Book Review: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flower for Algernon by Daniel Keyes


Publisher: Mariner Books

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: 1966

Pages: 311

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With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance–until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

 

The way I feel about this book is simple. It is that strange feeling as every hair on your body stands on end as you relive some strange childhood memory you’ve tucked away. It is the tears the steadily fall down your cheeks and you realize, yes, Charlie, I have been there. I have seen and felt what you have seen and felt. And the heartbreak as you realize that life is just one huge circle, waiting to turn.

As Charlie gets wiser, he is able to identify the emotions as they come to him. However, as a reader I wish I could have been able to experience more of them. Charlie is very closed off when it comes to certain emotions and focuses and others such as anger and frustration. It would have been nice to see more of his emotions towards Alice and his family.

Nonetheless, this is a lovely novel. The way in which Charlie’s memories come to him with such clarity and realization is beautiful. The way Keyes writes seamlessly brings his story to life, switching from one Charlie to the next. The message of the story is that there is always room for improvement, that no one is ever perfect which might be a cliche, but coming from Charlie and his difficulties, is so heartwarming and special. Keyes also spends quite sometime on Charlie’s relationship with his mother, how they have interacted with each other before and after his sister. How she reacted to him being back and a completely different person. Although I wish this part had more emotion, the back story, the anxiety, and the memories…It’s all there. It’s well done and quite satisfying once they meet again.

So many times, Charlie is described as ‘something else’, as something that is not human, that was created when in reality he wasn’t. A doctor did not create him and this realization to Charlie, to understand the meaning of these words and to fight against them, is the most moving part of the novel. It shows how he has used his wisdom to understand that nothing was wrong with the old Charlie, he was just as capable as he is now and I love this book for that.

4. 5 Bad-Ass Clouds

Song of the Week (Revamped) #15-Heart it Races by Dr. Dog

song of the week revamped

Song of the Week is a weekly meme of some of my current favourite songs or songs that I can’t get out of my head. Leave your favourite songs and I’ll be sure to check them out.

heart-it-races-ep

Dr. Dog is an American rock band from West Grove, Pennsylvania, United States. Its lineup consists of Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken, Frank McElroy, Zach Miller, and Eric Slick.

I won’t lie. The first I heard Heart it Races, I thought it was just  a boring old song. And in a sense, it really is. Sure, you put it on and it’s sweet, it’s light, whatever. But then it creeps up on you (it really does) during the weirdest times. For me, it’s whenever I’m washing dishes or like, I don’t know, making a sandwich. And it just stays there, being chill. Like a stoner who just wants to repeat the same thing over and over again until everyone else is saying it as well. boom da da da da da da boom dat dat dat da da

Favourite part:

And we’re slow to acknowledge the knots in our laces
Heart it races

And we go back to where we moved out to the places
Heart it races

I sold it to a man and threw him out that window
He went boom da da da da da da boom dat dat dat da da
Made his wife a widow

Listen to the song here.

Lyrics are here.

Song of the Week (Revamped) #14-Nikki by Logic

song of the week revamped

Song of the Week is a weekly meme of some of my current favourite songs or songs that I can’t get out of my head. Leave your favourite songs and I’ll be sure to check them out.

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Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, known by his stage name Logic, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer.

The first time I heard this song I assumed what you would. This is about a girl who stole this guy’s heart and how he’s ruined because of it. And in a sense, I’m right but I’m also wrong. Logic uses a unique and creative way to talk about his problems and struggles and I seriously respect him for it. But what makes him amazing is the way he explains the song and what it truly means. Seriously, listen to his explanation because it like opens your mind and shit.

Favourite part:

Goddamn, took me as young man
Everyday I wonder who I am, who will I be, where will I go
What will they write upon my grave?
A free man born as a king, who died as a slave
But everything he gave her was for nothing though
Oh no I can’t fade that shit I gotta let you go
You got me tripping like a flight to Vegas
All this shit you got me doing man it’s outrageous

Listen to the song here.

Lyrics are here.

