The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary (writer), Andrew C. Robinson (artist), and Kyle Baker (cartoonist)

This book (graphic novel) was absolutely amazing. I loved it. It follows the story of Brian Epstein (as you can tell from the title), who managed the Beatles and who Paul McCartney called, “The Fifth Beatle”. I have nothing bad to say about this, and so I will keep it very brief: the art was amazing, the writing was fabulous, and the story and characters were simply wonderful. A friend recommended it to me, and I was flipping through the pages to see if I would like it or not, and I fell in love with the art. So I decided to read it, and then I fell in love with the way the story was told. It was (simply put) beautiful. I don’t know how else to describe it. Just, absolutely, positively, 100% beautiful.

I would not recommend this for anyone who doesn’t understand drug abuse. It’s a huge part of the story, as it played a huge role in Brian Epstein’s life. I would also say that if you are homophobic, this probably isn’t the best read for you. I do, however, recommend this for anyone who knew who Brian was, or loves the Beatles, or is looking for a graphic novel with fantastic art and a great story. I would definitely recommend this to whoever will read it.

Written in Blood by Anne Bishop

This is not the book that inspired the movie with the detective. It is, in fact, a purely fantasy novel, with some supernatural mixed in. This book is basically about a girl named Meg who ran away from the Compound (at the risk of spoiling the book, I must leave what the Compound is out of the summary, since it really does give away a part of the book. I will, however say, that Meg describes it at one point as a cage). She finds herself in the Lakeside Courtyard, an area run by the terra indigene (or the supernatural creatures that basically rule the world), and becomes the Courtyard’s Liaison (the intermediary for the humans and the terra indigene).

It, of course, gets more complicated than that, and at some point in the book, I got confused as to which was the main plot line. But in the end, all the paths lead to the same road, and it all ties together to make sense.

I really liked this book. At first, I was a little dubious, especially when I found Meg ridiculously annoying, and Simon (her boss, and the leader of the Courtyard) was a bit obnoxious. I thought, This is so see-through. Isn’t there anything original anymore? But curiosity won out, and I kept reading. And I was surprised to find that, at around page 300, it was midnight, and I’d been reading it all night long. I hadn’t even realized that I’d not only finished page 101, but that more than one hour had passed reading it. And, by then end of that day, Meg didn’t seem so annoying. She grew on me, and by about halfway through the book, I cared whether she lived or died. And it wasn’t just with Meg, but with everyone in the Courtyard. The only few people I liked throughout the book were Henry, Vlad, and Tess. Everyone else grew on me, though, and I ended up liking all of them, enough to read the second book. Except Asia Crane. I never liked her, and wasn’t meant to like her. Bishop did a very good job of creating her character: at first, I didn’t care whether Simon or Vlad, or any of the Others ate her or not. As I continued reading, I did care: I really wanted them to eat her. I absolutely hated Asia Crane. And the Controller. But that one makes a little more sense (if you read the book).

I liked how similar their world  was to ours. Despite it being set in a different Universe, I could still understand everything. Like the fact that the Sanguinati were Vampires (I mean, sanguine does mean blood-red), or they way the weeks/months worked. And there were things that were almost exactly the same as how things work on Earth; obviously we humans are not ruled by Vampires, Werewolves/other shifters, or Harvesters, but the humans in the book acted the exact same way that humans in our universe work: they were caring, stupid or smart (depending on the person), stubborn, and forgetful. And fragile. Very very fragile. But then again, there were supernatural beings that were twice and sometimes three times as strong as them. So I should say they’re fragile in comparison. Aside from the similarities, it was also very easy to understand what was happening and all the details of the Universe they’re living in. I never once got confused as to what was going on or who was doing what. It helped that each character was an individual, and could not be mistaken for someone else. They also show up multiple times, so you never think, Who is this again? It’s an immediate acknowledgement of the character; you don’t have to wonder, you just remember. I was also never confused as to what kind of creature each character was; they all take on traits of their supernatural counterpart. Like the Sanguinati can turn into smoke; even when they’re in solid form, they still have this feel to them like they’re transparent, or walking on air; they’re very graceful. Even when they’re talking and not moving, they seem calm and lethal, but still airy. Whereas the Crows are chatty, and slightly dimwitted but still caring, and obsessed with random objects which they consider valuable.

