Ominous and intense! Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus! Twins, Ellery and Ezra, travel to their Nana’s home to stay while their mother is in rehab. They’ve known about their aunt Sarah’s mysterious disappearance for a long time and when they get to Echo Ridge, they get more than they bargained for. Another young woman went missing five years ago and now new threats are popping up right before a new teen comes up missing. The story is ominous and becomes suspenseful when danger becomes reality. Endearing characters and a creepy killer sum up this book, 5 stars!
Insight into 9/11 and its effect on New York citizens and the aftermath, 5 stars!
The editor/publisher note at the beginning explains the intent of the book and I’m interested. Chapter one introduces Abbi and I’m hooked! She’s known as Baby Hope because she was photographed on the morning of 9/11 with a red balloon and a paper crown while a tower was crumbling in the background. She’s turning sixteen. Abbi gets a job at a kids’ day camp a county or two away from her home. No one should know she’s Baby Hope or recognize her. She has people approach her all the time. Noah also works at the camp and recognizes Abbi from school but he keeps her Baby Hope identity a secret for her. Some 9/11 survivors have been diagnosed with cancer in different forms because of the debris they were exposed to. Abbi has started coughing up blood but she doesn’t want anyone to know just yet. She wants to have a normal teenage summer. Noah has a mission to identify the three unknown people in the 9/11 Baby Hope photo that have been unidentified all these years. Noah sets up interviews with everyone in the photo that have been identified. The survivors and Hope help him figure out each of the photographed people and this opens up an entirely new story to swallow. I absolutely love this book and the characters, character dynamics and character development! The author does an amazing job weaving tragedy and hope together with the every day happenings of those left behind.
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.
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!
Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. Arram, young and gifted beyond his age, attends Mage Academy with older students. He doesn’t have friends but that soon changes when he causes chaos with magic and has a conference with the Academy masters. They deem him gifted and place him with other students similar to him. Academy life becomes much more enjoyable and entertaining after the new placement. Arram, Varice and Zorne become great friends and when Arram is bullied because of his young age, his two new friends help him cope and discover how much fun their time at the academy can be. Varice is smart, fun and a very good kitchen witch while Zorne is seventh in line to the throne of the current prince. The three friends each have different gifts which grow in strength the longer they attend classes. The main focus of the story is on Arram, his powers, education and relationships but we do get a glimpse of the inner workings of the lives of Varice and Zorne. Arram has to learn to build the stomach for being around horribly injured people and his strength as a healer. Varice deals with being looked down on because she’s female and a lowly kitchen witch. Zorne is continuing to move up higher on the list of heirs to the throne, and is worried about his unhealthy mother and how to deal with his protective guards. The story is strong and the world building is a mix of renaissance and ancient Greece. I thought the whole approach to Arram’s puberty was odd and I understand that it will potentially help male preteens with their own changes. I did enjoy the Tempests and Slaughter. 5 stars for this fantasy and its underlying mystery!
Haunting the deep by Adriana Mather is the sequel to How To Hang a Witch by the same author. It’s great to be back in Sam’s life. I find the historical connections that the author has to her books’ content amazing. The historical connection has Sam as a descendant of Cotton Mather in the first book, How To Hang a Witch and ancestors that survived the Titanic tragedy for this book! Sam has been ghost free for six months now and suddenly she’s seeing apparitions again. Abby, who asks Sam for her boot hook, and a dripping wet man that smells like sea water are appearing. The ghosts end up complicating Sam’s life again, but this time she has help from the Descendants. Sam has received mysterious objects and has been dreaming of being a passenger on the Titanic. While Sam is dreaming of being on the Titanic, she has no memories of her present self and she’s being manipulated by an unknown person or spirit. Elijah is helping to figure out what or who is causing the hauntings also. When Sam figures out who’s causing the problem behind the ghostly episodes, she needs all the help she can get! 5 stars for this fun, suspenseful sequel!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review Little Monsters by Kara Thomas! Kacey and her younger stepsister, Lauren, sneak out of the house with Bailey and Jade, two of Kacey’s friends. On a Friday night, they venture to the local haunted site and the snowy roof collapses in on them. They’re spooked and run away. Alternately, Bailey tells the story of the night she supposedly caused the popular high school football player to wreck and her story continues to be told throughout the rest of the book using her journal entries in interspersing chapters. Bailey and Jade attend a party and Bailey is not seen again. She’s reported missing and the community rallies together to help find her. The suspect list changes and grows while Bailey is still missing and presumed dead by most of the community. The suspicion and the suspense keep twisting and kept me riveted to the very end. 5 stars for this realistic mystery!
Received an advance copy from a Goodreads giveaway and Random House Children’s Publishing and NetGalley! Antisocial by Jillian Blake- Goodreads giveaway; Anna Has social anxiety disorder and this is her tale of her school year of ups and downs. Last semester she spent all of her time with Palmer, her new boyfriend, while inadvertently ignoring her friends. Now after the breakup, she’s trying to reconcile with her friends and some of them aren’t making it easy for her. Jethro is an amazing friend to Anna and he knows what he wants. Anna’s indecisiveness hurts Jethro and I kept thinking that she was throwing a great friendship away for a second time. Trying to figure out the story took me a bit, but once I understood where it was going, I dived right into the teen angst and emotional and relationship confusion. Oh, the joys of being a teenager. The regular teen rivalry increases to hateful when someone publicizes dirty laundry of a basketball player at a basketball game and then everyone jumps on the troll wagon. People and their secrets are exposed and friendships are ruined because of photos, texts, and all social media being revealed. Not only is this book a young adult contemporary but it’s also a great mystery. The suspense builds while the community deals with the aftermath and continuing cyber bullying. The author’s writing shows the complexity of the diverse characters and I grew to care about the main characters and my heart broke along with them and I also enjoyed their happy moments. 4 stars for this realistic fiction book!