Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll

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Fun with a twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the opportunity to read and review Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll!
Hallie, a teenager, focuses on her cell phone so much that she walks in front of a car and gets hit. An elderly woman, Susan, was driving the car and she blames the car’s mechanical problems for the accident. Both of them are badly injured and unconscious and while they’re in that state, they involuntarily switch places. This story reminds me of Freaky Friday except the switchers aren’t family members and ageism is prevalent. Hallie is a spunky, self-absorbed teenage girl that’s slightly boy crazy and Susan is an octogenarian that’s feeling smothered by her son and daughter-in-law. They want to take away her independence, her car and her condo and make her move into a retirement home. When Hallie and Susan trade places, they gradually grow to truly care for each other and gain a great deal of compassion. I like how the author brought ageism to light and built empathy towards both young and old. Endearing realistic fiction with a twist, 4 stars!

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas opens as Feyre is trying to come to terms with the violence she endured and the choices she made Under the Mountain in helping rid the Faerie world of Amarantha. Tamlin proposed to Feyre, so planning their wedding has become a daily activity and she’s grateful for the help of Ianthe, a visiting High Priestess. On Tamlin and Feyre’s wedding day, Rhys bursts in and breaks up the celebration before vows are given. Rhys is there to claim the deal of Feyre spending one week out of every month with him in the Night Court. His first mission is for Feyre to learn how to read. Rhysand is priceless, with his lackadaisical attitude, cleverness and charm. He’s also showing tremendous patience, especially when he seems so alone. Tamlin has kept secrets from Feyre and has trapped her inside his manor, making her feel like a prisoner. Because of this, Feyre had an extremely dark, strong panic attack and Rhys’ cousin Mor saved her and brought her to Rhys. She’s now a resident of the Night Court. Rhysand made Feyre the Emissary to the Human Realm because she is a human that died and was given life by the seven High Fae Lords and will hopefully help bridge and build human-faerie relations. Rhys has given Feyre a specific mission to find and retrieve a special, hidden book that can give extreme power to the wielder. Rhys and Feyre become closer as they adjust to each other and try to overcome the evil threat to the Fae and Human Realms. A sequel full of action and suspense, A Court of Mist and Fury adds tremendous depth to this series and I cannot wait to start reading the next book; a well-earned 5 stars!

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli

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Jo Napoli. This historical fiction tale of the year follows the aftermath of the potato blight in Ireland, 1846-1847. Once again the potato crops aren’t doing well and people are contemplating leaving Ireland for a more hopeful and prosperous land. The sentence describing the people’s worries about traveling to other countries, where guns are needed to fight off criminals, and how they were so shocked by this idea was an eye-opener. How times have changed. The story takes us through how tenants rebel against the landlords and how people die from starvation, injuries from fighting and also sickness. The postscript states the fictional and true parts of this story and recalls the horribly high death toll because of the potato blight and how the suffering continued for several years. The author’s note explains the reasons for the blight and the timeline of Ireland to the famine’s end starting at prehistoric times up to 1851. I appreciate the author taking the time for extensive research into Ireland and its history and for describing what the Irish people went through when their crops were devastated. 4 stars!

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter. Leah is awaiting a heart transplant and in the meantime she’s being tutored and doing her schoolwork at home with her teachers’ help. Leah’s story (first person point of view) alternates with the (third person point of view) story of twins, Matt and Eric, who are still reeling from the loss of their father. One of the twins tutors Leah for extra credit on a day that the math teacher cannot make it. Leah is unsure which twin it is and confesses that she’s had a crush on Matt for years. I’m not sure how much time passes before Eric ends up dying in the hospital from a gunshot wound. Leah’s family receives a call from the hospital letting them know a heart is available for her transplant. She discovers that she’s received Eric’s heart and she keeps this information to herself. Eventually Leah and Matt talk about the transplant and how they’ve both been having dreams about Eric’s death and believe that it wasn’t suicide. In the dreams, they hear a voice other than Eric’s and they also see how Eric was running from something before he was shot. The mystery progresses and finally Detective Henderson sees proof of foul play. The main point of the book is to experience the process of needing a transplant, receiving one and learning to embrace life all over again. The author shares her family’s experiences with transplants at the end of the book. These experiences brought this story to life. 4 stars for the strength and perseverance shown by the main characters!

