Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

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Riveting read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!
It took me a minute to get into the book because I was annoyed at the submissive behavior of the main character, Mena. As I read on, I realized that submissiveness is the reason behind the story. The teen girls are taught to listen without question and do everything in their power to please and appease others. Disturbing but so on point with gender discrimination. The poem entitled Girls with Sharp sticks encompasses everything about this story, including the book’s namesake. As I read and reread the poem, found on pages 154-156, I feel disgusted, hopeful, saddened, angered, afraid and then a little cautiously hopeful at the end. It sums up the story concisely. POWERFUL. A thought-provoking read, 5 stars!

Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Vow of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson!
Kazi and Jase are heading to his home when they receive a cryptic message that they’re not sure they can trust. The message says that Samuel is dead. They’re devastated and Jase takes off towards his home, with Kazi close behind. They’re attacked and the last thing she knows about Jase is that he’s been shot with several arrows and one of those arrows was embedded in his chest. Someone grabs Jase. Later, Kazi sees a severed hand with his ring on it. She continues staying in Jase’s kingdom even though it’s been overrun with attacks and most of his family fled and is in hiding. Kazi stays to help Lydia and Nash, Jase’s young siblings. Kazi isn’t sure if she can trust anyone and the danger spirals around her. I can’t say much more without giving some of the story away! An intriguing story of love, loyalty, bravery and perseverance, 5 stars!

Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!

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Creepy fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!
Ivy’s mother recently committed suicide, so she’s going to live on the island of Darkhaven with her Uncle Simon and his housekeeper. Ivy soon learns about the Bloodgood family curse from the only other people living on the island, the Ramsey family. Veronica, the housekeeper, later explains the curse to Ivy. Uncle Simon also tells Ivy about the murders her great grandfather committed. He killed an entire household leaving only one Ramsey family member alive and then his twelve-year-old daughter walked in and saw him covered in blood. Supposedly this curse makes people crazy. Ivy does make a few friends and school isn’t too bad but living in the manor becomes stranger and scarier. Ivy sees skeletons, ghosts and finds a body covered in blood. She almost falls off the cliff but Doyle Ramsey happens to wake her just in time from her sleep walking. I would have liked a little more information about Ivy’s parents and the relationship they had but Dreaming Darkly is spooky fun with all the suspense and creepiness needed to make an edge-of-your-seat read, 5 stars!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Intense and clever!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!
The story opens as Miguel walks his night shift rounds in the empty, not-yet-open office building. He hears a scream and gunshots so he calls 9-1-1 and two policemen arrive. The police are skeptical until an elevator door opens and they start shooting. When Miguel finally gets a view of the elevator, he’s disturbed because he’s never seen that much blood before. The story then jumps back to thirty-four hours earlier when four people meet in an empty office building in the South Bronx on a Friday night. Next, Sylvie, Sam, Jules and Vincent are introduced to the story and they’re all on edge since the meeting was set up last minute and is interfering with their personal plans. The meeting appears to be an escape room challenge and as the four coworkers struggle to find clues, the story alternates with Sara as she’s interviewed, hired and works for Stanhope. Fresh out of college, Sara is thrown right into the devious nature of the career path she’s chosen and the financial and investment banker world takes a devastating toll on her entire life. Greed makes people cold and brutal and Sara learns firsthand how cruel people can be. She’s upset over the supposed suicidal death of coworker Lucy and questions Vincent when she feels that Lucy didn’t really commit suicide. She asks him if he thinks that maybe there was foul play. After that discussion, Sara’s berated about her work and her appearance and she eventually loses her job. The story alternates between Sara and her four elevator-confined coworkers. The escape room clues are interesting and we learn the reasoning behind them as the trapped four work them out. A solid suspenseful tale of greed, self-absorption and actions people might take to ensure that they come out on top, 4 stars!

T-Minus by Shannon Greenland

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Thrilling read!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review T-Minus by Shannon Greenland!
The president’s daughter, Sophie, is awakened during the night when the secret service has discovered a terrorist attack in the making. The story alternates between the present, as the attack progresses, with snippets of past experiences and memories that Sophie has with her family and friends. Her brother Erik is not home and the family believes he’s in danger and they are right. The mystery gradually unravels as to the purpose behind the attack but meanwhile people are dying, being kidnapped or, as in Sophie’s case, being manipulated into doing the terrorists’ bidding. Sophie is part of the TIA, a teenage agency created by the CIA to train and teach survival skills and tactics to teens. She’s made strong friends in the TIA and they help her get to the bottom of what’s going on. Unique characters and the alternating of past and present builds the relationships up and creates empathy for the characters. A suspenseful YA mystery, 4 stars!

