Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!

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Creepy fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!
Ivy’s mother recently committed suicide, so she’s going to live on the island of Darkhaven with her Uncle Simon and his housekeeper. Ivy soon learns about the Bloodgood family curse from the only other people living on the island, the Ramsey family. Veronica, the housekeeper, later explains the curse to Ivy. Uncle Simon also tells Ivy about the murders her great grandfather committed. He killed an entire household leaving only one Ramsey family member alive and then his twelve-year-old daughter walked in and saw him covered in blood. Supposedly this curse makes people crazy. Ivy does make a few friends and school isn’t too bad but living in the manor becomes stranger and scarier. Ivy sees skeletons, ghosts and finds a body covered in blood. She almost falls off the cliff but Doyle Ramsey happens to wake her just in time from her sleep walking. I would have liked a little more information about Ivy’s parents and the relationship they had but Dreaming Darkly is spooky fun with all the suspense and creepiness needed to make an edge-of-your-seat read, 5 stars!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Intense and clever!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!
The story opens as Miguel walks his night shift rounds in the empty, not-yet-open office building. He hears a scream and gunshots so he calls 9-1-1 and two policemen arrive. The police are skeptical until an elevator door opens and they start shooting. When Miguel finally gets a view of the elevator, he’s disturbed because he’s never seen that much blood before. The story then jumps back to thirty-four hours earlier when four people meet in an empty office building in the South Bronx on a Friday night. Next, Sylvie, Sam, Jules and Vincent are introduced to the story and they’re all on edge since the meeting was set up last minute and is interfering with their personal plans. The meeting appears to be an escape room challenge and as the four coworkers struggle to find clues, the story alternates with Sara as she’s interviewed, hired and works for Stanhope. Fresh out of college, Sara is thrown right into the devious nature of the career path she’s chosen and the financial and investment banker world takes a devastating toll on her entire life. Greed makes people cold and brutal and Sara learns firsthand how cruel people can be. She’s upset over the supposed suicidal death of coworker Lucy and questions Vincent when she feels that Lucy didn’t really commit suicide. She asks him if he thinks that maybe there was foul play. After that discussion, Sara’s berated about her work and her appearance and she eventually loses her job. The story alternates between Sara and her four elevator-confined coworkers. The escape room clues are interesting and we learn the reasoning behind them as the trapped four work them out. A solid suspenseful tale of greed, self-absorption and actions people might take to ensure that they come out on top, 4 stars!

T-Minus by Shannon Greenland

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Thrilling read!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review T-Minus by Shannon Greenland!
The president’s daughter, Sophie, is awakened during the night when the secret service has discovered a terrorist attack in the making. The story alternates between the present, as the attack progresses, with snippets of past experiences and memories that Sophie has with her family and friends. Her brother Erik is not home and the family believes he’s in danger and they are right. The mystery gradually unravels as to the purpose behind the attack but meanwhile people are dying, being kidnapped or, as in Sophie’s case, being manipulated into doing the terrorists’ bidding. Sophie is part of the TIA, a teenage agency created by the CIA to train and teach survival skills and tactics to teens. She’s made strong friends in the TIA and they help her get to the bottom of what’s going on. Unique characters and the alternating of past and present builds the relationships up and creates empathy for the characters. A suspenseful YA mystery, 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!

We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott

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Unputdownable!
Thanks to Entangled for the opportunity to read and review We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott! Cobain is being questioned at the police station. They’re trying to figure out what happened to Molly, who’s missing. Cobain declares his love for Molly and describes his relationship with Molly from the first day they spoke. Molly’s car has been found abandoned at a strip mall and no one knows why she had even been there. Cobain thinks to himself that he and Molly were going to run away together, but now she’s out there alone. Then the alternating points of view add Molly’s also, which builds the mystery even more intensely.
The author’s descriptive language brings realism to the story and one of my favorite descriptions is “lollipops that tasted how Lysol smelled”, which made me laugh out loud because I remember suckers like that. Suspenseful, twisty and mysterious, We Told Six Lies was a read I couldn’t put down until I finished, 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!

Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

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A scary sci-fi that I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Sanctuary by Caryn Lix!
Kenzie lives in a space prison that houses teens with super powers. Kenzie and her parents help guard the prison, with a few others, and they work for the security system company that runs the adult prison and the teen prison that both hold Earth criminals with super powers. All seems well until the prisoners of Sanctuary escape their cells. Kenzie becomes somewhat of a hostage as the teenage prisoners try to work out their escape plan. The escape plan gets overridden with an alien invasion and the struggle to stay alive. This scary sci-fi kept me reading nonstop to the ending, 5 stars!

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

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Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 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.

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The story opens with the three daughters, their family owns the Abbey, getting ready for a party that evening. The eldest daughter, Kate, is meant to marry and bear a male child as heir to the Abbey. The party will introduce possible suitors for her to choose from or for them to choose her. The lovely British setting begins with tongue in cheek humor and the calmness of a classic but eventually, horror ensues when a woman is forced to shoot her already dead husband! No one but her nephew believes that her husband came home after she had already verified his death. She claimed that his eyes were unusual and he was no longer her husband, but a monster. Little by little, the Abbey community and surrounding village is overtaken by zombies and the survivors must defend themselves or fall victim also. The gutsy Fanny, a kitchen maid, builds up bravery throughout the Abbey and helps fight to save the residents, along with the three daughters. Zombie Abbey is a fun horror story, which seems oxymoronic, but the author pulls it off quite well! 4 stars for this adventurous dystopian!