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If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser

If You’re Out There by Katy LoutzenhiserIf You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th March 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.

If You’re Out There was kind of adorable! It was more of a low-key mystery than a full on thriller, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m really glad I decided to pick it up, which I did because the ghosting thing seemed relatable and I was intrigued.

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Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Heart of Iron by Ashley PostonHeart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Series: Heart of Iron #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 27th February 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Heart of Iron was weeeeird, you guys. On the one hand, I enjoyed the space chase storyline and the action at the beginning. It did a great job of hooking me in. On the other, there was a weird romance that I’m unsure about, and then the plot got worse as the book went on. I have such mixed feelings about this book!

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The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo SurmelisThe Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 30th January 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a really tough book for me to review because it is about such a dark subject matter and also, without going into too much detail, it hit very close to home and it was triggering. I had to keep putting the book down because Surmelis’ wrote certain scenes so well that I had to step out of the story for a bit.

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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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