Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

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Riveting read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!
It took me a minute to get into the book because I was annoyed at the submissive behavior of the main character, Mena. As I read on, I realized that submissiveness is the reason behind the story. The teen girls are taught to listen without question and do everything in their power to please and appease others. Disturbing but so on point with gender discrimination. The poem entitled Girls with Sharp sticks encompasses everything about this story, including the book’s namesake. As I read and reread the poem, found on pages 154-156, I feel disgusted, hopeful, saddened, angered, afraid and then a little cautiously hopeful at the end. It sums up the story concisely. POWERFUL. A thought-provoking read, 5 stars!

Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson!
Kazi and Jase are heading to his home when they receive a cryptic message that they’re not sure they can trust. The message says that Samuel is dead. They’re devastated and Jase takes off towards his home, with Kazi close behind. They’re attacked and the last thing she knows about Jase is that he’s been shot with several arrows and one of those arrows was embedded in his chest. Someone grabs Jase. Later, Kazi sees a severed hand with his ring on it. She continues staying in Jase’s kingdom even though it’s been overrun with attacks and most of his family fled and is in hiding. Kazi stays to help Lydia and Nash, Jase’s young siblings. Kazi isn’t sure if she can trust anyone and the danger spirals around her. I can’t say much more without giving some of the story away! An intriguing story of love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance, 5 stars!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Intense and clever!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!
The story opens as Miguel walks his night shift rounds in the empty, not-yet-open office building. He hears a scream and gunshots so he calls 9-1-1 and two policemen arrive. The police are skeptical until an elevator door opens and they start shooting. When Miguel finally gets a view of the elevator, he’s disturbed because he’s never seen that much blood before. The story then jumps back to thirty-four hours earlier when four people meet in an empty office building in the South Bronx on a Friday night. Next, Sylvie, Sam, Jules and Vincent are introduced to the story and they’re all on edge since the meeting was set up last minute and is interfering with their personal plans. The meeting appears to be an escape room challenge and as the four coworkers struggle to find clues, the story alternates with Sara as she’s interviewed, hired and works for Stanhope. Fresh out of college, Sara is thrown right into the devious nature of the career path she’s chosen and the financial and investment banker world takes a devastating toll on her entire life. Greed makes people cold and brutal and Sara learns firsthand how cruel people can be. She’s upset over the supposed suicidal death of coworker Lucy and questions Vincent when she feels that Lucy didn’t really commit suicide. She asks him if he thinks that maybe there was foul play. After that discussion, Sara’s berated about her work and her appearance and she eventually loses her job. The story alternates between Sara and her four elevator-confined coworkers. The escape room clues are interesting and we learn the reasoning behind them as the trapped four work them out. A solid suspenseful tale of greed, self-absorption and actions people might take to ensure that they come out on top, 4 stars!

T-Minus by Shannon Greenland

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Thrilling read!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review T-Minus by Shannon Greenland!
The president’s daughter, Sophie, is awakened during the night when the secret service has discovered a terrorist attack in the making. The story alternates between the present, as the attack progresses, with snippets of past experiences and memories that Sophie has with her family and friends. Her brother Erik is not home and the family believes he’s in danger and they are right. The mystery gradually unravels as to the purpose behind the attack but meanwhile people are dying, being kidnapped or, as in Sophie’s case, being manipulated into doing the terrorists’ bidding. Sophie is part of the TIA, a teenage agency created by the CIA to train and teach survival skills and tactics to teens. She’s made strong friends in the TIA and they help her get to the bottom of what’s going on. Unique characters and the alternating of past and present builds the relationships up and creates empathy for the characters. A suspenseful YA mystery, 4 stars!

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

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This young adult mystery was a joy to read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
Sawyer’s life hasn’t been easy. She’s eighteen and independent because she’s pretty much raised herself. Her single mother, a bit flaky but well-meaning, has never told Sawyer the identity of her father. While Sawyer’s mother is on a date lasting more than a few days, her maternal grandmother walks into her front door, introduces herself and offers Sawyer a $500,000 contract to stay with her for one year. The only reason Sawyer agrees to and signs this contract is to uncover the identity of her father; the money doesn’t hurt either. She’s never met her mother’s family and her expectations rely on her mother’s descriptions of them. The contract specifies “debutante life for a year” which Sawyer is not remotely used to but her cousin Lily helps to navigate the social life and what’s expected of a debutante. As Sawyer adjusts as a socialite, a tragic mystery is slowly uncovered and she ends up right in the middle of the action and intrigue. I love the characters and the unique personalities, as well as the story line, which made me chuckle more than once. A fun, young adult mystery, 5 stars!

