All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

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Sad, harsh, funny and enlightening all at the same time!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan. After reading the synopsis, I thought the story would be harsh and depressing. It’s both of those with a bit of humor added into the mix. It’s almost a desperation humor and a way for the main character, Ronney to deal with his rough life. He’s fifteen and pretty much like a parent to his younger sister Mina, who’s extremely smart. Their mother holds a job and brings home a paycheck but she’s deeply depressed. Their father flubbed a suicide attempt and only has use of one of his arms. He’s depressed and mostly hangs out in his bedroom. Ronney helps with home repairs and his little sister’s homework. He’s in love with his best friend but she’s dating his other best friend, Jello. Ronney’s life is full of complications and he’s barely dealing. The zoo animals are set loose and Jello wants to safari and do a photo shoot with all of the loose animals he can find. This adds comic relief to the story and also danger. The story is sad, harsh, enlightening and funny all at the same time, 4 stars!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

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Family members left behind after a suicide face deep pain. Resources offering real help are included in this book! Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Astonishing Color of After! The main character saw her mother’s suicide and believes that her mother has visited her as a bird. No one believes her even though she has physical evidence. Her and her father visit her maternal grandparents in Taiwan and even though they don’t speak much English, they believe that the bird is true. This book is difficult to categorize into a genre, but even though it has supernatural happenings throughout the story, I feel that this is still, above all, a realistic fiction tale. The deep pain that survivors of suicidal family members face is a real problem and an intense struggle that hasn’t been addressed as much as it’s needed. The Astonishing Color of After helps! Resources are included towards the end of the book for various needs of those dealing with depression, loss, suicide and/or suicidal thoughts. The resources are categorized under the following headings: Suicide Prevention, For Suicide Loss Survivors and Understanding Mental Illness. The cultural education and coping skills made the story more interesting and I love Axel and the great friend that he is to Leigh and I appreciate the author’s honesty about her own experiences of being a suicide survivor. 4 stars!

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!

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau. Six disgruntled, unhappy students are each planning something that will change their lives and help them to be free from their problems. Each of the teenagers are dealing with different types of problems, secrets, religion, being an orphan, bullying and pressure from peers and family, but they end up together inside the school after a bomb explodes. They help each other but with the air of distrust between them. Finally, they discover who’s responsible for the bombings and they struggle for their lives. Intense with an interesting array of characters and relevant subject matter-5 stars!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Before I Let Go by Marieki Nijkamp! Corey receives news of the drowning of her best friend, Kyra, and she travels back to Lost Creek to mourn her death and discover how she drowned in the middle of winter when the water is frozen several feet deep. Corey is treated like an outsider because she’s been attending a boarding school away from Lost Creek, so they disregard her questions and concerns. Corey’s determination reveals more than she ever wanted to know about the downward spiral of Kyra’s mental health and the ignorance and selfishness of the people of Lost Creek! 4 stars for a poignant look at bipolar disorder and the struggles of the sufferer and the coping mechanisms of the people closest to them.

S’more to Lose by Beth Merlin

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Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review S’more to Lose by Beth Merlin! Four years after the first book, this sequel finds Gigi and Perry in London and at an impasse in their relationship. They have moved on from their relationship, by all appearances. Perry is famous for writing a popular musical and Gigi and Jamie have built a growing, productive designer business, G-Malone. Prince Alexander and Victoria Ellicott are planning their wedding and want G-Malone to design the wedding dress and wedding attire for the upcoming royal wedding celebration. Gigi meets Gideon and they gradually fall for each other and all is well until paparazzi create a gossip story under false pretenses and blow everything out of the water. Tumultuous and romantic with the added bonus of artistic creativity build into a very enjoyable story; 5 stars!

One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin

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Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin! This is a fun story filled with summer camp adventures and relationship struggles. Gigi is at a rough place and becomes a camp counselor to escape and hopefully regroup before she heads back to her regular life as unemployed and single, after a confusing affair. Perry has been a summer counselor for four years and he’s dealing with his own supposed skeletons in the closet. Gigi treats Perry with only anger, assuming he’s arrogant and immature when she hasn’t even given him a chance. Over the summer and in spite of their bad start, Gigi and Perry began to confide in each other and realize they have a lot in common. Gigi can’t seem to get away from her past and she faces everything head on, thanks to the support of her friends and family. The ending is cute and hopeful after the tumultuous distrust and intensity. One S’more Summer weaves a realistic and rocky story of how relationships come and go and how we handle them and how we deal with the in-betweenness of being single. 5 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.

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.

Turtles All the Way Down

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green opens with Aza as she struggles with self-confidence and feeling like she never belongs. Her best friend and support is Daisy and the two of them set out to earn a reward for finding a missing billionaire. This mystery brings more interest to the story and the dynamic characters are fun, humorous and entertaining as well deep thinking. The three main characters, Aza, Daisy and Davis all bring a lot of interest to the story plus the side characters add an extra depth. I appreciate how John Green portrays mental illness with realism and deeply detailed prose. The author’s note at the end offers insight into his own personal struggles and also help and hotline information. 5 stars for a great portrayal of the human mind and its struggles!