Review of This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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I got to read an excerpt of this book in a sampler last year and I really wanted to read the rest of it. I’ve tried buying this book two times before and had things prevent it both times, so when I saw that Books-A-Million was having a buy two, get one free sale on Young Adult books where this was one of them, I jumped on it. I am so happy to finally own this.
I didn’t want to put this book down, but I fell asleep reading it and finished it the next morning. This book is amazing. The writing is amazing. The characters are amazing. Everything is amazing. I love how fast paced this book is, especially during it’s climax. I had to keep reading and found myself reading even faster than usual. I had to find out what happens to everyone! It feels a bit odd to be raving about a book about a school shooting, but it’s really good.
The book follows the four characters: Claire, Autumn, Sylv and Tomas. There are also Twitter posts from various minor characters about what’s happening. I think that helped move the story along and give more weight to it.
I really like that, while the shooting is the main focus of the book, we also learn about the characters lives, hopes and dreams. They felt like actual people instead of the typical stereotypes. They just wanted to live their lives and be loved.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to read a good book.

Review of The Misfits by James Howe

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This book is one that I found at the thrift shop and I chose it based off of the description and author. I’ve read Howe’s Bunnicula books, but I didn’t know that he wrote young adult books as well. This one might technically be considered “middle grade fiction” since the characters are 12 and in middle school.
The book is written from the perspective of Bobby Goodspeed and it’s about him reflecting on the time in seventh grade when him and his friends (Addie, Joe and Skeezie) ran for student council as the No Name Party. I honestly feel that their platform (name calling hurts) and slogan (“Sticks and stones may break out bones, but names will break our spirit.”) is really good. The book talks about each character and what their home life is like. Our narrator, is an overweight kid working in a tie store to try to help his dad out after his mom passed away from cancer, Addie is an over achiever, Skeezie is sloppy kid with divorced parents and Joe is gay and artsy.
I think the character were well rounded and the story was well written. I like the bit at the end that tells the reader what each character became when they grew up. I would recommend this to middle and high school students.

Review of Polarity in Motion by Brenda Vicars

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I won an autographed copy of this book in The Gal in the Blue Mask’s Author Bling giveaway. I loved this book! It was so good that I just couldn’t put it down and I tried twice. I really like the characters and the issues they are dealing with are important.

Polarity is quiet and shy, but she’s a very strong girl. I can’t imagine having to go through something so embarrassing. I liked the progress she made in the book and I love that she stayed true to herself despite everything that was going on. Her relationship with her parents is very well written and her mother’s condition is handled well. I felt really bad for Polarity and I’m very happy that she had her grandma, her grandma’s boyfriend and Ethan on her side. Her relationship with her grandmother was one of my favorite parts of the book. It reminded me of the way things were with my gramma and I got a little choked up reading about it. That doesn’t happen very often.

Polarity’s relationship with Ethan, who should pursue a career as a detective, develops over time instead of the “insta-love” that’s so common in young adult books. It was refreshing. He’s a really good guy and he stands up for the underdog, who ends up being Polarity. I think they made a cute couple.

Besides the main issue of the naked photo, the book tackles issues such as race, bullying, privilege, mental disorders, and adults’ perception of teens. I recommend this one to teens everywhere.

Review This Above All A Novel by Lindsey Roth Culli

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I requested this book from NetGalley because the title is from my favorite Shakespeare quote (“This above all: to thine ownself be true.”). The quote is actually from Hamlet, but this story focuses on a high school drama class’ performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The main character, Piper, comes from a very conservative religious family and she’s the daughter of an evangelical pastor. Despite knowing it’s not allowed, she tries out for the play anyway and gets the lead role…as Romeo. She quarrels with herself over it because she’s been taught that being gay is wrong, and wouldn’t it make her gay to play Romeo since Juliet is a girl too?

Piper has a lot of growth over the course of the book and really becomes her own person. She stands up for what she believes in and defends her new friends, even though that means defying her father nd everything that she’s been taught. She even finds love. The friendships in the book were well done and felt like they’d be accurate for high school kids (disagreements, rumors, getting to know new people, etc.).

Religion is mentioned a lot in the book since her father’s a pastor, but it’s not anti-religion. Piper remains faithful throughout the book, but she questions her father’s tactics (which are very similar to those of the Westboro Baptist Church). I know that can be a touchy subject, but I feel like the author handled it well without insulting anything.

I would recommend this to fans of Shakespeare, young adult books (especially lgbt ya) and to people who like reading good books.

Review of Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp

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Without You is a very emotional book. It covers some of the happiest times in Anthony Rapp’s life (being in the musical Rent) and the saddest moments (watching his mother fight cancer). I felt bad for him because I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch anyone, let alone your mother, waste away.

I liked learning more about Anthony’s start in show business and I loved the parts about Rent. It’s one of my favorite musicals. You can tell how much he loves singing and performing. His joy radiates off the pages. It was great to learn more about the other people in the cast and the director too.

The parts about his mother and what it was like seeing her so sick were really sad. There are also some unresolved issues between them. He’s really hard on himself for expressing any kind of emotion and that often leads him to fits of rage or to snap at people. I’m happy that he found someone to talk to about that. It’s just not healthy for anyone.

Ultimately, the book is a celebration of his time in the play and of his Mom’s life. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Anthony Rapp, Rent or biographies.

With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes on My Way Back to KoRn by Brian Welch

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KoRn is one of my favorite bands, so I had to request this when I saw it on NetGalley. I was excited when I got approved and I read this in two days. The book is about Brain “Head” Welch’s decision to leave KoRn, get clean and raise his daughter. Along the way, he became a Christian, made some music, wrote books, and went through some hard times.

Unfortunately, Brian made some horrible decisions and ended up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. He really got swindled by someone he thought was a friend. Instead, the guy was using him for his money and got him in all kinds of legal trouble. It got so bad that he eventually had to file for bankruptcy.

I could tell how much he loves his daughter, Jennea, but he didn’t always make the best decisions for her. When he was touring he decided it would better if she was enrolled in an online school. She felt alone a lot, got addicted to getting attention on the internet and started cutting herself. As a former cutter, I know how hard that can be to deal with and I can’t imagine how helpless he felt. He was able to get her help, in the form of a group home for teens, and there is a letter from her at the end of the book. I thought that was nice since the reader hears (reads) a lot about her.

I was happy for Brian once things started getting better for him and I love that he’s back with KoRn now. I was surprised that he said he’d forgotten how to play their bigger songs like “Falling Away From Me.” I figured that after playing them thousands of times he’d just go right back to it, even if it had been eight years. He talks about how the other band members were either sober or getting sober and how nice it is that Fieldy, their bass player, is also Christian.

The books mentions religion quite a bit, especially at the end. It didn’t really bother me that much until the end where it seemed overly preachy. If you’re Christian or religious, that might not bother you. Brian also mentions that him and Fieldy pray with fans after their shows and at music festivals. I guess that’s cool of them, but I wouldn’t want to do that if I were at a metal concert.

Overall, it’s a good book about a guy who’s trying to get his life back on track. I gave it 3.5/5 stars. The book will be released on May 17th and can be ordered here.