The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

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Perfect mix of action, loyalty and humor.
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine is the first book of the Ravenspire series. Lorelai’s mother, the Queen, died when Lorelai was very young. The King, Lorelai and her brother Leo suffered with sadness and nightmares. Lorelai’s and Leo’s maternal aunt, Irina, married the King and seemed to brighten and cheer everyone up until she decided she wanted power. Irina placed a spell over the King and Royal guards so they would do her bidding. Lorelai tried to use a spell against Irina but her father was killed and Leo and Lorelai ran away with Gabril, a Royal guard. Years later, Kol enters the story after being expelled from his school. He’s throwing a party and trying to keep his younger sister, Bryg, from drinking. Kol is called by his headmaster and assumes that he will be punished for being expelled. Instead, he’s told that his father, mother and older brother have been killed by ogres. Kol becomes King and fully responsible for his kingdom. Lorelai and Leo meet Kol and his friends when they help them out of an angry mob. Queen Irina hears rumors about the mob and the rescue and she becomes suspicious that maybe Lorelai and Leo might be alive. Kol seals a blood oath with the evil queen Irina. He has to bring the missing princess to her and then Irina will save Kol’s kingdom from the ogres in exchange. Kol has no idea that the princess is the one who saved him from the mob. The relationship between Kol and Lorelai grows more complicated as the story continues. The Shadow Queen is a fresh and wonderful retelling of the Snow White fairytale, full of action, loyalty and a dash of humor, 5 stars!

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

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Action filled mythological adventure!
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NetGalley and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean.
Taro is the son of the emperor but, unlike his father, Taro has a kind heart. This kindness angers the emperor. Mari is an Animal Wife yokai (a human with supernatural powers that can change into a beast) with the strength and intelligence to best her opponents. She’s not beautiful, so her mother is disappointed in her and makes her train as a warrior instead. Mari’s mother wants Mari to conquer the Empire, become Empress and steal the prince’s fortune. Akira, known as the Son of Nightmares because of his scarred face, loves Mari, even though to her they will only ever be friends. He follows behind the procession taking Mari to the Empire for the Seasons Rooms competition, so he can keep an eye on her without anyone knowing. Akira has a wonderful sense of humor, even though he’s had a painful and lonely life. Mari feels overwhelmed by the competition and because of all of the young women involved but she uses her wits and her values to overcome her challenges. I enjoyed the intermittent stories of gods and goddesses that explain the creation of Mari’s world. Action packed, filled with mythology and adventure, Empress of All Seasons is an unputdownable fantasy read worthy of 5 stars!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. Several stories intertwine from past and present within a city filled with magic. Esta uses a special piece of jewelry to travel through time. On one of her time traveling trips, the jewelry piece breaks and she can’t return home. Esta figures out the way to return home but she needs the help of a few unsuspecting people, which gets interesting. Several characters make up this story and their lives continue to affect each other. Clever writing and an interesting setting create an intelligent fantasy worth reading, 5 stars!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Secrets and Folklore!
Thanks to Bookish first, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield!
Twists and turns and many characters along with their stories bring Once Upon a River to life. The book opens with a background of the setting and builds up to the present when a four-year-old girl is found and brought to the Swan, where storytelling is at its finest. The man who brought the little girl in is very injured and he loses consciousness, so no one can ask questions. The storytelling begins by the regular inhabitants of the Swan and continues to build with speculation. Everyone falls in love with the little girl and their hearts warm to her. Because of the girl’s appearance in the community, many lives are changed and things that have been hidden for years come to light. A food for thought story full of folklore and secrets, 4 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver and published by HarperCollins tells the story of how Mia, Brynn and the whole town were left reeling from the horrible murder of Summer.
Summer, Mia and Brynn were friends. The three girls pretended that a fantasy book world, Lovelorn, was real until the devastating loss of Summer. Five years later, Mia and Brynn try to piece all of the clues of this unsolved murder together. With the help of Mia’s friend Abby and Brynn’s cousin Wade, they scour the town and surrounding areas to solve this mystery. Twisting between make-believe and reality, the story spins seemingly in circles until the truth stands out clearly. Interesting, intense and emotionally jarring, Broken Things is a 5 star must read!

The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone

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Great mystery for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone!
Cameron travels to Washington D.C. to begin an internship under Congressman Beck. Soon after arriving, one of the other Congressman’s workers (Ariel) dies in a drunk driving accident. An FBI agent approaches Cameron for help proving that the Congressman is corrupt. He digs a bit and finds a link to someone that knew Ariel. That leads to Cameron being pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery. I enjoy the characters and Cameron is a good guy trying to figure out his path in life and he and Lena are fun together. Cameron’s roommates and fellow interns make me laugh and I enjoyed reading this entire book. The ending was awesome in more ways than one! I’m looking forward to other books by Peter Stone. 5 stars for an engaging young adult mystery!

Frequency by Christopher Krovatin

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Engaging read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Frequency by Christopher Krovatin!
Fiona sees her father and his companions threaten and beat up a young man when she’s a young girl. The story jumps to an eighteen year old Fiona and her boyfriend Horace. She’s content with her life until Horace and their mutual friends get caught up in the party life, drugs and mind altering music of Pit Viper, the DJ that was beaten up by Fiona’s father all those years ago. The mystery surrounding Pit Viper is confusing to Fiona and she’s not sure whether it’s ominous or misunderstood. Fiona enters a world that she might regret and a relationship she might not be ready for. Part science fiction, part fantasy and all engaging, 5 stars!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!

War of the Wilted by Amber Mitchell

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Action packed!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review War of the Wilted by Amber Mitchell. Arianna, “Rose”, wants to help the rebellion but she wants vengeance above everything else. Arianna is working with Rayce, the leader of the rebellion, but she’s angry with Rayce also because he’s keeping the Gardener alive for information, even though he’s responsible for the mistreatment and killing of young women. Arianna is maddeningly stubborn and doesn’t think she makes a good leader, even though she’s independent and headstrong. Rayce becomes frustrated with her because of her actions and the fact that she’s not listening to his wishes or orders. War of the Wilted takes on a different feel than Garden of Thorns since it’s not trapped women forced into submission. Instead, it’s a rebellion within the entire empire and it requires many leaders working together to make any difference. Action packed with strong-willed characters, 4 stars!