ARC Review: They Both Die In the End by Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die in the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication: September 5, 2017

Publisher: HarperTeen

Description: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.


I received They Both Die in the End at Bookcon after waiting over an hour at Adam Silvera’s book signing. Needless to say, it was worth the wait.

Adam is as great a writer as he is a person. Not only is he extremely talented, he makes his readers feel important to him. He is a high-quality writer AND person.

The story has a unique premise. It focuses on the “live as if you were dying” motto. The story begins with the characters receiving a call from a company called Deathcast. Ultimately, the company’s job is to inform ‘Deckers’, the stories term for people about to die, that their time on earth will be ending in less than a day. Because of this call, the characters are faced with an internal conflict: do they live out their final day or do they try to stay away from harm? Throughout the story, readers begin to reflect on this question as well. How would you live if you knew you were dying in less than twenty-four hours?

The world that Silvera builds is descriptive and thought out. Silvera explains Deathcast vividly to give readers an image of what it represents. Silvera, also, explains the world’s viewpoint on Deathcast and Deckers. He explains the perks that Deckers receive on their last day. These perks include simulators that give Deckers a safe alternative to experiencing life’s thrills and, more importantly, an app that allows you to find a friend who will help you live out your final day.

Not only does Silvera build the world in a flawless way, he creates the story effortlessly through characters. The story is told through more than just Mateo and Rufus’ point of view. It is also told by members of their families and other people they do not know that contribute to their story. Because of the various points of view, the story has more dimension.

My favorite character of the story was Mateo. Even though at times he was way too afraid of living out his final day (but, I mean, who wouldn’t be afraid when they are guaranteed death), he was the character who I felt more attached to. He truly cared for his dad and his friend. The story revolving around them was emotional and at times made me cry. He made the story has a deep impact on its readers.

My least favorite character was surprising Rufus. At first, I felt he was obsessive over his ex-girlfriend. He was too aggressive. In my opinion, he was not a great character. I did not feel any emotions toward that character.

Overall, it was an incredible story. It made me feel every emotion. I cried, I laughed, I just was an emotional mess. I highly recommend this story!

 

ARC Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

TitleTop Ten

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Description: Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?


Top Ten

I had high hopes for this book. Top Ten had everything going for it. The cover and the synopsis were both captivating and made me wait in a line for over an hour to receive the book. However, the book, though still good, did not live p to my expectations.

top tenn

The cover for Top Ten

Top Ten revolves around the relationship between Gabby and Ryan, two friends best friend. The protagonists both believe a romantic relationship will never come from their friendship. However, after an event that occurs one night, they begin to reconsider this fact while recounting their top ten moments of high school.

Cotugno uses their top ten moments to enlighten readers of the relationship between Gabby and Ryan. This list includes pivotal moments between the protagonists that reveals the history of their friendship. Through the top ten list, we meet character and experience events that have shaped their relationship.

The premise of using the list to portray the characters and their relationships was a clever idea. However, I do not believe it was executed properly. Cotugno incorporated important events into the list to show the history of their friendship. Even though it made sense to add these events to the story, there is no way they would logically be one of their top ten moments. Every single moment that was mentioned ended in a major conflict. One of the characters’ favorite moments resulted in Gabby and Ryan not speaking for five months.

In the beginning of the story, the friendship between Gabby and Ryan appears to be unbreakable. They are referenced to not ever being apart. Also, Gabby constantly states how she does not know if she will be able to survive without Ryan.  However, throughout the story, there are multiple events where Gabby and Ryan are not close or have stopped being friends. Reading through the moments where Ryan and Gabby are not friends makes the statement illogical. Gabby has been without Ryan many times, why would this time be different?

Another flaw is their damaged relationship. The protagonists rarely converse in public which results in Gabby constantly questioning their friendship. In every top ten moments, the friends fight about their difference in lifestyles. Whenever one of the friends doesn’t understand the other’s choices, they get in a massive argument instead of trying to understand the other person. When the characters fight, they choose to say the words that will hurt the other person to an extreme extent. That is not a healthy relationship.

Besides the minor flaws, the novel was written well. The writing style was my favorite aspect of the book. Cotugno has an easy writing style that makes the book a quick read. Overall, I believe that the book could excel without these issues.

 

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

*I received this copy from the author. However, all opinions are my own*

Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Author: Iain Reading

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Date of Publication:November 30th 2012

Publisher:Amazon Digital Publishing

Description: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!


In an attempt to finally beat my reading and reviewing slump (yes, it has been going on since basically the start of junior year), I decided to read the books I have received from authors and publishers to start getting engaged in reading again. Because of this, I picked up Kitty Hawk and the Curse of Yukon Gold to begin my journey back into book blogging. Even though I have not read a more middle grade than young adult novel in a fairly long time, I did enjoy this book and thought that it was a great opening to the series.

First off, I really enjoyed how the author formed Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a great book for young female readers. Kitty Hawk shows a refreshing female main character that attracts readers interested in science and history. She represents someone who is intellectual and has initiative. Overall, she is someone who will help inform young readers of STEM and encourage readers into the field.

Also, I enjoyed how the author began his story. Reading used the opening paragraphs to engage his audience and set up the plot. He effectively helped his audience immerse themselves into the story.

Readers will also enjoy the relationships Reading builds with his characters. He effectively forms the relationships to feel natural which allows readers to relate to them. He makes the characters build around each other and the story.

