Action filled mythological adventure!
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NetGalley and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean.
Taro is the son of the emperor but, unlike his father, Taro has a kind heart. This kindness angers the emperor. Mari is an Animal Wife yokai (a human with supernatural powers that can change into a beast) with the strength and intelligence to best her opponents. She’s not beautiful, so her mother is disappointed in her and makes her train as a warrior instead. Mari’s mother wants Mari to conquer the Empire, become Empress and steal the prince’s fortune. Akira, known as the Son of Nightmares because of his scarred face, loves Mari, even though to her they will only ever be friends. He follows behind the procession taking Mari to the Empire for the Seasons Rooms competition, so he can keep an eye on her without anyone knowing. Akira has a wonderful sense of humor, even though he’s had a painful and lonely life. Mari feels overwhelmed by the competition and because of all of the young women involved but she uses her wits and her values to overcome her challenges. I enjoyed the intermittent stories of gods and goddesses that explain the creation of Mari’s world. Action packed, filled with mythology and adventure, Empress of All Seasons is an unputdownable fantasy read worthy of 5 stars!
Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein tells the story of friends Maya, Kyle and Yael. Maya suffers from a breakup, so she dives into the research that her deceased mother left for Maya in her will. The research is to create a prescription that boosts physical chemistry for couples. Ann, her mother’s intern, helps Maya with pheromone experiments. The research causes extreme confusion in Maya’s relationships and hurt feelings. Maya discovers a lot about herself along the way and she grows to understand her acquaintances better and sees her parents in a new light. Food for thought, this realistic fiction story with a touch of science earns 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier! The book opens with a beautiful map and the prologue begins innocently enough with the introduction of characters and setting. Then it closes with a bang. Chapter one takes place eighteen years later when a map is found suggesting that the two young royal brothers and Lord Antoni may not have perished all those years ago. This introductory book in this series gives us a taste of the intrigue and danger still to come. Mercedes is bold and interesting. Elias is determined and stubborn. I’m looking forward to more character development in the next series installment! 4 stars for this fantasy fiction!
A science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne! A science fiction retelling of “Jane Eyre”, Stella is an orphan unloved by her relatives and an engineer dreaming of being a governess. She’s an engineer on a derelict ship, Stalwart, that’s on its last leg. Stella receives notification of being hired on another ship and is on her way to her future. The Rochester holds many mysteries from Stella- a young captain, a possible ghost and ship sabotage. Brightly Burning is one science fiction story that I love! Normally, science fiction is not my favorite but this story has surprises and mysterious happenings that kept me thoroughly interested. Stella is a great heroine, not overbearing or a simpering damsel. A lengthier book would have allowed more character depth but I enjoyed Brightly Burning as is too, 4 stars!
Perseverance and Friendship!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst! Mayka, a twelve-year-old girl carved out of stone, lives on the mountain with other stone creations carved by her father, a famous stonemason. Her father is no longer alive and when the markings on the stone creatures began to fade and when Turtle no longer moves, Mayka decides to leave the mountain to find a stonemason who can carve the markings anew. She finds greed and danger but also loyalty and friendship on her search and Mayka learns and grows more than she ever realized she could. The Stone Girl’s Story is a sweet tale of hope, friendship and perseverance! 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau. Six disgruntled, unhappy students are each planning something that will change their lives and help them to be free from their problems. Each of the teenagers are dealing with different types of problems, secrets, religion, being an orphan, bullying and pressure from peers and family, but they end up together inside the school after a bomb explodes. They help each other but with the air of distrust between them. Finally, they discover who’s responsible for the bombings and they struggle for their lives. Intense with an interesting array of characters and relevant subject matter-5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes which includes a map of Witchtown and the history of Witchtown’s origins. The story begins with introducing a mother and daughter who want to live in Witchtown and their purpose is to rob the town. Aubra, the mother, is also a Natural, which means she was born with her powers. The daughter, Macie, is a Void and doesn’t have powers. Macie is very cynical because of all the moving they have done and her mother is selfish and mean-spirited and she doesn’t care about what’s good for Macie. Anytime Macie makes friends her mother becomes angry and every time they move, Aubra erases the memories of the people that knew them. The longer Macie stays in Witchtown, the more she realizes that her mother is hiding secrets from her. The story is full of suspense and twists! 5 stars for an entertaining supernatural read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle! Lily struggles daily with her ADHD which causes misunderstandings, confusion and impulsive behavior. Through an odd turn of events, Lily begins to have a crush on Abelard, who is considered to be different due to his Asperger’s Syndrome. They mostly communicate through texting since it’s easier for both of them; Lily can resist impulses and Abelard can slow down sensory overload. The two of them have their ups and downs but find a wonderful balance in their relationship that works out perfectly for them. This sweet, thought-provoking story touches on the reality of people that struggle with learning disabilities and the family members that live through the struggles with them. Heartwarming realistic fiction worth 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Nice try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke! The book opens with journal entries written by Jane, who is trying to move past a mysterious event involving James Fowler. Jane alludes to this event as she continues writing in her journal. She joins a reality show in the making, House of Orange, so she can move away from home and move on with her life. Eventually, we discover that James Fowler is the high school Jane was attending when she thought about ending her life and tried doing just that by jumping off a cliff. She wasn’t successful. She learns a great deal about herself while participating on House of Orange. Jane’s sense of humor is entertaining and the broad range of characters makes Jane stop and look at herself and grow personally. She learns to not care about what people think of her and her actions. This contemporary book shows that doubt and insecurity are both normal for everyone as we become adults and grow into our identity. 4 stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook! On the front cover of the book is a nailed sign stating “TRUST NO ONE. DECEIVE EVERYONE.” I was immediately interested in the book’s contents! The synopsis is even more intriguing. Skye, a tarot card reader, has absolutely no money and doesn’t want to let her best friend Drew down. The two of them plan on living together in New York after high school but Skye doesn’t know how to make that happen. Because of money problems, Skye becomes part of an elaborate kidnapping scheme and, even though she wants out, Skye keeps getting pulled in even deeper. The mystery has many twists and keeps changing until the end of the book. An impressive mystery worth 5 stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.