From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan

61chijlmzil
Kara lives with her mother, used-to-be lawyer, who is now a Holy Roller running a sappy cafe. Her father left and her sister Kellen drowned, so it’s just the two of them living in a small apartment above the cafe. Kara’s home-economics teacher wants her to enter a baking contest that could give her scholarship money to become a pastry chef because Kara loves designing and baking cookies. She’s also receiving notes from someone that’s secretly watching her. Kara struggles with self confidence and is surrounded by somewhat jerky friends. Kara’s coworker, Charlie, is charming and brilliant and I love how he brings Kara back to reality. Charlie’s statement, “forgiveness is really about helping yourself, not absolving the other person of what they did”, is advice we can all use. Kara participates in the cookie contest, braving traveling alone and striving towards her dreams. After Kara returns home, she reads Kellen’s diary and realizes similarities between herself and her sister that shock her to the core. For the most part, I enjoyed the story but there are some holes that I would like filled in, such as Charlie’s life and what he’s going through, the stalker possibilities and more background story on them, the ending and more of what happened after the attack and more overall character development. This information would make the book longer but I think it would make it even better. 3.5 stars for this suspenseful young adult thriller.

The Lonely Dead by April Henry

39280476._uy630_sr1200630_

A mystery with a touch of the paranormal!
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review The Lonely Dead by April Henry!
Adele has inherited the ability to see, feel and converse with ghosts, human and animal, from her mother and grandmother. She lives with her grandfather who has watched both his wife and daughter struggle with this ability and neither of them to good ends. They’re both deceased and he’s raising Adele the best he can. She’s been on medication for schizophrenia for years but she’s now realized that she’s not schizophrenic; she can actually see ghosts. Tori, who was her best friend in elementary school, has just been murdered and Adele discovers Tori’s body in a shallow grave. Tori was having a party while her parents weren’t home and no one has seen her since, until Adele finds her ghost next to the shallow grave. A mystery surrounds Tori’s death and suspects include everyone at the party and a few adults. Adele drank at the party and doesn’t remember everything she did and she begins to worry that she might be the murderer. Adele has to learn how to handle seeing and being able to converse with ghosts in a quiet manner, so people don’t think she’s crazy. Adele also struggles to find true friends.
A quick mystery that’s enjoyable to read, 4 stars!

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

35707080._uy2560_ss2560_

Interesting characters wrapped up in intrigue!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!
Witchcraft is forbidden in Aurelia’s kingdom and the story opens as she’s sadly watching two women hang for performing witchcraft. Aurelia has performed her share of magic, even though she’s the princess. She’s being sent away to Achleva to marry the prince. In his kingdom, magic is allowed. Along the way, a plot is revealed and she escapes on her own. She disguises herself as a maid and meets other commoners, befriends them and helps them. Someone is trying to break seals and release dark magic and they finally discover who has been breaking them, only after they’ve lost a wonderful friend. I love the part when the prince stands up to the king, speaking the truth about the seal breaker. The king’s reaction raises suspicion. Some of the transitions could be more clear between reality and Aurelia’s visions but for the most part, the visions add depth to the plot. Aurelia loses people she loves and she discovers her true origins. Unpredictable and entertaining, Bloodleaf kept me riveted to the end, 4 stars!

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

36584899._uy2546_ss2546_

Insight into 9/11 and its effect on New York citizens and the aftermath, 5 stars!
The editor/publisher note at the beginning explains the intent of the book and I’m interested. Chapter one introduces Abbi and I’m hooked! She’s known as Baby Hope because she was photographed on the morning of 9/11 with a red balloon and a paper crown while a tower was crumbling in the background. She’s turning sixteen. Abbi gets a job at a kids’ day camp a county or two away from her home. No one should know she’s Baby Hope or recognize her. She has people approach her all the time. Noah also works at the camp and recognizes Abbi from school but he keeps her Baby Hope identity a secret for her. Some 9/11 survivors have been diagnosed with cancer in different forms because of the debris they were exposed to. Abbi has started coughing up blood but she doesn’t want anyone to know just yet. She wants to have a normal teenage summer. Noah has a mission to identify the three unknown people in the 9/11 Baby Hope photo that have been unidentified all these years. Noah sets up interviews with everyone in the photo that have been identified. The survivors and Hope help him figure out each of the photographed people and this opens up an entirely new story to swallow. I absolutely love this book and the characters, character dynamics and character development! The author does an amazing job weaving tragedy and hope together with the every day happenings of those left behind.

You by Caroline Kepnes

71mhk2buer2l

Mindful insight into human behavior!
Joe’s point of view tells the story of how he first sees Beck at the bookstore where he works and then stalks her incessantly. Joe twists happenings and events to fit into his logic so he can get closer to Beck. Beck is insecure and enjoys attention and feeds on it. Joe spins quickly and thoroughly down the Beck rabbit hole. He quietly watches and stalks her, starts a relationship with her and becomes consumed with all things Beck, even as she continues to flounce through her unproductive life.
Beck is spoiled and isn’t goal oriented and she doesn’t really know how to have a healthy relationship. Her behavior taunts Joe and he’s too obsessed with her to move on without her. This book is a look into injured minds and it really nails the reactions to situations that people who are insecure or emotionally stunted have. It’s valuable insight into understanding others. I did get tired of Joe’s logic and Beck’s self-centeredness but they tell the whole story. I want to read Hidden Bodies and then watch both seasons of the Netflix show, You, to compare and contrast the show with the books. Morbidly fascinating, 4 stars!

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

43565384._uy400_ss400_

Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Night Country!
The sequel to The Hazel Wood has danger, deception, and characters struggling to find purpose in this world. When murders occur, the Ex-story characters try to stick together for safety and strength. Alice feels that she’s being blamed and, after she’s attacked, she vows to capture whoever or whatever is harming others. Mysterious and twisty, The Night Country weaves worlds, characters, and creators into a fight for life, 4 stars!

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

51cnggnegbl

Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. Providence weaves a young friendship that’s postponed, over and over, from becoming more. Jon is awkward and kind. Chloe has many friends but she considers Jon her best friend. Her other friends don’t like Jon and some of them are outright bullies to him. He walks through the woods to get to school so he can avoid the bullies. One day, while walking through the woods, Jon is hit over the head and kidnapped. He isn’t heard from for four years. He does return home but he’s different and so is everyone else. Chloe mourned him along with his parents but no one else did. Jon discovers that he has a negative effect on people, causing them to have heart attacks if he gets too close or too emotional. His life becomes lonely solitude and he doesn’t dare get near his parents or Chloe. Providence is a unique story with complex characters. It’s a thought provoking read that never reveals the mystery entirely; 5 stars for characters that I truly cared about!

Keystone by Katie Delahanty

81or2b5s1h5l

Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Keystone by Katie Delahanty!
The story opens with action as the main character becomes the only survivor of a yacht accident. Her identity is changed and she becomes Elisha Dewitt. She’s becoming a Disconnect, part of a group that chooses to disconnect themselves from the internet and go off the grid, as much as they can for their own safety. The Disconnected live at Keystone, the safest place in the world. The story is told through the alternating past and present of the main character, Elisha. We learn how her parents and friends mistreated her, used her and took her for granted. We also discover that people weren’t who they seemed. As a Disconnect, she trains and practices skills, techniques and thievery because, as a Disconnect, stealing artifacts and preserving them in Keystone is expected and required. I enjoyed the different characters and their unique personalities along with the different groups’ dynamics. Action and unknown factors kept the story unpredictable, 5 stars!

Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

43625537

Twisty mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Groups for the opportunity to read and review Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
The ending of Little White Lies isn’t the full story of who Sawyer’s father is. The story continues and causes more stress. In the meantime, the group of friends and their families have traveled to Regal Lake for the summer and Sawyer, Campbell, Lily and Sadie Grace have been secretly invited to the White Glove Society. The book alternates between Sawyer’s experiences and to the past, twenty-five years earlier to what Lily’s mom and Campbell’s mom we’re up to at that time. During the White Glove party at the lake, Sawyer and her friends see a skull that’s been washed ashore and an investigation ensues. I could have used a family tree, a timeline and even a pregnancy pact history to help with all the twists and turns in this story! The danger amps up in this sequel to Little White Lies with the mysteries of who’s related to who and the skull discovered at the lake. The character development includes maturity and clarifying priorities. A mystery that was hard to put down, 5 stars!

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco

24789796._uy475_ss475_

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco is the sequel to Girl From the Well. Tark and Okiku work together as a vigilante team ridding the world of murderers. They have to enter the Japanese forest that’s known for people committing suicide within its borders. Kagura is missing, so Callie, Tark and Okiku venture into the forest to find her and the American ghost hunting TV crew she went with. They were searching for a village that supposedly exists but no one has discovered it. The search party discovers horrific rituals and sacrifices that the village leader tricked the citizens into believing were helpful to the village, but the leader was sacrificing young women for personal power and to open Hell’s gates. Callie and Tark get split up and Tark encounters terrible, vengeful, angry spirits, members of the missing TV crew and eventually he finds Kagura. Together, Okiku, Tark and Kagura fight the spirit of the evil leader and try to appease the tortured spirits. Danger, suspense and creepiness made me want to read nonstop, 5 stars for this haunted sequel!