Five friends. An absentee father who’s a billionaire. One nefarious plot.
Nari is a genius digital hacker. Keagan is her sweet boyfriend who would follow her anywhere. Reese is a visual artist who dreams of traveling everywhere. San is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship and wants to go to the Olympics. And Bellamy is a physics genius who gets into MIT—then finds out the father she’s never seen is a billionaire, destroying her hopes of financial aid.
Nari’s not going to let her best friend’s dreams be destroyed by some jerk who wants nothing to do with her, so she comes up with a plan: hack into Bellamy’s dad’s computer empire and plant a code that skims enough money off millions of transactions to pay for Bellamy’s first year of college.
What could possibly go wrong?
This group of characters was fascinating. A group of individuals who form a fantastic team with an unbreakable friendship. I did not entirely care for Nari, who was very bossy and demanding (autocratic comes to mind), but I loved the rest—especially Reese and her vibrant hair. The relationships were complex and believable, and Keagan was my favorite character: he’s the voice of reason, as well as being the lone “ordinary” soul in the group. Definitely a good read.
Lillian Clark grew up in Wyoming and now lives in Idaho. Immoral Code is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s/Knop Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Rasmira is her father’s heir and has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She’s nothing like all her sisters, and her mother hates her, so she spends her days honing her skills. To become a warrior, she must pass a trial in front of the entire village. When an unthinkable betrayal results in her failing the trial, the only way to redeem herself is to go into the wild and kill the god that has plagued her village for generations.
In the wild she meets Iric and Soren, banished from their own village for failing their trials; Iric because he was never meant to be a warrior and Soren so he could protect Iric. Rasmira has never trusted anyone in her life—except her betrayer and look how that turned out—so she tries to avoid the two, but soon finds herself working with them as all three seek to accomplish their impossible tasks.
But killing a god is no laughing matter, and Rasmira will need every trick at her disposal if she’s to win.
This was an excellent read! Rasmira was a character I connected with immediately, and I took her betrayal so personally. She’s tough and doesn’t want to trust anyone, but Iric and Soren slowly worm their way past her defenses. I loved the character growth of all three and enjoyed watching their different relationships mature and shift.
Tricia Levenseller is from Oregon. Warrior of the Wild is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column in 1887 Paris. It’s her job to tell about each day’s new arrivals to the morgue, which the citizens of Paris are fascinated with. It’s morbid, but it’s just a job, until the day Nathalie sees a vision of the murder of the body before her…from the perspective of the murderer.
When the body of another woman is found a few days later, all of Paris is talking about it—and speculating it won’t be the last. Nathalie’s visions may be the only way to help find the killer, but can she figure out who the murderer is before her own life is forfeit?
This wasn’t a bad read. The premise is unique, but I found it a little erratic. Sometimes, Nathalie seemed very childish and naïve—who wanders around a busy city alone when they are the target of a serial killer? And who would go into the Parisian Catacombs like that, especially? I liked the concept, but the execution could use a little bit of polishing.
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MA degrees in European History, and an MBA. Spectacle is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Tor Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Hannah should not be institutionalized. Her roommate at an intensive study program, Agnes, fell out a window and was severely injured, but Hannah had nothing to do with it. She and Agnes were friends—best friends—even though Hannah was hooking up with Josh, Agnes’s boyfriend, on the side. But she’d never hurt Agnes.
Her parents are off to Europe, as usual, so Hannah decides to play along with Dr. Lightfoot so she can get out of here and back to her life. School’s about to start, and she can’t afford to be late with her college applications. Hannah is on her best behavior—but nothing seems to make an impact on the doctor until Hannah’s roommate, Lucy, arrives.
With Lucy’s help, Hannah can prove to Dr. Lightfoot that there’s nothing wrong with her, nothing at all, but Lucy will show her truths she never imagined.
Hannah is an unreliable narrator at best, but her story and the way her mind worked drew me in immediately. I knew there was something else going on here, but only started getting glimpses of what that was about halfway through. In the end, the book wasn’t what I expected at all, but I was enthralled.
Alyssa B. Sheinmel was born in California and grew up in New York. A Danger to Herself and Others is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Abby is 17, new to town, and she and her family are living on the streets as a result of her mother’s bad decision. They had to leave Omaha behind because of the backlash—and the friends who abandoned them.
Now they’re ready to make a fresh start. Abby dreams of having a boyfriend, going to college, and a career in music, but the winter is bad, and they never know where their next meal is coming from. Her stepfather is having trouble finding a job. Her mother is similarly out of luck. Abby’s family needs help, but she’s afraid to tell her new friends the truth, after the devastation of losing all her friends at her old school.
Roam was a difficult book to read. The subject matter is heavy—and sad. I cannot imagine being homeless, much less homeless with two kids. Abby is a strong person, but guarded, after everything she’s been through. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing to do.
C.H. Armstrong holds a B.A. in Journalism, and lives in Minnesota. Roam is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Sophie loves living in a small town. She has her four best friends, marching band, and the Yum Yum Shoppe and its fourteen flavors of ice cream. She also has a few regrets, but she tries not to let them get her down. This year, she just wants the band to be able to march in the Rose Bowl parade, and she’s ready to go all-out to make sure that happens. Even if that includes a social media campaign to the country star who is from their small town.
When August moves in down the street, he’s determined to keep everyone at arm’s length, especially Sophie, but soon he’s hanging out with her friends and joining the social media campaign. Her friends aren’t sure he deserves a permanent spot in the group, but August makes a home for himself there—if he’s willing to claim it.
