Book Review · Books

How To Build A Heart

Izzy’s dad passed 6 years ago in the war and it still feels like yesterday. Thankfully she has her best friend Roz to cheer her up and her little brother Jack. Izzy enjoys attending her private high school though she struggles with feeling like she fits in. When the new girl in chorus, Aubrey, befriends Izzy, she’s excited to discover this girl is the sister of her best friend’s crush, Sam.

As Izzy gets to know the new chorus girl, she inadvertently gets to know Sam better. Izzy can see why Roz has such a big crush. He’s genuinely nice. The problem is he has a girlfriend that’s quite the b.

When Izzy’s mom discloses they are trying to get approved for a Habitat house, Izzy is thrilled, but then nervous when she realizes Sam and Aubrey will be her neighbors. She shys away from sharing her big secret. She’s not sure how Roz will react if she moves.

I received my complimentary digital copy of How To Build A Heart by Maria Padian, from Algonquin Young Readers and NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own will. This novel is sweet, fast paced and full of true heart. If you enjoy contemporary YA then you will enjoy this book.

Book Review · Books

In The Neighborhood Of True

Ruth Rob moves to Atlanta from New York after her father passes. Living with her grandparents, along with her mom and sister is different. Her grandparents are well off and into social status. Ruth is plain Jane, but wants to fit into the new social circle she’s trust into at her new private school. Her mom is not wanting her daughter to get into the whole debutante scene that she ran away from herself. She wants her daughter to keep her independent self intact, not become a fufu sheep.

Ruth has her own secret she holds to her heart. Her Jewish faith. When Ruth decides she wants to participate in the social ball her mom makes her agree to going to the local Temple with her. There Ruth meets Max. He’s a tad quirky, but he’s not Ruth’s crush, Davis whose part of the fufu crowd at school. Both teen boys vey for her attention.

Diving into life in Atlanta in the late 50’s is fraught with social clashes between Jews, whites and blacks. When an awful event happens, Ruth has to determine which teen boy is worthy of her. Is Davis all true charm? Is Max just nerdy, or is there more depth to him? Will Ruth ever come clean about her own beliefs?

This novel delves into the ugly topic of racism in the south in the 50’s. This book’s description of this era is spot on. Written charmingly, details so accurate I want to put on bright classy red lipstick and a cute skirt with a cardigan. There are details in this novel I wanted to jump up to Google because it sounded so unique I wondered if it was truly something from that era.

I received my complimentary digital copy of In The Neighborhood Of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton from Algonquin Books, Care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and my own choice. This book is hard to put down. It handles the topics within it honestly, raw and with grace. I hope the author will choose to write a sequel.

Book Review · Books

Wilder Girls

With all the craziness this world is going through currently I wasn’t quite prepared for what I would find in the novel Wilder Girls. This novel’s theme is quite timely and ironic considering it came out before we would have to imagine a world in which being quarantined wasn’t merely a fictional hypothesis.

The one person at Raxter girl’s school who keeps Hetty’s life sane is Byatt. They are best friends and bunk mates. When the Tox hits and everyone has some kind of side effect from the mysterious illness Hetty gets promoted to Boat Shift. This is the coveted group of girls who help bring back supplies that are dropped off on the tip of the island they are on. When Hetty goes on her first patrol she realizes there is more going on than what is disclosed to the students.

Hetty has the quandary of liking her best friend, but the third friend in their trio, Reese seems to have not as hard of a countenance as she lets on. When Byatt gets carted off after experiencing one of her side effects of the illness Hetty is determined to find her best friend. Will Reese help Hetty find Byatt?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Wilder Girls by Rory Power, from Delacorte Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and my own choice. This novel is nail biting, emotional and twisted. This is a YA novel that I don’t think is best for younger teens as it does have bits of violence. I’ve heard this novel compared to Lord Of The Flies. I’ve never read this classic, but after reading Wilder Girl’s I don’t think the old classic will hold up to this novel. If you are needing a page turner to stay up all the night for a readathon then go grab a copy of Wilder Girls.

Book Review · Books

Burn Our Bodies Down

Margot’s life is within the walls of the place she shares with her over worked, emotionally closed off mom. Her mom always tells her to keep a candle burning. Margot thinks this is a tad weird, but any time she deviates her mom gives her an earful. Margot’s life consists of her, her mom and school. No one else.

One day to be thoughtful to her mom, Margot decides to go to the local pawn shop to buy back an item her mom pawned. While trying to find the special item she discovers her mom’s childhood Bible. Inside she discovers a message she’s not expecting and proof her mom had a childhood. She purchases the Bible. The proof contains the name of a place and number. Does she have extended family?