I also liked the fact that most of my questions are being answered (keep in mind that I’m on the second book). I’m not left hanging. And the ending to the first book was satisfying, and I was perfectly fine with it ending the way it did, especially since it led the way for the second book.

I would not recommend this for anyone who does not like fantasy or supernatural novels. Or anyone looking strictly for a romance. This first book is not, I repeat not a romance. I also do not recommend this book for anyone under the age of 13. There is a lot of adult material in this book, and in the next book. I also will not recommend this to anyone who cannot deal with gore, since there is a lot of violence.

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Basically, this book is about a 17-year-old girl (a Reboot, which is someone who basically comes back from the dead), named Wren One-Seventy-Eight. She is in charge of training newbies and taking in criminals. Her life is a routine: She trains newbies, goes on missions, and, no matter what, obeys orders. Until the day that Callum Twenty-Two comes.

(The actual summary is probably a lot better than that, but that’s the best I can do without spoiling anything)

I absolutely loved this book. From the get go, I couldn’t put it down. Told from Wren’s point of view, the book is enthralling and capturing, and will grab your attention from page one. You get absorbed in the world, the characters, and most of all, the adventure throughout the novel. My only critique: I wish it had been longer.

One of my favorite things about this book was the world that Wren and Callum live in. At first it was a little confusing, since I had no idea what a Reboot was, but the book does a very good job of explaining things. Not only what a Reboot was, and how they came to be, but also what happened between today (modern times) and the time period the book is set in, which is sometime in the distant future. And it was very easy to imagine what was happening, and how this could be realistic, even though it was so far from reality. The world they live in does not seem like it could be possible; I mean, the dead come back to life (and no, they’re not zombies, ghosts, or vampires). That’s not realistic. But it felt real. The system that the Reboots live in, how they live their lives, even each character was so real to me, that I could form a complete picture in my head of what was happening. Aside from that initial What’s a Reboot? there was no confusion, and while sometimes I got a thought that told me what I was reading wasn’t real (again, the dead come back to life. Hello!) it seemed like it could actually happen.

I loved the characters. Wren, the main character, is absolutely hilarious. At first she seemed cold and distant, and almost robotic, but as I kept reading, she opened up more and more, having more emotions the more I read. It was almost like I was actually meeting her. The first impression was that she was more robot than human, and more dead than alive, but as I got to know her, as I kept reading, I found out that she is compassionate, and understanding, and kind to those who are close to her. She is also strong, and extremely fierce; there were moments (a lot of them) where I wished I was as cool as she is. And then there’s Callum. Callum made me smile the minute the book introduced him. He’s funny, and sweet, innocent and adorable. He reminded me of a puppy at times, always happy. Not always, but he was a pretty positive character. I could not find anything to hate about either Wren or Callum. They’re just really like-able characters. Ever was like that as well. She was a really cool character, fierce like Wren, but a little softer and a little nicer. She was also extremely protective of Wren. If someone didn’t like Wren, or said something mean to her, Ever was automatically their enemy. There are a lot of other characters that I loved, but if I keep going I’m going to end up spoiling something. But there were very few characters where I thought, what a useless character, or had a completely negative thought that wasn’t plot related. There was never a moment when I thought, God, you’re pathetic or get over it. I genuinely liked every character, with the exception of some of the HARC (the people who “take care of” the Reboots) members, because they pissed me off, but they were meant to be the characters that you hate on.

I got into the story really fast. I was addicted to it even before Callum came in, and after he did I couldn’t stop reading it. There were times when it reminded me of The Hunger Games, but it was not significant enough to change my opinion of the story. And other than that, I absolutely loved it. I definitely recommend this to anyone who will read it; it’s a fantastic book. I would say 13+ though, only because there is a lot of talk about sex. There’s no actual act, but Wren talks about it quite a bit. There’s also drugs, but no drug use for the main characters; just a few of the people around them. But other than that, it’s pretty appropriate. And a definite must read.

 

 

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

This book is about a boy who was put into a series of bad foster homes after the death of his parents, named Noah. He is fighting to gain custody of his two younger brothers, who were separated from him when they were put into the foster care system. Echo has agreed to tutor him in order to get money to fix her brother’s car in her brother’s memory. She survived a vicious event, which she has no memory of, but has the scars to prove it happened. These two broken people come together, and you can guess what happens next.

I did not read this book for its originality. This is, in its most basic terms, a boy-meets-girl story, with a mix in of girl-and-boy-have-issues story. Like I said, there are plenty others out there almost exactly like it, when you look at it that way. I did read this book, because I felt like reading a heart-wrenching romance novel. This book did not disappoint.

