Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach


Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach. Anastasia is still reeling from the hunt for her sister Keira and the whole orphan and kidnapping ordeals when she jumps right back into the action with her cohorts and a few new helpers. She’s struggling with being unable to truly trust anyone or their opinions or ideas and things within the group become frustrating and tense. The new experiences prove that Anastasia has a right to be untrusting as the intrigue piles up all around her! Twists, turns and shocks keep the story going as relationships are in turmoil and the floor seems to fall out from underneath everyone that’s part of the Dresden rebellion. Mystery turned spy novel turned double agent story rates 5 stars for the pure unpredictability!

About Lies that Bind:

What do you do when you learn your entire childhood was a lie?

Reeling from the truths uncovered while searching for her sister in Italy, Anastasia Phoenix is ready to call it quits with spies. The only way to stop being a pawn in their game is to remove herself from the board. But before she can leave her parents’ crimes behind her, tragedy strikes. No one is safe, not while Department D still exists.

Now, with help from her friends, Anastasia embarks on a dangerous plan to bring down an entire criminal empire. From a fire-filled festival in England to a lavish wedding in Rio de Janeiro, Anastasia is determined to confront the enemies who want to destroy her family. But even Marcus, the handsome bad boy who’s been there for her at every step, is connected to the deadly spy network. And the more she learns about Department D, the more she realizes the true danger might be coming from someone closer than she expects…


About Diana Rodriguez Wallach:

Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series, three young adult spy thrillers (Entangled Publishing, 2017, ’18, ‘19). The first book in the trilogy, Proof of Lies, was named by Paste Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best Young Adult Books for March 2017.” Bustle also listed her as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month 2017.” Additionally, she is the author of three award-winning young adult novels: Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books); as well as a YA short-story collection entitled Mirror, Mirror (Buzz Books, 2013).

She is an advisory board member for the Philly Spells Writing Center, a school-based Workshop Instructor for Mighty Writers in Philadelphia, and has been a Writing Instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth since 2015. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia.


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Excerpt from Lies that Bind:

“Mom and Dad are either dead or they abandoned us. I’m not sure which is worse,” I said bluntly. “But if they are alive, we don’t know how many people, how many lunatics, think we’re walking maps to their doorsteps. They’ll use us, and they’ll hurt us. Again.”

“Then we’ll stop looking for them.” Keira shrugged like it was easy. “Why do we need to go anywhere to do that?”

“Because everyone on that terrace is somehow connected to Department D, Marcus and Antonio especially!” I stared at the gray sky, aggravated. Did she think I wanted to do this? I was about to walk away from a guy I cared about because of our parents, because of things that they did. They committed crimes, they had an affair, and they put us in danger. All we could do now was survive. “As long as we’re linked to them, we’re not safe. Especially if Mom and Dad are alive. We have to go off the grid.”

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter


Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter. Leah is awaiting a heart transplant and in the meantime she’s being tutored and doing her schoolwork at home with her teachers’ help. Leah’s story (first person point of view) alternates with the (third person point of view) story of twins, Matt and Eric, who are still reeling from the loss of their father. One of the twins tutors Leah for extra credit on a day that the math teacher cannot make it. Leah is unsure which twin it is and confesses that she’s had a crush on Matt for years. I’m not sure how much time passes before Eric ends up dying in the hospital from a gunshot wound. Leah’s family receives a call from the hospital letting them know a heart is available for her transplant. She discovers that she’s received Eric’s heart and she keeps this information to herself. Eventually Leah and Matt talk about the transplant and how they’ve both been having dreams about Eric’s death and believe that it wasn’t suicide. In the dreams, they hear a voice other than Eric’s and they also see how Eric was running from something before he was shot. The mystery progresses and finally Detective Henderson sees proof of foul play. The main point of the book is to experience the process of needing a transplant, receiving one and learning to embrace life all over again. The author shares her family’s experiences with transplants at the end of the book. These experiences brought this story to life. 4 stars for the strength and perseverance shown by the main characters!

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick


Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick. The opening chapter spooked my thriller instinct while the second chapter was optimistic and lighthearted. Britt and Korbie are heading to the Wyoming mountains for spring break and on the way to Korbie’s family cabin the weather becomes dire. They leave their Jeep in search of shelter and find two young men in a cabin. Their spring break goes from fun and hopeful and from bad to worse. A whirlwind of events makes Black Ice a must-read mystery! For a book that contains less than 400 pages, it packs quite a punch! Becca Fitzpatrick weaves an engaging story full of suspense that doesn’t quit, characters that become more complex as the mystery unfolds and descriptions that immersed my imagination in the cold winter storms in the Teton Mountains, 5 intense stars!

The Darkest of Dreams by Emigh Cannaday


The Darkest of Dreams by Emigh Cannaday opens with the realization that Finn has been murdered by Talvi, his own brother. After Finn’s death, the Marinossian family is distraught and in turmoil because of the loss of Finn and Talvi’s murderous act. Talvi ends up in Bleakmoor Island Prison until his trial, while Annika is sent away from the Elven world for several reasons: her safety, secrecy and to help the Marinossian family heal. An enormous turn of events changes everything and the story unfolds while continuing to build character development and the world of the Marinossians. The beloved personalities return in this sequel and the character spectrum grows larger. Another Annika Brisby story full of suspense, danger, romance and magic. 5 stars!

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson


Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson. Ruby and her mother are barely surviving after the loss of Anton, Ruby’s brother. Their grief is overwhelming and Ruby blames herself for what happened to Anton. She meets a unique young man and meets his “family”. His name is Fox and he lives in a sort of commune. Ruby goes with Fox to the Outreach building and she decides that she wants to learn more, so she attends the secret Institute and gets more than she bargained for. Any disobedience and you’re thrown in a cell-type room with no food or water for days until you are “elutriated” according to the leader who claims he’s the Daddy of all. Boundless Sublime frightens with its suspense and feelings of entrapment. As the synopsis states, this book is an “immersive thriller”, eye-opening as well as heartbreaking, with its tale of manipulation and a cult-like community led by a charlatan. 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

A River of Silence by Susan Clayton-Goldner


A River of Silence by Susan Clayton Goldner-January 24. Detective Radhauser has been through enough tragedy personally and professionally to last a lifetime. He’s lost his wife and son in a car accident and has struggled with cases that he has taken to heart. He’s now married to Grace and they’re making a family of their own with love and happiness but he still deeply feels the loss of his first wife and their son. He’s called out around midnight to investigate a 911 call, where he helps a hearing impaired man administer CPR on a toddler, while waiting for the ambulance. The child ends up dying and Caleb Bryce, the man giving CPR, is arrested. The community seems to immediately believe that Bryce is guilty and he only has a few people who believe he’s innocent, the detective, his appointed lawyer and his elderly neighbor. This well-rounded mystery opened my eyes and heart and reminded me of how precious and fragile life is. The highly developed characters and their interwoven actions and personalities made this mystery an absolute want-to-read-through-in-one-sitting book, 5 stars!

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson


Thanks to Riveted Lit and Simon & Schuster for the chance to read The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson. Beautiful descriptions of all that Andrew senses bring the story instantly to life. The book description on Goodreads contained the statement, “partly graphic novel”, because the character, Andrew, creates a graphic novel about Patient F, a superhero. Andrew survived something tragic and hides out and lives in the hospital where his family members died. He makes friends with hospital workers and patients and he has an effect on each of them. He eventually has to face terms with hiding behind the fake persona he’s created when everything seems to be falling apart around him. Tastefully written and heart wrenching, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley ends with hope in sight, worth 5 stars!

You Won’t Know I’m Gone by Kristen Orlando


You Won’t Know I’m Gone, by Kristen Orlando, opens six months after the first book in this series ends. Reagan has now dedicated herself completely to becoming a Black Angel. She’s determined to seek revenge on Torres after he shot and killed her mother right in front of her. Reagan has to work extra hard to attend qualifying training because she’s lost weight and practice since her mother has been gone. During qualifying, Reagan realizes many things about herself as she matures and can actually be her true self, since she doesn’t have to keep her identity hidden. For the first time in her life she’s not keeping secrets from her friends, at least the friends she has in training. Reagan struggles with her all-out focus on revenge for her mother’s death. She sees how it’s hurting the people she cares about and possibly her chances of becoming a Black Angel, but she can’t seem to help curb her desire for revenge. Action-packed, adventurous and worth 5 stars!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon


Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Adina takes music lessons from Arjun in his apartment. Arjun is twenty-five and Adina has a crush on him. She’s also fearful of her possibly life threatening genetic test results. Adina is being tested for the same disease that her mother suffers from. Tovah, Adina’s twin, will be taking the genetic test for Huntington’s disease also. Their mother was diagnosed four years ago and she struggles with the effects. The girls have Jewish heritage from their mother and while Tovah embraces it, Adina doesn’t. I like how Tovah explains why she believes God didn’t cause their mother to have Huntington’s disease: “God has limits, humans have free will, and the natural world isn’t ruled by a higher power”. So, in other words, God doesn’t make people have illnesses. The sisters seem to be complete opposites in everything they do and believe and with their actions and choices.
The story’s complexity deals with heritage, Huntington’s disease, twins with extreme differences, genetic testing, coming of age, sexuality, relationships, culture, religion and family. 4 STARS for this debut novel with a lot of depth!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp


Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Before I Let Go by Marieki Nijkamp! Corey receives news of the drowning of her best friend, Kyra, and she travels back to Lost Creek to mourn her death and discover how she drowned in the middle of winter when the water is frozen several feet deep. Corey is treated like an outsider because she’s been attending a boarding school away from Lost Creek, so they disregard her questions and concerns. Corey’s determination reveals more than she ever wanted to know about the downward spiral of Kyra’s mental health and the ignorance and selfishness of the people of Lost Creek! 4 stars for a poignant look at bipolar disorder and the struggles of the sufferer and the coping mechanisms of the people closest to them.