While her mom is at work Margot decides to risk calling the number. Will this family member answer? Do they know she exists? As a person answers the phone her mom appears at the phone booth and demands her to hand over the receiver. There are words exchanged and Margot’s mom slams the payphone down. What’s so terrible about possible family?

Margot decides she has to find out. With the money she skimmed from her mom she hitchhikes to the town referenced. Will Margot find a long lost, loving family member? Can she ever gain the home life she yearns for that her mom seems unable to provide? Why is her mom keeping Margot from family? What could her mom be hiding?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power from Delacorte Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This novel is a whirlwind of different emotions. It’s a roller coaster that keeps you hanging on till the end of the ride wondering what the heck just happened. I’m still trying to mentally wrap my brain around Margot’s story. This novel captures the challenges of family and what family means. If you enjoy YA suspense with a dash of surrealism jump on to this hair raising ride.

Book Review · Books

Brave Enough

Cason Martin is a professional dancer whose life revolves around her dance schedule and high school. While auditioning to get into a professional ballet academy her one leg is giving her extra pain than normal, but Cason pushes through her routine. Her mom is her dance director and expects only perfection. At the end of her routine Cason hears a sound, not realizing it’s her leg. After being rushed to the doctor she finds out she has cancer.

Why does the big C word have to interfere with her plans for greatness? Cason’s one tract mind is on dancing and having to go through treatment isn’t going to help her reach her goal. While going in for treatment she notices a classmate of hers, Davis. He seems nice and everyone seems to like him on the oncology floor. The only problem is that he’s a recovering addict. Cason’s mom nips that potential friendship in the bud.

Davis notices Cason while doing his community service at the hospital and is sad when he realizes she’s there for treatment. Will her mom ever view him anything other than an addict in recovery? Davis decides to work on befriending Cason, though her anger about her circumstances doesn’t help ease his attempts at friendship. Can Davis convince Cason to go to cancer camp for a week?

Will Cason ever accept Davis’ friendship and will she ever come to terms with her diagnosis? Can a recovering pill addict and ballet dancer become friends?

I received my complimentary copy of Brave Enough by Kati Gardner from North Star Editions and Flux, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This novel was just plain sweet. If you need an impactful novel, a sweet YA romance then I highly recommend this title. The subjects involved aren’t easy to always digest, but cancer and pill addiction are two relevant topics in today’s world. I feel the author handled these topics realistically and with grace.

Book Review · Books

The Insurrection

Drayden with his friends Charlie, Sydney and Catrice are returning back from their expedition to bring back batteries for New America. Without these batteries their world will have no more power to be able to light their homes, grow food, etc. The only challenge is now Drayden knows the leaders of New America are full of it, but how to stop them? How can they return pretending ignorance?

This third book in the Initiation series keeps the action coming, the romance quandary for Drayden in full swing between choosing Catrice, or Sydney and discovering what a true best friend Charlie is becoming.

As these teens work to return to New America they get a chance to come to terms with surviving the initiation. The Initiation was an insane course that tested their mental and physical abilities, which lead them to being asked to go on the expedition. On their venture to find batteries Drayden discovers professor Worth who has a connection to those trying to overthrow the leaders of New America. Will he help in Drayden’s quest?

I received my complimentary copy of The Insurrection by Chris Babu from Permuted Press, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab a shiny copy click here and to find out more about the author. This book was a fun, fast read, though a tad long at times. You don’t have to have read the first two books in this series to appreciate this final book, though it does add to the appreciation.

Book Review · Books

The Sound Of Stars

What would we do if aliens landed on earth? This scenario seems more timely lately with all the current UFO sightings. The opening of this novel has our MC, Ellie stuck in a building with other New Yorkers, held captive by aliens called the Ilori. Any kind of entertainment or form of art is illegal. Ellie can’t stand by and let all the books be burned, so she stashes away a few favorites.

Ellie gets the brilliant idea to lend out her books to select teens she can trust. It’s risky, but worth it to provide a distraction from their now boring existence. One night when she goes to check her secret library stash she discovers a book is missing. Who has the book?

Enter in Morris, whose a labmade Ilori, created to serve the true Ilori masters. In looking for contraband he discovers Ellie’s library stash. He decides to borrow one of the books. This book opens his eyes to a story he can’t put down. When he goes to return it one night Ellie discovers him. Will Morris report Ellie? Can she trust this strange alien who likes to read books?

This novel is apocalyptic mixed with aliens, romance, adventure, suspense and so much more. I think it will take me time to come down from my book high after just finishing this book. I can’t shut up about telling other book bloggers to please request this title because my gosh it’s brilliant.