Song of the Week (Revamped) #11-The Distance by Cake

song of the week revamped

Song of the Week is a weekly meme of some of my current favourite songs or songs that I can’t get out of my head. Leave your favourite songs and I’ll be sure to check them out.

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Cake is an American alternative rock band from Sacramento, California.

All alone (All alone!!!) Cake is one of the best bands ever. Known for their talking rather than singing vocals and heavy trumpet pieces, what’s not to like? The song really makes you want to ‘go the distance’ for whatever it may be.

Favourite part:

The fans get up and they get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup.
But he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns.
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

He’s going the distance.
He’s going for speed.
She’s all alone
In her time of need.
Because he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse,
He’s going the distance.

Listen to the song here.

Lyrics are here.

Song of the Week (Revamped) #3-Bad Day by Darwin Deez

song of the week revamped

Song of the Week is a weekly meme of some of my current favourite songs or songs that I can’t get out of my head. Leave your favourite songs and I’ll be sure to check them out.

Darwin Deez is an American indie band from New York City signed to music label Lucky Number.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t love the first time I heard Bad Day. But it has been since the second. ‘Cuz everyday ought to be a bad day for you’ this song is spiteful, a true ‘fuck you’ song but with a happier beat. And wishing that the last page of their 800 paged novel went missing is my ultimate ‘fuck yourself’.

My Favourite part:

I hope that the last page of your 800 paged novel is missing. […]

Maybe you should wonder why your apartment is always so empty

I hope you get locked out of that apartment and have to call Jenny
Ohhhh!

Listen to the song here.

Lyrics are here.

Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

17668473Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog#1) by Anne Blankman

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Historical Fiction and Young Adult

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Pages: 401 (Hardcover)

good good

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

It’s extremely important for everyone to understand our pasts so that we can hopefully never repeat them again or at least to the same extent. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a great novel in the sense that it’s a retelling of most of World War two and the build-up towards it. This series is pretty much going to be the WW2 part of any history class (hopefully) and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Not only did I like the fictional, but the non fictional ones as well. I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction and much less of anything non fiction yet I couldn’t put this book down.

Although it takes a lot of work working with non fictional characters, Blankman does a great job. However,  in the beginning with the Jew that her brother wanted to beat up. The whole incident felt really forced to get the story going. Another thing that felt forced is the second half of the novel where the romance is so clichéd and contrived that I wanted to puke. Gretchen went from this badass girl who was uncertain about her family and willing to get answers to this girl who needed her ‘man’ almost all the time. The mystery aspect of the novel is actually really boring, there’s a lot of planning and searching but not enough of anything else until the end of the story.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is still an excellent book. The relationship between Gretchen and Hitler is very well done and shows the decline of their trust in one another. Moreover, Blankman did a lot of research for the story and it really shows. Small details that most people overlook play big roles in the not only this story but the actual war. Despite disliking Gretchen during the last quarter of the story, I really liked her. She was strong and brave, using her clever wit to get past the people who stand in her way.

Overall, I do recommend this book to everyone. It’s historical fiction yes, but it’s also about one of the worst cases of genocide the world has ever seen. It’s not all that gory but it’s intense and I have a lot of faith in this author to get really in-depth with the whole series.

3.5 Interesting Clouds
3.5 Interesting Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

Book Review: The Accidental Highwayman by Ben tripp

20519011The Accidental Highwayman by Ben tripp

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date:October 18, 2014

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

 In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher,Tor Teen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Growing up as a kid, I would watch some classics with my sisters. It was our bonding time and I loved it. The fact that The Accidental Highwayman is compared to The Princess Bride grabbed my attention at once! I love that movie! And in a few ways, this novel is like that movie (sorry guys! Haven’t read the book!). There’s a ton of action, helping the story stay interesting and on point with the potential of never-ending danger.  The different types of mythical creatures that Kit and his friends face are all creative and unique.

Despite how fun this novel is, The Accidental Highwayman has a lot of info-dumping that only drags out the story. I found myself skipping a bunch paragraphs because they went on and on and on about random crap. Kit, the protagonist is adorable, however, he sounded more like a ten-year old boy than a sixteen year old one.

