MOVIE TRAILER: The Sun is Also a Star

A lot of you may have already seen this, but the trailer for The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon dropped yesterday. You’ll have to tell me what you think since I haven’t actually read the book myself yet…

So….what do you guys think? Does it look like it’s going to be as good as the book (which I’ve only heard good things about)? Do you think they chose the right people to play the main characters? I, personally, love an Asian actor as the romantic male lead–I know that wasn’t really a casting decision since I think the character was written as Asian, but still.

And this is probably your last chance to purchase the book before the movie tie-in version is everywhere.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Let me know what your reaction is in the comments!

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Probably the weirdest scavenger hunt ever | In the Hope of Memories by Olivia Rivers [ARC]

In the Hope of MemoriesHope knows that she’s dying, but before she does, she wants to make sure her friends receive one last gift: a scavenger hunt. Erik, Aiden, Kali, and Sam are all thrown together on this crazy adventure and they’re not sure exactly what Hope is trying to do. As they make their way through the scavenger hunt’s various tasks, they’ll learn something about themselves, their relationship with each other, and even some things about Hope.

TL;DR – Unlikable characters and an unbelievable plot make this book hard to read despite its great premise.

What a gorgeous cover, amiright? Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. I thought the premise was so promising! I love scavenger hunts and so I was excited to read this book, but at the end of the day, I was let down. My issue with this book mainly centers around the characters and the plot. First, I felt the plot was completely unbelievable. These four teenagers pretty much just take off to New York for a few days and then face almost no repercussions when they get back. And also, the scavenger hunt was EXTREMELY HARD. I literally have no idea how they were able to solve any clue.

The characters themselves were super flat and felt inconsistent. We get narrations from all four of the main characters, but I still didn’t feel myself connecting with or really liking any of them. When it was their turn to narrate, they were okay, but then from everyone else’s perspectives they were complete butts. It’s hard for me to figure out which perspective is the real character and they were all annoying anyway.

I thought the writing was pretty good, though, and I did enjoy wandering around New York City. I definitely would like to visit a few of those places. This book also includes a lot of diversity–each character kind of has their own thing going.

Overall, I just thought this book was too unbelievable. Hope is portrayed as being this perfect person with literally no faults (except for her penchant for graffiti, but even that isn’t so bad). I think the book would have been better if just one aspect of it had been more believable: 1) The characters weren’t so flat, 2) An easier scavenger hunt, 3) Hope was less perfect. Any of those things, I think, would have made the book more enjoyable for me.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cyberbullying in a strange, future New York | The Takedown by Corrie Wang [ARC]

The TakedownKyle is a queen bee. She and her three best friends are the most popular girls in school. On top of that, she’s also on track to be school valedictorian and is working to get into all of her top choices for college. But all of that comes crashing down when a video is leaked of her having sex with her English teacher. Except…it’s not her. As the video goes viral, Kyle watches everything she’s built come crashing down. Nobody believes that it’s not her in the video, so it’s up to Kyle to prove that somebody’s out to get her.

This book first came to my attention because one of my favorite authors (Ryan Graudin) has been raving about it. Unfortunately, I found it to be pretty disappointing. First off, the setting is this really strange, future New York but it’s not really apparent that we’re in the future until a few chapters in. Was it necessary for the book to be set in the future? I don’t really think so. It just made it confusing because I had to learn about a completely new set of technology, social media, etc. And the way they talk was also really strange. It’s like…they would swear, but without the vowels? It was just super weird–I don’t actually think the English language is going to evolve like that.

Kyle, the main character, is not likable. I didn’t feel sympathy towards her or bad for her in any way. She just wasn’t likable and she didn’t really experience any growth. So if that was the goal, then the author definitely accomplished that. But if it wasn’t, then I think she needs to rethink how she¬†writes her characters in the future. Kyle was just really entitled and selfish the whole book. She’s so focused on “me me me me me me” that she doesn’t notice anything that the people around her are doing. Her life is crashing down and she feels like everyone around her needs to be worrying about that as much, if not MORE, than she is.

The secondary characters were just okay. I didn’t really like any of them more than I liked Kyle. I also didn’t like that her brother was also named Kyle. The author gave a reason for that and I understand why it was “necessary” for the plot, but…just no. Figure out another way to accomplish that plot point because having a brother and a sister both named Kyle is just too weird and confusing.

The plot was also just okay. I’ve read a lot of books that are supposed to be a type of mystery, but there’s no way for the reader to solve it on their own. I’d like to read a book where the reader can take an active role in solving the mystery along with the characters. As it is, most books that involve a mystery just expect readers to sit back and enjoy the ride. This book was no different. Sure, there were clues. But in the end, there was really no way for the reader to decide who the “bad guy” was with any certainty. We just don’t get all of the facts until the very end. We’re left trailing the main character instead of working alongside them.

Overall, I was disappointed by this book. There were too many elements that just weren’t working for me. That being said, this book does have a rating of 4.03 on Goodreads, so take my review with a grain of salt I guess. I didn’t like it very much, but you might still enjoy it.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Heavy. Nothing very explicit, but this book is all about a sex tape so it’s talked about a lot.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 3 – Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Terrible Typhoid MaryTitle: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: 980

Mary Mallon was just a cook in New York City but unbeknownst to her, she was a living carrier of the disease Typhoid. Before doctors caught up with her she’d already been the cause of outbreaks in several families that she had worked for. When she refused treatment, she was “arrested” quarantined on a remote island. The case of Typhoid Mary has been a confusing one for years as other living carriers did not suffer similar fates and were generally allowed to live with their families. Mary alone was unjustly villain-ized by the local media at the time. With her name splashed across headlines and her new nickname, “Typhoid Mary”, Mary Mallon’s reputation was destroyed. This is her story from the beginning, when she is first informed that she is a living carrier, to the end of her life.

