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.

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 “A Hard Day’s Night” by Mia Kerick

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A Hard Day’s Night is about a Beatles obsessed high school senior named Lennon who spends a “gay day” with his best friend Fin. They do all the stereotypical stuff that gay guys like based on a google search and hilarity ensues.  It’s a really quick read and the characters learn about who they really are in the process of doing these ridiculous (and expensive) things. I know it’s supposed to be a fun story, but I just kept thinking about how much money Lennon must have spent on everything and how ridiculous that was. It could’ve gone towards his college education. Some parts are sad and others are angsty. I don’t want to give much away. I liked the ending. I’ve read other books from this author and enjoyed them as well.

I got this for free from Reading Deals in exchange for an honest review and they hounded me relentlessly even before the review was due and even after I explained that I’d had a seizure and had to go through a month of tests and appointments.

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 Love Spell by Mia Kerick

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Love Spell was a fun, quick read about a high school student named Chance who lives in a small, New Hampshire town. Chance doesn’t have many friends and his parents are pretty absent in his life. That part was sad because  being lonely isn’t fun. He manages to have a good outlook on life and is usually confident in himself.
The book focuses on his senior year of high school, which consists of school, work, trying to decide which college to apply to, looking for love, and trying to ignore the fact that he’s not entirely sure which gender box he fits into. I love his relationship with his best friend! Parts of it remind me of  my best friend and I, especially the making up our own words part.
I thought the ending was sweet and it made me smile. I would recommend this to high school kids, especially those who identify as lgbtqia+.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

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.