The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson. Ruby and her mother are barely surviving after the loss of Anton, Ruby’s brother. Their grief is overwhelming and Ruby blames herself for what happened to Anton. She meets a unique young man and meets his “family”. His name is Fox and he lives in a sort of commune. Ruby goes with Fox to the Outreach building and she decides that she wants to learn more, so she attends the secret Institute and gets more than she bargained for. Any disobedience and you’re thrown in a cell-type room with no food or water for days until you are “elutriated” according to the leader who claims he’s the Daddy of all. Boundless Sublime frightens with its suspense and feelings of entrapment. As the synopsis states, this book is an “immersive thriller”, eye-opening as well as heartbreaking, with its tale of manipulation and a cult-like community led by a charlatan. 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

A River of Silence by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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A River of Silence by Susan Clayton Goldner-January 24. Detective Radhauser has been through enough tragedy personally and professionally to last a lifetime. He’s lost his wife and son in a car accident and has struggled with cases that he has taken to heart. He’s now married to Grace and they’re making a family of their own with love and happiness but he still deeply feels the loss of his first wife and their son. He’s called out around midnight to investigate a 911 call, where he helps a hearing impaired man administer CPR on a toddler, while waiting for the ambulance. The child ends up dying and Caleb Bryce, the man giving CPR, is arrested. The community seems to immediately believe that Bryce is guilty and he only has a few people who believe he’s innocent, the detective, his appointed lawyer and his elderly neighbor. This well-rounded mystery opened my eyes and heart and reminded me of how precious and fragile life is. The highly developed characters and their interwoven actions and personalities made this mystery an absolute want-to-read-through-in-one-sitting book, 5 stars!

You Won’t Know I’m Gone by Kristen Orlando

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You Won’t Know I’m Gone, by Kristen Orlando, opens six months after the first book in this series ends. Reagan has now dedicated herself completely to becoming a Black Angel. She’s determined to seek revenge on Torres after he shot and killed her mother right in front of her. Reagan has to work extra hard to attend qualifying training because she’s lost weight and practice since her mother has been gone. During qualifying, Reagan realizes many things about herself as she matures and can actually be her true self, since she doesn’t have to keep her identity hidden. For the first time in her life she’s not keeping secrets from her friends, at least the friends she has in training. Reagan struggles with her all-out focus on revenge for her mother’s death. She sees how it’s hurting the people she cares about and possibly her chances of becoming a Black Angel, but she can’t seem to help curb her desire for revenge. Action-packed, adventurous and worth 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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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 Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave by C.C. Hunter

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The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave by CC Hunter- Riley lost her mother when she was four years old. She lives with her father who is a mortician. She’s been attending her new school for less than two weeks and knows only a few people. They have moved twice lately due to her father losing his jobs. Riley is worrying about whether or not he’s an alcoholic or depressed. Riley gets visits from ghosts of the people her father has helped prepare for burial. The visitors need Riley’s help and until she helps them they keep visiting. I have a soft spot for Ford Mustangs and it’s cool that Riley has a Mustang and deals with the car’s maintenance and mechanical issues with her dad. The more I read, the more I realized how complicated Riley’s life is. I don’t want to give anything away, but the story just kept getting better and better. The dynamic characters are interesting and the suspense grows in intensity and I was on the edge of my seat as the story ended! I want the sequel now!!! 5 stars for pure supernatural entertainment!

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

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Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell is a perfect October read. The prologue creates a creepy feeling and, when the story opens with two friends and a ouija board, it seems a little more lighthearted until the foreshadowing leads to dread and tragedy. At that point, I was pulled into the book and couldn’t put it down. Sophie travels to Scotland to visit relatives and to learn about how her cousin Rebecca died. Strange things are happening at Sophie’s cousins’ home and she wants to figure it all out. Sophie gets closer to the spooky happenings while her cousins act more and more strangely. The twists and revelations are fascinatingly spooky! 5 stars for this young adult horror story!

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

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Dark breaks the dawn by Sara B. Larson is a fairytale retelling of Swan Lake. It’s Princess Evelayn’s 18th birthday and she’s gotten her full powers like she’s supposed to. They are more amazing than she expected. She is happy when her mother, Queen Ilaria, makes it home on the night of her birthday. Only too soon, her mother leaves for battle once again. When the queen is struck down in battle, the kingdom is devastated. Evelayn vows to do whatever it takes to restore peace to her people. The complex world building and character descriptions are amazing and beautiful. I love the colors of skin, hair and eyes and the endless combinations of those attributes on the people of the kingdoms. I was rooting for Evelayn and Tanvir throughout the whole book. An adventure fantasy and a fairytale retelling all in one. 5 stars!

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi! Kai and her parents are consumed with grief over the suicide of her sister Jen. I like how the story covers their grief and how each of them handles everything differently from finding Jen, her letters to each family member, the funeral preparations, their relationships with others and work and school when they try to get back to “normal”. All of this is covered in the first half of the book then Kai hits rock bottom and her friends and family don’t know how to help her, so she’s sent to a grief camp. This turns out to be the best possible choice. Small group discussions and activities help the teenagers learn how to move forward without forgetting the loved ones they have lost. Helping others seems to be the best way to overcome sadness because of thinking about someone else instead of just yourself heals broken hearts. I’m impressed with this book, the realistic feel of it, and I fell in love with the characters and wanted them to heal. The background of the story is interesting also and I appreciate the author being willing to share her personal experiences along with her pain. The resources included at the end will help many readers know where to find the help they need; 5 stars for a beautiful story of experiencing loss and the hope that brings light back into our lives.