Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover by Audrey Penn

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Thanks to NetGalley and Tanglewood Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover by Audrey Penn. Chester spends the day with a group of friends. When it’s time for bed, Chester can’t sleep. He ends up going home and falls asleep contentedly. The story is cute and happy with some humor also. 4 stars for this addition to the story of Chester Raccoon.

Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Suspect Red by L.M. Elliott! Chapter One is entitled “June 1953”; the book opens as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for giving the Soviet Union U. S. atomic bomb technology. More factual information is given: the reason for the Berlin Wall and censorship with books, before the story begins. Set in the Cold War era, Richard enjoys reading about spies and other topics that the government frowns upon at the time. His father works for the FBI and was active in the military during wartime. The story alternates between true historical moments and photographs to the fictional characters of Richard and his family and their lives. Eye-opening and relatable, the timeline of the fictional story flows with Cold War history as it is laid out. It’s crazy how much one person affected an entire nation in such a negative way. Suspect Red is an interesting, entertaining way to gain knowledge about the state of our nation during the Cold War, 5 stars!

Dare to Sketch by Felix Scheinberger

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Thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for the opportunity to read and review Dare to Sketch by Felix Scheinberger. The descriptive Table of Contents built my interest in reading this book. Advice and instructions on sketch pads and their uses, drawing tools, different perspectives in drawing and the subjects of drawings are included. I especially like the page entitled, “Drawing is a Global Language”, which advises artists to observe respectfully. The art reminds me of Roald Dahl’s style. 4 stars for a helpful art book with personality!

The Fourth Ruby by James R. Hannibal

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Fourth Ruby by James R. Hannibal! This sequel to The Lost Property Office finds the Buckles siblings, Jack and Sadie, relaxing by the fireplace. The siblings begin another quest with Gwen while they search for a thief together and the item the thief is after, the fourth ruby. The Mongolian history was interesting to read about and I liked how the author tied it into the Buckles’ lives. Jack continues and is determined to help his father throughout this new adventure even though many dangers are lurking. Fun steampunk mystery! 4 stars.

Protected by Claire Zorn

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Hannah lives with her mother and father. The three of them are mourning Katie, Hannah’s sister. Katie, Hannah and their father were in a car accident and Katie did not survive. Hannah struggles with having friends and fitting in at school, just as she did before Katie’s fatal accident. Hannah and Katie have very different personalities and their lives unfold as the story is told. I like Josh and his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. He helps Hannah loosen up and she learns to enjoy life. The heartbreak of loss and the pain of overcoming that loss seem unbearable and Hannah and her family fight to move forward and beyond the pain. This book holds the messages of bullying, grieving and also the importance of relationships. 5 stars for this realistic fiction story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Protected by Claire Zorn.

The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby! Cat is trying to move on after being humiliated by Bennet, who dated Cat as a challenge and not because he liked her. Then he told everyone about it by putting it online in the form of a YouTube video, humiliating her even more. Alex is Cat’s friend and has been for years. He’s dealing with his family problems but wants to help Cat. The two of them make an agreement to pose as girlfriend/boyfriend to soften any blow that will surely happen when school starts up again. Alex feels as though he’s hiding his true self from everyone he cares about and he’s afraid to share a secret that’s been tearing him apart since the day his mom and siblings died in a car accident years ago. Cat and Alex are realistic and lovable characters that build this story into more than just a romantic tale. The two of them, along with the dynamic and interesting side characters, make this young adult realistic fiction fun! 5 stars for the complexity and realism of the characters!

Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron

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Sea of Strangers, the sequel to Island of Exiles. I don’t understand the different use of pronouns and it’s distracting but the author’s descriptive details make a scenic world once again. On their journey, the travelers encounter magic, other cultures, dangerous terrain and poisonous birds. They become a strong team and learn to work together and Khya learns that she’s capable of so much more than she ever could have believed. The ending is interesting and intense and my favorite part! 4 stars for a sequel with as much spirit as the first book of the Ryogan Chronicles!

Where I Found You by Heidi R. Kling

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Where I Found You by Heidi R. Kling. Sienna is still reeling from her mother’s disappearance that occurred five years ago. Her father is trying to move forward, but still honor his lost wife at the same time. It’s assumed that she went down in a plane crash over the Indian Ocean. Sienna reluctantly agrees to go with her father to a community across the world in Indonesia that has been struck by a Tsunami which caused disaster. While there, Sienna’s eyes are opened and her empathy for those who have suffered through the Tsunami and lost so much overcomes her own feelings of loss. She meets and helps several people and gains a close, wonderful relationship with a young man named Reni. She discovers that Reni is searching for his father and she does everything she can to help him. This touching, beautiful realistic fiction story opened my eyes to the horrible tragedy and suffering of the Tsunami victims, many things I had never thought about or heard of. I enjoyed learning about another culture also. I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel!!! 5 stars.

The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison

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The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison.  I’m immediately drawn into the story because of the lovable two main characters, best friends Will and Georgie. Georgie is protecting Will’s secret. She will do anything to help him and when an old beau returns to town, the secret and Georgie’s loyalty are challenged. I love how the author approaches Will’s secret and the different points of view in the small southern town. This realistic situation with all of the stresses and anxiety rings true. One of my favorite scenes of the book is the escape of Georgie from Beau when they run into each other in Charleston while she’s supposedly on a date with Will; classic fun! The author brings a poignant story into our hearts and gives readers food for thought with the friendship, loyalty and honesty of wonderful and complicated characters. Young adult romance worth 5 stars!

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. A humorous tale with catchy words, imaginative characters and uniquely detailed illustrations. A girl and her dog carry the reader through the process of creating, examining, remodeling, feeling frustrated and taking a break. This book shows that things don’t always work out perfectly and sometimes a break is all you need. 4 stars for a cute story with a lesson for all of us.