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 Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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Great start to a new trilogy by Kiersten White!

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it. The description drew me in and piqued my curiosity! The gorgeous cover emulates mystery and the first chapter lives up to all of my expectations! Traveling through a forest surrounded by knights, the main character heads toward Camelot and King Arthur, her husband-to-be. She loves the forest surroundings but keeps that secret to herself. When they reach a river they have to cross, her true fear comes out and Mordred, Arthur’s best knight and nephew , carries her across the water to safety. No one can understand why she’s afraid and she reminds herself to act the part of Queen Guinevere. Arthur and Merlin planned for her to play the part of the deceased Queen Guinevere so she could protect Arthur from harm, which Merlin has foretold. She has no idea where the threat is or where it will come from but she does everything in her power to protect Arthur and his kingdom. Magic has been and continues to be banished from Camelot but Guinevere keeps running across bits of magic that she eventually discovers the origins of. She enjoys spending time with Arthur and she’s grateful that he knows everything about her, so he’s the one person she can be herself around. They have a marriage of convenience and friendship but Guinevere feels more when she’s with Mordred. The author has built a wonderful setting with many enjoyable characters that I fell in love with. I’m happy that this is the first book in a planned trilogy, so I have two more books to look forward to reading! I like the strength that both Arthur and Guinevere show and the sacrifices they’re willing to make. I enjoyed Dindrane’s attitude and Mordred’s mystery. I can’t wait to continue reading this story, 5 stars!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

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Cliffhanger ending!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman.
A mix of characters is introduced in the first few chapters. They all have something in common; they’re all descended from the main four families that have resided in Four Paths for decades. These families have protected the town from the Beast that resides in the mysterious and frightening Gray. Hawthorne, Carlisle, Saunders and Sullivan are the four head families. Violet Saunders has recently moved to Four Paths with her mother, Juniper. It’s just the two of them since Violet’s sister and father have both passed away. Justin and May Hawthorne are the children of the sheriff of Four Paths, their mother Augusta. Violet and Juniper live with Darla, Juniper’s sister. Harper Carlisle lost a hand earlier and she keeps training to still be strong and helpful; she has four siblings. Isaac Sullivan is part of the fourth founding family but the rest of his family is gone, in one way or another. Secrecy seems to be the rule between families and hiding truths from the Four Paths citizens is how the heads of the families claim to keep the town safe. Secrets are painfully revealed and trust is broken. The teenagers’ lives and relationships all intertwine and complicate matters because the teens don’t want the secrecy. They want honesty and openness. The teens also get thrown into violence and deception by the Powers that run the town. They each have to decide who they will be loyal to and what they will do with their own powers and futures. The story ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and I’m expecting the sequel to shine more light on Isaac’s mysterious family. 4 stars for a supernatural story that has much more to tell!

Glow of the Fireflies by Lindsey Duga

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Otherworldly powers and alternate worlds bring Glow of the Fireflies by Lindsey Duga to life. Thanks to Entangled and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Brye is not known as a team player. She seems to do better independently and when she doesn’t have to rely on anyone else. Her father calls her after her swim meet and gives her the unwanted news that she’s being sent away for the summer. Brye will be going to Firefly Valley in the Smoky Mountains to take care of her reclusive grandma that’s broken her leg. Brye hasn’t seen or talked to this grandma for six years, since the house fire that gave Brye scars and amnesia when she was ten. Luckily, she’s taking her best friend Izzy along for the summer trip. The trip isn’t calm like the two best friends thought it would be because Brye reunites with people she hasn’t seen since she left the valley. She’s thrown into a fantastical world of fairies and ethereal and astral planes where she’s told to save her mom, who she thought left them by choice after the tragic fire. A fun mix of characters in this fantasy reminiscent of Fablehaven, 4 stars!

Mirror Bound by Monica Sanz

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Sequel to Seventh Born!
Thanks to Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Mirror Bound by Monica Sanz!
Sera doesn’t remember much of her past. She’s lived with Nikolai Barrington for the last two years. Barrington is helping Sera do everything she can to become an investigator because she wants to solve mysteries and help others as Barrington has helped her. She’s a seventh born shunned by everyone. Sera has also been tortured due to being a seventh born and Barrington has given her a place to heal in mind and body. She feels safe in his home and his staff treats her with love and kindness also. Sera has a crush on Barrington and she questions if it’s only because he’s made her feel safe and secure or more than that. Together they solve mysteries and hunt criminals, human and supernatural. Barrington’s tumultuous past is partially revealed, as is Sera’s past. The two of them have much in common and their relationship continues to grow stronger. They encounter the Enchantress who drains the magic and life out of humans and they are faced with a dangerous opponent! 4 stars for this romantic fantasy for young adults!

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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Korean folklore!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of Wicked Fox by Kat Cho!
The two main characters meet when Miyoung saves Jihoon’s life from a goblin and Jihoon sees Miyoung’s true form. The next day, Miyoung shows up at Jihoon’s school as a transfer student and, little by little, she reluctantly becomes his friend and then their relationship turns into something more. Yena, Miyoung’s mother seems cruel and uncaring to her and she forces her to move often so they don’t make ties with anyone. The self-denigrating behavior from Jihoon and Miyoung became a little tiresome. I was also confused by the many different names that the characters were each called. The differences became cumbersome to remember. I’m sure if I was better acquainted with Korean culture and folklore, it would be easier for me. There’s a good deal of character development in a few of the characters and we learn some secrets about Yena’s background which are very interesting. 4 stars for this first book in the Gumiho series!

 

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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Action-packed sequel!
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess!
Nettie is officially a sorcerer and while she’s at her first meeting, an Ancient sends a message requesting that the sorcerers give Nettie up. Many revelations occur and much action takes place in this second book of the Kingdom on Fire series. Betrayal, loyalty, bravery, forgiveness and power bring this story to life. So much takes place that I feel like anything I share would spoil the story. Nettie’s friends have secrets and burdens of their own, most of which are revealed. Complex and character developing best describes A Poison Dark and Drowning, 5 stars!

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Fantasy and sea life set on the Isle of Man!
Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh tells the story of sea monsters and the fear that the island people are living with.
Bridey hates the beach and has ever since she watched her grandfather drown. A deceased young woman washes up on the beach and no one knows what happened to her. A young man mysteriously appears on the beach also. He’s alive but badly injured and suffers from memory loss. Bridey helps him get to her home where her family nurses him back to health. They give the young, injured man Fynn for a name since he can’t remember his. More disappearances occur and the town is in an uproar, some of them blaming Fynn because he’s an outsider. In the meantime, Bridey works for the local recluse; an elderly woman that the townspeople have labeled a witch. Bridey’s mother paints what she sees in her dreams and the paintings have become darker, showing horrible sea creatures and attacks. When Bridey’s sister goes missing, she faces her deepest fears to do everything she can to rescue her sister. I had never heard of the Isle of Man and after reading this book and the author’s notes at the end, I looked up information and images; it’s an interesting part of human history and a beautiful place. Mystery and sea creatures make up this fantasy, 5 stars!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Mesmerizing cover and enchanting story!
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a young adult fantasy full of tragedy.
A large family, living in an estate by the sea, continues to lose family members. Several sisters and their mother die from a variety of causes. Verity, one of Annaleigh’s younger sisters, sees the deceased siblings as ghosts, who are injured according to how they died. Verity sketches what she sees but doesn’t seem frightened by the injured ghosts. Annaleigh is adamant that someone killed Eulalie because suspicion surrounds her death. On and on this tragedy continues and the sisters become confused about what’s really happened and what are illusions. The sisters love each other and have been close so the losses are tearing them apart. Annaleigh learns about a Trickster who causes chaos and she tries to figure out who called the Trickster and made a selfish deal, ending in ripping their family into pieces. Full of fantasy and mystery, this book weaves a beautifully written tale of enchantment, 5 stars!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore!

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Action, adventure, mystery, tragedy and romance all wrapped up in a fantasy, 5 stars!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a thoroughly enjoyable read! The main character Katsa has been given the Grace skill to kill well, but she hates this gift. She frees an elderly Lienid prisoner by knocking out guards and giving them each a pill that keeps them out long enough for her to complete the rescue. By doing this, she completed her mission without killing anyone. She works under King Randa’s orders and he often orders her to harm or kill people when they’ve supposedly wronged him. Katsa has few people that she’s comfortable with, her companions Giddon and Oll and her cousin Raffin, who’s also the prince.
The Lienid prisoner’s grandson, Po, has visited several places searching for his grandfather. Po’s relieved when he discovers that his grandfather is safe and being cared for by Katsa and her companions. Po is also a Grace and his skill is intuition. He’s also a skilled fighter and has passed on fighting as his Grace skill because people would be afraid of him or use him for his intuitive abilities.
Katsa and Po become friends and I enjoy their unique friendship and all of its humor. When Katsa decides she no longer wants to do King Randa’s bidding, she leaves with Po. They arrive in King Leck’s territory just as he’s killing his wife for hiding their daughter Bitterblue from him. King Leck is also the one who had Po’s grandfather kidnapped. He did this so his wife would obey him. His wife is Po’s aunt. She’s running towards Po when Leck kills her but she has time to yell at Po to protect Bitterblue. Leck is a horrible person who has a Grace of manipulation and he has used this power for his own benefit since he was young. He killed the King and Queen years ago, after they took him in as their own, so he could rule as King. He mutilates and tortures children, specifically girls, and animals. A lot of action and adventure take place in Graceling, as well as some romance in this young adult fantasy. I enjoyed the relationship and relaxed ease between Po and Katsa, it was refreshing!