hell is this guy? And I'm also getting super Red Queen vibes so that means my favorite series might have borrowed this, which was to be expected but also is helping me to enjoy this story line with powers even more.


Moments to Remember:
Final Line: "I'm ready."

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Series/Standalone: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Book #1)
Pages: 359
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 2012
Format: Audiobook

"Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship- the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be."

My Rating: 4.5/5

This book really blew me out of the water. I was expecting a short little contemporary that wasn't overly hard hitting and here I was going out for walks to have an excuse to listen to the audiobook. The characters in this story are incredible and the author touches on so many important topics without having the reader feel that things are getting bogged down. The story is so important for young readers. It asks readers so many questions about who they are and how they want to be. I also think that the fact that this story takes place in the past makes the story that much more lovable. I can't wait to read the companion novel and pick up a physical copy of this book. It seems like a great book to reread every summer..

Thanks for reading,
Sidny




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: It Wasn't Always Like This by Joy Preble


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Title: It Wasn't Always Like This
Author: Joy Preble
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical
Pages: 245
Publisher: Soho Teen
Year Published: 2016
Format: Hardcover Copy (Own It)
First Line: "It was gone."

"In 1916, Emma O'Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island of St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging- as do the Ryan's, her family's business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she's in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O'Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder- Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives.

On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the founding members of the Church of Light and their descendants. Over the years, a series of murders- whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her- indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma's hope for finding the boy she's certain is still out there..."


My Rating: 4/5

So this book wasn't at all what I expected. I couldn't remember what it was about and since it was so short I refused to read the description.  And I was very impressed with how well this short book completed the story. Overall I really enjoyed it. I will say that I didn't like some aspects of the characters, but other than that I found the mystery theme that took place throughout the book interesting. I also really enjoyed the idea of how living forever might make someone feel. I hope to read more works by this author. I would recommend this for lovers of crime shows and historical fiction.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Spoiler: It Wasn't Always Like This by Joy Preble

So this book is a perfect weekend read. I think that the author did a tremendous job of completing a story about lovers, time travel and mystery all in under 250 pages. The interesting part of this novel for me was how many time jumps their are as well as, perspectives.  The setting was ever changing and completely interesting, it really helped to keep the story flowing throughout the time jumps.

Characters:
Emma: I found her character to be frustrating near the middle of the book. For some reason her attempts to play at real life, and then her diving into her life as a PI made me wonder about what else someone might do in her scenario. It just seemed like some things she got to easy,,, that is other than Charlie. I enjoyed that the author didn't make her seem pure, and holding on for Charlie 100%. Because she does find company, and people she can spend time with, but she always has him on the mind.

Charlie: This ass hole left her on her own. After losing her family, and being scared half to death of what was happening to her, he decided that she would be better on her own. The didn't take the time to think it out (oh to be 17), or to talk it over (damn angry mobs). I did think that his life took a far more interesting turn than hers though, overall. What with the wars and what not.

Pete: I liked this guy. He was a real trooper, and believed the unbelievable, which is really expecting a lot from a guy.

Kingsley: Makes you wonder how many cons he pulled on how many innocent people. What a sick freak?

Frank: Kind of creepy, but overall good.

Art: Kind of naive, but cared for his family overall.


Moments to Remember:
Final Lines: "Charlie held out his arms, and she closed the distance between them."

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid


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Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Series/Standalone: The Diabolic (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 2016
Format: Physical Hardback (Own It)
First Line: "Everyone believed Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear."

"Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force; the one thing she's been told she doesn't have- humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her Sidonia, and the entire Empire."

My Rating: 3.75/5

I know that I thought I'd never give a funky star rating like this but I've grown as a person. I thought that this book was really interesting. The premise was really interesting to me. The idea of using genetically modified humans for different purposes is something that frightens me but also makes me curious about the future. I think that this author did an interesting thing by starting the story in the "breeding corrals" (I'm shuddering just having to type that). I also enjoyed the political aspect of this story. But in between that this story did a lot of info dumping and I just wasn't enjoying that part of the story. It was a lot to remember and a lot to put into a first book. I also thought that this book did a strange thing with pacing. I felt like no time had passed, but in reality, the book took place over quite a long period of time. So overall I enjoyed the idea and the characters, but the execution just fell a little tiny bit flat for me. That being said, I'm curious about the next book in the series that comes out in October. So if I see it and still remember the majority of the story, I will probably pick it up.

