Wintersong and Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones

Wintersong review:

Suspenseful fantasy at its best!
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Wintersong by S. Jae Jones!
The beginning section, entitled Overture, beautifully explains the story of Elisabeth and the Goblin King. Elisabeth lives with her two siblings, mother, father and grandmother running an inn for their living. Papa drinks too much and that leaves Mother to take care of everything and everyone, with Elisabeth’s help. Josef is the youngest and musically talented. He plays the violin with Elisabeth as his accompaniment. She composes music and plays the piano while Josef helps bring her music to life with his violin. Kathe is the middle child, with beauty and a happy, bright demeanor. Kathe is captured by the Goblin King and Elisabeth must find her before the next full moon or all is lost. Little does Elisabeth know how much she must sacrifice if she’s truly going to save her sister. Suspenseful fantasy at its best, 5 stars!

Shadowsong review:

Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones!
At the onset, the author warns about content being possibly triggering due to the addressing of the issues of self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviors and suicidal ideation. Resources are also given to help. These issues have been a part of the author’s life and reality. This has given her a true understanding of these topics.
The characters reveal themselves in more than one way. Elisabeth, her brother Josef, sister Kathe and Francois, Josef’s accompaniest and friend, travel to Venice after being summoned by an unknown benefactor. The story takes place during the height of classical music. The family has a curse that some call insanity. They see goblins, the Goblin King and kingdom. The siblings are separated by the benefactors, the Count and Countess take Elisabeth and Josef to Snovin Hall for their safety while Kathe and Francois are sent away. Both parties don’t know what has happened to the other pair and are deeply concerned for them. I love the story of the wheelwright, with his loss, supposed madness and death. Beautiful writing that truly showcases the author’s work. Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters make this story interesting and the dark danger makes it exciting. 5 stars!

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!

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

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Little Boy Lost by J. D. Trafford tells the story of a lawyer, Justin Glass, who is down on his luck, gets a visit from a young girl looking for her missing brother, willing to pay for his help with a jar full of change. He asks around and eventually discovers that the missing brother is part of a mass grave full of many murdered young men. All of the victims were criminals in one way or another and the perpetrator seems like he could be some sort of vigilante. In the meantime, Justin gets an awesome paralegal, Emma. She’s from Bosnia and was a certified lawyer there. Since she knows about the legal system, she gets Justin and his office in tip top shape.
While helping with this case, he’s dealing with being a single parent and feeling helpless when he discovers that his daughter is being bullied. Dealing with the murder case, he seems to be doing more investigating than the law enforcement is. With the help of his paralegal and her close-by relatives, Justin Glass is able to solve the mystery but this puts his life in danger also. A strong cast of characters and a suspenseful mystery that tugs at the heartstrings, 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!

Burning Bright by Chris Cannon

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The World of Bryn!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Burning Bright by Chris Cannon! Bryn’s story opens three months after the tumultuous events of the last book of the Going Down in Flames series. She’s had the summer break to be proper and forge ahead without anytime to mourn or recuperate since she’s had to spend the whole time with her stoic grandparents. Now Bryn’s returning to school with her friends, Clint and Ivy and Jaxon, her betrothed. As the school year moves forward, a weird and creepy set of attacks occurs, leaving everyone untrusting of each other and scared to go anywhere alone. I appreciate how easily the author brought the world and story background up to speed in Burning Bright because my memory was refreshed like I had just recently read the first four books of the series, even though it has been a while. I enjoy Bryn and her relationship with Clint and Ivy and how they work so well together, personality wise and with loyalty. It’s fun being in Bryn’s world again! 4 stars for the good story; I just felt like the ending flew by too quickly.

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

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Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins and Harper Teen continues right after the demons almost caught the group of Nephilim on the island. The demons are discussing traitors and set up a demon meeting. They suspect Anna and her father of rebellion and plan to take them down. She is constantly running to keep safe. Kaidan is sent by the demons to take care of Anna and if he doesn’t, they will kill him. The only way they can be safe together and keep Anna righteous for the sword, is by getting married. The rebellion Nephilim become closer and become true, loyal friends while they help each other survive. Everything comes to a head and suspense and intensity build as the rebels find out who’s on their side and who’s against them. 5 stars for the touching end to the Sweet Evil trilogy!

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.

Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

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A must read for anyone who enjoys suspense!
Thanks to Razorbill and Bookish First for the ARC of Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson!
Gabe and Elyse alternate in telling the story. Gabe is tired of his toxic girlfriend and finally breaks off their relationship, but she vows to make him pay. Elyse surprises herself by landing the part of Juliet in the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Gabe is reeling from Sasha’s, his ex-girlfriend’s, actions while Elyse is struggling with her home life. The two main characters both end up feeling defeated and alone. Jennifer Donaldson weaves a mysterious story with pure intensity around interesting characters! I don’t want to give anything away. I will just say this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys suspenseful young adult realistic fiction and it earns a riveting 5 stars from me!

Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Summer Of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix!
I love the color coordinated cover that matches the title perfectly! Avery is a spoiled, entitled teenager whose father is forcing her to travel to Spain with him for his business trip during her summer vacation. He wants Avery to have a companion so she’s not lonely on the trip. He chooses a girl from her childhood playmates, Kayla. Avery hasn’t spent time with Kayla in years, so things are awkward and uncomfortable. Kayla does her best to get out of her comfort zone and explore the area where they’re staying. Avery pouts and is a party pooper but she’s in for a few shocks that she’s not remotely prepared for. I enjoyed learning about historical sites and the memorials discussed and seeing how Avery and Kayla reacted to them. This book also addresses controversial issues and explains and explores both sides of these issues. Intelligent and eye-opening, Summer of Broken Things is a thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults-4 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!