Kindness for Weakness - Shawn Goodman
My first post! =)

Summary: A kid named James lives in a town. He has no friends, his dad hates him, and his mom is defenseless and does nothing to care for him. His brother is a tough guy who does drugs and has friends. Because of that, in order to try to be content in life and in order to be popular, James begins dealing drugs (I believe crystal meth) for his brother. The police catch him and send him to Juvy. There, he meets a kid named Freddie, whom he befriends. At Morton (the Juvy place), James is made fun of because he is not like the rest of the kids there, and Freddie is made fun of because he is a homosexual. The head guys at Juvy also make fun of them. There, Freddie and James befriend each other, and they learn about life and how to be themselves and stick up for who they are and what they believe.

My Opinion: This is a really good book. It is well written, the dialogue is accurate, and it shows that you should always be yourself, though it may be hard, because if you’re not yourself, you will not be satisfied. It was also a good eye opener to us about the outcasts of society who are different than us, and it lets us know them better and also accept/respect them for who they are. Overall, this book was great, and it was worth reading. I’m not a fan of these kind of books, but it was far different from any book of this genre I have read. 

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The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson is about June Costa, the “best artist in Palmares Tres” in her own words. Palamares Tres, a city built inside of a pyramid in futuristic Brazil, is inhabited by a matriarchal society with a tradition of electing a “Summer King” who is then sacrificed in the wintertime and chooses the queen as he dies. Everybody, especially the wakas (young people), loves the newest Summer King, Enki, whom June sees as a fellow artist. Together, she and Enki create art, fuel a movement to let new technology into Palamares Tres, and even though they know what happens to Enki, fall in love.

The beginning of the book was very confusing. Right away I was bombarded with familiar words used in unfamiliar ways. I at first thought Auntie Yaha was June’s actual aunt – until I was surprised to learn that Auntie was a title for a woman in the government and Auntie Yaha was actually June’s mom’s wife. After the first chapter or so, I was able to better navigate through this new and very liberal society, and as the book went on, the journey kept getting better and better. The characters and setting were very vivid, and since I had read the ending sentences before I finished the book, I loved the twist at the ending and was glad it wasn’t a sappy, melodramatic ending. Overall, while the beginning was a little strange, I liked this book, and I’m still fascinated that both of the books about matriarchal societies that I’ve read so far seem to portray that matriarchal societies are so much more flawed than patriarchal ones. Maybe that’s just me, but that’s another discussion for another time.

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is about Cassie, a sixteen-year-old girl who has survived four waves of an alien invasion that has decimated most of Earth’s population through illness, hiding in human hosts, and raising ocean levels. Now as the dawn of the fifth wave approaches, Cassie must rescue her little brother Sammy, although she’s going to need some help along the way even though she doesn’t know whom to trust.

The beginning of the book was very disturbing because Yancey portrayed how low humanity can sink so well, but after a while the feeling plateaus and one easily forgets about it. The plot and the characters were vivid and realistic and kept me hooked. According to goodreads.com it’s the start of a new series, and I am definitely excited to read the next book when it comes out. One should really hope there aren’t actual aliens like the ones in the book around because if they do discover us, we are in trouble.

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It’s rare that I describe a book as “delightful”. “Delightful” implies, for me, at least, a book so good that I actually feel physical buoyancy while reading it. The Anubis Gates is one of those rare “delightful” books. It’s about a man named Brendan Doyle who, at the behest of an eccentric old man, travels back in time to 1810, and gets stuck there. At first, it seems a little like Back to the Future in the Regency era, complete with goofy misunderstandings and fish out of water antics, but takes a sharp left turn when Ancient Egyptian magic gets involved.

I won’t ruin too much, though, because a majority of its appeal comes from being surprised at how everything connects. The great part about it, though, is its lack of pretension. It doesn’t make a big deal about its own cleverness: instead of flaunting its elaborate worldbuilding and knowledge of history, like some other historical fantasy and science fiction novels, it lets the audience fill in the gaps, and doesn’t assume too much. If you don’t know about the Regency, it doesn’t matter, because Powers doesn’t constantly hit you over the head with things specific to that time. I also appreciate the lack of put-on Britishness: normally, when an American like Powers writes a book set in old time England, you hear a lot of lines like “Give us some bees and honey guv’nor but watch out for the bloody bobbies”, and often sound like they’re trying too hard.

Fortunately, there’s none of that here. One minor issue I have with this book, is that it’s a bit slow in points, especially in the beginning, but once it gets going, it reaches delirious heights of “I can’t believe he’s doing this.” Another is the slightly politically incorrect Egypt sections, with their cheesy, descriptions of that country’s inhabitants, but they’re milder than all three Indiana Jones movies combined, really. Other than that, this book was great. A perfect brainy beach read for the warmer months ahead.

Grade: A

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 The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett is about Dusty Everhart, a Nightmare who feeds off people’s dreams. One night, she is feeding off a boy that she knows and sees that he’s dreaming about a murder that takes place at Dusty’s school for the magickind. When the murder the boy, whose name is Eli, dreams about actually happens, he and Dusty must join forces to catch the killer and keep him from killing again.
While there wasn’t much background given on what was going on, the plot was easy to follow and actually didn’t really require a backstory about the magickind. Dusty, Eli, and their friends were very relatable, realistic characters and the plot was different and awesome. While it wrapped up well and doesn’t really require a sequel, there are several elements in the story that can definitely use a sequel.

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Umineko When They Cry by Ryukishi07 is about a teenaged boy named Battler who goes to a family reunion at his grandfather’s home after six years of not seeing his uncles, aunts, and cousins. Battler is happy to be back among his cousins, but his aunts and uncles and parents are more interested in arguing about who gets the inheritance after the patriarch, Battler’s grandfather, dies and Battler’s youngest cousin, Maria, tells of a bad omen. Battler also doesn’t believe in the witch that supposedly inhabits the island and gave his grandfather his fortune, but after a storm strands his family and his grandfather’s servants on the island and six of the eighteen people on the island disappear and are brutally murdered, he starts to have his doubts.

