Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge.  Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV.  She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first.  She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing.  Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him.  Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before.  Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else.  Everything escalates after that and blow up.  Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.

 Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
Impressive and bold young adult debut!

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a novel masterpiece!
Poverty and suppression hidden under sunshine and kindness describes the picture painted of Spain as the rest of the world sees the land and its people. The story tells itself with alternating points of view and the author’s writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives, so I was pulled quickly into caring for them. Ana lives with her siblings and each of them works as many jobs as possible since their parents are no longer with them. Daniel traveled to Spain from Texas with his parents, his mother of Spanish descent and oil-rich father. Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid. Daniel loves photography and Ana helps him as much as she dares. Daniel starts noticing that Ana keeps her distance like she’s afraid. Another revelation occurs when Ana’s brother Rafe and his coworker realize that the baby coffins being sent to the cemetery for them to bury are actually empty. More injustice is revealed as we learn that Ana’s parents were killed because they wanted to start a school and their ideas went against the beliefs of the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. The snippets taken from primary sources bring this story to a deeper level and helped me to understand how the rest of the world perceived Spain during this time frame.
The characters and their lives all connect in one way or another and those relationships show how truly complicated and complex Spain’s history is. My heart goes out to the people who suffered in silence for decades and for those still affected by the repercussions. Ruta Sepetys amazes me with every book she writes. Her dedication stands above and beyond what is required because she pours her heart and soul into the stories she creates. I’m grateful that she shares them with the world because, with each book, I gain more knowledge of cultures and history across the globe.
Fountains of Silence, a true work of art! 5 stars!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

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Chalk houses by Tracy Clark tells the story of Talon who lives with her single mother that always seems to have a new boyfriend, drinks and is involved with drugs. The story begins on Talon’s sixteenth birthday and her mother doesn’t even remember what day it is. Talon’s goals are to educate herself and receive a degree in psychology and child development so she will be equipped to help neglected children and never be like her mother. She begins receiving emails from Aunt T, who supposedly wants to get to know Talon. They create a circle journal of communication with their emails. Talon has one true friend, Karalyn, who always gives Talon moral support. Gabby, Talon’s younger next door neighbor that lives with an aunt and uncle and is pretty much neglected by them, is under Talon’s wing of protection. Talon spreads out and tests relationship waters with others as she expands her social circle. She makes some dumb decisions and struggles with the consequences and in the meantime she discovers much more about her mother than she could have ever guessed at before. Chalk Houses is a coming of age, coming into your own work of literary art with its beautiful, dynamic characters and other characters that are horrific in their actions. The story comes full circle and is a real tear-jerker full of disappointment, hurt and hope. 5 heart expanding stars!

Where I Found You by Heidi R. Kling

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Where I Found You by Heidi R. Kling. Sienna is still reeling from her mother’s disappearance that occurred five years ago. Her father is trying to move forward, but still honor his lost wife at the same time. It’s assumed that she went down in a plane crash over the Indian Ocean. Sienna reluctantly agrees to go with her father to a community across the world in Indonesia that has been struck by a Tsunami which caused disaster. While there, Sienna’s eyes are opened and her empathy for those who have suffered through the Tsunami and lost so much overcomes her own feelings of loss. She meets and helps several people and gains a close, wonderful relationship with a young man named Reni. She discovers that Reni is searching for his father and she does everything she can to help him. This touching, beautiful realistic fiction story opened my eyes to the horrible tragedy and suffering of the Tsunami victims, many things I had never thought about or heard of. I enjoyed learning about another culture also. I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel!!! 5 stars.

Haven by Mary Lindsey

Haven by Mary Lindsey- Rain loses his mother and is sent to live with her twin, his aunt Ruby, in a small town. Rain unknowingly falls into an age-old legend as he’s trying to help a fellow classmate. He gets so much more than he bargained for. I don’t want to give anything away because the mystery is a big part of the story. Rain’s life grows more complicated and the suspense builds. He will do anything it takes to protect the people he cares about. 5 stars for this supernatural read! Entangled publishing surprised me with this wonderful box full of goodies!

