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!

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

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Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 5 stars!

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!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Anticipating the next book already!
Legendary by Stephanie Garber shows us that Tella and Scarlett are once again playing a Caraval game. Tella thinks their mother is alive and wants information to find her, while Scarlett just wants some fun and excitement. Tella’s discovery of who her pen pal friend is floors her and she’s reeling from the revelation and its complications. Once again, the game may or may not be real, in all or parts, and the characters may or may not be trustworthy. Tella is shown an unkind memory of her mother and feels as though her mother didn’t love her at all. Her push and pull relationship with Dante is another matter she’s unsure of, but that’s just the way Caraval is. As the story concludes, it’s clear that a third book is in Caraval’s future. The enticing ending of Legendary makes me vested in this series. 4 stars!

And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!

Modern Macrame by Emily Katz

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An all-inclusive macrame guide!
Thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for the opportunity to read and review Modern Macrame by Emily Katz!
An informational and instructional guide to all things macrame. From the history of macrame to plant hangers to wall art, and more, can be found in this book of creativity. Photographs accompanying detailed instructions show tools and supplies needed, macrame knots and making macrame ropes and mounting. When I hear the word “macrame”, I think of the 1970’s plant hangers and bell bottom jeans, but the macrame creations in this book are streamlined and not just for hanging plants. The decorations and wall hangings are delicate and trendy. I especially love the swing! The daybed is fascinating and beautiful and the rugs are versatile. An all-inclusive macrame guide, 5 stars and happy creating!

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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A young adult mean girl mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review People Like Us by Dana Mele!
Kay and her group of friends find a body floating in the water when they go on their annual Halloween night jump in the lake. They realize that it’s a classmate and it looks like she’s slashed her wrists. Kay and her group of friends act entitled and insensitive. They also seem to be untrusting and possibly untrustworthy. They are the embodiment of mean girls. Kay is the main character dealing with death in her recent past and guilt about those deaths. Since she started attending the Bates boarding school, she’s truly become spiteful and petty, making decisions from bad to worse. When murder occurs, Kay is forced to step back and evaluate her actions, who she is and who she wants to become. There’s a bit of a twist and the bulk of the book deals with Kay’s background and her relationships with everyone, from family to friends to acquaintances. A young adult mean girl mystery, 4 stars!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 stars!

 

Phoebe Will Destroy You by Blake Nelson

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5 stars for the story of the mysterious Phoebe and the lovable Nick!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Phoebe Will Destroy You by Blake Nelson!
Nick visits relatives for the summer, getting a break from his mother and her alcoholism. Nick and his parents live in a college town and his parents both work for the university and since his mother returned from rehab, she seems bored and distant to Nick and her husband. The relatives he visits live in a laid back town and he’s looking forward to seeing them and being in a different environment. Nick meets quite a few new people, makes friends and they have interesting experiences together, but there’s one person that gets into his mind more than anyone else- Phoebe. She’s a complete mystery and that’s a big part of why Nick finds her attractive and appealing. Nick imagines a future with Phoebe but it always involves changing some part of Phoebe’s life to create that future. The ambiguity of the ending left me hoping that Nick is enjoying his present and continues to enjoy his future with or without Phoebe in it. 5 stars for the lovable Nick!

The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

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A solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest!
The story picks up right where The Black Witch left off. The Resistance works together trying to figure out how to keep their ‘unsavory’ friends safe. The prose flows smoothly and focuses on characters’ situations. An all-encompassing fantasy with a mystery that is foreshadowed throughout the series but left hidden from its readers, keeps the suspense going. Elloren and her friends are fighting for freedoms that are being taken away piece by piece. Fierce loyalty and friendship bond many different types of people and bring them together to fight against genocide and towards freedom. The Iron Flower adds much to this fantasy series and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment already; a solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!