Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book Review: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

Hey Guys! Katie C. here with another book review: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted.

The Dead InsideAt age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a "drug rehabilitation" facility that changed her world.

to the public, Straight, Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to "treat" its patients. in her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight, Inc. considered healing. 

I've read so many books over the course of my life, but this one really stood out because of the fact that it's based on a true story. Reading through, it was easy to get lost in the plot and characters just like every other book i've read. However, afterward, knowing everything that I read really happened gave the book a whole new feel. Normally, I consider myself an avid fantasy reader, but I'm super glad i picked up The Dead Inside! Watching not only Cyndy grow and change throughout the book, but the world around her as well kept me glued to the pages the entire time.

One small thing I really enjoyed about the book was the chapter titles. Normally, authors either go with the name of the person of view (POV), or a title that relates to that chapter, or sometimes just a number. Instead of that, Etler took a different path and named each chapter after a rule. One thing about Straight, the "drug rehabilitation" place Cyndy goes to, is all the pointless rules they had there. The chapter titles for the book were all the different rules that straight had, such as "no getting out of seat without permission" and "host home doors and windows must be locked and alarmed". this interesting choice in chapter titles might not seem like much, but I thought they really added something to the story overall.

One more thing that I will say about The Dead Inside is that it's not a fun light read. This book is a true story about abuse, harassment, drugs, and more. This book will make you think. Even if you're like me (a person who enjoys light hearted middle school fantasy), I still recommend reading The Dead Inside. Sometimes its hard to imagine the lives of others when your so caught up in your own. And reading a book like this will not only bring you hours of intense, uninterrupted reading, but it will also leave you with a new perspective on the world that will stay with you forever.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Fun Post: An Upcoming TBF Book I'm Dying to Read

Cover May Not Be Final

As I looked over the upcoming releases of our many TBF authors this year the one that really stuck out to me was American Panda by Gloria Chao. This is Gloria's debut novel and she has already announced her second novel, Misaligned, which is set for release in fall of 2019.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a pre-approved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth - that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels? -Goodreads

I read a lot of contemporaries and often the summaries don't stand out to me but this one did.  Mei sounds like such an interesting character to read about and get in the head of. The idea of the forbidden love story is always present in literature but American Panda is a version I've never read before. Plus the added on storyline about Mei not enjoying biology is something I bet many of us high schoolers may relate to. As I learned more about the book all of the reviews I read were positive and wrote of the perfect mix of humor and heartfelt moments which are two of my favorite things to read about. Overall I am highly looking forward to reading this adorable sounding novel next year and hopefully meeting Gloria in May at TBF!

American Panda is set to be released on February 6th, 2018

Friday, December 1, 2017

An Upcoming TBF Book I'm Dying to Read

Cover May Not Be Final.
After several years of anticipating and attending Teen Book Fest, I’ve learned that one of the best aspects of the event is how it introduces me to new, incredible authors. This year (of course) is no exception. If you’ve been monitoring the TBF attending authors page as obsessively as I have, you may have noticed that the acclaimed graphic novelist Penelope Bagieu will be coming to the Festival next year. She is the author of both Exquisite Corpse, California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas and a new book coming out in March 2018 Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World.

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Sounds cool, right? In the first place, I love graphic novels-- seeing different artistic styles and how they allow the reader to view characters in new ways-- but I love novels about amazing historical women even more. Hearing about fascinating stories about people that you know are real is a different experience than reading a fantasy novel, but in my view, similarly appealing. For example, Nellie Bly traveled around the world in seventy-two days, beating the fictional Phileas Fogg’s record by eight!If you’re as intrigued as I am, check out the page previews on Macmillian Publisher’s site and make sure to attend Teen Book Fest this spring to meet the amazing Penelope Bagieu in person!

See you there,
Kate G.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Top 3 TBF Authors I Can't Wait to Meet

Hi it is Anica again. Today I am here with the top three TBF authors I can't wait to meet. I had not heard of most of the authors, which I love, but narrowing it down to three was tough but I think I have got it. I am going to count down just because I want to be different.

3). Justina Ireland. Her book Promise of Shadows is in my tbr pile(it is a big pile). She writes fantasy and science fiction, two of my favorite genres. Her book titles sound amazing. Like Vengeance Bound how cool of a title is that!?!

