Once again 17yo Enola becomes inadvertently involved in a mystery when a customer asks for help from the new false identity she’s using, Dr. Ragostin. This new London mystery is a missing man who was bitten by a rabid dog. His sister Caroline and best friend Rudyard Kipling ask for help in finding him. Enola throws herself into the search and comes across strange characters, a strong leader and an odd group with the mark of the mongoose. She’s determined to find the missing man no matter how much danger she puts herself in.
Likes/dislikes: I like how the author ties history into the fictional Enola Holmes’ stories. The author states what’s true history and what’s fictional in the ending notes. I enjoy Enola’s perseverance, bravery, and generosity. Mature content: none Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG for fighting. Ethnicity: Predominantly white.
Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Pippa and Gabe have been married for seven years and have two girls that are both four years old. They see a woman walking by the cliff edge near their home and Gabe rushes out to talk to her and keep her from jumping in case she’s feeling suicidal. He has saved several people before but this woman, Amanda, falls off the cliff. Pippa wonders why Gabe had his arms out and palms forward as she fell and questions whether or not he pushed her. The story gradually unravels the mystery behind Gabe, Pippa, Amanda and her husband Max. Mental illness and unsure circumstances create uncertainty in Pippa’s marriage but she and Gabe stay honest with each other through it all. I didn’t become invested in the main characters Gabe and Pippa as much as I cared about Max and Amanda. Abrupt transitions made it difficult for me to love this book. The best parts are with Amanda because there’s suspense involved in her story. 4 stars!
Charlize is looking for her older brother, 18 year old Cisco, who disappeared after infecting Raquel’s mom at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Cisco played a game that’s an urban myth and it backfired. Charlize, Raquel, 16, and her friend Aaron play the game to find Cisco. Twenty people have disappeared in the last year and no one has been able to get to the bottom of the problem but these three are determined to find and save Cisco so he can give information to help heal Raquel’s mom and stop the spread of infection. The game becomes creepy and brings the corruption of the past to light as the young people learn how residents were manipulated, used and pushed out of their Bronx homes. These teens have to work together to stop the corruption and save their families.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Bronx history and how it was used in the supernatural aspect of the story. The infection conveys the corruption in the community creatively. I like how Raquel, Aaron and Charlize work together and how the mystery becomes spooky quickly. Mature Content: PG-13 for high off edibles, nondescript kiss. Language: R for 85 swears and 23 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 mention of cannibalism, bloody unexplained death. Ethnicity: The ethnicities include Black, Dominicans, White, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican.
Horror with a touch of twisted humor that reminds me of Stephen King’s writing. When Louise receives the call from her brother Mark that their parents were in a fatal car crash, she flies home to take care of everything. What she walks into is nothing like she expected and a secret, that’s been held quiet for two generations, bursts their reality. Mark and Louise struggle with each other until they finally realize they need each other’s help to deal with the haunting of their family home. Interestingly creepy!
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
Chase, 17, is an overachieving senior in Meadowlark who struggles with depression to the point that she’s suppressing memories. She misses her ex-best friend and girlfriend, Lia, and she’s confused about why they’re not together or talking anymore. Little by little, as she’s looking to understand, she discovers that she’s been through trauma. Chase also learns that she does need to rely on others and she needs their help and support. The truth will help her heal or completely break her. This story is a mystery tied into the trauma and overwhelming stress of two high school students, 4 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The unraveling of the mystery surrounding Chase and Lia is very interesting. The author includes a resource list for anyone needing help or knowing someone who needs help for suicide or mental health struggles. I appreciate Chase’s honesty and the sisterly bond she has with her younger sister.
Mature Content: PG-13 for underage prescription drug addiction (Focentra/Adderall), thoughts of suicide, lingering kiss, suicide by drowning. Language: R for 43 swears and 84 f-bombs. Violence: PG for suicide by drowning. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with Korean, Italian American, White, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Dutch and French.
In Tigang, Narra wants her mother to stay home but she insists on going to the capital to confess that she kept her marked daughter alive even when the law stated she must die. Narra is the marked daughter because of the birthmarks on her neck, which people believe makes her cursed. Her mother is imprisoned and Narra enters the competition that takes place every ten years to find a new ruler. She wants to win the competition so she can rescue her mother. Narra enters the trials with no magic, no weapons and no help. It takes all of her willpower and wits to get through it all.
Likes/dislikes: The vocabulary in the world building and introduction of characters gets confusing but it makes more sense as the story goes on. The story felt disjointed because of the competition, the past lives and the magic not necessarily blending well together. I did like Narra, the main character, and her companions, Virian and Dayen, and how they worked together and helped each other.
Mature content: PG for brief kissing Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG for cuts on palms of hands as a gift of blood to begin a ceremony and a nondescript beheading. Ethnicity: The ethnicity is mixed with the following: olive skin, brown skin, deep russet skin, dark Tigangi skin, and dark brown skin.
Declan hurts his shoulder by climbing where there’s a “no climbing” sign and it takes his future away. He needs surgery and physical therapy to heal and in the meantime he has an angry attitude. He pushes his friends away and joins a hate group that promotes propaganda and conspiracy theories about cultures that aren’t predominantly white, focusing especially on Jewish people. He’s happily blaming others for his problems and being fed propaganda by his “new friends” and he’s taking it too far by willingly participating in hate crimes. When Declan’s lifelong friend is threatened, he has to make the choice to harm or protect.
Likes/dislikes: Declan was whiny and ungrateful even though the accident was because he made the choice to do something negligent. I enjoyed the history class discussion about different cultures and evaluating online sources. The author approached hate groups from an insider’s perspective from both sides. Mature content: G for nondescriptive kissing Violence: PG for undescribed phone threats from a hate group, vandalism, bomb threat. Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs. Ethnicity: mixed
Em wakes up on Valentine’s Day excited to celebrate with her boyfriend Josh. Her day goes horribly in so many ways that she’s relieved to have it end but she wakes up the next morning and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. This happens several times and she finally decides to not care about anything and has a great day doing whatever she feels like. She pulls her chemistry lab partner along for the day and they have such a great time that she doesn’t want this Valentine’s Day to end. When she wakes up the next morning expecting to have to relive another Valentine’s Day, she has a lot of repercussions to deal with! 5 stars for a thoroughly entertaining story!