All American Boys By Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

All American Boys

By Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely


I have not read a book that has impacted me as much as this one in a long time. I was shaken while reading this book, shaken to my core. This novel by Reynolds and Kiely is powerful, raw, eye-opening, and thought-provoking. The novel is written from two perspectives, Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins, a black teen and white teen respectively. Rashad is a high schooler, a part of R.O.T.C. because of an obligation to his father. He’s your average student and has a passion for creating comics. He’s also violently beaten by a trigger-happy cop who assumes he’s shoplifting. The reader is able to experience the beating and subsequent arrest with Rashad as it happens. Then they’re offered Quinn’s experience as he witnesses the violent act. Quinn, who is a family friend of the arresting officer and has grown up with this man as a father figure in his life. The novel switches between the two boy’s perspectives as they try and process what has happened. Both must learn to live with this new reality and decide how they want to act moving forward.

I am a young white woman. I openly acknowledge that I have white privilege. I don’t get to control how others treat me because my skin is pale in complexion. What I can control is how I decide to live my life. Do I stand by and watch as those around me are oppressed and treated differently because of their skin color? Or do I speak up and advocate for all to receive equal treatment? These are the questions that plague Quinn after he witnessed Rashad’s beating. Unlike me, Quinn is not only white, but a white male, therefore increasing the innate privilege bestowed upon him by U.S. society. I was able to relate to Quinn because we’re both white. I haven’t seen police violence in person and seeing Quinn’s internal struggle over what to do in this situation is overwhelming. It’s hard not to feel judgmental of him for not instantly reporting what he saw, yet at the same time, you feel bad for his internal conflict. What I loved most about Quinn’s perspective was how he grew by the end of the novel. It gives people like me, who were born with privilege, ideas on how to combat this privilege. Just because I have it, doesn’t mean I can’t fight for others and stand up against it.

We’ve heard their names all over the news and even though it’s only recently that they’ve received national attention, people of color have been victims of racial profiling and wrongful shootings for a long time. Rashad’s beating may be fictional, but his story and experience rings with truth and realism. Reading Rashad’s perspective is hard. If you’re an empathetic person like me, you feel anger, outrage, sympathy, and pride for him. It allowed me insight into something I will never experience. I am not black. I will never know what it’s like to be treated like Rashad, but reading his perspective was a small window into what it must be like. I cried during this book. I cried a lot. This book is so powerful and educational for everyone from all walks of life, white or black. This novel is especially pertinent in our current political atmosphere and after the recent attack in Charlottesville, North Carolina. Just to give you a taste of this novel, here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“As I heard them, my mind sort of split in two – one part listening, and the other picking up the ideas I’d been kicking around in my head all day: Would I need to witness a violence like they knew again just to remember how I felt this week? Had our hearts really become some numb that we needed dead bodies in order to feel the beat of compassion in our cheats? Who am I if I need to be shocked into my best self?”

                                                                                          (pg.296, All American Boys)

All American Boys is a novel that everyone could benefit from reading no matter what age, race, or positionality. This novel is a modern, realistic, and impactful tale that is extremely relevant to today. If you read this novel and love it as much as I do, come out to the Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX on October 7th, 2017!!! Jason Reynolds is this year’s keynote speaker along with Marie Lu. I’ll be there and excited to see these amazing authors; I hope you will be there too!!



The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

The Legend Trilogy

Legend (Book #1)

Prodigy (Book #2)

Champion (Book #3)

By Marie Lu

            Day is one of the most elusive and sought after fugitives of the Republic. He’s so good at what he does that the Republic doesn’t even have an accurate description of his appearance let alone the knowledge of his true identity. June is the exact opposite of Day. She is the Republic’s shining star, their golden girl. She is the prodigy of the Republic and advancing through their military teachings and hierarchy at an unprecedented rate. What could be more interesting than seeing the lives of these two formidable characters intertwine? Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy details the lives of Day and June as their two seemly separate worlds collide. The series is definitely dystopian in nature with insightful social commentary on our current culture of extreme capitalism and consumerism. The books also delve into the hard topics of death, revenge, justice, and what it means to selflessly love one another. I would call this series a mash up of The Hunger Games and the show Revolution meets the show The 100. If you enjoy action, this is the book series for you. If you enjoy realistic relationships, this is the book series for you. If you enjoy being taken on a ride with unexpected turns and endings that aren’t 100% satisfying because they have a ring of reality, then this is the book series for you.

