Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Secrets and Folklore!
Thanks to Bookish first, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield!
Twists and turns and many characters along with their stories bring Once Upon a River to life. The book opens with a background of the setting and builds up to the present when a four-year-old girl is found and brought to the Swan, where storytelling is at its finest. The man who brought the little girl in is very injured and he loses consciousness, so no one can ask questions. The storytelling begins by the regular inhabitants of the Swan and continues to build with speculation. Everyone falls in love with the little girl and their hearts warm to her. Because of the girl’s appearance in the community, many lives are changed and things that have been hidden for years come to light. A food for thought story full of folklore and secrets, 4 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

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Touching realistic fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 5 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!

Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

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An all-around good read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts! Laurel wants to spend more time with her father, so she convinces him to let her work at his company for the summer. Her job is to monitor and assist five interns vying for a one hundred thousand dollar scholarship from Emergent, her father’s company. Laurel is also supposed to get to know the interns well enough that she can make the deciding vote for the scholarship. She’s anxious about her assistant position and she’s worried about what the interns will think of her. The summer job becomes more than she bargained for and turns into a roller coaster of events and stress for Laurel, the interns and the entire company. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, their differences and their complexities. This book contains adventure, intrigue, humor, loyalty, compassion and friendship. The added fun of fandom and Comic Con will make all nerdy readers giddy. The characters are relatable and show depth and Spies, Lies and Allies is an all-around good read- 5 stars!

Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story by Lisa Brown Roberts:

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

 

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

 

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

 

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/spies-lies-and-allies-a-love-story.html

 

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.  

Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LBROWNROBERTS

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisabrownroberts/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts

Newsletter: http://lisabrownroberts.us15.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=1f2f19aa89bc2b30b56c3d1f2&id=4accff162c

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Excerpt from Spies, Lies, and Allies:

“Let’s see where helping me on my project falls on this list.” Carlos picks up a pen and clicks it, eyeing me from underneath ridiculously long lashes.

Cautiously, I take a tiny step toward his desk so I can read the list.

“Number three.” I point to the napkin. “Teamwork.”

He nods and underlines the word. I notice he’s added numbers six through ten. Nothing is written next to those numbers, except for ten, next to which he’s drawn a smiley face.

“What’s that for?” I point to the smiley face. He leans back in his desk chair and grins up at me.

“Not sure yet.”

My heart throbs in my chest and my imagination is off and running, fantasizing about number ten.

Carlos points to number five: nicknames. “I think this is where we left off at lunch.” He clicks his pen repeatedly and I resist the urge to snatch it out of his hand. “I’d prefer not to be nicknamed for a pasta, but I gave you a cereal nickname, so…” He shrugs but keeps his eyes on mine.

“I…pasta…what?” He’s not making sense.

He bites his bottom lip, and I have no trouble picturing what will make me “smiley face” if we ever make it to number ten. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a mind reader because his gaze drifts down to my lips, then back up to my eyes.

“The Manicotti. Who is it?” He glances across the room. “Elijah? He can be sort of cheesy.”

My mind analyzes his words, sliding them around like one of those puzzles where you have to move a string through twisted metal. And then it clicks.

“You read my notebook! You’re the one who—” Panic zings through me as I remember what I wrote about him, Carlos is trouble, and his editorial comment, True. Is Carlos adorable?

Apparently I’m not the only spy around here.

“Why’d you pick this desk?” I’m desperate to change the subject.

“I like the view.”

“But it’s better by the windows.”

“Depends on which view we’re talking about.” He gives me a cryptic smile, one that makes my stomach dip. “Anyway, I saved your notebook. You’re lucky no one else read your notes.”

Mortified and defiant, I cross my arms over my chest. “You didn’t have to read it. You could’ve just returned it.”

“I was just checking to make sure you’d listed all of Mr. Mantoni’s rules.”

“Uh huh.”

Across the room, Elijah stands up and stretches. He glances at us, an amused smirk twisting his lips like he knows something I don’t.

Carlos writes on the napkin again. Number six: healthy disagreement.

“You’re kidding, right?”

His responding grin packs more heat than it should.

“I think we’ve gone off track.” I’m proud of how calm I sound, even though my nerve endings are exploding like firecrackers.

