Christa and several strangers are on a bus to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in winter when they are stopped by a fallen tree across the road. Christa and Kiernan are on the trip so he can share with her the memories he made with his family at Blackstone Alpine Lodge in years past. The two wander off while the other bus passengers work on moving the tree. A storm hits and Christa falls out of Kiernan’s reach. She’s found later by the rest of the group but Kiernan is lost. The group soon discovers that a killer is in their midst when they’re taken out one by one and their heads are displayed on the large tree next to their cabin shelter. Creepy and surrounded in mystery to the very end! 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the double layer mystery, the creepiness factor and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists. Mature content: gentle kisses Violence: R for several bloody deaths by decapitation and heads being displayed on tree branches. Language: PG-13 for 16 swears and no f-bombs.
17yo Josslyn lost her father, the Prime Minister, to an assassin a year ago during the Queen’s Gala. She’s attending the current Gala to support Celina, her best friend and the first daughter of the present Prime Minister, and to help Celina gain confidence. While at the Gala, Josslyn wanders to the art treasures display and accidentally absorbs magic when an artifact opens during the robbery she walked into. The robber, Jericho, knows the magic will cause swift action and punishment for Josslyn if the Queen finds out because she has completely banned all magic, so the two of them run and end up in the Queens prison after they search for help in removing the unwanted magic and discover they have something in common: the same assassin that killed Josslyn’s father, Lord Banyon, also killed Jericho’s parents. The magic Josslyn absorbed shows her Lord Banyon’s memories from sixteen years ago when he was being tortured and she continues to have these memories in full force, showing her a side of Lord Banyon that isn’t cruel at all. Lazos is the prison overlord and also a warlock who used to be the queen’s magic advisor, so Josslyn and Jericho ask him to get rid of the unwanted magic, but he strikes a deal first; Jericho must kill the beast in the prison before Lazos will help them. When the beast is discovered, many more secrets are revealed and the danger has just begun.
Likes/dislikes: This book is such a fun read! I enjoyed the humor and sarcasm. There’s plenty of action. The story is entertaining almost immediately and I loved the twists. Mature Content: PG-13 for brief, passionate kissing and underage drinking. Language: R for 115 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody kicking, bloody shooting and bloody death. Ethnicity: Josslyn is white, the queen is white, Overlord is olive skinned, and all shapes, sizes and skintones are at the Fight Club.
Resolve lives in New England with her mother who helps the community as a midwife because she’s very good at healing. Abigail loses her mother to poison during childbirth and some of the villagers blame Abigail, saying that she poisoned her mother and baby because of jealousy just like she killed her sibling twins. The community thrives on gossip, backtalking, and drama and Resolve, her mother, and Abigail are different, therefore problematic. A few good people help protect Resolve and her mother, and in turn, Resolve helps Abigail. The ominous feel of the story drew me in and I enjoyed the Native Americans involvement and the mystery and foreboding intensity.
17yo Merit is cursed to be a beast until she agrees to marry someone who her mother approves of. She meets 19yo Tevin, a professional conman, and they strike a bargain. Merit’s mother has set her up with three worthy candidates and Tevin is going to help Merit navigate their intentions because she doesn’t trust her instincts after being jilted by her boyfriend Jasper. Jasper left Merit after her mother offered him money to leave. Merit feels trapped by her mother and she doesn’t feel anything for the three candidates. As she confides in Tevin, the two of them become friends and more. As they work together, they unknowingly walk into danger and discover deception and they’re going to have to rely on each other more than they realize.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of the setting. The humor is cute and funny. I grew to love the charming characters. Mature content: PG for brief passionate kissing. Language: PG for 7 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death of an animal. Ethnicity: Merit is white, other characters are of mixed ethnicity, including fairy.
Soon to be a Netflix movie! 20yo Elodie is excited to meet her betrothed, Prince Henry of Aurea. Elodie is one of three princesses who will be given to the dragon during Harvest Week in exchange for Aurea’s prosperity. Each year for the last eight centuries, three princesses from different parts of the world have been brought to Aurea under the guise of marrying Prince Henry, only to be sacrificed to the dragon. After unceremoniously being sent into the dragon’s lair, Elodie keeps going by relying on her wits, her strength and the help of past princesses through clues they’ve left behind. She might just survive to save the next princess.
