The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison

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The Sweetheart Sham by Danielle Ellison.  I’m immediately drawn into the story because of the lovable two main characters, best friends Will and Georgie. Georgie is protecting Will’s secret. She will do anything to help him and when an old beau returns to town, the secret and Georgie’s loyalty are challenged. I love how the author approaches Will’s secret and the different points of view in the small southern town. This realistic situation with all of the stresses and anxiety rings true. One of my favorite scenes of the book is the escape of Georgie from Beau when they run into each other in Charleston while she’s supposedly on a date with Will; classic fun! The author brings a poignant story into our hearts and gives readers food for thought with the friendship, loyalty and honesty of wonderful and complicated characters. Young adult romance worth 5 stars!

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. A humorous tale with catchy words, imaginative characters and uniquely detailed illustrations. A girl and her dog carry the reader through the process of creating, examining, remodeling, feeling frustrated and taking a break. This book shows that things don’t always work out perfectly and sometimes a break is all you need. 4 stars for a cute story with a lesson for all of us.

Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

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Thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read and review Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World by Janit Calvo! New, imaginative and creative ideas for fairy and tiny gardens. This book covers supplies needed for a miniature garden workshop and basic materials and tools required for most projects. The projects cover holidays, special occasions, world travel, storybook ideas and more! For the beginning miniature gardening and for the novice, the detailed instructions and photographs will inspire and get the creative juices flowing. 5 stars for a completely fun craft book!

Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond. Miranda and Grant both have a special connection to Roanoke Island and when over one hundred citizens come up missing, Miranda and Grant feel like they are destined to help solve the mass disappearance. The two of them do not share a happy past and their resolve is tested over and over while trying to help each other. The further they dig into the mystery, the stranger things become. They discover supernatural forces controlling people and spirits from the past. Throughout their struggles, Grant and Miranda only have each other to count on. 4 stars for a historical fiction read with a paranormal twist!

The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente. The story got its start because of the creative imagination of the Bronte siblings. Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne travel to and begin the adventure they share in Glass Town. The prose is whimsical and sweet and made me think of Roald Dahl in parts. This book is an adventure that I wish the Bronte children could have actually been a part of. The charming illustrations, sprinkled sparingly throughout the book, bring Glass Town to life. 4 stars for a book that is reminiscent of and starts an interest in the history of the Bronte family.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.

Quackery by Lydia Kang

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Thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read and review Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang. The book has sections for elements, plants and soil, tools, animals and mysterious powers. The first section begins with the medicinal use of mercury. Interesting and intriguing in its awfulness, especially the part about using it for babies who are teething; whoa! Then I learned about the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty who was desperate for immortality and was given mercury medicines by his alchemists because they thought that was the answer. He died at forty-nine and his mausoleum rivals Egyptian pharaohs and is said to be flowing with rivers of mercury! Tidbits of mercury use include historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon and Edgar Allan Poe. Reading about Opium use was eye-opening and jaw-dropping, especially the part about giving it to quiet crying babies and children! The No More Pain with Cocaine part all the way to cannibalism and corpse medicine kept me morbidly fascinated. 5 stars for a must-read of a sketchy piece of history!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

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Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad

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Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad. This nonfiction account of 1970’s-1990’s Miami begins with action. The book continues, highlighting certain characters of the time and tells everything honestly and boldly. I became overwhelmed with the money, drugs, violence and human degradation as I continued to read. It’s difficult to comprehend that this is reality and people’s lives. The notes at the end of the book state that a remake of Scarface will take place in 2017. The whole time I was reading this book, I visualized the original Scarface movie. 4 stars for a true account of crime in Miami!

Turtles All the Way Down

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green opens with Aza as she struggles with self-confidence and feeling like she never belongs. Her best friend and support is Daisy and the two of them set out to earn a reward for finding a missing billionaire. This mystery brings more interest to the story and the dynamic characters are fun, humorous and entertaining as well deep thinking. The three main characters, Aza, Daisy and Davis all bring a lot of interest to the story plus the side characters add an extra depth. I appreciate how John Green portrays mental illness with realism and deeply detailed prose. The author’s note at the end offers insight into his own personal struggles and also help and hotline information. 5 stars for a great portrayal of the human mind and its struggles!

Rescued by Peter Zheutlin

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Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review Rescued by Peter Zheutlin. Rescued by Peter Zheutlin is about the all-encompassing wonderfulness of dogs. Each chapter opens with a quote sharing and stating the unconditional love of dogs and then tells of experiences when people’s lives have been touched by dogs. Beautiful, touching, humorous and deserving of a solid 5 stars for a book for all dog lovers!
* I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.