Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Lou is a witch and thief who’s hiding from more than just the law. Reid is the leader of the Archbishop’s soldiers who have all been trained to despise and kill witches. Lou and Reid meet under not-so-friendly circumstances and their relationship grows from there. Forced to marry, the two start out hating each other but eventually begin to care when they truly see who they are. Action-packed fantasy with a splash of humor make this a fun read, 5 stars!

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, tells the story of Jill and the other members of the Players, who attend an elite school where inclusion is limited and exclusion is the norm. Hazing at its finest and worst is what makes the school run from year to year. The students who are picked to become Players get privileges that no other students receive but they get these privileges at a price. Jill and her group are seniors looking forward to college and their bright futures since they’ve put the death of their friend behind them until new evidence enlightens the police that they may have arrested the wrong person. Amidst the elite and their plans, and their ongoing school expectations, the students are derailed and need to help find the true killer. Strong characters in a fascinating political mess tell this story of discrimination, manipulation, and abuse. The protagonist, Jill, brings brains, strength, and empathy to this unique book, 5 stars!

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis tells a beautiful love story alongside a fight against depression.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown for the opportunity to read and review this book!
Devon meets Ashton and they hit it off immediately. They enjoy each other’s company so much that they don’t really want to spend time with anyone else. Devon notices that Ashton’s mind drifts away sometimes but it’s nothing that he talks about. On their last summer day together, Ashton doesn’t show up and he never answers any of Devon’s texts. A year later and on the first day of school, a new student sits by her in the school assembly audience. When she turns to see who it is, it’s Ashton. They don’t take the time to talk about things until they end up volunteering at a pet shelter all day. Ashton takes Devon to eat and then to his house to talk privately since his parents are away. He tells Devon that his parents expect him to be with an all-white descendant girl and won’t allow him to date her because she’s Black/Irish. Ashton takes things into his own hands and Devon discovers how much stress and pressure he’s dealing with. As they build their relationship, they both expand on who they are. This book has such an eye-opening story about depression and how it can be debilitating. It creates empathy for anyone dealing with depression and the people who love them. 5 stars for a beautiful love story that’s full of reality!

The Unleashed by Danielle Vega

Creepy and more complex than The Haunted!
Hendricks is trying to get past the loss of Eddie with the help of her friends. She thinks that Steele House is destroyed and when strange things start to happen again, she hopes that it’s Eddie trying to contact her. An evil has been set loose in Drearford that connects the murders that have occurred in town over the past several decades. New terror builds on top of what Hendricks has already uncovered, creating a complex string of horrible events. Suspense, hold your breath terror and an unexpected ending, 5 stars!

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Ominous and intense!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus!
Twins, Ellery and Ezra, travel to their Nana’s home to stay while their mother is in rehab. They’ve known about their aunt Sarah’s mysterious disappearance for a long time and when they get to Echo Ridge, they get more than they bargained for. Another young woman went missing five years ago and now new threats are popping up right before a new teen comes up missing. The story is ominous and becomes suspenseful when danger becomes reality. Endearing characters and a creepy killer sum up this book, 5 stars!

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Dystopian and sci-fi mix that I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Marie Lu’s newest book, Skyhunter!
Talin lost her ability to speak years ago when the Federation attacked her home and her vocal cords were burned by a chemical they released. She learned sign language, along with her mother, so they could communicate. She becomes a Striker, a Maran soldier that fights the Federation, and she’s extremely good at it. She becomes a Striker because another soldier saw her worth and helped and supported her. His name was Corian and he has a wonderful, strong set of values and character. The two of them make a fantastic fighting team together. A Federation soldier finds his way to Mara, causing suspicion, since no one knows whether or not he’s a spy. The minute Red arrives, the danger from the Federation amps up. This dystopian book opens up a new series that promises suspense, action, intrigue and an array of interesting characters, 5 stars!

