Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Horror adventure thriller!

Mattie is about twenty and lives with her much older husband, William, in the mountains in solitude. William is abusive in all ways. He treats her like a possession, not a person, and keeps her hidden on the mountain in a cabin. She’s not allowed to leave the area around the cabin. Mattie is having flashbacks and bits of her past are returning to her as memories despite William lying to her for so long. A strange, unknown creature has shown up on the mountain near the cabin and it’s killing animals and sorting their bones and organs into distinct piles inside its cave. When Mattie and William discover the cave, he believes it’s the work of a demon and that he’s destined by God to get rid of it. Hikers are searching for new animals when William threatens them to leave his mountain. They see Mattie’s injured face and one of the hikers recognizes her from news reports. She’s unsure of what he’s talking about and William denies anything about the reports and restates that Mattie is his wife and the hikers need to leave or he will harm them. Mattie continues to recall bits of her past and when William leaves for town, the strangers approach the cabin to talk to her, filling her in on who she really is. The mystery and danger are suspenseful and Mattie has great strength despite her confusion. Horror adventure thriller worth 4 stars!

*Information on book content:
language content: 23 swear words and 3 f-words
mature content: PG-13, mentions wifely duties and drugs are found and mentioned a small amount
violence: PG-13, bloody animal found dead, gore, abuse to main character with blood involved.

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

Fantastic sequel to The Beautiful!

As the tale unfolds, the background story of each member of Bastien’s unique family is revealed. The mystery surrounding the Court of Lions unravels. Celine now works as a seamstress in a shop with Pippa and two other women. Odette is the benefactor of the shop but Celine has no other memories of Odette or anything surrounding Sebastian. Celine does keep having intense dreams about a man she doesn’t recognize and they make her wonder who he is. Pippa mentions the restaurant Jacques’ and Celine’s memories click a little, so she goes to the restaurant expecting answers, only to be turned away and even more confused. As Sebastian searches for a way to be unmade, he learns who Celine truly is and becomes part of the deal to return her to her heritage. Another secret reveals itself and brings the Brotherhood (werewolves) and the Fallen (vampires) to a chaotic frenzy. Fantastic sequel to The Beautiful! 5 stars!

She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster

Riveting fantasy!

Anwei and Knox are thieves. Knox is a Devoted soldier for the Warlord and Anwei found him passed out on the ground a year ago. They’ve been companions ever since. Anwei is a dirty witch and she poses as a Goddess in a temple. When people place letters or coins at the statue of the goddess, a temple servant places them in a specific hidden spot for Anwei (the goddess) to gather. She also receives requests in the same way, asking her to steal items for people. Anwei has kept Knox hidden from the warlord’s search for him. In return, Knox helps with her reconnaissance and safety.

Lia has been with the Devoted since they took her at the age of eleven and she’s miserable. She’s supposed to be helping with the search for Knox and she’s sees a bit of his aura and wonders how he’s keeping it hidden. Lia escapes with her sister after Ewan, a fellow Devoted, attacks her. Lia and Ari run to their father’s house to hide. Their father wants to keep his title of power and he’s struggling to find a way to heal his sick wife. This story weaves several characters’ lives together to build a complex plot that all makes sense at the end of this book but the story will continue in a sequel. Lia, Anwei, Knox and Mateo will find themselves entwined in a devious, greedy plan for power. Rich world building and complicated story kept me riveted, 5 stars!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Unique story of freedom, love and sacrifice!

Addie was going to be forced to marry a widower with young children, so she prayed and sacrificed to any God that would listen. Darkness appeared and made a deal to give her freedom for her soul. Years, decades, then three centuries go by while Darkness visits Addie sporadically. No one remembers her after she leaves their sight. If she sees them again, they reintroduce themselves as if they’ve never seen her before. She’s truly lonely. She also can’t keep possessions or stay in one place long. Every one of her possessions disappears except for a carved wooden ring. She wanders the world for three hundred years, experiencing famine, poverty, cruelty and love. Addie shows great strength as her character grows through her many experiences. A truly unique story of freedom, love and sacrifice, 5 stars!

This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada

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A fun sci-fi dystopian story, This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada, alternates between Cat and Jun Bei, giving insight into each of their thoughts. Cat is inside a simulated environment which is really in Jun Bei’s mind since Jun Bei took over. Both realities are under duress and fighting to fix its own problems. Memories have been wiped, so Cat is new to most, except for feelings of familiarity. Jun Bei wants to fix the Panacea mortality cure and goes to severe lengths to accomplish her goal. For the first time in her life, Jun Bei feels guilty about harming people and regrets the killing she’s been responsible for in the past. Cat can see everything in the environments she’s in and everyone can see her. She looks perfectly real and solid and she’s undetected unless someone tries to touch her because their hands will go right through her image. The science fiction aspect of this series is fascinating. Embryos were created with specific genetic material to make people great coders/hackers. Thirty generations were created, mixed and born within a short period of time. Only two embryos were grown into people who were born and raised to be coding geniuses, Dax and Mato. The Panacea cure/vaccination will make people immortal while the Hydra virus has been mutating people into Lurkers through the tech panels in their arms. The series comes full circle with a satisfying ending, 5 stars!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Surprise ending!
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!

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 Lonely Dead by April Henry

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A mystery with a touch of the paranormal!
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review The Lonely Dead by April Henry!
Adele has inherited the ability to see, feel and converse with ghosts, human and animal, from her mother and grandmother. She lives with her grandfather who has watched both his wife and daughter struggle with this ability and neither of them to good ends. They’re both deceased and he’s raising Adele the best he can. She’s been on medication for schizophrenia for years but she’s now realized that she’s not schizophrenic; she can actually see ghosts. Tori, who was her best friend in elementary school, has just been murdered and Adele discovers Tori’s body in a shallow grave. Tori was having a party while her parents weren’t home and no one has seen her since, until Adele finds her ghost next to the shallow grave. A mystery surrounds Tori’s death and suspects include everyone at the party and a few adults. Adele drank at the party and doesn’t remember everything she did and she begins to worry that she might be the murderer. Adele has to learn how to handle seeing and being able to converse with ghosts in a quiet manner, so people don’t think she’s crazy. Adele also struggles to find true friends.
A quick mystery that’s enjoyable to read, 4 stars!

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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Historical New Orleans setting!
The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh opens as a ship with young women pulls into New Orleans harbor. these women want to start new lives. Celine and Pippa are heading to a convent when they spot an interesting young man, who seems to stop traffic wherever he goes. Some of these young women, Celine, Pippa and Anabel, will work at a convent until they get married. They raise funds for the convent and teach the students. While they’re selling the items they’ve made, they’re approached by Odette, who seems rich and states that she’s willing to pay anything for a good seamstress. Celine sews well and she’s thrilled about the job offer. The only thing holding her back is the curfew she’s supposed to keep. Once she goes with Odette and meets her associates, she’s drawn into another world. Celine meets creatures that she didn’t know existed and her life completely changes. A mysterious fantasy set in New Orleans! 5 stars!