Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

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Mutating virus on the rampage!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Plague Land by Alex Scarrow.
A fast-moving, fast-killing virus is spreading across the globe while some governments are hiding the fact and scientists are scurrying to understand and overcome the virus. Leon, his sister and mother are traveling by train to his grandparents’ house when the virus hits. Several people on the train are infected and die, so when daylight comes, they travel outdoors and watch for the telltale flakes of the virus. Two of their group get touched by the virus and by the time they reach a barn for shelter, they show signs of the virus and die in front of their eyes. The virus continues to evolve and grow into larger organisms that fight even harder for survival. The author creates intense imagery and a frightening sense of loneliness and destruction. Creepy dystopian, 4 stars!

After the Fire by Will Hill

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Gripping realistic fiction for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review After the Fire by Will Hill! The story opens during an attack and the main character, Moonbeam, is running for her life. She’s a resident of a community made up of fellow followers of The Legion and their leader is Father John. The fenced in community is under attack by the Government. Eventually, the attack is over and Moonbeam is at a rehabilitation center for mental and physical healing and also to learn to return to what she knows as the Outside. Moonbeam tells her story and the story of her fellow community members, Legionmates, through her interviews with a therapist and a government agent. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about the Waco Siege and its similarities to the Legion community. As I read the author’s note at the end of the book, he explains his reasoning for writing about the fictional character of Moonbeam and I was impressed with how delicately and respectfully he dealt with the similarities to Karesh’s religious community near Waco, Texas and how he honors the followers. The idea of one person gripping so many people and convincing them to sacrifice everything for that leader is curious and interesting and very sad. Will Hill handles this content well and breathes life into the characters and the tragic events that they lived or didn’t live through. 5 stars for this gripping realistic fiction story for young adults!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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A heartbreaking mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sadie by Courtney Summers!
Sadie seems lost. She’s searching for her stepfather to exact revenge for her younger sister’s murder. As the story is told, Sadie’s background unfolds. She’s had a life of abuse and neglect along with several “stepdads”. Sadie raised her younger sister Mattie since their mother was usually high or nonexistent in their lives. Sadie is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give anything away. The intensity and pain broke my heart but the unconditional love that Sadie has for Mattie warmed my heart back up again. Sadie’s stutter made it difficult for her to make friends and her tragic life made it impossible for her to even keep or have friends. She lives in painful loneliness and only has the idea of vengeance to keep her going. A difficult to put down mystery, Sadie pulled 100% of my attention until I finished reading the book, 5 heartbreaking stars!

Toxic by Lydia Kang

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Enjoyable sci-fi adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Toxic by Lydia Kang!
Toxic is a sci-fi adventure involving an abandoned teenager created in a lab, a biological spacecraft and a team on a suicide mission. Hana’s alone on the ship after her mother and the crew left without telling her. Fenn and the rest of the mission group members are researching Hana’s ship for future progress, even though they won’t be around to see it. They went to this spacecraft knowing that they would not make it off alive. They will die with the ship, as it deteriorates, so will they. I don’t feel like I can explain much of the story without giving too much away. I can safely say that the range of characters is fun, the story is original and Toxic is an enjoyable, interesting science fiction read, 4 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Deeply moving!
Thanks to Edelweiss+, NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti!
This story captivated me with it’s mysterious, traumatic event and the strength of the main character and supporting characters. Also, the charm and humor of family and all the quirks that go along with that wonderful six letter word. The story is somewhat difficult to follow; I’m sure that was on purpose by the author because the back and forth, scattered thoughts represent the stress of the main character very well. A heartbreaking and inspiring story that fully reveals the event by the end of the book. 5 stars for this deeply moving realistic fiction!

#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

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Horror with a bit of humor!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Murder Trending by Gretchen McNeil!
Government-sanctioned serial killers entertain citizens on The Postman app, which shows them hunting and killing convicts. A seventeen-year-old has been convicted of killing her stepsister. This teen’s name is Dee and she says she’s innocent. After the trial, Dee woke up on Alcatraz Island in a cell that reminded her of when she’d been kidnapped as an eleven-year-old. She has no recollection of the time between her trial and waking up in a cell on Alcatraz Island. The back and forth telling of the kidnapping and Alcatraz Island was difficult to follow for a while, but I kept reading and the story did get better. The characters grew on me and the unique plot and setting drew my interest. With some twists and turns and a bit of humor, #Murdertrending is entertaining, 4 stars!

Dreamfall by Amy Plum

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Dream Fall by Amy Plum involves a group of teenagers suffering from insomnia. They meet for the introduction of a medical treatment that’s supposed to help them all get full nights of sleep. This is a medical trial for these seven teenagers who are in the second batch of testing, the betas. One person, the alpha, has been successful with the treatment already. After the seven reach the dream state, there’s a power bump which causes them to enter a comatose state, according to the research doctors. But the teenagers are actually stuck in a horrifying dream world together. One by one, the dreaming teenagers realize that they are together in a combined dream state. None of them can remember the medical trial or any other short term happenings. While the teens sleep on, the doctors over the trial frantically try to fix their comatose state. As the group moves through each other’s nightmares, they began to recall where they are. The danger keeps increasing and death becomes all too real. The ending is a cliffhanger and the scariest part of the story. 4 stars for this young adult horror story!

Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros!
This sequel dives deeper into the effects of Project Pandora. My heart broke for Hades. His story is made more powerful through the alternating points of view of Hades, Shannon and Tyler. Hades is on a mission to destroy Charles Warren, the man in charge of Project Pandora and the man who treated Hades horribly while “conditioning” him. Shannon and Tyler search for any and all information that they can find on Project Pandora and come across another project-Project Prometheus. While Project Pandora was about creating assassins through environmental control, Project Prometheus is about creating the perfect human beings to control the future through leadership roles. Hades struggles with staying in the moment and he’s unsure if what he’s seeing is actually real and happening or a hallucination. When he meets his mother, he’s unsure how to feel and when she’s uncaring, his heart grows harder. I’m glad this series hasn’t ended yet and I’m looking forward to the next installment. 5 stars for the character depth and development!

 

Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

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Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!