Roaring by Lindsey Duga

Action packed historical fiction with a supernatural twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Roaring by Lindsey Duga!
A siren, Eris, hides in a speakeasy in Boston during the roaring 1920’s. A bureau agent, Colt Clemmons, is sent to capture and bring her in because they believe she’s a monster. Eris sings with the band but refuses to speak to anyone since she doesn’t want to influence people, except when she can use her influence for good. Colt and Eris run and become involved in numerous acts of violence and danger, while falling for each other. They also discover a devious plot that no one suspected. I enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of the 1920’s setting and both the characters of Colt and Eris. The supernatural added a unique twist to the story and brought in a bit of science fiction also. Genre-bending story set in the 1920’s, 4 stars!

A Guide to Happiness by Tara Ward

A Guide to Happiness by Tara Ward.
This quick guide offers helpful tips and information on using mindfulness and meditation. Seven steps build a way for making happiness a regular and natural part of our lives. The chemistry of our emotions and hormones is explained easily and concisely to help readers understand how and why we feel the way we do, depending on the situation. Several meditation exercises are placed throughout this guide. One of my favorites is the happiness cloud. The book closes with the Happiness Plan which involves questions and exercises to help gear our minds to daily happiness. A fun guide to happiness!

Overcoming Gaslighting by June Presley

When I was first approached about reading and reviewing this book, I didn’t know the term for the actions of manipulative people. Now I know gaslighting means exactly that. This book is a helpful and logical guide to recognizing, dealing with and overcoming the manipulative behavior of gaslighters, those narcissistic people that bring toxicity to everyday life. Examples are given of workplace scenarios and family situations to help identify the behavior.The next section delves into the questions of how and why people become manipulative. Then into the types of gaslighting. Some gaslighting occurs with intent while others can be unintentional. Gaslighting techniques are explored and discussed to help identify this behavior. Common signs of a gaslighting victim’s actions are listed also, to help readers recognize if this is happening to themselves or someone they know. Gaslighting is a “tool” of narcissists, who manipulate those around them. Effects of gaslighting on the victim can alter and inhibit normal life. Loss of self esteem, confidence, friends, emotional expression, feeling anxious and depressed, trust issues and submissive behavior are some of the results or effects of being a gaslighting victim. Being a victim can also take a huge toll on physical well being, since stress can cause health issues. Luckily, we can deal with and overcome gaslighting. First, recognition is the key and trusting yourself will help you gain the confidence needed to put the behavior out of your life. Self-affirmation exercises can help you gain your confidence back and mindfulness and meditation can help you strengthen your resolve and deal with and stop being a victim. Self-help for building awareness and regaining confidence!

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Twisted Sci-Fi!
Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus tells the tragic story of Liv, her father Lee, and her lifelong friend Doug. I immediately feel sorry for Liv and her father because I can predict the judgmental treatment that will probably happen after his episode of incoherent talking and nakedness in front of the community. Liv and Doug are friends and continue to maintain the traps and protection her father set after he said he was harmed by aliens a few years ago. Lee took Liv and Doug on a hunting trip and he ran away towards something that the other two couldn’t see. Liv is friends with a popular group and Doug is more of a loner that doesn’t fit in. Doug believes Lee, Liv’s father, about the aliens but Liv doesn’t. Her mother doesn’t either and they think he’s just mentally unhealthy. One day, as Liv is checking one of the traps her dad created, she finds an alien caught in one. This blows Liv’s mind. Doug and Liv keep the alien, or skinner as Lee called them, imprisoned in her backyard shed and interrogate it for any information about Lee. The skinner eventually speaks three words: car, bow, hole. Doug believes torture is the best way to get information about Lee from the skinner; Liv disagrees. This disagreement builds a rift between them and they go their separate ways. Liv realizes that car, bow, hole might mean the name Carbajal. She does some searching and meets a mysterious, dilapidated man with that name. He gives her frightening information. Several twists and tragedy build and end the science fiction story, 4 stars!