The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

An unusual mystery that grabbed my attention!

An unusual mystery that grabbed my attention!
I read The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes as part of Reese’s Book Club January Pick. I’m so glad I read this book! It’s completely different than I thought it would be. I jumped right into reading without looking at the synopsis, so I didn’t know what to expect. The murders occurred in a way that I would have never imagined before. Prepared to be engaged in the author’s writing and held in perplexity in trying to figure out the mystery. It’s mellower than I expected but riveting and interesting all the same.
Maya struggles with sleeping because of an incident that happened seven years prior. Her friend died right in front of her and she suspects Frank of murder but she can’t prove or figure out how he killed her friend. She has taken Klonopin to help her sleep ever since her friend died but she has to go cold turkey because she lost her access to the medication. While dealing with withdrawal symptoms, she sees an online video of Frank with a woman dying right in front of him, all caught on a security camera. Maya immediately assumes Frank caused this woman’s death but it just looks like she fell over without him touching her at all. This video causes Maya to want to get to the bottom of her friend’s death and stop Frank from ever doing this again. Maya goes down a rabbit hole of past memories and current weirdness. She can’t trust her instincts, memories or what she has seen and she needs all the help she can get to stop Frank.

I enjoyed the author’s writing and mystery building skills!

Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch

Her survival skills might keep her alive!

Zara’s father is a survivalist that lives on a compound. Zara and her mother used to live on the compound too, until seven years ago. Now she lives with her mother and attends public school far away from her father’s compound. Her father’s survival lessons are drilled into Zara’s head and she replays them often. When there’s a widespread blackout, Zara uses her survival knowledge to get away from a strange man chasing her, to find her mother and to help her friends. As they travel looking for safety and to reach her father’s compound for protection, they come across a lot of danger and strange, sometimes creepy situations, cult communities, religious communities, families stealing supplies from them and people that will do anything for self preservation. Interesting, unique dystopian story, 4 stars!

Turning by Joy L. Smith

A story that gives readers perspective!

Genie is a dancer who has lost the ability to walk. Ballet has been her life and was going to be her future but she fell and everything changed. Genie now uses a wheelchair to get around. She’s keeping a secret hidden from her family and she has more than one secret that’s pulling her down. Her ex-boyfriend is pushy and she has to force him to listen to anything she tries to say. This frustrates Genie tremendously and she wants to move on. She meets Kyle in physical therapy and he has his own tragedy that he’s struggling with. The two of them become friends. When her secrets are revealed, Genie will hopefully have the love and support she needs. A realistic fiction story that helps readers realize that troubles and struggles could be much worse. 4 stars!

Working with Worry by Melissa Kilbride, LISCW and Samantha Sweeney, PhD

Working with Worry by Melissa Kilbride and Samantha Sweeney.
I wish I would have had this book when my kids were little. It’s a therapeutic workbook for the parent, as well as the children. Self-reflection for the parent is one of the first sections in this book. Anxiety basics are covered. We all worry sometimes but when that worrying takes over every part of our day or thoughts, it’s good to get some help from a professional. The KYST method of Keep Your Stuff Together helps parents be the example of how to deal with anxiety in healthy ways. Pages of activities offer something for everyone. Relaxation Haven and the Coping Skills Toolbox are wonderful ideas for dealing with anxiety. A useful guide to help with handling life’s stresses, 5 stars!

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

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You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
On the fifth anniversary of her brother’s death, his graduation night, Jaycee is spending her own graduation night trying to lose herself in the memories that she’s been holding tightly to. She’s revisiting the places he enjoyed but she feels him slipping away. She reluctantly lets people tag along as friends on the adventures and each of them experiences something eye-opening that shoves them into adulthood. I love this book and even though I just finished it, I want to read it again. The circumstances that start the story, the character development and growth, the uniquely different characters and the setting work together to build a wonderful book, 5 stars!

The Bookworm Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

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A lighthearted story that takes on a few serious issues!
Bookworm Crush, by Lisa Brown Roberts and Entangled Teen, opens as Amy is sneaking around town at night. She sneaks out to decorate for a social media challenge so she can win a meeting with her favorite author. The winner also receives a scholarship. Toff happens to drive by as Amy is running scared because she heard a noise and falls. He stops to help Amy, not knowing that he’s Amy’s crush. Since it’s past curfew, a police officer pulls them over to question the reason they aren’t home. They feign a relationship, pretending that they lost track of time. Amy’s terrified of getting in trouble but Toff plays it cool and the police officer lets them go. Toff takes Amy home and her brother notices the two of them as she’s sneaking into the house. Her brother Brayden assumes they’re dating. This is the beginning of Toff having his eyes opened to Amy. He coaches her for the author competition and helps Amy build her “swagger”. His confidence rubs off on her and together they create fun, interesting social media posts. Meanwhile, Toff’s father is remarrying and Amy’s father is looking for a job. This lighthearted story takes on a few serious issues and character growth, 4 stars!

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson

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Fun romance!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson!
Zoe is home-schooled and Jackson is homeless and they play chess together online, not knowing each other’s true identities. Before things changed for Zoe, she talked to Jackson at a basketball game her sister was cheering at. Zoe and Jackson think about each other from before she was home-schooled but neither of them realize that. Since Zoe needs help with Math and Physics, her mother hires Jackson for tutoring and their relationship grows into more than just friendly acquaintances. They help each other deal with personal struggles, Zoe’s anxiety and Jackson’s relationship with his father. Paper Girl is therapeutic and a cute young adult romance, 5 stars!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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The Wicker King by Kayla Ancrum blew me away and I am still processing it! Wow, an interesting, twisted story about two teen boys, their acquaintances, family lives and their long-lasting friendship. The relationship between the young men becomes increasingly unhealthy and worries their friends, who try to help them. Things get worse before anything changes and authorities intervene. Food for thought in so many ways, 4 stars!

Toxic by Lydia Kang

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Enjoyable sci-fi adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Toxic by Lydia Kang!
Toxic is a sci-fi adventure involving an abandoned teenager created in a lab, a biological spacecraft and a team on a suicide mission. Hana’s alone on the ship after her mother and the crew left without telling her. Fenn and the rest of the mission group members are researching Hana’s ship for future progress, even though they won’t be around to see it. They went to this spacecraft knowing that they would not make it off alive. They will die with the ship, as it deteriorates, so will they. I don’t feel like I can explain much of the story without giving too much away. I can safely say that the range of characters is fun, the story is original and Toxic is an enjoyable, interesting science fiction read, 4 stars!

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Deeply moving!
Thanks to Edelweiss+, NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti!
This story captivated me with it’s mysterious, traumatic event and the strength of the main character and supporting characters. Also, the charm and humor of family and all the quirks that go along with that wonderful six letter word. The story is somewhat difficult to follow; I’m sure that was on purpose by the author because the back and forth, scattered thoughts represent the stress of the main character very well. A heartbreaking and inspiring story that fully reveals the event by the end of the book. 5 stars for this deeply moving realistic fiction!