#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

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Horror with a bit of humor!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Murder Trending by Gretchen McNeil!
Government-sanctioned serial killers entertain citizens on The Postman app, which shows them hunting and killing convicts. A seventeen-year-old has been convicted of killing her stepsister. This teen’s name is Dee and she says she’s innocent. After the trial, Dee woke up on Alcatraz Island in a cell that reminded her of when she’d been kidnapped as an eleven-year-old. She has no recollection of the time between her trial and waking up in a cell on Alcatraz Island. The back and forth telling of the kidnapping and Alcatraz Island was difficult to follow for a while, but I kept reading and the story did get better. The characters grew on me and the unique plot and setting drew my interest. With some twists and turns and a bit of humor, #Murdertrending is entertaining, 4 stars!

Neverwake by Amy Plum

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Never Wake by Amy Plum, the sequel to Dreamfall, starts right where the first book left off. Dreamfall ended with the documented knowledge that one of the teens is a psychopath. The intensity is amplified and the suspense keeps building! The dream state is lasting longer and the void is shortening, so the teens are inside nightmares longer each time and their rest time will eventually disappear. They’re already struggling to survive while the nightmares become more dangerous. The intern observing the trial keeps taking detailed notes and she’s noticed the changes and believes the patients are dreaming and she’s trying to convince the researchers. She was also able to warn Fergus about one of the teens being a psychopath, but he fell back asleep before she stated the psychopath’s name. Neverwake’s intensity kept me glued to the book and this young adult horror full of unique, interesting characters earns 5 stars!

Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

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A scary sci-fi that I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Sanctuary by Caryn Lix!
Kenzie lives in a space prison that houses teens with super powers. Kenzie and her parents help guard the prison, with a few others, and they work for the security system company that runs the adult prison and the teen prison that both hold Earth criminals with super powers. All seems well until the prisoners of Sanctuary escape their cells. Kenzie becomes somewhat of a hostage as the teenage prisoners try to work out their escape plan. The escape plan gets overridden with an alien invasion and the struggle to stay alive. This scary sci-fi kept me reading nonstop to the ending, 5 stars!

Scream Site by Justina Ireland

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Edge of your seat horror-mystery!

Thanks to Capstone Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Scream Site by Justina Ireland!

The synopsis creeped me out and I started the book with jittery anticipation. Sabrina loves journalism and, as the story opens, she’s trying to figure out the best article to submit for a summer internship with the Daily Sun newspaper. Her friend, Evelyn, tells her about rumors surrounding the website called Scream Site, that’s holding a competition for scariest video. The rumors involve missing young women and the possibility of murder or torture of these women. The more Sabrina investigates, the more danger she’s in and the more she’s threatened. No one seems to believe her concerns, not ever her detective uncle, so Sabrina takes the investigation into her own hands regardless of personal safety. Along with the mystery, online safety is focused on with helpful reminders for all of us. This edge of your seat horror-mystery kept me riveted and I read it straight through in a few hours, 4 stars.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

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Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 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.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw! Chapter One opens the book with the introduction of the main characters, the setting of the town of Sparrow and Lumiere Island, a spooky tale and foreshadowing of death. The main characters are Penny, who lives alone with her mother after her father disappeared three years ago, and Rose. Rose’s mother owns a bakery that sells mini cakes that supposedly help people forget their struggles and painful memories. Tourist season starts and the town celebrates the legend of the three Swan Sisters and their drowning centuries ago. The Swan sisters Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel were drowned after being accused of witchcraft. The story is told in parts, past and present, alternating to reveal the history of the sisters, the disappearance of Penny’s father and the secrets of Bo, the visitor that ends up working on Lumiere Island with Penny. Wicked Deep is a fantasy wrapped in darkness, engulfed in tragedy and heartbreak with intrigue, deception and sacrifice that ultimately brings love into its pages. Wonderfully written and rates a highly recommended 5 stars!

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The story opens with the three daughters, their family owns the Abbey, getting ready for a party that evening. The eldest daughter, Kate, is meant to marry and bear a male child as heir to the Abbey. The party will introduce possible suitors for her to choose from or for them to choose her. The lovely British setting begins with tongue in cheek humor and the calmness of a classic but eventually, horror ensues when a woman is forced to shoot her already dead husband! No one but her nephew believes that her husband came home after she had already verified his death. She claimed that his eyes were unusual and he was no longer her husband, but a monster. Little by little, the Abbey community and surrounding village is overtaken by zombies and the survivors must defend themselves or fall victim also. The gutsy Fanny, a kitchen maid, builds up bravery throughout the Abbey and helps fight to save the residents, along with the three daughters. Zombie Abbey is a fun horror story, which seems oxymoronic, but the author pulls it off quite well! 4 stars for this adventurous dystopian!

The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato. Teddi’s summer vacation begins with a few options. She decides to spend time with Summerteens, the local library’s summer writing workshop. Before the workshop kicks off, Teddi has had a spooky encounter, a kiss and an argument with her single, downtrodden mother. I fell in love with The Precious Dreadful, Teddi’s personality and boldness and the variety of characters it holds in its pages! The more I read, the deeper the story took me. Teddi has pretty much raised herself since her mother, Brenda, tends to be drunk and partying with her friends instead of being available and sober for her daughter. Brenda is also keeping secrets from Teddi and has tried to, in her own dysfunctional way, protect her role as a mother. As Teddi’s summer rolls on, relationships become more complicated and drama-ridden and her subconscious is forcing her to remember a traumatic and horrible part of her childhood. The Precious Dreadful bends genres: mystery, horror, supernatural, romance and young adult realistic fiction; this book also pulls at your heartstrings through intense tragedy, awareness of bad choices and the bond of friendship and kindness of others and it’s well deserving of 5 stars!

Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy! The dedication builds suspenseful excitement and I love the quote that opens the story: “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”-Edgar Allan Poe. I fell into the story immediately because the intensity begins in the first chapter with an angry attack, which leads to murder. I thought I may have figured out who the murderer is but as the story progresses, things change and so does my perspective. The points of view are interesting because it’s mostly Penelope with others’ randomly thrown in. This makes the action and anxiety more erratic showing us how the community must feel knowing there’s a murderer in their midst. Also, through the killer’s point of view, we get a glimpse of incentive and motive. I read this book straight through with fervor and the story doesn’t disappoint! 5 stars for this young adult murder mystery!

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