Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

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Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for the opportunity to read Berserker by Emmy Laybourne! Hanne has inherited Norwegian Berserker powers and supposedly this is what drove her mother away. Hanne lives with her drinking father, two brothers and a younger sister. Her eldest brother Steig wants to move to America, get a teaching job and bring his siblings to America when he has enough money. Hanne’s story alternates with Owen Bennett’s, who’s treated badly by his family because he’s the product of Mr. Bennett’s past affair. Hanne is overtaken by the Berserker powers when she senses that her family is in danger and she kills the three men that mean to cause harm to her family and her father ends up dying also. The four siblings run away from their home. Meanwhile, two men, Rolf and Ketil, are sent by a Baron, their employer, to hunt down any Nytte, anyone with Norwegian descent that has inherited Viking strengths. They all travel to America. Owen meets the siblings when he saves Sissel from a moving train so she can be with her family. Owen becomes the family’s guide. Along the way to their uncle’s home in Montana, the group braves many setbacks and they also meet Ketil and Rolf. The story comes full circle with much action and adventure involved and the loyalty of friends and family is what I enjoyed the most in this book. 4 stars for a suspense filled mythological adventure!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

The Syndicate by Sophie Davis

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The Syndicate by Sophie Davis impressed me with its mix of science fiction and history. The story begins with the Prologue during May, 1796 in Florence, Italy, which is being occupied by Napoleon and the French army. The main character, Stassi, has stolen Napoleon’s letter to Josephine and she’s running to ensure her escape. She’s helped by her partner Gaige. They work for The Syndicate as runners and travel to the past to procure requested items that rich people pay a good chunk of money for. Gaige and Stassi later travel to 1925 Paris to collect a Rosenthal manuscript and they attend a party celebrating Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and its publication. Along with finding the manuscript, a serial killer on the loose adds to the suspense and danger. The elaborate cover stories of the runners, the historical background and interesting, dynamic characters make this a very fun science fiction read worthy of a 5 star rating!

Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Chameleon by Zoe Kalo! Paloma is taken to a convent to “repent, grow and become a better person”, as the head nun tells her, even though Paloma feels as though she’s being punished. She is dropped off at the convent by her mother, stepfather and her younger half sister, Sara, who is sad to leave Paloma. The reason Paloma is in trouble is because she tried conducting seances to reach her father, who died when she was young. Paloma becomes part of a group of teenage girls that each have a story of their own. She is unsure who she can trust, any of the girls or even the nuns. The story pulled my attention in from the beginning with its suspense, mystery and a promise of the paranormal. The complex characters and layered mystery kept me on my toes! 5 stars for the twists, turns and the interesting setting of this story!

The Beast is an Animal

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The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale was offered to me as a download on my laptop for an exclusive study on how readers engage with books, thanks to Simon and Schuster and Jellybooks, Ltd!

The story opens with twin girls born to a mother and father living on a farm on the outskirts of a village. These girls are the mirror image of each other, from the way their hair curls to the birthmarks on their calves. The oldest girl has her features on the left, while the two minutes younger twin has her features on the right side. The wife and girls are banished because of the superstitious villagers who blame the mother and daughters for the lack of rain. The girls grow up, mostly alone because their mother dies when they are still quite young, and become wild, vengeful soul eaters. Chapter one introduces Alys. The twins, Benedicta and Angelica, talk to Alys and tell her to sleep. The next thing Alys knows is that she’s waking up in a grassy field. A red headed older man, Pawl (a trader), gives Alys a ride home. She has a foreboding feeling when she gets home, so Pawl stays with her. He looks for her parents and finds them dead. They visit other homes in the village and all of the parents are dead. Pawl finds homes for the children in a neighboring village. The Elders rule this village with strict beliefs and decide to build a gate around the homes. The children who survived the soul eaters, when their parents didn’t, are sent to guard the gate and livestock at night, since they are “protected”. Alys and Delwyn survive the night, but Delwyn’s brothers do not. Alys is treated differently and suspected of being a witch and is punished. She leaves the village and wanders in the wilderness. The Beast finds her and gives her a mission to find the soul eaters. The fantasy is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials because of the persecution. I rate The Beast is an Animal 4 stars, for the creative and dark world brought to life by Peternelle van Arsdale!

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

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I won a digital copy of The Delphi Effect in a Goodreads giveaway! Thank you!

“Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.”

Thanks to NetGalley, Skyscape and Goodreads giveaways for the opportunity to read and review The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker!

A young woman, Anna, meets Molly’s grandfather to let him know that his deceased granddaughter wants to converse with him. Molly’s grandfather, Porter, at first full of skepticism, comes to believe in Anna and her abilities. After talking to Porter for the first few times, Anna finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, human trafficking and threats to her life. She meets and receives help from other people that have special abilities different from her own. Anna is captured while trying to rescue her friend, Deo, and she is put through experiments that test her abilities.

The first book in this trilogy, The Delphi Effect is suspenseful and unique. I really enjoyed the references to the Harry Potter series! The author’s note on factual information in this book is helpful for further research and interesting on its own. 4 stars!

