Tradition by Brendan Kiely

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Realistic fiction with food for thought!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Tradition by Brendan Kiely!
The book opens as Jules is recovering from an attack that she’s trying to wrap her head around. She decides she needs to get up and walk home. Next, James is helping a teen girl to her dorm after he found her unconscious in the woods. Part One: Before- introduces James to Fullbrook, his new school, his dorm and fellow sports players, then Jules as she is trying to hand out women’s health pamphlets to students, since it’s move-in day. Mothers are extremely offended and some are angry about this. As school begins for the year, inequality is apparent in many ways and it’s the way things are and always have been at Fullbrook. James is trying to fit in and mentally recover from a football accident last year that had his Iowa hometown reeling and Jules wants to change the inequality to help more people feel comfortable and accepted. Jules becomes friends with Aileen, a loner, and Javi, who has been her friend throughout high school. The three of them hang out with James and realize they have a lot in common because none of them are snobby, rude, bullies or pushy people. They are relaxed around each other and completely accepting of each other’s differences and they have a great time sneaking out of their dorms and into a college party together. Part Two: The Night at Horn Rock- tells us about Jules’ attack and the girl that James helped get to her dorm and brings the inequality to light in so many ways. Part Three: After- shows the aftermath of the attack and how Fullbrook sweeps problems under the rug for certain people. Part Four: The Winter Ball- brings a new group of freshmen girls into the Senior Send-Off Tradition with all of their naivety and innocence. Tradition addresses many controversial issues intelligently and without being too graphic about any of them. 5 stars for a realistic fiction book and its food for thought!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!

Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros!
This sequel dives deeper into the effects of Project Pandora. My heart broke for Hades. His story is made more powerful through the alternating points of view of Hades, Shannon and Tyler. Hades is on a mission to destroy Charles Warren, the man in charge of Project Pandora and the man who treated Hades horribly while “conditioning” him. Shannon and Tyler search for any and all information that they can find on Project Pandora and come across another project-Project Prometheus. While Project Pandora was about creating assassins through environmental control, Project Prometheus is about creating the perfect human beings to control the future through leadership roles. Hades struggles with staying in the moment and he’s unsure if what he’s seeing is actually real and happening or a hallucination. When he meets his mother, he’s unsure how to feel and when she’s uncaring, his heart grows harder. I’m glad this series hasn’t ended yet and I’m looking forward to the next installment. 5 stars for the character depth and development!

 

Scream Site by Justina Ireland

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Edge of your seat horror-mystery!

Thanks to Capstone Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Scream Site by Justina Ireland!

The synopsis creeped me out and I started the book with jittery anticipation. Sabrina loves journalism and, as the story opens, she’s trying to figure out the best article to submit for a summer internship with the Daily Sun newspaper. Her friend, Evelyn, tells her about rumors surrounding the website called Scream Site, that’s holding a competition for scariest video. The rumors involve missing young women and the possibility of murder or torture of these women. The more Sabrina investigates, the more danger she’s in and the more she’s threatened. No one seems to believe her concerns, not ever her detective uncle, so Sabrina takes the investigation into her own hands regardless of personal safety. Along with the mystery, online safety is focused on with helpful reminders for all of us. This edge of your seat horror-mystery kept me riveted and I read it straight through in a few hours, 4 stars.

Scream All Night by Derek Milman

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Scream All Night by Derek Milman tells the story of emancipated seventeen-year-old Dario, who goes back home for his elderly father’s live funeral. Within the first chapter, Dario gets an odd call from his brother Oren, receives an invitation from an old friend Hayley, attends a party/live funeral for his father, talks to his father then watches an accidental explosion, taking his father with it- all with a sad, dry, dysfunctional humor! Characters are introduced and the will is read, leaving Dario in charge of his father’s movie studio. Moldavia Studios encompasses the mansion and the property surrounding it and that’s where the movie making has taken place. The story gets stuck on how badly the studios have been losing money and Oren’s failures and psychedelic tendencies, which slow down the book tremendously and there’s really no horror involved, even though the synopsis stated otherwise. 3 stars for the imaginative setting!

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken opens with Ruby and how she is now with the Children’s League, helping them free someone from prison. That someone turns out to be Liam, or so Ruby thinks. It’s actually Liam’s brother, Cole. The League sends Ruby on a mission to find a flash drive containing information that can help with IAAN, the “disease” that caused death to many children and gave abilities to the survivors. Cole accidentally gave the flash drive to Liam and so they began the hunt for him. When Ruby finds Liam, she’s not alone. She’s with Jude, Vida and Chubs. They make an interesting group with their strong mix of personalities and their banter. When they do find Liam, he’s dying from pneumonia. Liam also feels a strong connection to Ruby that he can’t understand, since she wiped herself from his memories the last time she was with him, thinking that would keep Liam safe. With one surprise after another, this book doesn’t disappoint! Action, adventure, twists, dark humor and a thick plot make this a riveting dystopian! 5 stars!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 stars!

 

Alpha by Jus Accardo

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A perfect ending to this sci-fi trilogy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Alpha by Jus Accardo. The third book in the Infinity Division series opens with Sera being held captive by Dylan. At that point, I felt like I had a grasp on who each person/dimension was but the next chapter threw it all back in my face. A chart of each person connected to their doppelgängers’ names would be helpful. Eventually, the characters and their situations became clear with the author’s help. Sera and G alternately tell the story as they run to find each other and then fight to save each other. G has been experimented on to become an Alpha, a soldier with heightened senses. During the experimental phase, G was broken through abuse. Now, he suffers extreme mood swings and can become volatile. Sera doesn’t remember her life, before she met G while they were both imprisoned. As these two characters struggle to break from the trauma they’ve been through and to overcome the physical restraints placed upon them, they lend strength to each other. This book is action-packed and ends well. 4 stars for the perfect ending to this sci-fi trilogy!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.