I’m not going to go into detail about the books in order to avoid giving away any spoilers. Instead I’m going to give you the rough brushstrokes of what I thought about each one. In my opinion the first book, Legend, began extremely slowly. Tediously slowly even, then again it might just be that I am not the biggest fan of dystopian post natural disaster America tales. Dystopian might not be your cup of tea either. That’s not a problem. As I said, they aren’t mine, but I still stuck it out and gave Legend a chance, and I’m very happy I did. Once I got to page thirty or so, I was hooked. The storyline, the characters, and the depth of Marie Lu’s writing all pulled me in. I fell in love with how the book wasn’t only told from the perspective of Day but June as well. I really enjoyed the fact that the chapters were printed in different colors and fonts that added to the development of Day and June as characters. I know some might find the color choice for Day’s point of view a little off putting, but I relished it. The differing in point of view allows the reader to get into the minds of these two characters and to hear not only a strong male voice but an equally strong female voice. Overall, Marie Lu does a masterful job of introducing the characters and laying the groundwork for the greater plot of the story within this first book. The reader has no choice but to continue onto the next book.

If I thought the first book was slow going at the start, the second book, Prodigy, is like jumping onto an already going treadmill set to 50 miles per hour. There’s action, emotional turmoil, victories, and failures. Things happen one after another, and you can’t set the book down. Lu is able to add more depth to her characters, and the reader gets to explore who Day and June are to their core. I love how the point-of-view change between Day and June allows for the reader to pick out differences in their personalities. Specifically, you can really get a sense of how meticulous June is. How every time she enters a room she calculates every exit point or how many tiles there are on the ground or how long it would take to cross certain distances. You get to experience June’s prodigy, her calculating mind. We also learn in the second book how the United States as we know it today crumbled and just how the Republic and the Colonies came about. I, for one, was getting antsy not knowing the history behind this dystopian future that referenced the U.S. we know today.

Now I’ve strayed away from just giving the rough brushstrokes haven’t I? I’ll wrap this up quickly then. The third and final book, Champion, might not be everything you want it to be. There might be some tough calls and valiant efforts made that aren’t made without some losses. The ending might be a little too realistic for your taste. I will admit I wasn’t originally a big fan of the ending. My romantic tender heart wanted less reality and more dreams come true. That being said, after rumination, I adore the ending. It’s unexpected and extremely accurate. I wonder what you’ll think of the ending… so tell me in the comments!!! Half the fun of reading books is hearing what other’s thought of them! In conclusion, I am a major fan of Marie Lu as a writer and a definite fan of Day and June.


The Remnant Chronicles

The Remnant Chronicles

The Kiss of Deception (Book #1)

The Heart of Betrayal (Book #2)

The Beauty of Darkness (Book #3)

By Mary E. Pearson

Arabella, better known by her affectionately given nickname Lia, is not your typical wayward princess running from a marriage she didn’t choose. A strong, fierce, and empowered young woman, she does what her betrothed was too afraid to do. She flees their politically arranged marriage on the day of their nuptials with her trusted maid and friend, Pauline. In her wake, Lia leaves two kingdoms, historically at odds, meant to be joined by this marriage at the brink of war. She leaves the scorned prince determined to track down the young woman braver than him. Lastly, she also unknowingly leaves an assassin tasked with taking her life. Mary E. Pearson creates an inviting, intricate, and consuming world within the Remnant Chronicles. There is mystery, intrigue, magic, myth, legend, and ultimately, hope. The Kiss of Deception, which I’ve summarized above, sets the ground work for an enthralling series. The following quote will give you a taste of what you have in store if you read the series (WHICH I HIGHLY SUGGEST):

“Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.

            The wind knew. It was the first of June, but cold gusts bit at the hilltop citadel as fiercely as deepest winter, shaking the windows with curses and winding through drafty halls with warning whispers. There was no escaping what was to come.”                                                                                                                              –Kiss of Deception

There is no escaping The Remnant Chronicles once you begin. They’re just too good. Mary E. Pearson truly spins a web that tramps you after the first page. The books are from the perspective of three individuals: Lia, The Prince, and The Assassin. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say read the first book in the series carefully. Mrs. Pearson is quite a trickster, and I received a massive shock at the end of the first book. If you figure out what I’m talking about, please tell me your hypothesis in the comments section!

The Heart of Betrayal and The Beauty of Darkness have darker tones than the first book. It is in these two books that the overarching plot of the series truly comes to light. These books are grittier. They deal with love and loss. They deal with trust and betrayal. They deal with desire and duty. These books will take you through the gamut of emotions multiple times before their conclusion and what a conclusion it is. I can say with utter conviction that I loved this series. I read all three books within a week. I am NOT a fast reader. I truly mean this. Those who know me don’t believe this because I can read three books within seven days. Yes, I can do this, but it’s because I will literally sit in the same spot for three days reading from the minute I wake up until 2 a.m. and then begin the whole process over again. Mary E. Pearson’s The Remnant Chronicles are a series worth losing sleep over.

