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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 28th February 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

After reading this, I can see why The Hate U Give has been on the NYT Bestsellers List for about a decade (only a slight exaggeration). The Hate U Give is important, topical, and so powerful, and it deserves all the hype it has been getting. I read it in less than a day, partly because I was challenged to, and partly because it’s an incredibly gripping read.

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The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca PodosThe Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: 26th January 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.

The Mystery of Hollow Places is a quiet YA mystery. By that I mean the plot kind of just plods along as its own pace, without any huge reveals or exciting scenes. There was nothing thrilling about it, and while I did keep reading to find out what happened to Imogene’s father, who goes missing in the beginning, it’s an easy book to put down and forget about.

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Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeil

Get Dirty by Gretchen McNeilGet Dirty by Gretchen McNeil
Series: Don't Get Mad #2
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

The members of Don’t Get Mad aren’t just mad anymore . . . they’re afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree stuck in juvie, it’s up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge.

The girls desperately try to discover the killer’s identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, Bree is under house arrest, and Olivia’s mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying.

I feel like Get Dirty had middle book syndrome even though it wasn’t the middle book. I don’t know what happened. I loved Get Even, and I have been so freakin’ excited to read more about the gang and to find out who the killer is. Somehow, Get Dirty was completely lacklustre, and I can’t even figure out why. Continue reading

Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Little Peach by Peggy KernLittle Peach by Peggy Kern
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

This is such a difficult book to review because I feel like nothing I say is going to do it justice. I’m going to keep this short, because I don’t think I need to ramble on about unimportant things.

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Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes by Sara RaaschSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Snow Like Ashes was my first read of the Debutathon and it let me down a little bit. It’s not a bad book, but I don’t think it’s a good enough fantasy to stand the heat next to the likes of Throne of Glass or Fire and Thorns.

One thing I really enjoyed about Snow Like Ashes was the world building. I liked the world that Raasch has created with Primoria. The split between the Seasons and the Rhythms and all that was really interesting, as well as the history behind each one. I enjoyed reading about how Spring took over and how Winter had been enslaved. I would have liked to have seen more of the Seasons, particularly Summer and Autumn, because it would have made this world stand out more to me. Continue reading