Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

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Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

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Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 5 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!

Echoes by Alice Reeds

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Twists and a cliffhanger ending = riveting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Echoes by Alice Reeds.
The book opens on a flight that goes terribly wrong, landing two known survivors on an island. The story then alternates from the island setting to previous events before the crash. Fiona is on a scholarship while attending a private school, she excels in kickboxing and has dyed blue hair. Miles is a rich kid, attends the same school as Fiona and has a wonderful academic record. The two of them have been invited to Berlin for an internship at Briola Pharmaceutical. When they arrive at the supposed address of the Briola Pharmaceutical Factory, all they find is a rundown warehouse. They also discover, through researching, that there’s no record of who reserved their hotel room or the Briola company website and the company itself doesn’t exist, even though it was all online twenty-four hours ago. Now Miles and Fiona are on their own. I assumed that the island segments happened after the Berlin parts of the story, but that’s supposedly not the case. While on the island, Fiona and Miles find evidence of the two of them being in Berlin, but neither one of them has any memories of it. All they know, in both settings, is that someone means to cause them harm and completely isolate the two of them from everyone and everything else. The danger grows and the mystery continues to the very end of the book, where another twist appears, which isn’t the end of Miles’ and Fiona’s ordeal. The mystery kept me riveted, 5 stars!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Realistic fiction filled with the strength of family!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Save the Date by Morgan Matson!
Reminiscent of Cheaper By The Dozen and Sixteen Candles since chaos seems to surround the Grant family and a family member is getting married during this story. The mother created a comic strip depicting the lives and happenings of the family members and it’s now coming to an end. Charlie, the main character, has a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Jesse and he knows it. Everything that can go wrong with the wedding seems to happen and the Grant family is past their elbows in stress. Their family is literally falling apart and breaking up while they are featured on tv as being the perfect family. The story comes around in a complete circle with the family members airing their grievances and struggling to work them out. Consequences seem to bring everything into the open in this realistic fiction drama filled with chaos and contention and also the strength of family, 4 stars!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

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Wonderfully informative and humorous guide to Meditation.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. I chuckled at the Table of Contents and how accurate the section and chapter titles were when applied to human nature. Some of the headings are “I Don’t Have Time for This”, “If I Get Too Happy, I’ll Lose My Edge” and “People Might Think I’m Weird”. So great and opens up the path for humor in its pages. I was excited to discover the app that accompanies the instructional meditation given in this book. The commentary is full of humor and deals with thoughts that swirl through our minds as we try to relax and meditate. Short and easily doable meditations are introduced along with helpful, concise cheat sheets. I love the “RAIN”, “Walking Through Sound” and “Ten Good Breaths”! This quote captures the true essence of this practical and useful book, “Meditation is basically the end of boredom.” I was surprised and disturbed by the results of the study “Pandora’s Box” where people were left alone in a room with no stimulus, except a button that produced an electric shock. Many of the participants chose to give themselves electric shocks because of their discomfort of being quietly alone. Wonderfully informative instructional guide on meditation for anyone who wants to try but is skeptical of meditating, 5 stars!

Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

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An all-around good read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts! Laurel wants to spend more time with her father, so she convinces him to let her work at his company for the summer. Her job is to monitor and assist five interns vying for a one hundred thousand dollar scholarship from Emergent, her father’s company. Laurel is also supposed to get to know the interns well enough that she can make the deciding vote for the scholarship. She’s anxious about her assistant position and she’s worried about what the interns will think of her. The summer job becomes more than she bargained for and turns into a roller coaster of events and stress for Laurel, the interns and the entire company. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, their differences and their complexities. This book contains adventure, intrigue, humor, loyalty, compassion and friendship. The added fun of fandom and Comic Con will make all nerdy readers giddy. The characters are relatable and show depth and Spies, Lies and Allies is an all-around good read- 5 stars!

Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story by Lisa Brown Roberts:

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

 

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

 

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

 

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/spies-lies-and-allies-a-love-story.html

 

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.  

Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LBROWNROBERTS

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisabrownroberts/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts

Newsletter: http://lisabrownroberts.us15.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=1f2f19aa89bc2b30b56c3d1f2&id=4accff162c

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Excerpt from Spies, Lies, and Allies:

“Let’s see where helping me on my project falls on this list.” Carlos picks up a pen and clicks it, eyeing me from underneath ridiculously long lashes.

Cautiously, I take a tiny step toward his desk so I can read the list.

“Number three.” I point to the napkin. “Teamwork.”

He nods and underlines the word. I notice he’s added numbers six through ten. Nothing is written next to those numbers, except for ten, next to which he’s drawn a smiley face.

“What’s that for?” I point to the smiley face. He leans back in his desk chair and grins up at me.

“Not sure yet.”

My heart throbs in my chest and my imagination is off and running, fantasizing about number ten.

Carlos points to number five: nicknames. “I think this is where we left off at lunch.” He clicks his pen repeatedly and I resist the urge to snatch it out of his hand. “I’d prefer not to be nicknamed for a pasta, but I gave you a cereal nickname, so…” He shrugs but keeps his eyes on mine.

“I…pasta…what?” He’s not making sense.

He bites his bottom lip, and I have no trouble picturing what will make me “smiley face” if we ever make it to number ten. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a mind reader because his gaze drifts down to my lips, then back up to my eyes.

“The Manicotti. Who is it?” He glances across the room. “Elijah? He can be sort of cheesy.”

My mind analyzes his words, sliding them around like one of those puzzles where you have to move a string through twisted metal. And then it clicks.

“You read my notebook! You’re the one who—” Panic zings through me as I remember what I wrote about him, Carlos is trouble, and his editorial comment, True. Is Carlos adorable?

Apparently I’m not the only spy around here.

“Why’d you pick this desk?” I’m desperate to change the subject.

“I like the view.”

“But it’s better by the windows.”

“Depends on which view we’re talking about.” He gives me a cryptic smile, one that makes my stomach dip. “Anyway, I saved your notebook. You’re lucky no one else read your notes.”

Mortified and defiant, I cross my arms over my chest. “You didn’t have to read it. You could’ve just returned it.”

“I was just checking to make sure you’d listed all of Mr. Mantoni’s rules.”

“Uh huh.”

Across the room, Elijah stands up and stretches. He glances at us, an amused smirk twisting his lips like he knows something I don’t.

Carlos writes on the napkin again. Number six: healthy disagreement.

“You’re kidding, right?”

His responding grin packs more heat than it should.

“I think we’ve gone off track.” I’m proud of how calm I sound, even though my nerve endings are exploding like firecrackers.

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

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The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth opens as the action picks up where it left off in Carve the Mark, reacquainting us with the characters and their situations. Cyra and Akos have formed a strong bond with each other, Ryazek is in prison and Eijah still suffers from loss of his own memories. Death follows and problems grow. The story is told in first person and third person and alternates between four characters. Complicated, but effective, storytelling flows so well that I was pulled right back into Cyra’s world full of rebellion, intrigue and heartache. Cyra and Akos learn a shocking truth that changes the course of their fates. The suspense builds to intense levels and rounds out this amazingly creative science fiction story. The only thing that bothers me is when the author mixes up Cisi as a Noavek while she’s healing and pondering her fate on page 418. 4.5 stars for the imagination that was put into creating the Noavek/Kereseth world!

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer! Two teens that have each lost someone they love begin an ongoing anonymous conversation by adding to a letter left and then found next to a cemetery headstone. The conversation moves to email for convenience and these two strangers help each other grieve. Declan has lost his sister and his father is in prison and no longer part of their family. His mother has married Alan, who isn’t the nicest to Declan. Juliet has lost her journalist mother in a hit and run car accident and she lives with her father. Declan has an amazing best friend, Rev, that’s dealing with his own traumatic past and Juliet’s best friend, Rowan, is supportive and caring. The email relationship remains anonymous and grows deeper and more meaningful as their grief is dealt with together. Letters to the Lost melted my heart with the complicated storyline and endearing, real characters. I love everything about this story, from the caring, helpful teachers to the awkward friends to the dysfunctional family members. All of these components create a beautiful realistic fiction novel worth 5 stars!