To young people, a world where germs are widely thought of as a myth is incomprehensible. Hygiene wasn’t as important and cities were often filthy places where disease was rampant. This book does a great job of helping the reader see the realities of what it was like to live in the 1900’s. Medicine was not nearly as advanced as it is now and a lot of medical treatments and operations were little better than guesswork. I think this book would do great in a display with other books featuring diseases–possible in a Fall or Winter month as cold and flu season is beginning. Here are some other books that could go in the display (both fiction and nonfiction):

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (fiction) – Spanish Influenza
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow (nonfiction) – Typhoid
When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS by James Cross Giblin and David Frampton (nonfiction) – Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (fiction) – Yellow Fever
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain (nonfiction) – Yellow Fever
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks (fiction) – Tuberculosis

Four Teens, One Lightning Bolt | The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies [ARC]

The Odds of LightningTiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will all used to be friends–they called themselves the “Science Club”–but everything changed for them the summer before they started high school. Now, they barely even speak or acknowledge each other .Tiny and Lu say that they’re¬†“best friends” but they don’t really act like it. Will calls Nathaniel whenever he needs someone to study with and no one else is around. The night before the SATs they all happen to be at the same¬†party celebrating the “Stormpocalypse”. They find themselves on the roof where they are inevitably struck by lightning and something about each of them changes. As they travel across New York City in a quest to change themselves back to normal, they’ll learn some things about friendship and what it truly means to be yourself.

First of all, I appreciate that each of the characters are individuals. The narrative alternates between each of the four main characters and between the present and the summer before high school started. They each had distinctive voices which made the book more interesting to read. With that being said, I do think that the characters seemed a little immature for how old they were supposed to be. Or…maybe not too immature, but there wasn’t much of a difference between the characters in the “Then” sections versus the “Now” sections. They’ve been separated for three years and the author doesn’t really show the reader how those years have changed each of the characters. Sure, we’re told that Nathaniel is now super studious and Will is a stud when he used to be a chub, but we’re only told these things. We’re not really shown in the narrative how these changes have effected them. Perhaps this is why I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t not enjoy the book, but I had a hard time bringing myself back to it after I’d put it down for the day.

The plot was a tad unbelievable, but perhaps that was the point. I couldn’t help but think things like “Okay, it’s like two in the morning and there’s still a Sweet Sixteen party going on? In the middle of an epic storm?” Stuff like that just kind of took me out of the story. I understand why the book was set in the middle of the night in the middle of an epic storm, but it made some other elements of the story hard for me to buy. I also could have done without the science-y element of the story. Again, I understand why it was included, but every time the characters tried to explain something about it I just found myself scratching my head. It honestly didn’t make very much sense to me and I would have had an easier time buying a magical explanation than the scientific one given.

One thing I really liked about the book was the setting. I feel that the author was able to really capture New York City in the middle of a massive storm. This book made me want to fly over there and start exploring the city right away. I liked that we got to see a lot of different parts of the city through the eyes of these characters who have lived there their whole lives and the entire storm made everything feel very atmospheric.

Overall, I thought this book had a really promising premise, but the execution was lacking in some ways. While it has a strong conclusion, everything before that was a little jumbled like perhaps the author was trying to do too much.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan [Audiobook]

Dash is perusing the bookshelves of one of his favorite bookstores when he finds a notebook. Inside, the notebook contains a set of instructions. As he follows the instructions, he begins to wonder about the girl who wrote them. He decides to join her in this game of dares. As the notebook travels between Dash and Lily, they both become more and more curious about the person on the other side of the pen. Is it friendship? Is it love? Or are they just two people who only get along when they’re writing to each other?

I thought the narrators for this book were AWESOME. I’d 7741325seriously listen to any other books that they’ve read and I wouldn’t even care what they were. Their voices were PERFECT for the characters. Dash was interesting and serious while Lily was sassy and fun. I think having the different narrators and having the book written by two authors really made each character’s voice stand out during their chapters. It was great. I liked that Dash was sarcastic. He had this really dry sense of humor that cracked me up. Lily was awesome too! I don’t know if it was the reader, but she sounded really confident in herself and I liked that. It’s not often where you get a lead female protagonist who just feels confident, you know? A lot of times they’re second guessing themselves and obsessing over their crush. Lily was very refreshing.

I’ll admit, there were some things that I had a hard time suspending my belief over. Like, how in the world to Dash and Lily have so many connections? Every time they pass the notebook back and forth I’m just like, “No way. How do they know someone who can do this for them?” That was really the only negative about this book though (that and a little too much language for my taste). As I said earlier, the two main characters were great and the secondary ones were awesome too. I loved Lily’s family. I thought they were so fun and friendly and obviously in love with Lily.

Overall, it was so much fun to listen to. I’m not sure how it reads, but if you can get the voices right in your head, I’m sure it’s great. Also, it was kind of fun reading about Christmas during a summer road trip!

Overall Rating: 4
Violence: Mild
Language: Moderate. Some strong language (mostly confined to Dash’s chapters with one exception).
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate