Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

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Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia! Peyton and her mom have lived alone since her father was killed during a military mission. Peyton’s boyfriend, Reed, has been acting differently and seems to have a quick temper and mood swings often when he used to never be that way. Reed’s sister Tess is also Peyton’s best friend and when Peyton tries to discuss the changes in Reed with Tess, she becomes defensive. When Peyton finds out Reed’s secret and confronts him, Reed loses his temper and pushes Peyton. She falls down cement stairs and hurts her leg. Now she’s mourning the possibility of losing her soccer scholarship and her ruined relationships with Reed and Tess. She moves to Tennessee and stays with her uncle and his two teenage twin boys so she can recuperate, attend physical therapy and hopefully repair her leg. She gains new friends and works hard to recover the strength in her leg while learning to deal with Reed and the difficulties he’s caused. I don’t want to give anything away from the rest of the story but I devoured Broken Beautiful Hearts and I highly recommend it for any reader that enjoys young adult realistic fiction, 5 stars!

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia introduces us to Eliza, a high school student that feels invisible and prefers it that way. Other students treat her like she’s weird and sometimes frightening. The only friends she has are Max and Emmy and she met them online when they noticed her art and story, Monstrous Sea. The two of them helped Eliza build her comic into a popular blog. This is the part of Eliza’s life that she enjoys. Eliza has a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side attitude. For example, She believes that college won’t have problems, such as the difficulty of finding a place to park. Little does she know that’s usually one of the main complaints about college: jam packed parking lots. Wallace, a new student, and Eliza discover that they both like Monstrous Sea. This starts a friendship between the two of them. Wallace shares his past with Eliza and she feels that she needs to let him know she’s the creator of Monstrous Sea. Then her parents tell her story about her hard work on Monstrous Sea, not realizing how letting the secret out will affect Eliza. Her life seems to come crashing down around her! Eliza must work through everything so she can live her life without anxiety and she has a tough time with it. Realistic fiction with imperfect, lovable and relatable characters-4 stars!

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

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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!

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anne Priemaza

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Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza has a bright, fun cover that entices readers. Kat has just started at a new school. Meg attends this school and the two of them become partners for their class Science Project. Neither one of them has any truly good friends and, little by little they grow a friendship beginning with their mutual love of a certain video game. Through the ups and downs of growing up and building relationships, Kat and Meg discover how to cope and enjoy their lives and accept themselves just as they are. You never know when you’re going to find a friend! The maturity level of the two main characters didn’t always feel consistent, but otherwise, this book is a fun read that young teens will be able to relate to. 3.5 stars for this realistic fiction written for teens.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Nice try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke! The book opens with journal entries written by Jane, who is trying to move past a mysterious event involving James Fowler. Jane alludes to this event as she continues writing in her journal. She joins a reality show in the making, House of Orange, so she can move away from home and move on with her life. Eventually, we discover that James Fowler is the high school Jane was attending when she thought about ending her life and tried doing just that by jumping off a cliff. She wasn’t successful. She learns a great deal about herself while participating on House of Orange. Jane’s sense of humor is entertaining and the broad range of characters makes Jane stop and look at herself and grow personally. She learns to not care about what people think of her and her actions. This contemporary book shows that doubt and insecurity are both normal for everyone as we become adults and grow into our identity. 4 stars.

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

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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!

Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy! The dedication builds suspenseful excitement and I love the quote that opens the story: “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”-Edgar Allan Poe. I fell into the story immediately because the intensity begins in the first chapter with an angry attack, which leads to murder. I thought I may have figured out who the murderer is but as the story progresses, things change and so does my perspective. The points of view are interesting because it’s mostly Penelope with others’ randomly thrown in. This makes the action and anxiety more erratic showing us how the community must feel knowing there’s a murderer in their midst. Also, through the killer’s point of view, we get a glimpse of incentive and motive. I read this book straight through with fervor and the story doesn’t disappoint! 5 stars for this young adult murder mystery!

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One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin

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Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review One S’more Summer by Beth Merlin! This is a fun story filled with summer camp adventures and relationship struggles. Gigi is at a rough place and becomes a camp counselor to escape and hopefully regroup before she heads back to her regular life as unemployed and single, after a confusing affair. Perry has been a summer counselor for four years and he’s dealing with his own supposed skeletons in the closet. Gigi treats Perry with only anger, assuming he’s arrogant and immature when she hasn’t even given him a chance. Over the summer and in spite of their bad start, Gigi and Perry began to confide in each other and realize they have a lot in common. Gigi can’t seem to get away from her past and she faces everything head on, thanks to the support of her friends and family. The ending is cute and hopeful after the tumultuous distrust and intensity. One S’more Summer weaves a realistic and rocky story of how relationships come and go and how we handle them and how we deal with the in-betweenness of being single. 5 stars!

Protected by Claire Zorn

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Hannah lives with her mother and father. The three of them are mourning Katie, Hannah’s sister. Katie, Hannah and their father were in a car accident and Katie did not survive. Hannah struggles with having friends and fitting in at school, just as she did before Katie’s fatal accident. Hannah and Katie have very different personalities and their lives unfold as the story is told. I like Josh and his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. He helps Hannah loosen up and she learns to enjoy life. The heartbreak of loss and the pain of overcoming that loss seem unbearable and Hannah and her family fight to move forward and beyond the pain. This book holds the messages of bullying, grieving and also the importance of relationships. 5 stars for this realistic fiction story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Protected by Claire Zorn.

Turtles All the Way Down

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green opens with Aza as she struggles with self-confidence and feeling like she never belongs. Her best friend and support is Daisy and the two of them set out to earn a reward for finding a missing billionaire. This mystery brings more interest to the story and the dynamic characters are fun, humorous and entertaining as well deep thinking. The three main characters, Aza, Daisy and Davis all bring a lot of interest to the story plus the side characters add an extra depth. I appreciate how John Green portrays mental illness with realism and deeply detailed prose. The author’s note at the end offers insight into his own personal struggles and also help and hotline information. 5 stars for a great portrayal of the human mind and its struggles!