Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson! The story begins with May in her teen years helping her mom take care of her cancer stricken father. The story continues on with May and her mother trying to deal with the loss of their loved one, after her father took his own life. They handle things differently and in their own ways but eventually they move forward with their lives, still keeping him close to their hearts. This book is about relationships, tragedy, friendship and love and is a tear-jerking read; both sad and happy tears. It’s also a soothing balm to help heal wounds and sadness. I love Hearts are like Balloons with its humor and strong characters. 5 stars for this realistic fiction, romance story!

Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor

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I voluntarily read an ARC of this book! Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor! A young adult story that encompasses many teen issues, is therapeutic while being told and sticks with the reader for days afterward. Reggie, Snake and Carla share their take on depression, relationships and teen pregnancy . I plan on purchasing this book for the library I work at because the teenagers will love it with it’s sarcasm, humor, struggles and dysfunctional relationships telling the story. 5 stars!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, “Some people hate him because they think he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants.” This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor’s guilt. Violet’s sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author’s notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.

Bang by Barry Lyga

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I checked out Bang by Barry Lyga on our school’s Overdrive ebooks site. The opening literally blew me away! The narrator states that his sister is gone. She’s gone because he killed her! He was four years old at the time and now he’s telling the story ten years later. The narrator, Sebastian is just living, but not enjoying anything. He’s consumed by guilt and doesn’t believe he has any right to be happy. Sebastian has been biding his time until the tenth anniversary of his sister’s death because that’s when he plans on taking his own life. This story is difficult reading at times, but other times it’s friendly and healing. I’m not going to spoil the book for you because it will take the curiosity away and this story is worth reading! Bang is contemporary, realistic fiction for a young adult audience and my rating is 4.5 stars.

Proof of Lies by Diane Rodriguez Wallach

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach. Anastasia lives with her sister Keira in their family home after their parents died in an accident a few years earlier. Keira gave up medical school and works as a nurse to take care of her younger sister. The morning after a party, Keira disappears, leaving behind a bathroom full of blood and no sign of a body. A distraught and depressed Anastasia knows Keira is alive and needs help. Their mutual best friend Charlotte is amazing with technology and she’s helping with Keira’s case. Charlotte’s parents are Anastasia’s legal guardians now. As Charlotte and Anastasia hunt for clues, the mystery deepens and more people become a part of the mystery, either as suspects or helpers or both. I love this book and it made me realize how much I enjoy mysteries. Proof of Lies became unputdownable and I was pulled into Anastasia’s life and her searches across the globe. The author’s writing is flamboyant, smooth and believable. The clever writing and word play are entertaining, such as, “It felt like I was one giant headache lately – eat, sleep, breathe, Tylenol.” Great humor! I appreciate the facts at the end of the story and the excerpt of book two of the Anastasia Phoenix series, Lies That Bind. Clean read worth 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!

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

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Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland drew me in with the beautiful cover and my interest built with the synopsis. The mysterious Grace and the non-mysterious Henry are chosen to be the senior editors of the school newspaper. Grace flat out says no! The intrigue of Grace and the nonchalance of Henry pulled me into the story immediately. Complicated characters, complex lives and an emotional roller coaster make this book therapeutic. This young adult story is charming and endearing, romantic and humorous, and tragic, all at the same time. Wow! What a read! 5 stars for cleverness and un-put-down-ability! The author’s reference page is charming also. Highly recommended!

 

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!