The prologue shares the confusion of Bitterblue and her mother as they try to stay focused on truth to keep from becoming muddled by Bitterblue’s father, King Leck. Almost nine years later, Queen Bitterblue struggles to rule her country under the many advisers who “help” her. She sneaks out of the castle one night to check out the village and ends up in a pub where a storyteller is narrating a story about her father, King Leck. She observes several villagers and one, in particular, catches her attention but he disappears before she walks out of the pub after him. Bitterblue manages to keep sneaking out at night and listening to different storytellers. She finally meets the villager that caught her eye earlier, Saf, and his friend Teddy. She keeps her identity from them and pretends to be a bread baker in the castle. Eventually, her true identity is discovered when she’s attacked. Bitterblue has to rely on everyone she trusts to get to the bottom of the attack, the truth seeker killings, destruction of her kingdom and the past when King Leck ruled. Bitterblue is a wonderful story with a variety of strong characters who are interesting and keep the queen on her toes. I’m excited to read the next book in the Graceling realm, Winterkeep! A fantastical and intriguing world, 5 stars!
Intense, suspenseful and genre-bending!
Amy returns home after six horrible years with her kidnapper. She was kidnapped along with her cousin Dee. A man obsessed with dolls, Kyle stalked twelve-year-old Dee and took the opportunity to grab her the first chance he got. He, Kyle, took Amy also, so he wouldn’t leave behind a witness. After Amy returns home, she struggles deeply with guilt, blackout episodes and trusting anyone enough to tell what happened during the six years she was away. This heartrending story mixes mystery, realistic fiction and horror together well to create a tale of brutality, psychopathic tendencies and coping skills. 5 stars for an intense read!
Amara is set to be the next ruler but she doesn’t pass the test in front of her father or the people of the kingdom that are watching. She’s imprisoned but escapes with Bastian, a mysterious pirate. Amara’s fiancé Ferrick travels with them also. They’re trying to figure out how to stop Kaven. He’s become a ruthless leader and vows to conquer Amara’s father. Along the way, the three of them meet a mermaid and help her escape her servitude and she willingly helps the crew of rebels. They reach Kaven and see firsthand what his rule has cost his people. Amara touches a cursed dagger and sees the memory of what truly happened to the magic so many years ago. The truth could crush her father’s rule. When Amara and her crew return home, they find it under a vicious attack. They jump into the fight and have to do some quick thinking if they’re going to survive. I love the main characters and the development they underwent throughout this book. Amara, Bastian, Ferrick and Vataea are strong, brave and have great loyalty and integrity. I enjoyed the section on Sira’s memory and how it adds a twist to everything Amara and her kingdom know. A grand adventure, 5 stars!
Blackout by Candace Owens
Simon and Schuster
Logical, to the point, strong-willed all describe Candace Owens. The author concisely shares her research, familial background and her own personal experiences to help readers understand how she came to be the person she is today, a down to earth, intelligent person who knows her thoughts, values and herself thoroughly. The roots of the Ku Klux Klan are discussed, Candace’s grandparents and the strong base they gave her are shared and her experience with the NAACP and the media during a harassment episode during her high school years help us to understand her enlightenment of the true nature of politics and agendas.
The next chapter opened my eyes to the welfare system and the beginnings and history of Planned Parenthood. Feminism and segregation extremism are discussed and how they’ve both gone overboard and cause harm in the opposite of their integral beginnings. Socialism is brought to light with the description of Venezuelan struggles and true freedom is explained as personal responsibility. Biased media and it’s detrimental effects and long reaching consequences was completely disturbing. The no excuses section puts our choices first and foremost as the reason for success or failure. I had never heard of the desire to rewrite the Constitution to reflect each generation and their beliefs. How frightening that idea is! I already feel that humanity struggles to learn from the past and others’ experiences and rewriting the constitution would just cement that. Candace calls for faith and family above all and if family is America’s priority, we would all be better off in every way! She’s admirable for addressing the full truth behind all stories and history and I’m grateful that she shares the information and knowledge with everyone. I’m astounded by the twisted logic Antifa (updated version of the Ku Klux Klan) and it sickens me. “We have the right-no, the obligation-to think for ourselves…”. Gain valuable knowledge-read this book! 5 stars!