Spindle by Shonna Slayton

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Spindle by Shonna Slayton! I wasn’t expecting this book to be as good as it is. Impressive and creative fairy tale retelling – 5 stars!

Briar, an Irish girl and an orphan, works on the spindle and is hoping for another job sewing for ladies. Briar struggles to take care of her three younger siblings and, since she’s only sixteen, a nanny is helping them until her seventeenth birthday. Henry is Briar’s best friend and cares deeply for her even though his mother doesn’t seem to approve of Briar. Nanny is gone on business and Fanny has taken her place with the children, Since Fanny showed up, people are acting differently than they normally do. For example, Henry Prince is leaving their community even though no Prince family member has ever left before.

The machines are not working well for Briar at the sewing mill. A peddler helps by convincing her to take a special spindle for her machine. Things go downhill from there. Other girls that work at the mill envy Briar’s spindle, touch it and end up becoming very ill. Briar discovers that the people she knows are not all what they appear to be. This fairy tale retelling has historical fiction of the 1890’s added into the storyline. The young women that work at the sewing mill are all dealing with workforce conditions that need improvement and the rights of women who feel trapped, with no options to live differently. Also, the women’s suffrage movement and Polio are part of this story as well. Spindle by Shonna Slayton is the most creative retelling I have ever read! Set generations after Aurora’s lifetime, the true Sleeping Beauty; I highly recommend it!

Irena’s Children: Young Reader’s Edition

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books for the arc of Irena’s Children (Young Reader’s Edition) by Tilar Mazzeo and adapter Mary Cronk Farrell! This true account of Irena Sendler and her friends in Poland warmed my heart and I was astounded by their bravery! Irena and her friends helped save Jewish families during World War II by placing themselves in grave danger, hiding and sneaking children to safety. This is a magnificent story of heroism that affected thousands of Jewish children and has since affected generations of families. This book needs to be read to get the full extent of what true courage Irena Sendler embodies and the bravery it took to save innocent children during the Holocaust! 4 stars.

The Grisha Trilogy

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the start of the Grisha Trilogy about two orphans, Alina and Mal. Alina and Mal are being interviewed by Grisha as children, then the story jumps ahead to their young adulthood. Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is an assistant to a cartographer. The army is crossing The Fold, a place where monsters called Volcra live. Volcra attack and Mal and Alina protect each other. As the Volcra claw at her back, Alina lights up. She’s suspected of being a Sun Summoner and people will want her to light up The Fold so traveling can be safer and ports can be used once again. The Darkling takes Alina to Os Alta for her safety, her training and to serve the kingdom. Alina feels like she doesn’t fit into this life any better than her last dwelling and job as a mapmaker. She hasn’t seen Mal since she was taken to the palace. Alina has a revelation as a forgotten memory resurfaces. Alina’s power comes forth and as her power grows, it becomes easier for her to call upon and she learns who she can and cannot trust and who she truly loves. I like how the author has woven Russia into the story. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive author and her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, brought anxiety to my mind and tears to my eyes – 5 stars!

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha’s world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!

 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. The Apparat is supposedly caring for Alina, the Sun Summoner, while all of her allies have been accused of treason. The group escapes and goes in search of the Firebird, the third and last amplifier. Once again, Nikolai saves them and he brightens up everything with his clever wit and resilient personality. The elevator scenes made me laugh, with the great dialogue! The group fights the Darkling again and horrible things happen. The author brings the characters to life with her details and the development of Genya is impressive and creates empathy for her struggles and amazement for her bravery at the same time. The descriptive world building made me feel as though I was in the middle of the action. I could feel the air move as the Firebird flew by and my ears hurt with its screech. Unpredictable, suspenseful and touching in all the right ways – 5 stars!

I look forward to reading the Six of Crows Duology that is set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy!

Chasing Truth

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to Entangled Teen for the arc of Chasing Truth by Julie Cross! Wow, what a ride! This adventure, mystery, thriller, romance, young adult story held my attention from beginning to end.

Chasing Truth is cleverly written, with complex main characters and side characters, and mysterious because the main character has hidden agendas and a secrecy surrounding her. I like Ellie (Eleanor) with her clever, quick wit and the fact that she seems to care about people and also values integrity in others. Ellie’s friend, Simon, supposedly committed suicide but the investigation into his death is ongoing. This book is hard to put down and I just wanted to keep reading, but alas, life needs to be lived;).

I loved this line, “This makes me hate him 2 percent less, which is useful when I have to pretend not to hate him”. I laughed out loud! It’s priceless! Out of context, this line doesn’t make much sense, but when you get to know Ellie and how she is dealing with her con-artist background while trying to be normal, it makes great dialogue!

The mysterious background of Ellie and the mystery surrounding Simon’s death kept me riveted throughout the book, 5 stars!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins with the nineteen years later epilogue from book 7, The Deathly Hallows, (don’t get discouraged because a new story awaits you in these pages). After the refresher, the story jumps to the ongoing events in the characters’ lives. It’s interesting to see how Harry Potter deals with being a parent. This book is lighter reading than the original Harry Potter series but background knowledge is a necessity to understand the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and, as always, when I enter Harry Potter’s world, I never want to leave it.