The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the ARC and Bookish First for the hardcover copy of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton! I absolutely loved every moment of this book! The Belles is a confection of a book with the beautifully descriptive writing of the author, Dhonielle Clayton. Based on Orleans mythology, a creation of the author, The Belles involves the world formed after the God of the Sky fell in love with the Goddess of Beauty. Together they had children. Sky became jealous of the time that Beauty spent with their children, so he cursed them with sadness and dreariness. Beauty sent the Belles to bring beauty back into the world. This tale is told with decadence and is a joy to read. Camellia becomes the Favorite and hears and sees strange things that no one will explain. Everyone wants her to ignore her pondering and just do her job as the favorite Belle; bring beauty to Orleans. The mysteries keep growing and Camellia struggles to understand Princess Sophia, what happened to her Belle sister Amber and why everyone is exceedingly secretive. Sophia’s madness becomes clear and Camellia is bound and determined to help the Queen keep Sophia from becoming the next queen of Orleans. Intriguing and suspenseful, The Belles is delightful and dangerous with characters that are good, evil and in between, 5 stars!

Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Suspect Red by L.M. Elliott! Chapter One is entitled “June 1953”; the book opens as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for giving the Soviet Union U. S. atomic bomb technology. More factual information is given: the reason for the Berlin Wall and censorship with books, before the story begins. Set in the Cold War era, Richard enjoys reading about spies and other topics that the government frowns upon at the time. His father works for the FBI and was active in the military during wartime. The story alternates between true historical moments and photographs to the fictional characters of Richard and his family and their lives. Eye-opening and relatable, the timeline of the fictional story flows with Cold War history as it is laid out. It’s crazy how much one person affected an entire nation in such a negative way. Suspect Red is an interesting, entertaining way to gain knowledge about the state of our nation during the Cold War, 5 stars!

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne! Zivah has been an apprentice for years and now she’s a healer because she has passed the required test. Rose plague has broken out and Zivah is helping the other healers take care of the ailing patients. Dineas has suffered through the rose plague, healed, recovered and developed brown splotches and has been labeled as umbertouched. They meet under wary circumstances but become allies. The storyline becomes complicated but the author describes everything perfectly, which erases all confusion. I enjoy Dineas’ humor and personality and Zivah’s perseverance and outlook on life. Wonderful characters and an ending that leaves me anticipating the sequel make a 5-star fantasy adventure!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Follow Me by Sara Shepard

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Groups for the opportunity to read and review Follow Me by Sara Shepard! The story begins with Brett and his prospects and then alternates with each of the main characters from the first book, Amateurs. Seneca is an intern handing out parking tickets, Maddox is still working on his running and wants to go to the Olympics, Aerin took a vacation and Madison is enjoying life, as she always does. Madison brings a letter to Maddox at the gym and they’re floored when they find out who it’s from and what it’s about. The Case Not Closed group is back again! The mystery, suspense and thrills are back in this sequel and so are the twists! 5 stars for another great mystery by Sara Shepard!

Tales from the Haunted Mansion, Volume II: Midnight at Madame Leota’s by Amicus Arcane

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Midnight at Madame Leota’s (Tales from the Haunted Mansion #2) by Amicus Arcane. The disclaimer of the ARC is even written in Haunted Mansion-ese, clever and sets the spooky stage from the beginning. This book tells the tale of William and his visit with Madame Leota and contains several stories within a story. William wants to talk to his deceased sister, but has to listen as librarian Arcane reads spooky tales to him first. The first tale is about a truly haunted house attraction at a traveling carnival. The second is the history of a vampire resident of the Haunted Mansion. Third is a spooky horror story about a man losing his beloved theatre and the last story tells a young girl’s tale and how she came to be at the Haunted Mansion. Finally, William meets Madame Leota and gets what he’s been asking for. Fun and spooky. 5 stars for this creepy addition to the Haunted Mansion volumes!

The Takedown by Corrie Wang

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review The Takedown by Corrie Wang! The Takedown is a futuristic realistic fiction story dealing with the overwhelming use of social media and all of the issues that go along with it. Kyla is in the popular clique of the prep school she attends until someone shares a video on social media of Kyla being intimate with a teacher. The story is all about her innocence and trying to figure out who did the posting. She wants to get to the source and get rid of the video that has potentially scarred her reputation and future permanently. The story also involves forgiveness and introspection. 4.5 stars for the ability to give readers food for thought and for making it about a topic most people are interested in these days.

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley, Disney Book Group and Marvel Press for the opportunity to read and review Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl. This first book in the Black Widow series by Margaret Stohl brings to light Natasha Romanoff’s background, which was a lot darker than I would have guessed. Many surprises await as the story unfolds with heroines and heroes. I enjoyed the Russian dialogue and translations, as well as the humor that goes along with Marvel Avengers. A fun read for anyone wanting adventure with a touch of super hero added – 4 stars!

Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome

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My husband and I returned recently from one of our favorite vacation spots, Disneyland!  I read Tales from the Haunted Mantion Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome before we left and it was just the right book to enthuse me for my husband’s favorite ride, The Haunted Mansion.

A big thanks to NetGalley and Disney Press for the advanced reading copy of Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome by Amicus Arcane (a perfectly mysterious author’s name)!

The story begins with four friends, Tim, Noah, Steve and Willa. They each love horror stories and create a horror club where they share scary stories with each other. On a club day, they find their regular meeting spot destroyed and each of the members receives an invitation to a new meeting place, The Haunted Mansion. Amicus Arcane, the host, takes them to the library where spooky stories are shared and each friend takes a turn as the main character. This book is middle school appropriate and good, clean, spooky fun!

 

Saving Hamlet

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the arc of Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth. Emma wants a new start for her sophomore year of high school and she starts with a completely different hair style and buying the shoes she has wanted for the past year. Emma loves theater and is the stage manager for her high school drama club production of Hamlet. A trap door is cut out of the stage floor, without permission. The hole gets temporarily covered with cardboard and tape. Emma accidentally falls through the hole when no one else is at the theater. She ends up in Shakespeare’s time, at the Globe theater, where Hamlet is being acted out at that very moment. She meets William Shakespeare and sees firsthand how he wants his plays to be. It is very interesting how different the acting and rehearsing processes are between past and present. Emma travels back and forth between the present time and learns a lot of helpful theater information and is able to help her friends with the modern day play. Saving Hamlet deals with friendship, working relationships, family and all of the issues that come along with it, and gender differences and difficulties, still keeping it a clean read.

I like this book and find it very interesting in many ways.  I might use it in the future, along with Shakespeare, to teach my Library Science students.