Cakespell by Gaby Triana

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Cakespell by Gaby Triana tells a story about Rose. Rose loves baking and has aspirations of becoming a famous baker and opening her own shop someday. Her mother hates the idea of Rose baking or working and she wants Rose to only focus on her schoolwork so she can eventually support herself, be self-sufficient and independent. Rose decides to spend her time baking at her grandpa’s house and keeps it a secret from her mother. Her grandpa, who she calls Papa, is more than happy to have Rose at his home. Papa gives Rose all of her deceased grandma’s baking utensils and her special apron that Rose has wonderful memories of. Papa believes that Rose has special baking skills like her grandmother and he teaches her a special Cakespell that makes her baked goods help people fall in love. Rose’s creations are delicious and she begins to gain customers by the dozens. Cakespell is a cute, fun story that also deals with the heavier issues of self-image, losing a loved one, friendship struggles, setting and working toward goals, sportsmanship and lack of parental support. An enjoyable young adult read with crushes, humor and love that round out this adorable tale of baking with a bit of mischief, 4 stars!

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer! Two teens that have each lost someone they love begin an ongoing anonymous conversation by adding to a letter left and then found next to a cemetery headstone. The conversation moves to email for convenience and these two strangers help each other grieve. Declan has lost his sister and his father is in prison and no longer part of their family. His mother has married Alan, who isn’t the nicest to Declan. Juliet has lost her journalist mother in a hit and run car accident and she lives with her father. Declan has an amazing best friend, Rev, that’s dealing with his own traumatic past and Juliet’s best friend, Rowan, is supportive and caring. The email relationship remains anonymous and grows deeper and more meaningful as their grief is dealt with together. Letters to the Lost melted my heart with the complicated storyline and endearing, real characters. I love everything about this story, from the caring, helpful teachers to the awkward friends to the dysfunctional family members. All of these components create a beautiful realistic fiction novel worth 5 stars!

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau. Six disgruntled, unhappy students are each planning something that will change their lives and help them to be free from their problems. Each of the teenagers are dealing with different types of problems, secrets, religion, being an orphan, bullying and pressure from peers and family, but they end up together inside the school after a bomb explodes. They help each other but with the air of distrust between them. Finally, they discover who’s responsible for the bombings and they struggle for their lives. Intense with an interesting array of characters and relevant subject matter-5 stars!

Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

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Chalk houses by Tracy Clark tells the story of Talon who lives with her single mother that always seems to have a new boyfriend, drinks and is involved with drugs. The story begins on Talon’s sixteenth birthday and her mother doesn’t even remember what day it is. Talon’s goals are to educate herself and receive a degree in psychology and child development so she will be equipped to help neglected children and never be like her mother. She begins receiving emails from Aunt T, who supposedly wants to get to know Talon. They create a circle journal of communication with their emails. Talon has one true friend, Karalyn, who always gives Talon moral support. Gabby, Talon’s younger next door neighbor that lives with an aunt and uncle and is pretty much neglected by them, is under Talon’s wing of protection. Talon spreads out and tests relationship waters with others as she expands her social circle. She makes some dumb decisions and struggles with the consequences and in the meantime she discovers much more about her mother than she could have ever guessed at before. Chalk Houses is a coming of age, coming into your own work of literary art with its beautiful, dynamic characters and other characters that are horrific in their actions. The story comes full circle and is a real tear-jerker full of disappointment, hurt and hope. 5 heart expanding stars!

Sweet Revenge by Heather Kim

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone, Switch Press for the opportunity to read and review Sweet Revenge by Heather Kim. The subtitle “Passive-Aggressive Desserts for your Exes and Enemies” says it all! Cleverly named recipes for all the different reasons you could possibly have a need to rid yourself of relationship frustrations. Creatively named sections classify each recipe and the author states “revenge is best served warm” and “ kindness is rare” so the goodness will come back around. The concept of taking your frustrations, hurt and anger out while creating yummy goodness is refreshing and therapeutic. Imaginative and laced with humor and fun visuals will make even the most down-day humorous. Two Thumbs up and 5 stars for a sumptuous, creative book full of yumminess!