A Many Feathered Thing by Lisa Gerlits

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Heartwarming!
Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review A Many Feathered Thing by Lisa Gerlits!
This book tells a story about Clara and how she found her “voice”, gained confidence and built her self esteem. Clara continued to have ear infections when she was a baby and a toddler. When she was two, her parents realized she was having hearing problems, surgery helped with her hearing but she struggled to learn speech and lost confidence because of teasing from others and the frustration of trying to get the sounds right. Clara is reading The Diary of Anne Frank with her class at school. As she learns about Anne and her life, Clara sees parallels of Anne’s experiences and feelings in people she knows and associates with. This healing story inspired me to sketch again and that’s something I love to do but haven’t done for decades. Clara grows tremendously within the confines of this story, all because her self awareness grows and her confidence builds, thanks to the realization that she can do things, she can be brave and the faith that others have in her. Sometimes, all we need to grow is to have a chance to see outside ourselves and get a different perspective on life’s situations. A truly heartwarming story, 5 stars!

The Bookworm Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

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A lighthearted story that takes on a few serious issues!
Bookworm Crush, by Lisa Brown Roberts and Entangled Teen, opens as Amy is sneaking around town at night. She sneaks out to decorate for a social media challenge so she can win a meeting with her favorite author. The winner also receives a scholarship. Toff happens to drive by as Amy is running scared because she heard a noise and falls. He stops to help Amy, not knowing that he’s Amy’s crush. Since it’s past curfew, a police officer pulls them over to question the reason they aren’t home. They feign a relationship, pretending that they lost track of time. Amy’s terrified of getting in trouble but Toff plays it cool and the police officer lets them go. Toff takes Amy home and her brother notices the two of them as she’s sneaking into the house. Her brother Brayden assumes they’re dating. This is the beginning of Toff having his eyes opened to Amy. He coaches her for the author competition and helps Amy build her “swagger”. His confidence rubs off on her and together they create fun, interesting social media posts. Meanwhile, Toff’s father is remarrying and Amy’s father is looking for a job. This lighthearted story takes on a few serious issues and character growth, 4 stars!

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!

Tabitha’s Death by Jordan Elizabeth

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Love the cover!
Tabitha’s Death by Jordan Elizabeth. Author request. Tabitha feels like she’s lost everything and has nothing to live for. She slits her wrists after her best friend has died and her boyfriend uses her. She ends up in a sort of limbo, doing the bidding of the Gray Man. His tasks pile up and cause more torment and she begins to realize that she might never be freed from this. Tabitha meets several others who have ended their lives in different ways. They’re doing tasks for the Gray Man and other limbo creatures, trying to die and move on as they’ve been promised will happen when they’re finished with the creatures’ biddings. Tabitha was timid and submissive to everyone around her but she becomes a stronger person through her time in limbo. I enjoyed her character growth and was glad she was able to finally see her own worth. 4 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!

After the Fire by Will Hill

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Gripping realistic fiction for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review After the Fire by Will Hill! The story opens during an attack and the main character, Moonbeam, is running for her life. She’s a resident of a community made up of fellow followers of The Legion and their leader is Father John. The fenced in community is under attack by the Government. Eventually, the attack is over and Moonbeam is at a rehabilitation center for mental and physical healing and also to learn to return to what she knows as the Outside. Moonbeam tells her story and the story of her fellow community members, Legionmates, through her interviews with a therapist and a government agent. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about the Waco Siege and its similarities to the Legion community. As I read the author’s note at the end of the book, he explains his reasoning for writing about the fictional character of Moonbeam and I was impressed with how delicately and respectfully he dealt with the similarities to Karesh’s religious community near Waco, Texas and how he honors the followers. The idea of one person gripping so many people and convincing them to sacrifice everything for that leader is curious and interesting and very sad. Will Hill handles this content well and breathes life into the characters and the tragic events that they lived or didn’t live through. 5 stars for this gripping realistic fiction story for young adults!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Secrets and Folklore!
Thanks to Bookish first, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield!
Twists and turns and many characters along with their stories bring Once Upon a River to life. The book opens with a background of the setting and builds up to the present when a four-year-old girl is found and brought to the Swan, where storytelling is at its finest. The man who brought the little girl in is very injured and he loses consciousness, so no one can ask questions. The storytelling begins by the regular inhabitants of the Swan and continues to build with speculation. Everyone falls in love with the little girl and their hearts warm to her. Because of the girl’s appearance in the community, many lives are changed and things that have been hidden for years come to light. A food for thought story full of folklore and secrets, 4 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

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Touching realistic fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 5 stars!

Phoebe Will Destroy You by Blake Nelson

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5 stars for the story of the mysterious Phoebe and the lovable Nick!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Phoebe Will Destroy You by Blake Nelson!
Nick visits relatives for the summer, getting a break from his mother and her alcoholism. Nick and his parents live in a college town and his parents both work for the university and since his mother returned from rehab, she seems bored and distant to Nick and her husband. The relatives he visits live in a laid back town and he’s looking forward to seeing them and being in a different environment. Nick meets quite a few new people, makes friends and they have interesting experiences together, but there’s one person that gets into his mind more than anyone else- Phoebe. She’s a complete mystery and that’s a big part of why Nick finds her attractive and appealing. Nick imagines a future with Phoebe but it always involves changing some part of Phoebe’s life to create that future. The ambiguity of the ending left me hoping that Nick is enjoying his present and continues to enjoy his future with or without Phoebe in it. 5 stars for the lovable Nick!