I received my digital complimentary copy of The Sound Of Stars by Alechia Dow from Harlequin Teen and Inkyard Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. Thank you for the opportunity to discover, yet again, another favorite book, new favorite author and the feels are real.

Book Review · Books

What Unbreakable Looks Like

Do you know what it’s like to be trafficked by your own mom’s boyfriend’s friend? Poppy can tell you. She thought she was Mitch’s favorite of all the girls. Her world is thrown for a loop when the cops bust into the hotel where they are staying at and she’s sent to the hospital to get checked out. Poppy finds out her aunt, Krys, wants to take her in. Does Poppy want to escape the Hell hole that her life has become? How can her own aunt choose a broken, used up teen like Poppy? Will anyone truly love her?

When she gets the chance to escape the hospital with one of the other girl’s pulled from the hotel Poppy stays back and decides from then on she’s going to relearn how to be Alexa. She’s leaving Poppy behind and wants to reclaim who she was born to be. Lex.

Will Lex go and live with Krys? Does she cave in and decide to return to Mitch? What will she choose? This novel drops you smack dab into Poppy’s world. It’s a story about how evil sex trafficking is and how one teen decides if she wants to face her demons.

This story is not for the faint of heart. This topic is very adult, heartbreaking, gut wrenching and leaves you stunned. Can you handle Poppy’s story? Her story is addictive and I can guarantee you’ll stay up to find out what happens. Poppy is a character you can’t resist rooting for. Not only rooting for Poppy, but for Lex. Will Poppy allow Lex to shine?

I received my complimentary digital copy of What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin from MacMillian, care of NetGalley. The views are of my own will and are mine. This novel better win lots of awards because this story is vital for everyone (age appropriate of course) to read. I can’t stop thinking about Poppy, Lex and a whole cast of characters you’ll wish you could call up to chat. This novel has the power to change and to help end sex trafficking.

Book Review · Books

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Two teens broken by loss and both struggle with anxiety in different forms. Dew uses a tape recorder to record different conversations and Naima counts the hexagons on her quilt to calm herself. One desperately wants to befriend the other, but trust is a commodity dolled out sparingly.

This novel deals with the loss of a parent and how it’s not easy to keep going, to allow other adults to take over the role of your parent. Dew is thrown into foster care where he acquires a sister, Faith. Naima lives with her grandparents after her stepmom leaves her there for the summer to visit like she does annually. Dew and Naima are neighbors. Can Naima be open to Dew’s friendship or will her anger at her dad for dying close her off to the help that is just a fence away?

The casts of characters in this novel are fun. I like how the author gave a fun nickname to Dew’s coffee shop boss as Sasquatch and his coworker Violet is a bubbly girl whose into new age. I also, think the name for the coffee shop is clever: Baked and Caffeinated.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own will. When I started this book I felt it was ok, but the deeper I got into the story of Dew and Naima the more I grew to love these two characters.

Book Review · Books

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

Ryan is minding his own business when he notices a woman down by the water twirling in a yellow skirt. She looks happy. One minute she is there and the next she disappears. Ryan looks over the railing to see if he can see her, but he sees no one. The water is down a bit of a hill and to get to it he’ll need to crawl. Ryan has cerebral palsy. He doesn’t think of anything else, but to find the unknown woman.

After saving the unknown woman Ryan realizes he knows this person. This person is Jack. Why was he wearing a skirt? Jack is a quiet classmate of Ryan’s, but he’s not friends with Jack. Both boys don’t want what happened to be blown out of proportion. Wouldn’t anyone else do the same if someone was drowning?

Enter Cody, Jack’s best friend from swim team. He’s a classic jock whose got an ego the size of the sun, trying to shine brighter than anyone around. Cody is determined to find out more about Jack and what really happened, but Ryan’s not sure on the fine details either of the why. When Ryan invites Jack to accompany both him and Cody to Comic Con in a gesture of friendship is it a recipe for disaster, or will it bring the boys together?

I received my digital copy of Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw from NetGalley. The opinions are my own and of my own accord. This young adult novel tackles the challenging subjects of depression, identity, friendship and what it means to be true to who you are. I loved this novel. I thought Ryan’s character is fleshed out well. I don’t have to depend on a wheelchair to get around, but this novel shows the realistic struggle to be noticed for who you are minus any handicap assistance you come with. Cody was a well represented high school jock, though how he changes throughout the story is interesting to watch. Jack is the classic sensitive kid who is scared to trust to be himself in front of others. This book will be a great edition to any YA fan’s bookcase, as well as any high school library. Let’s get the conversation going. Never let anyone suffer in silence.