The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

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Perfect mix of action, loyalty and humor.
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine is the first book of the Ravenspire series. Lorelai’s mother, the Queen, died when Lorelai was very young. The King, Lorelai and her brother Leo suffered with sadness and nightmares. Lorelai’s and Leo’s maternal aunt, Irina, married the King and seemed to brighten and cheer everyone up until she decided she wanted power. Irina placed a spell over the King and Royal guards so they would do her bidding. Lorelai tried to use a spell against Irina but her father was killed and Leo and Lorelai ran away with Gabril, a Royal guard. Years later, Kol enters the story after being expelled from his school. He’s throwing a party and trying to keep his younger sister, Bryg, from drinking. Kol is called by his headmaster and assumes that he will be punished for being expelled. Instead, he’s told that his father, mother and older brother have been killed by ogres. Kol becomes King and fully responsible for his kingdom. Lorelai and Leo meet Kol and his friends when they help them out of an angry mob. Queen Irina hears rumors about the mob and the rescue and she becomes suspicious that maybe Lorelai and Leo might be alive. Kol seals a blood oath with the evil queen Irina. He has to bring the missing princess to her and then Irina will save Kol’s kingdom from the ogres in exchange. Kol has no idea that the princess is the one who saved him from the mob. The relationship between Kol and Lorelai grows more complicated as the story continues. The Shadow Queen is a fresh and wonderful retelling of the Snow White fairytale, full of action, loyalty and a dash of humor, 5 stars!

Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

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Mutating virus on the rampage!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Plague Land by Alex Scarrow.
A fast-moving, fast-killing virus is spreading across the globe while some governments are hiding the fact and scientists are scurrying to understand and overcome the virus. Leon, his sister and mother are traveling by train to his grandparents’ house when the virus hits. Several people on the train are infected and die, so when daylight comes, they travel outdoors and watch for the telltale flakes of the virus. Two of their group get touched by the virus and by the time they reach a barn for shelter, they show signs of the virus and die in front of their eyes. The virus continues to evolve and grow into larger organisms that fight even harder for survival. The author creates intense imagery and a frightening sense of loneliness and destruction. Creepy dystopian, 4 stars!

Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton

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Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton is another wonderful fairytale creation! Shonna Slayton perfects historical fiction. Now she’s combining historical fiction with fantasy to create fun and intelligent fairytale stories. Billie has traveled with her uncle to secure her inheritance after her father’s death due to heart failure. She believes that her uncle is keeping things from her as well as gambling away her father’s estate. They stop at a mining town and meet cousin Lou. She oversees a mine with beautiful turquoise veins running through and she does all of the work by herself. Uncle Dale tells Billie that he’s searching for a special mirror that will grant wishes. Billie wants to help her ailing mother, so she wants to find the mirror also. The character pool grows to include Winn, an interesting local young man; Matron, a kind but questionable local businesswoman and Fremont, a relative with dwarfism that has also been missing for a while. Billie discovers more about cousin Lou and stumbles upon an odd window that seems somewhat like a mirror inside Lou’s shack. Billie’s life grows much more complicated than she ever thought it could. I love this book and highly recommend it to fairytale and historical fiction readers, 5 stars!

We Own the Sky by Sara Crawford

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We Own the Sky by Sara Crawford tells the story of Sylvia, who has always had an intense interest in music and she has always seen flickering people that she assumed are imaginary or hallucinations. She learns that the flickering people are actually Muses that help humans become more artistic. Her mother supposedly left and it’s just Sylvia and her father, both music lovers and musicians. Sylvia’s father has struggled with alcoholism while she’s struggled with depression. Her favorite teachers pique her interests with the subjects of music and mythology. This is where she learns about Muses and meets Vincent for the first time. Vincent becomes Sylvia’s Muse and more. Sylvia discovers that her mother was her father’s Muse too. Muses don’t age and that’s why her mother left. They also are usually invisible to the humans they bless with artistic talent but her mother wasn’t invisible to her father, only to other humans. This unique story concept is fun with suspense built in when an evil Muse works to kill all the Muses she can, 4 stars!