Still, Kit and Morgana’s relationship is beyond adorable. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, them constantly getting angry with the other yet trying to move forward. I felt for them and their little crushes! In addition, the little notes in the margins are great and makes the story feel realistic because I don’t know phrases and words used in the 19th century and getting summaries on them helped me understand. The illustrations are beautifully done. Tripp knows how to artfully draw readers in with his visuals. I kept skipping the pages, looking around for the pictures, the full ones that have so much detail and so much emotion, and then I would gawk at them all before returning to the page I was on.

The Accidental Highwayman isn’t a bad book. It does have a few similarities to The Princess Bride with the action, the friends and foes and I loved it. Still, it does feel a bit odd with the abundance of information and the characters feeling too young and things working out just…too well in some cases. I recommend this story to anyone looking for something sweet and fun, with great illustrations, an old yet well described setting and love when the good guy wins! (Sort of). I’m so tempted to go watch every classic movie with villains in it now…hhmmm.

3.5 Interesting Clouds
3.5 Interesting Clouds

Book Review: Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn#3) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

10662433Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn#3) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Pages: 387 (Hardcover)

good good

New Year’s Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.

After Rennie’s death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn’t left with Reeve… If Kat had only stayed with Rennie… Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.
Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinionAshes to Ashes, the final novel in the revenge driven Burn for Burn series has final come to an end. And boy, is it a crazy ride. With the girls still reeling from the events that took place in the second book, Fire with Fireeverything seems strange. The girls are on completely different pages with each other and it’s not a good thing. Mary has officially lost her sweet girl nature that readers saw in the first and a little of the second book and is now psycho. Lillia is still an innocent flower but without being that innocent anymore, her role in many things take a toll on her and especially her relationship with Reeve. Kat seems to be the least one that’s ready to throw in the towel and I think that’s why I love her the most. She’s funny and seems to look on the bright side and keeps fighting. While they all go through their last few months of school, they all have to really figure things out and I loved how unpredictable the story gets to keep people in the dark.

Near the beginning of the book and for the whole series it seems, is that the books start off fairly slow and then slowly pick up speed until the very end. It’s a pretty good build-up however, I don’t like how long it took me to be engrossed into the book.

This series has other consistent qualities that are shown to be good things like the short chapters. In Ashes to Ashes, the chapters are so short that it’s hard to put the book down. “One more chapter,” quickly turns into, “might as well finish the rest of the book even though it’s five am in the morning.” It also helps that the writing  is addicting and the characters are well-developed that I easily knew whose chapter I was reading without even thinking about it. Adding onto what I said about the characters, they are great. They’ve really grown up since Burn for Burn and it truly shows in their demeanour and the way the speak about things. Also, the relationship between Lillia and Reeve is so cute! I liked it in the other book but I loved it in this one! It’s all ups and downs, highs and lows and sooo unpredictable. I honestly thought that in the end, things would end up different between them but I still liked how Han and Vivian decided to go with it. Moreover, the ending! The penultimate chapter especially! It’s all freaky and messed up and awesome! There’s so much suspense, will Mary forgive Reeve? Or will she make him suffer the same way she did? I loved how everything went, especially with the girls and Reeve, the way he questions his sanity and his life. I felt how realistic everything became and I was really happy with how it all ended. It’s pretty crazy, not gonna lie.

Han and Vivian have come so far with this trilogy. The girls all started out with blinded rage and naive minds towards most things to grown ups who understand just how risky it is to get revenge instead of giving forgiveness. Some people are really shitty, end of story. However, some people are shitty because they are dealt that hand and then they try their best to change it. This is evident with Reeve especially and I think that people who didn’t like him before will start to like him now. I recommend this series to anyone who loves revenge driven plots, a bit of romance, and killer twists!

4. 5 Bad-Ass Clouds
4. 5 Bad-Ass Clouds

Book Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

18285437Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: September 9, 2014

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

good good

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HarperTeen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

When I started this book, I really believed that I would hate it. I believed that the main character would be a huge brat and do a shit ton of stupid crap that would irritate me and the romance would suck on a whole new level. I trusted in my knowledge of YA books to know a crappy book when I saw one. But boy, WAS I SURPRISED! Rites of Passage is so solid. It blew my mind, guys. It really did. Like, I was surprised left and right.