Everything, Everything By Nicola Yoon




Spoiler alert: This isn’t John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars — no one unexpected dies.

            Second spoiler alert: This book is amazing, read it. Don’t just watch the movie.

            SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. If you were diagnosed with SCID tomorrow it would mean you’re basically “allergic to the world” in the words of Madeline Whittier. In other words, you don’t get to interact with said world. Nicola Yoon weaves a realistic, quirky, and heart wrenching story centered around Madeline Whitter, a young girl with SCID, in her novel Everything, Everything. You are exposed to Madeline’s: day to day routine, her medical test results, online shopping orders, spoiler book reviews, and so much more.

When I say you’re exposed to these things, I literally mean exposed because they’re printed on the page. There are endless graphics, designs, and artwork throughout the short novel. The interspersion of the graphics/artwork amongst the regular text of the novel allows the reader to fly through story at an alarming rate, or at least I did and I openly acknowledge that I am a slow reader. The art work doesn’t only break up the text and allow for diversity in form but it’s also extremely realistic of a 21st century high school girl. There are text exchanges, emails, and notebook entries; all exposing the raw and unfiltered thoughts of a teenage girl who has been quarantined in her own home for the majority of her life. Of course it’s not a real depiction of a teenage girl’s life unless a boy is involved and what could be better than the boy next door?

Olly and his family move into the house next to Madeline and what could be more exciting for someone that’s been confined to the same square footage for nearly 18 years? Olly is more of a surprise than Madeline could have ever expected. His favorite color is black and that’s what he wears every day from head to toe. He runs at walls, chills atop roof tops, and captures Madeline’s attention and heart almost instantly although she tries to deny it. If you’re not someone who enjoys “boy meets girl” stories then this novel might not be for you. What I can say is that it’s not your typical high school romance novel. There are massive plot twists, in depth relationships, and sadly too realistic family scenarios. Olly’s character development is just as intensive as Madeline’s and it’s a joy to read.

I was delighted and engaged throughout the entire read. That being said, I did have an issue with the ending. I won’t give away any spoilers but I will say that the ending comes extremely fast. A major plot point is revealed and less than fifty pages later the novel is finished. Personally I was happy with the ending, but not the way it was written. I needed more finality, more closure. The ending would be great if I knew it was intentionally left vague in order for there to be a sequel but this novel is a standalone. Please comment with what you thought of the ending because I would love to know your thoughts!  I really had the best time reading this novel and recommend it to all who appreciate realistic fiction, teenage love, and the journey of growing up and finding yourself.

A Court of Thrones and Roses (ACOTAR) Trilogy

A Court of Thrones and Roses (Book #1)

A Court of Mist and Fury (Book #2)

A Court of Wing and Ruin (Book #3)

By Sarah J. Maas

            …. I am lost for words. The ACOTAR trilogy by Sarah J. Maas took my breath away, had me balling my eyes out, laughing myself silly, and literally running around my house screaming when my Nook began losing power in the last one-hundred pages of final book. I found my Nook charger and plugged it in in time; I know you were worried for me.

Where to begin with this series…where to begin? The first book, A Court of Thrones and Roses, could be described as a take on Beauty and the Beast, but that’s too simplistic of a description in my opinion. Similar to the Disney movie, the book does have a female protagonist, Feyre, and a so called “beast” in the immortal faerie of Tamlin. Feyre is taken away to a magical faerie land, Prythian, against her will in a bargain of sorts similar to one made by Belle for her father. There is also a curse on Tamlin and his people in Prythian like the movie, and there is the potential for romance between Feyre and Tamlin like Belle and the Beast, but the similarities between the movie and book stops here.

Sarah J. Maas is a masterful world builder. She has created three different lands and multiple races of humans and faerie species. She has constructed social orders not only amongst the humans, but the fae as well. She has developed intricate war histories dating back thousands of years. She has crafted various courts for the faeries each with their own personalities, abilities, and reputations. Sarah J. Maas has built a world that consumed me; I was completely transported into their world, and I never wanted to leave. I devoured the first two books within days. I then had a tortuous three month wait in between A Court of Mist and Fury and the release of the final book, A Court of Wings and Ruin. You are lucky. If you’re just starting the trilogy, you can read all three books consecutively.

