Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Horror with a touch of twisted humor that reminds me of Stephen King’s writing. When Louise receives the call from her brother Mark that their parents were in a fatal car crash, she flies home to take care of everything. What she walks into is nothing like she expected and a secret, that’s been held quiet for two generations, bursts their reality. Mark and Louise struggle with each other until they finally realize they need each other’s help to deal with the haunting of their family home. Interestingly creepy!
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
Laurel, 19, lives and works on her family’s tobacco farm in midwestern America. Her friends, Ricky, Garrett and Isaac work alongside her. When they find a mutilated deer carcass in the woods and follow the bloody trail, an ominous feeling surrounds them. Laurel receives a warning from the local psychic that danger is imminent and Laurel understands because she has been having vivid dreams too. When a supernatural creature appears in front of their car, Laurel and Isaac see the danger face-to-face and know they’re in deep trouble.
Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book. I like the close friendship between the four main characters. Christine intrigues me and there’s a whole story behind her background that begs to be told. Language: R for 57 swears and 120 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of smoking pot, underage drinking, brief kiss, implied petting. Violence: PG-13 for mutilated and bloody deer carcass found in the woods. Undescribed child abuse. Monster harming a person, dead rabbit. Dead body. Ethnicity: Laurel and her friends are White.
Chase, 17, is an overachieving senior in Meadowlark who struggles with depression to the point that she’s suppressing memories. She misses her ex-best friend and girlfriend, Lia, and she’s confused about why they’re not together or talking anymore. Little by little, as she’s looking to understand, she discovers that she’s been through trauma. Chase also learns that she does need to rely on others and she needs their help and support. The truth will help her heal or completely break her. This story is a mystery tied into the trauma and overwhelming stress of two high school students, 4 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The unraveling of the mystery surrounding Chase and Lia is very interesting. The author includes a resource list for anyone needing help or knowing someone who needs help for suicide or mental health struggles. I appreciate Chase’s honesty and the sisterly bond she has with her younger sister.
Mature Content: PG-13 for underage prescription drug addiction (Focentra/Adderall), thoughts of suicide, lingering kiss, suicide by drowning. Language: R for 43 swears and 84 f-bombs. Violence: PG for suicide by drowning. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with Korean, Italian American, White, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Dutch and French.
Metaphorically beautiful verse! Two depressed teens, Whimsy and Faerry, meet at a mental hospital and then become neighbors and attend high school together. They’re both suffering from depression and memory loss from when they were young children. They’re not sure what they’re not remembering but it’s bothering both of them to the point of despair. They become friends that want to help each other and understand each other’s problems. They need each other to process the trauma they’ve been through and to help the lost information resurface.
Likes/dislikes: The writing is metaphorical and beautiful. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the story. I like Whimsy and Faerry, the two main characters. Language: G for no swears and no f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for suicidal thoughts (nondescriptive) and clinical depression. Violence: PG for talk of cutting, undescribed. Ethnicity: The two main characters are black and they attend a predominantly white school.
Spencer wakes up in the hospital after being injured in a car crash that involved her and three other students from Armstrong but she only remembers a few details. One of the students, Chris, died in the crash and another passenger, Tabby, won’t talk to Spencer but only glares at her. Ethan was driving and speeding and says he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t stop and they hit a tree. Ethan is on house arrest, Tabby seems fine but angry, Chris died and Spencer has broken some bones and has stitches from her jaw to her cheekbone. Jackson, Ethan’s best friend, helps Spencer get around and with her schoolwork, as well as helping her piece the details from the night of the accident together because she’s extremely frustrated that she can’t remember. The more she digs into the details, the more in danger she becomes. Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I like the intense, poetic opening that reveals the story. I like Spencer’s strength and integrity and Jackson’s personality. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery and how a mental health therapy dog helped a trauma victim. Matue content: PG-13 for prescription drug addiction, drinking, vaping Language: PG-13 for 24 swears and 5 f-bombs Violence: PG for brakes being cut to cause an accident, hit and run, being held at gunpoint and being hit in the head with a gun.
Daphne and Beatriz both receive confirmation of Sophronia’s death. Violie, Sophronia’s maid and unbeknownst spy of Empress Margareaux, helps Leopold escape to safety as she promised Sophronia she would. They meet up with Ambrose and Lord Savelle, who Beatriz freed from prison and Ambrose took on his boat to safety. At the wedding ceremony for Daphne and Bairre, an explosion occurs that kills the Empyria helping the king and now Bairre’s mother becomes the new Empyria. Beatriz and Pasquale end up in Empress Margareaux’s palace while Violie and Leopold are spying on Daphne in Bairre’s kingdom. The four work together to stop the Empress from taking over the continent and killing them all. Beatriz is convinced that their mother, Empress Margareaux, planned to kill all three of her daughters the minute she secured the kingdoms they infiltrated and now she’s trying to convince Daphne of their mother’s betrayal. The intrigue twists, turns and never stops, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the intensity which is stronger than in the first book of this series. The intrigue never ends and it twists and turns as characters change their planned actions. The character variety is entertaining. Ethnicity: predominantly white Language: PG-13 for 10 swears, no f-bombs Mature content: PG for kissing, lgbtq side character Vilence: PG-13 for bloody stabbings, imprisonment, death by an arrow to the neck, poisoning
In the imaginary continent of Vesteria, three princesses celebrate their sixteenth birthday together and mourn their time together. They will be sent off to other kingdoms to marry princes. Each princess will go to a different kingdom and marry the ruler; Sophronia is marrying King Leopold, who treats her kindly along with his family and court; Beatriz is marrying Prince Pasquale and seems unwanted by him but she’s meant to sway Lord Savelle, as her mother instructed; Daphne is marrying Cillian, who dies before she arrives, so the second heir, Bairre, takes his place in marriage. Each princess struggles with who to trust and in completing their set missions for their mother and her ultimate goals. They’re in more danger than they realize and start to see that they can’t rely on their mother for help or love.
Likes/dislikes: I had a difficult time keeping the three princesses and their corresponding kingdoms straight. I like the premise of villainous deception and seeing the changes that took place within the princesses. I enjoyed the side characters of each prince and the diversity amongst the kingdoms.
Mature Content: PG-13 for kissing and drinking wine. Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for a beheading. Ethnicity: predominantly white.
Present time in America, Winter is a famous performer who is being recruited by the Panacea Agency to help take down a dangerous criminal, Eli Morrison. Eli has invited Winter to perform at his daughter Penelope’s birthday celebration in London. This is why Panacea wants Winter’s help, because he can infiltrate Eli’s life with little suspicion. Sydney Cosette works for Panacea and poses as Winter’s bodyguard. The two seem to come from very different backgrounds but they discover they have commonalities. Winter and Sydney get hit with a few surprises on their mission and they’ll have to rely on their wits and trust each other to make it through alive.
Likes/dislikes: Winter and Sydney are interesting characters with unspoken depth. I like the mystery, action and setting of the story. I love the ending.
Mature Content: PG-13 for bisexual relationships mentioned, off-page kissing; sex alluded to by stating, “ended up in bed together”; drinking, transporting drugs, kissing.
Language: R for 49 swears and no f-bombs.
Violence: PG for kidnapping, killing mentioned, death by choking on a chemical weapon, hand to hand combat, shot in the chest. Sydney’s mother Killed by father in domestic abuse rage.
Ethnicity: The ethnicity of the main character is Chinese American, other characters are Black, white, brown-skinned, mixed.