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith

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Tough situations handled well by author!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith!
First we meet Chris, who’s changed identities. Next is Maia who has lost her sister Mallory. Both main characters feel lost and, while Chris is struggling with the transformation of being transgender, Maia is trying to figure out the basics of who she is without her sister. The two of them work through some of their struggles together but Maia seems to be having a more difficult time adjusting personally than Chris. Transgenderism is handled perfectly from all perspectives, personal, family, friends and romantic relationships. Being transgender would be difficult enough as it is, but adding a relationship would make everything even more complicated. How and when do you tell your romantic interest or even just a new friend? They have a right to know, so their feelings are respected too. The author approaches these issues gently and respectfully for all sides involved. Losing a loved one is also part of this book and that’s something that all of us will have to deal with at sometime in our lives. These tough situations are handled well by the author, who also shares her own experiences with sexuality. I wish the cover was better though; I can see it being a deterrent for readers. 3.5 stars!

Lots of Love Little One by Sandra Magsamen

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Precious book that builds self-esteem!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the opportunity to read and review Lots of Love Little One by Sandra Magsamen!
Drawn stitching on the illustrations and some of the words adds charm to this book. The illustrations are very cute! Unique ways to say I love you more than… compares how much a dog loves her bone and how much the stars twinkle at night. The language page shows the phrase, “I love you”, in several translated languages. Adorable and sweet, 5 stars!

Plant Parenting by Leslie F. Halleck!

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User-friendly plant guide!
Thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read and review Plant Parenting by Leslie F. Halleck!
Separating and propagating instructions to increase the amount of plants you have are the basis for this book. The first section explains how plants multiply and how plants differ in propagation. Next up is understanding plant names and their varieties. Materials, tools and instructions show different propagating systems, soil and lighting available. Then the sections are broken into the type of growing preferences, such as seeds, water rooting, propagation, and dividing plants. Photos are close up and detailed for making concepts easy to understand. I found this book so helpful that I’m now following the author on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! 5 stars for a user-friendly guide to multiplying plants!

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power is a dystopian sci-fi for young adults. I read an excerpt on Bookish First and was so grateful that I had an ARC from NetGalley and Delacorte Press/Random House so I could finish reading the book immediately! The opening frightened and piqued my curiosity. I also felt sorry for the Tox survivors because civilization deserted them, except for limited, intermittent supply drops from the Navy. Told in alternating points of view between friends, Hetty and Byatt. (I cannot seem to get out of my mind, the fact that if the first letters of both names are exchanged, the names would be Betty and Hyatt);) Hetty starts the story and continues until Byatt suffers a Tox episode and is taken away. Hetty searches for her, can’t find her and overhears one of the leaders on the radio talking about an exchange. Then it’s Byatt’s turn to tell the story. She wakes up in a strange place and she struggles to talk. Soon, she’s surrounded by people in surgical clothing and is forced to take a bitter tasting pill. Byatt has a few more experiences to share but the majority of the story is told through Hetty’s perspective. Strange and frightening discoveries are made and the story ends with a wide opening for more to come. I do enjoy science fiction when it’s in dystopian form and the ending left me wondering what’s next! 4 stars!

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Menagerie of Japanese characters!
Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa!
The book opens with a thousand-year-old legend of a sword known as Godslayer. Tatsumi wielded this sword when it contained the demon Hakaimono. Since then, the demon has possessed Tatsumi, who continues to fight for survival against Hakaimono. Yumeko continues her mission to the Steel Feather Temple but has been waylaid with her companions to try to save Tatsumi, even though a pact was made centuries ago that if Haikaimono possessed a person, that person would be killed to stop destruction that the demon might cause. As everyone tries to thwart the demon’s plans, he shows his power and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. The plot twists as the rivalry changes and the enemy of both becomes the focus of all. Genno, the demon who wants the scroll pieces so he can summon a Kami for the wish to rule all, will be the focus of the third book in this trilogy. At times, Yumeko seems a bit dim but then she manages to pull off some amazing feats, with the help and inspiration of others; go teamwork! I also found myself struggling to keep names and descriptions straight and I’m sure that’s because I need to learn more about the Japanese culture. 4 stars for a Japanese fantasy full of a menagerie of characters!