Say No to the Bro by Kat Helgeson

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Say No to the Bro by Kat Helgeson. The story is told through the alternating points of view of Ava and Mark. Ava is the daughter of the new high school football team coach and Mark is the quarterback. The school holds a Prom Bowl fundraiser each year to raise money for Prom. Girls are chosen to be bid on and Ava is on the list as the wild card. She doesn’t want any part of the Prom Bowl, but her dad wants her to be supportive of their school. The Prom Bowl is a school supported activity, but when crazy parties are thrown under the Prom Bowl name, things get out of hand and come crashing down. Strong characters and tightly woven plot make the book interesting and hard to put down. I read it straight through. 5 stars for a story with food for thought and realistic fiction that shows hypocrisy and integrity.

The Takedown by Corrie Wang

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review The Takedown by Corrie Wang! The Takedown is a futuristic realistic fiction story dealing with the overwhelming use of social media and all of the issues that go along with it. Kyla is in the popular clique of the prep school she attends until someone shares a video on social media of Kyla being intimate with a teacher. The story is all about her innocence and trying to figure out who did the posting. She wants to get to the source and get rid of the video that has potentially scarred her reputation and future permanently. The story also involves forgiveness and introspection. 4.5 stars for the ability to give readers food for thought and for making it about a topic most people are interested in these days.

Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray! Katie Ray has previously published works under the name of Katie Kacvinsky and her books have been popular with my library patrons. I believe that this new book of Katie’s will be a popular read also. Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a retelling of sorts. The story line is similar to the play, Cyrano de Bergerac where inner beauty overpowers outer beauty. This book is intelligent and eloquent in many ways, while still staying a young adult contemporary story! CeCe and Emmett take turns by alternating points of view throughout the book. CeCe has a scar on the right side of her face that she prefers to not be the focal point when she meets someone for the first time. Emmett is new to the school and a known high school football player. They both attend Honors Shakespeare class and are partnered on the first day. CeCe and Emmett share the trait of clever wit and they have tremendous similarities with their tastes in and knowledge of music and literature. They are both intense and dedicated athletes also; CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and Emmett is the star quarterback. I love this book with its romantic gestures, self-esteem building thoughts and loyalty and friendship. 5 stars for this amazing realistic fiction read!

Incriminating Dating by Rebekah L. Purdy

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Incriminating Dating by Rebekah L. Purdy. Ayla’s point of view alternates with Luke’s point of view throughout the story. Ayla is a good student that minds her own business and doesn’t like to make waves. That changes when funds are being cut for drama and the school paper; the activities she participates in. Luke looks like a normal popular high school guy but he struggles with poverty and a dysfunctional family and he has only one true friend that he feels like he can confide in. Ayla decides to run for class office to make a difference but she’s taking on the entire school culture when she runs. Luke and Ayla build a relationship under interesting circumstances, but sometimes that’s the only way to find out who your true friends are. 4 stars for this realistic fiction story geared towards young adults who want to see fairness in the world a little more often!

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for the opportunity to read and review The Education of Margot Sanchez. Right off the bat, Margot Sanchez seems and acts like a spoiled brat who is lost and trying to find herself, but so self absorbed that she can’t see that she’s not the only person on earth that matters. She’s being punished for stealing while she was away at an expensive school and, now that’s she’s home for the summer, she has to work at her family’s supermarket to earn the money for what she stole plus enough money to pay for her tuition to attend the same school again in the fall. She feels as though she’s above working there and is embarrassed by her upbringing. During the summer, Margot’s eyes are opened slowly to some things, such as how she treats others, and opened quickly to how dysfunctional her family truly is. Margot matures and learns to value friendship and she begins to find herself and her place in the world. 4 stars for this believable realistic fiction story.

Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Jack Chaucer for the opportunity to read and review his book, Streaks of Blue, book one of the Nikki White series! Nikki is befriending two students that she suspects need friends to prevent them from committing a horrendous act of violence after she has a dream that she feels is a premonition. Adam appreciates Nikki but Thomas doesn’t. Nikki discovers, along with Adam, how much Adam is truly dealing with. Through the ups and downs of friendship, Nikki and Adam grow and realize that people’s decisions are what make them, develop who they become and create the life they are living. The story pulls at the heart with emotions, startles the heart with suspense and washes away burden and brings out hope for our future. 5 stars for an honest and open story of realistic fiction and circumstances of real life. I appreciate the author’s nod to a fellow author, Cheryl Strayed and her memoir of her struggles and overcoming them. I look forward to reading the rest of the Nikki White series!

Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Spencer Hill Press for the opportunity to read and review Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher! A wonderful story of finding what you are capable of and figuring out what you truly want in life AND giving everything you have to accomplish both. Savannah is recovering from a gymnastic injury and trying to figure out how to deal with life without gymnastics. Her life gets fuller and she has to decide on her priorities compared to the people around her. The surrounding characters grew on me and the author’s writing made them feel realistic and the struggles of these characters were dimensional, just like real life. I love this book; 5 stars for a must read realistic fiction!

You Belong to Me by Mamoru Suzuki

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Museyon for the opportunity to read and review You Belong to Me by Mamoru Suzuki! This beautiful picture book comprised of simple yet elegant illustrations creates a safe and comfortable feeling, which this book is trying to portray. The illustrations are colored sketches that feel natural and bring a relaxed atmosphere to the story. I rate You Belong to Me 4 stars for a book that makes you feel loved!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I have finally gotten around to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This book is monumental and legendary in how it faces life head on. The story contains everything from adolescence that defines us – teen angst, popularity or lack thereof, family struggles, dysfunctional families and the relationships that we form during this impressionable time that will help shape our futures. Empowering and overwhelming, this contemporary classic bears its soul for the world to see, learn from and to grow with- 5 stars!

Girl Rising by Tanya Lee Stone

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone! The research done by Tanya Lee Stone after watching the film, Girl Rising, is attributed to the film producers sharing over forty-five hours of video interviews with her. The author combed through the videos to find touching, true, heartbreaking stories that will open up our eyes to what is happening to so many innocent young women and girls all over the world. The whole concept of Girl Rising is overwhelming and a vicious cycle. Families having too many children and they can’t afford to take care of them, so they sell or trade their daughters off to continue the cycle with another generation. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about birth control and trying to brainstorm some way of stopping the injustice. The cultural reasoning is one-sided and doesn’t take into account the loss of education and childhood/teenage-hood that these girls are missing out on. A girl’s eye view of human slavery, child marriage, lack of education and educational opportunities make this a difficult book to read, but we all need to be aware. This book is inspiring because of the highlighted stories and struggles that these girls have overcome – 4 stars! I want to get books to these places, if possible, so these young women and girls have a chance to read even if they can’t attend school on a daily basis.