Daphne and Beatriz both receive confirmation of Sophronia’s death. Violie, Sophronia’s maid and unbeknownst spy of Empress Margareaux, helps Leopold escape to safety as she promised Sophronia she would. They meet up with Ambrose and Lord Savelle, who Beatriz freed from prison and Ambrose took on his boat to safety. At the wedding ceremony for Daphne and Bairre, an explosion occurs that kills the Empyria helping the king and now Bairre’s mother becomes the new Empyria. Beatriz and Pasquale end up in Empress Margareaux’s palace while Violie and Leopold are spying on Daphne in Bairre’s kingdom. The four work together to stop the Empress from taking over the continent and killing them all. Beatriz is convinced that their mother, Empress Margareaux, planned to kill all three of her daughters the minute she secured the kingdoms they infiltrated and now she’s trying to convince Daphne of their mother’s betrayal. The intrigue twists, turns and never stops, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the intensity which is stronger than in the first book of this series. The intrigue never ends and it twists and turns as characters change their planned actions. The character variety is entertaining. Ethnicity: predominantly white Language: PG-13 for 10 swears, no f-bombs Mature content: PG for kissing, lgbtq side character Vilence: PG-13 for bloody stabbings, imprisonment, death by an arrow to the neck, poisoning
Emma lives in Prosper, Oregon with her mother, father and six year old brother Kyle. They moved from San Francisco because her father was in trouble for inappropriate behavior with a minor, Alice, a friend of Emma’s. Now it seems that he’s in trouble again with another friend of Emma’s, Hannah. Hannah’s mom found her journal where she’d written about Emma’s father touching her, so the police were called and he was arrested. Emma’s parents have coerced her into standing by her father’s side even if it means lying about the things he’s done to her for years. She’s struggling with loyalty, being treated like a burden and wanting to stand up for her friend and herself.
This is a story about surviving and the strength that takes! 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book to let readers be aware before reading. I enjoyed the gradual unraveling of the mystery surrounding the main character. I like how the author represented survivors and the resources list at the end of the book.
Mature Content: PG-13 for xexual abuse stated but not detailed; verbal abuse, gaslighting of children, physical and emotional neglect; mention of a nonbinary side character with positive interaction and respect.
Violence: PG for temper tantrums and angry outbursts from adults.
In the imaginary continent of Vesteria, three princesses celebrate their sixteenth birthday together and mourn their time together. They will be sent off to other kingdoms to marry princes. Each princess will go to a different kingdom and marry the ruler; Sophronia is marrying King Leopold, who treats her kindly along with his family and court; Beatriz is marrying Prince Pasquale and seems unwanted by him but she’s meant to sway Lord Savelle, as her mother instructed; Daphne is marrying Cillian, who dies before she arrives, so the second heir, Bairre, takes his place in marriage. Each princess struggles with who to trust and in completing their set missions for their mother and her ultimate goals. They’re in more danger than they realize and start to see that they can’t rely on their mother for help or love.
Likes/dislikes: I had a difficult time keeping the three princesses and their corresponding kingdoms straight. I like the premise of villainous deception and seeing the changes that took place within the princesses. I enjoyed the side characters of each prince and the diversity amongst the kingdoms.
Mature Content: PG-13 for kissing and drinking wine. Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for a beheading. Ethnicity: predominantly white.
The Charmed List is a quirky, genre-bending book. It’s romance mixed with magic. Ellie lives in a city full of magic gatherers and spell makers. Most of them want to help others by making their lives a little happier, better. Jack’s father seems to just want to make money using the magic. Ellie and Jack used to be best friends until his mother died and he distanced himself from her and chose other friends that make fun of her. Ellie and her now best friend Lia plan a prank on Jack and he uses magic to get rid of it. He doesn’t realize that anyone is watching him. Lia doesn’t know magic exists and the magical community has strict rules about sharing magic, information or anything, with those who don’t know it’s real. When she sees Jack use a spell, she’s overwhelmed and everyone in Jack’s and Ellie’s families find out what they did. Jack and Ellie get in trouble and are sent on a work trip for their parents’ shops. They’re told they have to work out their differences and being wisely magic-aware. The first part of the trip, Ellie is frosty towards Jack. They won’t open up to each other but their siblings planted charms in the lunch they packed, so Jake and Ellie have to compromise if they’re going to eat. They start to relax around each other and actually enjoy their time together. When both families arrive at the convention, Jack’s father blows up and says cruel things about Ellie and her family. A roller coaster ride of emotions, crossing items off a bucket list and cute charm make this a fun read, 5 stars!
