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!

Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

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Unusual supernatural story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton!
The story opens as the main character awakens in a cramped space, then feels a falling sensation. She discovers that she’s fallen into Under, which is a place where some people go after they die. Others start being terminated by being burned by a murderer. The only way Under residents die is through being burned because they are already dead. A strange story about the people who reside in Under and what happens when they gain their memories back. My favorite part of the book details the relationship memories of Smoke and Key. A little bit of magic used in the inappropriate way and revenge fuels the plot. Being slow at times and the unusual world-building earn 3 stars!

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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Realistic fiction by C. C. Hunter!
Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review In Another Life by C. C. Hunter!
Chloe moved to Joyful, Texas with her mom after the divorce. She’s lived in Joyful before, when she was three years old and had just been adopted. She doesn’t really remember anything about it from before. Cash lives in a foster home with Ms. Fuller. She’s an amazing foster parent and truly cares about Cash. Cash knows that Ms. Fuller lost her daughter a long time ago and he wants to help her feel better. The story jumps around and finally transitions more smoothly after the first quarter of the book. I felt like I became more invested in the characters of Chloe and Cash after that point. The story involves con artists, kidnapping, deception, friendship and family. With all of the events, the two strong main characters and the author’s writing style, In Another Life is an enjoyable read worth 4 stars!

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!

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!

We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott

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Unputdownable!
Thanks to Entangled for the opportunity to read and review We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott! Cobain is being questioned at the police station. They’re trying to figure out what happened to Molly, who’s missing. Cobain declares his love for Molly and describes his relationship with Molly from the first day they spoke. Molly’s car has been found abandoned at a strip mall and no one knows why she had even been there. Cobain thinks to himself that he and Molly were going to run away together, but now she’s out there alone. Then the alternating points of view add Molly’s also, which builds the mystery even more intensely.
The author’s descriptive language brings realism to the story and one of my favorite descriptions is “lollipops that tasted how Lysol smelled”, which made me laugh out loud because I remember suckers like that. Suspenseful, twisty and mysterious, We Told Six Lies was a read I couldn’t put down until I finished, 5 stars!

The Boyfriend Whisperer 2.0 by Linda Budzinski

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Fun, romantic read!
Thanks to the author for the complimentary copy of The Boyfriend Whisperer 2.0 by Linda Budzinski from Swoon Romance!
Alicea Springer is the new Boyfriend Whisperer and her app is supposed to be very accurate. She wants to get back with her ex-boyfriend Ty, but the app says her match is Darius Groves. Alicea gets paired up with Darius for an English assignment and she begins to see the truth about him. Her eyes are opened to her past, present and her possible future. Another clean, romantic young adult read from Linda Budzinski that brings fresh characters to the world of the Boyfriend Whisperer, 5 stars!

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

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Here’s my review for A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third but not final book in An Ember in the Ashes series. I love how the book opens with the Nightbringer’s point of view! The author gives us insight into the kingdom’s history and at the present time, the scholars are being extinguished but we see that in the past the scholars have done the same thing to the Jinn, the Nightbringer’s people. Very interesting and so much like the harsh reality we live in. Elias’ fate and Laia’s future hold mystery. Helene, as the Blood Shrike, stands steadfastly by her sister Livia’s side. Livia has a fortunate surprise that could change the Empire for the better. Learning more about Keris and her past was fascinating as was learning more about Laia’s mother’s story. Elias gives up everything to help others because of his kindness and tremendous strength. Reaper at the Gates hurts my heart but builds distant hope for the amazing characters, 5 stars!

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

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Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta jumps into an intense storyline. Right from the beginning, I was hooked! Faris and Thaelan live completely different lives in opposite areas of the kingdom. Faris and her sister Cadence live in poverty while Thaelan is a member of nobility. Thaelan and Faris are in love and want to run away so they can be together. Faris and Cadence are pretty much on their own because of their dysfunctional father and deceased mother; a mother that stabbed Faris in the chest, trying to kill her years ago. Cadence and Thaelan are captured while they are trying to escape, the two of them receive horrible consequences. Faris is offered a job to earn money to buy Cadence’s freedom. The job offer comes from the kingdom’s executioner and his betrothed, Princess Bryn. Things become a bit confusing when Bryn and Faris are captured and the “owners” change hands a couple of times. Once that’s settled, the situation begins to clear up again. Bryn and Faris end up riding with North, a mysterious young man with secrets of his own. The relationships sparkle and the world frightens in this dark, dreary fantasy made up of magic that cripples and sometimes completely transforms. A range of emotions surrounds the storyline and tragedy, intensity and brutality sum up the characters’ lives. Deeply dynamic, Shimmer and Burn is waiting to pull you into its world! 5 stars!