I am seriously at a loss of words … how can I accurately explain how much I LOVE this trilogy? I can’t. It’s that simple. I will never be able to articulate just how obsessed, enamored, and enthralled I am with these books. There’s intricate plot and character development. A bit of more than PG-13 sex scenes – be warned.  There are harrowing fight scenes and battles that illustrate the grit and grim involved in warfare. Some people might say the first book is slow paced, that it inches to a climax. Fine, say what you will, BUT I will fight you if you say the second and third books in the trilogy are slow. Maybe fifty to a hundred pages in they hit a certain point, and then they are flying. There is a major battle, a new twist in the plot, and something else tugging on your heart strings one thing right after another. I’ve never read a 626 page book as fast as I did when I read A Court of Wings and Ruin. Gaaahhhhhh, I feel a flurry of emotion and odd summersaults in my stomach writing about this trilogy. It’s that good. It’s that consuming. I can proudly say I indoctrinated one of my friends into the ACOTAR Trilogy lifelong fan club; that’s how good this series is. I hope you join us and start reading the books right now! Please let me know if you’ve joined the club in the comments section!

As I’ve reiterated multiple times, I feel like my words fail to express how much these books impacted me. Click the link for a brilliant GIF review a fellow ACOTAR Trilogy lifelong fan club member posted on Goodreads. It accurately describes all I wish to express in images.


The Raven Cycle Series

The Raven Cycle Series

The Raven Boys

The Dream Thieves

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven King

By Maggie Stiefvater




  1. a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.


  1. experience dreams during sleep.
  2. contemplate the possibility of doing something or that something might be the cause.


Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series forces the reader to think about dreams in a radically new way. Dreams are no longer something that only occurs when you’re sleeping. Dreams are no longer what you wish for your future. The characters relationship to dreaming is nothing like ours. Dreams become reality with the way that Stiefvater spins her literary magic; dreams are her words on the paper. The series follows the interconnected and tangled lives of Blue Sargent and her Raven Boys: Richard “Dick” Gansey III, Adam Parrish, and Ronan Lynch. The tale Stiefvater creates involves psychics, lay lines, mystical hidden Welsh kings, and endless possibilities.

The first book in the series The Raven Boys pulls the reader in with Stifvater’s unique way of writing. The way she writes cannot be boxed into a single descriptor. The point of view of the book is not written in first person perspective or second person perspective. It’s not an omniscient observer or even a single character perspective. It is constantly changing and jumping from little storyline to little story line that comes together to weave the big picture. Sometimes I found myself becoming frustrated with her way of writing. I wanted a clear understanding of one character and their perspective on what was happening around them. I’m happy that’s not what I received because the more I read, the more I found myself dreaming along with the characters. Once I got over the “strangeness” of the writing, I was able to follow its cadence. I followed its notes to the very end and rushed to begin reading the second book.

The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, was not what I expected it to be. If the first book focused more on the character of Blue, then the second book was all about Ronan – my favorite character. The second book in the series finally answers many questions that come up in the first book. I won’t go into detail in order to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say Ronan plays a pivotal role in terms of dreams. The character development that occurs within this book is astronomical. The reader not only learns more of the background of each character but meets more of their family members. The reader finally begins to see a more holistic view of each character and the discoveries are immense. If you couldn’t already tell, I loved the second book. I devoured it in less than two days and moved straight into the third book.

Lily Blue, Blue Lily is the third installment in the series and Stiefvater just keeps the ball rolling. One second you think you know where the story is headed, and in the next second, she’s gone in an entirely different direction and thrown in a new character to boot. I thoroughly enjoyed all the twist and turns of the story and appreciated not being able to guess the ending. Too often when reading books or watching TV shows, if you pay close enough attention, you can predict the ending. That is not true with this series – it’s a roller coaster with hidden turns from start to finish.

The Raven King is the fourth and final installment in the series. Stiefvater ends the series like a beautiful symphony; all the players have made their entrance and had their solos. The crescendo has been reached and the final lingering note played. That single note keeps playing, letting the listener imagine what should come next. The ending is satisfactory yet allows for the continuation of dreaming. Stiefvater has dreamt this amazing world to life, but now it’s up to the reader to dream the rest. The Raven Cycle series is one of disbelief, vivid emotions, and endless possibilities. It is a dream made reality and whispers for you to never stop dreaming.

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Rose. Poppy. Violet. Lily. Four exceptionally beautiful, pure, and innocent women. A family cultivated by Clover and seemingly perfect in every way. Excluding the fact that all four of these women were kidnapped, renamed, and are being held by Clover in the cellar beneath his home.


