Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

Jam-packed with action!

A young woman is searching for evidence of her mother in unmarked graves. Sloane knows that the Nightwalkers are responsible for her mother’s disappearance and she wants the proof. She’s caught by a Nightwalker and attacked. She unleashes her Scion power to save herself and burns him to ash in the process. Her identity as a Scion has to be kept secret or the rulers will kill her. She runs home to her grandfather, Baba. He has news that one of her friends ran from the draft and was killed because of it. Now three more people will be sent draft letters. She’s one of them, along with her best friend Teo. Teo has saved money and planned for the two of them to run if they are drafted. He shows Sloane his plan but she knows he’ll get killed if they run. To get him to drop his plans, Sloane threatens to turn him in. He walks off. Sloane is drafted, along with her bully Malachi. Malachi hates Sloane and wants revenge on her because she accidentally killed his family in a fire that she started. As the story continues, Sloane discovers secrets about her mother, finds possible allies and learns that not everyone is as they seem or appear to be. She also has to lose some of her humanity and empathy to sacrifice and do her part in becoming a hardened soldier. So many surprises and twists pop up in this book, making it a fast-paced read that’s also jam-packed with action and acts of violence. Sloane’s world is brutal and she makes some horrible choices to stay alive. 4 stars!

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Mix of mythology and fairytales!

Evangeline makes a deal with Jacks, the Fate known as a heartbreaker and the Prince of Hearts. She wants Luc back but he’s in love with Marisol, Evangeline’s stepsister. Because of the deal, Luc is attacked by a wolf and badly injured. Marisol doesn’t know about Evangeline’s part in it. Evangeline feels guiltier as time goes by. She takes Marisol to an exclusive ball to meet Prince Apollo. Because of her deal with Jacks, Evangeline owes him three kisses that are given to others. The first kiss is given to Prince Apollo. They enjoy their kiss but not much comes of it. Eventually, Prince Apollo is enamored with Evangeline. Another kiss is given to Madame Fortuna to convince her to show Jacks and Evangeline the hidden Valory Arch. Chaos follows Evangeline and she ends up searching for Jacks’ help, which doesn’t make circumstances easier. Once part of a mystery is solved, more questions appear. A new discovery opens up possibilities but that’s where the story ends to be continued in the sequel. Reminiscent of mythology and fairy tales with a few twists for a unique story, 4 stars!

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Unexpected twist!

Koffi and her mother are indentured servants at the Night Zoo, which is a prison that the servants can’t seem to escape. The zookeeper continues to add time to their service and they’re kept inside a brick-walled area. One night, the zoo catches on fire and the servants set the animals free and Koffi tries to escape with her mother. Her mother is struck down and Koffi realizes that she’s on her own. Ekon, a soldier, allows her to escape because she saves him from a terrifying creature, the Shetani, but he faces punishment for helping her. The Shetani has been mutilating and killing people for as long as anyone can remember. Koffi meets a kind woman who offers her a job and as she’s heading back to accept the position, she’s attacked by the night zoo manager. Koffi makes a deal with the manager; in exchange for her freedom, she’ll capture the Shetani and return to the night zoo so the creature can be caged and bring curious, paying visitors to the zoo. He agrees. Meanwhile, Ekon plans to find the creature too and bring it back to the temple so the killings can be stopped. Through some mishaps, Koffi and Ekon eventually team up to capture the Shetani and their lives change forever. This is a delightful book to read, two emotionally flawed main characters, the mystery behind the Shetani, African mythology and the unexpected twist at the ending, 5 stars!

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Two beautiful people open the story with their jaw-dropping presence. They turn out to be the god of war, Ares, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite describes how she feels no passion or love and this is because she’s bound to give love to others but never be able to feel it in return, for all of eternity. She tells the story of James and Hazel; when they first met one week before he was heading into the Great War. Their story continues through letters after he’s sent to war, at least during his training. Hazel becomes a relief volunteer and heads to France. Aubrey, a pianist from Harlem, is in France with his unit heading to the war. Colette has lost her loved ones during the German attack on Belgium. The story floats around the interactions and experiences of these four, Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. World War I history has been unclear to me but this book helped my understanding of this horrible war known as the Great War. I adore the four main characters and my heart soared and broke right alongside theirs. Based on historical facts and people, Lovely War tells a powerful tale, 5 stars!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

The introduction is perfectly written with its foreboding and ominous tale that happens to be true.
Soraya and Sorush are twins. Soraya is hidden away because her touch is fatal. Sorush is the heir next in line to rule the kingdom.
On the day of Sorush and Laleh’s wedding announcement, Soraya meets Azad. He’s been awarded by Sorush for his bravery and for saving his life. Azad is immediately taken with Soraya even after he finds out about her fatal touch. The two of them sneak through secret passages to get into the dungeon so they can ask the prisoner div for help in breaking Soraya’s curse. A div is what gave her mother the curse years ago. The div tells her not to believe her mother’s story. As Soraya discovers the truth about her curse, her family becomes endangered and she has to do some clever thinking to save them. Soraya searches for allies and truths throughout the story as everything changes for her. Beautifully written and based on Persian mythology to give us this unique fantasy, 4 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!

