Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. Steffi is a selective mute. Rhys is a new student that’s deaf and the two of them use sign language to speak to one another. They become friends because of the sign language commonality and their relationship eventually becomes more. This coming of age story contains quirkiness, humor, families that do the best they can and all the insecurities of growing up and being a little different. Young adult content shows the reality of sex and all the awkwardness that can go along with it. 5 stars for the lovable, complex characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle! Lily struggles daily with her ADHD which causes misunderstandings, confusion and impulsive behavior. Through an odd turn of events, Lily begins to have a crush on Abelard, who is considered to be different due to his Asperger’s Syndrome. They mostly communicate through texting since it’s easier for both of them; Lily can resist impulses and Abelard can slow down sensory overload. The two of them have their ups and downs but find a wonderful balance in their relationship that works out perfectly for them. This sweet, thought-provoking story touches on the reality of people that struggle with learning disabilities and the family members that live through the struggles with them. Heartwarming realistic fiction worth 5 stars!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Wicked Charm by Amber Hart! Willow moves to a bayou town and hears rumors about Beau, the local young man who breaks every young woman’s heart. She wants to find out for herself if the stories are true or not. Beau and Willow get to know each other despite their families feuding and the secrecy surrounding both of them. A young woman is found in the swamp, having been murdered. Her name was Samantha and she had been dating Beau until that afternoon, when he broke it off. Another teen girl is found in the swamp, murdered in the same way as Samantha. Suspicions fly, as well as rumors, with the majority of the town suspecting Beau as the killer. The community is fearful with a serial killer loose and the police are working hard to solve and stop the murders. I enjoyed the southern setting and the food made my mouth water and crave the dishes. The suspense and anticipation built which made the book even more fun to read. I also liked learning about the characters and their pasts. 5 stars for a southern mystery!
The Darkest of Dreams by Emigh Cannaday opens with the realization that Finn has been murdered by Talvi, his own brother. After Finn’s death, the Marinossian family is distraught and in turmoil because of the loss of Finn and Talvi’s murderous act. Talvi ends up in Bleakmoor Island Prison until his trial, while Annika is sent away from the Elven world for several reasons: her safety, secrecy and to help the Marinossian family heal. An enormous turn of events changes everything and the story unfolds while continuing to build character development and the world of the Marinossians. The beloved personalities return in this sequel and the character spectrum grows larger. Another Annika Brisby story full of suspense, danger, romance and magic. 5 stars!￼
Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review S’more to Lose by Beth Merlin! Four years after the first book, this sequel finds Gigi and Perry in London and at an impasse in their relationship. They have moved on from their relationship, by all appearances. Perry is famous for writing a popular musical and Gigi and Jamie have built a growing, productive designer business, G-Malone. Prince Alexander and Victoria Ellicott are planning their wedding and want G-Malone to design the wedding dress and wedding attire for the upcoming royal wedding celebration. Gigi meets Gideon and they gradually fall for each other and all is well until paparazzi create a gossip story under false pretenses and blow everything out of the water. Tumultuous and romantic with the added bonus of artistic creativity build into a very enjoyable story; 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin! This is a fun story filled with summer camp adventures and relationship struggles. Gigi is at a rough place and becomes a camp counselor to escape and hopefully regroup before she heads back to her regular life as unemployed and single, after a confusing affair. Perry has been a summer counselor for four years and he’s dealing with his own supposed skeletons in the closet. Gigi treats Perry with only anger, assuming he’s arrogant and immature when she hasn’t even given him a chance. Over the summer and in spite of their bad start, Gigi and Perry began to confide in each other and realize they have a lot in common. Gigi can’t seem to get away from her past and she faces everything head on, thanks to the support of her friends and family. The ending is cute and hopeful after the tumultuous distrust and intensity. One S’more Summer weaves a realistic and rocky story of how relationships come and go and how we handle them and how we deal with the in-betweenness of being single. 5 stars!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Breaking the Ice by Julie Cross! Fletcher seems to have many things he wants to hide and Haley has a good heart and great values. The two of them are working on a class project together and sometimes get along fairly well and at other times they can barely tolerate each other. I enjoyed Off the Ice (the first book in the Juniper Falls series) immensely and Breaking Ice is just as good, dealing with bullying, sexuality, family, learning disabilities and the stressful experience of intense allergies. Unique aspects of solitude and the consequences of social and parental pressures are addressed also. I love the dancing and the teacher who’s willing to work with and help her students based on their individual needs! The only drawback is the often used f-word, which I felt was unnecessary to the story being told. 4.5 stars for a thought provoking story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby! Cat is trying to move on after being humiliated by Bennet, who dated Cat as a challenge and not because he liked her. Then he told everyone about it by putting it online in the form of a YouTube video, humiliating her even more. Alex is Cat’s friend and has been for years. He’s dealing with his family problems but wants to help Cat. The two of them make an agreement to pose as girlfriend/boyfriend to soften any blow that will surely happen when school starts up again. Alex feels as though he’s hiding his true self from everyone he cares about and he’s afraid to share a secret that’s been tearing him apart since the day his mom and siblings died in a car accident years ago. Cat and Alex are realistic and lovable characters that build this story into more than just a romantic tale. The two of them, along with the dynamic and interesting side characters, make this young adult realistic fiction fun! 5 stars for the complexity and realism of the characters!
The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison. I’m immediately drawn into the story because of the lovable two main characters, best friends Will and Georgie. Georgie is protecting Will’s secret. She will do anything to help him and when an old beau returns to town, the secret and Georgie’s loyalty are challenged. I love how the author approaches Will’s secret and the different points of view in the small southern town. This realistic situation with all of the stresses and anxiety rings true. One of my favorite scenes of the book is the escape of Georgie from Beau when they run into each other in Charleston while she’s supposedly on a date with Will; classic fun! The author brings a poignant story into our hearts and gives readers food for thought with the friendship, loyalty and honesty of wonderful and complicated characters. Young adult romance worth 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.