Alessandra is allowed to attend social parties now that her older sister is betrothed. She’s cunning and deceptive and, unbeknownst to her father, has already dated several young men. They keep their flings with her secret because she blackmails them. If people knew she wasn’t purely innocent, she would be shunned from high society and no Royal member would want to marry her. She tells her father the truth after he lets her know it’s time for her to find someone to marry. He wants her to marry someone rich because he’s becoming poor and in danger of losing his lands. Alessandra and her father attend the Royal Ball. The Shadow King seems interested in Alessandra and makes a deal with her to be friends so he can look like he’s wed and so can she, then they’ll both be happy. Alessandra is thrilled with this proposition and she works on her plan to poison him once they’re wed. Instead of continuing with her plan, Alessandra starts to truly care for Kallias, the Shadow King. He develops feelings for her too, which surprises them both. Attempts have been taken to kill the king and he ends up unsure who he can trust and when poison is found in Alessandra’s room, everything falls apart. The selfish intentions of the main characters make this a unique story that’s refreshing because it’s out of the norm, 4 stars!
Ellerie lives on a farm in a small remote village with her family. Her father keeps bees and her mother takes great care of everyone. Ellerie’s twin, Sam, has been distant so she’s helping their father more often. Merry and Sadie are the younger siblings and now their mother is pregnant again. The crew that left for a supply run never made it far. They were killed and no one knows what happened. The village believes that huge wolves with silver eyes are to blame. Ellerie meets a young man that she describes as having a vulpine face, supposedly he’s a trapper, wandering by the creek edge as she’s washing laundry. He says his name is Price but she doesn’t think he’s telling the truth. She decides to call him Whitaker Price. Sam is accused of getting Rebecca pregnant and Sam insists she’s sleeping around with others. Rebecca’s father is accused of starting a fire in Ellerie’s family’s fields and might hang for it. Weird things keep happening to the villagers; small acts of violence that they’re blaming each other for. One night, Ellerie wakes to the farm ablaze. Their mother is caught in the fire and has to be taken to town for medical treatment. The unusual young trapper that Ellerie has gotten to know, takes Mama and Papa into town and returns to let the rest of the family know they made it safely. Whitaker, the mysterious trapper, suspiciously won’t answer any personal questions that Ellerie asks him. Ellerie finds this strange but enjoys his company and wants to spend more time with him. Mind tricks seem to be working on the citizens. The villagers spiral out of control and Ellerie does everything in her power to save her beloved town. Unique spin on the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: An absolutely perfect book! Beautiful writing, vivid imagery, strong characters and amazing world building. Great character development. Mature content: PG-13 for drinking, kissing, premarital sex mentioned but not described. Language: PG-13 for 22 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody deaths by monsters, shootings between villagers, fighting.
Emeline Lark lives in Montreal where she’s trying to leave her forest hometown of Edgewood in the past. She’s on the verge of becoming a singer with a recording company but as she performs she sees signs of the Edgewood Forest creeping onto the stage. Emeline sees a mysterious hooded stranger in the audience who becomes the key to her past and future, unbeknownst to her at the time. Pa, her grandfather, has dementia and when she goes home to take care of him, she’s pulled into the Edgewood Forest and her life is thrown into upheaval and danger. To free herself from the evil and corrupted Wood King, Emeline will have to dig deep and get to the bottom of the forest curse.
5 solid stars!!! Mystery, fantasy, action and romance.
Likes/dislikes: The writing pulled me into the story with incredible world building and mysterious surroundings and characters. Hawthorn is a fascinating character. The story has action, tenderness and a roller coaster of emotions. Language: R for 14 swears and 3 f-bombs Mature content: R for Sex on page 295 that doesn’t mention genitals and is described vaguely; non-detailed oral sex on page 340. The relationship between the two characters is a loving one and the sex is because of this love for each other. Violence: PG for Stabbing of the Shadowskin creatures, no blood involved; danger and Shadowskins chasing people. Ethncity: Predominantly white in Montreal and Edgewood but mixed colors of skin in the otherworldly forest of the Wood King.
