Best friends, Cam and Blair, are making a podcast about the twenty-year-old cold case of Clarissa Campbell, who’s been missing since the night of a senior graduation party in the local woods of Oreville, Washington in 1999. Clarissa was a popular cheerleader dating a popular football player and her life seemed perfect to outsiders. Mr. Park, journalism teacher, has assigned a project to his students and that’s why Cam came up with the cold case podcast idea. Blair and Cam are dealing with their own personal struggles but become devoted to figuring out Clarissa’s story. They soon realize they’re in over their heads and that they’re in danger themselves. 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The story is so interesting that I didn’t want to put the book down. Overly political statements are a bit confusing when Cam’s friend Sophie blurts them out. I enjoyed the character development throughout the story. Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of sexual assault on a high school student by the teacher, off page sex, nondescript brief kissing, underage drinking and underage drinking and driving undescribed. Language: R for 51 swears and 4 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody gunshot wound, and purposely run off the road by another vehicle. Ethnicity: mixed and includes Black, Mexican American, Korean American, white, and Filipino.
Metaphorically beautiful verse! Two depressed teens, Whimsy and Faerry, meet at a mental hospital and then become neighbors and attend high school together. They’re both suffering from depression and memory loss from when they were young children. They’re not sure what they’re not remembering but it’s bothering both of them to the point of despair. They become friends that want to help each other and understand each other’s problems. They need each other to process the trauma they’ve been through and to help the lost information resurface.
Likes/dislikes: The writing is metaphorical and beautiful. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the story. I like Whimsy and Faerry, the two main characters. Language: G for no swears and no f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for suicidal thoughts (nondescriptive) and clinical depression. Violence: PG for talk of cutting, undescribed. Ethnicity: The two main characters are black and they attend a predominantly white school.
Declan hurts his shoulder by climbing where there’s a “no climbing” sign and it takes his future away. He needs surgery and physical therapy to heal and in the meantime he has an angry attitude. He pushes his friends away and joins a hate group that promotes propaganda and conspiracy theories about cultures that aren’t predominantly white, focusing especially on Jewish people. He’s happily blaming others for his problems and being fed propaganda by his “new friends” and he’s taking it too far by willingly participating in hate crimes. When Declan’s lifelong friend is threatened, he has to make the choice to harm or protect.
Likes/dislikes: Declan was whiny and ungrateful even though the accident was because he made the choice to do something negligent. I enjoyed the history class discussion about different cultures and evaluating online sources. The author approached hate groups from an insider’s perspective from both sides. Mature content: G for nondescriptive kissing Violence: PG for undescribed phone threats from a hate group, vandalism, bomb threat. Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs. Ethnicity: mixed
Quirks, romance, and high school antics alongside heartbreak and tragedy!
Cam is still devastated and heartbroken from Allison (Ally) breaking up with him months ago. Now he’s worried she won’t come out of the coma that was the result of a car accident she was in. He’s been injured during sports so he’s out of commission and is prescribed medication for the pain. He starts his pain meds and soon sees Ally. She talks to him. He thinks he must be hallucinating. The conversations began to occur frequently and Ally becomes more real and can physically move things. Cameron’s personality and sense of humor made me laugh. He’s endearing and learns a lot about himself through his hallucinatory conversations with Ally. I enjoyed reading this young adult realistic fiction story full of quirks, romance, and high school antics that also deals with more serious issues like heartbreak and tragedy, 5 stars!
Em wakes up on Valentine’s Day excited to celebrate with her boyfriend Josh. Her day goes horribly in so many ways that she’s relieved to have it end but she wakes up the next morning and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. This happens several times and she finally decides to not care about anything and has a great day doing whatever she feels like. She pulls her chemistry lab partner along for the day and they have such a great time that she doesn’t want this Valentine’s Day to end. When she wakes up the next morning expecting to have to relive another Valentine’s Day, she has a lot of repercussions to deal with! 5 stars for a thoroughly entertaining story!
