The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for the opportunity to read and review The Education of Margot Sanchez. Right off the bat, Margot Sanchez seems and acts like a spoiled brat who is lost and trying to find herself, but so self absorbed that she can’t see that she’s not the only person on earth that matters. She’s being punished for stealing while she was away at an expensive school and, now that’s she’s home for the summer, she has to work at her family’s supermarket to earn the money for what she stole plus enough money to pay for her tuition to attend the same school again in the fall. She feels as though she’s above working there and is embarrassed by her upbringing. During the summer, Margot’s eyes are opened slowly to some things, such as how she treats others, and opened quickly to how dysfunctional her family truly is. Margot matures and learns to value friendship and she begins to find herself and her place in the world. 4 stars for this believable realistic fiction story.

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 Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

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Thanks to a Goodreads giveaway, I received a paperback advanced reading copy of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti! I also received a NetGalley arc from Dial Press in exchange for a fair review!
Loo lives with her father Hawley as they travel from place to place without settling down for long in any one town. That is until they go to the town where Loo’s grandmother ( Loo’s mother Lily’s mother) lives. Lily drowned when Loo was quite young, so it’s just her and Hawley. Loo’s grandmother refuses to see or speak to them, but Loo and Hawley decide to buy a house and live in the town anyway. More than anything else, this book made me realize that every person has a story. Each chapter alternates between the present with Hawley and Loo and then to Hawley and his younger past. Each trip into the past explains how Samuel Hawley received another gunshot wound and scar. This story is sad in the fact that Loo and Hawley struggle with belonging and with lasting relationships besides their own. They are both lonely and seem somewhat lost in their presence and their place in the world. Loo tries to befriend others, but she has a temper and becomes physically angry too often. Hawley seems like he is just trying to get through and raise Loo in the best way he knows how. He is very lonely and misses his wife, Lily daily. Loo sees this loneliness. It’s almost like Loo and Hawley are stuck in a never ending cycle of danger and wrong choices. This book left me feeling how life is just a fleeting moment that passes too quickly. 4 stars.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review Caraval by Stephanie Garber! ¬†Scarlett and Donatella are treated harshly by their father. They have both always wanted to see Caraval since their grandmother told them stories about it years ago. They plan on running away to see Caraval and never coming back to their father. He has threatened them with harm if they ever leave and he has even gone to the extreme lengths of committing murder to keep Scarlett and Donatella on the island with him. Tella left their rooms a mess to make their father believe they were kidnapped while they sailed with Julian to Caraval, Legend’s private island. The game on Caraval that Legend controls is adventurous, daring, mysterious and frightening. Scarlett never knows, from beginning to end, what is real and what is just the game. I grew to care about Scarlett and I wanted her to finally find happiness. I also admire her for the bravery and love she demonstrates to help her sister, Tella. Their father is selfish and violent and I wanted the sisters to be free of him. I also like the setting and time the story takes place in. It was familiar but also new at the same time because of Stephanie Garber’s clever writing. 5 stars for the magical mystery of the game and all of its characters!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is set in the American South where Confederacy is still very important to its residents. Ethan lives in Gatlin, a small southern town where nothing changes. He hates it. He has been having dreams of saving a girl. Ethan cannot see her face and he doesn’t know who she is. He wakes up with dirt under his fingernails and on his sheets. He has also started hearing a voice and the song, “Sixteen Moons”, plays randomly on his MP3 player and the radio, even though he’s never heard of the song before. A new girl, Lena, moves into Gatlin and lives with her uncle who is known as the local recluse. Lena and Ethan get much more than they bargained for when they become friends. Both of their families are keeping secrets from Ethan and Lena and when they find a locket that gives them shared visions of the past, they start keeping secrets of their own. Their ancestors are entwined somehow and that might be the key to saving Lena from her possibly dark future. I enjoyed the southern setting and the intense differences of the characters – 5 stars for this fun and suspenseful supernatural read!

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!

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen

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The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins confronts many difficult and possibly controversial circumstances. A young woman lives with her father, but they never stay in one place very long. Ariel loves her father when he isn’t drinking or being too overprotective. Other times he is abusive and angry. Ariel and her father finally stay in one place for an entire school year and she makes friends that she feels comfortable with. She is struggling with her sexuality because her father has always claimed that her mother is a lesbian. Ariel isn’t sure about what she wants or who she wants it with. Another story is being told alternately with Ariel’s. Maya also struggles with family situations and friendships. The stories of these two young women hold a strong, emotional mystery that knocked my socks off! In Ellen Hopkins standard writing, the mystery unfolds. 4 stars for an emotional book full of growth!

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!

The Tru and Sloane Series by Tera Lynn Childs

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Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru by Tera Lynn Childs is contemporary realistic fiction with romance thrown in to make a well rounded story. Sloane is a new resident of Austin, Texas and she misses everything she left behind in New York. Tru is Sloane’s new neighbor who is dealing with troubles that he hides well. Sloane’s mom has told her to stay away from Tru; supposedly he is a troublemaker. On Sloane’s first day at her new school, the principal asks Tru to show Sloane around. All of the faculty seem to respect Tru. The story explains why Sloane and her mother left New York and the same thing happens in Austin, only this time it wasn’t Sloane. Dynamic characters and relationships make the story unpredictable in a good way – 4 stars!

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“Received an advance reader copy for a fair review”.

Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Falling for the Girl Next Door by Tera Lynn Childs! This story begins right where Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru leaves off. Tru admits he has a drinking problem and breaks off his relationship with Sloane until he can fix the problem. Sloane wants to convince her family that they should live together in Austin, but she finds out that her parents’ marriage might be in jeopardy. Sloane is also the victim of a blackmail attempt because she is receiving emails from someone claiming to know she’s the creator of Graphic Grrl and threatening to expose her unless she bargains with him. Tru and Sloane mature and learn to deal with the feelings they have for each other while trying to keep their relationship strong no matter how many “bumps and turns” get in the way. This story has depth and dynamic main and side characters and includes young adult romance – 4 stars!

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