2). Alisa Kwitney. A new young adult author.She has written some adult books before. I always love when we get newer authors, or ones who are trying out a new genre. It is interesting to see someone a little earlier in the process. Her book Cadaver & King comes out in February 2018.

1). Roshani Chokshi. I absolutely loved The Star-Touched Queen. First of all I can't even with the cover. I know people say don't judge a book by it's cover, but in the case it works. I loved the cover and I loved the book. It was so beautifully written and captivating. There were so many twists and turns I never saw coming. I can't wait for the next book and the opportunity to meet her.

I have never met any of these authors and can not wait to have the opportunity to in May. Only about six more months to go!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Image result for just ella
It's a familiar story: In spite of the obstacles put in her way by her wicked stepmother, Ella goes to the ball, sweeps Prince Charming off his feet, and is chosen to be his bride. Now she's comfortably ensconced in the palace, awaiting marriage to the man of her dreams. It's happily ever after time, right?
Wrong! Life for Ella has become an endless round of lessons and restrictions; even worse, Prince Charming turns out to be more like Prince Boring. Why can't she talk with him the way she can with Jed, her earnest young tutor?
Slowly, Ella comes to realize she doesn't want the life she fought so hard to win. But breaking her engagement proves more difficult -- and dangerous -- than escaping her stepmother's tyranny.

Hello again everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure that many of you are on a Thanksgiving break of some sort right now and looking for an amazing book to read. Well, fear not! I have just finished reading Just Ella, a wonderful book by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I would highly suggest all of you take advantage of the time you have off and give it a try.

First of all, I have a confession to make: I love fairytale retellings. Just Ella is a delightful retelling of the age old story Cinderella. Of course in this version, Ella is completely capable of taking care of herself while Prince Charming, on the other hand, is not. I loved the fresh spin Margaret Peterson Haddix put on the original story of Cinderella and the addition of many new characters (don’t worry, characters from the tale of Cinderella that we all know so well make an appearance). As a child I always wondered what would happen when Cinderella reached the palace. Would she enjoy the responsibilities of a princess? Would she find that she truly loved the prince even after his flaws were revealed? Just Ella answers all of my questions and more, recreating the world of Cinderella so vividly in the pages that I feel like I’m watching the movie again. Ella tells her story in the blunt, fresh voice of a girl just discovering that the world isn’t anything like she imagined it to be and that she is, to put it frankly, disappointed. She is a relatable character and it is entertaining to see her learn about the world around her and herself as she grows throughout the book.
Just Ella is a quick read, perfect for curling up with on the couch while drinking hot cocoa after a Thanksgiving meal. The plot is fast moving and doesn’t involve any long term book commitments (I’m looking at you Count of Monte Cristo) which is nice if other things are taking up a lot of your time (school anyone?). The ending is surprising and pleasing, wrapping up the book in a realistic but happy way and not seeming hypocritical or at odds with the rest of the story. One of my favorite things about Just Ella was the underlying tone of feminism and empowering women that was present in the book. I loved the way that Margaret Peterson Haddix turned Cinderella, a story about a young girl being saved by a prince and a fairy godmother, to a story about a smart young woman who saved herself and found out what she truly wanted. Ella wasn’t afraid of self examination and she understood her flaws as well as her virtues. I admired that fact that Ella had guts. She was not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself, despite the consequences and the people telling her that she should just do what she was told. I would recommend Just Ella to fans of the Cinder which is another phenomenal book. Just Ella is a great fairytale retelling for anyone who has wondered what comes next after the movie credits role.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and get reading! Remember TBF is only six months away. Until next time.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Fun Post: 3 TBF Authors I Can't Wait to Meet

Hey fellow book lovers! Katie C. here to tell you the top 3 authors I can't wait to see at TBF this year!

Charles Benoit

I've read 4 of Charles Benoits books, Cold Calls, You, Fall From Grace, and Snow Job, and loved every single one! Not only have I seen him at TBF in years past, but he also came and spoke at my middle school book club when I was in 8th grade. All in all, he's such a fun person to not only talk to, but listen to as well. He's always full of energy and has so much great advice to give to his readers. If you haven't read any books by Charles Benoit, I highly recommend all of them. And whether you read any or not, Charles Benoit is still someone to keep an eager eye out for at TBF this year! 

