Orphan Trains

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Actual rating: 3.5 stars. Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the arc of Orphan Trains: Taking the Rails to a New Life by Rebecca Langston-George! This book tells the true story of the origin of orphanages, the Children’s Aid Society and orphan trains. The opening of the New York Foundling Hospital, founded by Sister Irene and her order, the Sisters of Charity is described. Individual stories are shared, an orphan train timeline is included, as well as a glossary, additional resources and discussion questions. Bibliography and source notes will help anyone wanting to find more information on the topic of orphan trains and their origins. Definitely for younger readers with simple information and photographs.

The Fourline Trilogy by Pam Brondos

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Thanks to Skyscape and Goodreads for the free copy of Gateway to Fourline by Pam Brondos! Complex characters and a mysterious story line make Gateway to Fourline interesting to read. Natalie is my favorite character because she truly cares about her family and tries to be as independent as possible. She becomes part of a world she knows nothing about as she tries to help her new employers and newly found friends. I especially enjoyed the bastle herder facade when Nat pretended to have fleas! Very funny! Interesting world and characters make Gateway to Fourline the beginning of a promising fantasy trilogy!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Skyscape for the arc of On the Meldon Plain by Pam Brondos! The author sums up events from Gateway to Fourline nicely. Nat still wants to help Estos and she feels guilty that Soris was harmed by a Nala. Nat trains to be a Warrior Sister and she returns to Fourline, after completion of her training, to kill the Nala that harmed Soris. To truly kill a Nala, you must behead it, and Nat only harmed it previously. She is also still learning the depths of her powers. Nat goes on a mission with Annin, Andris, Soris and a few others to find Emilia (Estos’ sister). While on this mission, Nat is determined to find a cure for everyone and anyone who has been harmed by Nala venom. Once the venom enters your body, you began to change and become part Nala or duozi. In Fourline, there is tremendous prejudice towards duozi.

On the Meldon Plain is a bit more serious than Gateway to Fourline, but it still has the same great writing and complex characters as the first book. I thoroughly enjoy the relationships and world building that Pam Brondos has done with her Fourline series.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Skyscape for the arc of The Last Remnant by Pam Brondos! This book finishes the Fourline trilogy perfectly! Nat discovers what causes the Nala venom to take over and change someone into a duozi, but she hasn’t found a cure yet. So, she sends Annin to Fourline to see if Sister Ethet can use Nat’s discovery to come up with a cure. Nat keeps experimenting and finds the cure. She’s anxious to get to Fourline so she can share her findings, but has been told not to go for her own safety. Nat sneaks through the tunnel anyway and inadvertently lets her sister, Cal, slip through the tunnel also. Nat is captured and is injured and given a remnant from the Nalaide (the Nala queen). Nat is rescued and she travels with her friends and sister to a wisdom house where Nat hears about the prediction of a sister who will kill the Nalaide, ending the Nala. The prediction describes the markings on Nat’s arm. Nat continues to fight the Nalaide in her dreams and tries to keep her and her sister safe. The struggle brings stress to everyone involved and closeness between Nat and Cal. This fantasy trilogy contains some romance, battles, suspense and mystery and I highly recommend it!

The Telling

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the arc of The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy! The synopsis hooked me and I couldn’t stop reading! This book contains some casual conversational swearing with a group of teenagers (just a heads-up if that bothers you). Lana tells the story of before her stepbrother Ben was murdered and after he was murdered. Ben enjoyed telling scary stories to Lana and in these tales, Ben and Lana were always the heroes. After the teenage group has been at the local water spot, they find a body lodged under the water. They bring the body up, try to revive her to no avail and discover she’s the suspect in Ben’s murder, his ex-girlfriend Maggie. Of course, they are immediately thought of as suspects and so they decide to search for clues to clear their names. More violent acts occur and Lana wonders if Ben is the cause. She imagines Ben as an apparition that is seeking revenge. Murders and mystery twist the story around to bring past, present and family secrets into the light. The ending is a tear jerker. Very good writing, story building and the right amount of thrill make it a 5 star book!

Black River Falls

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Actual rating: 3.5 stars. Thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the arc of Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch! A quarantine due to the virus called Lassiter’s has occurred. Lassiter’s is short for Lassiter’s Viral-Induced Retrograde Amnesia. The virus hit on October 16th, when people of all ages lost their memories and couldn’t even remember their families. Narrated by Cardinal Cassidy, Cardinal tells the story as if he’s writing/talking to his brother. Cardinal hasn’t contracted the virus and therefore, hasn’t lost his memory. He meets his mom in town, but she doesn’t seem to recognize him and she is living with a man that is not Cardinal’s father. He rescues a young woman from men pretending to be her husband and friend (a scheme men have thought up to capture women). The secret of the virus’ origins is revealed to Cardinal and he has the choice of revealing it to Dr. Lassiter and helping find the cure or ignoring the information and going on with life as it is right now. Sci-fi and dystopian fans will enjoy this book with the clever world building and character development.

Glitter

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the arc of Glitter by Aprilynne Pike! This clever and imaginative book involves a young lady, who is a witness to the king murdering a different young lady. The witness is used as part of a blackmail plan contrived by her own mother. The witness’ name is Danica and her mother is concerned with social position and uses blackmail to make her daughter the next queen. Danica’s father is a drug addict and his drug of choice is called “glitter”. Danica formulates a plan for making enough money to buy her way out of the palace life and to gain her freedom – she is going to slowly use “glitter” in cosmetics and make palace dwellers addicted. She gains an assistant while her business continues to prosper. Her life, relationships, business and future all become complicated beyond anything Danica could have imagined! I hope there’s a sequel to this book, even though it can be read as a stand-alone, it has an ending that can go either way.

Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome

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My husband and I returned recently from one of our favorite vacation spots, Disneyland!  I read Tales from the Haunted Mantion Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome before we left and it was just the right book to enthuse me for my husband’s favorite ride, The Haunted Mansion.

A big thanks to NetGalley and Disney Press for the advanced reading copy of Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome by Amicus Arcane (a perfectly mysterious author’s name)!

The story begins with four friends, Tim, Noah, Steve and Willa. They each love horror stories and create a horror club where they share scary stories with each other. On a club day, they find their regular meeting spot destroyed and each of the members receives an invitation to a new meeting place, The Haunted Mansion. Amicus Arcane, the host, takes them to the library where spooky stories are shared and each friend takes a turn as the main character. This book is middle school appropriate and good, clean, spooky fun!