Release by Patrick Ness

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I received Release by Patrick Ness through a Goodreads giveaway! Adam is plugging along until he can be on his own in one more year, when he graduates high school and can leave his small town. A strict family and a priest father with a lot of rules make him feel suffocated at times. His perfect brother, Marty, shocks Adam with the news that he got a woman pregnant and she’s not the girlfriend the family knows. Everything is changing and it seems to be happening all in the span of one day. This book contains graphic sexual content and belongs in LGBT and new adult genres, to make the reader aware. The characters are realistic with realistic problems and faults. The story comes full circle and I can see it helping readers deal with acceptance. I never truly understood the ghost part of the story other than making a point with the title. 4 stars for a well-written book with a punch.

The Border by Steve Schafer

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I was asked by the author, through Goodreads, if I would like to read and review his book, The Border by Steve Schafer. I found the synopsis interesting and decided I wanted to check into it and I am very happy that I did! The Border begins with a great introduction containing action and intense suspense and tragedy. This is an excellent book, earning a 5 star rating from me, and I couldn’t put it down. I needed time to process all of the story’s events before writing a review because the story felt intensely realistic and the dynamic characters are complex and original and touched my heart and mind. The story also shows humor in the face of death, with greed making terrible events even worse. I’m definitely purchasing this book for the library when it’s available on September 5, 2017! The author created a fictional tale and characters based on the struggles that real people have gone through and he did this beautifully! I know students whose family members have crossed the Mexican/American border and some that have done this themselves. The story opens with an innocent quinceanera with neighbors, family members and friends attending. The fun lasts for moments before tragedy strikes in the form of gang members and guns. We have all heard about the violence and drug wars and poverty in Mexico. The Border opened my eyes to these problems with clarity and empathy. Four teenagers survive the shooting and run for their lives because a gunman spotted them. The story deals with their loss of the lives they have grown up in and the difficult trek they embark on to find safety. Their journey is in no way easy and they learn to rely on each other. Heartbreaking, educational and interesting realistic fiction story worthy of 5 stars! Highly recommended!

Legion by Julie Kagawa

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review the fourth book in the Talon Saga, Legion by Julie Kagawa!  This is a perfect addition to the already popular Talon, Rogue and Soldier books with just as much action, intrigue, romance and suspense!

Each of the books in the Talon Saga are told from a different character’s point of view. Talon is told in Ember’s point of view, Rogue is in Riley’s and Soldier is told in Garret’s point of view. Legion brings back all of the main characters and their points of view, including Dante’s. Dante is Ember’s brother and has been loyal to the dragon rule all  along because he believes he will be the dragon in power someday.  At first, he wanted to help his sister succeed and only cared about pleasing their instructors and taking care of her.  Then he had an epiphany about the position of power he could be in someday.  This changed his entire perspective. The strong, dynamic characters are worth cheering for while the tension builds in this addition to the Talon saga. I didn’t see the specific conflict coming and was shocked and appalled at the Elder Wyrm’s use for Ember Hill!  This book is as amazing as the rest of the series and is suspenseful and intriguing with new mysteries springing up and adding to the un-put-down-ability of the story. 5 stars for characters I love and the building anticipation!  I am already anxious for the fifth book in this series and I plan on a complete re-read when the entire series is complete!

The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read and review The Fallen Kingdom, book three in The Falconer trilogy by Elizabeth May! Derrick, Kam’s pixie friend, continues to give comic relief to the dire circumstances of the fae and human realms. Kam comes to life without any knowledge or memories of who she is or was. She’s lost and wanders until Derrick finds her. The overwhelming power that has been given to Kam makes her angry and extremely strong. So angry that she harms Derrick. Kam’s memories return and she learns about a book that can alter time and reverse all of the violence, destruction and killing that has occurred. She wants to bring her mother back and all the people that have lost their lives during the fae battles. No matter what choice she makes, Kam will lose someone. Complex characters, complete world building and a roller coaster of emotions make me love this fantasy steampunk series – 5 stars!

