RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!

Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

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Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia! Peyton and her mom have lived alone since her father was killed during a military mission. Peyton’s boyfriend, Reed, has been acting differently and seems to have a quick temper and mood swings often when he used to never be that way. Reed’s sister Tess is also Peyton’s best friend and when Peyton tries to discuss the changes in Reed with Tess, she becomes defensive. When Peyton finds out Reed’s secret and confronts him, Reed loses his temper and pushes Peyton. She falls down cement stairs and hurts her leg. Now she’s mourning the possibility of losing her soccer scholarship and her ruined relationships with Reed and Tess. She moves to Tennessee and stays with her uncle and his two teenage twin boys so she can recuperate, attend physical therapy and hopefully repair her leg. She gains new friends and works hard to recover the strength in her leg while learning to deal with Reed and the difficulties he’s caused. I don’t want to give anything away from the rest of the story but I devoured Broken Beautiful Hearts and I highly recommend it for any reader that enjoys young adult realistic fiction, 5 stars!

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia introduces us to Eliza, a high school student that feels invisible and prefers it that way. Other students treat her like she’s weird and sometimes frightening. The only friends she has are Max and Emmy and she met them online when they noticed her art and story, Monstrous Sea. The two of them helped Eliza build her comic into a popular blog. This is the part of Eliza’s life that she enjoys. Eliza has a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side attitude. For example, She believes that college won’t have problems, such as the difficulty of finding a place to park. Little does she know that’s usually one of the main complaints about college: jam packed parking lots. Wallace, a new student, and Eliza discover that they both like Monstrous Sea. This starts a friendship between the two of them. Wallace shares his past with Eliza and she feels that she needs to let him know she’s the creator of Monstrous Sea. Then her parents tell her story about her hard work on Monstrous Sea, not realizing how letting the secret out will affect Eliza. Her life seems to come crashing down around her! Eliza must work through everything so she can live her life without anxiety and she has a tough time with it. Realistic fiction with imperfect, lovable and relatable characters-4 stars!

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson. Ruby and her mother are barely surviving after the loss of Anton, Ruby’s brother. Their grief is overwhelming and Ruby blames herself for what happened to Anton. She meets a unique young man and meets his “family”. His name is Fox and he lives in a sort of commune. Ruby goes with Fox to the Outreach building and she decides that she wants to learn more, so she attends the secret Institute and gets more than she bargained for. Any disobedience and you’re thrown in a cell-type room with no food or water for days until you are “elutriated” according to the leader who claims he’s the Daddy of all. Boundless Sublime frightens with its suspense and feelings of entrapment. As the synopsis states, this book is an “immersive thriller”, eye-opening as well as heartbreaking, with its tale of manipulation and a cult-like community led by a charlatan. 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi

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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi. A descriptive and instructional book of the Five Pillars of Ikigai. These five pillars involve starting small, releasing yourself, harmony and sustainability, the joy of small things and being in the here and now and can lead anyone into a more enjoyable, fulfilling life. The five pillars or principles of Ikigai remind us to begin at the beginning and don’t expect perfection immediately but continue to strive for perfection in all that we do. The principles also help us keep our focus on the joy of living in each and every day. Balance or harmony is also important and living each moment fully instead of rushing through our lives is a key to Ikigai. Peaceful and inspiring, Awakening Your Ikigai is easy to understand and follow to bring true and pure happiness into our lives. 4 stars.

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!

You Won’t Know I’m Gone by Kristen Orlando

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You Won’t Know I’m Gone, by Kristen Orlando, opens six months after the first book in this series ends. Reagan has now dedicated herself completely to becoming a Black Angel. She’s determined to seek revenge on Torres after he shot and killed her mother right in front of her. Reagan has to work extra hard to attend qualifying training because she’s lost weight and practice since her mother has been gone. During qualifying, Reagan realizes many things about herself as she matures and can actually be her true self, since she doesn’t have to keep her identity hidden. For the first time in her life she’s not keeping secrets from her friends, at least the friends she has in training. Reagan struggles with her all-out focus on revenge for her mother’s death. She sees how it’s hurting the people she cares about and possibly her chances of becoming a Black Angel, but she can’t seem to help curb her desire for revenge. Action-packed, adventurous and worth 5 stars!

You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando

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You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando is fun, action packed and adventurous. Reagan has been trained to be a Black Angel agent, like her parents are, since she was very young. Black Angels are secret agents and, as the book opens, a hitman breaks into Reagan’s home to kill her and her parents. After the hitman is dispersed, Reagan and her parents need to move for their safety once again. In their new house, Reagan finds friendship and a possible boyfriend that she feels completely comfortable with but with becoming an agent looming in her future, she knows that the relationship is doomed and she’s determined to hurt Luke as little as possible. She sabotages their relationship soon after it starts, breaking Luke’s heart and her own. This book is full of action and suspense and I don’t want to give anything away! I read this young adult mystery quickly, enjoying every minute! 5 stars!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Adina takes music lessons from Arjun in his apartment. Arjun is twenty-five and Adina has a crush on him. She’s also fearful of her possibly life threatening genetic test results. Adina is being tested for the same disease that her mother suffers from. Tovah, Adina’s twin, will be taking the genetic test for Huntington’s disease also. Their mother was diagnosed four years ago and she struggles with the effects. The girls have Jewish heritage from their mother and while Tovah embraces it, Adina doesn’t. I like how Tovah explains why she believes God didn’t cause their mother to have Huntington’s disease: “God has limits, humans have free will, and the natural world isn’t ruled by a higher power”. So, in other words, God doesn’t make people have illnesses. The sisters seem to be complete opposites in everything they do and believe and with their actions and choices.
The story’s complexity deals with heritage, Huntington’s disease, twins with extreme differences, genetic testing, coming of age, sexuality, relationships, culture, religion and family. 4 STARS for this debut novel with a lot of depth!

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.