People Like Us by Dana Mele

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A young adult mean girl mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review People Like Us by Dana Mele!
Kay and her group of friends find a body floating in the water when they go on their annual Halloween night jump in the lake. They realize that it’s a classmate and it looks like she’s slashed her wrists. Kay and her group of friends act entitled and insensitive. They also seem to be untrusting and possibly untrustworthy. They are the embodiment of mean girls. Kay is the main character dealing with death in her recent past and guilt about those deaths. Since she started attending the Bates boarding school, she’s truly become spiteful and petty, making decisions from bad to worse. When murder occurs, Kay is forced to step back and evaluate her actions, who she is and who she wants to become. There’s a bit of a twist and the bulk of the book deals with Kay’s background and her relationships with everyone, from family to friends to acquaintances. A young adult mean girl mystery, 4 stars!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 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!

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

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A journey of trials, errors and growth filled with charming characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon!
Unique storytelling in the form of diary entries by Twinkle, as she relays the happenings in her life, let us know what makes her tick. Twinkle’s charming and calmly optimistic outlook on life shines as she addresses her entries to famous women that she admires. She wants to be a filmmaker and in the process of making her film, ends up hurting several people. She feels overwhelmed and has to step back and reevaluate everything. A journey of trials and errors and growth filled with charming characters makes this realistic fiction story a keeper, 4 stars!

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Realistic fiction filled with the strength of family!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Save the Date by Morgan Matson!
Reminiscent of Cheaper By The Dozen and Sixteen Candles since chaos seems to surround the Grant family and a family member is getting married during this story. The mother created a comic strip depicting the lives and happenings of the family members and it’s now coming to an end. Charlie, the main character, has a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Jesse and he knows it. Everything that can go wrong with the wedding seems to happen and the Grant family is past their elbows in stress. Their family is literally falling apart and breaking up while they are featured on tv as being the perfect family. The story comes around in a complete circle with the family members airing their grievances and struggling to work them out. Consequences seem to bring everything into the open in this realistic fiction drama filled with chaos and contention and also the strength of family, 4 stars!

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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A solid 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga!
In a world where kisses mean power, two royals struggle in keeping their separate beliefs from interfering with the work they need to do together- vanquishing evil. The unique storyline caught my interest and as infuriating as Princess Ivy and Prince Zach could be, they still made me smile. I enjoyed the part with the cursed amulet and the three emotional enchantments; Ivy’s and Zach’s characters shined. Intriguing and suspenseful, Kiss of the Royal earns a solid 4 stars!

Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Watching You by Shannon Greenland. Viola is attending Ponce de Leon Academy because she’s been awarded a scholarship, a scholarship that someone else was relying on since he’s been the recipient for the past three years. Now Riel is a senior with no way to pay for school. Viola is grateful for the chance to attend the academy with its connection to MIT, where she’s dreamed of going as long as she can remember. She comes from a not-so-good background and she wants to change things and make everything better for her family. The story is told from Viola’s point of view with a creepy stalker speaking every so often. The pace picks up and the background is set, while the characters grow more interesting and intriguing. At first, Viola comes across as whiny, but the more I got to know her, the more I liked her and could understand her reasoning. I appreciate Viola’s perseverance and Riel’s strength and his dedication to his younger sister. The underlying message of how hard work and goals are important in becoming successful reminds readers that work ethic is a wonderful thing. This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages, 4 stars!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

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Sad, harsh, funny and enlightening all at the same time!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan. After reading the synopsis, I thought the story would be harsh and depressing. It’s both of those with a bit of humor added into the mix. It’s almost a desperation humor and a way for the main character, Ronney to deal with his rough life. He’s fifteen and pretty much like a parent to his younger sister Mina, who’s extremely smart. Their mother holds a job and brings home a paycheck but she’s deeply depressed. Their father flubbed a suicide attempt and only has use of one of his arms. He’s depressed and mostly hangs out in his bedroom. Ronney helps with home repairs and his little sister’s homework. He’s in love with his best friend but she’s dating his other best friend, Jello. Ronney’s life is full of complications and he’s barely dealing. The zoo animals are set loose and Jello wants to safari and do a photo shoot with all of the loose animals he can find. This adds comic relief to the story and also danger. The story is sad, harsh, enlightening and funny all at the same time, 4 stars!

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

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Little Boy Lost by J. D. Trafford tells the story of a lawyer, Justin Glass, who is down on his luck, gets a visit from a young girl looking for her missing brother, willing to pay for his help with a jar full of change. He asks around and eventually discovers that the missing brother is part of a mass grave full of many murdered young men. All of the victims were criminals in one way or another and the perpetrator seems like he could be some sort of vigilante. In the meantime, Justin gets an awesome paralegal, Emma. She’s from Bosnia and was a certified lawyer there. Since she knows about the legal system, she gets Justin and his office in tip top shape.
While helping with this case, he’s dealing with being a single parent and feeling helpless when he discovers that his daughter is being bullied. Dealing with the murder case, he seems to be doing more investigating than the law enforcement is. With the help of his paralegal and her close-by relatives, Justin Glass is able to solve the mystery but this puts his life in danger also. A strong cast of characters and a suspenseful mystery that tugs at the heartstrings, 4 stars!