An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir introduces Laia and her brother Darin, who both live with their grandparents. When the Empire raids their home, Darin runs and instructs Laia to hide his sketchbook. They’re both caught and taken back inside to watch their grandparents lose their lives. Elias is introduced next. He’s a soldier of the Empire, known as a Mask. Masks are skilled soldiers and trained killers. Elias watches with the rest of the Masks as a deserter is whipped to death by the Commandant. This sickens him because he’s planning on deserting also and he thinks that he will be the next to die at the hands of the Commandant. The Commandant is Elias’ mother and she holds nothing but hatred for her son. The story alternates between Laia and Elias and suspense flows throughout the entire book, each section ending on a cliffhanger. Laia enters the Empire as the Commandant’s slave and as a spy for the resistance, in exchange for helping Darin. A new era is upon the Empire and The Trials have been set and will challenge four Masks, only two will survive and one of them will be the new Emperor. Relationships grow more complicated for both Laia and Elias and the struggle for their lives becomes more desperate. This rollercoaster of a story keeps the suspense heightened to the very last page! 5 well-deserved stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Fourth Ruby by James R. Hannibal! This sequel to The Lost Property Office finds the Buckles siblings, Jack and Sadie, relaxing by the fireplace. The siblings begin another quest with Gwen while they search for a thief together and the item the thief is after, the fourth ruby. The Mongolian history was interesting to read about and I liked how the author tied it into the Buckles’ lives. Jack continues and is determined to help his father throughout this new adventure even though many dangers are lurking. Fun steampunk mystery! 4 stars.
Sea of Strangers, the sequel to Island of Exiles. I don’t understand the different use of pronouns and it’s distracting but the author’s descriptive details make a scenic world once again. On their journey, the travelers encounter magic, other cultures, dangerous terrain and poisonous birds. They become a strong team and learn to work together and Khya learns that she’s capable of so much more than she ever could have believed. The ending is interesting and intense and my favorite part! 4 stars for a sequel with as much spirit as the first book of the Ryogan Chronicles!
Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond. Miranda and Grant both have a special connection to Roanoke Island and when over one hundred citizens come up missing, Miranda and Grant feel like they are destined to help solve the mass disappearance. The two of them do not share a happy past and their resolve is tested over and over while trying to help each other. The further they dig into the mystery, the stranger things become. They discover supernatural forces controlling people and spirits from the past. Throughout their struggles, Grant and Miranda only have each other to count on. 4 stars for a historical fiction read with a paranormal twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente. The story got its start because of the creative imagination of the Bronte siblings. Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne travel to and begin the adventure they share in Glass Town. The prose is whimsical and sweet and made me think of Roald Dahl in parts. This book is an adventure that I wish the Bronte children could have actually been a part of. The charming illustrations, sprinkled sparingly throughout the book, bring Glass Town to life. 4 stars for a book that is reminiscent of and starts an interest in the history of the Bronte family.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
Beyond the darkened sky by Dana Alexander begins as Sara awakens in a forest alone, but she feels like someone is watching her. They show themselves and partially explain who they are. She’s confused and lost as they explain to her who she is and why she’s there. Once again, science fiction is not my favorite genre and the story elements were confusing, even though the descriptions were well done, they were too deep for me. 3.5 stars.
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.
Haven by Mary Lindsey- Rain loses his mother and is sent to live with her twin, his aunt Ruby, in a small town. Rain unknowingly falls into an age-old legend as he’s trying to help a fellow classmate. He gets so much more than he bargained for. I don’t want to give anything away because the mystery is a big part of the story. Rain’s life grows more complicated and the suspense builds. He will do anything it takes to protect the people he cares about. 5 stars for this supernatural read! Entangled publishing surprised me with this wonderful box full of goodies!
The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave by CC Hunter- Riley lost her mother when she was four years old. She lives with her father who is a mortician. She’s been attending her new school for less than two weeks and knows only a few people. They have moved twice lately due to her father losing his jobs. Riley is worrying about whether or not he’s an alcoholic or depressed. Riley gets visits from ghosts of the people her father has helped prepare for burial. The visitors need Riley’s help and until she helps them they keep visiting. I have a soft spot for Ford Mustangs and it’s cool that Riley has a Mustang and deals with the car’s maintenance and mechanical issues with her dad. The more I read, the more I realized how complicated Riley’s life is. I don’t want to give anything away, but the story just kept getting better and better. The dynamic characters are interesting and the suspense grows in intensity and I was on the edge of my seat as the story ended! I want the sequel now!!! 5 stars for pure supernatural entertainment!