What this book lacked in originality, it made up for with characters. At first, I found Echo a little annoying, and Noah to be a bit of a jerk. However, after I read more than the first two chapters, I got really into the characters. I learned that not only is Echo damaged, but she is also strong, resilient, and mostly courageous, when it is not outside the law. I learned that Noah is, essentially, the dream boy: funny, caring, flirtatious, somewhat of a bad boy, and just absolutely perfect (when I think of Noah, the song “If You Told Me To” by Hunter Hayes comes to mind). And, despite the fact that he almost has no flaws, if you don’t count how incredibly stubborn he is and his inability to make fantastic life choices (which are not big in his case, and I actually liked the fact that he was stubborn, although there were definitely times where his choices really frustrated me), I fell in love with his character. I found myself wondering why Noah didn’t exist in real life. I also loved Noah’s friends, Beth and Isaiah, flaws and all. They seemed like actual people, whom if I had met in real life, I would have wanted to become friends with. Echo’s friends, not so much, with the exception of her best friend, Lila, who seemed to be the only genuine friend she had, and I sort of just tolerated Lila. I didn’t have any real likes or dislikes towards her; she just was.

Aside from the characters, the novel itself was very heart-wrenching (which I believe I mentioned earlier). I found myself laughing along with the characters, and almost crying when they broke down. There were times I wanted to shield them from the pain, and tell them, “No, baby, you’re not ready for that,” before I realized that no, they are not actual people, they are fiction, Liv stop what are you doing, you can’t shield them from the stuff that’s going to happen because it’ll happen whether you want it to or not.

One of the great things about this book is that it made me feel that attachment to the characters; it wasn’t just another boy-meets-girl-and-something-tragic-happens, or some drama. Because not only could the characters stand independent of one another, but they knew what they want and they went for it. And in the end, the tragedy (I will not spoil it here, so you should read the book), whatever that may be, made me even more emotional than it would have if the characters had been so wrapped up in each other that they couldn’t figure out what they themselves wanted out of life. The fact that this book was different, and made the characters separate from their romance, was one of the things that made me fall in love with the story.

I do not recommend this book for anyone under the age of 13. It does have drugs, alcohol, some violence, and heavy mention of sex (nothing detailed, it’s just talked about often). I do recommend this for anyone who loves romances, teen romances, or is craving some kind of romance, and doesn’t care what kind it is. I really liked this book. And while some of the time I am a bit cynical when it comes to teen romance novels (I am constantly yelling at the book that “they can’t possibly know what love is, they’re only in high school,” and my books’ margins are generally filled with comments on how annoying the protagonist or main love interest is because they can’t get a guy to like them when there are four guys falling all over them), I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book. I still made my cynical comments, but they were less (somewhat) about the main characters, and more about secondary characters.

Speaking of, I forgot to mention one thing: if you read this book, watch out for a character named Luke. I can honestly say that I hated him more than I hated Joffrey, and that’s saying a lot. He’s just really, not a love-able character. (Actually, I take that back. Joffrey was much more detestable, and I have no idea what I was thinking comparing Luke to such an evil person. I’m going to get off topic if I explain my hatred for Joffrey, but just know that to even come close to comparison, Luke has to be pretty despicable, and the truth is he’s not that loathsome. I just really, really, REALLY, did not like him).

Unknown

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I have to say, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love it. It most definitely wasn’t even close to being in my top ten books, but if nothing else, I did enjoy reading it.

Really quickly: This book is about a boy named Thomas, who is sent to the Glade without any memory of who he was before waking up surrounded by Gladers (the people living in the Maze). He soon learns that he and his fellow Gladers must figure out a way to get out of the Maze, and that that is the reason they are sent to the Glade. However, when a girl shows up–unusual because all of the new arrivals (or Greenies) have been boys and they arrived a month apart, whereas she came right after Thomas–the klunk (a fancy Glader word for poop) hits the fan. Thomas must not only help the Gladers escape the Maze, but he must also find out the reason they were sent there, and what he has to do with the Maze.

