Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

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Thanks to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Lab TM for the opportunity to read and review Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield! June lives with her father, stepmother and stepsister and, unbeknownst to her father, is abused by the other two. The story is told in June’s point of view and describes the abuse she endures at home, the bullying she receives at school and her wonderful friend Blister and his loving family. Blister and his family are the only light in June’s life and when tragedy strikes, they stand by her the entire time. At times both heartbreaking and hopeful, this story reminded me that things aren’t always what they seem and how important it is to have someone believe in you. 4 stars for a story that starts out simple but builds in intensity and follows through with a punch. Realistic fiction that deals with abuse, tragedy, friendship and relationships.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I have finally gotten around to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This book is monumental and legendary in how it faces life head on. The story contains everything from adolescence that defines us – teen angst, popularity or lack thereof, family struggles, dysfunctional families and the relationships that we form during this impressionable time that will help shape our futures. Empowering and overwhelming, this contemporary classic bears its soul for the world to see, learn from and to grow with- 5 stars!

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen

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The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins confronts many difficult and possibly controversial circumstances. A young woman lives with her father, but they never stay in one place very long. Ariel loves her father when he isn’t drinking or being too overprotective. Other times he is abusive and angry. Ariel and her father finally stay in one place for an entire school year and she makes friends that she feels comfortable with. She is struggling with her sexuality because her father has always claimed that her mother is a lesbian. Ariel isn’t sure about what she wants or who she wants it with. Another story is being told alternately with Ariel’s. Maya also struggles with family situations and friendships. The stories of these two young women hold a strong, emotional mystery that knocked my socks off! In Ellen Hopkins standard writing, the mystery unfolds. 4 stars for an emotional book full of growth!

A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to the author’s request for me to read and review A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner! Maya Angelou opens the story with her quote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Robin Lee changed her name to Catherine years ago to escape her painful past, but her husband knows nothing about her past experiences. She fabricated a life story. Their son Michael is in an accident on his fifth birthday and while assessing his health, the doctor finds leukemia. The only hope he has for recovery is a bone marrow transplant from a matching relative. Catherine goes to her hometown and faces her past head on. She meets her brother Kyle and he doesn’t believe that she’s Robin Lee. She approached him too abruptly about her son instead of first trying to ease the pain from their past. The past keeps blowing up in her face and she struggles, and so do her family members, with trying to take care of Michael. The innocence of children brought tears to my eyes and this story is tragic and beautiful at the same time – 5 stars – for this adult realistic fiction novel with kudos to perseverance and unconditional love and compassion!

Faithful

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a surprisingly uplifting book, even though a lot of sadness and turmoil take priority as the story unfolds. I received a book through a Goodreads giveaway and an advance reader copy for a fair review, thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster!

The books by telling the tragic story of two teenage girls involved in a car accident and what happens to both of them afterwards. Helene is in a coma and miraculously heals people by the touch of her left hand. Shelby feels guilty for not being as physically damaged as Helene and continues to blame herself for the accident because she was driving. Shelby has had to deal with horrible experiences even after the accident: trying to commit suicide, being sent to a psychiatric ward, being raped by an orderly in the ward and trying to deal with everything and still live a normal life. Shelby moves in with Ben, a guy she has known for a long time and this way, she finally gets out of her parents’ home and gains a little independence. She saves neglected pets, gets a job in a pet store and builds a relationship with Ben. Shelby meets new people, makes friends and makes some mistakes along the way. Shelby finally realizes she wants to improve her relationships and be more grateful for them. She has a wonderful mother and she finally realizes that also. Shelby’s world turns completely around after the accident, and then, eventually, her world turns around again. Through her struggles and trials, Shelby finally knows what she wants in life and how to let herself enjoy life and love. I give this book 5 stars because I became so involved with the characters and grew to understand parts of my own life more clearly through reading about Shelby! Thank you, Alice Hoffman!

The Tru and Sloane Series by Tera Lynn Childs

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Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru by Tera Lynn Childs is contemporary realistic fiction with romance thrown in to make a well rounded story. Sloane is a new resident of Austin, Texas and she misses everything she left behind in New York. Tru is Sloane’s new neighbor who is dealing with troubles that he hides well. Sloane’s mom has told her to stay away from Tru; supposedly he is a troublemaker. On Sloane’s first day at her new school, the principal asks Tru to show Sloane around. All of the faculty seem to respect Tru. The story explains why Sloane and her mother left New York and the same thing happens in Austin, only this time it wasn’t Sloane. Dynamic characters and relationships make the story unpredictable in a good way – 4 stars!

