Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Summary:

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

The Review:

This book was another very heavy read, especially after reading Dear Martin. The book is told enterily in free verse poetry, and it really provides a uniqueness towards the book, since I don’t usually read poetry books.

The book is told through the perspective of Will, a fifteen year old black kid, whose brother was shot to death and is now trying to get revenge from those who killed him, and it moslty takes place in an elevator and while he is on the eleavator he keeps getting flashbacks of what has happened.

But it is not just about what happened to his brother but also what happened to some of the other people in his life, and how each of them were affected by violence.  They come in the form of ghosts.

The concept of the book and the main story is basically set within a three minute and it is mostly set in the elevator with WIll constantly having to think about getting his revenge. It really gives him time to think, and really take in the situation.

I was very blown away by this book, and it put me on a whirlwind of emotions and it is a great testament to Jason Reynold’s writing and how you could feel every word on the page come out.

Long Way Down, is another great book by Jason Reynolds. His words always has meaning and delivers a dark and complex story.

Grade: 4.5/5

 

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Hype or Like Friday: You Complete Me

Happy Friday everyone, and here is another Hype or Like Friday

The Theme for January is The Fairest Year of All, and the Book of the Month is:

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by JillianLarkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

January 12th – You Complete Me… Who are some blogging/reading friends that have had an impact on you, inspire you, or you just really appreciate their friendship?

Larkin@WonderfilledReads-And no this is not because she is one of the creators of Hype or Like Friday. She is also one of my very first blogger friend I have. It mainly started with discussing Hyped Up books, and wondering why they are very hyped. She also talks a lot about underrated books, that don’t get much love and need some.

Lilly @ Lair of Books: Another one of my first few blogger friends. Also She is one of the bloggers who convinced me to read Six of Crows, which was an amazing book. She also has a ton of great reviews of books that I have yet to read but will be excited to read.

Lindsey @ Paradisbooks: She is another book blogger from Boston, and after spending the past year liking, and commenting on each others blog posts, we finally met in person at a Marissa Meyer signing.

Britt @ Geronimoreads: I shouted out Larkin, I have to do the same for Britt. Another creator of Hype or Like Friday, mainly met by discussing Hyped Up books, and having those conversations on Twitter about them.

Sionna @ Books in Her Eyes: Another one of my favorite commentators. She also talks a lot about underrated books that I have yet to read but want to.

Missy and Tay @ FrayedBooks: Also one of my favorite bloggers. After talking a lot on Twitter, we finally met in person at Boston Teen Author Festival, last fall. They read a lot of the books that I really like, but they also give me some great recommendations.

 

Those are some of the bloggers who inspire me, and even if you are not on this list, I just want to let you all know that I love you all, and make me feel really good at being a part of this community.

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I didn’t get to in 2017

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is another Top 5 Wednesday and the topic is:

January 10th: Books You Didn’t Get to In 2017
–These are books you didn’t end up getting to in 2017, but really want to prioritize in 2018.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

This was a Hype or Like Book, and I was very excited that this book was picked, but then reality set in and I got extremely busy and kinda forgot to read it, but I really hope to read this book.

When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Manon

While YA contemporary isn’t a genre I usually gravitate towards to, but this book seems like a nice cute romance story, which I am starting to take an appreciation for.

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

I remember being excited about the cover, and I am usually not a cover person. I really wanted to read it before the end of the year, but than Christmas was happening and I had finals and shopping to deal, so I didn’t have time to read it.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

This is a book I really wanted to read. I put it on reserve at the library picked it up, but never got around to reading it, so much that I had to return it, and I couldn’t renew it because it was on a waiting list. So hopefully I will try to read it again.

A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab

I’ll be honest, I am almost scared to read this book. Mainly because after reading Our Dark Duet and being emotionally devastated by it, I am almost scared of what will happen, I love these characters so much. and I really want to see how it ends.

Those are the books I missed out in 2017. What books did you miss out in 2017? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Dear Martin by: Nic Stone

Summary:

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

The Review:

My very awesome girlfriend gave me this book for Christmas, so it was very fitting that this would be my first read of 2018, and boy did my reading year start with a bang (I know very poor choice in words).

