Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer! Two teens that have each lost someone they love begin an ongoing anonymous conversation by adding to a letter left and then found next to a cemetery headstone. The conversation moves to email for convenience and these two strangers help each other grieve. Declan has lost his sister and his father is in prison and no longer part of their family. His mother has married Alan, who isn’t the nicest to Declan. Juliet has lost her journalist mother in a hit and run car accident and she lives with her father. Declan has an amazing best friend, Rev, that’s dealing with his own traumatic past and Juliet’s best friend, Rowan, is supportive and caring. The email relationship remains anonymous and grows deeper and more meaningful as their grief is dealt with together. Letters to the Lost melted my heart with the complicated storyline and endearing, real characters. I love everything about this story, from the caring, helpful teachers to the awkward friends to the dysfunctional family members. All of these components create a beautiful realistic fiction novel worth 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!
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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross! Lulu is best friends with Jek, Jayesh Emerson Kapoor, who’s a scientific genius. It seems that someone named Hyde has stolen Jek’s bank account information and Lulu wants to get to the bottom of it. This guy Hyde also paid off a teenage girl that he presumably assaulted and people are talking about him and not at all in a good way. Lulu, with the rest of the community, is trying to figure out who Hyde really is and how he’s connected to Jek, especially since Hyde seems to be wreaking havoc and ultimately commits murder. When Lulu discovers the mystery of all that is Hyde, her life changes forever. 5 stars for this engaging young adult mystery with an ending that leaves space for the imagination!
*I received a complimentary copy for voluntary consideration
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for the opportunity to read and review Warcross by Marie Lu! Emi is a young bounty hunter that lives on her own. She desperately needs a bounty or she’s going to be evicted from her apartment in less than three days. She’s smart enough and quick enough to capture a criminal for the police but they give the money to someone else! She goes back to her apartment, despondent, and resigns herself to enjoying the last hours she has with a roof over her head. She hacks into Warcross and her image shows up in the internationally played and viewed game. This catches the eye of the Warcross creator, Hideo, who gives Emi a very well-paid job offer. I appreciate that Marie Lu lets readers know, through dialogue, the correct pronunciation of Hideo’s name. I have heard many students/library patrons discuss name pronunciations in the past, unsure of how to say the name. The game background descriptions are detailed and aesthetic while the game is action-packed and the stakes raise higher and higher for the characters. 5 stars for a new sci-fi read from Marie Lu!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.
M school by Kevin T. Johns packs a punch! Lilith has the emotions and mannerisms of a sociopath. She blends into school life fine and she’s a great goalie for their soccer team. The captain of the team and Lilith’s best friend is brutally murdered and the loss devastates the school. The soccer coach approaches Lilith and states that he needs a replacement for Lara. Immediately, Lilith thinks he means as a soccer captain and when he states that’s not the replacement he needs, she assumes it’s as a sex partner replacement and she becomes extremely and awkwardly uncomfortable. It takes the coach a bit to realize what she’s thinking. He’s a bit flabbergasted, but the truth is even harder for Lilith to believe. Coach Taylor and Lara are undercover agents for M School and they’re trying to take care of The Dissidents, a domestic terrorist organization. Lilith’s life changes completely after she is recruited to M School. Her parents believe that Lilith will be attending school for gifted students but she’s going to become a trained killer. All Lilith wants is vengeance for Lara’s murder but she gets so much more. The M School setting is creative and the characters are strong, but in turmoil. 4 stars for this action packed adrenaline rush of a story!
I received an arc from author for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of Roar by Cora Carmack! Aurora (Rora) is a princess among Stormlings, but she doesn’t have powers as she should. She’s been raised to believe that people that have powers are either royalty or were born with powers. She’s betrothed to Cassius Locke and they seem to be a good match because they are equally strong in character, then Rora overhears Cassius telling his family that things are working out just as planned and Rora feels as though she’s been deceived. She sneaks out of the palace to follow Cassius and ends up meeting people with storm magic that aren’t royalty and weren’t born with the magic. Her life completely turns around after that because she’s given hope for the first time in her life. There’s also a dark presence in the background, the Stormlord who wreaks havoc and causes devastation as he pleases. This complex story involves many sides and characters with agendas and back stories of their own. Dynamic, deep personalities bring intrigue, interest and suspense to the book. I enjoy Rora and Locke and their tumultuous relationship and the growth they share in becoming more aware of each other and how much they help each other. 5 stars for this nicely written fantasy adventure!
I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to the author’s request for me to read and review A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner! Maya Angelou opens the story with her quote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Robin Lee changed her name to Catherine years ago to escape her painful past, but her husband knows nothing about her past experiences. She fabricated a life story. Their son Michael is in an accident on his fifth birthday and while assessing his health, the doctor finds leukemia. The only hope he has for recovery is a bone marrow transplant from a matching relative. Catherine goes to her hometown and faces her past head on. She meets her brother Kyle and he doesn’t believe that she’s Robin Lee. She approached him too abruptly about her son instead of first trying to ease the pain from their past. The past keeps blowing up in her face and she struggles, and so do her family members, with trying to take care of Michael. The innocence of children brought tears to my eyes and this story is tragic and beautiful at the same time – 5 stars – for this adult realistic fiction novel with kudos to perseverance and unconditional love and compassion!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley! The book opens with an excerpt from “The Fight with the Dragon” by Friedrich von Schiller, translated by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton 1852. I found the excerpt and its implications to the story interesting. The area has been attacked by hostiles, as the warning siren is telling the city. The students and teachers at the school are heading to the shelter. Maia sees a terrified young girl under a jeep. Maia feels the need to save her, since she is now an effigy and has been for forty-eight hours. That’s when an Effigy mentor died and Maia took her place. There can only be four effigies at a time. Earth, fire, ice and wind are the four effigies at a time. When Maia meets Saul, I was instantly intrigued by his silver hair and mysterious ring. There’s more to Saul and his ring than Maia realizes. The Effigies are a type of super hero with flaws and attributes just like regular people. The mystery goes beyond someone just being a villain. The plot is intense, interesting and full of twists. I give 4 stars for this science fiction adventure!