Release by Patrick Ness

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I received Release by Patrick Ness through a Goodreads giveaway! Adam is plugging along until he can be on his own in one more year, when he graduates high school and can leave his small town. A strict family and a priest father with a lot of rules make him feel suffocated at times. His perfect brother, Marty, shocks Adam with the news that he got a woman pregnant and she’s not the girlfriend the family knows. Everything is changing and it seems to be happening all in the span of one day. This book contains graphic sexual content and belongs in LGBT and new adult genres, to make the reader aware. The characters are realistic with realistic problems and faults. The story comes full circle and I can see it helping readers deal with acceptance. I never truly understood the ghost part of the story other than making a point with the title. 4 stars for a well-written book with a punch.

The Border by Steve Schafer

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I was asked by the author, through Goodreads, if I would like to read and review his book, The Border by Steve Schafer. I found the synopsis interesting and decided I wanted to check into it and I am very happy that I did! The Border begins with a great introduction containing action and intense suspense and tragedy. This is an excellent book, earning a 5 star rating from me, and I couldn’t put it down. I needed time to process all of the story’s events before writing a review because the story felt intensely realistic and the dynamic characters are complex and original and touched my heart and mind. The story also shows humor in the face of death, with greed making terrible events even worse. I’m definitely purchasing this book for the library when it’s available on September 5, 2017! The author created a fictional tale and characters based on the struggles that real people have gone through and he did this beautifully! I know students whose family members have crossed the Mexican/American border and some that have done this themselves. The story opens with an innocent quinceanera with neighbors, family members and friends attending. The fun lasts for moments before tragedy strikes in the form of gang members and guns. We have all heard about the violence and drug wars and poverty in Mexico. The Border opened my eyes to these problems with clarity and empathy. Four teenagers survive the shooting and run for their lives because a gunman spotted them. The story deals with their loss of the lives they have grown up in and the difficult trek they embark on to find safety. Their journey is in no way easy and they learn to rely on each other. Heartbreaking, educational and interesting realistic fiction story worthy of 5 stars! Highly recommended!

Legion by Julie Kagawa

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review the fourth book in the Talon Saga, Legion by Julie Kagawa!  This is a perfect addition to the already popular Talon, Rogue and Soldier books with just as much action, intrigue, romance and suspense!

Each of the books in the Talon Saga are told from a different character’s point of view. Talon is told in Ember’s point of view, Rogue is in Riley’s and Soldier is told in Garret’s point of view. Legion brings back all of the main characters and their points of view, including Dante’s. Dante is Ember’s brother and has been loyal to the dragon rule all  along because he believes he will be the dragon in power someday.  At first, he wanted to help his sister succeed and only cared about pleasing their instructors and taking care of her.  Then he had an epiphany about the position of power he could be in someday.  This changed his entire perspective. The strong, dynamic characters are worth cheering for while the tension builds in this addition to the Talon saga. I didn’t see the specific conflict coming and was shocked and appalled at the Elder Wyrm’s use for Ember Hill!  This book is as amazing as the rest of the series and is suspenseful and intriguing with new mysteries springing up and adding to the un-put-down-ability of the story. 5 stars for characters I love and the building anticipation!  I am already anxious for the fifth book in this series and I plan on a complete re-read when the entire series is complete!

The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read and review The Fallen Kingdom, book three in The Falconer trilogy by Elizabeth May! Derrick, Kam’s pixie friend, continues to give comic relief to the dire circumstances of the fae and human realms. Kam comes to life without any knowledge or memories of who she is or was. She’s lost and wanders until Derrick finds her. The overwhelming power that has been given to Kam makes her angry and extremely strong. So angry that she harms Derrick. Kam’s memories return and she learns about a book that can alter time and reverse all of the violence, destruction and killing that has occurred. She wants to bring her mother back and all the people that have lost their lives during the fae battles. No matter what choice she makes, Kam will lose someone. Complex characters, complete world building and a roller coaster of emotions make me love this fantasy steampunk series – 5 stars!

Nemesis by Anna Banks

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for the opportunity to read and review Nemesis by Anna Banks! Sepora has escaped her kingdom with the help of her mother and her pet, whom she loves very much. In a neighboring kingdom, Tarik has been honored as he takes over the role of king when his father gets sick, deteriorates quickly and dies. This story is told in two points of view featuring Sepora as one and Tarik as the other. Sepora and Tarik alternate consistently throughout the book. I like this switching between the two because it gives insight into both of their thoughts and perspectives.

Sepora is captured then sold as a concubine in Tarik’s harem, which he never visits. She escapes and seeks an audience with Tarik and being amused by Sepora, he makes her an assistant. She’s a handful for Tarik and he’s not sure how to deal with her because he enjoys her and learns a lot from her, but he is expected to punish her actions by his peers and subjects. Told in beautiful prose, Nemesis weaves romance, intrigue and a unique story into a new and fantastic world, 5 stars! I’m looking forward to the sequel, Ally coming out Fall 2017!

