The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

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That ending was so much more than I expected!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz!
After the king dies in battle, his best friend makes a bonding vow with the queen to protect her and the royal heir, as well as search for the magical documents and sacred scrolls that have been missing. He has pledged his life and his heir’s life to the queen until the scrolls are found and returned. Eighteen years later, we meet Shadow and Caledon Holt (he’s the best friend’s son, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon and the Queen’s assassin). Shadow is exploring around the Abbey when Caledon saves her life by killing her would-be assassin. The bad thing is that the man Caledon kills is the queen’s brother-in-law, Prince Alast. Alast proves himself a traitor, which is shocking to Caledon. The Queen sends Caledon to Deersia Prison to appease the public and keep the traitorous evidence secret. She wants Caledon to spy and find out where the traitors stem from. Shadow catches a ride to Deersia prison as a stowaway and finds Cal and helps him escape. They move onto Montrice to discover if there’s a spy conspiring against their kingdom and Queen. Shadow and Cal are fun, dynamic characters that work together well but drive each other crazy too. I enjoyed the humor in this book as well as the intrigue and magic. The ending left me ready to read the sequel! 5 stars!

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

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Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Night Country!
The sequel to The Hazel Wood has danger, deception, and characters struggling to find purpose in this world. When murders occur, the Ex-story characters try to stick together for safety and strength. Alice feels that she’s being blamed and, after she’s attacked, she vows to capture whoever or whatever is harming others. Mysterious and twisty, The Night Country weaves worlds, characters, and creators into a fight for life, 4 stars!

Keystone by Katie Delahanty

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Thanks to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Keystone by Katie Delahanty!
The story opens with action as the main character becomes the only survivor of a yacht accident. Her identity is changed and she becomes Elisha Dewitt. She’s becoming a Disconnect, part of a group that chooses to disconnect themselves from the internet and go off the grid, as much as they can for their own safety. The Disconnected live at Keystone, the safest place in the world. The story is told through the alternating past and present of the main character, Elisha. We learn how her parents and friends mistreated her, used her and took her for granted. We also discover that people weren’t who they seemed. As a Disconnect, she trains and practices skills, techniques and thievery because, as a Disconnect, stealing artifacts and preserving them in Keystone is expected and required. I enjoyed the different characters and their unique personalities along with the different groups’ dynamics. Action and unknown factors kept the story unpredictable, 5 stars!

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

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Fairytale Twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd!
Bringing a twist to the regular fairy tales, Grim Lovelies tells the story of the often forgotten side characters. Anouk is a servant of Mada Vittora’s household. Anouk is also an animal transformed into a human by the witch she serves. Mada Vittora keeps the pelts of all the animals she’s turned into humans, all to serve her. Anouk, Luc, Beau and Cricket are all trapped this way. Beau discovers the Mada’s body after she’s been killed, so he and Anouk flee to Cricket’s apartment and then the three of them are on the run. The three of them haven’t heard from Luc for quite some time. They run to another witch that’s the enemy of their Mada, hoping for help in staying human. Mada Zola helps them plot to steal a spell from the Royals and things just get more complicated from there. Loyalties are tested and stretched and a new beginning ends the book, 4 stars!

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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Historical New Orleans setting!
The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh opens as a ship with young women pulls into New Orleans harbor. these women want to start new lives. Celine and Pippa are heading to a convent when they spot an interesting young man, who seems to stop traffic wherever he goes. Some of these young women, Celine, Pippa and Anabel, will work at a convent until they get married. They raise funds for the convent and teach the students. While they’re selling the items they’ve made, they’re approached by Odette, who seems rich and states that she’s willing to pay anything for a good seamstress. Celine sews well and she’s thrilled about the job offer. The only thing holding her back is the curfew she’s supposed to keep. Once she goes with Odette and meets her associates, she’s drawn into another world. Celine meets creatures that she didn’t know existed and her life completely changes. A mysterious fantasy set in New Orleans! 5 stars!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte!

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Fantastic debt novel by Astrid Scholte!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte!
Quadara is a nation divided into quadrants. Each quadrant plays a part in the nation’s economy. Archia provides crops and natural resources;Eonia develops medicine and technology; Ludia provides art, fashion and entertainment; Toria arranges imports and exports. The story is told in alternating points of view between the queens and Keralie, Kera for short. When Iris, an 18-year-old Queen is murdered in the Palace Garden, the mystery begins. Kera is a thief working for Mackiel. He’s sent her to steal a comm case containing memory chips. The messenger she steals from is smart and ends up tracking her down at the auction house. Mackiel becomes cruel and Kera escapes with the messenger, Varin, after dissolving the chips in her mouth, watching and absorbing the memories. She sees a palace full of blood and murdered queens. Varin and Kera go to the palace to help find the assassin and share the chips as evidence. They realize that they’re ahead of the assassin when they reach the palace and they try to warn the queens of the danger they’re in. The mystery builds as the queens are murdered, one at a time. The twists are enjoyable and I love Kera and Varin. Unique world building and storyline filled with dynamic characters, 4 stars!