The only things that I didn’t like about the book are mostly minor things now that I think about it. The romance, at the very beginning is pretty cliché and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at it and how the author set it up. I would have also liked more information on the dares. It says that Sam never backs down from a dare, (she’s a badass, I’m telling you!) yet there’s only once or twice when a few dares are mentioned. I wanted to know what the first dare was and how it played out and how she became addicted to doing them. In addition, there are two pretty major flaws in the book and they’re related to her family. I wanted to know a lot more about Amos than what’s actually given. There aren’t very many flashbacks about how close they were and how they used to do things. They’re more Sam remembering the day he passed away and I wanted to know about her family as a whole. It’s all after Amos died no past flashbacks about the good ol’ days or when they growing up really. It’s all just lightly touched.

Still, I loved it. I loved almost everything about this Rites of Passage. If I read this book on a school day, I truly believe that I would have read it while I was in class. That’s how addicted I was to this book. The romance that once annoyed me had me squealing. legit SQUEALING (I almost never do this!). The characters are very unique and surprising with their originality and strengths. I believed them all and when their true sides came out I was pretty shocked and happy but also a  little angry. Same especially is a very realistic character that I easily rooted for because she’s so strong when many of us would have broken and gave in to the countless demands that are being shoved at us from every angle. I was soooo tense that last few chapters. I didn’t know what was going to happen which rarely happens in books and that’s why I love it even more. I was so in the dark about it all.

I need more books like this, ones that will leave me wanting more and completely boosting my faith in YA books again. Rites of Passage is that kind of book that makes you want to fight to equality and become a badass. The writing is beyond addicting which really helped in the beginning when I was skeptical about so many things. I recommend this to everyone to read! READ THIS BOOK! YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!!!

4 Dreamy Clouds
4 Dreamy Clouds

Book Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

18051349Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 342 (Hardcover)

good good

 

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Noggin is a story full of bad jokes, awkward situations, and horrible puns. And I loved every second of it. I didn’t feel like I was reading a work of fiction, instead, I felt as if I were reading a story, my story and my life of how I was brought back to life and forced to live in the present when I’m barely understanding the past. It’s weird, confusing, and such a fun ride. John Corey Whaley is an author  that I’ve been waiting for a long time and this will not be the last novel I’ve read by him.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this story. First of all, this whole situation is just too unbelievable and it took me some time before I could really wrap my head around it. No way did a dude get his head chopped off and then come back to life! That’s too insane. I understood that Travis is really confused about this whole concept as well yet I still would have liked it if Travis was just as curious about the scientific aspect as I was and other readers will be. It’s interesting yet not at all explained which sucked for me.

Nonetheless, I still loved this book. Noggin is full of great, complex characters that are extremely easy to like and relate to. Travis’s relationship with Kyle is so heartfelt and awkward. I could easily relate to it and the struggles that Kyle faces to understand everything that’s happening not only to him, but also to his best friend. I also liked the writing style. Holy shit, this is the writing that I have been craving for in young adult books. It’s so relaxed and casual and makes everything seem like it’s happening to the reader and just being told to the reader. I really do need more books written like this because they usually end up to be books that I really enjoy. The best part about Noggin has to be Travis’s last holiday before his surgery. It’s beautifully described and captivating. Imagine celebrating every single holiday in one day with a group of people you love most in the world? I would want that as my last day alive because it sounds absolutely amazing.

Overall, Noggin is great. Although there are a few unbelievable parts and too little information, the good certainly outshines the bad. I recommend this novel to everyone, especially if you’re looking for something light to read with a serious undertone and don’t mind a lot of jokes and puns. I envy those people who can easily make jokes out of anything, especially when they don’t take life too seriously and can make anyone smile and for me, John Corey Whaley might just be one of those people.

4 Dreamy Clouds
4 Dreamy Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.