The Tower Princess by Shonna Slayton

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The Tower Princess by Shonna Slayton is a tale of a kingdom split in half by two warring rivals. A wall is built and a treaty of peace is made; while these two rivals rule, there will be no war. A prince is born on one side and a princess on the other. Both kings are afraid of the two heirs falling in love when they are older, so the two children are hidden away. Without knowing about each other, the heirs discover the hidden space in the wall where they meet for the first time and become friends. Little do they know of the underlying intrigue and plot to rid the kingdoms of both of the heirs. The Tower Princess is a wonderfully told fairy tale that is the beginning of a collection by Shonna Slayton. Strong main characters brought the story to life and an imaginative magical place and Rowan king made it special, 5 stars!

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick. The opening chapter spooked my thriller instinct while the second chapter was optimistic and lighthearted. Britt and Korbie are heading to the Wyoming mountains for spring break and on the way to Korbie’s family cabin the weather becomes dire. They leave their Jeep in search of shelter and find two young men in a cabin. Their spring break goes from fun and hopeful and from bad to worse. A whirlwind of events makes Black Ice a must-read mystery! For a book that contains less than 400 pages, it packs quite a punch! Becca Fitzpatrick weaves an engaging story full of suspense that doesn’t quit, characters that become more complex as the mystery unfolds and descriptions that immersed my imagination in the cold winter storms in the Teton Mountains, 5 intense stars!

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle! Lily struggles daily with her ADHD which causes misunderstandings, confusion and impulsive behavior. Through an odd turn of events, Lily begins to have a crush on Abelard, who is considered to be different due to his Asperger’s Syndrome. They mostly communicate through texting since it’s easier for both of them; Lily can resist impulses and Abelard can slow down sensory overload. The two of them have their ups and downs but find a wonderful balance in their relationship that works out perfectly for them. This sweet, thought-provoking story touches on the reality of people that struggle with learning disabilities and the family members that live through the struggles with them. Heartwarming realistic fiction worth 5 stars!

Wicked Charm by Amber Hart

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Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Wicked Charm by Amber Hart! Willow moves to a bayou town and hears rumors about Beau, the local young man who breaks every young woman’s heart. She wants to find out for herself if the stories are true or not. Beau and Willow get to know each other despite their families feuding and the secrecy surrounding both of them. A young woman is found in the swamp, having been murdered. Her name was Samantha and she had been dating Beau until that afternoon, when he broke it off. Another teen girl is found in the swamp, murdered in the same way as Samantha. Suspicions fly, as well as rumors, with the majority of the town suspecting Beau as the killer. The community is fearful with a serial killer loose and the police are working hard to solve and stop the murders. I enjoyed the southern setting and the food made my mouth water and crave the dishes. The suspense and anticipation built which made the book even more fun to read. I also liked learning about the characters and their pasts. 5 stars for a southern mystery!

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia introduces us to Eliza, a high school student that feels invisible and prefers it that way. Other students treat her like she’s weird and sometimes frightening. The only friends she has are Max and Emmy and she met them online when they noticed her art and story, Monstrous Sea. The two of them helped Eliza build her comic into a popular blog. This is the part of Eliza’s life that she enjoys. Eliza has a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side attitude. For example, She believes that college won’t have problems, such as the difficulty of finding a place to park. Little does she know that’s usually one of the main complaints about college: jam packed parking lots. Wallace, a new student, and Eliza discover that they both like Monstrous Sea. This starts a friendship between the two of them. Wallace shares his past with Eliza and she feels that she needs to let him know she’s the creator of Monstrous Sea. Then her parents tell her story about her hard work on Monstrous Sea, not realizing how letting the secret out will affect Eliza. Her life seems to come crashing down around her! Eliza must work through everything so she can live her life without anxiety and she has a tough time with it. Realistic fiction with imperfect, lovable and relatable characters-4 stars!