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“Received an advance reader copy for a fair review”.

Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Falling for the Girl Next Door by Tera Lynn Childs! This story begins right where Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru leaves off. Tru admits he has a drinking problem and breaks off his relationship with Sloane until he can fix the problem. Sloane wants to convince her family that they should live together in Austin, but she finds out that her parents’ marriage might be in jeopardy. Sloane is also the victim of a blackmail attempt because she is receiving emails from someone claiming to know she’s the creator of Graphic Grrl and threatening to expose her unless she bargains with him. Tru and Sloane mature and learn to deal with the feelings they have for each other while trying to keep their relationship strong no matter how many “bumps and turns” get in the way. This story has depth and dynamic main and side characters and includes young adult romance – 4 stars!

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And the Trees Crept In

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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for the arc of And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich! The story opens in the 1980’s when three girls playfully make a protector out of cloth, clay and other items they find around the house. Then, the story jumps to 2013 and a thirteen year-old teenage girl (Silla) and her four year-old sister (Nori) walk a long distance to live with their Aunt Cath in Blood Manor. They enjoy their time with Cath, until she becomes irrationally upset when Nori almost goes into the woods; the woods Cath has warned them to NEVER enter. After that, she lives in the attic while the house deteriorates and the food dwindles. In the meantime, Silla and Nori meet Gowan, a young man who claims to know Cath personally. As time passes, Silla slips further into confusion and madness. The woods keep moving closer and the manor seems to be sinking, while Silla and Nori grow hungrier. This book is creepy and mysterious and sometimes confusing, but then the author shines the light on the twisted story and it makes the confusion worth it. It makes sense in the wonderful ending and this book is proof of why I always finish the books I start reading because there is always the hope that it will turn out to be a good book! I also enjoyed the use of typography to portray emotion. Impressive – 4.5 stars!

The Grisha Trilogy

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the start of the Grisha Trilogy about two orphans, Alina and Mal. Alina and Mal are being interviewed by Grisha as children, then the story jumps ahead to their young adulthood. Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is an assistant to a cartographer. The army is crossing The Fold, a place where monsters called Volcra live. Volcra attack and Mal and Alina protect each other. As the Volcra claw at her back, Alina lights up. She’s suspected of being a Sun Summoner and people will want her to light up The Fold so traveling can be safer and ports can be used once again. The Darkling takes Alina to Os Alta for her safety, her training and to serve the kingdom. Alina feels like she doesn’t fit into this life any better than her last dwelling and job as a mapmaker. She hasn’t seen Mal since she was taken to the palace. Alina has a revelation as a forgotten memory resurfaces. Alina’s power comes forth and as her power grows, it becomes easier for her to call upon and she learns who she can and cannot trust and who she truly loves. I like how the author has woven Russia into the story. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive author and her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, brought anxiety to my mind and tears to my eyes – 5 stars!

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha’s world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!

 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. The Apparat is supposedly caring for Alina, the Sun Summoner, while all of her allies have been accused of treason. The group escapes and goes in search of the Firebird, the third and last amplifier. Once again, Nikolai saves them and he brightens up everything with his clever wit and resilient personality. The elevator scenes made me laugh, with the great dialogue! The group fights the Darkling again and horrible things happen. The author brings the characters to life with her details and the development of Genya is impressive and creates empathy for her struggles and amazement for her bravery at the same time. The descriptive world building made me feel as though I was in the middle of the action. I could feel the air move as the Firebird flew by and my ears hurt with its screech. Unpredictable, suspenseful and touching in all the right ways – 5 stars!

I look forward to reading the Six of Crows Duology that is set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy!

The Devil You Know

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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. This young adult thriller is the perfect horror story with just the right amount of suspense. Trish Doller brings the characters to life and makes them believable. Cadie is a young woman in need of a break from taking care of her father and younger brother. She has kept their household together since her mother passed away from cancer, years earlier. All she wants is a little adventure for a few days, but she gets so much more than she expected! I read this book straight through because the writing flows well and the suspense pulled me in. I was right alongside the characters, rooting for Cadie! I highly recommend this book for any reader that wants a bit of scare – 5 stars!