Titanic horror/historical fiction
This story jumps back and forth in several different ways, mostly from 1912 to 1916 when the main characters are on the fateful journey of the Titanic in 1912 and four years later on the Brittanic. Desperation, sadness and selfishness turn anger into an invitation to the supernatural that becomes a possession causing chaos, confusion and harm. I truly didn’t see the possession coming but it all made sense in the end. I also didn’t realize that the Britannic also sunk which just added more tragedy to the story. Some of the storyline felt choppy, 3.5 stars.
Alice’s grandmother leaves her a Paris apartment in her will when she passes away. So, Alice travels with her mother and father to Paris to see the tourist attractions and to visit the apartment that no one in the family knew about. Alice discovers a diary from a teen Adalyn, her grandmother’s sister that her grandmother never spoke of. The diary was written in during World War II and ends on May, 30, 1944. Alice meets Paul, a French teen, and the two of them work together to figure out her family’s secrets. Surprising discoveries open Alice’s eyes to her ancestors and to her mother’s depression. Wonderful young adult historical fiction, 5 stars!
Amazing writing and storytelling!
Mer loves Ben and they’ve been best friends forever. She’s never felt confident in herself but Ben makes her feel loved and perfect. Mer keeps referring to a lie that hurt her family and Ben and his family, so I was left wondering about that for a while. A new guy, Wyatt, moves to town and Mer saves him from the cold and wet weather when he desperately needs a ride. They strike up a friendship with boundaries and sarcastic wit and honesty. They are good for each other. The story unfolds through Mer’s memories and the present happenings in Mer’s life. Katherine Fleet has proven herself as an author and I’m impressed with the way she has woven everything together seamlessly in this book that took me on an emotional roller coaster, 5 solid stars!
The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez
Tansy is a witch with a crush on Vaughn, one of her best friends. The three of them go to a party with their mutual friend Sky because she’s dying to see a new band perform. She’s supposedly dating one of the band members and wants Tansy and Vaughn to meet him. Once they arrive at the party, he doesn’t treat Sky any differently than any other girl and seems overly interested in Tansy, to the point where he bites her neck. Vaughn and Tansy freak out and Sky seems to be in some kind of trance that they can’t snap her out of. They manage to get Sky and leave the party and go to Tansy’s home to get help and advice from her grandmother. Sky is missing the next morning, so Tansy and Vaughn leave to find her. They’ve infiltrated a vampire cult and, with Tansy and her grandmother being witches, they have some power to use against the bloodsuckers. When Travis bit Tansy, he unknowingly created a striga Vie which gave her more powers against the vampires. Tansy also learns things about her mother that have been kept secret from her. I like Vaughn’s character and the values he has. The strong relationship between Vaughn and Tansy warms my heart. We all need true friends like that. 4 stars for this witch/vampire story combo!
Love Spells and Other Disasters by Angie Barrett
Rowan lives with her ghost-whisperer mom in an old family mansion that belonged to Rowan’s deceased father’s family. Her mother is famous for her abilities and Rowan is slightly embarrassed by it all, since she doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. At school, she’s paired with a snobby Abby who isn’t nice to Rowan. Their assignment is to create a lucrative business together. Abby comes up with the idea of making love spells and has Rowan write them up and fold them into origami hearts. Luca is helping with the renovation of Rowan’s home. Luca and Rowan talk and begin dating and everyone seems surprised by this because Luca is popular and was a star athlete until an injury ended that and everyone thinks Rowan is odd. The love spells were supposed to be harmless fun but Abby finds a real love spell and Rowan uses it on her mom because she seems lonely. Afterward, Rowan notices that some of the couples are unhappy and her mom has gone loopy. She finds a reversal spell that undoes the real spells, causing angry customers. She deals with the backlash through acts of kindness that seem to appease and calm people down. 4 stars for this romance with a bit of magic!