Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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Unique and thought-provoking story!
I began reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel and then I tried the audiobook. I prefer the audiobook to reading it on my own, especially because the accent lends to making the story more real. Life of Pi tells the story of Pi’s life, from childhood to adulthood. His family owned a zoo, other people constantly teased him about his name, until one teacher started calling him Pi. Pi experiments with several different religions and decides he likes them all. His father eventually decides to sell the zoo and move to Canada. The family shares a ship with some zoo animals. A storm causes problems and the ship begins to sink. Pi takes the lifeboat, not knowing that some animals are already on it. The hyena really turned my stomach. The tiger finally kills the hyena and Pi manages to train the tiger so they coincide peacefully together. They eventually land on the coast of Mexico and the tiger runs to the jungle. Pi doesn’t see him again. This story is interesting and I am going to watch the movie next. 4 stars for the unique and thought-provoking content.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

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More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 5 stars!

The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted by Conor Grennan

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A fun read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read and review The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted by Conor Grennan!
Jack and his best friend Freddy are on scholarship at a boarding school. Freddy has a tendency to believe conspiracy theories and go down the rabbit holes of each of these theories. He presents in history class on a military academy that’s secret to the world, The Hadley Academy. No one believes Freddy and he gets a failing grade on his presentation. As soon as the presentation is over, Jack gets permission to use the restroom and he’s whisked away by Hans, the new school security guard. Hans takes Jack to a secret door that transports him to The Hadley Academy! Freddy soon follows. Each recruit becomes a student and passes through the Spade threshold to discover the spade classification they belong to: Kinetic, Theoric, Systemic, and Expathic. Kinetics like taking risks, Theorics are problem solvers, Systemics are highly creative, and Expathics understand their surroundings at a higher level. Since Superior Blue believes Jack has been sent to fulfill a prophecy, he sets up a thirteenth team and sends out recruiters to find three more dormants to join Jack’s team, Freddy included. The thirteenth team is heckled by the rest of the academy but eventually the need for the team members becomes known. Surprises keep popping up that enlarge the world of The Hadley Academy and bring more and more interesting characters into the story. The Hadley Academy is enjoyable, entertaining and fun to read, 4 stars!

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

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The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu tells the story of Mozart and his older sister Nannerl when they were children and the fantastical world they discover together through their musical talent. I absolutely love how Marie Lu based this story on sources she found while reading about Mozart. She discovered that he did have a sister and they shared compositions along with their love of music, as well as their co-created stories of the Kingdom of Back. The historical based story fascinates me and I enjoyed every minute reading this fantasy. The struggles Nannerl dealt with because of the day and age she was born in were unfair but she persevered as much as she could. I love this story and give it a full 5 stars!

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Interesting characters wrapped up in intrigue!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!
Witchcraft is forbidden in Aurelia’s kingdom and the story opens as she’s sadly watching two women hang for performing witchcraft. Aurelia has performed her share of magic, even though she’s the princess. She’s being sent away to Achleva to marry the prince. In his kingdom, magic is allowed. Along the way, a plot is revealed and she escapes on her own. She disguises herself as a maid and meets other commoners, befriends them and helps them. Someone is trying to break seals and release dark magic and they finally discover who has been breaking them, only after they’ve lost a wonderful friend. I love the part when the prince stands up to the king, speaking the truth about the seal breaker. The king’s reaction raises suspicion. Some of the transitions could be more clear between reality and Aurelia’s visions but for the most part, the visions add depth to the plot. Aurelia loses people she loves and she discovers her true origins. Unpredictable and entertaining, Bloodleaf kept me riveted to the end, 4 stars!

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!

Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

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Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning. The story begins fifty years after Sea Witch. Evie is known as the Sea Witch and sea residents go to her for magic and to have their wishes fulfilled. Runa’s twin sibling, Alia, wished to become human so she could marry the prince. Runa begs for the help of Evie so she can bring her sister back home. Complications arise under the sea and on dry land. Deception, manipulation, and revenge tell this story, 4 stars!

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess!
Now that Blackwood and Nettie are engaged, they are able to fully work together. They move to Blackwood’s estate, Sorrow Fell, and Nettie discovers the curse that goes along with the stolen Fae dwelling. The Blackwood bride deteriorates for decades. Blackwood becomes Imperator and the power changes him and not in a good way. He craves honor, love and acceptance, which he never received from his parents. He yearns to control everything and this puts a wall between himself and Nettie. As the Ancients get closer, the sorcerers, magicians and witches struggle with leadership and the possibility of working together. This third and last book of the series contains more emotional upheavals and ups and downs, as well as great character development! Jessica Cluess has proven herself as a wonderful fantasy author and I would love to read this series again, 5 stars!

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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I love this cover!

Sea Witch, by Sarah Henning, opens as three young children play together and one ends up gravely injured. The story jumps to their teen years, the present time in this setting, when the Prince turns sixteen and the kingdom celebrates. Prince Nik and his best friend Evie dance and remember their third friend that is no longer with them. I like the alternating between the present time, and four years earlier around the time tragedy strikes, because it gives insight into the characters and their backgrounds and builds suspense. As the village prepares to celebrate, a young woman named Annamette appears. She confides in Evie her secrets and deepest wishes. This is where complications begin. With magic, royalty and the sea, problems brew and lives change drastically. Sea Witch is the beginning of transformation and the ending of innocence and freedom for Evie, 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!