Book Review: Freedom Trials by Meredith Tate

Summary: Evelyn Summers is imprisoned for a crime that was wiped from her memory.

In order for Evelyn to be released, she―along with other “reformed” prisoners―must pass seven mental, physical, and virtual challenges known as the Freedom Trials. One mistake means execution and, with her history of being a snitch, her fellow inmates will do everything they can to get revenge.

When new prisoner Alex Martinez arrives, armed with secrets about Evelyn’s missing memories, she must make a choice. She can follow the rules to win and walk free, or covertly uncover details of the crime that sent her there. But competing in the trials and dredging up her erased past may cost Evelyn the one thing more valuable than freedom: her life.









Release Date: October 2018
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
Freedom Trials has a very familiar and identifiable feel to it. It is undeniably the offspring of The Maze Runner & Divergent with maybe The Last Girl as its aunt. YA fans of the dystopian genre are going to either fall in love or outright resent this one. The world and plot are so relatable that you are either going to dive in and be excited to re-enter a familiar world or you are going to just not be interested in a re-run.

With that said, I really enjoyed the ride! The story pace is fast and had a very easy flow to it. I liked piecing things together with Evelyn and the feelings of uncertainty & confusion; the slang took me a bit of time to figure out because there wasn't a lot of explanation to it (hacks, slingers, etc) but it worked out.

Because this is a first in the series there is a lot we just don't know {yet}.
I don't know:
  • how I feel about Evelyn. I hope she gets a bit more Katniss-y.
  • if I like the love interest. Really needs to be fleshed out in the next book with either their history or some serious dialogue. Make me either love him or hate him! Right now I think he is a really cool GI JOE but I don't trust him.
  • who are the "good/bad" guys.
There is a lot of build-up for book two. It is either going to set this series apart from its predecessors or its simply not. I think Freedom Trials is off to a good start. Welcome the Dystopian Family Ms. Tate! Bring the fire in book two, we can take the heat!
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I would recommend this to reluctant teen readers. The style of writing is easy to follow. There are a lot of characters in the prison but forgetting one will not hurt in following the story plot.

👇🏽 I would also recommend Freedom Trials to teens who enjoyed the books listed below.👇🏽 

Perfected by Kate Javik Birch {trilogy}
Branded by Abi Ketner {trilogy}
Ignite by Danielle Rogland
Ordinary by Lindy Zart {trilogy}

Book Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Summary: There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.




Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: YA, Dark Thriller
Source: Review Copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I read The Cheerleaders about a month ago and I 've been sitting on the review because I was left uneasy. With that said, it was a good YA thriller filled with mystery and murder but there were two reoccurring issues that were pretty heavy-- suicide & abortion. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when it all ended but now I do and I hated it.
I am a victim, whether or not I feel like one.
It's not that I don't think these two topics are appropriate for YA literature, as a matter of fact, I've read a few that addressed hard issues beautifully: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, The Girl Next Door or Ryan's Bed.

I do believe if you are going to bring the tough stuff in you better take the time to work through each and every detail, really dive into the characters' emotional processes and specifically identify instances that are wrong... DO NOT LEAVE GREY AREA for teens to read and walk away doubting they were victimized.

I never felt any closer, yes the mystery and sleuthing was original and clever but again, there was this whole situation that just kept getting but on the back burner. The continued thoughts of the victim constantly blaming herself for what should have been identified as statutory rape was just sad. Only to be followed by zero parental involvement in the decision of an abortion and not because the mom wasn't present.

It was basically a girl (with a lot of baggage🚨) telling her mom she was pregnant (by someone other than her boyfriend 🚨) and that her mom didn't need to know or worry about "him" 🚨. Followed by said teen making a "quick" decision before she could "think" about it 🚨. WHAT!?!?! Red flags for dayyysssss. 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 #redALERT

In all honesty, this story would have been better if the abortion was left out, yes it stung hard but it wasn't the real punch to the gut in the overall story arch and it actually caused more harm than awareness. The phrase "less is more" comes to mind.

As far as a dark thriller goes, the mystery was great and unpredictable. There were several plot twists that kept me going and it definitely flowed like an episode of Riverdale. I hung in there until the end but it did feel a bit flat at the conclusion, very anticlimactic. I really wanted it to be so much more.




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Book Review: Courting Carlyn by Melissa Chambers

Summary: Vaughn Yarborough is ready to trade the fame and glory of the international junior pro tennis circuit for college and a more settled life. First stop: spearhead a summer camp for underprivileged kids. The girl who’s agreed to run it with him has Vaughn more intrigued by the minute, but with the strict no-fraternizing rules, he’s got to figure out how not to fall for her.

When the boy Carlyn Sadowski has crushed on for years asks her to work with him for the summer, she has to pinch herself. When his world-famed coach offers her training for free, she can’t believe her luck. He could actually help her follow in her mother’s footsteps by playing college tennis. But when she finds out the catch is she’s got to convince Vaughn to go pro, Carlyn will have to decide between her dreams and the boy currently stealing her heart.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book features a super-hot sports star, the shy girl looking to grow her confidence on and off the court, and late-night shenanigans that would make your camp counselor blush.


Release Date: August 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary, Sports
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
What can I say, I'm a sucker for contemporary YA sports fiction, who knew! I wish I had this niche of fiction when I was in high school. Maybe it would have made all the broody athletes more tolerable... probably not but I would have enjoyed looking at them a bit more. Ah nostalgia. You seriously couldn't pay me to repeat high school but I do love reading a good coming of age story and Entangled Crush book always deliver! 💯

I was a little hesitant with this one because I have absolutely no interest in tennis. None. Although, I do think the outfits a freaking adorable and I have serious leg envy. But Courting Carlyn was an adorable, sweet romance without being cliche, plus who doesn't love a summer camp romance?

The alternating POV's between Vaughn and Carlyn were entertaining and humorous. I think high school girls will really enjoy the flirtatious banter between the two. Carlyn and Vaughn were really relatable for a teen audience but especially for senior athletes who have to make big choices that will begin to shape their future paths.

I also enjoyed exploring the history that drove each one toward their goals. And of course one of my favorite plot points to fall upon, neither one gave up a dream for love! 🎉🎉🎉 Points for both love & life goals!

Basically, this is a total swoon worthy YA read and it doesn't matter if you know anything about tennis or not. If you need a sweet coming of age romance with a little teen angst and a tennis ball, then grab Courting Carlyn!


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