Nemesis by Anna Banks

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for the opportunity to read and review Nemesis by Anna Banks! Sepora has escaped her kingdom with the help of her mother and her pet, whom she loves very much. In a neighboring kingdom, Tarik has been honored as he takes over the role of king when his father gets sick, deteriorates quickly and dies. This story is told in two points of view featuring Sepora as one and Tarik as the other. Sepora and Tarik alternate consistently throughout the book. I like this switching between the two because it gives insight into both of their thoughts and perspectives.

Sepora is captured then sold as a concubine in Tarik’s harem, which he never visits. She escapes and seeks an audience with Tarik and being amused by Sepora, he makes her an assistant. She’s a handful for Tarik and he’s not sure how to deal with her because he enjoys her and learns a lot from her, but he is expected to punish her actions by his peers and subjects. Told in beautiful prose, Nemesis weaves romance, intrigue and a unique story into a new and fantastic world, 5 stars! I’m looking forward to the sequel, Ally coming out Fall 2017!

Every Hidden Thing

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

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel. A dinosaur expedition to dig up the first Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil is the story in this book. Told in alternating points of view between Rachel and Samuel, both of whose fathers are competing paleontologists. The transitions between the two points of view took me a while to get used to because a small change in font is the only acknowledgment. The fathers are competing against each other and Rachel and Samuel are along for the expedition. They end up working the same dinosaur site with tremendous animosity. This historical fiction story includes T-Rex bones, Badlands fossils, the infamous Mr. Barnum with a bit of romance added into the mix. Someone steals from the Indian burial grounds and the Sioux Indians are looking for the items that were taken. This adds more suspense and interest to the story. The story is inspired by a true paleontologist rivalry between Edward Drinkwater Hope and Othniel Charles Marsh. This rivalry took place in the late 1800’s and is known as the “Bone Wars”. 4 stars for this interesting paleontology read!

Irena’s Children: Young Reader’s Edition

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books for the arc of Irena’s Children (Young Reader’s Edition) by Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies and the bravery it took to save innocent children during the Holocaust! 4 stars.

Forget Tomorrow

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Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn has such a beautiful cover that I immediately wanted to read the book! This dystopian story involves future memories, a confusing concept that Pintip Dunn clarifies well with her writing skills. Relying completely on a memory from the future to dictate my life would make me feel trapped. When Callie receives her memory, her entire world falls into turmoil. Unsure of Logan’s intentions and wary of the people around her, she doesn’t know who she can trust. Logan helps Callie escape after she has been placed in Limbo. Since she can’t swim, Logan continues on the journey with her to get her to safety. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking, “just kiss each other already!” Logan and Callie make it to safety, the Harmony compound, and meet several people who are afraid to enjoy their lives because they are worried about their future memories coming true. Callie heads back home to save Jessa. She learns many secrets involving her family and the community. The cliffhanger ending is almost unbearable – 4 stars. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Remember Yesterday.

Irena’s Children

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the arc of Irena’s Children by Tilar Mazzeo! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies! 4 stars.

Saving My Assassin

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Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for the book of Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan. This memoir introduces Virginia Prodan in immediate danger in 1984, when her life was threatened. Chapter one takes us back to 1961, during Virginia’s childhood. Virginia grew up with abuse from her mother and taunting from her siblings. She is a real life Cinderella. Her upbringing was not to be the end of her struggles, though. With tremendous strength, Virginia shows us what she went through for her individual freedom and what she is willing to do for other’s freedom also. Learning about different cultures and symbolism is always interesting to me, even if I don’t agree or completely understand them. Communism feels confining, nerve-wracking and demoralizing. I appreciate the notes at the end of the book that clarify several questions that arose while I was reading Saving My Assassin. Courageous and inspiring – 4 stars!