Oct 20, 2017

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Publisher: Crown Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Harcover, 224 Pages
Published October 2017

Summary: 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.

Emily and I both received advanced copies of this book at BookCon, and things have been so crazy that I haven't had a chance to pick up this book until now. It turns out that I have excellent timing, because this book came out to the public just a few days ago, so now whoever you are, you're totally capable of getting your hands on this book as well!

As the summary explains, Justyce is a senior in high school, all set to go to Yale, and he finds himself unfairly put in handcuffs after a misunderstanding where he was helping his drunk ex-girlfriend get into her car while the police assumed something different. Throughout the rest of the book, Justyce encounters many different scenarios in which he realizes the racial injustices that happen on both sides, numerous times, and some of these altercations even lead to shocking results. And throughout it all, Justyce is partaking in a self-inflicted social experiment in which he tries to channel the energy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in behaving the way he would have and handling situations in ways he would best be known to do. However, Justyce soon realizes that some things are trickier than he could have imagined.

What I really liked about this book was all the different topics and scenarios it managed to cover. This book wasn't just about Justyce getting arrested for something he didn't do because of a misunderstanding after being racially profiled. This book also covered many different important topics and alluded to several popular cases that have happened recently in American and worldwide media. This book creates conversations that span from racial profiling to "affirmative action" and even what it's like for people not being able to "take a joke." I really enjoyed how this book went in several different directions, but it also managed to somehow go in all those directions simultaneously and everything was executed flawlessly. 

(Major spoilers ahead, so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read the book yet!) When the incident with Manny happened, I was honestly so shocked that I dropped the book. I was totally taken off guard. I had known Manny was going to die because I accidentally dropped the book while reading it, and when I picked it up, it was open to the last page and I hadn't realized until I started scanning it. So at first, I was super disappointed in myself for spoiling such a major plot point, but I was still shocked with the way things played out, so I'm still going to say that Nic Stone caught me off guard with an aspect of the story that I definitely hadn't seen coming.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Justyce. Even when things were getting tough around him and he found himself to be the victim of accusations he had no part of, he was working so hard to channel the inner mind of one of the greatest and most influential men of his century, both in America and across the world. There were some times that things got really, seriously tough, and Justyce held on tight and help his ideals in mind and didn't give in. (Although there were some moments when he lost his temper, which were honestly a long time coming and so deserved, and it was good to see him let out his anger and frustration. Nic Stone did an excellent job of showing the day-to-day injustices that people of color face, and as a non-POC reader, it was eye-opening and made me rethink a lot of what I've seen going on around me in my life. This book brings so many different important topics to light that all need to be talked about, and I'm very, very glad that she did. 

The only thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the length! I really wish this book had been just a little bit longer, because Justyce's story hooked me right from the start and I just wanted to keep going. But other than me wishing the book was longer (which isn't a real complaint, if you know what I mean), there's nothing more I can really critique about this book. It was very tastefully done and packed a punch in all the right ways.

Overall, I really liked Dear Martin. I am pleasantly surprised at how shocked this book made me at all the right times, and how interesting it was to be in Justyce's head. This is a book that everyone needs to read. Similar to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, this book will touch you and shake you up in ways that you didn't expect. And it's the kind of shake-up that you need -- so you should add this book to your TBR as soon as possible and experience this excellent story for yourself.

Oct 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

Title: Not If I Save You First
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic  
Publication Date: March 27th, 2018

Summary: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. No phone. No Internet. And not a single word from Logan. Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full. Until Logan shows up six years later . . . And Maddie wants to kill him. But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly. Maddie still really wants to kill Logan. But she has to save him first.

I'm a huge fan of anything by Ally Carter, so I'm super excited to get my hands on this book. The entire plot sounds like something I haven't read before, and it's always nice to read something refreshingly new. The title and the cover itself (as well as the little blurb on the cover!) also have me hooked, so I'm eager to see exactly where this story takes me.

PLUS it comes out the day before my birthday. It's pretty much a sign...right?

Counting down the days for this release!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Oct 16, 2017

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Published September 2017

Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I won a copy of Warcross in a giveaway, and I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I figured that I'd give the book a try since I had a copy, but I was not a huge sci-fi fan and I've never read anything by Marie Lu before, so I went into this entire ordeal totally blind. Amber has read and enjoyed some of Marie Lu's books before, but other than that, I really had no idea what to expect.

However, I was delightfully surprised. As someone who isn't a huge sci-fi fan, this book had me hooked from start to finish. It's also such a great feeling to be giving two books in a row five-star ratings, which is something that hasn't happened to me in the longest time. From the second I opened this book, I was immediately immersed in Emika's story. This book had just the right moments of sadness, action, badassery (yes, I recognize that as an official literary term), and even heart-fluttering gasps. Emika's story and the futuristic world that she lives in is so complex and gripping that any reader will find themselves wrapped up in its awe.

As the summary explains, Emika is a teenage bounty hunter in New York City. Warcross is a popular virtual reality game of sorts for the generation, and Emika one day finds herself accidentally hacking into one of the largest Warcross championship screenings in the world. She figures that she's going to get arrested (since that is a crime), but instead, doors open for her that she couldn't dream of even in her wildest imagination. Hideo Tanaka, the business mogul who coined the game and was officially one of the richest (and most eligible) young men in the world, immediately takes an interest to Emika. He even winds up hiring her for a secret job to help discover someone who was threatening the future of Warcross...but what Emika steps into is a mess that she never could have imagined.

What I liked best about this book was Emika's personality. She was tough and brave and stood up when she needed to, and she was incredibly intelligent. I mean, she manages to attract the attention of one of the most famous men in the world because of her excellent hacking skills, and then finds herself with the bounty hunter job of a lifetime. How cool is that? (Minor spoilers coming, so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) I also really loved the blooming relationship between her and Hideo. Especially those scenes where they got super close -- I remember openly squealing in public while I was reading them and blushing from head to toe because it was just so damn cute. But I also really liked how their relationship wasn't the primary focus or goal of the book -- it was Emika completing her mission and being a total badass in the process. I also really liked the futuristic world of Warcross itself -- it's such a unique idea that basically turns The Hunger Games up to 1000000 and makes things even more badass. There is seriously so much badassery in this book -- I can't handle it. This book made me want to go out and start hoverboarding through New York City and catching bounty hunters and being fierce and brave and cool. I wish.

I really can't think of anything I didn't enjoy about this book, which is shocking to me since I'm normally really confused by sci-fi and therefore always have at least one thing to point out. This book had me hooked from start to finish, and it was riddled with plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. There were several plot twists (especially towards the end) that I weren't expecting, and I found myself delightfully shocked and surprised. I'm satisfied with how the book left off, but I'm also itching to get my hands on the next copy to see where Emika goes with everything and how everything pans out. 

Overall, I absolutely loved Warcross. I've already added the unreleased second book to my TBR on Goodreads and I'll be eagerly anticipating it. This book had me hooked from start to finish and I tore through it much faster than I've read any book in awhile, and I'm incredibly grateful and thankful towards Marie Lu for giving me the reading bug again -- something which is pretty hard to come by when you're in college and drowning in midterms! I literally carried this book with me everywhere I went and read it on the walks to and from class (without tripping on too many things, thank goodness). If you think Warcross isn't your cup of tea and you find yourself shying away from it, I encourage you to pick up the book and give it a shot anyway. It got me hooked in ways that science fiction books haven't since I first read the Zodiac series by Romina Russell. I really, really loved Warcross and I will officially be pushing it on everybody I know -- which includes you! So what are you waiting for?