The Burning Shadow by JenniferL. Armentrout

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The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Harlequin Teen, picks up where the first book in this series left off.
Evie learns more about her past but she still struggles with the reasoning behind her mother’s choices. Luc and Evie grow closer as danger builds mysteriously in their community. Luc and Evie discover information about the Luxen, Arum, Hybrids, Origins, Trojans and the actions of the Daedalus, who want to eradicate the Luxen, Hybrids and Origins. They also learn more about her parents’ motives. It made me sad when certain people died because of their great characters.
A heads-up to potential readers of graphic sexual content. I think the next book in this series will be called Brightest Night because of a character quote at the end of the book. I enjoy the mystery and suspense above all and the dystopian aspect adds intensity to the story. 4.5 stars!

Cold as a Marble by Zoe Aarsen

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Sequel to Light as a Feather!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Cold As a Marble by Zoe Aarssen, the sequel to Light As a Feather.
McKenna and her friends’ lives were completely disrupted in the first book. Two out of their friend group died, Olivia and Candace, and they believe both deaths were caused by Violet, the new girl who insisted they play the game Light As a Feather. During the game, Violet described their deaths and McKenna accused Violet of killing her friends. A restraining order was placed on McKenna and she was sent away to a different school. She’s home for Christmas and more teenage girls are dying. McKenna, her neighbor and boyfriend Trey, and Olivia’s brother Henry diligently work together to stop Violet and the curse she’s helping along. Suspenseful and interesting adventures and actions that the three dive into cause stress and more problems in their personal lives than helping stop the curse. I liked this sequel better than the first book in this series because it was faster paced and had more character development. Spooky, dangerously fun read for young adults! 4 stars!

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a novel masterpiece!
Poverty and suppression hidden under sunshine and kindness describes the picture painted of Spain as the rest of the world sees the land and its people. The story tells itself with alternating points of view and the author’s writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives, so I was pulled quickly into caring for them. Ana lives with her siblings and each of them works as many jobs as possible since their parents are no longer with them. Daniel traveled to Spain from Texas with his parents, his mother of Spanish descent and oil-rich father. Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid. Daniel loves photography and Ana helps him as much as she dares. Daniel starts noticing that Ana keeps her distance like she’s afraid. Another revelation occurs when Ana’s brother Rafe and his coworker realize that the baby coffins being sent to the cemetery for them to bury are actually empty. More injustice is revealed as we learn that Ana’s parents were killed because they wanted to start a school and their ideas went against the beliefs of the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco. The snippets taken from primary sources bring this story to a deeper level and helped me to understand how the rest of the world perceived Spain during this time frame.
The characters and their lives all connect in one way or another and those relationships show how truly complicated and complex Spain’s history is. My heart goes out to the people who suffered in silence for decades and for those still affected by the repercussions. Ruta Sepetys amazes me with every book she writes. Her dedication stands above and beyond what is required because she pours her heart and soul into the stories she creates. I’m grateful that she shares them with the world because, with each book, I gain more knowledge of cultures and history across the globe.
Fountains of Silence, a true work of art! 5 stars!

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

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Illusions or truth?
Thanks to Edelweiss and Bookish First for the opportunity to read and review an advance reader copy of Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall!
The synopsis thrilled me with promises of haunted mysteries and horrific obstacles to come as Sara searches for her missing sister, Becca. It all begins with a text to Briar Glen High students about a game they can play, the same game Lucy went to play. The book contains case files, text messages, group messages and historical accounts of what happened to Lucy all those years ago. The story builds anticipation for the anniversary of Lucy’s disappearance, the search Sara and her friends are going to make and the game they are preparing for. They are all worried for Sara’s mental health and don’t want her to be alone as she searches the woods for Becca, her missing sister. Sara’s friends meet at the designated area just before midnight on the anniversary of the disappearance and Sara shows up on her own. She believes that they all broke the rules. The group of teenagers doesn’t realize the true dangers that are in their near future as the supernatural takes over. Death, confusion, memory loss and a demon await! Spooky horror story worth 4 stars!