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!

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!

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!

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!