Review: The Diabolic

The Diabolic
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

More, please, and thank you.

This YA Sci-Fi novel captured my full attention, with it’s fascinating premise (a engineered assassin poses as a regular human to attempt to save the life of her beloved master during a political upheaval), and fast-paced plot.

The characters were layered and grew throughout the story, which is kind of about the inhumanity of those who prioritize power and privilege above all else, and also about the humanity lurking in those who are believed to have none.

This book stands completely alone, as a full story, but I hope it’s the start of a series. I definitely want more of this world and these characters.

Pages: 416

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Review: The Forgetting

The Forgetting
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This concept is brilliant. I adored this book. I liked the story so much, that I’m actually going to tell you about the concept, which I rarely do.

Nadia lives inside the walls of Canaan, where every 12 years, The Forgetting comes, and complete chaos ensues. Think fear, violence, and complete panic. Think babies abandoned to cry in the street, while their mothers stand off to the side. Think absolute confusion. Sheer terror. Traumatic accidents and strong emotions that lead to violence. Bewilderment, mistrust, and isolation.

Before The Forgetting, it’s a day of no remorse, which brings out the best and worst in people, but by the end of the day, nobody remembers anything. Every part of their identities is gone in an instant: their names, their families, their friends, what they love, what they think, what they do, their biggest accomplishments, their greatest mistakes. Everything.

Some people feel it’s a blessing, a chance to start again. Others feel it’s an opportunity to commit any sort of crime or revenge, for which there will never be a punishment. Some feel a deep loss, but it is hard to mourn the loss of something that you can’t even remember.

In the span of a Canaan day, all is lost, and when The Forgetting passes, the only resources people have to help explain what has happened, who they are, and how to survive, are their personal books of truth, which they must carry with themselves at all times.

Obviously, there are a few catches (potential spoilers ahead, so if you prefer to read a book knowing as little as possible, you might want to stop reading here):

1. If you don’t have your book, you become one of the lost, fated to a miserable life (or perhaps death). You will never know who you are, or who you have been, and nobody else will either. The lost are blamed for their fate and separated from society, as everyone is taught to write truths at all times and to never part with their book.

2. People try to cheat the system before The Forgetting comes by changing truths or writing lies in their books (and/or in other people’s books). For 12 years, you may have been happily (or so you thought) married to John, but after The Forgetting, if your books says your husband Adam died years before, you become an immediate widow.

2.5. Sometimes, people even try to steal or destroy someone else’s book, so that person becomes part of the lost.

3. Supposedly everyone forgets, but in true dystopian fashion (SPOILER ALERT)– du du duhnnnn— Not everyone forgets, though nobody has ever admitted to remembering.

This book is fascinating and intense from start to finish.

Pages: 403

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Review: It Ends with Us

It Ends with Us
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*expletives redacted*

I had no idea what this story was about. I just started it, because I read everything Colleen Hoover writes. No. I don’t just read her stories. I drink them down and dwell inside them. She creates characters and worlds that cling to you, that make you face all your hopes and fears, that put you through the full range of emotions.

Anyway, long story short, I was completely unprepared for how a book with such a pretty cover could contain such ugliness, pain, and suffering. I mean, the destroyed flower probably should have been a warning sign . . . Regardless, it’s still a gorgeous story, in the kind of way the embers of a fire are beautiful, after the flames have just destroyed something.

Be sure to read the author’s note at the end of the story.

Pages: 376

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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me longer to settle into this one than it did Everything Everything, maybe partly because the fast changes of POV at the start, but it did suck me in, once I wrapped my brain around who the characters are and why I should care about them.

Basically, Natasha (17) meets Daniel on the same day her family is to be deported to Jamaica for being illegal immigrants (came to America at age 8), and they have an immediate, shocking connection. Despite being so different, and almost opposites in many ways, they are drawn to each other in a way that surprises them both. As a result, they become part of each others’ lives through a very difficult day.

The story shares some interesting thoughts and messages, especially in light of recent politics, and the writing is beautiful, as you would expect of Nicola Yoon. The characters are individual and diverse, and even though the story takes place in the span of a day, you get to watch them evolve.

