The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone

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Great mystery for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone!
Cameron travels to Washington D.C. to begin an internship under Congressman Beck. Soon after arriving, one of the other Congressman’s workers (Ariel) dies in a drunk driving accident. An FBI agent approaches Cameron for help proving that the Congressman is corrupt. He digs a bit and finds a link to someone that knew Ariel. That leads to Cameron being pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery. I enjoy the characters and Cameron is a good guy trying to figure out his path in life and he and Lena are fun together. Cameron’s roommates and fellow interns make me laugh and I enjoyed reading this entire book. The ending was awesome in more ways than one! I’m looking forward to other books by Peter Stone. 5 stars for an engaging young adult mystery!

Tradition by Brendan Kiely

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Realistic fiction with food for thought!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Tradition by Brendan Kiely!
The book opens as Jules is recovering from an attack that she’s trying to wrap her head around. She decides she needs to get up and walk home. Next, James is helping a teen girl to her dorm after he found her unconscious in the woods. Part One: Before- introduces James to Fullbrook, his new school, his dorm and fellow sports players, then Jules as she is trying to hand out women’s health pamphlets to students, since it’s move-in day. Mothers are extremely offended and some are angry about this. As school begins for the year, inequality is apparent in many ways and it’s the way things are and always have been at Fullbrook. James is trying to fit in and mentally recover from a football accident last year that had his Iowa hometown reeling and Jules wants to change the inequality to help more people feel comfortable and accepted. Jules becomes friends with Aileen, a loner, and Javi, who has been her friend throughout high school. The three of them hang out with James and realize they have a lot in common because none of them are snobby, rude, bullies or pushy people. They are relaxed around each other and completely accepting of each other’s differences and they have a great time sneaking out of their dorms and into a college party together. Part Two: The Night at Horn Rock- tells us about Jules’ attack and the girl that James helped get to her dorm and brings the inequality to light in so many ways. Part Three: After- shows the aftermath of the attack and how Fullbrook sweeps problems under the rug for certain people. Part Four: The Winter Ball- brings a new group of freshmen girls into the Senior Send-Off Tradition with all of their naivety and innocence. Tradition addresses many controversial issues intelligently and without being too graphic about any of them. 5 stars for a realistic fiction book and its food for thought!

Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

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Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 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!

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

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A journey of trials, errors and growth filled with charming characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon!
Unique storytelling in the form of diary entries by Twinkle, as she relays the happenings in her life, let us know what makes her tick. Twinkle’s charming and calmly optimistic outlook on life shines as she addresses her entries to famous women that she admires. She wants to be a filmmaker and in the process of making her film, ends up hurting several people. She feels overwhelmed and has to step back and reevaluate everything. A journey of trials and errors and growth filled with charming characters makes this realistic fiction story a keeper, 4 stars!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Realistic fiction filled with the strength of family!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Save the Date by Morgan Matson!
Reminiscent of Cheaper By The Dozen and Sixteen Candles since chaos seems to surround the Grant family and a family member is getting married during this story. The mother created a comic strip depicting the lives and happenings of the family members and it’s now coming to an end. Charlie, the main character, has a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Jesse and he knows it. Everything that can go wrong with the wedding seems to happen and the Grant family is past their elbows in stress. Their family is literally falling apart and breaking up while they are featured on tv as being the perfect family. The story comes around in a complete circle with the family members airing their grievances and struggling to work them out. Consequences seem to bring everything into the open in this realistic fiction drama filled with chaos and contention and also the strength of family, 4 stars!

Life Inside My Mind by Numerous Authors!

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The authors bear their souls to help others dealing with personal struggles!

Thirty-one authors share their experiences in dealing with mental illness within the pages of this book. Maureen Johnson discusses her anxiety and how meditation and slowing down her schedule helped and continues to help her. I like her comparison of anxiety being a stupid monster that doesn’t know anything. Robison Wells discusses mental illness treatments and the mental illnesses he lives with. Lauren Oliver relates her depression to mental stutters; we may all trip up at one time or another. Jennifer L. Armentrout talks about her suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts. Amy Reed shares her experiences with addiction and depression. Aprilynne Pike explains her compulsive behavior. Rachel M. Wilson’s dilemma of OCD and ADHD combined is shared. Dan Wells remembers his grandparents and the dementia and Alzheimer’s they dealt with. Amber Benson shares the gift of therapy and how she believes there’s no difference between having mental health problems or physical health problems; they both need help. E. K. Anderson unravels in poetic form. Sarah Fine is an author and a clinical psychologist. Kelly Fiore-Stultz speaks of addiction and family members. Ellen Hopkins shares her grandson’s story. Scott Neumyer tells all while relaying his message about personal anxiety. Crissa-Jean Chappell discusses her OCD. Francesca Lia Block shares the story of her friend with manic depression. Tara Kelly talks about her anxiety, ADHD and OCD. Kimberly McCreight is an anxious worrier and became a heavy drinker. Megan Kelley Hall has dealt with traumatic health issues her entire life, along with depression. Hannah Moskowitz discusses how mental illnesses are different for everyone. Karen Mahoney tells her story of chronic anxiety and Trichotillomania; she pulls out her eyelashes. Tom Pollock has suicidal thoughts and suffers from bulimia. Cyn Balog tells her experience with body dysmorphic disorder. Melissa Marr talks about her PTSD. Wendy Toliver talks with her sixteen-year-old son about his anxiety, depression and OCD. Cindy L. Rodriguez talks about being a Latina with depression. Candace Ganger describes her anxiety. Sara Zarr shares her experiences of worthlessness. Cynthia Hand talks about her brother’s suicide. Francisco X. Stork talks about loneliness and bipolar disorder. Jessica Burkhart shares her addiction to Xanax. This collection of honest stories will help many people understand and deal with their struggles. With much appreciation for the wisdom and bravery the authors have to share their personal experiences with their readers, I give a standing ovation and 5 stars!

 

 

Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Summer Of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix!
I love the color coordinated cover that matches the title perfectly! Avery is a spoiled, entitled teenager whose father is forcing her to travel to Spain with him for his business trip during her summer vacation. He wants Avery to have a companion so she’s not lonely on the trip. He chooses a girl from her childhood playmates, Kayla. Avery hasn’t spent time with Kayla in years, so things are awkward and uncomfortable. Kayla does her best to get out of her comfort zone and explore the area where they’re staying. Avery pouts and is a party pooper but she’s in for a few shocks that she’s not remotely prepared for. I enjoyed learning about historical sites and the memorials discussed and seeing how Avery and Kayla reacted to them. This book also addresses controversial issues and explains and explores both sides of these issues. Intelligent and eye-opening, Summer of Broken Things is a thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults-4 stars!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Starry Eyes is a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett!
Zorie and Lennon are neighbors at home and work. They also used to be best friends until family problems and drama got in the way. A teen group camping trip, which is supposed to be fun and not exactly “roughing it “, turns out dangerous with Lennon and Zorie stranded. Luckily, they’re both smart enough to help each other and work together to try to make it back to civilization. The two teenagers finally get the opportunity they need to talk and work out their relationship. Humor lightens the drama and Lennon and Zorie have interesting personalities that make Starry Eyes a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults. 5 stars!