Spencer wakes up in the hospital after being injured in a car crash that involved her and three other students from Armstrong but she only remembers a few details. One of the students, Chris, died in the crash and another passenger, Tabby, won’t talk to Spencer but only glares at her. Ethan was driving and speeding and says he tried to brake but the car wouldn’t stop and they hit a tree. Ethan is on house arrest, Tabby seems fine but angry, Chris died and Spencer has broken some bones and has stitches from her jaw to her cheekbone. Jackson, Ethan’s best friend, helps Spencer get around and with her schoolwork, as well as helping her piece the details from the night of the accident together because she’s extremely frustrated that she can’t remember. The more she digs into the details, the more in danger she becomes. Fast-paced mystery with a slow burn romance, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I like the intense, poetic opening that reveals the story. I like Spencer’s strength and integrity and Jackson’s personality. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery and how a mental health therapy dog helped a trauma victim. Matue content: PG-13 for prescription drug addiction, drinking, vaping Language: PG-13 for 24 swears and 5 f-bombs Violence: PG for brakes being cut to cause an accident, hit and run, being held at gunpoint and being hit in the head with a gun.
Emma lives in Prosper, Oregon with her mother, father and six year old brother Kyle. They moved from San Francisco because her father was in trouble for inappropriate behavior with a minor, Alice, a friend of Emma’s. Now it seems that he’s in trouble again with another friend of Emma’s, Hannah. Hannah’s mom found her journal where she’d written about Emma’s father touching her, so the police were called and he was arrested. Emma’s parents have coerced her into standing by her father’s side even if it means lying about the things he’s done to her for years. She’s struggling with loyalty, being treated like a burden and wanting to stand up for her friend and herself.
This is a story about surviving and the strength that takes! 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book to let readers be aware before reading. I enjoyed the gradual unraveling of the mystery surrounding the main character. I like how the author represented survivors and the resources list at the end of the book.
Mature Content: PG-13 for xexual abuse stated but not detailed; verbal abuse, gaslighting of children, physical and emotional neglect; mention of a nonbinary side character with positive interaction and respect.
Violence: PG for temper tantrums and angry outbursts from adults.
The Charmed List is a quirky, genre-bending book. It’s romance mixed with magic. Ellie lives in a city full of magic gatherers and spell makers. Most of them want to help others by making their lives a little happier, better. Jack’s father seems to just want to make money using the magic. Ellie and Jack used to be best friends until his mother died and he distanced himself from her and chose other friends that make fun of her. Ellie and her now best friend Lia plan a prank on Jack and he uses magic to get rid of it. He doesn’t realize that anyone is watching him. Lia doesn’t know magic exists and the magical community has strict rules about sharing magic, information or anything, with those who don’t know it’s real. When she sees Jack use a spell, she’s overwhelmed and everyone in Jack’s and Ellie’s families find out what they did. Jack and Ellie get in trouble and are sent on a work trip for their parents’ shops. They’re told they have to work out their differences and being wisely magic-aware. The first part of the trip, Ellie is frosty towards Jack. They won’t open up to each other but their siblings planted charms in the lunch they packed, so Jake and Ellie have to compromise if they’re going to eat. They start to relax around each other and actually enjoy their time together. When both families arrive at the convention, Jack’s father blows up and says cruel things about Ellie and her family. A roller coaster ride of emotions, crossing items off a bucket list and cute charm make this a fun read, 5 stars!
Present time in America, Winter is a famous performer who is being recruited by the Panacea Agency to help take down a dangerous criminal, Eli Morrison. Eli has invited Winter to perform at his daughter Penelope’s birthday celebration in London. This is why Panacea wants Winter’s help, because he can infiltrate Eli’s life with little suspicion. Sydney Cosette works for Panacea and poses as Winter’s bodyguard. The two seem to come from very different backgrounds but they discover they have commonalities. Winter and Sydney get hit with a few surprises on their mission and they’ll have to rely on their wits and trust each other to make it through alive.
Likes/dislikes: Winter and Sydney are interesting characters with unspoken depth. I like the mystery, action and setting of the story. I love the ending.
Mature Content: PG-13 for bisexual relationships mentioned, off-page kissing; sex alluded to by stating, “ended up in bed together”; drinking, transporting drugs, kissing.
Language: R for 49 swears and no f-bombs.
Violence: PG for kidnapping, killing mentioned, death by choking on a chemical weapon, hand to hand combat, shot in the chest. Sydney’s mother Killed by father in domestic abuse rage.
Ethnicity: The ethnicity of the main character is Chinese American, other characters are Black, white, brown-skinned, mixed.
Travis has been hired to find a missing author. He follows Maggie’s path as far as he can then he disappears too. The forest community has secrets that threaten to be revealed unless the leader can keep everyone subdued and believing in him and the community. When a young woman delivers her baby two months too early, members want to retrieve medical help from the outside but the leader, Levi, refuses to allow it. That’s when things start to unravel. Interesting and unique tale surrounded with mystery, 4 stars!