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

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Encouragement in poetry form!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review For Every One by Jason Reynolds!
A quick read poetry book giving encouragement to dreamers and sharing the author’s own experiences with having a lifelong dream. 4 stars for the portrayal of the struggling that goes hand in hand with having a dream.

After the Fire by Will Hill

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Gripping realistic fiction for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review After the Fire by Will Hill! The story opens during an attack and the main character, Moonbeam, is running for her life. She’s a resident of a community made up of fellow followers of The Legion and their leader is Father John. The fenced in community is under attack by the Government. Eventually, the attack is over and Moonbeam is at a rehabilitation center for mental and physical healing and also to learn to return to what she knows as the Outside. Moonbeam tells her story and the story of her fellow community members, Legionmates, through her interviews with a therapist and a government agent. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about the Waco Siege and its similarities to the Legion community. As I read the author’s note at the end of the book, he explains his reasoning for writing about the fictional character of Moonbeam and I was impressed with how delicately and respectfully he dealt with the similarities to Karesh’s religious community near Waco, Texas and how he honors the followers. The idea of one person gripping so many people and convincing them to sacrifice everything for that leader is curious and interesting and very sad. Will Hill handles this content well and breathes life into the characters and the tragic events that they lived or didn’t live through. 5 stars for this gripping realistic fiction story for young adults!

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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A wonderful historical fiction fantasy!
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the opportunity to read and review The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth!
Evie is the youngest of the three children in her family. Her brother James and sister are both college age so she’s traveling to school on her own this year, which is 1949. She reminisces about the times the three of them were together. Five years ago, they huddled in their shelter during the war bombings in London. Evie wished they could be anywhere but there and because of this wish, they were drawn into Woodlands. The Woodlands become their home for most of their teenage years and for Evie, it turned into the home where she felt like she truly belonged. Once the three siblings return to their London home, they each struggle to readjust. In London time, they were gone for only a moment even though years passed in the Woodlands. Evie goes through dark spells of depression, especially during the winter and one day no one can find her. Everyone fears the worst and they try to move on but Evie’s sister is consumed by guilt and blames herself for Evie’s unhappiness. This beautiful story has the perfect book cover portraying its multidimensional world. A wonderful fantasy, 4 stars!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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A heartbreaking mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sadie by Courtney Summers!
Sadie seems lost. She’s searching for her stepfather to exact revenge for her younger sister’s murder. As the story is told, Sadie’s background unfolds. She’s had a life of abuse and neglect along with several “stepdads”. Sadie raised her younger sister Mattie since their mother was usually high or nonexistent in their lives. Sadie is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give anything away. The intensity and pain broke my heart but the unconditional love that Sadie has for Mattie warmed my heart back up again. Sadie’s stutter made it difficult for her to make friends and her tragic life made it impossible for her to even keep or have friends. She lives in painful loneliness and only has the idea of vengeance to keep her going. A difficult to put down mystery, Sadie pulled 100% of my attention until I finished reading the book, 5 heartbreaking stars!

The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

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The Crimes of Grindelwald, the original screenplay by J. K. Rowling brings the movie into your home as you read! Perfectly J. K. Rowling with surprises and twists that make me extraordinarily happy and excited for the rest of the five-film series and, of course, their screenplays! 5 solid stars and a thank you to J. K. Rowling for bringing more of the Wizarding World into the light!

Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

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Fun sci-fi mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney!
The prologue narrator is Victor, who’s lying awake and alert but can’t move a muscle as his surgical adviser begins to saw into his arm because of extreme damage. The adviser and the surgical students observing believe that Victor is no longer alive. Lizzie has traveled to England from America for a medical degree. She’s the only female medical student at the school but she resides in the nursing students’ housing. She meets Victor and helps him by talking with him. This helps Victor form words again. His memories aren’t clear but he does remember being a medical student. The story grows more complicated as Lizzie discovers what happened to Victor and why. She also learns a great deal about who she can and can’t trust. The prologue captured my interest and the story’s uniqueness kept me reading. Mystery surrounds the school and its professors, as well as a bit of danger. Lizzie is a lovable, strong character with a thirst for knowledge. Sci-fi mystery worth 4 stars!