I really loved this book because it was the first manga I had read in a while and I was immediately hooked by the plot. Although some of Battler’s characteristics contrasts his overall personality (he’s kind of sexist), he and his cousins are very intelligent, likable characters. Fans of Maximum Ride will like Maria; she reminded me of a slightly more creepy, occult-fascinated Angel.


Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley is about Angie Chapman, who thinks she has only been missing from a Girl Scout camping trip for only three days, but instead learns that she has been gone for three years. The book follows her as she tries to go back to living a normal life, figure out what happened to her, and why she doesn’t remember.

I liked this book more than I thought I would because the characters were very complex and realistic and the plot, although a bit far-fetched at times, also was realistic yet fantastic. However, the book dealt with dissociative identity disorder and talking to Angie’s different identities through hypnosis, and since I had taken psychology this year and knew that both of those things are very untrustworthy, very suggestible and very easy to manipulate and act out, I was a bit turned off. However, as the story started to reach its climax, I became more engaged and almost forgot that they weren’t so reliable.


Scowler by Daniel Kraus is about Ry Burke, whose abusive father was finally checked and thrown in jail thanks to Ry’s three favorite toys and imaginary friends (a British teddy bear named Mr. Furrington, Jesus, and a bloodthirsty monster named Scowler). However, just when Ry, his mother, and his younger sister are about to leave behind their home and the memories that went along with it, a meteor shower strikes their area, and with comes the return of Ry’s father. Although he has rejected them for years, Ry must call on his imaginary friends for help once again.

I was kind of let down by this book because while the beginning and middle were very good, and the character of Ry and his mother were well-developed, the ending was very chaotic and confusing and I didn’t understand what was going on very well. I wasn’t sure if Ry had become Scowler or if the toy Scowler had been burned up on the stairs or if Ry had been seriously wounded and if he had, why he was up and about trying to kill his mother and sister. Even though the book wrapped up nicely, I was still left wondering what the heck had just happened.

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 Prodigy picks up where its prequel Legend leaves off. Day and June, who are now refugees from the Republic (which is the western United States), must team up with the Patriots, a rebel group that wants to overthrow the government. In exchange for Day receiving medical treatment and his brother being found, June and Day must help in a plot to assassinate the new Elector. However, when June meets the Elector as part of the plan and realizes that he actually might different than his tyrannical father, she must figure out how to stop the assassination plot and still help Day.
 I really enjoyed the book a lot because the characters were very realistic and I was able to get a good grasp on the plot even though I never read the prequel. My only regret is not reading the prequel beforehand because I would have been able to understand the references made back to it more clearly. Needless to say, though, I will be reading the prequel and the third book, since the ending set the scene for a third book.

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                                       Tangle of Knots


                                         By Lisa Graff


 

 Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay, but I have been crazy buisness with school and work! I finished this book quite a bit ago, and I have to say . . . I love it! It’s a very nice fluffy tale about a group of people that are connected in some way. There talents bring them together.

I thought it was interesting how it started with a blue suitcase. Such a simple item can cause into so many events! And the character’s talents are interesting:

A girl who can make a person’s perfect cake, just by looking at them, a guy who always goes missing, but always appears out of no where. Or a lady that can tell if a kid belongs to a certain family. You will love this book.

I don’t want to give the book away, but if you like stories that bring you to a whole diffrent world, read this book! You will think everyone has talents. No matter how big or small.

That’s all for now!

 

 

 

 

 

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As anyone who knows their conspiracy theory lingo or has watched an episode of The X Files knows, “black helicopters” are vehicles that some people believe malevolent agents of the government fly around in to look menacing. While I personally don’t subscribe to that theory, or most other conspiracies, really; some people are deathly afraid of these things, and hide out in the wilderness with gun and food stashes to avoid them. This book is from the perspective of one of these people, and details her life, and subsequent downfall. The writing in this was terse and fast moving, and the plot was, like  Maggot Moon, mainly based on implication and inference. The protagonist doesn’t explicitly mention militias or suicide bombings, but you can definitely guess that’s what she’s talking about.

The use of in media res and non-linear storytelling was definitely original, and made for a more interesting reading experience. The author does a good job of making you sympathize with a person who is obviously amoral and possibly insane, and doesn’t belittle or disparage conspiracy theorists no matter how easy it would be to do so. Quite thought provoking.

Grade: B
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The last dystopian novel I read was M.T. Anderson’s Feed. This book is its polar opposite. Instead of being about a corporate run hell, it depicts a government run hell, and is as hopeful as that book was stomach-churningly depressing. It’s about a kid named Standish who grows up in a version of Britain heavily implied to be run by Nazi Germany. Unlike Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle which deals with  a similar scenario, it doesn’t outright state that, though. Everything is implication in this novel, including Standish’s homosexuality, and the identity of the so called “land of Croca-Colas” he dreams about.

The dystopia itself is made up of jumbled bits of other settings: the run-down, veddy British state of V for Vendetta, the Stalinist purges of 1984, and the Nazi run government of the aforementioned Man in the High Castle, but this isn’t really the point of the story. It instead seeks to tell a simple story of the resilience of the human spirit in times of trouble, and on that level, it succeeds. The writing is darkly humorous, and also Dashiell Hammett-level laconic, and the chapters are concise, so there’s no real padding. I wish the author did more with her setting, but that probably would have just served to slow it down. The unnecessarily graphic/gross illustrations might not have been needed, though, just saying. Over all, worth checking out.

Grade: B+
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