Pippa and Gabe have been married for seven years and have two girls that are both four years old. They see a woman walking by the cliff edge near their home and Gabe rushes out to talk to her and keep her from jumping in case she’s feeling suicidal. He has saved several people before but this woman, Amanda, falls off the cliff. Pippa wonders why Gabe had his arms out and palms forward as she fell and questions whether or not he pushed her. The story gradually unravels the mystery behind Gabe, Pippa, Amanda and her husband Max. Mental illness and unsure circumstances create uncertainty in Pippa’s marriage but she and Gabe stay honest with each other through it all. I didn’t become invested in the main characters Gabe and Pippa as much as I cared about Max and Amanda. Abrupt transitions made it difficult for me to love this book. The best parts are with Amanda because there’s suspense involved in her story. 4 stars!
Myra, 34, has been a recluse since her disfiguring accident when she was a young child. She inherited a small mansion from her grandfather and step-grandmother and it seems to have a mind of its own. Alex returns home to a sick father that’s always pushed him away and he needs help running their business. Myra blogs about her miniature mansion and Alex notices that some of the furniture in his life-size mansion matches exactly to the tiny furniture in Myra’s. The characters are lovable and I appreciate the empathy shown throughout the book. The mystery behind the two mansions is written with creativity and unravels perfectly, 4 stars!
Charlize is looking for her older brother, 18 year old Cisco, who disappeared after infecting Raquel’s mom at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Cisco played a game that’s an urban myth and it backfired. Charlize, Raquel, 16, and her friend Aaron play the game to find Cisco. Twenty people have disappeared in the last year and no one has been able to get to the bottom of the problem but these three are determined to find and save Cisco so he can give information to help heal Raquel’s mom and stop the spread of infection. The game becomes creepy and brings the corruption of the past to light as the young people learn how residents were manipulated, used and pushed out of their Bronx homes. These teens have to work together to stop the corruption and save their families.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Bronx history and how it was used in the supernatural aspect of the story. The infection conveys the corruption in the community creatively. I like how Raquel, Aaron and Charlize work together and how the mystery becomes spooky quickly. Mature Content: PG-13 for high off edibles, nondescript kiss. Language: R for 85 swears and 23 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 mention of cannibalism, bloody unexplained death. Ethnicity: The ethnicities include Black, Dominicans, White, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican.
Tress has left her home of Diggen’s Point to rescue the Duke’s son Charlie from a forced trip to meet and marry a worthy woman of royalty. He’s actually been sent to the Sorceress to die. Tress disguises herself as an inspector to board a ship and when the ship is attacked she boards the winning ship, Crow’s Song. Tress has adventures involving curses, dragons, magic and surprises in store. She also discovers her strengths and loyalties and how far she will go to take care of the people she cares about. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the book. The snippets of wisdom were fun. I like the unknowns of Tress’ adventures. The prose is charming and the world building is imaginative. Mature Content: PG for brief kissing. Language: PG-13 for 12 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death. Ethnicities: The book contains a variety of ethnicities. Tress is presumably white.
Tamsin,17, and her brother Cabell are Hollowers. Their guardian Nash left them behind after taking them on hunting trips for artifacts and now they have to make it on their own. The two of them have been trying to decipher Nash’s journal and break the cipher so they can solve the mystery of what happened to him and rescue him. Tamsin realizes the artifact they’re looking for is the Servant’s ring and believes that they need to travel to Avalon, King Arthur’s resting place, to find the ring and Nash. They find their way to Avalon in the company of prestigious Hollowers who have their own agendas falling headfirst into danger beyond anything they expected and into the unknown that will change everything.
In Poppy Hills, Northern California, Prudence, 16, was a Ladybird scout, hunting creatures that feed on emotions until her best friend and fellow scout Molly died during a hunt they were on together three years prior. Prudence is now assigned to train her younger cousin Avi even though PTSD has been a problem for her since the fatal hunt. Prudence dreads her assignment but learns to embrace her leadership role and the younger scouts as she takes them under her wing. Eventually she begins to also let people break through her independent wall and become true friends. Now all she has to do is teach them how to stay alive while taking down the dreaded creatures they’re supposed to hunt. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the novel. I like the message that it helps when people work together. I also enjoyed how the author brought into the novel the figurative monsters that we all deal with. Language: R for 68 swears and 38 f-bombs. Mature content: PG-13 for underage drinking, undescribed kiss, vaping, mention of “getting high”, mention of smoking weed, brief kiss. Violence: PG for fist fight with no blood, death with no blood in the description. Ethnicity: Prudence has Puerto Rican mother and a white father. Other ethnicities are white, Italian, and El Salvadoran.
Horror with a touch of twisted humor that reminds me of Stephen King’s writing. When Louise receives the call from her brother Mark that their parents were in a fatal car crash, she flies home to take care of everything. What she walks into is nothing like she expected and a secret, that’s been held quiet for two generations, bursts their reality. Mark and Louise struggle with each other until they finally realize they need each other’s help to deal with the haunting of their family home. Interestingly creepy!
Mystery and folklore! Luce’s cousin goes missing from her room one evening and it’s devastating her family. Luce, 15, had seen yellow eyes in the woods behind her house in Picnic, Illinois for a few nights before her cousin Madison went missing and she thinks the eyes might be a clue to finding her. Luce’s and Anders’ teacher assigns a historical research paper and Luce chooses to research the local history of missing girls. A girl has gone missing every nineteen years and she returns a few days later but the mother always claims that the returning girl is not her daughter. When Madison returns, her mother and Luce know that it’s not really her and she’s determined to find the real Madison despite the dangers it puts Luce in.
Likes/dislikes: The story started out simplistically but grew with more depth. I like the paranormal mystery behind the missing girls. Andres is an endearing character. I appreciate the message of independence and the message that you also need others in your life. Mature content: PG for a gentle kiss and a brief kiss. Language: R for 17 swears and 1 f-bomb. Violence: PG-13 for child abduction. Ethnicity: Predominantly white.
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
Laurel, 19, lives and works on her family’s tobacco farm in midwestern America. Her friends, Ricky, Garrett and Isaac work alongside her. When they find a mutilated deer carcass in the woods and follow the bloody trail, an ominous feeling surrounds them. Laurel receives a warning from the local psychic that danger is imminent and Laurel understands because she has been having vivid dreams too. When a supernatural creature appears in front of their car, Laurel and Isaac see the danger face-to-face and know they’re in deep trouble.
Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book. I like the close friendship between the four main characters. Christine intrigues me and there’s a whole story behind her background that begs to be told. Language: R for 57 swears and 120 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of smoking pot, underage drinking, brief kiss, implied petting. Violence: PG-13 for mutilated and bloody deer carcass found in the woods. Undescribed child abuse. Monster harming a person, dead rabbit. Dead body. Ethnicity: Laurel and her friends are White.