Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Tugged at my heart!

Edie has been in foster care for three years since her mom passed away. Her mother’s sister, Norah, brings her to their home as her new guardian to improve her. Norah and her daughters, Maria and Julia, make it their mission to improve Edie through makeovers, new clothes and unsolicited advice. Edie doesn’t feel like she belongs or is even wanted other than as a project for them. Her long ago friend, crush and first kiss, Sebastian, lives next door but he has a girlfriend, Claire. Claire’s brother Henry is a player and he’s showing interest in Edie. Edie doesn’t trust him until he shows her that he’s actually a nice, sweet guy that truly cares for her. The relationship they build helps ease crush pains. She learns a lot about herself through her relationship with Henry and grows as a person. This book is more than I expected and it tugged at my heart. 5 stars!

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

A perfect mystery thriller!

Emma remembers summer camp fifteen years ago when her three cabin mates disappeared. She’s now an artist and the three missing girls disappearing into the forest are the subject of most of her paintings. At her art show, the camp owner shows up, purchases one of her paintings and asks her to lunch. At lunch the next day, Emma is asked to be an art teacher to camp residents when it reopens. When she arrives she’s told the counselors are to pick a cabin to stay in with the campers, so Emma requests Dogwood, her old cabin. She’ll be the only adult in the cabin with three teens, Miranda, Krystal and Sasha. Emma is anxious about being back at the camp and every sight, sound and scent reminds her of fifteen years ago. When Miranda, Krystal and Sasha go missing, chaos erupts throughout the camp, accusations fly and the danger has just begun. A perfect mystery thriller, 5 stars!

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Not what I was expecting!

This is a historical fiction book about a serial killer in 1958 that’s committing the Bloodless Murders. Police find a fifteen year old girl among the latest victims and she’s unharmed but drenched in blood. This is a story told from an observer’s point of view and the observer becomes friends with one of the accused murderers. At the latest victims’ home, Marie is captured by police when she’s found standing by the bodies. Once she’s in custody, she’ll only talk to the sheriff’s son Michael. Michael tells this story that really leaves more questions than answers. I wanted the mystery to be solidly solved and to know if Marie committed these murders on her own or if she really was being trained by an older man. I can see her being delusional and thinking there’s someone with her or being vague to throw suspicion off of herself. Then the ending…? 3.5 stars for a truly atmospheric experience that made me feel like I had been transported to the late 1950’s and the characters that pulled the tale along!

Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

Deliciously cute and innocently romantic!

Cupcake by Cookie O’ Gorman is a deliciously cute and innocently romantic read for young adults!
Ariel is a full bodied young woman and she’s proud of who she is even when others are unkind. Her best friend, Toni, nominates her for the Homecoming royalty without Ariel knowing. Ariel may like herself but she’s been bullied about her size and that makes her wary of gaining attention or being in any spotlight. Being part of the homecoming royalty stresses her out. Ariel has many talents and friends. She’s kind and caring and loves to bake amazing treats for sharing and posting on her vlog. Rhys is her designated homecoming prince for all of the activities and he’s also the star quarterback. She’s a bit intimidated by him and the other royalty. As she gets to know the other royalty better and they get to know her, friendships begin. Cupcake is an adorable story of growth, confidence and loving yourself!

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

An imminent catastrophic event can change how you view your life.

In the life of high school, there’s popular Peter, keep to herself Eliza, laid back Andy, and parent pressured Anita. Each has their own problems and they casually know each other from attending Hamilton High School. When news of the asteroid in the sky having 66.6% chance of colliding with Earth, the four students question their true intentions and discover what truly matters. Their town gets more chaotic and stressed the closer the asteroid gets. The four teens’ lives entwine and things spiral, sometimes out of control. I grew to care about them and stayed invested in their stories throughout the book. Realistic fiction with a dystopian touch, 5 stars!

The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears

Every adult and young adult should read this book!

Dane Riley is an interesting character. He needs purpose but has extreme difficulty finding any. His self esteem is rock bottom and he’s grieving the loss of his dad. Dane is a senior on the verge of graduating high school yet he has no idea what he wants for his future. He has a few good friends that don’t attend the same high school and he has a deep crush on Ophelia, his classmate that also happens to be his next door neighbor. This story gave me food for thought and some good advice along the way. I especially appreciate the statement that Dane’s English teacher told him:

“During high school, it seems like nothing that you’re doing is important, but if you want to eventually have an interesting job, to have some reason to look forward to getting up in the morning, the course you set for yourself really does matter.”