Much like The Hate U Give, this book deals a lot with the police violence in the United States especially when dealing with race. Justyce, is a young African American male who goes to a prep school, and is also dealing with being one of the very few black students who attend, a feeling I know all to well. A lot of the book deals with the fallout of his arrest, and him realizing that after everything, people could still arrest him.

While the book is fiction, it does touch on a lor of real life issues. After Justyce’s arrest he learns of other stories about young black men getting killed by the police who are unarmed. He uses his letters to Dr. Martin Luther King in order to come to grasp with his situation.

His issues with racial inequalities also happens a lot in his school with his classmates. Since a lot of classmates are white with the exception of Manny. Most of his white classmates dismiss issues of race and basically claim that white people have it worse, and I have also dealt with them in school. Mainly with Jared, who is most white boys I went to school with.

It also touched a lot of issues of race in regards to Manny’s father, who is a Vice President of a major company and still deals with issues of race.

A major highlight of the book was the “Dear Martin” chapters. I think the use of the letters really gave us a sense of the character of Justyce and what he is going through. I also liked his relationship with Sarah-Jane, or SJ, a white Jewish classmate of his. It kinda falls under the normal teenage love tropes in which they are debate partners and Justyce of course starts to have feelings for her and is very nervous about making a move. I thought is was nice to have a few light moments with them to counter a lot of the heavier moments that the book has.

In the end, Dear Martin is a very powerful book, much like The Hate U Give. It deals a lot of issues with race that is still going on today and Justyce is a great character to see those issues through his eyes.

Grade: 5/5

Renegades by: Marissa Meyer

Summary:

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

The Review:

If you have been following my blog you should know that I am a HUGE fan of the Lunar Chronicles, so of course I was very excited about the fact that Marissa Meyer is writing a new series, and this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017.

The book is mainly told through two POVs, Nova or Nightmare; she has the power to put people to sleep just by touching them. After her family was killed, she always has had disdain for the Renegades because she felt that they didn’t save them. She was a well developed character, she really did bring out a lot of the moral grayness with bringing out the differences between the Renegades and the Anarchists.

Adrian or Sketch, has the power to bring his artwork to life. His mother was killed in the battle of Gatlin and was adopted by two other superheros who are on the council. He also has an arc that deals with trying to get justice for his mother. He deals with a lot of pressure as being the son of two famous superheroes and he always wants to be more than a patrol hero and do some real work as a Renegade. He also deals with some of the issues that the Renegades deal with.

The relationship between both Adrian and Nova was also really fleshed out. It was basically a hero and a villain falling in love but they don’t know who each other are. It added some depth to the story and made it seem like both sides have good points. It reminded me a lot of the X-Men comics, mainly the X-Men vs. The Brotherhood. Both are contentiously combating each other but also has great points.

The world building was very well done. Marissa Meyer introduced us to a world where superheroes are already established in world and they are called Renegades, who are those with powers. I also felt that there was some back story I actually wanted to see more fleshed out. Mainly the Age of Anarchy and the Battle of Gatlin, I feel that could have been a series of books on their own.

The supporting characters were good as well, mainly the group of Anarchists who work with Nova. They had their own distinct personalities to them. I just wish they were a bit more fleshed out. Hopefully the second book will do that. I also felt the villain was a little thinly developed, mainly because Queen Levena was such a great villain I kinds wish the villain was on that level.

The ending I also felt was a tad rushed. I know the book was over 500 pages but I would have liked the ending could have also been a bit more fleshed out and hopefully a sequel will better continue the story.

In the end, Renegades did not disappoint. Marissa Meyer wrote another great book and she wasn’t afraid to explore other genres. Nova and Adrian are great characters, and the world involving superheroes was great. While I felt the ending could have been fleshed out, I want to see the story continue.

Grade: 4.3/5

They Both Die at the End by: Adam Silvera

Summary:

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. 

