Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters!
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers tells the story of Stella and Will. Stella has admitted herself into the hospital she’s been treated in most of her life. She has cystic fibrosis and now she has a fever and sore throat that has landed her in the hospital again. The staff and other CF patients know her well but she meets a new patient, Will. Eight months ago, Will found out that he has a fatal illness to go along with the CF he already has and he’s in the hospital for a drug trial. He’s tired of being trapped in hospitals and just wants to enjoy life. Will seems to not care about getting better while Stella is compulsive about her strict medical routine. The more I read, the more the story revealed about Stella’s and Will’s lives and their families. The daily CF routines are difficult and time-consuming and if there’s no improvement, the patient struggles to see any benefit. Full of loyalty and friendship, Five Feet Apart lets us see deeper into the difficulties of having cystic fibrosis and the tragedy of young people knowing nothing else but medical treatments and a short life span hovering in their futures. Heartbreaking, hopeful and inspiring all at the same time, 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa! Suki has been sent to the Palace of the Sun to work as a maid. Suki has been helping in her father’s flute shop but he sent her to the Palace to have a secure living so she’ll be taken care of when he passes away. She becomes a maid of the Emperor’s concubine, Lady Satomi; a beautiful but cruel lady. The concubine’s maids seem to keep running away or disappearing and we quickly find out why; she’s sacrificing her maids to a demon as pay for a favor that she wants in return. Next, we meet Yumeko, the prankster fox-girl that lives with monks as they guard a secret, part of the Dragon prayer. The third chapter introduces a Shadow Clan warrior that guards and yields an important weapon that houses a demon. This warrior has been sent to destroy two monsters. Chapter by chapter, characters are introduced and the stakes rise. Everyone wants the Dragon Scroll and death doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. The Fox girl and warrior are working together to find information about the scroll. Little does the warrior know that Yumeko has the scroll the entire time. If he knew, he wouldn’t think twice about killing her. The two of them keep saving each other and are now in each other’s debt. Along their travels, the two of them meet interesting characters, a rogue and a demon warrior, among others. Shadow of the Fox is beautifully told in the style of Japanese mythology. Intriguing characters kept me reading to the end and the epilogue made me anxious for the next book in the series, 5 stars!
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Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Thanks to Entangled for the opportunity to read and review We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott! Cobain is being questioned at the police station. They’re trying to figure out what happened to Molly, who’s missing. Cobain declares his love for Molly and describes his relationship with Molly from the first day they spoke. Molly’s car has been found abandoned at a strip mall and no one knows why she had even been there. Cobain thinks to himself that he and Molly were going to run away together, but now she’s out there alone. Then the alternating points of view add Molly’s also, which builds the mystery even more intensely.
The author’s descriptive language brings realism to the story and one of my favorite descriptions is “lollipops that tasted how Lysol smelled”, which made me laugh out loud because I remember suckers like that. Suspenseful, twisty and mysterious, We Told Six Lies was a read I couldn’t put down until I finished, 5 stars!
Fun, romantic read!
Thanks to the author for the complimentary copy of The Boyfriend Whisperer 2.0 by Linda Budzinski from Swoon Romance!
Alicea Springer is the new Boyfriend Whisperer and her app is supposed to be very accurate. She wants to get back with her ex-boyfriend Ty, but the app says her match is Darius Groves. Alicea gets paired up with Darius for an English assignment and she begins to see the truth about him. Her eyes are opened to her past, present and her possible future. Another clean, romantic young adult read from Linda Budzinski that brings fresh characters to the world of the Boyfriend Whisperer, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the opportunity to read and review One Snowy Day by Diana Murray and Diana Toledano!
Aesthetically pleasing illustrations accompany rhyming text as the story counts up to ten and then back down again. Very cozy wintertime book, 5 stars!
Yummy and easy recipes!
Thanks to NetGalley and Fox Chapel Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Dump Cake Magic by Anne Schaeffer!
Magnificently easy, quick and delicious dessert recipes for taste buds of every kind. Each recipe is followed by a photograph of the completed dessert. A must-have cookbook for dessert connoisseurs, 5 stars!
Here’s my review for A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third but not final book in An Ember in the Ashes series. I love how the book opens with the Nightbringer’s point of view! The author gives us insight into the kingdom’s history and at the present time, the scholars are being extinguished but we see that in the past the scholars have done the same thing to the Jinn, the Nightbringer’s people. Very interesting and so much like the harsh reality we live in. Elias’ fate and Laia’s future hold mystery. Helene, as the Blood Shrike, stands steadfastly by her sister Livia’s side. Livia has a fortunate surprise that could change the Empire for the better. Learning more about Keris and her past was fascinating as was learning more about Laia’s mother’s story. Elias gives up everything to help others because of his kindness and tremendous strength. Reaper at the Gates hurts my heart but builds distant hope for the amazing characters, 5 stars!