Despite all the positive attributes that the story obtained, there were various negative aspects. The main one was Kitty Hawk’s internal conversations. In my opinion, I felt they were unnecessary and felt awkward. I believe the author would have created a more effective way of understanding what Kitty was thinking if he just stated her thoughts rather than created a little voice inside her head.

Even though the author has clear knowledge on what he writes about, I believe that he dumps information into the story that is unnecessary. Though some information is great for understanding the plot, too much information may interrupt the plot and ruin the flow of the story. There were times when there were simply just pages of information which made it feel like I was reading a article on the topic instead of the story. Instead, the author should have incorporated small pieces of information inside of the story to inform readers without it feeling like a research paper.

Finally, I believe that the pace felt unsteady at times. There were points in the book that engaged readers and there were other times when the book felt like it was dragging. The book lacked a steady pace which made it frustrating to read in long periods of time.

Overall, I believe the book could be a positive read for middle grade audiences and I believe that it reflects a different type of main character that may interest different readers.

 

Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

*I was granted this ARC by the author but all opinions are my own*

TitleProof of Lies

Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Date of Publication:March 7th, 2017

Publisher:Entangled Teen

Description: Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.


In the first book of Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s upcoming series, she sets the stage for a story of excitement filled with intriguing characters. Proof of Lies gives the series a promising appeal. Also, this series opener allows readers to become immersed in the story that Wallach is creating.

As a reader who mainly focuses on fantasy and contemporary books, I was nervous to read something out of my comfort zone. However, I welcomed Proof of Lies with an open mind and I was pleasantly surprised. Based on this outcome, I believe that Proof of Lies is a great book for all genre-lovers.

The plot of Proof of Lies is different from your stereotypical mystery novel. Instead of the story leading us to the person who is guilty, readers are caught trying to decipher clues through conspiracy theories.

In the beginning, the book has a slower pace which made it hard for me to get interested in. A vast majority of the first half of the novel was detailing of Anastasia’s struggles and feelings which could get tiresome at various points. However, once the plot thickened, the story was addictive. I couldn’t put the book down. Readers will become invested in the story and will be on the edge of their seats while trying to uncover the mystery.

The characters in the story were written in a remarkable way. Wallach has a talent for making her characters dynamic and realistic without damaging how they are perceived by the audience. The main character, Anastasia, was a sympathetic character. Readers learn about her and the struggles that she faces in a deeper way.

Finally, I greatly enjoyed Wallach’s writing style. The author has the ability to naturally tell a story. This talent makes the story feel realistic while entertaining the audience.

Overall, Proof of Lies  is a must read for young adult lovers. Readers will greatly appreciate this debut to the series. I believe that this story will create a massive franchise. I cannot wait to see what is left for Wallach to create.

A.R.C. Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

*All opinions stated in this review are my own*

TitleHolding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication:October 4th 2016

Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages:Hardcover, 400 pages

Summary:Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.


At Bookcon 2016, the friend who I was with was desperate to find an A.R.C. of Holding Up the Universe. When All the Bright Places was being praised by bloggers everywhere, I appear to have missed out on that trend. I, shamefully, never read the popular novel by Jennifer Niven. However, I am proud to say that I have read Holding Up the Universe.

This being my first novel written by Jennifer, I am pleasantly surprised. At first, I was skeptical because of the backlash that followed the novel’s initial description. Apparently, people thought the description was offensive which made me hesitant about reading it. Since I got the book, I decided to give it a try.

The book is not offensive at all. In fact, the book is a beautiful example of accepting who you are and how two unlike people can support each other. Jennifer Niven did an astounding job creating the story. The book will be a great read for young adults because it teaches many important lessons.

One lesson that it taught is that nothing can stop you from living your life. Libby is an example of this lesson because she manages to move on after the loss of her mother and her accident. Libby loses weight and returns to school despite her fears. She overcomes the bullying and focuses on herself.

Another lesson is self-love. Libby embraces her body and understands the effort that was taken in order for her to lose the weight. Also, Libby stands in front of everyone in a bikini to show people that she is wanted and that she is beautiful.

Finally, Jennifer teaches that you cannot use your faults to justify your bad decisions. Through Jack, it is shown that you cannot use your weaknesses as reasons for your mistakes. Eventually, you have to take responsibility for yourself.

Despite the many positive messages in the book, there are other aspects of the book that I liked. The main aspect that I found enjoyable was that Jennifer was able to successfully make readers understand what the characters were going through. Her constant emphasis on how someone with face blindness viewed the world made it easier to understand Jack’s situation. Also, we are able to understand Libby better with flashbacks to her mom’s death and the accident.

Another thing that I enjoyed was Jennifer’s writing style. The novel was easy and fun to read. The use of lists in the novel showed readers the characters’ thoughts.

Finally, I loved Jack. His situation was interesting to read about. Also, his point of view was captivating. In all honesty, he is the character that I feel made the book so great. I believe that Jennifer focuses more on Jack rather than the rest of the characters.

Despite greatly enjoying most of the book, there were a few things that I disliked. The major issue that I had with the book was that, besides Jack, the characters seemed flat. Some characters seemed hard to relate to.

Another thing that I disliked was the slightly forced chemistry between Jack and Libby. They do not appear to be a romantic relationship but rather a friendship. Their feelings felt rushed and not established well.

Overall, the book was very fun and interesting to read. I believe that this book is a positive read. Jennifer teaches many important lessons in the story.