Saturday, August 5, 2017

Animated Short-Film: In A Heartbeat

I have to be honest when I say that I am normally only review youth literature but this short film was something I felt was too good to pass up. What started as just another school assignment, this short film has taken social media by storm. 

Showing the struggles of a closeted teen and him being outed by his own heart, this film shows what ever person, regardless of sexual orientation goes through when they develop a crush. However, the fact that they made it about two gay guys is even better. Don't know what I am talking about, watch below: 

I am so happy to have discovered this animated film. Animation has the power to create such a powerful influence over its viewers and the fact that such a positive video regarding the queer subject and the reaction it has been building since its release is just too great to even handle. 

I think this is an important film for teens and those who may work with teens to watch and enjoy. As for someone who hopes to one day work with teens in a library/media space, this is something that can be used as a way to help a teen discover not just themselves but the people around them who have experience that are different from their own. 

If you have not seen this short film, I do not know what you are doing but go watch it. Bring some tissues, though, you will need them! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher:Blazer and Bray  
Source: Bought
Format: E-book
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Contemporary 

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever. The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

This is my third Julie Murphy book and I couldn't be happier at finally getting the chance to read it. Murphy has been an author that has taken me on rollercoasters that toyed with my emotions but has given me stories worth reading. 

In Ramona Blue, Murphy gives us a girl, Ramona, who, just like any other teen, is finding herself. However, when life gets in the way Ramona starts to take on more roles making her more of an adult than anyone else in her family. In comes childhood friend, Freddie. Now, Ramona's life is turning tables as she starts to question more who she is and who she may like. 

What I really enjoyed about this book was that I felt a deeper connection with Murphy's character than with her other characters. I know that there was a point in my life where I did question my sexuality and I had to take some time to discover myself to see who I was. Thankfully I know who I am now but what is so great about this novel is that Murphy has given a character who is finding herself a breath a life. She has allowed a character to enter a reader's life to show that it's okay to find yourself and that sometimes it takes time and it may not be easy. 

I am glad that I have continued reading Murphy's works and I look forward to her next book. If you are looking for a book that shows the importance of self-discovery, give this book a chance. A manful and well-needed contemporary, Murphy has delivered once again. 

I give this book 4 souls!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Traitor to the Throne 
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Bought
Format: E-book
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Fantasy

Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.Gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland. Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

I know, before you even say it, that I took quite a while to read and post a review of this book. I cannot honestly give you an answer as to why that is and after reading it, I regret that I took this long. We are once again transported into the world Hamilton has expertly created and are reunited with Amani   and her fight to save the desert nation. 

In Rebel of the Sands Alwyn introduces us to this desert community in which she has shaped her story around and has done this beautifully but in the second installment, we are getting this new stronger Alwyn as we see by her writing. Truth be told, I am totally digging it! I was a little scared that there might be that second-book syndrome taking place but that was never the case. Thank goodness! 

I think that besides the change of writing style, we see a different Amani as well. Amani is now in enemy territory where her mission is not only surviving but gaining intel on enemy movements, her will, her trust, and her loyalty are constantly being pushed and the question is, will she break? The one thing I really enjoyed about Amani is that we are able to see more of this vulnerable side which gave her this more of an ability to be relatable. 

This is an adventure that will require some to use tissues, some to be on their toes but most all will be doing both. Hamilton has fantasy and the desert to a place where readers only dream of going. If you are looking for a read that challenges the second-book-syndrome this is the book for you. An action pack magical story that you will want to experience for yourself. 

I give this book 4 souls! 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Dividing Eden
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Source: ALA Midwinter
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Dystopian 

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure. But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom. As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Holy Snap!!!! These were the first words I sent my friend while reading this book. The second thing I sent her was if she was getting a Game of Thrones vibe from the story. Am I selling you yet. Yes? No? Well whatever your answer maybe, you need to go pick this novel up. 

I a world where twins, Carys and Andreus, are pitted against each other in a set of trials, the victor winning the crown. Will the two be able to hold onto themselves or will these tests among other dangers prove to be too much and break their bonds of family and friendship? 

Carys reminds me of Arya. I do not know if I am the only one that sees this or not but she is a wicked character. In a good way of course. I think I am more excited for her character in the next installment because I feel we just got a small taste of how awesome of a character she is. Her brother, Andreus, well that boy can die. Seriously! I know I am acting out of rage right now and it is with one particular scene and I know that once you read it, you will understand where my frustration is coming from. 

The novel was fast-paced and it pulled at the emotions in the right way at the right time. This novel is definitely a YA Game of Thrones. Joelle Charbonneau brings the action to this adventure story. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on your feet and get your heart pulsing, than this is the book for you. Charbonneau writes the perfect novel for both boys and girls and I am excited read the next installment. 

I give this book 5 souls! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that I am eagerly anticipating.
This weeks pick is:

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 
When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Whichwood
Author: Tahereh Mafi 
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers   
Source: ALA Annual   
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Fantasy

A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.
Our story begins on a frosty night… Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear. But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship. 

I don't know how else to really put it but the fact that while reading this book I felt I was being told a bed time story sums up the book. And for me it, that is perfect. Bed time stories were always a huge part for me while growing up and I could picture my dad tucking me in and rack his brain for another fantastical adventure to lull me to sleep.

One of the best parts of this book is that you could read this as a stand-alone, but it does help familiarize you with the characters by reading Furthermore first though. In the village of Whichwood, we set out on an adventure with the village's last remaining mordeshoor, Laylee, and her journey in finding the color and the many things her world brings. 

The story was so great and so original that it pained me a little when it ended. Tahereh is a master at storytelling and she doesn't disappoint with this story. We are reunited with familiar faces but we are also introduced to new friends that will stay with you till the end. 

Laylee is such a strong girl. The amount of work, pressure, and among other things she deals with on a daily basis makes me question the days I come home from work and whine. She goes through so much in this novel that all you want to do is cheer her on or offer a supporting hand. I am not surprised by her reaction to when Alice and Oliver suddenly appear but as the novel moves forward, the three develops a friendship that is live saving. 

There will be some tears (if you are emotional like me) and if not, there will at least be some emotional tugs. Tahereh is brilliant in everything she writes and brings that in Whichwood. A magical adventure where you have look past the obvious and search for the light in friends, Whichwood brings the magic we all look for. This is a novel that shouldn't be passed. 

I give this novel 5 souls!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that I am eagerly anticipating.
This weeks pick is:

Author: John Green
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. 
Turtles All the way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 
In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.

Happy Reading!