Overall, it’s a mash-up of many different commentaries and small story lines on love, race, culture, and the fine line between fighting for your dreams and being responsible to and for those who love you. It gave me different ways to think about life, which is harder for a book to accomplish than you would think, considering I’m an avid reader.

I like it a lot. I just don’t love it enough that I need to clutch it to my chest and begin immediately rereading it, which is why it only got 4 stars, instead of 5, despite being an excellent story.

Pages: 384

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Review: Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook of this memoir, which was very good, because it is so conversational in voice and tone.

This is an engaging story, and I found Jazz’s journey (so far) to be fascinating. I especially appreciate how overwhelmingly positive, encouraging, and confident she is. It’s also honest and upfront about topics such as depression.

That being said, I don’t think her journey would be considered typical for most transgender teens, so while it’s so wonderful to see how much love and support she has had since she was very young, I appreciate how it is noted that other trans kids and teens have not all had the same level of acceptance and support. This is not to say her life has been without hardship, because she has had her own set of struggles.

The book mentions important areas of concern for the trans community, such as the high suicide rates and the increased risk of being the victim of violent crimes. It balances a very hopeful message with reminders that the lives, stories, and struggles of other transgender people can be very different. Regardless, almost all people want to be themselves and to be accepted for who they are, and for someone so young to have such insight is impressive.

I’m still, quite honestly, not a huge fan of memoirs, but this one is short, held my attention well, and provides a lot of good information that will hopefully make the world a more understanding place.

Pages: 272

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Review: Furthermore

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a unique, imaginative, well-written, adorable middle grade fantasy novel. I’m obsessed with Mafi’s writing, so there was no doubt that I would read this book. It also has a gorgeous cover, sounds great as an audiobook, and reads like a colorful dream. I almost feel like music should pour from the book when I crack it open, which is just a testament to how delightful it is.

Pages: 416

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Review: Stargirl

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not bad. The characters are pretty naive, in a beautiful way, but my jaded side sometimes had trouble swallowing that. I confess I wanted it to run just a bit deeper than it does. You are also going to need to be able to suspend belief to really love this book, as actions and events don’t always occur in ways that are logical and realistic. You have to let go of any inner-critic and just try to enjoy an unexpected ride.

The message is solid and valuable, assuming you are into the kind of fiction that teaches a life lesson. There were a lot of things I love about this story, but some of the stuff is so over-the-top that it’s hard to forget that you’re reading about fake people. I prefer to be completely folded into the characters’ lives and world, and to feel like they’re completely real, which wasn’t possible for me with this book.

I was always aware that I was reading a quirky book about unlikely characters, surrounding a hypothetical situation. Nothing ever felt fully real to me in this world, which is why despite the interesting ideas and gorgeous sentences, I don’t love this in the way I wish I did. It was good for me, but not great.

Pages: 186

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Review: Drag Teen

Drag Teen
Drag Teen by Jeffery Self
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is like cotton candy, which tends to be a lot of fun, but it can be a bit too fluffy and sweet for me at times. I would probably give it only 3 starts, but it has drag queens, some excellent humor, and a few touching moments, which all add up to a 4th star.

I enjoyed this roadtrip-to-enter-a-contest-to-win-a-scholarship story (a popular trend in YA these days), but it’s probably not a story that will stick with me for long, despite the interesting journey.

I did appreciate the diversity in characters, and there were a few unexpected viewpoints that caught my attention and made me stop to think. All in all, it’s a good book.

Pages: 256

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Review: P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is adorable. Absolutely everything written by Kasie West seems to be adorable, and heartfelt, with enough depth to run you through the gamut of emotions, leaving you perfectly satisfied at the end of the story.

The characters are well-developed, and the concept is sweet. This is the ideal book for a quick read or for dealing with emotional exhaustion (due to either other books or to life), because it returns more to you than it takes from you.

Pages: 330

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Review: Day Zero

Day Zero
Day Zero by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good companion novella for someone who is obsessed with the series. It reads like a guide to the characters, followed by short backstories about many of them before, during, and after the flash.

I really enjoyed the short stories, because I am fascinated by the characters.

If you are not a fan, this is obviously not for you. Make sure you don’t read it until after book 3. It can be read between books 3 & 4, which was the intention. It can also be read after book 4, if you somehow skipped it.

Pages: 174

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