The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker. Rilla lives with her grandmother. After her father dies, she’s unsure about college because she worries about leaving her grandmother and she wants to keep her father’s fishing business going. The story is a bit odd but starts to pick up around chapter four when Rilla meets Sam on the small island where he’s doing research on an archeological dig. Sam knows about the Malaga Island history and he shares his research with Rilla. Rilla is worried that she’s following her mother’s footsteps because she’s seeing a ghost and hearing her voice. Rilla’s mother talked to the water people and she left her family when Rilla was very young because she wanted to keep her family safe. All Rilla knows about her mother is that she waded into the ocean with heavy rocks in her pockets weighing her down and then she admitted herself into a mental institution. Rilla has kept the apparition to herself and continues to do so until she grows comfortable enough with Sam to confide in him. She also needs his help to keep herself safe and to figure out the ghostly mystery. Little by little, the two of them piece together the visions and the island’s history and uncover a tragic event that connects Rilla and her family to Malaga Island. I love it when authors share their research with readers and explain their reasoning behind the story they’ve created. When a book is based on historical facts, I always want to dive into the research and study the truth that helped create the fiction. 4 stars for an intriguing story that pulled me into a lesser known part of American history.

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

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Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell is a perfect October read. The prologue creates a creepy feeling and, when the story opens with two friends and a ouija board, it seems a little more lighthearted until the foreshadowing leads to dread and tragedy. At that point, I was pulled into the book and couldn’t put it down. Sophie travels to Scotland to visit relatives and to learn about how her cousin Rebecca died. Strange things are happening at Sophie’s cousins’ home and she wants to figure it all out. Sophie gets closer to the spooky happenings while her cousins act more and more strangely. The twists and revelations are fascinatingly spooky! 5 stars for this young adult horror story!

Never Apart by Romily Bernard

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Never Apart by Romily Bernard. This story is different from what I expected but I still enjoyed the concept, the characters, and the twist. It began as a science fiction story dealing with parallel universes and it turned into so much more! I don’t want to ruin the plot for any potential readers, so I will just say that the story alternates between then and now, the characters of Grace, Ander and Finn kept my interest and their actions kept me guessing. 4 stars for a unique book!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review A Messy Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan. The story begins with theater students putting on a show with another school and describing how much fun the improv acts turned out. I kind of wish I could have been in that audience. Later, Ellie and her stepbrother Craig head to the beach and then to a house party after being invited by Jason, the guy who acted out improv with Ellie at the show. That’s how Ellie and Jason met, an improv performance. While Ellie is walking to a fire with Jason at the party, she falls and ends up at the hospital and everyone thinks she’s broken her leg. When her mom, Craig and her friends Hana and Quinn are visiting with Ellie in her hospital room, the doctor informs Ellie that she has cancer. I love how people rally around Ellie and how she keeps her attitude as upbeat as possible. The school counselor is fantastic, Ellie’s mom is amazing and Craig is the best stepbrother ever. The author’s note describes her own battle with cancer and her involvement with improv and the similarities she has with her character Ellie and just like Ellie, she had many people show true support when she needed it most. This heartwarming story is enjoyable to read and is full of endearing characters! 5 stars for this young adult realistic fiction!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz

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Thanks to NetGalley and Second Story Press for the opportunity to read and review To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz. The prologue tells of the Nazi soldier, Oskar Groening, being guilty of persecution by aiding and abetting at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The now ninety-four year old soldier has been brought to court for justice to be served. Before the prologue, a brief description of statistics states the small number of Auschwitz guards that actually faced justice, it’s astoundingly appalling. Jordana attends a Jewish Day school and she travels with schoolmates to tour concentration camps. Jordana’s impressive efforts created a temporary Holocaust exhibit showing other genocides around the world and comparing them to what took place during the Holocaust. I appreciate her idea of bringing to light other genocides as well, to teach and hopefully prevent more atrocities. Jordana continues to spread the knowledge of the Holocaust and advocates for human rights. The author, Kathy Kacer, learned about the Holocaust from her parents who were both survivors of the persecution. 5 stars for this example of strength and perseverance in the midst of awfulness.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

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Thanks to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Lab TM for the opportunity to read and review Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield! June lives with her father, stepmother and stepsister and, unbeknownst to her father, is abused by the other two. The story is told in June’s point of view and describes the abuse she endures at home, the bullying she receives at school and her wonderful friend Blister and his loving family. Blister and his family are the only light in June’s life and when tragedy strikes, they stand by her the entire time. At times both heartbreaking and hopeful, this story reminded me that things aren’t always what they seem and how important it is to have someone believe in you. 4 stars for a story that starts out simple but builds in intensity and follows through with a punch. Realistic fiction that deals with abuse, tragedy, friendship and relationships.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.

IT by Stephen King

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It by Stephen King- oh, the wonderful writing of Stephen King with his creative and spooky imagination! It opens with Georgie in 1957, witnessed by Mr. Gardner, as he runs after his homemade paper boat in the rain. The boat was made by his older brother, Billy. The story of Georgie alternates with the story of Aidan Mellon in 1984 and the arrest, of who the police thought the killers were, made by Harold Gardner, Mr. Gardner’s son. The story of horror continues through generations in the town of Derry. The confusion, violence and human degradation continue also with the study of human behavior that only Stephen King can pinpoint and deeply describe so well. As I read It, I became less scared and more disturbed by the happenings of human conduct in Derry. The story alternates between episodes of Pennywise’s activity, spanning centuries. The story lost its spooky appeal as it kept dragging on. The ending is not as satisfying as I was hoping it would be. The almost sci-fi ending is strange. Sadly, this is not one of my favorite Stephen King books. 3.5 stars.

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout! If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The story opens with Lena waking up and not knowing where she is. Time moves backward. Lena keeps to herself and has more than a crush on her neighbor, Sebastian. She’s kind of a homebody and enjoys reading. We get to see into all aspects of Lena’s life and the choices she makes. My heart stopped a few times during the story because of suspense. It also stopped because of the fear of what happened to Lena and her friends and, for a while, not knowing which friends were involved in the accident. This heartfelt story teaches us that we’re all capable of making mistakes and wrong choices and we’re also capable of healing. We also need people to help us overcome and handle grief. 5 stars for another great young adult book from Jennifer L. Armentrout!

I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.

When Time is a River by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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When Time is a River by Susan Clayton-Goldner is a mystery for adults and young adults alike. The story begins with Brandy in the office of a plastic surgeon. She’s suffering from the results of an accident that has changed her face and she wants to look like she used to. She’s babysitting her two-and-a-half-year-old half sister, Emily, at the park during a community Teddy Bear Picnic and while Brandy is in the bathroom stall, someone takes Emily! She overheard Emily talking about Pooh Bear not taking a nap and the detective found flat shoe prints in the restroom. Two witnesses claimed to have seen Emily with a Pooh Bear getting into a car. I didn’t imagine the turn of events that unfolded as the mystery progressed. The unpredictability built suspense and my appreciation for the author’s ability to spin a riveting story! An impressive mystery that is part of the Redemption Lake series but can be read as a stand alone book also. 5 stars for a perfect mystery!

I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.