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!

Nice Girls Endure

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“Received an advance reader copy for a fair review.”

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Nice Girls Endure by Chris Struyk-Bonn! Chelsea is an overweight teenager who takes after her father in many ways; personality, likes, dislikes, talent and genetics. The doctor suggests Calorie Counts, a weight loss program run by Bridgette, who helps Chelsea see that her self esteem is more important than anything else. Chelsea has four favorite people: her dad, Bridgette, Melody and Trevor (classmates). Chelsea tries to get involved and make friends, but then bullies set her back. The bullying is already bad enough on its own, but they send pictures of everything online for everyone to see. This book is a touching and inspiring story of the challenges we have to deal with in life and the different ways we can strengthen ourselves. 4.5 stars!

Jasper Dent Series(3 books)

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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is interesting from the very beginning. The author alludes to stress factors on the main character, Jazz, and this kept me curious and wanting to learn all about him. I can see this book improving readers’ vocabulary and increasing interest in and gaining knowledge of science because of the way the author writes, making it extremely real, but not too gory. Jazz tries to deal with the fact that his father is a serial killer who raised Jazz to be exactly like him. Metaphors and similes help with understanding how Jazz grew up. The intensity cranks up when Jazz visits his father, Billy Dent, the notorious serial killer, in prison. Wow! The writing flows well and Barry Lyga brings Jazz into our world as a believable person that is dealing with tremendous stress. An unexpected ending leading into the next book made me want to immediately continue reading the series. 5 stars!

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Game by Barry Lyga, the second book in the Jasper Dent series, dives right into a mystery. An added aspect to this book, alternating Jazz’ and Connie’s points of view, make this story even more entertaining. Connie’s point of view helps the reader understand how other people see Jazz, instead of just hearing his thoughts. Howie’s personality adds comic relief and made me giggle out loud.

Jazz has been taken to New York to help solve a new serial killer mystery. Morales, an FBI agent that worked on the Billy Dent case, offers to work with Jazz to find his father and kill him. Jazz still struggles with not trusting himself and this is interfering with his relationship with Connie. The book ends with three major cliffhangers! Aaahhh! I do not want to add spoilers, so I am keeping the extreme cliffhangers to myself. 😉 5 stars!

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I put off reading Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga because I did not want this series to end! The third book of the Jasper Dent series takes off where Game ended. Jazz is still locked in a storage unit, Billy has Connie and Howie wakes up in the hospital. Billy saves Jazz, then kills the Hat killer. Connie discovers that she is locked up with Jazz’ mother and they are trying to help each other. Jazz’ aunt has disappeared and his grandmother is in the hospital. Nonstop action, intensity and surprises amp up the suspense in this final book.

Jazz will do anything to save his mother and it looks like he will do things he never believed he could, to protect her. The danger increases and the mystery unfolds, while the story delves deeper into the perverse childhood of Jazz. Twisting and unpredictable, this story never failed to enthrall and entertain me. 5 stars!

The Jasper Dent series is perfect for young adults who like to read horror stories!

Irena’s Children: Young Reader’s Edition

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books for the arc of Irena’s Children (Young Reader’s Edition) by Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies and the bravery it took to save innocent children during the Holocaust! 4 stars.