I enjoyed this light, funny read, but it does have some deeper themes as well. Sophie is good at pushing the bad stuff to the back of her mind, but sometimes you just have to face things. August prefers to expect the worst—and not to bother hoping for the best. The friendships in this story are so realistic: good, bad, at times ugly. I’d love to hang out with these people.
Emma Mills lives in Indianapolis. Famous in a Small Town is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by Henry Holt & Company in exchange for an honest review.)
Willa and Flor have been friends for years, so when Flor’s boyfriend breaks up with her, they start writing The Girl Code—starting with Never date a friend’s ex. Too bad Flor’s ex is Zach, Willa’s next-door-neighbor, best friend, and the guy she’s secretly had a crush on for years. But Willa would never betray a friend, so Zach is strictly off-limits.
Until she realizes there just might be a chance for her and Zach to be more than friends. Willa has always put others before herself, but she realizes that doing something for yourself can sometimes be important.
Flor wants to get back together with Zach. Her dad is obsessed with his much-younger girlfriend. She’s almost failing math. And she just wants something to change. Then she meets Grayson, her math tutor, and realizes sometimes the best things are hidden in plain sight.
I liked the female friendships in this book. They’re strong—even when tested to their limit. Neither Willa or Flor are clichés, they’re individuals with real problems, determined to support each other. Honestly, the romance took a back seat to the friendship aspects, which I really liked.
Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country and is a best-selling author. The Me I Meant to Be is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)
The elite Darkwood Academy is for high-achievers from wealthy families. It’s not cheap, and it’s not easy. But this year, it’s going to get a whole lot more competitive when six new students join the junior class. They’re more than overachievers, they’re clones. And their originals already attend Darkwood.
Emma doesn’t care about the clones. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer, and all she can think about is getting through each day without him. Until she meets Levi and realizes forgetting Oliver will be harder than she thought: Levi is Oliver’s clone, and seeing his face every day makes life unbearable.
But something is going on with the clones. They’re hiding something, and Emma discovers they have unheard of abilities to go along with their secret agenda. When her friend is almost murdered, Emma realizes something darker is happening, and she must trust someone if she is to find out the truth. But can she really trust Levi?
This is set in a future-America, but not that future, so it was easy to make sense of the world (sadly). I enjoyed reading Emma’s point-of-view and cannot imagine having lost my best friend and then being faced with his clone every day. There is a lot going on here, and I feel like the author glossed over some things that will hopefully be explored in the rest of the series. I noticed there wasn’t a lot involving the instructors, which seemed a bit odd, considering the setting is basically a boarding school, but it wasn’t something that made the story feel fake. The Similars is definitely a book I recommend.
Rebecca Hanover is an Emmy-winning writer and graduate of Stanford. The Similars is her debut novel.
(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)
Mallory’s step-father is so controlling her mother can’t breathe without him knowing about it, and Mallory is afraid his control will turn violent. She’s sure something sinister lurks in his past, and she’s desperate to get her pregnant mother out of danger. But her mother refuses to leave, and Mallory finds herself staying with a friend for a few days, then out on the streets. The local library is her only refuge: a warm place to get her online schooling completed while she searches for a more permanent solution.
After a stunt gone wrong, Spencer is doing community service at the library. He likes the peace and quiet there—until a body is discovered in the stacks—and he likes Mallory. He’s sure she’s hiding something, and he’s desperate to help her. It takes his mind off his own problems: his parents have certain expectations for him, expectations that make him miserable.
Mallory doesn’t want to trust Spencer, but there’s no one she can turn to, so she slowly accepts his help. But there’s more going on at the library than they imagine. Black fingerprints. Footprints that lead nowhere. Mysterious cries. And the messages left scrawled on the walls. Mallory realizes her secrets are no the only things hidden in the library.
This is billed as a thriller, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. Mallory’s storyline is tough and frustrating: her mother’s refusal to leave a bad situation, Mallory’s inability to find help, her struggles while homeless. She has major trust issues, but she starts to work through them with Spencer’s help. Spencer has his own issues—while they may not seem like a big deal to everyone, they’re huge for him, but he still wants to help Mallory. Mallory and Spencer both learn a great deal about who they are—and who they want to be.
Natalie D. Richards lives and writes in Ohio. What You Hide is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)
Ty and Cory Bic are running away from the danger and drama in their lives when they come upon a dying deer in the middle of the road, and tire tracks swerving off the road beside it. Though they need to disappear without a trace, they follow the tracks and find an empty car. The banging from the trunk reveals Astrid, so traumatized she doesn’t speak, and they realize they’ve stumbled into something bad. Something that might be linked to their past—and the death of their father.
Sixteen months before, the twins’ father took them on a hike to show them a secret—and to tell them they were leaving their old lives behind. He moved them hours away, where he soon became involved with some frightening men, while the boys struggled to make a life and clean up the abandoned crack house they found themselves living in. When their father is murdered, they end up in a foster house with a powerful man hiding a secret. When the twins decide to reveal his secret, running away is their only option.
This is a pretty dark book, with lots of heavy topics: drug use, abuse, human trafficking, murder…it’s not for the faint of heart. I liked Cory; he struggled with people accepting him, but he is such a strong person, he just has to realize it. Ty was less likable for me, but the two of them together make a formidable team.
Stephen Wallenfels lives in Washington. Deadfall is his newest novel.
(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)