Likes/dislikes: The story is slow in the beginning to give the reader a sense of calm but then the action picks up once Elodie learns the secret of Aurea. I enjoyed how the author meshed the past and present princesses together and the perseverance of each. I’m impressed how the author’s 13yo daughter created a functional language for the dragons in this story. The language syntax, grammatical rules and words are in the back of the book. Mature content: PG for brief kisses. Language: R for 35 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for Men being eaten by dragon, detailed sounds. Being burnt by flames. Pierced through skull by dragon wing point. Ethnicity: The ethnicity of Elodie and Henry fall to white, but brown skinned characters are found in the book also.
Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Myra, 34, has been a recluse since her disfiguring accident when she was a young child. She inherited a small mansion from her grandfather and step-grandmother and it seems to have a mind of its own. Alex returns home to a sick father that’s always pushed him away and he needs help running their business. Myra blogs about her miniature mansion and Alex notices that some of the furniture in his life-size mansion matches exactly to the tiny furniture in Myra’s. The characters are lovable and I appreciate the empathy shown throughout the book. The mystery behind the two mansions is written with creativity and unravels perfectly, 4 stars!
Tamsin,17, and her brother Cabell are Hollowers. Their guardian Nash left them behind after taking them on hunting trips for artifacts and now they have to make it on their own. The two of them have been trying to decipher Nash’s journal and break the cipher so they can solve the mystery of what happened to him and rescue him. Tamsin realizes the artifact they’re looking for is the Servant’s ring and believes that they need to travel to Avalon, King Arthur’s resting place, to find the ring and Nash. They find their way to Avalon in the company of prestigious Hollowers who have their own agendas falling headfirst into danger beyond anything they expected and into the unknown that will change everything.
Sal 17, lives in Juniper, California with his sick mother and alcoholic father. Sal attends school while trying to help keep the family hotel afloat. Sal and Noor, 18, were best friends until they had a fight months ago and haven’t spoken since. Sal’s mom collapses and needs to be taken to the hospital while Noor happens to be visiting her. Sal’s mother passes away and her last words to Noor were to forgive. Sal and Noor try to mend their friendship but they’re both keeping secrets and trying to persevere through their own harsh situations. When life implodes, they both have to make some tough choices.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Pakistani culture and its languages. The author gives a comprehensive, concise content warning at the beginning of the book and lists resources at the end for help with domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, immigration and refugee rights, children’s defense fund, and women of color. I appreciate how the author portrayed harsh realities to readers in a way that is educational and with empathy but not graphic. This book is a must read. Language: R for 147 swears and 3 f-bombs. Mature Content: PG for brief undescribed kiss, drug dealer selling pills, mention of marijuana (weed), deeper kiss. Violence: PG-13 for child abuse (a push against the wall), bloody face from abuse, kicking ribs, mentions of repressed sexual assault, continued abuse. Ethnicity: Sal and Noor and their family members are Pakistani living in a predominantly white community. There is a Pakistani religious leader and his wife is Black. The Judge is Mexican American and the story contains mixed ethnicity police officers.
Kate enjoys her acting job until the series is cancelled due to an inappropriate relationship with the producer and another teen actress on the show. Since Kate is only 17, she takes a competency test letting her continue acting without having to attend school. Her parents make her get a job and pay some bills because she took the test without their knowledge and they want her to see how much responsibility adults have to deal with on a daily basis. While Kate’s working, she witnesses a double murder but no one, not even the police, believe her. She enlists Ty, her best friend’s brother, to help find evidence. The danger multiplies and Kate and Ty do everything they can to stay alive.
Likes/dislikes: Kate’s friend Rowan is self-centered which builds Kate’s independence. The mystery becomes intense and suspenseful. I enjoyed Ty’s upbeat and loyal personality. Mature Content: PG-13 for the mention of sexual assault, underage drinking, relationship between a 17 year old teen actress and her 38 year old boss mentioned. Implied sex, intense quick kiss. Implied kiss. Language: R for 105 swears and 27 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for three undescribed fatal shootings, bloody shot wound. Ethnicity: Kate is White and Ty and Rowan are Asian. Mexican American, Latino and Black police officers are also mentioned.