Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza has a bright, fun cover that entices readers. Kat has just started at a new school. Meg attends this school and the two of them become partners for their class Science Project. Neither one of them has any truly good friends and, little by little they grow a friendship beginning with their mutual love of a certain video game. Through the ups and downs of growing up and building relationships, Kat and Meg discover how to cope and enjoy their lives and accept themselves just as they are. You never know when you’re going to find a friend! The maturity level of the two main characters didn’t always feel consistent, but otherwise, this book is a fun read that young teens will be able to relate to. 3.5 stars for this realistic fiction written for teens.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Nice try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke! The book opens with journal entries written by Jane, who is trying to move past a mysterious event involving James Fowler. Jane alludes to this event as she continues writing in her journal. She joins a reality show in the making, House of Orange, so she can move away from home and move on with her life. Eventually, we discover that James Fowler is the high school Jane was attending when she thought about ending her life and tried doing just that by jumping off a cliff. She wasn’t successful. She learns a great deal about herself while participating on House of Orange. Jane’s sense of humor is entertaining and the broad range of characters makes Jane stop and look at herself and grow personally. She learns to not care about what people think of her and her actions. This contemporary book shows that doubt and insecurity are both normal for everyone as we become adults and grow into our identity. 4 stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Adina takes music lessons from Arjun in his apartment. Arjun is twenty-five and Adina has a crush on him. She’s also fearful of her possibly life threatening genetic test results. Adina is being tested for the same disease that her mother suffers from. Tovah, Adina’s twin, will be taking the genetic test for Huntington’s disease also. Their mother was diagnosed four years ago and she struggles with the effects. The girls have Jewish heritage from their mother and while Tovah embraces it, Adina doesn’t. I like how Tovah explains why she believes God didn’t cause their mother to have Huntington’s disease: “God has limits, humans have free will, and the natural world isn’t ruled by a higher power”. So, in other words, God doesn’t make people have illnesses. The sisters seem to be complete opposites in everything they do and believe and with their actions and choices.
The story’s complexity deals with heritage, Huntington’s disease, twins with extreme differences, genetic testing, coming of age, sexuality, relationships, culture, religion and family. 4 STARS for this debut novel with a lot of depth!
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!
Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin! This is a fun story filled with summer camp adventures and relationship struggles. Gigi is at a rough place and becomes a camp counselor to escape and hopefully regroup before she heads back to her regular life as unemployed and single, after a confusing affair. Perry has been a summer counselor for four years and he’s dealing with his own supposed skeletons in the closet. Gigi treats Perry with only anger, assuming he’s arrogant and immature when she hasn’t even given him a chance. Over the summer and in spite of their bad start, Gigi and Perry began to confide in each other and realize they have a lot in common. Gigi can’t seem to get away from her past and she faces everything head on, thanks to the support of her friends and family. The ending is cute and hopeful after the tumultuous distrust and intensity. One S’more Summer weaves a realistic and rocky story of how relationships come and go and how we handle them and how we deal with the in-betweenness of being single. 5 stars!
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst is an ebook I checked out on Overdrive through Delta High School’s access. The story opens with a mythical quality and the setting of the village in the trees is described beautifully. The first chapter is in Daleina’s Point of view and alternates with Champion Ven. A few chapters are in Queen Fara’s point of view. The Queen is a complex and complicated character. She’s continuously having replacements trained to become Queen. There’s an academy where training takes place to turn girls into heirs for the Queen. She’s tired of hearing about being replaced and she seems to have an underlying cunning and possible ruthlessness. Daleina travels and trains with Ven and the healer Hamon and they take great care of her and help her when she loses her eyesight. The three companions visit the village that Daleina was born in and where her family still resides. She’s saddened by how much time has changed her home. As a challenge, Queen Fara wants Daleina to reclaim a lost village and the village happens to be her hometown. She’s supposed to claim the village from the spirits, then rebuild it and make it safe. Her companions think the Queen is cruel to ask this of Daleina. As often as she works well with her companions and other candidates and proves to others that she’s capable, Daleina never gets over her self-doubt and insecurities. Ven and Hamon have always been confident in Daleina though. The world is interesting and unique because the people completely rely on spirits for everything from warmth, growing vegetation, cooking and all things that come from air, earth, water, trees and fire. The spirits have a natural tendency and desire to destroy all that is human- people and their creations. The story picked up the pace towards the ending and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Reluctant Queen. 4 stars for this new vision of a fantasy world.