The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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Beyond my expectations!
Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi!
Whoa, that prologue! I expect intrigue, deception, action and suspense after reading it and chapter one alludes to all of the above! The complexity of forging and the variety of characters, all introduced smoothly and interestingly, attests to Roshani Chokshi’s writing talent. Severin leads L’Eden, his home full of wayward, talented people. Such as Laila, who’s skilled in baking delicacies, Zofia, her forging talents cause a bit of chaos, and Tristan, who forges diverse landscapes with plants. Enrique’s personality is fun and interesting. Laila is paradoxical with a unique birth story and the group works well together as they try to restore Severin’s birthright. Severin, along with the help of Enrique, manages to steal the compass from Hypnos; the compass that contains a map. The group develops another elaborate plan and as they begin to carry it out, Laila discovers Hypnos lounging on her chaise lounge when she enters her dressing room. She immediately assumes he’s there to stop their plan but Hypnos surprises her when he states that they need to save Tristan and Severin from death within the hour. By the time the story winds down, tragedy has struck and the group is heartbroken and struggling to move forward. This complex story is the beginning of a new trilogy that shows the beauty and horror of the 19th century, as the author’s notes acknowledge. I’m astounded by the fact of a human zoo at the World’s Fair in Paris and can’t really wrap my head around that disturbing reality. My respect for Roshani Chokshi has grown because of her talented writing, her research and her honesty in sharing the process of her story building. The world of The Gilded Wolves is based a large amount on reality, with a touch of fantasy. The dynamics between the characters and the puzzles throughout their search builds suspense and an interesting story worth 5 stars!

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Truly original fantasy!
I read When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore as a buddy-read event for Dragons & Tea Book Club. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read and review this book by providing the ARC!
This is a unique story that pulls from deep-seated cultural roots and a little deception. Sam and Miel share trust, loyalty and a special relationship. They also share their community with a group of sisters that could be considered mean girls, with a power they’ve grown so used to, that they do not want to lose it and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Wow! Aracely’s background revelation was something I was not expecting! Sam struggles with the decision of who (what gender) he wants to be in the near future. He’s struggling to the point of desperation. Miel blames herself for the loss of her mother and brother. She thinks the river might give them back to her. The fantastical elements are kind of difficult to understand in this story but I do enjoy the flow of the author’s writing. As usually is the case, the author’s notes are enlightening! They are also helpful in understanding Miel’s fears and Sam’s struggles. I appreciate that Anna-Marie McLemore shares such personal experiences and revelations with her readers! 4 stars for this unique fantasy!

Milk Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola

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Decadent recipes and user-friendly recipes!
Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Milk Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola!
Split into Beginner, Intermediate and Advance soap making recipes, this book has soap for every skill and a variety of ingredients to please everyone. Milk soaps are creamier, lather more and are better moisturizers than soaps made with water. Animal milk can be used, as well as the milk from seeds, nuts and rice. An alphabetized list of oils describes differences and properties. Adding color and scent fills the next section and helps the soap maker choose ingredients to make the soap that’s best suited to their needs and tastes. Next, detailed recipes finish out the book with a marvelous assortment of practical and beautiful soaps, 5 stars!

Fake News: Separating Truth from Fiction

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Useful and necessary guide to sorting through what’s real and what isn’t!
Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Fake News: Separating Truth From Fiction by Michael Miller!
This helpful guide to fake news and what to watch out for covers the basics and more! Explanations and descriptions of real news and fake news help us to see that fictional information can be harmful and how to tell what’s real from what isn’t real. Fake news isn’t a new idea created from social media; it dates back to Ancient Rome. Propaganda is a way to spread false information and fake news and it was well used by Hitler during World War II. To keep your intake of information on the real side, there are certain things you can watch out for, such as exaggerated claims, misspellings in URLs and only using a single source for information. Snopes is a great site for checking questionable news posts and PolitiFact is available to check political news for truthfulness. Everyone can help the spread of fake news by checking for reliability and trustworthiness of posts before sharing. 5 stars for this beneficial guide to fake news!

