Protected by Claire Zorn

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Hannah lives with her mother and father. The three of them are mourning Katie, Hannah’s sister. Katie, Hannah and their father were in a car accident and Katie did not survive. Hannah struggles with having friends and fitting in at school, just as she did before Katie’s fatal accident. Hannah and Katie have very different personalities and their lives unfold as the story is told. I like Josh and his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. He helps Hannah loosen up and she learns to enjoy life. The heartbreak of loss and the pain of overcoming that loss seem unbearable and Hannah and her family fight to move forward and beyond the pain. This book holds the messages of bullying, grieving and also the importance of relationships. 5 stars for this realistic fiction story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Protected by Claire Zorn.

The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby! Cat is trying to move on after being humiliated by Bennet, who dated Cat as a challenge and not because he liked her. Then he told everyone about it by putting it online in the form of a YouTube video, humiliating her even more. Alex is Cat’s friend and has been for years. He’s dealing with his family problems but wants to help Cat. The two of them make an agreement to pose as girlfriend/boyfriend to soften any blow that will surely happen when school starts up again. Alex feels as though he’s hiding his true self from everyone he cares about and he’s afraid to share a secret that’s been tearing him apart since the day his mom and siblings died in a car accident years ago. Cat and Alex are realistic and lovable characters that build this story into more than just a romantic tale. The two of them, along with the dynamic and interesting side characters, make this young adult realistic fiction fun! 5 stars for the complexity and realism of the characters!

Where I Found You by Heidi R. Kling

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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.

The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison

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The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison.  I’m immediately drawn into the story because of the lovable two main characters, best friends Will and Georgie. Georgie is protecting Will’s secret. She will do anything to help him and when an old beau returns to town, the secret and Georgie’s loyalty are challenged. I love how the author approaches Will’s secret and the different points of view in the small southern town. This realistic situation with all of the stresses and anxiety rings true. One of my favorite scenes of the book is the escape of Georgie from Beau when they run into each other in Charleston while she’s supposedly on a date with Will; classic fun! The author brings a poignant story into our hearts and gives readers food for thought with the friendship, loyalty and honesty of wonderful and complicated characters. Young adult romance worth 5 stars!

Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond. Miranda and Grant both have a special connection to Roanoke Island and when over one hundred citizens come up missing, Miranda and Grant feel like they are destined to help solve the mass disappearance. The two of them do not share a happy past and their resolve is tested over and over while trying to help each other. The further they dig into the mystery, the stranger things become. They discover supernatural forces controlling people and spirits from the past. Throughout their struggles, Grant and Miranda only have each other to count on. 4 stars for a historical fiction read with a paranormal twist!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

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Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Turtles All the Way Down

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green opens with Aza as she struggles with self-confidence and feeling like she never belongs. Her best friend and support is Daisy and the two of them set out to earn a reward for finding a missing billionaire. This mystery brings more interest to the story and the dynamic characters are fun, humorous and entertaining as well deep thinking. The three main characters, Aza, Daisy and Davis all bring a lot of interest to the story plus the side characters add an extra depth. I appreciate how John Green portrays mental illness with realism and deeply detailed prose. The author’s note at the end offers insight into his own personal struggles and also help and hotline information. 5 stars for a great portrayal of the human mind and its struggles!

All Things New by Lauren Miller

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Thanks to NetGalley and Three Saints Press for the opportunity to read and review All Things New by Lauren Miller. Jessa struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. She can’t seem to deal with life very well. After her accident, she’s dealing with so much more than she was before, plus the scars on her face. She refuses to talk about why she’s angry with Wren or anything that’s bothering her. Jessa agrees to move to Colorado with her dad and attend an art school. She makes some friends and builds a relationship with her dad while learning to deal with the aftermath of the accident. Along with her anxiety and scars, Jessa sees bruises and scars on people even though their faces are blemish free. She realizes that she’s hallucinating and her mind is seeing what isn’t there. Jessa works on her confidence, the relationship with her father and building friendships and trust in others. As she’s doing these things, Jessa grows and understands more than the eye can see. 4 stars for this eye-opening realistic fiction novel for young adult readers!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

 

The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled: Crush for the opportunity to read and review The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski! Nora has a sound scientific hypothesis that she created based on her loving grandparents, their wonderful marriage and a kissing booth where they first met and kissed for the first time. Nora has a huge crush on Eli and he’s also her best friend and neighbor. She tried testing her hypothesis once on Eli but he had just taken a big gulp of soda, so it didn’t turn out well. Now she’s even more determined to prove her first kiss theory. The ups and downs of the relationship between Nora and Eli are funny, frustrating and everything in between. The story is fun, cute and romantic with entertaining secondary characters and main characters that are impossible not to root for. 5 star worthy!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration!

First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book! First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy involves a group of teenagers that make a secret society and a pact so they will always stay friends. Izzie, Graham, Viv and Harry create the Order of IV as their secret society and their reasoning for taking dares and beyond. The four teenagers want to right the wrongs in their community and make sure justice is received by victims and served by the perpetrators. Their relationships grow and change as they discover the guilty and find out who really caused the death of a Jane Doe that became known as Goldilocks and who caused Harry’s father’s accident. Tragedy takes away more than just a friend, it completely changes their lives. 4 stars for a twisting young adult story.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.