A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

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Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau is an intense fantasy adventure. Carys and Andreus are royal twin siblings hiding a secret from the kingdom. When the power outage overwhelms Garden City, chaos follows. Andreus helps fix the outage problem right before their brother Micah and their father, the king, are brought home from the warfront by the King’s guards. Both Micah and the king have been killed and the only witnesses to their deaths are soon killed also. The secret the twins are hiding is the sickness Andreus suffers from; it causes him weakness and is supposedly the curse that the seer prophesied after the birth of the twins. The Elders have set up a tournament for Andreus and Carys to compete against each other for the throne, since both the king and his heir are dead. The winner will be the new ruler of their kingdom. They compete unwillingly and try to make the tournament go in favor of Andreus. The danger builds and the suspicion grows stronger as Andreus and Carys struggle to learn who they can trust. It saddened me how quickly Andreus believed that his worth was above everyone else’s. I love the ingenious, clever way the story is told with the alternating points of view of Carys and Andreus and how they overlap at times. This way of telling the story makes the reader’s emotions take a roller coaster ride. I would love to see a map in the sequel and I give this book 5 stars for the adventure and intrigue!

It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett

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Thanks to NetGalley and Inkshares for the opportunity to read and review It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett. The prologue reveals an archer shooting at a group of friends. At first, it seems like a prank until they see that their friend is badly injured. Chapter One opens with teenagers planning a weekend trip to the woods for some LARPing- live action role-playing- and when they arrive in the woods, their roles are set out for them. They head out for their adventure and everything seems as it should be, for a while. The group meets other players at set stations and are given points, powers, caution and advice. Eventually, their roles, powers and enemies become real and they fall into danger. The commoners, thieves and creatures are real and so is the danger and violence. They have to rely on each other to survive. This unique book with a LARPing concept is fun, creative and original; 4 stars for a survival adventure wrapped up in a fantasy setting!

 

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

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Voluntarily read and reviewed an arc of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review One was lost by Natalie D. Richards. The first two chapters show the setting and describe the main and surrounding characters. The action and suspense begins in the third chapter. There’s some kind of animosity between Sera and Lucas that comes to light a little at a time. As I read, I learned more about the four main characters and the struggles each of them has in their lives. Being in a forest is a perfect setting for a horror story and the bridge washing out helped move the danger of being stranded along. Nice steady pacing of the mystery and suspense. The book kept me wondering to the end. Great horror story for young adults, 5 stars!

The Border by Steve Schafer

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I was asked by the author, through Goodreads, if I would like to read and review his book, The Border by Steve Schafer. I found the synopsis interesting and decided I wanted to check into it and I am very happy that I did! The Border begins with a great introduction containing action and intense suspense and tragedy. This is an excellent book, earning a 5 star rating from me, and I couldn’t put it down. I needed time to process all of the story’s events before writing a review because the story felt intensely realistic and the dynamic characters are complex and original and touched my heart and mind. The story also shows humor in the face of death, with greed making terrible events even worse. I’m definitely purchasing this book for the library when it’s available on September 5, 2017! The author created a fictional tale and characters based on the struggles that real people have gone through and he did this beautifully! I know students whose family members have crossed the Mexican/American border and some that have done this themselves. The story opens with an innocent quinceanera with neighbors, family members and friends attending. The fun lasts for moments before tragedy strikes in the form of gang members and guns. We have all heard about the violence and drug wars and poverty in Mexico. The Border opened my eyes to these problems with clarity and empathy. Four teenagers survive the shooting and run for their lives because a gunman spotted them. The story deals with their loss of the lives they have grown up in and the difficult trek they embark on to find safety. Their journey is in no way easy and they learn to rely on each other. Heartbreaking, educational and interesting realistic fiction story worthy of 5 stars! Highly recommended!

Legion by Julie Kagawa

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review the fourth book in the Talon Saga, Legion by Julie Kagawa!  This is a perfect addition to the already popular Talon, Rogue and Soldier books with just as much action, intrigue, romance and suspense!