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

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Fun, intrigue, mystery, supernatural and sci-fi rolled into one!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!
Two teenage girls, Evie and Heidi, go into an all-inclusive club and while one is having fun dancing the other one is being interrogated by Luc, who’s being extremely rude. Evie isn’t the least bit impressed with Luc and tells him so. The club gets raided and Luc takes Evie to hide inside a closet with him, claiming to be protecting her. She realizes the next day that she’s lost her phone and it’s probably at the club. She heads back to retrieve her phone, to no avail and from there, the acquaintance with Luc grows into more. In the meantime, the Luxen invasion is described and Origins are explained. Luc and Evie are fun characters, each with distinct personalities and I thoroughly enjoy their banter. This story contains several mysteries, which build then unfold throughout the book. I love the author’s writing and have devoured her realistic fiction novels, The Problem with Forever and If There’s No Tomorrow. The Darkest Star is the first supernatural novel of hers that I’ve read and it’s just as awesome, showing how talented Jennifer L. Armentrout is! Even though many mysteries come into the light, there are still unanswered questions at the ending which leads the reader into the next book, The Burning Shadow. Supernatural mystery earning a solid 5 stars!

8 Souls by Rachel Rust

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A haunting that just won’t stop!
Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review 8 Souls by Rachel Rust!
Spooky and ominous from the beginning; I was instantly hooked! Mysterious and recurring dreams about a house haunt Chessie; they have since she was little. These dreams were part of her life, to the point that she drew the house for her elementary teacher after she gave the students the assignment of drawing their dream house. Little does she know that Chessie dreams of a house where murders were committed over a century before. When Chessie draws her dream house scene, the teacher is worried and notifies her parents. She then ends up being sent to a psychiatrist. Ever since then, Chessie keeps her dreams to herself, even when she’s hearing voices. She finally confides in someone else and the two of them share the struggle of solving the haunting. 8 Souls is well-written, contains awesome characters and a haunting that won’t stop until justice is complete; 5 spooky stars!

Tower of Winds Series by Makiia Lucier

 

Must- read series!

Isle of Blood and Stone review:

The prologue tells a tale of young princes, innocent discoveries and a mass poisoning ending in death. Eighteen years later, we meet the brother of the young princes, Ulises, who is now king. We also meet his friends and entourage and the connections to the prologue are interestingly explained in the third chapter. After that point, we follow Elias, one of the young king’s friends, and Mercedes, the king’s cousin, as they follow clues on a map that may or may not lead them to the two lost princes and their unknown fate, as well as the fate of Elias’s father who also disappeared along with the princes eighteen years earlier. Supernatural elements within this fantasy make the story even more interesting and suspenseful. I enjoyed reading every word of this book, with the layers of intrigue and strong characters. I loved unraveling the mystery alongside the characters and I’m going to immediately begin reading the sequel, Song of the Abyss. 5 full and happy stars!

Song of the Abyss review:

Magnificent sequel!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a goodreads giveaway for the opportunity to read and review Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier!
The story begins eight years after Isle of Blood and Stone. Reyna is now a teenager and struggling to sneak off a ship that’s under attack. She saves herself and her maps because of her logic, swimming abilities and help from sea worms. Reyna ends up in Selene, in the kingdom of Lunes, where the king has just died. She’s the only person that escaped the attack. She accidentally meets Levi, one of the princes, as he’s grieving the loss of his father. He’s Captain of the Royal Guard and tries to detain Reyna so he can question her more but she escapes and finds a ship heading back to her home in Del Mar. Levi and his sister, Queen Vashti, visit Reyna’s kingdom to discuss ships being attacked since both kingdoms have people missing. Reyna helps Levi on the quest to find their loved ones and together they discover a horrible and treacherous deception. Song of the Abyss weaves a tale of differing kingdoms and cultures; one of them backwards and secluded and struggling to survive. A bit of historical fiction is added along with mythological creatures to create a fantasy that I loved; 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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Introspective retelling!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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Beyond my expectations!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi!
Whoa, that prologue! I expect intrigue, deception, action and suspense after reading it and chapter one alludes to all of the above! The complexity of forging and the variety of characters, all introduced smoothly and interestingly, attests to Roshani Chokshi’s writing talent. Severin leads L’Eden, his home full of wayward, talented people. Such as Laila, who’s skilled in baking delicacies, Zofia, her forging talents cause a bit of chaos, and Tristan, who forges diverse landscapes with plants. Enrique’s personality is fun and interesting. Laila is paradoxical with a unique birth story and the group works well together as they try to restore Severin’s birthright. Severin, along with the help of Enrique, manages to steal the compass from Hypnos; the compass that contains a map. The group develops another elaborate plan and as they begin to carry it out, Laila discovers Hypnos lounging on her chaise lounge when she enters her dressing room. She immediately assumes he’s there to stop their plan but Hypnos surprises her when he states that they need to save Tristan and Severin from death within the hour. By the time the story winds down, tragedy has struck and the group is heartbroken and struggling to move forward. This complex story is the beginning of a new trilogy that shows the beauty and horror of the 19th century, as the author’s notes acknowledge. I’m astounded by the fact of a human zoo at the World’s Fair in Paris and can’t really wrap my head around that disturbing reality. My respect for Roshani Chokshi has grown because of her talented writing, her research and her honesty in sharing the process of her story building. The world of The Gilded Wolves is based a large amount on reality, with a touch of fantasy. The dynamics between the characters and the puzzles throughout their search builds suspense and an interesting story worth 5 stars!