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Menagerie of Japanese characters!
Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa!
The book opens with a thousand-year-old legend of a sword known as Godslayer. Tatsumi wielded this sword when it contained the demon Hakaimono. Since then, the demon has possessed Tatsumi, who continues to fight for survival against Hakaimono. Yumeko continues her mission to the Steel Feather Temple but has been waylaid with her companions to try to save Tatsumi, even though a pact was made centuries ago that if Haikaimono possessed a person, that person would be killed to stop destruction that the demon might cause. As everyone tries to thwart the demon’s plans, he shows his power and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. The plot twists as the rivalry changes and the enemy of both becomes the focus of all. Genno, the demon who wants the scroll pieces so he can summon a Kami for the wish to rule all, will be the focus of the third book in this trilogy. At times, Yumeko seems a bit dim but then she manages to pull off some amazing feats, with the help and inspiration of others; go teamwork! I also found myself struggling to keep names and descriptions straight and I’m sure that’s because I need to learn more about the Japanese culture. 4 stars for a Japanese fantasy full of a menagerie of characters!

Tower of Winds Series by Makiia Lucier

 

Must- read series!

Isle of Blood and Stone review:

The prologue tells a tale of young princes, innocent discoveries and a mass poisoning ending in death. Eighteen years later, we meet the brother of the young princes, Ulises, who is now king. We also meet his friends and entourage and the connections to the prologue are interestingly explained in the third chapter. After that point, we follow Elias, one of the young king’s friends, and Mercedes, the king’s cousin, as they follow clues on a map that may or may not lead them to the two lost princes and their unknown fate, as well as the fate of Elias’s father who also disappeared along with the princes eighteen years earlier. Supernatural elements within this fantasy make the story even more interesting and suspenseful. I enjoyed reading every word of this book, with the layers of intrigue and strong characters. I loved unraveling the mystery alongside the characters and I’m going to immediately begin reading the sequel, Song of the Abyss. 5 full and happy stars!

Song of the Abyss review:

Magnificent sequel!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a goodreads giveaway for the opportunity to read and review Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier!
The story begins eight years after Isle of Blood and Stone. Reyna is now a teenager and struggling to sneak off a ship that’s under attack. She saves herself and her maps because of her logic, swimming abilities and help from sea worms. Reyna ends up in Selene, in the kingdom of Lunes, where the king has just died. She’s the only person that escaped the attack. She accidentally meets Levi, one of the princes, as he’s grieving the loss of his father. He’s Captain of the Royal Guard and tries to detain Reyna so he can question her more but she escapes and finds a ship heading back to her home in Del Mar. Levi and his sister, Queen Vashti, visit Reyna’s kingdom to discuss ships being attacked since both kingdoms have people missing. Reyna helps Levi on the quest to find their loved ones and together they discover a horrible and treacherous deception. Song of the Abyss weaves a tale of differing kingdoms and cultures; one of them backwards and secluded and struggling to survive. A bit of historical fiction is added along with mythological creatures to create a fantasy that I loved; 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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Interesting characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa! Suki has been sent to the Palace of the Sun to work as a maid. Suki has been helping in her father’s flute shop but he sent her to the Palace to have a secure living so she’ll be taken care of when he passes away. She becomes a maid of the Emperor’s concubine, Lady Satomi; a beautiful but cruel lady. The concubine’s maids seem to keep running away or disappearing and we quickly find out why; she’s sacrificing her maids to a demon as pay for a favor that she wants in return. Next, we meet Yumeko, the prankster fox-girl that lives with monks as they guard a secret, part of the Dragon prayer. The third chapter introduces a Shadow Clan warrior that guards and yields an important weapon that houses a demon. This warrior has been sent to destroy two monsters. Chapter by chapter, characters are introduced and the stakes rise. Everyone wants the Dragon Scroll and death doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. The Fox girl and warrior are working together to find information about the scroll. Little does the warrior know that Yumeko has the scroll the entire time. If he knew, he wouldn’t think twice about killing her. The two of them keep saving each other and are now in each other’s debt. Along their travels, the two of them meet interesting characters, a rogue and a demon warrior, among others. Shadow of the Fox is beautifully told in the style of Japanese mythology. Intriguing characters kept me reading to the end and the epilogue made me anxious for the next book in the series, 5 stars!

Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

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Mythological fun!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Annaliese Rising by Brenda Drake!
As the story opens, I immediately relate to Annaliese when she doesn’t want to dissect her frog in biology class. I had that same problem when I was in high school, but that’s where our similarities end. Suddenly, she’s bumped from behind by a classmate and falls into the frog and tray. Then the frog comes to life and hops across the classroom, seriously freaking everyone out! The story becomes more mysterious and interesting when Analiese witnesses an elderly man’s death and fulfills his dying wish by meeting his grandson Marek, passing on his leather bag as requested. Marek and Analiese travel to Europe while following clues that Marek’s grandfather left for him to find. Analiese discovers that she’s a Riser, a person that brings people back to life. Marek discovers a huge part of his grandfather’s life that he knew nothing about, while Analiese uncovers her heritage and family history. Analiese Rising is a mysterious fantasy full of riddles, codes, ciphers and clues! I enjoyed all of the fun and mystery and the mythology was an added bonus! Readers that have enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan should find this book right up their alley, 5 fun, adventurous stars!