The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood 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.

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The Hate U Give. This is a revolutionary book.

I know I’m late to the party. Everyone and their mother has already read this book. Or seen the film.

It is truly amazing though. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Shocking though it is, this is the debut novel for author Angie Thomas. She has recently released another, On The Come Up, that I will definitely be listening to as well.

The Hate U Give deals with racial relations, growing up poor and black, and the tensions between black communities and the police. It incorporates pop culture, humour and heartbreaking pain. This is definitely one book that you will want to read in some privacy, because if you are anything like me, it will have you ugly crying for sure.

The main character, Starr, is incredibly easy to relate to. Ms Thomas created an entire world of fictional characters interacting in a very realistic setting. Starr’s voice is clear throughout the narrative. I couldn’t put this audiobook down, draining my phone from 100% power to 4% multiple times.

Even if you are not a reader of young adult fiction, I hope you will give this title a try.

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Everything we Keep (Everything #1)

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A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keepexplores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

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This is the second book that I have read by Kerry Lonsdale, and I think that this author has skyrocketed to my top ten authors list.

Her writing is passionate and heartfelt. I could not stop listening to the story because I was so emotionally invested in what would happen to the characters, particularly Aimee.

Everything We Keep starts off at James’ funeral, and is told from his fiance Aimee’s POV. Obviously, the start of this book is extremely sad, but I didn’t feel like the abrupt beginning took anything away from the moment. Lonsdale’s writing is emotionally pure, and not knowing the characters took nothing away from Aimee’s loneliness, sadness and despair.

I don’t know who the original owner of this quote is, but is perfect for Everything We Keep.

“Some books you read Some books you enjoy.

But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.”

The narrative takes place over the course of a fairly long time period, approximately two years. It also flashes back in time periodically, as Aimee recalls memories from her and James’ shared childhoods.

The story is very driven by character development rather than intricate plot points. Aimee struggles with reinventing herself as an independent women after the death of her fiance, with whom she had been best friends since childhood. The book progressed a little too slowly for me.

I enjoyed the audiobook performance by Amy Landon. She wasn’t great at the male characters’ voices though. I preferred the narration of All the Breaking Waves by Dara Rosenburg.

Overall, I loved this book, will listen to the rest in the series. This book tore my heart out at times, and was definitely accompanied by a box of tissues.

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Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

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Carmen Pyre had it all until her husband was murdered by a madman who threatened everyone she loved. Now that her husband has been avenged, it’s time to move on… she just doesn’t know how.

Two men who fill her husband’s former roles offer to help her move forward with her life. Should she choose the dangerous new crime lord who will feed her dark cravings or the man who will anchor her and give her the deepest desires of her heart?

WARNING: Dark themes, cliffhanger, books must be read in succession!

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THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!

The first three books of the Crime Lord series were about Lyla and Gavin and this is the first book that is told from Carmen’s POV (her story will be continued in the next book). But hands down, Awakened by Sin is my favourite book in this series by far.

It is different from most romance novels in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the leading lady has two suitors who are vying for her attention, and she is attracted to both (although much more serious about the one). This is not a book with cheating in it, and the relationship(s) are not the focus of the story.

Carmen’s is pretty much the only POV character in the story and she is still grieving the loss of her husband, Vincent. Although it has been nearly three years since he was murdered, Carmen still suffers overwhelming grief and guilt over it and bounces from one obsession to the next, trying to keep her mind occupied. Despite these efforts, she still enters periods of depression and self-destructive behaviour on a regular basis, seeming to display manic-depressive behaviour.

As I mentioned before, the romantic relationship forming between Carmen and her man is not the focus of Awakened by Sin. Of course, it will develop in the next book(s) because it IS a romance, but expect a slower burn with few emotional entanglements at first.

Ms. Knight excels at making her reader feel compassion and empathy for her characters. Carmen is the most relatable so far; her emotions are so honest and human, that it is impossible not to connect to her feeling of loss, even though her life is so far removed from normality.

I read this book in a day and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on the next. I seriously pray the author will have it available by the end of summer at the latest!

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