When I originally heard about The Maze Runner, I’d thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t entirely interested. In other words: at the time, I hadn’t wanted to read it. I was waiting for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins to come out (I think it was around that time, but don’t hold me to that), and hadn’t felt like reading it. I really regret that. I might have liked it better than than I did reading it now. I actually picked this book up because I’d heard fantastic things about it, but more than that I’d heard about the movie coming out , and of course, I heard about the cast list, (Dylan O’Brien is playing Thomas, and Teresa is played by Kaya Scodelerio, and it’s just an overall amazing cast), and decided to read it before the movie came out. And, having heard such great things about it, I was expecting great things.

I can honestly say that I am thoroughly disappointed. Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the book, but that’s all I did: enjoy it. I didn’t feel any deep emotional attachment to any characters, expect a mild annoyance sometimes, and I found that, while the idea was cool and original, the plot itself was predictable, and I’d gotten the sense that I’d read it before. Not in a sappy, oh-this-is-so-typical-but-I-love-it-anyways kind of way, but in a I-am-not-surprised-by-anything-happening-in-this-story kind of way. It was…disappointing. I cannot come up with a better word. I was expecting so much more from a book I had heard so much about. And I think if I had read it a few years ago, when I was waiting for that book, I might have even loved it.

There were a few things I did like about this book. For one, some of the characters. I really liked Newt and Minho, as well as Chuck. Thomas and Teresa…not so much. But I did also like Gally. Those four characters were really the most human in the entire book. But thinking back on it, to say I thoroughly liked them would be too much of an understatement. I liked them because they had likeable qualities: Newt was smart, and thought things through. Minho was slightly reckless, but also a little scared and puts on a tough front. Gally was mean and a bit of a bully (an understatement), but I liked him because he was different. He wasn’t entirely evil, and I almost felt bad for him. He really just wanted to be heard. And then there was Chuck. Chuck was, well, he was Chuck. He was adorable, and a little annoying at times, but he was very much the little brother figure. And I could just picture him with the chubbiest cheeks, and couldn’t help but love him. Because Chuck is really just innocent, and I’m a bit of a sucker for innocent characters.

But  I never really liked Thomas or Teresa. I mean, Teresa was kind of cool, and I guess I actually did like her, but Thomas was so…dull. He was too perfect, and I couldn’t really find a flaw with him. And it made him seem less human, and less dimensional.

There was also the matter of the not-so-emotional-attachment-to-the-characters. When I said I had no emotional attachment to the characters, I mean I had no emotional attachment to the characters. I could care less what happened to them. I didn’t care if they died, I didn’t care when one of them got hurt, and I really didn’t care if they ever made it out of the maze. I just didn’t care. I kept reading the book to satisfy a curiosity, but I never had the need to turn the page, keep reading. I couldn’t even find that in the characters, and I think that’s what really disappointed me. Because normally, when I’m really into a book, when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to, something goes wrong, or a character dies or is hurt (either physically or mentally), I get a pit in my stomach. Or when something really good happens, I want to jump up and down, and then tell everyone within a two-mile radius about what amazingly fantastic thing just happened to the main character. Reading this book, I felt dissatisfied and empty. The entire book. And when I finished the book, I felt indifference.

And I am now completely unmotivated to read the next book.

I never thought I’d actually say that. Wow.

Okay, all that being said: I do recommend this for younger readers. There is gore, and there is violence, but I think it’s definitely a book that you enjoy when you’re younger.

One last note: I’m still going to see the movie. While the book was upsetting, I did still get some kind of enjoyment reading it. And I still love the actors who are starring in it. And that’s the reason that I read to book in the first place, and so even if the critics proclaim it to be the worst movie in the history of movies, I will still go to see it.

Unknown-1

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’m not going to describe the summary to you; if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t already read the book, you know what it’s about. If you’ve never seen the movie, but heard of it, you have a vague sense that it’s about a guy named Gatsby. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book, or heard anything about it, don’t read the summary on the back; just start the book. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I’d heard some things about it before reading it, but had always tuned out when the plot was being discussed, because I knew I’d be reading it for school, and I didn’t want it to be spoiled for me. I asked the people who had seen the movie already not to give me any spoilers, and my friends who had already read the book to not tell me anything. I wanted to be completely shocked at the plot twists, I wanted to thoroughly enjoy each character ark, and I wanted to fall in love with the characters, and sometimes even hate the characters (when I say sometimes…).

