The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

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Based on the true events of Florida’s infamous reform school!
Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead!
Historical fiction novel based on the real reform school that horribly mistreated the boys who resided there. Traumatized young men were left to deal with the abuse on their own. The story focuses on Elwood and we learn about other boys’ stories through his eyes as he witnesses them. The prevalent racism harbored hatred to the point of punishing innocent people and sending them to this terrible reform school where even harsher acts of racism occurred. The abuse went on for decades and through several headmasters. After reading this novel, I felt compelled to research the truth behind the story and was sickened at the amount of violence and abuse that young boys had to live through. Some didn’t survive. I truly don’t understand how the adults took part in or witnessed and kept quiet about any of the abuse. What’s their excuse? The Nickel Boys is tremendously powerful, enlightening and tragic, 4 stars!

8 Souls by Rachel Rust

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A haunting that just won’t stop!
Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review 8 Souls by Rachel Rust!
Spooky and ominous from the beginning; I was instantly hooked! Mysterious and recurring dreams about a house haunt Chessie; they have since she was little. These dreams were part of her life, to the point that she drew the house for her elementary teacher after she gave the students the assignment of drawing their dream house. Little does she know that Chessie dreams of a house where murders were committed over a century before. When Chessie draws her dream house scene, the teacher is worried and notifies her parents. She then ends up being sent to a psychiatrist. Ever since then, Chessie keeps her dreams to herself, even when she’s hearing voices. She finally confides in someone else and the two of them share the struggle of solving the haunting. 8 Souls is well-written, contains awesome characters and a haunting that won’t stop until justice is complete; 5 spooky stars!

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

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Original, thought-provoking story!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox and Dial Books. I received the book as a Bookish First winner!
Elizabeth, Biz, sees and hears her dad even though he’s been dead for many years. Biz lives in Australia with her single mother and younger twin siblings. She has a best friend named Grace that’s loyal to the point of vandalizing, on Biz’s behalf. They both receive warnings from the police even though Grace keeps saying that Biz was innocent. Grace’s family sends her away and Biz becomes more withdrawn. So, Biz starts therapy and a photography class. Her therapist advises Biz to stay in the moment and acknowledge her feelings and live. She meets new people and makes new friends as she spreads her wings. She also acknowledges the problems that have been buried deep inside. How It Feels to Float was a therapeutic read for me and I relished the professional advice given to Biz. I can see how this book might be triggering, especially if the reader is dealing with similar struggles. I really cannot sum this book’s effect in one word because it’s somewhat enigmatic.,thought-provoking, eye-opening and uniquely unusual! The revealing of the cause of Biz’s struggles was jittery and not explained as well as I expected it to be. I would have appreciated more explanation and feel that this would be more healing and helpful to those that have experienced the same traumas and for this reason, I rate this book 4 stars!

 

Prom-Wrecked by T.H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni!

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Event after event of chaos!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Prom-Wrecked by T. H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni!
The opening, showing the ragged and imprisoned state of the teen prom attendees, made me curious and the book didn’t let me down. The group of prom planners and prom goers dealt with a mountain of tumultuous events before the prom ever started and then prom was eventful with completely different issues. The characters are realistic, overwhelmed and anxious, just like real teenagers. Drama, of course takes a part in this story but so does maturity, loyalty and perseverance. Riley, Catherine and Owen are the three main characters, each with distinct personalities and Owen is in the middle of all the action. Fun and with a message of prevailing justice makes Prom-Wrecked an interesting read, 5 stars!

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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Introspective retelling!
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!