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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Great beginning to a new fantasy series!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Crown of feathers by Nicki Pau Preto!
Val and Veronyka are sisters who can communicate with animals (animages) and convince the animals to do their bidding. The sisters also have that same effect on people (shadowmages). The law prohibits this behavior, so the sisters are in hiding and they have been for years, alone and on their own, moving from place to place to survive and hunt for Phoenix eggs to rejuvenate the Phoenix riders. They discover two eggs and one hatches; the Phoenix chick chooses Veronyka instead of the elder sister Val.
Sev is a soldier by choosing service instead of punishment for his crimes. He accidentally sees Veronyka and her Phoenix, Xyphera, while Raiders are attacking her cabin. Sev and a prisoner help her escape the notice of the raiders. Later, Val kills Xyphera because she thinks Veronyka has raised her poorly. This breaks Veronyka’s heart and she leaves Val behind to search for Phoenix eggs and Phoenix riders on her own. During her search, Veronyka meets Sparrow, an animage with a bird companion named Chirp.
Tristan is a Phoenix rider who’s afraid of fire and he feels like he’s a constant disappointment to his father. The group of Phoenix riders that Veronyka finds only accepts boys and Sparrow gives her the idea to pose as a boy, becoming Veronyka’s “brother”, Nyk. Nyk meets Tristan, the son of the Phoenix riders’ Commander. They have a tumultuous relationship for a while because Tristan is under his father’s thumb. Everything comes to a head when Nyk sees Val in the crowd! Veronyka’s life becomes much more complicated after Val shows up and many truths are revealed, leaving Veronyka questioning everything about who she is. 5 stars for this complex and unique fantasy!

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson

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Fun romance!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson!
Zoe is home-schooled and Jackson is homeless and they play chess together online, not knowing each other’s true identities. Before things changed for Zoe, she talked to Jackson at a basketball game her sister was cheering at. Zoe and Jackson think about each other from before she was home-schooled but neither of them realize that. Since Zoe needs help with Math and Physics, her mother hires Jackson for tutoring and their relationship grows into more than just friendly acquaintances. They help each other deal with personal struggles, Zoe’s anxiety and Jackson’s relationship with his father. Paper Girl is therapeutic and a cute young adult romance, 5 stars!

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

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Strong, dynamic characters make a wonderful fantasy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian!
Theo is on Smoke, Dragonbane’s ship, with her Shadows and Soren. They are all working towards gathering allies to get her palace and reign back. Dynamic, strong characters plus the world building make Lady Smoke interesting to read and the uncertainty of Theo’s future drew me into the story even more. The characters’ backgrounds are intense and built fascinating characters that keep growing and stay steadfast by Theo’s side. Amazing strength and loyalty create unparalleled love for the kingdom they are all trying to get back. As the story carries on, more atrocities are brought to light and make the group even more determined! I don’t want to spoil anything but I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and anxiously awaiting the third book! 5 stars for great world building and strong, dynamic characters!

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Dynamic Fantasy!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters!

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

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Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers tells the story of Stella and Will. Stella has admitted herself into the hospital she’s been treated in most of her life. She has cystic fibrosis and now she has a fever and sore throat that has landed her in the hospital again. The staff and other CF patients know her well but she meets a new patient, Will. Eight months ago, Will found out that he has a fatal illness to go along with the CF he already has and he’s in the hospital for a drug trial. He’s tired of being trapped in hospitals and just wants to enjoy life. Will seems to not care about getting better while Stella is compulsive about her strict medical routine. The more I read, the more the story revealed about Stella’s and Will’s lives and their families. The daily CF routines are difficult and time-consuming and if there’s no improvement, the patient struggles to see any benefit. Full of loyalty and friendship, Five Feet Apart lets us see deeper into the difficulties of having cystic fibrosis and the tragedy of young people knowing nothing else but medical treatments and a short life span hovering in their futures. Heartbreaking, hopeful and inspiring all at the same time, 4 stars!

One Snowy Day by Diana Murray

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Cozy read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the opportunity to read and review One Snowy Day by Diana Murray and Diana Toledano!
Aesthetically pleasing illustrations accompany rhyming text as the story counts up to ten and then back down again. Very cozy wintertime book, 5 stars!