The Cellar by Natasha Preston follows the story of Summer, a feisty sixteen year old who lives in the boring old town of Long Thorpe, England where nothing exciting happens to anyone, until the day it happens to Summer. Violently abducted and shoved into her kidnappers hidden cellar, Summer is forced to become Lily. She’s thrust into Clover’s “family” along with Rose, Poppy, and Violet because in Clover’s mind he is saving his “flowers” from the corruption and filth that taints the world. He is their protector and deserves their gratitude for his noble work.

Preston writes The Cellar from the point of view of Summer, her boyfriend Lewis, and even her abductor Colin, better known as Clover. The change in perspective allows the reader to put themselves in the shoes of all involved, to try and understand each mindset and their emotional journey. The reader experiences the crushing fear and despair that consumes Summer. They experience the manic drive propelling Lewis in his search for the girl he loves. They enter the deranged and distorted reality of Colin and are able to glimpse the rational he uses to commit different actions and why he believes he’s doing the “right” thing. The way Preston switches between characters is masterful and allows the reader a chance to breath. If there weren’t the changes in perspective or flash backs to before Summer was taken, I know I wouldn’t have been able to finish the book. I felt an overwhelming sense of unease and terror as I read through Summer’s point of view. A pressure built up in my chest as I read through Summer’s fears and feared for her myself. The pressure continued building the longer I read and soon I felt like I was suffocating because although this is a fictitious book, it’s a sad reality of our world that things like this actually happen. The segmenting of the book allows for the reader to step back and remember that the book is a work of fiction. It’s okay to breath.

This book is captivating, exhilarating, and impossible to put down. When I did finish The Cellar, I felt very unsatisfied with the ending until I realized that there was going to be a squeal entitled You’ll Always Be Mine which I plan on starting today. This book will keep you with bated breath, wanting to cry and scream at the same time, and riding a wave of anticipation. If you want to be swaddled in rainbows and butterflies, this is not the book for you. If you find yourself horrified yet fascinated by the heinous acts of this world, this is the book for you.     



Scythe DeGeneres

A world where humanity has achieved the unachievable — immortality. Death is no longer an inevitable truth that could ensnare you at a moments notice because death no longer exists. There is no war, no hunger, and no disease. Death is simply a vexation of past generations who didn’t have “nanite” technology that can dictate an individuals rate of metabolism, suppress emotions from raging wild, and instantly dull pain receptors and beginning healing ones body. Past generations didn’t have recovery centers that could take people with snapped spines or in any other state of “deadish-ness” and return them to perfect health in four days tops.

Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch live in this seemingly perfect world. They live in vastly separate humdrum lives, with little chance of intersecting, until one day Scythe Faraday sets their lives on a collision course. The Scythedom is the order of men and women who stand above all else. An entity who is above the law, held accountable to no one but themselves as they are charged with the job of “gleaning”. They are the only ones with the power to take life and are charged to do so in order to control the ever growing population. Citra and Rowan are taken on as Scythe Faraday’s apprentices in Neal Shusterman’s Scythe and their journey is far from anything you could expect.wordcloud

Fast moving, beguiling and through-provoking Shusterman engages the reader on every level. He creates a lexicon unique to the Scythe world and showcases his own impressive vocabulary without causing the reader to feel unintelligent. I’ll be honest – I had to look up many of the words and I mean MANY. At least fifteen, but I feel good about admitting that because I learned something. I not only added words to my vocabulary but realized how lax in my vocabulary I’ve become. The English language is so extensive and yet my generation is known for “Y.O.L.O.” and “lol”. I don’t want to fall in that pit fall of the “millennial generation”. The word cloud you can see above  contains words I noticed and loved in Scythe.

The book touches on current day issues of: morality, government, corruption, and human decency in a new way. More than anything I took away from Shusterman’s book a commentary on how our society is comprised of such deep felt emotions and how we try to suppress or enhance those emotions. Everyone from children to the elderly are consumed by depression, elation, anxiety, greed and everything in between. Shusterman’s world eliminates the nuisance of strong felt emotions with nanites that “subdue” them but the world he creates isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Taking emotion out of the equation isn’t the answer because without the ability to feel, how does one know they’re alive? If death were no longer a looming shadow, would their still be purpose?

” We can put things off far more effectively than those doomed to die, because death has become the exception instead of the rule. The stagnation that I so fervently glean on a daily basis seems an epidemic that only grows. There are times I feel I am fighting a losing battle against an old-fashioned apocalypse of the living dead.”

“What should I take away from your review?”, you ask  READ SCYTHE BY NEAL SHUSTERMAN!!!! I soaked up every word and can NOT WAIT for the next book in the series. Read. The. Book. Also comment and tell me what your scythe name would be! Tiny spoiler below because it must be said…











“I love you,” he said.

“Same here,” she responded. “Now get lost.”