Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

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Mutating virus on the rampage!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Plague Land by Alex Scarrow.
A fast-moving, fast-killing virus is spreading across the globe while some governments are hiding the fact and scientists are scurrying to understand and overcome the virus. Leon, his sister and mother are traveling by train to his grandparents’ house when the virus hits. Several people on the train are infected and die, so when daylight comes, they travel outdoors and watch for the telltale flakes of the virus. Two of their group get touched by the virus and by the time they reach a barn for shelter, they show signs of the virus and die in front of their eyes. The virus continues to evolve and grow into larger organisms that fight even harder for survival. The author creates intense imagery and a frightening sense of loneliness and destruction. Creepy dystopian, 4 stars!

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

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A pirating adventure full of dynamic characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Blink for the opportunity to read and review A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.
This story introduces the daughter of King Midas, Princess Kora, who has seen the bad end of “the curse of the golden touch” which was given to her father by Dionysus. Her skin is the color of gold and she’s been kept hidden for her protection since the curse. Someone steals the king’s gold, the gold that gives him strength. Kora can sense where the gold is, so she sets off on a mission with Duke Aris to retrieve the gold and help her father gain his strength back. Kora’s cousin Hettie sneaks on board for the trip only to be disheartened when she discovers how the ship’s living conditions are unlike the palace’s. Aris has gotten the crew that he’s sailed with for years but things seem to be changing and the crew might not be trustworthy anymore. As their search for the gold continues, Kora and Hettie adapt to life on the ship, while training for sword fighting and gaining friendships. The two of them soon discover who they can and can’t trust. The crew also sees the true horror that Captain Skulls encompasses, with dire circumstances. Touch of Gold is a pirating adventure with originality and dynamic characters, 5 stars!

#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

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Horror with a bit of humor!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Murder Trending by Gretchen McNeil!
Government-sanctioned serial killers entertain citizens on The Postman app, which shows them hunting and killing convicts. A seventeen-year-old has been convicted of killing her stepsister. This teen’s name is Dee and she says she’s innocent. After the trial, Dee woke up on Alcatraz Island in a cell that reminded her of when she’d been kidnapped as an eleven-year-old. She has no recollection of the time between her trial and waking up in a cell on Alcatraz Island. The back and forth telling of the kidnapping and Alcatraz Island was difficult to follow for a while, but I kept reading and the story did get better. The characters grew on me and the unique plot and setting drew my interest. With some twists and turns and a bit of humor, #Murdertrending is entertaining, 4 stars!

Neverwake by Amy Plum

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Never Wake by Amy Plum, the sequel to Dreamfall, starts right where the first book left off. Dreamfall ended with the documented knowledge that one of the teens is a psychopath. The intensity is amplified and the suspense keeps building! The dream state is lasting longer and the void is shortening, so the teens are inside nightmares longer each time and their rest time will eventually disappear. They’re already struggling to survive while the nightmares become more dangerous. The intern observing the trial keeps taking detailed notes and she’s noticed the changes and believes the patients are dreaming and she’s trying to convince the researchers. She was also able to warn Fergus about one of the teens being a psychopath, but he fell back asleep before she stated the psychopath’s name. Neverwake’s intensity kept me glued to the book and this young adult horror full of unique, interesting characters earns 5 stars!

Dreamfall by Amy Plum

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Dream Fall by Amy Plum involves a group of teenagers suffering from insomnia. They meet for the introduction of a medical treatment that’s supposed to help them all get full nights of sleep. This is a medical trial for these seven teenagers who are in the second batch of testing, the betas. One person, the alpha, has been successful with the treatment already. After the seven reach the dream state, there’s a power bump which causes them to enter a comatose state, according to the research doctors. But the teenagers are actually stuck in a horrifying dream world together. One by one, the dreaming teenagers realize that they are together in a combined dream state. None of them can remember the medical trial or any other short term happenings. While the teens sleep on, the doctors over the trial frantically try to fix their comatose state. As the group moves through each other’s nightmares, they began to recall where they are. The danger keeps increasing and death becomes all too real. The ending is a cliffhanger and the scariest part of the story. 4 stars for this young adult horror story!

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

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Touching realistic fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 5 stars!

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!

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!