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

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Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for the opportunity to read Berserker by Emmy Laybourne! Hanne has inherited Norwegian Berserker powers and supposedly this is what drove her mother away. Hanne lives with her drinking father, two brothers and a younger sister. Her eldest brother Steig wants to move to America, get a teaching job and bring his siblings to America when he has enough money. Hanne’s story alternates with Owen Bennett’s, who’s treated badly by his family because he’s the product of Mr. Bennett’s past affair. Hanne is overtaken by the Berserker powers when she senses that her family is in danger and she kills the three men that mean to cause harm to her family and her father ends up dying also. The four siblings run away from their home. Meanwhile, two men, Rolf and Ketil, are sent by a Baron, their employer, to hunt down any Nytte, anyone with Norwegian descent that has inherited Viking strengths. They all travel to America. Owen meets the siblings when he saves Sissel from a moving train so she can be with her family. Owen becomes the family’s guide. Along the way to their uncle’s home in Montana, the group braves many setbacks and they also meet Ketil and Rolf. The story comes full circle with much action and adventure involved and the loyalty of friends and family is what I enjoyed the most in this book. 4 stars for a suspense filled mythological adventure!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

The Syndicate by Sophie Davis

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The Syndicate by Sophie Davis impressed me with its mix of science fiction and history. The story begins with the Prologue during May, 1796 in Florence, Italy, which is being occupied by Napoleon and the French army. The main character, Stassi, has stolen Napoleon’s letter to Josephine and she’s running to ensure her escape. She’s helped by her partner Gaige. They work for The Syndicate as runners and travel to the past to procure requested items that rich people pay a good chunk of money for. Gaige and Stassi later travel to 1925 Paris to collect a Rosenthal manuscript and they attend a party celebrating Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and its publication. Along with finding the manuscript, a serial killer on the loose adds to the suspense and danger. The elaborate cover stories of the runners, the historical background and interesting, dynamic characters make this a very fun science fiction read worthy of a 5 star rating!

Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Chameleon by Zoe Kalo! Paloma is taken to a convent to “repent, grow and become a better person”, as the head nun tells her, even though Paloma feels as though she’s being punished. She is dropped off at the convent by her mother, stepfather and her younger half sister, Sara, who is sad to leave Paloma. The reason Paloma is in trouble is because she tried conducting seances to reach her father, who died when she was young. Paloma becomes part of a group of teenage girls that each have a story of their own. She is unsure who she can trust, any of the girls or even the nuns. The story pulled my attention in from the beginning with its suspense, mystery and a promise of the paranormal. The complex characters and layered mystery kept me on my toes! 5 stars for the twists, turns and the interesting setting of this story!

The Beast is an Animal

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The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale was offered to me as a download on my laptop for an exclusive study on how readers engage with books, thanks to Simon and Schuster and Jellybooks, Ltd!

The story opens with twin girls born to a mother and father living on a farm on the outskirts of a village. These girls are the mirror image of each other, from the way their hair curls to the birthmarks on their calves. The oldest girl has her features on the left, while the two minutes younger twin has her features on the right side. The wife and girls are banished because of the superstitious villagers who blame the mother and daughters for the lack of rain. The girls grow up, mostly alone because their mother dies when they are still quite young, and become wild, vengeful soul eaters. Chapter one introduces Alys. The twins, Benedicta and Angelica, talk to Alys and tell her to sleep. The next thing Alys knows is that she’s waking up in a grassy field. A red headed older man, Pawl (a trader), gives Alys a ride home. She has a foreboding feeling when she gets home, so Pawl stays with her. He looks for her parents and finds them dead. They visit other homes in the village and all of the parents are dead. Pawl finds homes for the children in a neighboring village. The Elders rule this village with strict beliefs and decide to build a gate around the homes. The children who survived the soul eaters, when their parents didn’t, are sent to guard the gate and livestock at night, since they are “protected”. Alys and Delwyn survive the night, but Delwyn’s brothers do not. Alys is treated differently and suspected of being a witch and is punished. She leaves the village and wanders in the wilderness. The Beast finds her and gives her a mission to find the soul eaters. The fantasy is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials because of the persecution. I rate The Beast is an Animal 4 stars, for the creative and dark world brought to life by Peternelle van Arsdale!