This is also a well-advised quote:

“Life is just what you make it. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

Every young adult and adult should read this book. It might build connections between parents and children, teachers and students and a greater understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. Am enjoyable and valuable read, 5 stars!

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Two beautiful people open the story with their jaw-dropping presence. They turn out to be the god of war, Ares, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite describes how she feels no passion or love and this is because she’s bound to give love to others but never be able to feel it in return, for all of eternity. She tells the story of James and Hazel; when they first met one week before he was heading into the Great War. Their story continues through letters after he’s sent to war, at least during his training. Hazel becomes a relief volunteer and heads to France. Aubrey, a pianist from Harlem, is in France with his unit heading to the war. Colette has lost her loved ones during the German attack on Belgium. The story floats around the interactions and experiences of these four, Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. World War I history has been unclear to me but this book helped my understanding of this horrible war known as the Great War. I adore the four main characters and my heart soared and broke right alongside theirs. Based on historical facts and people, Lovely War tells a powerful tale, 5 stars!

Love Spells and Other Disasters by Angie Barrett

Love Spells and Other Disasters by Angie Barrett
Rowan lives with her ghost-whisperer mom in an old family mansion that belonged to Rowan’s deceased father’s family. Her mother is famous for her abilities and Rowan is slightly embarrassed by it all, since she doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. At school, she’s paired with a snobby Abby who isn’t nice to Rowan. Their assignment is to create a lucrative business together. Abby comes up with the idea of making love spells and has Rowan write them up and fold them into origami hearts. Luca is helping with the renovation of Rowan’s home. Luca and Rowan talk and begin dating and everyone seems surprised by this because Luca is popular and was a star athlete until an injury ended that and everyone thinks Rowan is odd. The love spells were supposed to be harmless fun but Abby finds a real love spell and Rowan uses it on her mom because she seems lonely. Afterward, Rowan notices that some of the couples are unhappy and her mom has gone loopy. She finds a reversal spell that undoes the real spells, causing angry customers. She deals with the backlash through acts of kindness that seem to appease and calm people down. 4 stars for this romance with a bit of magic!

Roaring by Lindsey Duga

Action packed historical fiction with a supernatural twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Roaring by Lindsey Duga!
A siren, Eris, hides in a speakeasy in Boston during the roaring 1920’s. A bureau agent, Colt Clemmons, is sent to capture and bring her in because they believe she’s a monster. Eris sings with the band but refuses to speak to anyone since she doesn’t want to influence people, except when she can use her influence for good. Colt and Eris run and become involved in numerous acts of violence and danger, while falling for each other. They also discover a devious plot that no one suspected. I enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of the 1920’s setting and both the characters of Colt and Eris. The supernatural added a unique twist to the story and brought in a bit of science fiction also. Genre-bending story set in the 1920’s, 4 stars!

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Twisted Sci-Fi!
Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus tells the tragic story of Liv, her father Lee, and her lifelong friend Doug. I immediately feel sorry for Liv and her father because I can predict the judgmental treatment that will probably happen after his episode of incoherent talking and nakedness in front of the community. Liv and Doug are friends and continue to maintain the traps and protection her father set after he said he was harmed by aliens a few years ago. Lee took Liv and Doug on a hunting trip and he ran away towards something that the other two couldn’t see. Liv is friends with a popular group and Doug is more of a loner that doesn’t fit in. Doug believes Lee, Liv’s father, about the aliens but Liv doesn’t. Her mother doesn’t either and they think he’s just mentally unhealthy. One day, as Liv is checking one of the traps her dad created, she finds an alien caught in one. This blows Liv’s mind. Doug and Liv keep the alien, or skinner as Lee called them, imprisoned in her backyard shed and interrogate it for any information about Lee. The skinner eventually speaks three words: car, bow, hole. Doug believes torture is the best way to get information about Lee from the skinner; Liv disagrees. This disagreement builds a rift between them and they go their separate ways. Liv realizes that car, bow, hole might mean the name Carbajal. She does some searching and meets a mysterious, dilapidated man with that name. He gives her frightening information. Several twists and tragedy build and end the science fiction story, 4 stars!