In 1855 Philadelphia, Molly lives at an orphanage until her aunt requests that she live with her. Before she even meets her aunt, she’s told she has to pick up a package first which turns out to be nothing like she expects. Molly is mourning the death of her friend Kitty who drowned in the river. Mother Superior told Molly, with a sneer, that Kitty was pregnant and this made Molly angry because Kitty told that secret in confession and no one else should know except the priest. Tom works for Molly’s aunt Ava and he picks her up from the orphanage, takes her to pick up the package then transports her to Ava’s home. Molly finally meets Ava and is given snippets of information about living there and what she’s required to do to stay. She’s expected to collect bodies for Dr. Lavall’s lectures and usually this requires dishonesty. Molly is eventually allowed to join the lectures and discovers that she wants to become a doctor herself even though she’s not welcomed into the surgical world by society. Molly also becomes deeply entwined in the mystery of The Knifeman and it’s going to take all her cleverness and bravery to keep from becoming a victim herself.
Likes/dislikes: Suspenseful, creepy and frightening story kept me riveted. Molly’s strength overcomes her insecurities from being left in an orphanage by her parents and the abuse she suffered there. I enjoy the diverse characters and Tom’s personality and perseverance. The mystery is interesting.
Language: R for 43 swears and 4 f-bombs. Mature content: PG-13 for premarital sex without details and unwed pregnancy by side characters, kissing with main characters. Violence: PG-13 for grave robbery and stealing parts from dead bodies, such as teeth, an ear and skin, bloody remains, stabbing.
In an imaginary kingdom full of mixed ethnicities, Ranka is desperate to find Yeva. So desperate that she agrees to the betrothal of the Prince so she can search for her. Soon, Ranka’s companions include Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and the noble young ambassador Percy. After the virus winalin is discovered throughout the kingdom, the four companions want to stop it. Winalin is turning witches into diseased monsters that are intent on killing. While trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, their lives are completely overturned. Ranka, Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and Percy each realize that none of them might survive.
Likes/dislikes: I like that the story creates empathy and approaches the topic of abusive manipulation. Ranka’s character development is interesting. I like that there’s little swearing. Mature content: PG-13 for drinking. Language: PG-13 for 11 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for non-detailed bloody deaths.
Signa is born into a rich family. When she’s two months old, her mother Rima throws a party. No one realizes the wine is poisoned and baby Signa sees Death approach her mother before he moves onto the others who drank the wine. Signa is left alone in the home after Death tries to take her too but he sees her brilliant future instead of her short past, what he usually sees as he takes someone’s life. Now, at nineteen years old, Signa lives with Aunt Magda. Signa has lived with several relatives throughout her lifetime. After Rima died, Sigma lived with her loving grandmother until her death. After that, relatives have wanted to be her guardian only for the money she’ll receive when she’s twenty and the payments they receive for housing her. Most of them haven’t loved her and Aunt Magda is especially mean to Signa. Every guardian she’s had has died and she thinks it’s her fault and that Death’s taking people on purpose and because of her. When Magda dies, Death appears once again and assures Signa that’s not the case. Signa is retrieved by her new guardian’s workers and taken to Thorn Grove where the lady of the manor, Aunt Lillian, is deceased and Signa’s cousin Blythe is ill. Cousin Percy and Uncle Elijah seem healthy though. Sylas, the worker who brought her to Thorn Grove, helps investigate Lillian’s death. They believe someone poisoned her and is poisoning Blythe too. Signa finds help for Blythe when Sylas shows her the manor library. She finds natural remedies to rid Blythe’s body of poison and she gets somewhat better. In the meantime, Signa can’t stop thinking of Sylas and Death and how she feels attracted to both of them. I can’t say much more without including a spoiler or two but this book was a pure enjoyment to read and I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel, Foxglove. 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I love the rich prose and beautiful descriptions of the scenery. I appreciate the fact that the book has very little swearing and vague details of sex that keep it out of the sensitive materials area. I enjoyed reading about the main character’s views on and dealings with proper etiquette and the setting is beautifully descriptive. The ethnicity is white and brown.
Language: PG for two swears, no f-bombs
Mature Content: PG-13, alluded to sex and two women embracing in public mentioned once.
Violence: PG, Death touches a person and then that person immediately dies. Poisonings