Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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AllegedlyFrom Goodreads: Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Mary has spent the past six years serving time for a crime she never actually admitted to. Time spent mostly in isolation in adult prison– as a nine-year old– for a crime to severe for juvie, but a child far too young to serve with adults. Released to a group home when she is 15, Mary must live as a ward of the state until her 18th birthday. Just before she turns 16, she realizes she is pregnant. But the state will never let a “baby-killer” keep a baby. In order to protect her growing child and the family she dreams of, Mary will finally have to tell the truth of what happened that night– the night Baby Alyssa died. It’s a secret she’s been keeping for years.

I read this book in less than a day. I started it on a break at work, then picked it back up when I got home. And never put it back down. I had to know the truth of what happened. Who really killed Baby Alyssa and how. And why. I couldn’t stop until I had all the answers.

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The Female of the Species

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From GoodreadsAlex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Rarely is there a book that I’ve read lately that I’ve finished and wanted to scream “READ THIS!!!!!” at everyone I see. One that I want to carry with me at work at all times so I can hand it to every single person who asks for a recommendation. Rarely has there been a book that I’ve thought so hard about and has stayed with me for so long after I finished it. And one that is so incredibly timely in light of recent events. But here it is. Seriously. READ THIS.

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30 Second Reviews

I mentioned earlier that there were quite a few books that I read that I never wrote a review on. (Nearly a dozen…) They just sat there, mocking me, begging me to share my thoughts. And then I just gave up completely, and let them go. But some of those books were good. Some of them I want to at least acknowledge and give a nod to like a good blogger and reviewer. So here it goes. My very concise, condensed version of a book review– or as I may begin to call them, 30 second reviews.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild RobotFrom Goodreads: When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

This is a middle grade novel from one of my favorite children’s illustrators, Peter Brown. I was stoked when I saw that he had a novel coming out, because his picture books are some of my favorites to read during storytime at work. This one didn’t disappoint. It’s an adorable, heartfelt story about what it means to be a friend, a community, and a family. There’s action and adventure, with humor and heartbreak thrown in to round it out. With Brown’s illustrations scattered throughout, I was hooked. I loved following Roz through her journey, navigating her new home, making new friends, and finding out what it means to love.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

23203106From Goodreads: Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

This was one that sat for so long, I kind of forgot what happened. I was drawn in by the cover (how gorgeous is it??) and by others who raved about it and its plot twist. I’m a sucker for a good plot twist, so I picked it up. I remember reading it. I remember being drawn into the world and the characters. I remember thinking, “this is insane” at some parts. And then I remember not being completely blown over by the twist. It was twisty, definitely, and I didn’t see it coming, but I wrote in the notes on my phone “more of a whimper than a bang.” Still a good story though. A very quick read that I’m glad I read. Just not one of my absolute all-time favorites.

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

25639296From Goodreads: There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

This is another one that I read, then promptly forgot. Much like Wink Poppy Midnight, it was dark and twisty and you spent most of the time trying to figure out what was happening and who did what. But also like Wink Poppy Midnight, the twist came and I just didn’t care that much.

Burning by Danielle Rollins

BurningFrom Goodreads: After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

This seemed like it had such potential to be a creepy psychological thriller– my FAVORITE. There were scenes that had so much creep-factor that I thought, “Wow! This is amazing!” And then it got weird. And not in a way I really enjoyed. The side characters were incredibly stereotypical–think every bad movie or show you’ve seen about prison–and the plot went in a direction that left me completely disconnected from the story. I wanted to like it from the synopsis, but… Meh.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)From Goodreads: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This might turn into a bit more than a 30-second review because I can’t believe I let this book sit on my desk for as long as I did without writing about it. I LOVED this book. It’s an Ocean’s 11-style heist story set in a bit of a fantasy Russia backdrop. I was hesitant to pick it up at first because it revisits the world Bardugo created in her Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), which I haven’t read. I wasn’t sure if I would understand and be able to keep up in a world that I knew nothing about, but I shouldn’t have worried. It may have been helpful to read the trilogy beforehand to understand the Grisha, who they were, and the prejudice that others have against them, but it wasn’t necessary. Six of Crows stands well on its own.

