Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson. The sinister prologue spooked me and made me curious at the same time. Perrie is an only child living with her single father, since her mother left years ago. Her best friends are her next door neighbor and cousin, Maisie, and August, the teenage boy she has more than just friend feelings for. There’s an odd mystery about the breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Neven. One day, on their way home from school, Perrie, Maisie and August see a large building that they’ve never seen before, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. A sign stating there are job openings is hanging on the door. Curiously, Maisie has a job there by the next day. The characters are charming and the humor is refreshing, while something creepy lurks in the background. People are disappearing from their community and August and Perrie enter the Glass Vault when Maisie can’t be found. I don’t want to give anything away, but the twists floored me! A wonderful supernatural horror story full of fairy tale and historical retellings, worthy of 5 stars! Look closely at the cover for hints of retellings in this story!

Bull by David Elliott

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I voluntarily read and reviewed Bull by David Elliott. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review this book! Bull is a retelling of the myth, “Theseus and the Minotaur”. The author makes the characters as real and relevant as possible and broadens the story to explain more of Asterion’s life from birth to childhood to the complete transformation of his character and sanity and all of this is written in poetic form and in modern language that makes it easily understandable. 4.5 stars!

Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray! Katie Ray has previously published works under the name of Katie Kacvinsky and her books have been popular with my library patrons. I believe that this new book of Katie’s will be a popular read also. Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a retelling of sorts. The story line is similar to the play, Cyrano de Bergerac where inner beauty overpowers outer beauty. This book is intelligent and eloquent in many ways, while still staying a young adult contemporary story! CeCe and Emmett take turns by alternating points of view throughout the book. CeCe has a scar on the right side of her face that she prefers to not be the focal point when she meets someone for the first time. Emmett is new to the school and a known high school football player. They both attend Honors Shakespeare class and are partnered on the first day. CeCe and Emmett share the trait of clever wit and they have tremendous similarities with their tastes in and knowledge of music and literature. They are both intense and dedicated athletes also; CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and Emmett is the star quarterback. I love this book with its romantic gestures, self-esteem building thoughts and loyalty and friendship. 5 stars for this amazing realistic fiction read!

Weariland by Mary Shotwell

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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 Weariland by Mary Shotwell! This fairy tale retelling of Alice in Wonderland kept me riveted. The suspense, danger, mystery and riddles pulled me in so strongly that I wanted to read the book in one sitting. Lason (like Jason with an L) is a descendant of the first Alice that fell into Wonderland (now called Weariland because of the dreariness) many generations ago. The author’s creative imagination changed Wonderland in many ways that I could have never dreamed of, such as the changing of the execution style. Instead of “off with their heads”, the Queen devised a horrible simple machine to take the prisoners feet off. We get to see more of the White Rabbit’s home and family and there is deception from the past in Lason’s family. Her grandmother disappears and Lason dives right into Weariland to solve the mystery and has to figure out everything on her own. I’m glad that Lason’s mother became stronger for her daughter as the story progressed. I grew to care for her as much as I cared for Lason. The danger and suspense kept me hooked – 4 stars!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Marina dies after giving birth to Vasya, who is supposed to be special and mysterious in the same way Marina’s mother was. Years later, when Vasya is a young girl, she wanders into the forest and gets lost. She meets two strangers. The first one is told to sleep by the second man. Vasya bolts and is found by her brother, Sasha. Vasya’s father decides to find a new wife so Vasya can have a mother to raise her. Pyotr returns from Moscow with his new wife, Anna. Anna sees strangers just as Vasya does, but she treats Vasya cruelly even though they have this in common. Vasya’s nurse, Dunya, loves Vasya unconditionally. When Dunya dies, Vasya asks for the help of her brother Alyosha. Alyosha truly believes Vasya and helps her to rid the village of evil. After Vasya was threatened with being sent to a convent, Anna bargains with her. If Vasya will venture into the frozen woods and gather snowdrop flowers for Anna’s daughter, Irina, then Anna will let Vasya stay home. While Vasya is in the woods, she’s saved and taken by the stranger, Morozko the Frost Demon, on the white horse. Set in the Russian wilderness and based on Russian history and folklore, this debut novel is beautifully written and imagined. I give it 5 stars because this is the perfect book to read in the middle of a snowy winter.

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!

Stalking Jack the Ripper

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I thoroughly enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, with fantastic writing that delves into the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. Audrey Rose, a strong willed young woman in the late 1800’s, enjoys science and learning from her uncle, who teaches medicine with passion bordering on obsession. Audrey Rose is allowed to attend her uncle’s class if she dresses as a boy and speaks to no one. Another student, Thomas Caldwell, is working with Audrey Rose to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper. The two of them become friendly rivals who grate on each other’s nerves. The twists and turns leave Audrey Rose not knowing who she can trust and the mystery keeps getting more personal than she feels comfortable with. Unbearable suspense and intense plot equal 5 stars!

Olivia Decoded

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the arc of Olivia Decoded by Vivi Barnes! I love the relationship between Olivia (Liv) and Mrs. Bedwin (Liv’s housekeeper while in her grandfather’s home). Alternative points of view with Liv and Jack amp up the intensity and empathy for each character. The mystery, suspense and possible danger of the secret admirer make the story even more interesting. The love story between Liv and Jack pulls at the heartstrings. The suspense builds while the mystery begins to unravel and I didn’t figure all of it out until the characters solved the mystery. I give Olivia Decoded 5 stars for great character development, character background and world building. The background of each character made this story deep and thrilling!

Such Sweet Sorrow

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the free digital book of Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout! I was instantly intrigued by the story in the prologue because I knew I would be discovering what happens after Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet ends. Then, the first chapter brings Hamlet into the after mix and his story begins where Shakespeare’s Hamlet left off. I was pulled in even more! Romeo and Hamlet travel through Valhalla to try to complete their individual missions and they deal with love, battles, intense warriors and extreme conditions. This story is cleverly written and imagined and it is also complete fun! I give it 5 stars!