The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Friendship, loyalty and danger sum up The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. The story dives right in to the intensity with action and mystery. Many children die while some live. Ruby and several other children are shipped off to Thurmond, a guarded facility meant to contain the children that survived. These children are dangerous and, in bits, we learn why. Ruby is rescued by a league that supposedly helps these children but when Ruby sees the memories of one of the rescuers, she realizes that he’s a killer. She runs and ends up with a small group on the run also-Liam, Chubs and Suzume. They’re trying to find someone known as the Slip Kid, a supposedly great and elusive leader who helps get kids back with their families. The small group finally finds Slip Kid and becomes part of his group. Little do they know what lies ahead for them. Friendship and loyalty are both strong components in Darkest Minds. This sci-fi dystopian is filled with danger, action and suspense, 5 stars!

The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

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A solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest!
The story picks up right where The Black Witch left off. The Resistance works together trying to figure out how to keep their ‘unsavory’ friends safe. The prose flows smoothly and focuses on characters’ situations. An all-encompassing fantasy with a mystery that is foreshadowed throughout the series but left hidden from its readers, keeps the suspense going. Elloren and her friends are fighting for freedoms that are being taken away piece by piece. Fierce loyalty and friendship bond many different types of people and bring them together to fight against genocide and towards freedom. The Iron Flower adds much to this fantasy series and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment already; a solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

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Full of magic!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Black Witch by Laurie Forest!
Elloren and her brothers, Rafe and Trystan, have lived with their Uncle Edwin since a Keltic attack killed their parents years ago. He treats them well. Uncle Edwin is also very protective of Elloren and wants her to have every advantage in life that her brothers have, but he’s also hiding information about Elloren’s abilities. A missing girl calls for Elloren through a Watcher, a perceptive white bird, and gives her the mythical White Wand. Sage, the missing young woman, fears for her baby’s safety and she claims that the Council is coming for him because they believe he’s evil, then she disappears into the forest once again. Elloren visits Aunt Vyvian, keeping the White Wand a secret. Aunt Vyvian wants to use Elloren for her own political goals while she attends University and she wants Elloren to be wandfasted (engaged) immediately to the young man of Aunt Vyvian’s choosing. Elloren is in danger everywhere she goes and suffers several attacks her first day at University. It seems that she’s assumed by everyone to be prejudice just like her famous grandmother, the Black Witch, who Elloren resembles completely. Elloren’s eyes are opened to the prejudices and violence in her world and Aunt Vyvian is at the top of the worst of it. The dynamics of the characters build the story line into intrigue and complexity. Genocide is threatening on the horizon and Elloren forms loyal relationships with many people who she’s been taught not to trust. I’ve grown to care about these characters and I’m anxious to read the sequel, The Iron Flower. 5 stars for this fantasy full of magic!

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi! Females, young and old, train together to learn to be strong, independent and to gain self-defense skills. This training is hidden from the rest of the kingdom because they would be in trouble and danger if anyone else found out they are more than timid servants. These women lost loved ones in a horrific act of violence against their community and have been training ever since. Zelie is a part of this group and when she was five she watched her mother being dragged away and then hung. Amari is an unhappy princess who escapes and inadvertently ends up with Zelie and her family. They run from Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, as he struggles with his internal conflict of whether or not magic is good or evil. During this time, Zelie’s magic grows and she works at controlling her powers. As Zelie, her brother Tzain and Amari learn to trust each other and work together, they encounter horrific dangers as they continue their quest for the artifacts-the scroll, sunstone and the bone dagger. With these artifacts, magic can be restored. Some romance and humor lighten the dark world that Zelie lives in and both of these help her conquer the evil and pain that drags her under. The impressive storyline, immaculate world building and strong, dynamic characters make Children of Blood and Bone an intense fantasy read worth 5 stars!

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir introduces Laia and her brother Darin, who both live with their grandparents. When the Empire raids their home, Darin runs and instructs Laia to hide his sketchbook. They’re both caught and taken back inside to watch their grandparents lose their lives. Elias is introduced next. He’s a soldier of the Empire, known as a Mask. Masks are skilled soldiers and trained killers. Elias watches with the rest of the Masks as a deserter is whipped to death by the Commandant. This sickens him because he’s planning on deserting also and he thinks that he will be the next to die at the hands of the Commandant. The Commandant is Elias’ mother and she holds nothing but hatred for her son. The story alternates between Laia and Elias and suspense flows throughout the entire book, each section ending on a cliffhanger. Laia enters the Empire as the Commandant’s slave and as a spy for the resistance, in exchange for helping Darin. A new era is upon the Empire and The Trials have been set and will challenge four Masks, only two will survive and one of them will be the new Emperor. Relationships grow more complicated for both Laia and Elias and the struggle for their lives becomes more desperate. This rollercoaster of a story keeps the suspense heightened to the very last page! 5 well-deserved stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!

