Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell! The story begins by showing the setting of captured girls and young women kept in cages. Some women are forced to entertain, they are called flowers, while their cage mates, called the wilted, take the punishment when the flowers do something wrong. The captured young girls are being trained to become flowers or wilted when they are teenagers and the cycle continues with young girls being kidnapped, trained and eventually taking the places of the flowers and wilted that are no longer serving their entertainment purposes and are expired or killed. The Gardener runs the Garden with a strict hand and his helper, Shears, enjoys the violence and gladly harms the entertainers. Entertaining is forbidden by the Emperor of Imperial City, but he has seemed to have recently changed his mind. After Rose’s friend Fern is killed, Rose decides to plan a distraction during entertaining the emperor so she can escape and eventually free all of the other girls. Rose uses a member of the audience as a hostage and runs. Little does she know that her hostage is the leader of the rebellion against the Emperor, Rayce. Rose is harboring a secret and she’s terrified to trust any man. She also has a lot to learn about the rebellion and the histories of the people involved. The intrigue and secrecy kept me interested and I liked the unique story line. I grew to care about several of the characters and found myself rooting for them when they were up against danger. I figured out some of the back story on my own, but not all and I appreciated the unpredictability-4 stars!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski begins with Kestrel enjoying the city with her appointed escort and they are both doing things that they know are not allowed for them, such as gambling with the locals. They wander into the slave auction and a slave with blacksmith skills and singing talent comes up for bid. The slave is told to sing for the audience, but he refuses. Kestrel admires him for his pride and bids on him. She outbids everyone else at the steep price of fifty keystones and she’s told this is the Winner’s Curse. Kestrel spends time with Arin, her slave, and she’s not sure what to think about him or his background because he is strong like a slave with manners and knowledge like an aristocrat. Strange events began to happen and Kestrel is trying to figure out why. This story has espionage, intrigue and suspense and the romance is kind of a mystery all its own. The Winner’s Curse is an enjoyable read and it left me anxious to read the sequel – 4 stars!

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano! Wow! The story jumps right into the action and mystery by opening with a girl waking up in a gully, with no memories of the past year or where she is or how she got there. Little by little, she learns what has taken place as her memories trickle back. The human trafficking in this book reminds me a bit of the Liam Neeson movie, Taken, with plenty of mystery and action all on its own. Rachel has a strength unmatched by others and she has to rely on that strength to get her through her current struggles. As her memories resurface, Rachel realizes that many teenagers- male and female – are in danger and she will do whatever it takes to help them. Banter between Rachel and her brother Kyle, alleviate some of the teen angst and dark struggles in this story. A bit of hopeful romance adds charm that lightens the mood also. This is unpredictable and a unique take on young adult mystery and I rate it 4 stars! I appreciate the author adding runaway, suicide, teen safety and teen health and wellness hotline information at the end of the book. As is often the case, when someone suffers it is difficult to ask people we know for help, so this hotline information is a wonderful resource.

Girl Rising by Tanya Lee Stone

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone! The research done by Tanya Lee Stone after watching the film, Girl Rising, is attributed to the film producers sharing over forty-five hours of video interviews with her. The author combed through the videos to find touching, true, heartbreaking stories that will open up our eyes to what is happening to so many innocent young women and girls all over the world. The whole concept of Girl Rising is overwhelming and a vicious cycle. Families having too many children and they can’t afford to take care of them, so they sell or trade their daughters off to continue the cycle with another generation. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about birth control and trying to brainstorm some way of stopping the injustice. The cultural reasoning is one-sided and doesn’t take into account the loss of education and childhood/teenage-hood that these girls are missing out on. A girl’s eye view of human slavery, child marriage, lack of education and educational opportunities make this a difficult book to read, but we all need to be aware. This book is inspiring because of the highlighted stories and struggles that these girls have overcome – 4 stars! I want to get books to these places, if possible, so these young women and girls have a chance to read even if they can’t attend school on a daily basis.