The Review:

After finishing this book, I just keep asking myself, why did I do that to myself. This is the third book I read by Adam Silvera this year and each one if just as devastating as the last one. But I do appreciate the fact that tells you in the title how devastating it will be.

The main plot of the book is a 24 hour period after both Mateo and Rufus receive their calls from Death Cast to inform them that they will die in the next 24 hours. After getting their calls they of course are both real devastated, and try to make the best of their last days alive.

Both Rufus and Mateo are both very different characters. Mateo is more reserved, while Rufus is more of a go getter. Adam Silvera does a good job at giving them both distinct personalities and it really shows in their POV chapters. By having them both meet each other through the Last Friend App, it sort of brings out the best in each other. They both seem as if they have nothing in common, you really get a sense of their friendship throughout the day.

The supporting characters were also well developed. Lidia, a friend of Mateo who lost her boyfriend a year earlier and now has to raise a child alone. Also the Plutos, friends of Rufus who he meet in the foster. I like how Silvera puts in their own POV, just to a little more information about the characters, and it also puts into context who Mateo and Rufus are leaving behind.

The concept behind the book is also very interesting. It kinda begs the question if you found out you only had 24 hours to live what would you do? It also ties heavily with the world around them. Deckers, those who get the death notice, get special deals and opportunities that they normally wouldn’t have. I also like the concept of the Last Friend App, for those who worry about dying alone, and they don’t have to.

In comparing this book, with other Adam Silvera’s books; History is All you Left Me and More Happy Than Not, I think this one has a more optimistic outlook. While it is a very devastating book its not as emotional as his other two. It sort of has the common message of live life to the fullest and any day could be your last, but the story is framed differently.

In the end, They Both Die at the End is another great book by Adam Silvera. He is basically 3/3 in great books. You will feel attached to both characters of Rufus and Mateo as they are really great characters. It also has a really good message.

Grade: 5/5

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

Summary:

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.

But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech – rather than say anything at all – she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

The Review:

This was a book that I added on my TBR after hearing him speak about this book back in September at Boston Teen Author Festival. The way he describe the premise it was if it was an episode of Black Mirror, that really causes you to think about could this really happen.

The book begins when Speth decides to protest the system that requires payment for every word spoken by simply not speaking at she does so by zipping her lips at her speech ceremony when she reaches of age. It is also noted that the only reason why she has the name, Speth was because it was a very cheap name that her family can afford.

It also was a very risky move by having a protagonist who spends most of teh book not speaking because it could have been difficult to connect with her charcater, but Gregory Scott Katslouis made it so that we were able to connect with her. When she makes the bold act to not speak or communicate, it heavily affects those around her. Most of friends stop speaking to her because of it.  Speth is one of the better YA female protagonist as she wasn’t in it to be the hero, only

I also think that the world building was pretty well handled. The beginning of the book or basically the prologue gave us everything we needed to know about the world which was the copyright page for the book as well as the state of Vermaine, where the story takes place.  This was also a very different dystopian novel because it adds a lot of social commentary about communication and speaking. Even the act of kissing could cost someone.

I did feel some of the pacing in the book was a bit slow, it really didn’t pick up until the middle of the book, when you find out that Speth has sort of started a rebellion in which other people started to not speak as form of protests against the system. The main villain of the book is Silas Rog, who is one of the partners of the law firm that came up with taking every word and putting a patent on it. While he was a good villain, I do feel that he should have been a bit more fleshed out.

As I said earlier, it did feel like an episode of Black Mirror because it allows a commentary on the notion of communication and how much we take it for granted. Some of the cost of communication includes:

Two seconds of screaming costs $1.98
A request to Desist costs $8.99
A charge of Assault costs $14.99
And expressing your Scorn costs 36.99

Also communication is tracked through the cuffs people wear, and if someone can’t pay their fee they would be in a sort of debtors prison. It really handles the moral of “Words matter” really well.

In the end, All Rights Reserved was a great book that I enjoyed reading. While it did have some pacing problems, especially in the beginning, it was made up for a great protagonist in Speth, and social commentary on communication. I am very excited to see where this series goes.

Grade: 4/5