The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Cruel Prince by Holly Black! The opening of the book immediately grabbed my full attention with action, intrigue and violence! Jude and Taryn, human twins, are raised with their Faerie older sister, Vivi, in the Faerie kingdom. Jude and Taryn attend school with faerie teenagers and, while Taryn seems to stay off their radar, Jude is constantly being teased by Cardan, Valerian, Locke and Nicasia. Valerian takes the teasing to violent extremes. For this reason, Jude works daily to become stronger (by taking small amounts of poison daily to become immune) and to become a warrior. Little does she know how much her self training and practice will help her kingdom until the future of her kingdom lies within her hands. Fantasy laced with action and intrigue make The Cruel Prince a must read, 5 stars! I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Paper Towns by John Green

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Paper Towns by John Green tells the story of Quentin, otherwise known as Q. Q and his next door neighbor Margo used to be best friends and, as they’ve grown up and become high school seniors, they have turned into acquaintances. One night, Margo talks Q into helping her seek revenge on her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, who happen to be sneaking around behind her back to have sex together. After their fun and rowdy late night, Q is anxious to see if Margo acts differently towards him at school. When she’s not at school or even at home for a couple of days, everyone assumes Margo is on just another one of her adventures. As Q tries to figure out and follow the clues, he begins to worry that he might find Margo dead. The ongoing suspense along with the wonderfully executed humor have made this one of my favorite books from beginning to end. Dynamic, complex, real characters bring depth, realism and humor into this adventure of a story-5 Stars!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Before I Let Go by Marieki Nijkamp! Corey receives news of the drowning of her best friend, Kyra, and she travels back to Lost Creek to mourn her death and discover how she drowned in the middle of winter when the water is frozen several feet deep. Corey is treated like an outsider because she’s been attending a boarding school away from Lost Creek, so they disregard her questions and concerns. Corey’s determination reveals more than she ever wanted to know about the downward spiral of Kyra’s mental health and the ignorance and selfishness of the people of Lost Creek! 4 stars for a poignant look at bipolar disorder and the struggles of the sufferer and the coping mechanisms of the people closest to them.

Breaking the Ice by Julie Cross

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Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Breaking the Ice by Julie Cross! Fletcher seems to have many things he wants to hide and Haley has a good heart and great values. The two of them are working on a class project together and sometimes get along fairly well and at other times they can barely tolerate each other. I enjoyed Off the Ice (the first book in the Juniper Falls series) immensely and Breaking Ice is just as good, dealing with bullying, sexuality, family, learning disabilities and the stressful experience of intense allergies. Unique aspects of solitude and the consequences of social and parental pressures are addressed also. I love the dancing and the teacher who’s willing to work with and help her students based on their individual needs! The only drawback is the often used f-word, which I felt was unnecessary to the story being told. 4.5 stars for a thought provoking story!

Protected by Claire Zorn

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Hannah lives with her mother and father. The three of them are mourning Katie, Hannah’s sister. Katie, Hannah and their father were in a car accident and Katie did not survive. Hannah struggles with having friends and fitting in at school, just as she did before Katie’s fatal accident. Hannah and Katie have very different personalities and their lives unfold as the story is told. I like Josh and his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. He helps Hannah loosen up and she learns to enjoy life. The heartbreak of loss and the pain of overcoming that loss seem unbearable and Hannah and her family fight to move forward and beyond the pain. This book holds the messages of bullying, grieving and also the importance of relationships. 5 stars for this realistic fiction story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Protected by Claire Zorn.

The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Heartbreak Cure by Amanda Ashby! Cat is trying to move on after being humiliated by Bennet, who dated Cat as a challenge and not because he liked her. Then he told everyone about it by putting it online in the form of a YouTube video, humiliating her even more. Alex is Cat’s friend and has been for years. He’s dealing with his family problems but wants to help Cat. The two of them make an agreement to pose as girlfriend/boyfriend to soften any blow that will surely happen when school starts up again. Alex feels as though he’s hiding his true self from everyone he cares about and he’s afraid to share a secret that’s been tearing him apart since the day his mom and siblings died in a car accident years ago. Cat and Alex are realistic and lovable characters that build this story into more than just a romantic tale. The two of them, along with the dynamic and interesting side characters, make this young adult realistic fiction fun! 5 stars for the complexity and realism of the characters!

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.