Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

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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

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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!

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

 

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Friendship, love and perseverance!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz!
Two teen main characters meet at the hospital while they’re getting treatments and they become immediate friends. Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis and Sasha has Gaucher Disease. Both illnesses have horrible consequences and daily struggles. Isabel and Sasha have such different personalities that they sometimes they struggle to get along, but mostly they are perfect for each other. I giggled many times while reading this book because of the humor, which is balanced out well with the tough reality of what Sasha and Isabel have to deal with on a daily basis because of their “invisible” sicknesses, their school lives and family dynamics. I’m impressed with this book, its maturity and realistic portrayal of what life deals out, 5 stars!

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge.  Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV.  She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first.  She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing.  Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him.  Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before.  Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else.  Everything escalates after that and blow up.  Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.

 Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
Impressive and bold young adult debut!

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a novel masterpiece!
Poverty and suppression hidden under sunshine and kindness describes the picture painted of Spain as the rest of the world sees the land and its people. The story tells itself with alternating points of view and the author’s writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives, so I was pulled quickly into caring for them. Ana lives with her siblings and each of them works as many jobs as possible since their parents are no longer with them. Daniel traveled to Spain from Texas with his parents, his mother of Spanish descent and oil-rich father. Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid. Daniel loves photography and Ana helps him as much as she dares. Daniel starts noticing that Ana keeps her distance like she’s afraid. Another revelation occurs when Ana’s brother Rafe and his coworker realize that the baby coffins being sent to the cemetery for them to bury are actually empty. More injustice is revealed as we learn that Ana’s parents were killed because they wanted to start a school and their ideas went against the beliefs of the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. The snippets taken from primary sources bring this story to a deeper level and helped me to understand how the rest of the world perceived Spain during this time frame.
The characters and their lives all connect in one way or another and those relationships show how truly complicated and complex Spain’s history is. My heart goes out to the people who suffered in silence for decades and for those still affected by the repercussions. Ruta Sepetys amazes me with every book she writes. Her dedication stands above and beyond what is required because she pours her heart and soul into the stories she creates. I’m grateful that she shares them with the world because, with each book, I gain more knowledge of cultures and history across the globe.
Fountains of Silence, a true work of art! 5 stars!

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

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Original, thought-provoking story!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox and Dial Books. I received the book as a Bookish First winner!
Elizabeth, Biz, sees and hears her dad even though he’s been dead for many years. Biz lives in Australia with her single mother and younger twin siblings. She has a best friend named Grace that’s loyal to the point of vandalizing, on Biz’s behalf. They both receive warnings from the police even though Grace keeps saying that Biz was innocent. Grace’s family sends her away and Biz becomes more withdrawn. So, Biz starts therapy and a photography class. Her therapist advises Biz to stay in the moment and acknowledge her feelings and live. She meets new people and makes new friends as she spreads her wings. She also acknowledges the problems that have been buried deep inside. How It Feels to Float was a therapeutic read for me and I relished the professional advice given to Biz. I can see how this book might be triggering, especially if the reader is dealing with similar struggles. I really cannot sum this book’s effect in one word because it’s somewhat enigmatic.,thought-provoking, eye-opening and uniquely unusual! The revealing of the cause of Biz’s struggles was jittery and not explained as well as I expected it to be. I would have appreciated more explanation and feel that this would be more healing and helpful to those that have experienced the same traumas and for this reason, I rate this book 4 stars!

 

Prom-Wrecked by T.H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni!

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Event after event of chaos!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Prom-Wrecked by T. H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni!
The opening, showing the ragged and imprisoned state of the teen prom attendees, made me curious and the book didn’t let me down. The group of prom planners and prom goers dealt with a mountain of tumultuous events before the prom ever started and then prom was eventful with completely different issues. The characters are realistic, overwhelmed and anxious, just like real teenagers. Drama, of course takes a part in this story but so does maturity, loyalty and perseverance. Riley, Catherine and Owen are the three main characters, each with distinct personalities and Owen is in the middle of all the action. Fun and with a message of prevailing justice makes Prom-Wrecked an interesting read, 5 stars!

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter opens as ten-year-old Logan and his best friend Maddie witness the violence that occurs with the attempted kidnapping of his mother, the First Lady. Logan is the president’s son and his best friend is the daughter of the head of the Secret Service. Maddie’s father gets shot and badly injured during the kidnapping attempt, so he decides to move to Alaska with his daughter to recover and distance themselves from the danger. Now, six years later, Logan gets sent to stay with them for his own safety. Logan has a tendency to be careless and unconcerned about what happens to him and this has exasperated his parents. Maddie is extremely angry at Logan because she wrote letters to him for years after their move to Alaska and she never received anything from him. The day Logan arrives, Maddie’s father leaves to make a quick delivery because a terrible storm is coming. While he’s away, Maddie and Logan are confronted by an abductor who wants to use Logan for leverage. Maddie is shoved down a hill, left for dead and the kidnapper forces Logan to move on. The danger compounds because of the Alaskan wilderness and lack of food, shelter and heat. I thoroughly enjoyed Not If I Save You First for several reasons- the suspense, mystery and sarcastic humor and I love the characters! 5 solid stars for a fun, action-packed adventure!

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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Realistic fiction by C. C. Hunter!
Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review In Another Life by C. C. Hunter!
Chloe moved to Joyful, Texas with her mom after the divorce. She’s lived in Joyful before, when she was three years old and had just been adopted. She doesn’t really remember anything about it from before. Cash lives in a foster home with Ms. Fuller. She’s an amazing foster parent and truly cares about Cash. Cash knows that Ms. Fuller lost her daughter a long time ago and he wants to help her feel better. The story jumps around and finally transitions more smoothly after the first quarter of the book. I felt like I became more invested in the characters of Chloe and Cash after that point. The story involves con artists, kidnapping, deception, friendship and family. With all of the events, the two strong main characters and the author’s writing style, In Another Life is an enjoyable read worth 4 stars!

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson

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Fun romance!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson!
Zoe is home-schooled and Jackson is homeless and they play chess together online, not knowing each other’s true identities. Before things changed for Zoe, she talked to Jackson at a basketball game her sister was cheering at. Zoe and Jackson think about each other from before she was home-schooled but neither of them realize that. Since Zoe needs help with Math and Physics, her mother hires Jackson for tutoring and their relationship grows into more than just friendly acquaintances. They help each other deal with personal struggles, Zoe’s anxiety and Jackson’s relationship with his father. Paper Girl is therapeutic and a cute young adult romance, 5 stars!