Speaking of characters I loved, I absolutely loved Gatsby. He may have actually been the only character, aside from Nick (the narrator), that I actually liked throughout the novel, and never felt disenchanted with him. He’s a cool character, but more than that, I empathized with him, and when I wasn’t sympathetic with him, I was thinking, “Oh, you poor old sport.” There were times  when a character in the novel was trash talking him, and I’d actually yell at the book, “Don’t you dare say that about Gatsby!!!” I’m pretty sure some of my friends thought I was a little crazy after that. (Also, and a little on a side note, I could definitely understand the casting for Gatsby in the movie. Leo was the perfect person to play the role of Gatsby, and I won’t let anyone convince me otherwise. While I haven’t seen the movie yet (and I will, it’s on my To-Do List), when Fitzgerald described Gatsby, I had looked up, turned to my friend, and said, “He literally just described Leo.” Perfect casting on that part; well done movie crew).

I also really liked the vivid imagery and word choices Fitzgerald used throughout the novel. For example, when Fitzgerald was describing one of the parties in the novel, he used very drunken imagery and wording, while at the same time making it very colorful and musical. It blended very well together to create this amazing image of one of Gatsby’s parties.

I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 12 or 13. It has alcohol, excessive drinking, sexual relations, and other aspects that I dare not mention for fear of ruining it for anyone who has not yet read the book or seen the movie. I do, however, think that it is a book that you should read at least once in your lifetime. It is absolutely fantastic, and if you’re not going to read it in school anytime soon, pick it up and turn to the first page. I’m 99.9% positive that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Unknown-2

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

This book was fantastic. It was absolutely, positively amazing, and if you’re not reading this (and you’re not currently reading a fabulous book), pick it up, turn to the first page, and start reading.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first book in a series of books, which follow Peter Pan before he meets Wendy. It opens with how Peter came to Neverland, and how he became who he is. In a humor-filled and somewhat sassy book, we learn how Peter came to be able to fly, how mermaids came to exist, how Black Stache (or as he is now known: Captain Hook) came to loose his hand, and much more about Peter’s first journey and the start of the famous Neverland. If you love Peter Pan, and any version of the story, whether it was a book, a movie, or a play, you’re more than likely going to enjoy this as well.

I actually saw the play form of this book before I read the book, so I already knew most of the plot twists. (The play, by the way, is just as fantastic and definitely worth seeing. It’s not Wicked standards of greatness, but it definitely has its own charm and can hold its worth in the humor department; I spent more than half the play laughing, and it was fairly good, plot-wise.). I was, however, fairly surprised when the book came up with its own plot points, and its own sense of humor (especially the relationship between Smee and Captain Black Stache, which I found hilarious), and at some points diverged from the play completely. I liked the book’s version of events a lot more than I liked the play’s version, but at the same time was able to appreciate both.

Before I started reading it, I thought this book was written for adults. Mostly, because when I went to see the play, it was called Peter and the Starcatchers: A Grownup’s Prequel to Peter Pan, and I thought that it was written specifically with adults in mind. That being said, I found that children would enjoy the story just as much as the grownups would. And the book is not that much different. When I first started reading, I thought that I was reading a kid’s book; it has aspects of children’s novels, and I could see how someone younger would like reading it. The first reason for this is that the main characters (like Peter and Molly), were children (we never find out how hold they actually are, but they’re young enough to be called children in the book). The second, it would be perfectly normal for kids to read this. They wouldn’t get all of the jokes, and so it wouldn’t be as funny to them, but there weren’t enough of them to call this a strictly adult book. There also wasn’t anything that children (presumably who are reading) haven’t read before. There are pirates, mermaids, flying boys and girls, animals, “savages” (which I loved because they were VERY non-stereotypical), treasure, magic…I couldn’t find one thing in this book that a child has not already read in a book, or seen in a movie; there wasn’t even any bad language. The worst that the language gets is Black Stache saying, “Idjit” instead of idiot. At the same time, I found it enjoyable, and I believe that adults would enjoy it as well. Like I said, it has its own charm, and it is very witty and funny.

To sum it all up (in case you didn’t want to read this post): read this book. It’s very humorous, its a quick read, and you’ll definitely enjoy it, especially if you liked Peter Pan (in whatever medium you viewed it, whether that was the movie, the book, or the play). Its good for any age (except maybe two year olds or younger), and you will be absorbed in its pages from page one. Also, if you enjoy it, or if you decided not to read it, but have gotten curious about it, then go see the play. It’s equally as enjoyable, although different, and also good for all ages (except maybe two year olds or younger. I really don’t think they’d enjoy it as much.).

Unknown-3