Thanks for reading,
SIdny


Spoiler: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

So this book has taken me a hell of a long time to get into. I read about 10 pages a day for a week before I forced myself to sit down and read today. And overall I enjoyed this book. I think that the author has an interesting concept, a unique setting and wonderful characters. This being said, I think this book did a lot of info dumping. Throughout I just felt like there was so much for me to take in in such a small amount of time. I also didn't appreciate how fast the rebellion seemed to work out. I would have appreciated it spread out just a little bit more. Maybe continuing to the next book.


Characters:
Sidonia: She was naive and sweet, but it makes you wonder what she might have become in a different situation. Would she still be so loving to "creatures"? Or would she be hard and callous like so many around her? I was sad to see her go but didn't grieve her as much the second time to be completely honest with you. 

Nemesis: The author touches on an important topic, what makes us human? And can we change certain things to disturb this humanity? I don't know the answers but I liked how the author tackled this topic with Nemesis. I also enjoyed watching her discover her humanity, along with realizing that fear is sadly natural. I think that she will be more than a little shell shocked in the next book and we'll see how the Empire views people like her in their society.

Tyrus: I don't know how I feel about him, at first I was all in and loved him. Now I'm thinking I should be more cautious. He will make an interesting leader. A cunning one for sure.

The Emperor: He was a sick freak, but none the less a puppet. 

Elantra: She wasn't going to make it far. Let's be honest she was an evil girl, who liked to flaunt what other's didn't have. She reminded me a lot of Evangeline in the Red Queen series

Cygna: So incredibly manipulative. I wonder what else would have happened if she had her way. 


Moments to Remember:
Final Line: "Whatever lay ahead, it would always be the two of us above the rest of the universe, and woe to any who dared step in our path."

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: Tarnish by Katherine Longshore


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Title: Tarnish
Author: Katherine Longshore
Series/Standalone: Royal Circle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 448
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 2013
Format: Audiobook

"Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court- and to convince the whole court they're lovers- she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice- but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history."

My Rating: 3.5/5

Ok, so while listening to this book on audio, I couldn't help but realise that I don't know a whole hell of a lot about King Henry VIII. I knew that he kept decapitating women who didn't bear him a son, but other than that I wasn't sure the details about his life and rule. I was intrigued by the idea of the Boelyn's and was interested in our main character Anne throughout the story. That being said, I found myself getting frustrated with her choices, possibly because I knew her fate. This being said, the character is an interesting one, especially because she was a character who spoke her mind... even when she shouldn't. In this time period that would be unheard of.  That being said, I don't plan to continue with the book series (or the books connected to this one). Ps. I don't think that there will be a spoiler for this review, based on my rating and the content, I just don't think I have enough spoiler details to fill one post.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley


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Title: Highly Illogical Behavior
Author: John Corey Whaley
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Pages: 250
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Health
Year Published: 2016
Format: Audiobook


"Sixteen-year-old Solomon is an agoraphobic. He hasn't left the house in three years, where is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she's being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to 'fix' Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they've built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same."

My Rating: 4/5

I got this audiobook when I found out it included mental health elements as well as an LGBT main character. These are two things that when represented in YA either go over very well or poorly with an audience. I really enjoyed this book overall. It definitely has some anxiety triggers which should be anticipated based on our main characters illness. I think that this novel did a great job of showing how people with a mental illness feel and how those around them might feel. It really encompassed what panic feels like and how panic can affect a person's everyday life. It also did an interesting job in speaking about the idea of "fixing" someone which a lot of people agree is not the way to think of helping people with mental health. As someone who has both known people with mental health problems and has experienced them herself, it was frustrating to have the idea that one character planned on fixing someone, but throughout the novel you see a different approach taken towards someone who might need help.

Thanks for reading,
Sidny