The Chosen by Taran Matharu!

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Twisted adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley, Feiwel and Friends and Goodreads (giveaway winner) for the opportunity to read and review The Chosen by Taran Matharu!
Cade has ended up in a reform center for juvenile delinquents because of his roommate’s theft. Cade attends the center trying to figure out how to stay under the radar. Six months into his yearlong stay, he finds himself on a cliff ledge facing a creature that wants him for a snack. The chapters alternate between Cade in the center and then somewhere else fighting for his life for a few chapters. Then the story continues with Cade trying to survive and understand his new surroundings full of creatures, people from the past and other creatures and technology that have no explanations. The codex is a tech device that Cade has never seen before and it answers several questions and explains that Cade is a contender in the qualifying round which is being counted down on the Codex’s display. The ending lays out the truth of Cade’s circumstances and all its complications. An unusual tale of a twisted adventure, 4 stars!

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!

Breakout by A.M. Rose!

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Good storyline, rushed ending.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Breakout by A.M. Rose!
A prison full of young prisoners, with the last of their lives ticking away while robots guard and serve them, makes up the character pool for the first part of the book. Two cell mates try to escape since they don’t have anything to lose. They get another prisoner added to the escape party and the three of them accidentally end up in a juvenile prison for young men. The young men decide to escape also, so they go together. The main character is often mentioning that things are happening to her only, “happening to me”, like being trapped within four stone walls. Then the next paragraph states that the rest of the group is in there with her. It’s misleading. Breakout is a conglomeration of Virtual Reality and bits and pieces that are reminiscent of popular book plots, such as Hunger Games, Maze Runner and I, Robot. I don’t feel like the ending is solid and seemed almost rushed and I didn’t feel the pull towards the characters that I would have like to; 3.5 stars.

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter opens as ten-year-old Logan and his best friend Maddie witness the violence that occurs with the attempted kidnapping of his mother, the First Lady. Logan is the president’s son and his best friend is the daughter of the head of the Secret Service. Maddie’s father gets shot and badly injured during the kidnapping attempt, so he decides to move to Alaska with his daughter to recover and distance themselves from the danger. Now, six years later, Logan gets sent to stay with them for his own safety. Logan has a tendency to be careless and unconcerned about what happens to him and this has exasperated his parents. Maddie is extremely angry at Logan because she wrote letters to him for years after their move to Alaska and she never received anything from him. The day Logan arrives, Maddie’s father leaves to make a quick delivery because a terrible storm is coming. While he’s away, Maddie and Logan are confronted by an abductor who wants to use Logan for leverage. Maddie is shoved down a hill, left for dead and the kidnapper forces Logan to move on. The danger compounds because of the Alaskan wilderness and lack of food, shelter and heat. I thoroughly enjoyed Not If I Save You First for several reasons- the suspense, mystery and sarcastic humor and I love the characters! 5 solid stars for a fun, action-packed adventure!

End of the Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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Twisting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review End of the Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach!
Anastasia watches her sister become more and more depressed because of her traumatic kidnapping and the bad publicity that follows. They are both trying to adjust to the new situation with their parents and unwanted fame. Twists and turns keep them running and confused but they stay by each other’s sides to get through their intense struggles. Anastasia sees the people around her change until everything comes full circle. Intense, mysterious and suspenseful all wrapped up in this finale of the Anastasia Phoenix series, 5 stars!

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Dynamic Fantasy!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters!

Plague Land Reborn by Alex Scarrow

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Dystopian virus!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Plague Land Reborn by Alex Scarrow!
The story opens with Leon’s father when the plague hit New York, two years earlier and alternating with the present from Leon’s point of view. The virus has gained strength and intelligence while absorbing human bodies and their memories. Tom continues to search for Leon and Grace while working with the government to rescue survivors of the virus. I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that the virus has evolved enough to mimic animals and humans; humans that people recognize, making discovering the virus even more difficult. The creepy factor kept me interested and I was curious about Tom and his children’s futures. 4 stars!

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down!  So good, I actually read it twice already!
Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart!
Serina and her family await Signor Pietro to make his choice of one of the community’s young women who will travel to Bellaqua, join others from different provinces, and vie for the opportunity to be a Grace for the royal Heir. Sera’s mother is thrilled when she’s the one who’s chosen, but her siblings Nomi and Renzo seem to feel otherwise. Sera’s unsure how her father feels. Sera has learned to be happy with the lack of options given to women in Viridia but Nomi openly hates the idea.
The Heir, Malachi, chooses three Graces every three years. This will be his first year of choosing Graces. The Superior has forty Graces and everyone assumes he will step down and let the Heir rule Viridia. At the ball, Nomi wanders into a palace library and notices a beautiful copy of the book Renzo taught her to read with, when they were younger. Reading is forbidden for women but Nomi loves to read. She slips this book into her clothes and as she’s going back to the ball, runs straight into the Heir and his younger brother Asa. The Heir demands to know what she’s doing and she coyly answers that she was using the restroom and if he needs it she points to where it is. Nomi can’t fathom how she could have been so rude to the Heir and she’s sure she’s going to be sent home. Sera is the only young woman the Heir dances with at the ball. He makes his decision afterwards, choosing two women and then Nomi instead of Sera! Grace and Fury is fast paced and full of intrigue! This magnificent book twists and turns with suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat! Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. Fantastic writing, unique storyline and intriguing characters make Grace and Fury a must-read- 5 stars!

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada has such a beautiful cover that drew me right in! Cover Love! The story jumps immediately into the action. Mortal Coil is a dystopian science fiction that I couldn’t put down once I began reading. Cat struggles to survive the outbreak that has almost completely destroyed the human population. She creates medical apps for the organization, Skies, which is the only helpful group left. Cataraxus took her father and her boyfriend by force two years earlier and Cat has lived in a cabin in the woods since. Agnes, a neighbor, saved her life after her father was kidnapped and the two women rely on each other for survival. A Cataraxus soldier begins to hunt her and eventually captures Cat and she starts to unravel the mystery surrounding her father and the Hydra vaccine. Her father doesn’t seem to be the kind person that she’s always believed him to be. Cole, the soldier, and Cat begin working together to save the vaccine and hopefully replicate it for human use. The two of them run into danger at every turn and her father’s legacy continues to confuse her. When Cat discovers her father’s reasons for the things he has done, she resigns herself to her fate. With one surprise after another, the suspense doesn’t end. This Mortal Coil is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read, a solid 5 stars!

Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

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Mutating virus on the rampage!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Plague Land by Alex Scarrow.
A fast-moving, fast-killing virus is spreading across the globe while some governments are hiding the fact and scientists are scurrying to understand and overcome the virus. Leon, his sister and mother are traveling by train to his grandparents’ house when the virus hits. Several people on the train are infected and die, so when daylight comes, they travel outdoors and watch for the telltale flakes of the virus. Two of their group get touched by the virus and by the time they reach a barn for shelter, they show signs of the virus and die in front of their eyes. The virus continues to evolve and grow into larger organisms that fight even harder for survival. The author creates intense imagery and a frightening sense of loneliness and destruction. Creepy dystopian, 4 stars!