Monday, April 14, 2014


Book: Wonder
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publisher: Books for Young Readers
Rating: *****/5 stars


August was born with a facial deformity in which he barely has ears, his eyes are lower than they should be, and his mouth is quite small. He does not attend school until Fifth Grade in which he is enrolled at a private school in Upper Manhattan. How will the students at August's school react to having August as a peer and will he make friends?


As someone who grew up with a facial deformity I knew I had to read this book. Unlike August though, I began school in kindergarten (and attended daycare before that) so the students in my class were used to me. That didn't make my time at school any less difficult but it did mean that most of the students in my class didn't stare at me.

Palacio wrote Augusts' story from different perspectives (his older sister, her boyfriend, his friends from school, his sister's friend) and I felt like that was a nice twist on the story. I often forget that my older sister went through her own difficulties (well I don't forget, I just remember always being hurt when she wouldn't do things with me).

August has real concerns about attending school and he takes most of it the way I took it (I either ignored it or made a joke of it). I used to wear leg braces in my primary years and so on top of having a facial deformity, I wore leg braces so I totally understood why August was so upset about having to get a hearing aid. Something so insignificant can be a big deal.

The author did not spare the main character heartache and challenges which I think is so important because she knows his whole life will be that way. There will always be challenges to overcome and some will seem like the world is crashing in around you and others you will want to take a running leap at for all the excitement but the thing is, those challenges happen and you move on from them. Life goes on and that is what I took from this book.

I was lucky, I was able to have a surgery (I had to wait till I had stopped growing) and things were better. There are still challenges that make me want to hide in my bed but like August, I persevere.

I give Wonder 5/5 stars because it was a spectacular read. The author was able to grasp different sides of his story and I really valued the different perspectives.

Have you read Wonder? If so what did you think?


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Book: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) 
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: ****/5 Stars

Rose Hathaway is a dhampir (someone who protects moroi, mortal vampires from immortal vampires, Strigoi). As she trains to be a guardian to her best friend Lissa who is a moroi, Rose begins to realize that she is closer to Lissa than she expected. Lissa is a spirit user, a rare element of magic that is in very few moroi. When Lissa brought Rose back to life from a car crash, Rose became shadow kissed and as Lissa used her spirit powers, Rose became affected.

While both Lissa and Rose were learning about what their connection meant, St. Vladimir's Academy, where the girls were training, quickly becomes unsafe for the first time in its history. Rose and the person who is training her (Dimitri) end up warning the school before going into a battle that will change everything.


For the first part of this book I was going to give it 3 out of 5 stars because I just didn't feel like the plot lines were going anywhere. I kept thinking that each book in this series was a stand alone book with a few connections here and there but by the time I got to the ending, I realize that Richelle Mead was writing a 6 book story and I was reaching the climax. The ending is jaw dropping and I never would have guessed the twist beforehand.

I was always wondering where Mead was going with Adrian's character as it was pretty clear where both Rose and Lissa's love interests lay but now I understand where Adrian comes into play. I'm still not 100% sold on him yet as a character but I do believe his intentions can be good at times.

I also really like Christian's character in this book. I really think he was able to prove himself by using fire to battle Strigoi with Rose. I think the two of them were a force to be reckoned with.

The only thing that I seem to really dislike about the Vampire Academy series is the romanticizing of teacher-student relationships or even adult-teenager relationships. I think the more we expose ourselves to these kinds of relationships, the less we see them as exploiting and dangerous. There are no repercussions of the teacher-student relationship in this series and that is what bothers me the most. I think that we need to stop giving authors and screenwriters a break for because they wrote a good story, we need to push that it is wrong to romanticize a adult-child/teenager relationship because in the real world there are damaging effects that occur when these relationships happen and are exposed.

Overall, I give ****/5 stars for Shadow Kissed (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead. Have you read Shadow Kiss, if so, did you like it?

Happy Reading,
Tara-Lee Upshall