Chalk houses by Tracy Clark tells the story of Talon who lives with her single mother that always seems to have a new boyfriend, drinks and is involved with drugs. The story begins on Talon’s sixteenth birthday and her mother doesn’t even remember what day it is. Talon’s goals are to educate herself and receive a degree in psychology and child development so she will be equipped to help neglected children and never be like her mother. She begins receiving emails from Aunt T, who supposedly wants to get to know Talon. They create a circle journal of communication with their emails. Talon has one true friend, Karalyn, who always gives Talon moral support. Gabby, Talon’s younger next door neighbor that lives with an aunt and uncle and is pretty much neglected by them, is under Talon’s wing of protection. Talon spreads out and tests relationship waters with others as she expands her social circle. She makes some dumb decisions and struggles with the consequences and in the meantime she discovers much more about her mother than she could have ever guessed at before. Chalk Houses is a coming of age, coming into your own work of literary art with its beautiful, dynamic characters and other characters that are horrific in their actions. The story comes full circle and is a real tear-jerker full of disappointment, hurt and hope. 5 heart expanding stars!
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.
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!
“Received an advance reader copy for a fair review.”
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Overdrive by Dawn Ius! Julia, a teenage car thief living in a foster home with her ten year-old little sister, is busted during a car grab. Julia has been trying to become independent enough to raise her sister, Emma, on her own. She does not want to be separated from Emma and will do whatever it takes for them to stay together. I admire Julia because she loves her sister tremendously and by choice, wants to take care of her. Roger Montgomery wants to give Julia and Emma a place to live. Julia is suspicious, but feels like she has run out of options. A “Gone in Sixty Seconds” young adult story involving teenage foster kids and all the thrills and car chases as the movie. Eleanor, the amazing Mustang from the “Gone in Sixty Seconds” movie, even has a cameo appearance! Since I am a fan of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed this! It takes a while for the foster teenagers to mesh and get along, but after Roger tells them his secret, they get to know each other better and work well together. Roger seems a bit strange and the teenagers are cautious around him and unsure of his intentions. The teenagers figure out Roger’s secret and things change dramatically after that. Overdrive gets a 4 star rating because of its complex emotions, teamwork and the thrill of the chase!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the start of the Grisha Trilogy about two orphans, Alina and Mal. Alina and Mal are being interviewed by Grisha as children, then the story jumps ahead to their young adulthood. Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is an assistant to a cartographer. The army is crossing The Fold, a place where monsters called Volcra live. Volcra attack and Mal and Alina protect each other. As the Volcra claw at her back, Alina lights up. She’s suspected of being a Sun Summoner and people will want her to light up The Fold so traveling can be safer and ports can be used once again. The Darkling takes Alina to Os Alta for her safety, her training and to serve the kingdom. Alina feels like she doesn’t fit into this life any better than her last dwelling and job as a mapmaker. She hasn’t seen Mal since she was taken to the palace. Alina has a revelation as a forgotten memory resurfaces. Alina’s power comes forth and as her power grows, it becomes easier for her to call upon and she learns who she can and cannot trust and who she truly loves. I like how the author has woven Russia into the story. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive author and her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, brought anxiety to my mind and tears to my eyes – 5 stars!
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha’s world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. The Apparat is supposedly caring for Alina, the Sun Summoner, while all of her allies have been accused of treason. The group escapes and goes in search of the Firebird, the third and last amplifier. Once again, Nikolai saves them and he brightens up everything with his clever wit and resilient personality. The elevator scenes made me laugh, with the great dialogue! The group fights the Darkling again and horrible things happen. The author brings the characters to life with her details and the development of Genya is impressive and creates empathy for her struggles and amazement for her bravery at the same time. The descriptive world building made me feel as though I was in the middle of the action. I could feel the air move as the Firebird flew by and my ears hurt with its screech. Unpredictable, suspenseful and touching in all the right ways – 5 stars!
I look forward to reading the Six of Crows Duology that is set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the arc of Olivia Decoded by Vivi Barnes! I love the relationship between Olivia (Liv) and Mrs. Bedwin (Liv’s housekeeper while in her grandfather’s home). Alternative points of view with Liv and Jack amp up the intensity and empathy for each character. The mystery, suspense and possible danger of the secret admirer make the story even more interesting. The love story between Liv and Jack pulls at the heartstrings. The suspense builds while the mystery begins to unravel and I didn’t figure all of it out until the characters solved the mystery. I give Olivia Decoded 5 stars for great character development, character background and world building. The background of each character made this story deep and thrilling!