Review of Venomous by Christopher Krovatin

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Venomous is another one of my Dollar Tree finds. This one is about a boy named Locke Vinetti who lives in New York with his mother and little brother. He suffers from intense anger issues that he refers to as “angries” at first and then renames his anger “The Venom” after the Spiderman villain. The book follows his struggle to live a normal life despite the fact that he feels like he has a creature living inside of him waiting to destroy his life.

His best friend, Randall, introduces him to his friends, their tarot club and a pretty goth girl named Renee. Things seem to finally be looking up for him but it doesn’t last long. The book deals with mental illness, drinking, medications, therapy, family issues, anger management, love, friendship and death. It also has lots of swearing and has some sex, so this isn’t for younger kids.

I like that each chapter starts off with a drawing that’s a page from a graphic novel with a bit of story and it’s supposed to be one that Locke is writing. Even though the book can be pretty dark at times, it ends with a hopeful scene. The other thing that I like about the book is that it doesn’t make the idea of taking pills (like Zoloft) or seeing a therapist a weakness. Even though the characters themselves might have some issues with it, their friends don’t.

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Review of Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt

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Rebels Like Us is about a girl named Agnes who moves from New York to Georgia for her senior year of high school and gets a huge dose a culture shock. I empathized with her character because moving from CT to MD was like that for me. I laughed out loud when Agnes’ teachers thought she was messing with her by not calling her “Ma’am.”
Honestly, not much happens in the first third of the book besides Agnes meeting and hanging out Doyle, going to school, arguing with her mom, dealing with Ansley (the head mean girl) and avoiding talking to her father, but the book moves along at a good pace and I still wanted to keep reading and I wanted to see what happened to the characters. I generally dislike “instalove”, but it worked for Agnes and Doyle. They’re a cute couple.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of racism at the new school, including segregated proms. I was annoyed at that. I don’t see how that would be allowed in 2017. Agnes, Doyle and their friends make an alternative prom, but it doesn’t sit well with people who want to keep their “traditions” alive, and someone puts a burning cross on Agnes’ lawn. I felt like after that there was a huge lead up to the alterna-prom with all the news coverage and everything, and then the prom itself was barely covered in the book. That was kind of a let down. It’s like Ok, then the prom that we all worked so hard for happened. Cool. There was so much money left over that there will be another one next year. Nice. I’m gonna graduate now.
I still enjoyed the book and was very happy to win it through the First Reads program, but I only gave it four stars because of that.

Review of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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I saw the movie version of this book and enjoyed it and I like both of the authors so I picked it up when I saw it on one of my trips to the thrift shop. I’m so happy that I did. The book is easily ten times better than the movie (in my opinion). While the movie focuses on (view spoiler)[ everyone driving around NYC looking for a drunk Caroline (hide spoiler)] the book actually focuses on Nick & Norah’s relationship, music and the adventure they have during one crazy night.
I loved learning more about the two main characters and why they were how they were. They were much more interesting and well developed in the book than in the movie. Norah definitely has trust issues and I really don’t blame her and Nick is coming off of a bad break up, but I feel like they’re a great couple anyway.
I love the descriptions of the music and the concerts in the book . I got so excited reading the scenes where they’re in the crowd watching the band and moshing and found myself smiling and reading faster. It made me miss going to shows. I like that some familiar songs (Green Day ones) are used as well as ones that are made up for the book.
If you like fun adventure stories full of punk music, New York City, love, and youth…read this book.

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 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.

Point of Departure by Emily O’Beirne

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Point of Departure is about five girls (Kit, her two best friends Olivia and Liza, her other friend Mai and Kit’s cousin Tam) who are spending the summer traveling to different countries (Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, England and Thailand) before going to law school together. Unfortunately, Kit has to drop out of the trip when she finds herself in debt and the other girls go without her.

The book is told in third person from the view points of four of the characters. We don’t get to see Mai’s point of view. Along the way, the girls have doubts about going, become closer friends, find love and have some neat experiences. I loved the descriptions of each city and the hotel or hostel that they’re staying in. I could picture each place.

If you like books about friendships, travel, family, and love, I’d recommend this one. This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I wasn’t disappointed.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I gave this book 4/5 stars.