Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

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Sad, harsh, funny and enlightening all at the same time!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan. After reading the synopsis, I thought the story would be harsh and depressing. It’s both of those with a bit of humor added into the mix. It’s almost a desperation humor and a way for the main character, Ronney to deal with his rough life. He’s fifteen and pretty much like a parent to his younger sister Mina, who’s extremely smart. Their mother holds a job and brings home a paycheck but she’s deeply depressed. Their father flubbed a suicide attempt and only has use of one of his arms. He’s depressed and mostly hangs out in his bedroom. Ronney helps with home repairs and his little sister’s homework. He’s in love with his best friend but she’s dating his other best friend, Jello. Ronney’s life is full of complications and he’s barely dealing. The zoo animals are set loose and Jello wants to safari and do a photo shoot with all of the loose animals he can find. This adds comic relief to the story and also danger. The story is sad, harsh, enlightening and funny all at the same time, 4 stars!

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

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Little Boy Lost by J. D. Trafford tells the story of a lawyer, Justin Glass, who is down on his luck, gets a visit from a young girl looking for her missing brother, willing to pay for his help with a jar full of change. He asks around and eventually discovers that the missing brother is part of a mass grave full of many murdered young men. All of the victims were criminals in one way or another and the perpetrator seems like he could be some sort of vigilante. In the meantime, Justin gets an awesome paralegal, Emma. She’s from Bosnia and was a certified lawyer there. Since she knows about the legal system, she gets Justin and his office in tip top shape.
While helping with this case, he’s dealing with being a single parent and feeling helpless when he discovers that his daughter is being bullied. Dealing with the murder case, he seems to be doing more investigating than the law enforcement is. With the help of his paralegal and her close-by relatives, Justin Glass is able to solve the mystery but this puts his life in danger also. A strong cast of characters and a suspenseful mystery that tugs at the heartstrings, 4 stars!

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

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Interesting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Publishing for the chance to read and review The Leaving by Tara Altebrando!
The story opens with the anticipation of people returning after being gone for eleven years, alternating between various points of view from the teens returning, individually and as a group, and their family members. Six kindergarten students were taken and five returned eleven years later with absolutely no memory of where they’ve been. Investigators and search parties found no evidence eleven years ago to help find the children but now, with the returned teens help and a few others, the investigation is making progress. The Leaving tells a tale of “what if?”, while addressing a controversial topic. 4 stars for this interesting mystery.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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A swashbuckling read!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo!
Lira is a siren that steals someone’s heart every year for her birthday. Lira captures a Prince while her cousin Kahlia steals a queen. The Midasan prince is introduced next, Prince Elian. This prince has two lives- one in the castle and one as a pirate, captain of his own ship and crew and a siren hunter. Lira will take her mother’s place as the Sea Queen someday, but in the meantime her mother is cruel and abusive. The Sea Queen punishes Lira for being kind and weak by turning her human and leaving her stranded in the ocean. Elian and his crew rescue Lira, thinking she’s an orphan that’s lost her family to drowning, but they are wary about her story. Elian’s goal is to kill the Prince’s Bane- the siren that kills princes. Elian has no idea that the Prince’s Bane is Lira and she’s keeping her background hidden from the crew and everyone they come in contact with. As Elian works toward his goal, he makes deals along the way with separate princesses and a slave trader. Eventually, Elian and his crew start to trust Lira because of the loyalty she’s shown by saving Elian’s life. Lira’s goal is to take over as Sea Queen and rid the world of her monstrous, manipulative mother and she hopes for peace as an end result. To Kill a Kingdom bursts with action, adventure and intrigue. This fantasy full of magic creates an amazing world with unique characters and backgrounds of their own. A wonderfully fun read worth a swashbuckling 5 stars!

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

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A must read for anyone who enjoys suspense!
Thanks to Razorbill and Bookish First for the ARC of Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson!
Gabe and Elyse alternate in telling the story. Gabe is tired of his toxic girlfriend and finally breaks off their relationship, but she vows to make him pay. Elyse surprises herself by landing the part of Juliet in the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Gabe is reeling from Sasha’s, his ex-girlfriend’s, actions while Elyse is struggling with her home life. The two main characters both end up feeling defeated and alone. Jennifer Donaldson weaves a mysterious story with pure intensity around interesting characters! I don’t want to give anything away. I will just say this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys suspenseful young adult realistic fiction and it earns a riveting 5 stars from me!

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!

Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

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Fantasy with a dystopian undertone!
Thanks to Capstone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith. Slow to introduce the main character and to orient the reader to the setting and purpose, so the first book, The Children of Icarus, needs to be read before picking up this sequel. The action picks up the excitement in the story and the reader is still left trying to figure out who Nameless is. Danger and intrigue are prominent and no one knows who to trust and almost no one deserves trust. The ending is awesome and leaves me anticipating the third installment to this series. Fantasy with a dystopian undertone, 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!