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.

Shearwater by Derek Murphy

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I thoroughly enjoyed Shearwater by Derek Murphy. The book opens with an intense prologue of a woman being stabbed by a man and then she grabs the knife and stabs him. Then they both plunge off the cliff and into the water. The first chapter jumps to thirty two years later and the main character, Clara Clark, is waiting for her parents to show up and watch her perform at her high school. While she’s singing, police show up to tell her that her parents perished in a car accident. Her mother’s will states that if something happens to her parents, guardianship goes to her grandfather in Ireland, her mother’s father. The problem is, she didn’t even know he existed. The longer she’s in Ireland, the more mysterious and strange her surroundings become and she begins to learn piece by piece why her mother left Ireland behind all those years ago. On her sixteenth birthday, her looks become more defined, sleek and beautiful and now she truly resembles her mother. Her heritage is slowly revealed and the mystery around the killings grows deeper. The creative story and plot make this a very interesting read and complex characters, mythology and historical legends of mermaids, Atlantis and humans weave together for a fun fantasy read; 5 stars!

Legion by Julie Kagawa

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

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review the fourth book in the Talon Saga, Legion by Julie Kagawa!  This is a perfect addition to the already popular Talon, Rogue and Soldier books with just as much action, intrigue, romance and suspense!

Each of the books in the Talon Saga are told from a different character’s point of view. Talon is told in Ember’s point of view, Rogue is in Riley’s and Soldier is told in Garret’s point of view. Legion brings back all of the main characters and their points of view, including Dante’s. Dante is Ember’s brother and has been loyal to the dragon rule all  along because he believes he will be the dragon in power someday.  At first, he wanted to help his sister succeed and only cared about pleasing their instructors and taking care of her.  Then he had an epiphany about the position of power he could be in someday.  This changed his entire perspective. The strong, dynamic characters are worth cheering for while the tension builds in this addition to the Talon saga. I didn’t see the specific conflict coming and was shocked and appalled at the Elder Wyrm’s use for Ember Hill!  This book is as amazing as the rest of the series and is suspenseful and intriguing with new mysteries springing up and adding to the un-put-down-ability of the story. 5 stars for characters I love and the building anticipation!  I am already anxious for the fifth book in this series and I plan on a complete re-read when the entire series is complete!

Frostblood by Elly Blake

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review Frostblood by Elly Blake! Ruby is Fireblood, (can build heat and flame within her body and can expel both), and loses her mother in an attack on their home. Ruby is taken as a prisoner because Firebloods are persecuted. She spends some time in prison, then is released to go with Frostblood (can build cold and frost within their bodies and can expel both) people and taken to Forwind Abbey. The abbey catches on fire and one of the monks blames Ruby, so she runs away. Arcus, a mysterious resident of the abbey, finds her in the woods, alone, lost and with no horse. He takes her back to the abbey and she makes an agreement with Brother Thistle and Arcus that she will stay and help them if they explain their purpose to her. They finally have mutual trust and their backstories unfold gradually. This adventurous tale comes to life full of action and intrigue in a beautifully described fantasy world. I enjoyed the depth of the characters and how the explanation of the Frostblood world unfolded – 5 stars! I am anxiously looking forward to the sequel, Fireblood which is scheduled for publication September 2017.

 

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill! This fantasy story contains a refreshing new plot idea and wonderfully complex characters. The main character, Britta, has lost her father and after her allotted two months of mourning, will now lose her home. She has been told that her one true friend, Cohen, killed her father. Britta has the gift of knowing what is truth and what is a lie. She feels that Cohen did murder her father. She has been given an offer to catch Cohen and then she can keep her father’s home. She ventures out to find Cohen and discovers him and so much more about her past and her family. The believable characters and the clever and cohesive world building make this book one of my favorite reads and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel that comes out December 2017! I give Ever the Hunted a 5 star rating for a highly recommended fantasy read!