Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell is a perfect October read. The prologue creates a creepy feeling and, when the story opens with two friends and a ouija board, it seems a little more lighthearted until the foreshadowing leads to dread and tragedy. At that point, I was pulled into the book and couldn’t put it down. Sophie travels to Scotland to visit relatives and to learn about how her cousin Rebecca died. Strange things are happening at Sophie’s cousins’ home and she wants to figure it all out. Sophie gets closer to the spooky happenings while her cousins act more and more strangely. The twists and revelations are fascinatingly spooky! 5 stars for this young adult horror story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Lab TM for the opportunity to read and review Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield! June lives with her father, stepmother and stepsister and, unbeknownst to her father, is abused by the other two. The story is told in June’s point of view and describes the abuse she endures at home, the bullying she receives at school and her wonderful friend Blister and his loving family. Blister and his family are the only light in June’s life and when tragedy strikes, they stand by her the entire time. At times both heartbreaking and hopeful, this story reminded me that things aren’t always what they seem and how important it is to have someone believe in you. 4 stars for a story that starts out simple but builds in intensity and follows through with a punch. Realistic fiction that deals with abuse, tragedy, friendship and relationships.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
When Time is a River by Susan Clayton-Goldner is a mystery for adults and young adults alike. The story begins with Brandy in the office of a plastic surgeon. She’s suffering from the results of an accident that has changed her face and she wants to look like she used to. She’s babysitting her two-and-a-half-year-old half sister, Emily, at the park during a community Teddy Bear Picnic and while Brandy is in the bathroom stall, someone takes Emily! She overheard Emily talking about Pooh Bear not taking a nap and the detective found flat shoe prints in the restroom. Two witnesses claimed to have seen Emily with a Pooh Bear getting into a car. I didn’t imagine the turn of events that unfolded as the mystery progressed. The unpredictability built suspense and my appreciation for the author’s ability to spin a riveting story! An impressive mystery that is part of the Redemption Lake series but can be read as a stand alone book also. 5 stars for a perfect mystery!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. Dee has received an academic scholarship to attend the boarding school she now lives at. The scholarship funds have been cut and Dee dreads going home to her dysfunctional family. Dee sees a demon. Only humans that want something can see demons. The demons seem to be an epidemic in the community and Dee needs money for boarding school. She makes a twenty-four month deal with the Agathodaemon. The demon gives Dee what she wants and keeps her heart for the entire time of their covenant and Dee has to do his bidding for the same amount of time. After making the deal, Dee holds a portal open for James and Cal and she has no idea what is going on. She’s sent to help close another void with James, Cal and Cora and she realizes that they don’t understand the voids either. The story gradually explains the background of each member of the group and how they made their deal with the demon. Together they made an interesting team. I enjoyed the characters but they weren’t as complex as I would have liked. The story concept changes and it becomes more science fiction than supernatural. The ending is the best part of the story, touching and heartfelt. 4 stars for a unique book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow! A young woman named Charlie is found outside a hospital, hurt and alone. She’s treated in the hospital for seven days and then is taken to a psychiatric ward. She has cut herself to cope with the struggles in her life. She’s released from the ward and tries to get through it all one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time, while she finds a place to live and a job. Her social circle grows and she finds herself dealing with other’s problems and she wants to move forward not backwards. Girl in Pieces is a true pay-it-forward story and the author relays her own story and shares resources with readers at the end of the book. A deep, complex story as raw and realistic as life gets. 5 stars for this young adult realistic fiction story that’s inspiring and eye-opening.
Made you up by Francesca Zappia- Alex goes through each day trying to figure out what is a hallucination and what is real. She keeps her schizophrenia hidden from everyone and deals with it secretly and on her own, besides her family and her therapist. This book contains completely endearing and realistic characters with clever writing and interesting background building. Laugh-out-loud funny at times and empathetic at others, as well as heart-breaking, Made You Up is a must read realistic fiction story with food for thought; 5 stars. The minute I finished reading it, I wanted to turn around and read it all again.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake. This story is about a dysfunctional flaky mother and her teenage daughter, Gracie, who is tired of how her mother acts. Her mother can’t settle down in one place for long AND she’s never in a relationship for long either AND she never takes the blame for her actions. This is all driving Gracie crazy because all Gracie wants is peace, happiness and contentment and to be able to focus on her goals. Gracie is a pianist and she wants to attend college in New York. She finally finds happiness with her friends, who are more of a family to her than her mother ever has been. Young adult content and LGBT diversity broaden the story to make an interesting realistic fiction read, 4 stars.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary by Emma Chastain! Chloe is nervous about starting high school and is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants. Her freshman year turns out to be nothing like she imagined and so much bigger than she could have guessed it would be. Through the year, Chloe has crushes, makes friends and learns how to grow and still hang onto lifelong friendships. She’s also involved in drama, some she causes and some she’s blameless for. Her dad is a solid part of her life, while her mother turns out to be selfish and flaky. In the span of that eventful year, Chloe matures and ends up being a sophomore willing to share her painfully gained wisdom with her underclassmen. 5 stars for an entertaining realistic fiction read for young adults!
I voluntarily read and reviewed Keeping Kyler by Siobhan Davis. Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more surprises, more pop up in this book, the third installment in The Kennedy Boys series! As the story is opening, Kyler runs in anger and doesn’t even tell Faye where he’s going. He won’t respond to her texts, frustrating and worrying her even more. This leaves Faye to deal with her own surprises without him, so they are both alone in their struggles. Kyler meets his biological father and turns away with complete disbelief and disgust. And the surprises keep coming, loaded with twists and turns. The relationship between Kyler and Faye is cute, sometimes cheesy, to the annoyance of everyone around them. They are mature for their age and I suppose it’s because of the difficult experiences they have lived through, which makes their lives anything but dull. 5 stars for this new-adult romance and mystery story!