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!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte!

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Fantastic debt novel by Astrid Scholte!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte!
Quadara is a nation divided into quadrants. Each quadrant plays a part in the nation’s economy. Archia provides crops and natural resources;Eonia develops medicine and technology; Ludia provides art, fashion and entertainment; Toria arranges imports and exports. The story is told in alternating points of view between the queens and Keralie, Kera for short. When Iris, an 18-year-old Queen is murdered in the Palace Garden, the mystery begins. Kera is a thief working for Mackiel. He’s sent her to steal a comm case containing memory chips. The messenger she steals from is smart and ends up tracking her down at the auction house. Mackiel becomes cruel and Kera escapes with the messenger, Varin, after dissolving the chips in her mouth, watching and absorbing the memories. She sees a palace full of blood and murdered queens. Varin and Kera go to the palace to help find the assassin and share the chips as evidence. They realize that they’re ahead of the assassin when they reach the palace and they try to warn the queens of the danger they’re in. The mystery builds as the queens are murdered, one at a time. The twists are enjoyable and I love Kera and Varin. Unique world building and storyline filled with dynamic characters, 4 stars!

Glow of the Fireflies by Lindsey Duga

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Otherworldly powers and alternate worlds bring Glow of the Fireflies by Lindsey Duga to life. Thanks to Entangled and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Brye is not known as a team player. She seems to do better independently and when she doesn’t have to rely on anyone else. Her father calls her after her swim meet and gives her the unwanted news that she’s being sent away for the summer. Brye will be going to Firefly Valley in the Smoky Mountains to take care of her reclusive grandma that’s broken her leg. Brye hasn’t seen or talked to this grandma for six years, since the house fire that gave Brye scars and amnesia when she was ten. Luckily, she’s taking her best friend Izzy along for the summer trip. The trip isn’t calm like the two best friends thought it would be because Brye reunites with people she hasn’t seen since she left the valley. She’s thrown into a fantastical world of fairies and ethereal and astral planes where she’s told to save her mom, who she thought left them by choice after the tragic fire. A fun mix of characters in this fantasy reminiscent of Fablehaven, 4 stars!

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!

Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski

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Tough life decisions!
Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review. Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski!
Caleb’s driving across a few states to spend time alone and getting his focus ready for his college experience that will begin in the fall. He and his dog Mo drive from Florida to Texas so they can spend a quiet week at the beach house on the Gulf of Mexico that his family co-owns with their flooring business partners. When he arrives, he realizes that someone is already there, Catie, the daughter of the business and beach house co-owners. She’s just finished her junior year of high school and is with her two best friends relaxing and having a few fun days at the beach. Catie and Caleb have known each other since they were young children and their families went into business together. The two of them had an annoying sibling-type relationship according to Caleb but Catie had a crush on Caleb for quite a while. Things might be starting to change. They both have life decisions that they need to make and can both use some thinking time and space. Hopefully they won’t get in each other’s way. Cute young adult romance, 4 stars!

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Fantasy and sea life set on the Isle of Man!
Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh tells the story of sea monsters and the fear that the island people are living with.
Bridey hates the beach and has ever since she watched her grandfather drown. A deceased young woman washes up on the beach and no one knows what happened to her. A young man mysteriously appears on the beach also. He’s alive but badly injured and suffers from memory loss. Bridey helps him get to her home where her family nurses him back to health. They give the young, injured man Fynn for a name since he can’t remember his. More disappearances occur and the town is in an uproar, some of them blaming Fynn because he’s an outsider. In the meantime, Bridey works for the local recluse; an elderly woman that the townspeople have labeled a witch. Bridey’s mother paints what she sees in her dreams and the paintings have become darker, showing horrible sea creatures and attacks. When Bridey’s sister goes missing, she faces her deepest fears to do everything she can to rescue her sister. I had never heard of the Isle of Man and after reading this book and the author’s notes at the end, I looked up information and images; it’s an interesting part of human history and a beautiful place. Mystery and sea creatures make up this fantasy, 5 stars!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Mesmerizing cover and enchanting story!
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a young adult fantasy full of tragedy.
A large family, living in an estate by the sea, continues to lose family members. Several sisters and their mother die from a variety of causes. Verity, one of Annaleigh’s younger sisters, sees the deceased siblings as ghosts, who are injured according to how they died. Verity sketches what she sees but doesn’t seem frightened by the injured ghosts. Annaleigh is adamant that someone killed Eulalie because suspicion surrounds her death. On and on this tragedy continues and the sisters become confused about what’s really happened and what are illusions. The sisters love each other and have been close so the losses are tearing them apart. Annaleigh learns about a Trickster who causes chaos and she tries to figure out who called the Trickster and made a selfish deal, ending in ripping their family into pieces. Full of fantasy and mystery, this book weaves a beautifully written tale of enchantment, 5 stars!

Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!

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Creepy fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!
Ivy’s mother recently committed suicide, so she’s going to live on the island of Darkhaven with her Uncle Simon and his housekeeper. Ivy soon learns about the Bloodgood family curse from the only other people living on the island, the Ramsey family. Veronica, the housekeeper, later explains the curse to Ivy. Uncle Simon also tells Ivy about the murders her great grandfather committed. He killed an entire household leaving only one Ramsey family member alive and then his twelve-year-old daughter walked in and saw him covered in blood. Supposedly this curse makes people crazy. Ivy does make a few friends and school isn’t too bad but living in the manor becomes stranger and scarier. Ivy sees skeletons, ghosts and finds a body covered in blood. She almost falls off the cliff but Doyle Ramsey happens to wake her just in time from her sleep walking. I would have liked a little more information about Ivy’s parents and the relationship they had but Dreaming Darkly is spooky fun with all the suspense and creepiness needed to make an edge-of-your-seat read, 5 stars!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Intense and clever!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!
The story opens as Miguel walks his night shift rounds in the empty, not-yet-open office building. He hears a scream and gunshots so he calls 9-1-1 and two policemen arrive. The police are skeptical until an elevator door opens and they start shooting. When Miguel finally gets a view of the elevator, he’s disturbed because he’s never seen that much blood before. The story then jumps back to thirty-four hours earlier when four people meet in an empty office building in the South Bronx on a Friday night. Next, Sylvie, Sam, Jules and Vincent are introduced to the story and they’re all on edge since the meeting was set up last minute and is interfering with their personal plans. The meeting appears to be an escape room challenge and as the four coworkers struggle to find clues, the story alternates with Sara as she’s interviewed, hired and works for Stanhope. Fresh out of college, Sara is thrown right into the devious nature of the career path she’s chosen and the financial and investment banker world takes a devastating toll on her entire life. Greed makes people cold and brutal and Sara learns firsthand how cruel people can be. She’s upset over the supposed suicidal death of coworker Lucy and questions Vincent when she feels that Lucy didn’t really commit suicide. She asks him if he thinks that maybe there was foul play. After that discussion, Sara’s berated about her work and her appearance and she eventually loses her job. The story alternates between Sara and her four elevator-confined coworkers. The escape room clues are interesting and we learn the reasoning behind them as the trapped four work them out. A solid suspenseful tale of greed, self-absorption and actions people might take to ensure that they come out on top, 4 stars!

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith

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Tough situations handled well by author!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith!
First we meet Chris, who’s changed identities. Next is Maia who has lost her sister Mallory. Both main characters feel lost and, while Chris is struggling with the transformation of being transgender, Maia is trying to figure out the basics of who she is without her sister. The two of them work through some of their struggles together but Maia seems to be having a more difficult time adjusting personally than Chris. Transgenderism is handled perfectly from all perspectives, personal, family, friends and romantic relationships. Being transgender would be difficult enough as it is, but adding a relationship would make everything even more complicated. How and when do you tell your romantic interest or even just a new friend? They have a right to know, so their feelings are respected too. The author approaches these issues gently and respectfully for all sides involved. Losing a loved one is also part of this book and that’s something that all of us will have to deal with at sometime in our lives. These tough situations are handled well by the author, who also shares her own experiences with sexuality. I wish the cover was better though; I can see it being a deterrent for readers. 3.5 stars!