Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

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Thanks to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Lab TM for the opportunity to read and review Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield! June lives with her father, stepmother and stepsister and, unbeknownst to her father, is abused by the other two. The story is told in June’s point of view and describes the abuse she endures at home, the bullying she receives at school and her wonderful friend Blister and his loving family. Blister and his family are the only light in June’s life and when tragedy strikes, they stand by her the entire time. At times both heartbreaking and hopeful, this story reminded me that things aren’t always what they seem and how important it is to have someone believe in you. 4 stars for a story that starts out simple but builds in intensity and follows through with a punch. Realistic fiction that deals with abuse, tragedy, friendship and relationships.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.

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!

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made you up by Francesca Zappia- Alex goes through each day trying to figure out what is a hallucination and what is real. She keeps her schizophrenia hidden from everyone and deals with it secretly and on her own, besides her family and her therapist. This book contains completely endearing and realistic characters with clever writing and interesting background building. Laugh-out-loud funny at times and empathetic at others, as well as heart-breaking, Made You Up is a must read realistic fiction story with food for thought; 5 stars. The minute I finished reading it, I wanted to turn around and read it all again.

Skinny Me by Charlene Carr

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Skinny Me by Charlene Carr involves a young woman who has battled her weight her entire life and is dealing with the feeling of hitting rock bottom. She feels that her weight is out of control, she’s unemployed and her mother has passed away. She picks herself up and focuses on what she can do to improve her life and relationships. Little by little, Jenny makes changes starting with a new menu and beginner exercises and a job acceptance. She tries to socialize more and also pushes herself to run. Jenny meets with a personal trainer and sets a possible goal and continues to work on her relationships. She realizes that losing weight isn’t going to stop her insecurities and internal struggles; she has to work on her self esteem also. 4 stars for a realistic story geared toward adult readers. Per author request, I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, “Some people hate him because they think he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants.” This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor’s guilt. Violet’s sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author’s notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.

The Takedown by Corrie Wang

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review The Takedown by Corrie Wang! The Takedown is a futuristic realistic fiction story dealing with the overwhelming use of social media and all of the issues that go along with it. Kyla is in the popular clique of the prep school she attends until someone shares a video on social media of Kyla being intimate with a teacher. The story is all about her innocence and trying to figure out who did the posting. She wants to get to the source and get rid of the video that has potentially scarred her reputation and future permanently. The story also involves forgiveness and introspection. 4.5 stars for the ability to give readers food for thought and for making it about a topic most people are interested in these days.

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!

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

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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 Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin. This silly, charming and sometimes cheesy clean read tells the story of Adrianna Bottom, Andy for short. Andy has to deal with being called Porcelain Princess because of her family’s toilet accessories business as well as the reality TV show highlighting them. Since her real name is Adrianna Bottom, Andy has already been bullied endlessly about her last name, even before becoming the Porcelain Princess. Her family has now moved, so Andy is attending a new school and the bullying doesn’t take long to start. On top of the bullying, she has to deal with the producer of the reality show being pushy and invading every aspect of Andy’s life that he can. This quick read has romance, humor and the lesson of keeping secrets, 4 stars.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

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Thanks to a Goodreads giveaway, I received a paperback advanced reading copy of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti! I also received a NetGalley arc from Dial Press in exchange for a fair review!
Loo lives with her father Hawley as they travel from place to place without settling down for long in any one town. That is until they go to the town where Loo’s grandmother ( Loo’s mother Lily’s mother) lives. Lily drowned when Loo was quite young, so it’s just her and Hawley. Loo’s grandmother refuses to see or speak to them, but Loo and Hawley decide to buy a house and live in the town anyway. More than anything else, this book made me realize that every person has a story. Each chapter alternates between the present with Hawley and Loo and then to Hawley and his younger past. Each trip into the past explains how Samuel Hawley received another gunshot wound and scar. This story is sad in the fact that Loo and Hawley struggle with belonging and with lasting relationships besides their own. They are both lonely and seem somewhat lost in their presence and their place in the world. Loo tries to befriend others, but she has a temper and becomes physically angry too often. Hawley seems like he is just trying to get through and raise Loo in the best way he knows how. He is very lonely and misses his wife, Lily daily. Loo sees this loneliness. It’s almost like Loo and Hawley are stuck in a never ending cycle of danger and wrong choices. This book left me feeling how life is just a fleeting moment that passes too quickly. 4 stars.

Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Jack Chaucer for the opportunity to read and review his book, Streaks of Blue, book one of the Nikki White series! Nikki is befriending two students that she suspects need friends to prevent them from committing a horrendous act of violence after she has a dream that she feels is a premonition. Adam appreciates Nikki but Thomas doesn’t. Nikki discovers, along with Adam, how much Adam is truly dealing with. Through the ups and downs of friendship, Nikki and Adam grow and realize that people’s decisions are what make them, develop who they become and create the life they are living. The story pulls at the heart with emotions, startles the heart with suspense and washes away burden and brings out hope for our future. 5 stars for an honest and open story of realistic fiction and circumstances of real life. I appreciate the author’s nod to a fellow author, Cheryl Strayed and her memoir of her struggles and overcoming them. I look forward to reading the rest of the Nikki White series!