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My name is Chelsey and I am the creator of Charming Chelsey's! I read and review anything and everything that I find to be "charming." I accept ARCs or already released books for review, and I'm also available to participate in any blog tours or book reveals too. If anything, please don't hesitate to email me any time for any reason at: charmingchelseys(at)gmail(dot)com

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U GiveAuthor: Angie Thomas
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.


But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

“What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?”

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” 

“I can't change where I come from or what I've been through, so why should I be ashamed of what makes me, me?”

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.” 


“Black Jesus hangs from the cross in a painting on the hallway wall, and Malcolm X holds a shotgun in a photograph next to him.” 


I teach 12th students in an urban district that was heavily affected by the #blacklivesmatter movement over the past year. I felt it was pretty pertinent that I read this book. This book follows Starr Carter, a high school junior who witnesses one of her best friends being shot and killed by a police officer. The entire book is her struggle in dealing with the aftermath of this. The book is extremely easy to read and the 444 pages fly by very quickly. Angie Thomas writes perfectly from the perspective of a teenage girl struggling with so many issues. Starr lives in the ghetto but attends a prestigious private school, so she is constantly balancing two sides of herself. The friend that was killed is being talked about all over town and people are saying he was selling drugs and had joined a gang, and Starr struggles more than anything with the fact that they had drifted apart so much and she feels she could have done more to help him. This book was real and raw – and that’s the best way I can think to describe it.


The book goes through many aspects of Starr’s life. I am so glad that I read this book, and I am now recommending this book to my students. Starr dealt with a lot of angst in dealing with how or even if she should speak out about what she witnessed. I have a lot of students who wanted to participate in the Black Lives Matter movement, but didn’t always know how to go about it. The book also deals with things like rioting and how that can affect a community. This book was at times heartbreaking, but I understand the importance of reading and sharing something like this. There are so many characters to love and even some that you will most certainly dislike (King – the gang leader). Starr was such a wonderful character who was meek and stayed in the shadows at the beginning, but emerged as a strong, brave girl who learns the value of speaking out and speaking up for what matters to you most!



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Valiant

The Valiant (The Valiant, #1)Author: Lesley Livingston
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: The Valiant # 1


Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.


“Are you a weapon or a target? Choose!”

“Be brave, gladiatrix, he said, And be wary. Bright things beget treachery. Beautiful things breed envy. Once you win Caesar's love, you'll earn his enemies' hate.” 

“This is Rome. Treachery and opportunism and backstabbing run in her veins like lifeblood, and if you've never had to live your life constantly looking over your shoulder, then you have no idea how dangerous it can be.”

“There is no thing called dishonor. No thing called honor. There is only winning. Only losing. And if you lose, you don't leave a freshly made bed for your enemy to sleep in.” 


“There is only forward. Only tomorrow. No yesterday, no going back. And nothing of value is left behind, so nothing is truly lost.” 

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I watched quite a few video reviews and read several reviews on Goodreads before I finally decided to give this one a try. I was first and foremost intrigued by the main character, Fallon. Fallon is the daughter of a Celtic king and the younger sister of one of the fiercest female warriors that ever lived. Fallon wants nothing more than to follow in her sister’s footsteps. After a night of chaos, Fallon is kidnapped and nothing about her life is ever the same again. Let me just say that I am not into books that detail a lot of action, but this one kept my attention the entire time. The author writes Fallon as a character that you will root for. She is fierce, but still flawed. She steps into battle as a young, naïve girl with much to learn and triumphs as a victor who still has far to go in her journey fighting for Julius Caesar himself.


Fallon’s character was my favorite part of this book. I loved following her as she was betrayed, heartbroken, learned to love, and learned just what she stood for and what she didn’t. There was just a touch of romance, which I enjoyed as well. I do not like romance as overkill in novels, but this was just enough to keep me enticed by the characters and wanting more from the next book in the series. There is a lot that I cannot spoil about the characters and the way their lives change. I can see a great change in Fallon from the beginning of the book till the end and that is very satisfying for me as a reader. Only great authors can keep me that involved in the lives of their characters. This is the first book I have read by Lesley Livingston, but after all my research I can see that many other readers love her other books just as much.

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