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Truly original fantasy!
I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore as a buddy-read event for Dragons & Tea Book Club. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read and review this book by providing the ARC!
This is a unique story that pulls from deep-seated cultural roots and a little deception. Sam and Miel share trust, loyalty and a special relationship. They also share their community with a group of sisters that could be considered mean girls, with a power they’ve grown so used to, that they do not want to lose it and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Wow! Aracely’s background revelation was something I was not expecting! Sam struggles with the decision of who (what gender) he wants to be in the near future. He’s struggling to the point of desperation. Miel blames herself for the loss of her mother and brother. She thinks the river might give them back to her. The fantastical elements are kind of difficult to understand in this story but I do enjoy the flow of the author’s writing. As usually is the case, the author’s notes are enlightening! They are also helpful in understanding Miel’s fears and Sam’s struggles. I appreciate that Anna-Marie McLemore shares such personal experiences and revelations with her readers! 4 stars for this unique fantasy!

Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

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Unusual supernatural story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton!
The story opens as the main character awakens in a cramped space, then feels a falling sensation. She discovers that she’s fallen into Under, which is a place where some people go after they die. Others start being terminated by being burned by a murderer. The only way Under residents die is through being burned because they are already dead. A strange story about the people who reside in Under and what happens when they gain their memories back. My favorite part of the book details the relationship memories of Smoke and Key. A little bit of magic used in the inappropriate way and revenge fuels the plot. Being slow at times and the unusual world-building earn 3 stars!

The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine

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Purely enjoyable!
Thanks to Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine, book four of the Ravenspire series. The books in this series are more companion books than sequels. Blue works with her father at the family store and she’s in the process of turning lead into gold with alchemy. Blue wants to help the homeless and poverty-stricken people in the kingdom with the gold she hopes to create. Kellan is next in line to rule the kingdom and he doesn’t enjoy the politics or having to watch his back constantly, but he does enjoy a bit of danger and fun. Dinah is losing her empire and needs money since her husband lost everything due to his gambling habit. She’s discovered that Blue is trying to make gold and Dinah wants Blue to work for her so she can claim everything Blue does. Blue’s life has been turned upside down because of Dinah’s actions, making Blue a Cinderella of sorts. Blue overhears Dinah talking loudly with someone she owes money too and she decides to help Dinah’s daughters, so they won’t be taken to pay off their family debt. Little does she know that Dinah planned for Blue to hear the conversation all along. Dinah’s manipulative nature and Blue’s integrity come to fisticuffs as the action and suspense rise. I enjoy Blue’s and Kellan’s relationship and how they’re both very stubborn. Princess Nessa is a young, extremely brave soul. The characters round out this fantasy and I enjoyed every minute reading this book, 5 stars!

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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Realistic fiction by C. C. Hunter!
Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review In Another Life by C. C. Hunter!
Chloe moved to Joyful, Texas with her mom after the divorce. She’s lived in Joyful before, when she was three years old and had just been adopted. She doesn’t really remember anything about it from before. Cash lives in a foster home with Ms. Fuller. She’s an amazing foster parent and truly cares about Cash. Cash knows that Ms. Fuller lost her daughter a long time ago and he wants to help her feel better. The story jumps around and finally transitions more smoothly after the first quarter of the book. I felt like I became more invested in the characters of Chloe and Cash after that point. The story involves con artists, kidnapping, deception, friendship and family. With all of the events, the two strong main characters and the author’s writing style, In Another Life is an enjoyable read worth 4 stars!

The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine

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The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine. The third book in the Ravenspire series. Rahim, Javan’s unknown cousin, has been chosen to be a replacement for the true prince because he’s half royal. His father, Fariq, conceived Rahim with a peasant woman. Rahim is bitter and feels justified in taking the true prince’s place. Javan, the prince, has been away at school for the past ten years, working hard to meet his mother’s dying wish that he will graduate with honors. Javan is kidnapped and thrown in prison where he struggles to stay alive and tries to find a way to reach his father, the king. In the meantime, Rahim is trying to weasel his way into power. Javan finds trusted allies and he literally fights for survival. The prison warden throws everything she can at Javan to crush him. Javan discovers more about himself and about his country than he ever imagined. I love Sadja, her strength and abilities. I also rooted for Javan the whole time! Strong world building and characters make The Traitor Prince a very enjoyable read, 5 stars!