Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

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Sad, harsh, funny and enlightening all at the same time!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan. After reading the synopsis, I thought the story would be harsh and depressing. It’s both of those with a bit of humor added into the mix. It’s almost a desperation humor and a way for the main character, Ronney to deal with his rough life. He’s fifteen and pretty much like a parent to his younger sister Mina, who’s extremely smart. Their mother holds a job and brings home a paycheck but she’s deeply depressed. Their father flubbed a suicide attempt and only has use of one of his arms. He’s depressed and mostly hangs out in his bedroom. Ronney helps with home repairs and his little sister’s homework. He’s in love with his best friend but she’s dating his other best friend, Jello. Ronney’s life is full of complications and he’s barely dealing. The zoo animals are set loose and Jello wants to safari and do a photo shoot with all of the loose animals he can find. This adds comic relief to the story and also danger. The story is sad, harsh, enlightening and funny all at the same time, 4 stars!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

A reading delicacy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf!
The story opens with three damsels meeting the King, Queen and Prince Lucien as they are tested to become a possible new addition to the royal palace in the form of a bride for Prince Lucien. Zera is one of these supposed damsels, but she’s actually indebted to the witch, Nightsinger, who took her heart in exchange for saving her life three years ago from the murderers who killed Zera’s family. Nightsinger has two others indebted to her,Peligli , a four year old girl and Crav, a boy younger than Zera. The three of them are Nightsinger’s Heartless and they do her bidding. She keeps their hearts until she wants to free them herself. If she dies, they will be free then too. Zera is supposed to be winning the Prince over so she can take his heart and make him a Heartless also. I love Zera with her coping skills and sense of humor and Prince Lucien is interesting too. I enjoy Sara Wolf’s writing style, with the clever wit that keeps me entertained and the complexity of her characters that always make her stories hard to put down. This is the first fantasy from Sara Wolf that I’ve read and I’m greatly impressed. Just as the author dreamed of writing a grand, sweeping and unforgettable fantasy trilogy, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the beginning of it. The action, adventure and dynamic characters make a must-read fantasy, 5 stars!

 

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Starry Eyes is a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett!
Zorie and Lennon are neighbors at home and work. They also used to be best friends until family problems and drama got in the way. A teen group camping trip, which is supposed to be fun and not exactly “roughing it “, turns out dangerous with Lennon and Zorie stranded. Luckily, they’re both smart enough to help each other and work together to try to make it back to civilization. The two teenagers finally get the opportunity they need to talk and work out their relationship. Humor lightens the drama and Lennon and Zorie have interesting personalities that make Starry Eyes a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults. 5 stars!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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A charming book about relationships!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi! Penny lives with her single mother and every neighborhood man seems to hover around her. This embarrasses Penny to no end. Sam lives where he works, literally, and he absolutely loves to bake. Sam’s ex-girlfriend shows up to tell him she might be pregnant and that information knocks him over. By chance, Sam and Penny meet and through an unfortunate panic attack, they become friends. I enjoyed their relaxed friendship and their humor. Both Penny and Sam have family issues and other things they need to figure out. Emergency Contact shares their stories, with all the ups and downs, the good and bad and builds a charming book about relationships in the process. 5 stars!

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

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Wonderfully informative and humorous guide to Meditation.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. I chuckled at the Table of Contents and how accurate the section and chapter titles were when applied to human nature. Some of the headings are “I Don’t Have Time for This”, “If I Get Too Happy, I’ll Lose My Edge” and “People Might Think I’m Weird”. So great and opens up the path for humor in its pages. I was excited to discover the app that accompanies the instructional meditation given in this book. The commentary is full of humor and deals with thoughts that swirl through our minds as we try to relax and meditate. Short and easily doable meditations are introduced along with helpful, concise cheat sheets. I love the “RAIN”, “Walking Through Sound” and “Ten Good Breaths”! This quote captures the true essence of this practical and useful book, “Meditation is basically the end of boredom.” I was surprised and disturbed by the results of the study “Pandora’s Box” where people were left alone in a room with no stimulus, except a button that produced an electric shock. Many of the participants chose to give themselves electric shocks because of their discomfort of being quietly alone. Wonderfully informative instructional guide on meditation for anyone who wants to try but is skeptical of meditating, 5 stars!

Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

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An all-around good read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts! Laurel wants to spend more time with her father, so she convinces him to let her work at his company for the summer. Her job is to monitor and assist five interns vying for a one hundred thousand dollar scholarship from Emergent, her father’s company. Laurel is also supposed to get to know the interns well enough that she can make the deciding vote for the scholarship. She’s anxious about her assistant position and she’s worried about what the interns will think of her. The summer job becomes more than she bargained for and turns into a roller coaster of events and stress for Laurel, the interns and the entire company. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, their differences and their complexities. This book contains adventure, intrigue, humor, loyalty, compassion and friendship. The added fun of fandom and Comic Con will make all nerdy readers giddy. The characters are relatable and show depth and Spies, Lies and Allies is an all-around good read- 5 stars!

Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story by Lisa Brown Roberts:

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

 

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

 

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

 

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/spies-lies-and-allies-a-love-story.html

 

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.  

Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LBROWNROBERTS

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Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts

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Excerpt from Spies, Lies, and Allies:

“Let’s see where helping me on my project falls on this list.” Carlos picks up a pen and clicks it, eyeing me from underneath ridiculously long lashes.

Cautiously, I take a tiny step toward his desk so I can read the list.

“Number three.” I point to the napkin. “Teamwork.”

He nods and underlines the word. I notice he’s added numbers six through ten. Nothing is written next to those numbers, except for ten, next to which he’s drawn a smiley face.

“What’s that for?” I point to the smiley face. He leans back in his desk chair and grins up at me.

“Not sure yet.”

My heart throbs in my chest and my imagination is off and running, fantasizing about number ten.

Carlos points to number five: nicknames. “I think this is where we left off at lunch.” He clicks his pen repeatedly and I resist the urge to snatch it out of his hand. “I’d prefer not to be nicknamed for a pasta, but I gave you a cereal nickname, so…” He shrugs but keeps his eyes on mine.

“I…pasta…what?” He’s not making sense.

He bites his bottom lip, and I have no trouble picturing what will make me “smiley face” if we ever make it to number ten. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a mind reader because his gaze drifts down to my lips, then back up to my eyes.

“The Manicotti. Who is it?” He glances across the room. “Elijah? He can be sort of cheesy.”

My mind analyzes his words, sliding them around like one of those puzzles where you have to move a string through twisted metal. And then it clicks.

“You read my notebook! You’re the one who—” Panic zings through me as I remember what I wrote about him, Carlos is trouble, and his editorial comment, True. Is Carlos adorable?

Apparently I’m not the only spy around here.

“Why’d you pick this desk?” I’m desperate to change the subject.

“I like the view.”

“But it’s better by the windows.”

“Depends on which view we’re talking about.” He gives me a cryptic smile, one that makes my stomach dip. “Anyway, I saved your notebook. You’re lucky no one else read your notes.”

Mortified and defiant, I cross my arms over my chest. “You didn’t have to read it. You could’ve just returned it.”

“I was just checking to make sure you’d listed all of Mr. Mantoni’s rules.”

“Uh huh.”

Across the room, Elijah stands up and stretches. He glances at us, an amused smirk twisting his lips like he knows something I don’t.

Carlos writes on the napkin again. Number six: healthy disagreement.

“You’re kidding, right?”

His responding grin packs more heat than it should.

“I think we’ve gone off track.” I’m proud of how calm I sound, even though my nerve endings are exploding like firecrackers.