White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

High creepiness factor!

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson opens as a family is arriving at their new home. They’ve moved away from problems and into a house with problems of its own. The family includes a teen girl, Marigold, her younger brother Sammy, and their stepsister Piper. Marigold’s and Sammy’s mother married Piper’s father. Mari has a past that she wants to forget. Sammy is an honest and loyal brother. Piper seems to be favored by her father. When weird things start happening in their new home, they don’t know what to think. Mari thinks she might be hallucinating when she’s sees a blackened hand reach into her shower but suspects Piper when items are misplaced. The neighborhood is odd and no one really will talk to them. They just stare. Creepy house, creepy neighborhood and something just feels off to Mari. This is a creepy read that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend! 5 stars!

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

African mythology, culture and history!

Simi has been a mermaid, a Mami Wata, for only a short time but she’s starting to lose her human memories. When she goes on land and transforms into a human, she grasps at memories of her family and holds onto them tightly so she won’t forget once she’s a mermaid again. Her duty is to help souls move on after death and she thinks she’s helping a young man who has just been thrown overboard from a slave trader ship. She assumes he’s dead and she’s ready to perform her task when his eyes open. He is chained and manacled and injured. He loses consciousness and she carries him over her shoulder as she swims to an island. His name is Kola and together they call on the creator of mermaids for help in getting him home. Kola and Simi go through a roller coaster of experiences together to get him home, save his siblings and help the mermaid creator. Simi isn’t supposed to develop feelings or attachments to any human but she grows to care for Kola. They meet the messenger to the gods, Esu, and discover the horrible trickster that he is. Tidbits similar to The Little Mermaid story but with the added African mythology, culture and history! 4 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!

You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston

Unexpected Twist!

Lylah attends college and lives off campus with her friends. One of her roommates, Sonny, goes missing and Lylah and Chace find his body when they go to study. His heart is missing. Someone is leaving notes written in cut out letters from magazines and the friends are terrified. One person at a time goes missing and is found murdered. There’s a little bit of redundancy with Lylah explaining her background but the last fifty pages amp up the intensity and suspense with an unexpected twist, 4 stars!

Steelstriker by Marie Lu

The action and fighting keep going as the rebellion tries to end the Premier!

The story opens six months after Skyhunter ends. Talin has been transformed into a Skyhunter for the Premier and Red is in the woods with some Strikers, doing what they can to fight the Federation. Talin and Red haven’t sensed much of each other but they are both missing their connection and they each keep trying to reach out to the other one. While sleeping, Talin sees through Red’s eyes what the rebels are planning. The premier sees everything through their connection and is able to sabotage them. Jeran and Red escape but the rest of the group gets captured. Talin is sick with worry and tries her best to subdue the connection with the Premier, even trying to survive without sleep. The premier forces the captured Strikers to compete in a game against Ghosts. They’re trapped in a maze made up of metal sliding walls. Only two of the four survive. The action and fighting keep going as the rebellion tries to end the Premier. Intrigue, brutality, torture and the horrific making of ghosts kept the story hopping until the very end, 4 stars!

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Fresh Camelot tale!

Elaine is a seer and she is friends with Arthur, Gwen (Guinevere), Lancelot and Morgana. Arthur’s father, the king, dies. So, Arthur has to return home to take over the reign of the kingdom. Morgana has a cruel twin sister, Morgause. None of the friends want to return to Camelot but they have to nonetheless. Elaine sees a vision that horrifies her to the point of being terrified of what’s to come.

The group arrives at Camelot just as Mordred is about to be named king. Since Arthur has shown up, he’s set to go to Lyonesse to procure a treaty. He has little support from Camelot with only a handful of knights willing to go with him and his group of friends. Lyonesse is supposed to be extremely violent and dangerous and most people never return. When they arrive, they sense something ominous but don’t understand it. That night they hear screams and feral howls and are terrified. The next morning Gwen explains the true nature of her kingdom. Somehow, the king offers up his daughter Gwen to duel with Arthur and what follows astounds everyone. This is a wonderfully told Camelot tale. Elaine deals with the curse of being able to see into the future but none of her visions are guaranteed to come to pass. For every outcome, she sees many possibilities and in the meantime, she struggles to prevent bad ones from becoming true. I love the five main characters and wanted their lives to work out well. I’m sad that I finished it because it’s such an engrossing and enjoyable read. Fresh Camelot tale, 5 stars!

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

A fun, clean romance!

The story opens as the main character, Prudence, awaits her class partner for their group project presentation. Quint shows up late and acts nonchalant. She believes that she’s done all of the work but the teacher gives her the lower grade because she struggles with teamwork. She’s allowed an extra credit assignment and grade if she’ll do more research on the topic and demonstrate her ability for teamwork. She volunteers at Quint’s family owned sea animal rescue center for her research. During summer break, Prudence expands her horizons and broadens her perspective. She also helps catch an embezzler. A clean read with some unexpected happenings, 4 stars!

*I also listened to the audiobook which was fun to listen to!

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!

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Uniquely strange!

Seven-year-old Christopher is on the run with his mom. Her boyfriend Jerry was mean one too many times. They reach a new town and she finds a job cleaning at a nursing home. Christopher struggles with school until he reappears after missing in the woods for six days. He can’t remember anything about that time. Everything seems to get better for Christopher and his mom, Kate. Then Christopher sneaks out with his friends to build a treehouse in the forbidden woods. He gets sick and doesn’t sleep because of the nightmares he keeps having. His mother sees him falling apart and before she can fix anything their lives and whole world turn upside down. This story has an eerie, spooky feel. It’s part supernatural and part mystery with a Stephen King, albeit mellow, feel. Unique and strange, 4 stars!

Pony by R.J. Palacio

A western adventure full of action and mystery!

Pony tells the story of a young boy who takes refuge in a tree during a violent storm and when the tree is struck by lightning, receives a burn on his back in the shape of that same tree. The burn heals into a very unique scar. His father revives the boy by using a fireplace bellows. This man is interested in photography but turned to boot making to support his family but the lightning incident stokes his love of art and photos. The young boy, Silas, was born the same day his mother died. So, Silas and his father are without her. Pa is kindhearted and loving and cares deeply about Silas. One night, three riders with pistols drawn, arrive at their home demanding that Pa and Silas go with them. They won’t say why other than their boss wants Pa to work for a week and then he’ll let him return to his home. The riders brought an extra horse and a white-faced pony with them so Pa and Silas could ride along. Pa makes Silas stay behind. The pony shows up soon after the riders leave with Pa. Silas is worried that Pa has been hurt so he rides Pony (Silas’ name for the small horse) and goes after Pa’s trail. He finds so much more than he expected and meets several different allies along the way. Pony is a western adventure full of action and mystery, told with a continuous sense of awe; I loved reading it, 5 stars!