When the world is threatened with destruction by what amounts to magical biological warfare, Kaz and his crew of misfits and thieves are offered a very handsome reward to essentially save the world. But in order to do that, they have to break into the most heavily guarded vault in the center of a military training facility in the most protected court in the world. And get out alive.

I want to see this as a movie, because it would be amazing. It’s gritty and dark and filled with action. At one point, I wrote in my notes, in all caps, “HOLY SHIT HE JUST _______________” I won’t spoil what happened. But it was gruesome. And it kind of sealed the deal on my love for this book. I can’t WAIT to pick up Crooked Kingdom to find out how it all ends.

Alright. That’s about half of the books that I haven’t reviewed yet.. So stay tuned for another installment of 30-second reviews!

Photo Credits: All cover photos are from Goodreads.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin– and his world– forever.

— From the book jacket of A Court of Thorns and Roses

In the harsh winter, it’s up to Feyre to provide for her family. When she comes across a deer in the woods, she realizes she’s not the only hunter looking for a kill. A wolf stands across from her, leaving her with 2 choices– allow the wolf to take her only food source and let her family go hungry, or kill the beast as well. With one shot, her fate is sealed. The wolf she has killed is no wolf at all–he’s a faery– and Feyre has broken a centuries old peace treaty between the human and faerie realms. A treaty that calls for a human life in exchange for the faery life she has taken. Feyre has to choose between being killed or taken captive by the beast that breaks down her door. To save her family she chooses captivity in the magical realm she thought was just a myth.

Upon arriving at the Spring Court, Feyre learns that there are more frightening things within the faery world than the beast named Tamlin. Terrifying creatures stalk the forest surrounding the estate, and a magical disease has stricken the faery realm, draining its magic and threatening to spill over into the mortal world. As Tamlin and his court fight against the rising threats, he also begins to get closer to Feyre. As open hostility between the two turns to romance, they realize there is much more to fight for. When the source of the magical disease is revealed, it seems that only Feyre can save Tamlin and the entire faery realm.

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Truthwitch

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble– as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her– but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast to one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safiya’s hot-headed impulsiveness.

Safiya and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

— From the book jacket of Truthwitch

Safiya can tell deep within her bones whether someone is being truthful. Iseult can see the threads of everyone’s lives– their emotions, their bonds, the strings that tie their lives together. They make a pretty good team. At least one that’s good at stealing, fighting, and gambling. When the wrong carriage falls into the trap they’ve laid for a heist, they’re on the run from a host of guards, including one terrifying man with a rare witchery straight from the Void– a Bloodwitch who can track by the scent of blood.

To make matters worse, Safi’s uncle, a man of Cartorran nobility, has been summoned to Veñaza City for a Truce Summit by the emperor to discuss the end of the Twenty Year Truce and the Great War. Unbeknownst to Safi, her uncle has been putting a plan in place for years to bring about the end of the Truce– a plan that puts Safi directly at its center, forcing her to flee the city she’s called home and a life she doesn’t want.

While Safi is attending the Summit with her uncle, Iseult returns to her Nomatsi tribe north of the city. She quickly realizes that her tribe is now led by a priest who has little tolerance for those influenced by the outside world. As both girls are forced to escape the danger that chases them, they are taken aboard a Nubrevnan naval ship by the admiral, Prince Merik, who has a contract with Safi’s uncle to bring Safi safely to Nubrevna in exchange for desperately needed trade to feed his starving, war ravaged country.

Pursued by the emperor, the Bloodwitch, and Merik’s own sister who advocates piracy instead of diplomacy, Safi’s life is in danger, as well as Merik’s trade agreement, and the stability of an entire world on the brink of war. They will stop at nothing to get their hands on the only Truthwitch they’ve known in a century. But as powerful as a single Truthwitch can be, Safi and Iseult together as a team may be even more than what they appear to be.

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Seven Black Diamonds

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

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Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA–the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

— From the book jacket of Seven Black Diamonds

Set in a world where faeries exist alongside humans, the Queen of Blood and Rage has started an ongoing war with the humans after the death of her infant daughter, the heir to the Hidden Throne of the faery world. Because of the war, those with fae-blood, like Lilywhite Abernathy, have been forced to hide what they are, for fear of being arrested or killed.

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