Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Tremendously honest, heartbreaking and soul healing!

Kya lives in the marshlands of North Carolina with her poverty stricken family. Her father is abusive and, one by one, her siblings leave and, eventually, so does her mother. Her father stays and he seems better for a time, even kind. Then he falls back into his old ways again and ends up leaving too. Kya tries school for a day but after being bullied, she doesn’t return. She makes it completely on her own and digs mussels to sell to the local store to bring in money for food. Tate, a boy a few years older than Kya, loves to explore the marsh. They become friends and he teaches her to read. With reading, she discovers and teaches herself to be literate and all about the marshlands and its nature. She illustrates and collects samples of everything she finds in her marsh area. Tate leaves to attend college and becomes a biologist and works in the marsh. He submits Kya’s illustrations and notes to a publisher and she becomes a published author several times over. She adds comforts to her house and lives well by her own wealth. She lives simply but she gets electricity and running water and other basic comforts that she’s never had. When Tate went away to college, he realized that his life would be difficult for Kya. So, he doesn’t visit her for years. While he’s away, the local and popular Chase moves in on Kya. He tricks her into thinking he’s going to marry her, all the while dating other women. Kya eventually sees his engagement article in the local newspaper and ends it with him. Later, he attacks her, trying to rape her and he beats her up. She fights back and escapes. His body is found later and it looks like he fell from the fire tower in the marsh. Since he was a local celebrity, the police are pushed to investigate for foul play. Kya is arrested and faced with a murder trial. The whole time I’m reading the part after Chase attacks Kya, I’m hoping she killed him but I also don’t want her to be found guilty. The suspense builds to intensity and I couldn’t put the book down! Tremendously honest, heartbreaking and soul healing! 5 stars!

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

A wonderful mix of dystopian, science fiction and adventure awaits!

Running from someone she stole from, Sena ends up accidentally hiding inside a feral wolf’s cage. She’s caught by the den boss, Kalba, so he makes a deal with her that she’ll pay her debt by healing the wolf. The wolf’s name is Iska. Kalba named his prized fighting wolf after Sena’s mom. This irritates her horribly. She agrees to help heal Iska but she gets sidetracked more than once with trying to steal enough to pay her way off the ice planet. After a few misadventures, Sena ends up with a racing team that’s planning scientific studies of the exocarbon that the planet is known for. Sena is angry with herself because she vowed that she would never race. She learns how much she can truly handle and how teamwork helps tremendously with problem solving. I enjoyed this read, even through Sena’s pessimism and stubbornness. A wonderful mix of dystopian, science fiction and adventure awaits readers who want to plunge into another world, 5 stars!

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

Completely Riveting!

Agnes resides within a cult at Red Creek but she doesn’t realize that she’s part of a cult. She’s the eldest of several siblings and is responsible for taking care of their family because their mother is severely depressed. Agnes sneaks to the Outside once a month to retrieve insulin for her younger brother Ezekiel, even though she knows it’s against the rules. Her sister Beth, the next eldest sibling, is a rebel and doesn’t like the rules. When Beth is caught kissing a boy, she’s disgraced by their father and the community. Agnes has been betrothed as a sixth wife to a middle-aged man and before she gets married, she has to teach Beth everything so she can then become the family caretaker. The middle-aged man decides to marry Beth instead of Agnes to straighten Beth out. In the meantime, a ferocious virus is spreading throughout the world and eventually arrives at Red Creek. The Prophet releases an infected dog during a church meeting and, after a few people are bitten, he tells them about his revelation; the Rapture has arrived and everyone must move into the underground bunker. Agnes escapes with Ezekiel and is heartbroken that she’s left the rest of her siblings behind. She knows that the bunker would be a death sentence for Ezekiel because there’s no insulin for him. This is a riveting story about cults, self-worth, self-importance, bravery, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The author’s note explains the cult background information being from a nonfiction book of a survivor who escaped a true cult. A wonderfully written and all-encompassing story about love, sacrifice, and different faiths, 5 stars!

Fable by Adrienne Young

Fable is on her own, trying to survive long enough to get off the island her father left her on years ago. Her mother died in a shipwreck and her father deserted her and left her to survive completely on her own. She’s tough and has gained survival skills all by her wits. She manages to get off the island by buying passage aboard the Marigold, a ship that she later discovers is one of her father’s. She finally reaches Saint and he’s just as cold to her as she expected, even though she hoped for more. He does give her the inheritance her mother would have left her but nothing is given easily or with any help when Saint is involved. She also figures out why Saint carved into her arm all those years ago. Fable bargains cleverly and becomes a true part of a crew and she finally feels like she has a place where she belongs. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, a pirate adventure with strong characters, great character development and dangerous setting, 5 stars!

All These Monsters by Amy Tintera

In a world being endangered by scrabs (human killing creatures), Clara is ready to do anything to get away from her abusive father, so she decides to join a scrab fighting army. The privately funded army has recruits across the globe. Clara goes to Paris and London with her team. She trains, battles scrabs and builds relationships. One of her relationships turns out toxic while others feel like she belongs to a good family. Dynamics between characters and the world-building create a mix of intrigue, danger and suspense. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger so I’m struggling to wait for the second book of this duology. 5 stars for a dangerous adventure ride!