Each of the books in the Talon Saga are told from a different character’s point of view. Talon is told in Ember’s point of view, Rogue is in Riley’s and Soldier is told in Garret’s point of view. Legion brings back all of the main characters and their points of view, including Dante’s. Dante is Ember’s brother and has been loyal to the dragon rule all  along because he believes he will be the dragon in power someday.  At first, he wanted to help his sister succeed and only cared about pleasing their instructors and taking care of her.  Then he had an epiphany about the position of power he could be in someday.  This changed his entire perspective. The strong, dynamic characters are worth cheering for while the tension builds in this addition to the Talon saga. I didn’t see the specific conflict coming and was shocked and appalled at the Elder Wyrm’s use for Ember Hill!  This book is as amazing as the rest of the series and is suspenseful and intriguing with new mysteries springing up and adding to the un-put-down-ability of the story. 5 stars for characters I love and the building anticipation!  I am already anxious for the fifth book in this series and I plan on a complete re-read when the entire series is complete!

The Castaways by Jessika Fleck

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Castaways by Jessika Fleck. Olive is relentlessly bullied by three girls she has named The Trio. She meets her friend Tawny at the pirate-themed traveling carnival after hours, so they won’t be bothered by anyone. They decide to go into the corn maze, which has a mysterious and dangerous past. Teenagers have gone missing and never come out of the maze. Olive ends up going into the maze alone and, while running from bullies, she ends up being transported to a secluded island where no one ages. This island is completely surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see and seems to be inescapable. Olive meets people on the island that are considered missing in real time. These teenagers were born long ago and have stayed teenagers and only have memories from decades past. Such as sixteen-year-old Tilly, who is from Sheffield England, 1940 and fifteen year old Lewis from 1953 Memphis, Tennessee. Olive discovers each of their stories and secrets and she eventually shares her own. They all realize that they transported to the island because they were running from something and they work together to find out how to face their problems and give each other the hope of returning home someday. I fell in love with the island inhabitants and relished the relationship between Will and Olive. This book is so much more complex than I thought it would be when I first began reading it. The complicated story line and dynamic characters all come together to make The Castaways an interesting read and the cover is perfect for this story, in more ways than one. 4.5 stars for the fantasy realism and lovable characters!

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) by F.J.R. Titchenell

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) by F.J.R. Titchenell! This is a humorous story about Cassie and her discovery of zombies and how she dealt with this not-so-great turn of events. While she travels across the country with friends, she spends the time pondering how the zombies came to be and observes how each person deals with the tragedy in their own way. Cassie’s personality makes the story funny and lightens the dystopian mood. 4 stars for this action packed fun zombie story!

Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

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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 Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell! The story begins by showing the setting of captured girls and young women kept in cages. Some women are forced to entertain, they are called flowers, while their cage mates, called the wilted, take the punishment when the flowers do something wrong. The captured young girls are being trained to become flowers or wilted when they are teenagers and the cycle continues with young girls being kidnapped, trained and eventually taking the places of the flowers and wilted that are no longer serving their entertainment purposes and are expired or killed. The Gardener runs the Garden with a strict hand and his helper, Shears, enjoys the violence and gladly harms the entertainers. Entertaining is forbidden by the Emperor of Imperial City, but he has seemed to have recently changed his mind. After Rose’s friend Fern is killed, Rose decides to plan a distraction during entertaining the emperor so she can escape and eventually free all of the other girls. Rose uses a member of the audience as a hostage and runs. Little does she know that her hostage is the leader of the rebellion against the Emperor, Rayce. Rose is harboring a secret and she’s terrified to trust any man. She also has a lot to learn about the rebellion and the histories of the people involved. The intrigue and secrecy kept me interested and I liked the unique story line. I grew to care about several of the characters and found myself rooting for them when they were up against danger. I figured out some of the back story on my own, but not all and I appreciated the unpredictability-4 stars!

The Hunt by Megan Shepherd

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The Hunt by Megan Shepherd is the sequel to The Cage where humans are treated like displays for the entertainment of an otherworldly race. The characters become more dynamic and, after their escape attempt, have been placed in different settings. Cora is now a singer, others are dancers, a dollhouse family and some are placed as prey in a hunt. All of the captured are trying to work together to escape the planet and get to Earth. Cora has developed telekinesis and Cassian believes that Cora can beat the Gauntlet and prove that humans are intelligent. Cora is thrown into the hunt and she discovers a surprise about her predator. Using her telekinetic abilities, she kills him and Cassian takes the blame. The group escapes for Earth only to decide they need to save Cassian because he’s the only one who has a strong hope for humanity. The loyalty and action kept me reading this sci-fi dystopian and I am looking forward to The Gauntlet, the third book of the series, because of the four sets of puzzles that will be presented to the captured to prove that humans are sentient beings worthy of freedom; 4 stars!