Margaret Peterson Haddix

While I've never met Haddix in person, I've read Among the Hidden, as well as the rest of The Shadow Children series. Among the Hidden was an assigned book for school, but I loved it so much that i immediately borrowed the rest of her series and read them as fast as I could. The ongoing plot excited me so much that I could never put any of her books down I can't wait to read some more of her books as well as finally see her in person in May!

Penelope Bagieu

I can't wait to read Bagieu's book! Not only is it all about spirited women throughout history, but it's a graphic novel as well!  I really love graphic novels and love talking to the artists behind them (last year I saw Matthew Loux at TBF and it was really fun and inspiring). Penelope Bagieu's book, Brazen, has been on my TBR list ever since i first head of it's existence and I can't wait to not only read it, but meet the amazing author behind it at TBF this year!

Ahhh! just writing about all these amazing authors is getting me super pumped for TBF this year! Make sure to check out these three wonderful authors, plus a bunch more, this coming may at the Teen Book Festival! that's all for today, see you guys sometime in the near future!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Hello again! Today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Claire Legrand’s novel The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. This delightfully creepy story does not disappoint.

Victoria cannot stand messes. She has perfect grades, perfect hair, and she always follows the rules. So she surprises even herself when she befriends Lawrence. Lawrence, who can’t tuck his shirt in or comb his hair. Lawrence, who Victoria is determined to fix. With a little work, he can be as perfect as she is. 

But then Lawrence goes missing. When Victoria starts investigating, she soon realizes he’s not the only kid who has disappeared. Lots of kids in Belleville have vanished- misfit kids, to be exact. And all roads lead to the mysterious Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Kids who go there come out smarter, prettier, better- or they don’t come out at all. 

It’s up to Victoria to save her friend and her town… even if it means getting a little messy.

I was trying to come up with a metaphor for how I felt while reading this book, and here’s what I came up with: you're lost in the middle of an unfamiliar forest at night with no plan out and the trees closing in... and then you hear a branch snap somewhere behind you. Part of this novel is that sinking feeling of uneasiness associated with being alone and lost in the dark, while the other part is the stomach-drop that occurs when you realize that you are, in truth, not alone. Legrand's skill in creating such an eerie tone/atmosphere is impressive, and she takes age-old fears such as being forgotten, having nowhere to turn for help, and not knowing who to trust and twists them into a story that keeps readers both fascinated and horrified. While there a couple gruesome aspects, they definitely don’t overpower the story, which is more of a psychological horror/suspense than a blood-and-gore one. It’s the type of book that fills you with the sense that something is inherently wrong by the end of the first chapter. “Mr. Prewett smiled at Victoria like someone had pins in the corners of his mouth and was slowly pulling them back toward his ears. It looked just like a smile should look. In fact, it looked better- wide and bright and shining.” Creepy, right? As you go along, you’ll realize Belleville isn't the perfect town it seems, or maybe, it's a little too perfect.

Besides the ominous atmosphere, I also admired the main character Victoria for her incredibly strong will and unwavering resolve to get to the bottom of the mystery at any cost. In many stories, it’s almost a given that the protagonist will persevere against all adversity, but with Victoria, she is truly out of her depth. She’s in a situation where her sense of order has been turned upside down; where playing by the rules like she’s been doing her entire life won’t help her win, and she knows that she’s at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t stop her. Victoria is one of the few with the choice between false security or the truth, and in her mind it’s simple. She won’t accept failure. Her unending desire to keep going and find her friend overrides her fear and makes her such a strong character. Furthermore, the growth she exhibits throughout the story from cold, almost destructively ambitious to understanding the worth of others as different, not worse, is another aspect I love. And while most of the book is focused on Victoria, I enjoyed Lawrence as well, with his quiet strength, and their friendship is genuinely fun and believable.

In all, this book was unsettling and bittersweet in the best way, and fans of Coraline or The Mysterious Benedict Society will enjoy this read.

Find The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls in the Monroe County Library System and Barnes & Nobles.