The Sun is Also a Star

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon became a wonderful surprise as I read the book! The story tells us about Natasha and Daniel. Two teenagers with completely different lives and backgrounds. Natasha is originally from Jamaica and her family is supposed to be deported soon. Daniel is Korean American and writes poetry, but his parents want and expect him to be a doctor, whether he wants to or not. The book introduces readers to several strangers and gives us insight into their lives. Historical and scientific snippets are also shared. An Interesting story line that really makes me think of how one person or one moment can affect someone. Some swearing, but it’s not overpowering and fits in with the story. I laughed, I cried and I related to so many parts of the story told in The Sun is Also a Star – 5 stars!

Overdrive by Dawn Ius

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“Received an advance reader copy for a fair review.”

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Overdrive by Dawn Ius! Julia, a teenage car thief living in a foster home with her ten year-old little sister, is busted during a car grab. Julia has been trying to become independent enough to raise her sister, Emma, on her own. She does not want to be separated from Emma and will do whatever it takes for them to stay together. I admire Julia because she loves her sister tremendously and by choice, wants to take care of her. Roger Montgomery wants to give Julia and Emma a place to live. Julia is suspicious, but feels like she has run out of options. A “Gone in Sixty Seconds” young adult story involving teenage foster kids and all the thrills and car chases as the movie. Eleanor, the amazing Mustang from the “Gone in Sixty Seconds” movie, even has a cameo appearance! Since I am a fan of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed this! It takes a while for the foster teenagers to mesh and get along, but after Roger tells them his secret, they get to know each other better and work well together. Roger seems a bit strange and the teenagers are cautious around him and unsure of his intentions. The teenagers figure out Roger’s secret and things change dramatically after that. Overdrive gets a 4 star rating because of its complex emotions, teamwork and the thrill of the chase!

Irena’s Children: Young Reader’s Edition

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books for the arc of Irena’s Children (Young Reader’s Edition) by Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies and the bravery it took to save innocent children during the Holocaust! 4 stars.

Forget Tomorrow

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Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn has such a beautiful cover that I immediately wanted to read the book! This dystopian story involves future memories, a confusing concept that Pintip Dunn clarifies well with her writing skills. Relying completely on a memory from the future to dictate my life would make me feel trapped. When Callie receives her memory, her entire world falls into turmoil. Unsure of Logan’s intentions and wary of the people around her, she doesn’t know who she can trust. Logan helps Callie escape after she has been placed in Limbo. Since she can’t swim, Logan continues on the journey with her to get her to safety. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking, “just kiss each other already!” Logan and Callie make it to safety, the Harmony compound, and meet several people who are afraid to enjoy their lives because they are worried about their future memories coming true. Callie heads back home to save Jessa. She learns many secrets involving her family and the community. The cliffhanger ending is almost unbearable – 4 stars. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Remember Yesterday.

The Grisha Trilogy

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the start of the Grisha Trilogy about two orphans, Alina and Mal. Alina and Mal are being interviewed by Grisha as children, then the story jumps ahead to their young adulthood. Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is an assistant to a cartographer. The army is crossing The Fold, a place where monsters called Volcra live. Volcra attack and Mal and Alina protect each other. As the Volcra claw at her back, Alina lights up. She’s suspected of being a Sun Summoner and people will want her to light up The Fold so traveling can be safer and ports can be used once again. The Darkling takes Alina to Os Alta for her safety, her training and to serve the kingdom. Alina feels like she doesn’t fit into this life any better than her last dwelling and job as a mapmaker. She hasn’t seen Mal since she was taken to the palace. Alina has a revelation as a forgotten memory resurfaces. Alina’s power comes forth and as her power grows, it becomes easier for her to call upon and she learns who she can and cannot trust and who she truly loves. I like how the author has woven Russia into the story. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive author and her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, brought anxiety to my mind and tears to my eyes – 5 stars!

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha’s world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!

 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. The Apparat is supposedly caring for Alina, the Sun Summoner, while all of her allies have been accused of treason. The group escapes and goes in search of the Firebird, the third and last amplifier. Once again, Nikolai saves them and he brightens up everything with his clever wit and resilient personality. The elevator scenes made me laugh, with the great dialogue! The group fights the Darkling again and horrible things happen. The author brings the characters to life with her details and the development of Genya is impressive and creates empathy for her struggles and amazement for her bravery at the same time. The descriptive world building made me feel as though I was in the middle of the action. I could feel the air move as the Firebird flew by and my ears hurt with its screech. Unpredictable, suspenseful and touching in all the right ways – 5 stars!

I look forward to reading the Six of Crows Duology that is set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy!