Cinderella’s Shoes by Shonna Slayton

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A lovely historical fiction book!
Cinderella’s Shoes by Shonna Slayton opens as the ceremony moving the protection responsibility from Aunt Elsie to Kate is performed by Princess Kolodenko. Kate is now ward of Cinderella’s three dresses but the shoes have been lost. Kate gets the chance to travel to Europe with the royal family and teach Princess Nessa everything she knows about the dresses. Nessa has no respect for the dresses and she’s frivolous with them. After getting to Europe, Kate travels to Poland with Lidka, who Kate isn’t sure about trusting. Princess Kolodenko shares a secret about the shoes with Kate before she leaves for Poland to meet Malwinka, a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, who supposedly has the shoes. Once Kate and Lidka reach Poland, things become frightening and magical. A lovely historical fiction book that explains much of what the story of Cinderella left out. 5 stars!

And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. The story opens with the three daughters, their family owns the Abbey, getting ready for a party that evening. The eldest daughter, Kate, is meant to marry and bear a male child as heir to the Abbey. The party will introduce possible suitors for her to choose from or for them to choose her. The lovely British setting begins with tongue in cheek humor and the calmness of a classic but eventually, horror ensues when a woman is forced to shoot her already dead husband! No one but her nephew believes that her husband came home after she had already verified his death. She claimed that his eyes were unusual and he was no longer her husband, but a monster. Little by little, the Abbey community and surrounding village is overtaken by zombies and the survivors must defend themselves or fall victim also. The gutsy Fanny, a kitchen maid, builds up bravery throughout the Abbey and helps fight to save the residents, along with the three daughters. Zombie Abbey is a fun horror story, which seems oxymoronic, but the author pulls it off quite well! 4 stars for this adventurous dystopian!

Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli

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Jo Napoli. This historical fiction tale of the year follows the aftermath of the potato blight in Ireland, 1846-1847. Once again the potato crops aren’t doing well and people are contemplating leaving Ireland for a more hopeful and prosperous land. The sentence describing the people’s worries about traveling to other countries, where guns are needed to fight off criminals, and how they were so shocked by this idea was an eye-opener. How times have changed. The story takes us through how tenants rebel against the landlords and how people die from starvation, injuries from fighting and also sickness. The postscript states the fictional and true parts of this story and recalls the horribly high death toll because of the potato blight and how the suffering continued for several years. The author’s note explains the reasons for the blight and the timeline of Ireland to the famine’s end starting at prehistoric times up to 1851. I appreciate the author taking the time for extensive research into Ireland and its history and for describing what the Irish people went through when their crops were devastated. 4 stars!

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for the opportunity to read and review The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden! This sequel to Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderful fantasy with beautiful descriptions and fascinating legendary characters of Russian heritage. Vasya is still uniquely interesting and after surviving different adventures, she meets her niece, Marya. The two of them have a great deal in common and Vasya finally has someone she can share her magical sights with, until they are forbidden to spend time together because of the impropriety of Marya showing her face in public. She truly is a girl locked in a tower. Their lives scatter out of control when a secret Vasya has kept quiet is revealed and everything spirals downward from there. I enjoyed this sequel as much as the first book and even more. The ending left me wanting more and I sure hope there’s a third book planned. I noticed on Goodreads that the next addition to the Winternight Trilogy is set to be published August 2018 and is entitled The Winter of the Witch! The Russian information and resources in the Author’s Notes helped with the understanding of legends, vocabulary and names. I am also interested in researching more of this section of Russian history, thanks to the sources mentioned. This beautiful story rates 5 stars for its atmospheric descriptions and dynamic characters!

 

Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Suspect Red by L.M. Elliott! Chapter One is entitled “June 1953”; the book opens as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for giving the Soviet Union U. S. atomic bomb technology. More factual information is given: the reason for the Berlin Wall and censorship with books, before the story begins. Set in the Cold War era, Richard enjoys reading about spies and other topics that the government frowns upon at the time. His father works for the FBI and was active in the military during wartime. The story alternates between true historical moments and photographs to the fictional characters of Richard and his family and their lives. Eye-opening and relatable, the timeline of the fictional story flows with Cold War history as it is laid out. It’s crazy how much one person affected an entire nation in such a negative way. Suspect Red is an interesting, entertaining way to gain knowledge about the state of our nation during the Cold War, 5 stars!

Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond

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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!