Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

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Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

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Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 5 stars!

Scream All Night by Derek Milman

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Scream All Night by Derek Milman tells the story of emancipated seventeen-year-old Dario, who goes back home for his elderly father’s live funeral. Within the first chapter, Dario gets an odd call from his brother Oren, receives an invitation from an old friend Hayley, attends a party/live funeral for his father, talks to his father then watches an accidental explosion, taking his father with it- all with a sad, dry, dysfunctional humor! Characters are introduced and the will is read, leaving Dario in charge of his father’s movie studio. Moldavia Studios encompasses the mansion and the property surrounding it and that’s where the movie making has taken place. The story gets stuck on how badly the studios have been losing money and Oren’s failures and psychedelic tendencies, which slow down the book tremendously and there’s really no horror involved, even though the synopsis stated otherwise. 3 stars for the imaginative setting!

Echoes by Alice Reeds

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Twists and a cliffhanger ending = riveting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Echoes by Alice Reeds.
The book opens on a flight that goes terribly wrong, landing two known survivors on an island. The story then alternates from the island setting to previous events before the crash. Fiona is on a scholarship while attending a private school, she excels in kickboxing and has dyed blue hair. Miles is a rich kid, attends the same school as Fiona and has a wonderful academic record. The two of them have been invited to Berlin for an internship at Briola Pharmaceutical. When they arrive at the supposed address of the Briola Pharmaceutical Factory, all they find is a rundown warehouse. They also discover, through researching, that there’s no record of who reserved their hotel room or the Briola company website and the company itself doesn’t exist, even though it was all online twenty-four hours ago. Now Miles and Fiona are on their own. I assumed that the island segments happened after the Berlin parts of the story, but that’s supposedly not the case. While on the island, Fiona and Miles find evidence of the two of them being in Berlin, but neither one of them has any memories of it. All they know, in both settings, is that someone means to cause them harm and completely isolate the two of them from everyone and everything else. The danger grows and the mystery continues to the very end of the book, where another twist appears, which isn’t the end of Miles’ and Fiona’s ordeal. The mystery kept me riveted, 5 stars!

And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken opens with Ruby and how she is now with the Children’s League, helping them free someone from prison. That someone turns out to be Liam, or so Ruby thinks. It’s actually Liam’s brother, Cole. The League sends Ruby on a mission to find a flash drive containing information that can help with IAAN, the “disease” that caused death to many children and gave abilities to the survivors. Cole accidentally gave the flash drive to Liam and so they began the hunt for him. When Ruby finds Liam, she’s not alone. She’s with Jude, Vida and Chubs. They make an interesting group with their strong mix of personalities and their banter. When they do find Liam, he’s dying from pneumonia. Liam also feels a strong connection to Ruby that he can’t understand, since she wiped herself from his memories the last time she was with him, thinking that would keep Liam safe. With one surprise after another, this book doesn’t disappoint! Action, adventure, twists, dark humor and a thick plot make this a riveting dystopian! 5 stars!

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Friendship, loyalty and danger sum up The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. The story dives right in to the intensity with action and mystery. Many children die while some live. Ruby and several other children are shipped off to Thurmond, a guarded facility meant to contain the children that survived. These children are dangerous and, in bits, we learn why. Ruby is rescued by a league that supposedly helps these children but when Ruby sees the memories of one of the rescuers, she realizes that he’s a killer. She runs and ends up with a small group on the run also-Liam, Chubs and Suzume. They’re trying to find someone known as the Slip Kid, a supposedly great and elusive leader who helps get kids back with their families. The small group finally finds Slip Kid and becomes part of his group. Little do they know what lies ahead for them. Friendship and loyalty are both strong components in Darkest Minds. This sci-fi dystopian is filled with danger, action and suspense, 5 stars!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas is a book full of celebration and healing. Fun and lighthearted sums up the majority of this book, with the Solstice celebration and its traditions and the jovial manner of the way the Night Court members treat one another. I laughed at the snowball fight scene because I thought it was adorable and funny! Backstories are shared, which helps us understand the characters at a deeper level, with a sneak peek of the next book included at the end. 5 stars for this fun addition to A Court of Thorns and Roses series!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 stars!

 

Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Watching You by Shannon Greenland. Viola is attending Ponce de Leon Academy because she’s been awarded a scholarship, a scholarship that someone else was relying on since he’s been the recipient for the past three years. Now Riel is a senior with no way to pay for school. Viola is grateful for the chance to attend the academy with its connection to MIT, where she’s dreamed of going as long as she can remember. She comes from a not-so-good background and she wants to change things and make everything better for her family. The story is told from Viola’s point of view with a creepy stalker speaking every so often. The pace picks up and the background is set, while the characters grow more interesting and intriguing. At first, Viola comes across as whiny, but the more I got to know her, the more I liked her and could understand her reasoning. I appreciate Viola’s perseverance and Riel’s strength and his dedication to his younger sister. The underlying message of how hard work and goals are important in becoming successful reminds readers that work ethic is a wonderful thing. This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages, 4 stars!