April: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Stolen, book cover

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.
This is my story.
A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

This book was mind blowing! I was completely hooked from the very beginning. I'm not giving away any spoilers because what I'm about to reveal happens just within the first couple of pages. In this book we follow a 16-year-old girl named Gemma. Gemma has a stalker only she doesn't know it yet. While on a family vacation, like most teenage girls she gets into a fight with her parents at the airport and decides to wander off and get some space. A cute boy catches her eye at the airport and he offers to buy her a cup of coffee. In just the briefest of seconds this stalker was able to drug her by slipping a powdered substance into her drink. He easily changes her cloths, slaps a wig on her and was able to easily get her on a plane and out of the country within minutes. This book was eerie in the sense that this could have easily happened to anyone. A cute boy with bright blue eyes, bats his eye lashes and offers to buy a cup of coffee... I mean call me dumb but I probably would have gotten kidnapped too. Gemma ends up being held captive in a cabin out in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, with no way to escape! This book was absolutely enthralling and I just couldn't put it down. Gemma has to depend on this boy for every meal, every glass of water, etc., This is the only person on the planet that she has any sort of communication with. Her family probably thinks she’s dead and she lives in fear every day that her kidnapper will kill her. She has to solely rely on this erratic and moody stalker. This book ends up delving deeply into Stockholm syndrome and I have never read anything remotely like this! It was unique, it was captivating, and it was really believable! It won a Printz honor award. The writing was so good. This book was honestly downright terrifying and shocked me to my very core. Somebody please read this book, because I NEED to discuss it!

Ain't Burned All the Bright, book cover

Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin

Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.

And so for anyone who didn’t really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you’ll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.

My Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

The best way I can describe this book, is that it was a "picture book" but for teens. In this book we follow a family through the pandemic/shutdown of 2020. Although this book was told through a series of pictures and had very few words, this book really captured a lot of the emotions that came along with the pandemic/shutdown. This book really captured feelings of boredom and those feelings of being "trapped" at home. Unless you've personally lived through the pandemic I don't believe that people will understand this story's illustrations fully. I think in a few years, teenagers who haven't been personally through a global pandemic will not be able to comprehend this story AT ALL.  I did like this book, but only because I personally lived through the shutdown and knew exactly what each illustration was depicting. This was an incredibly quick read. I read this book in less than 10 minutes. I'm giving this book a 4-star rating because I've never read a picture book for an older age demographic and the artwork was very pretty. I liked this book, but I didn't enjoy reliving the year 2020 in the slightest. I liked this book, but I NEVER want to read it again. Do with that information as you want, I don't recommend this book otherwise.

Kiss of Broken Glass, book cover

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

In the next 72 hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for 72 hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for a mandatory psychiatric watch. There Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who's there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

My Rating: 1 Out of 5 Stars

I was not a fan of this book. It wasn't well thought out. There wasn't a lesson learned by the main character. It was just horrible... for lack of a better word. Let me explain: in this book we follow Kenna who is addicted to cutting. She is caught cutting at school and ends up getting placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. This book is written in short verse and I believe Madeleine Kuderick wanted to give a unique character perspective to "self-harm," but this book was disgusting in my opinion. I believe that it glorified self-harm and I don't think that ANY TEENAGER should be allowed to read this book! That's a bold statement coming from someone who doesn't think literature should be censored or banned, but this book was grotesque. I believe that Madeline Kuderick was more intent on giving her young readers new ways and examples of how to "get away with" self-harm. There was no moral to this story, the main character Kenna basically left the psychiatric ward and was like, "and I'd do it again." She really didn't learn anything, she had no motive on why she was self-harming… like there was just no thought process in this book at all. There was no lesson learned or any real character development. Granted this book only took place in 72 hours but Kenna felt no guilt or shame or even remorse for her actions leading up to her psychiatric hold. I hate a main character who can't self-reflect... this book was awful.

The Gods Lie., book cover

The Gods Lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grader who lives alone with his mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with the reserved and driven Rio Suzumura. Natsuru plays hookey from soccer camp that summer, and instead of telling the truth to his mother, he spends all his time with Rio and her kid brother at their rickety house, where a dark secret threatens to upend their fragile happiness.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

This book was incredibly heart wrenching! I am going to be including quite a few SPOILERS, but I don't care I just have to talk about this graphic novel! There was just so much to unpack in this one-volume manga. It is unfortunately a short story and there will not be anything further to read in this story. I'm so upset that there isn't more to this novel! I feel so emotionally invested in this story and its characters that I want there to be more. It would be so cool if they turned this novel into a movie, but this is an older manga originally published in 2013 so I don't think there is any hope for a movie adaptation at this point. Anyway, in this story we follow Natsuru a 6th grader who's only interest in life is playing Soccer. He's not fully interested in girls yet but one classmate in particular named Rio has sort of captured his attention. They end up striking up a friendship and Natsuru ends up discovering that Rio and her younger brother actually live alone in a dilapidating house. A few months prior, Rio's dad abandons her and her brother leaving them in the care of their elderly grandfather. SPOILER their grandfather ends up dying and Rio and her brother end up truly alone. Rio ends up burying her grandfather in the backyard so that nobody finds out that they've been abandoned, because they don't want to be separated. Natsuru finds all of this out and is then forced to decide if he can keep this horrible secret in order to keep Rio in his life. He knows the right thing to do is tell an adult so that Rio and her brother can be properly taken care of; but selfishly he wants to keep this secret so that he can continue being with Rio forever. It was just so much for me as a reader to unload that I can't imagine being Natsuru, being in middle school and trying to decide what the best thing to do is. This book was heartbreaking and incredibly gripping. I could read this book again and again and still never get tired of it. The artwork was great the writing was great. It was a 10 out 10, like I NEED to own this book.