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!

The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine

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Purely enjoyable!
Thanks to Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine, book four of the Ravenspire series. The books in this series are more companion books than sequels. Blue works with her father at the family store and she’s in the process of turning lead into gold with alchemy. Blue wants to help the homeless and poverty-stricken people in the kingdom with the gold she hopes to create. Kellan is next in line to rule the kingdom and he doesn’t enjoy the politics or having to watch his back constantly, but he does enjoy a bit of danger and fun. Dinah is losing her empire and needs money since her husband lost everything due to his gambling habit. She’s discovered that Blue is trying to make gold and Dinah wants Blue to work for her so she can claim everything Blue does. Blue’s life has been turned upside down because of Dinah’s actions, making Blue a Cinderella of sorts. Blue overhears Dinah talking loudly with someone she owes money too and she decides to help Dinah’s daughters, so they won’t be taken to pay off their family debt. Little does she know that Dinah planned for Blue to hear the conversation all along. Dinah’s manipulative nature and Blue’s integrity come to fisticuffs as the action and suspense rise. I enjoy Blue’s and Kellan’s relationship and how they’re both very stubborn. Princess Nessa is a young, extremely brave soul. The characters round out this fantasy and I enjoyed every minute reading this book, 5 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!

The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine

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The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine. The third book in the Ravenspire series. Rahim, Javan’s unknown cousin, has been chosen to be a replacement for the true prince because he’s half royal. His father, Fariq, conceived Rahim with a peasant woman. Rahim is bitter and feels justified in taking the true prince’s place. Javan, the prince, has been away at school for the past ten years, working hard to meet his mother’s dying wish that he will graduate with honors. Javan is kidnapped and thrown in prison where he struggles to stay alive and tries to find a way to reach his father, the king. In the meantime, Rahim is trying to weasel his way into power. Javan finds trusted allies and he literally fights for survival. The prison warden throws everything she can at Javan to crush him. Javan discovers more about himself and about his country than he ever imagined. I love Sadja, her strength and abilities. I also rooted for Javan the whole time! Strong world building and characters make The Traitor Prince a very enjoyable read, 5 stars!

The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

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The Wish Granter by C. J. Redwine is a fun and suspenseful retelling of Rumpelstiltskin!
Ari treats everything with humor and Thad is feeling the pressure from his granted wish. Thad has suddenly become king after he made a deal with the Wish Granter ensuring his sister will be taken care of. Little did he know that the Wish Granter always tricks and gets more out of the bargain than the people he makes deals with. Sebastian has been hired as the kingdom’s new weapons master. He’s grateful for this chance to better his life and get away from his violent father and to help his drug-addicted mother. Ari asks Sebastian to make weapons out of iron for her so she can protect Thad from the Wish Granter. Ari has also asked Sebastian to train her to use weapons to protect herself and her brother, through this the two of them become close friends. Teague discovers that Thad is working to get out of his contract, so Teague comes to collect Thad’s soul but he takes Ari prisoner instead. Sebastian braves everything that’s horribly traumatic and difficult for him, so he can get to Ari. Teague shares his background story with Ari and he tells her what his beautiful pipe is made of and it shocks her to the core. The author’s writing adds suspense, charm and intensity to the story. The Wishgranter is the second book in the Ravenspire series and it’s just as good as the first book, The Shadow Queen! 5 stars for this fairytale about Rumpelstiltskin!

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!

99% Faking It by Chris Cannon

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The friend zone is a difficult place to be!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review 99% Faking It by Chris Cannon! Lisa has a crush on Matt but she’s tried to change her feelings about him since he put her in the friend zone. Now, to help them both get dates, Matt has asked Lisa to pretend to be his girlfriend because a taken person is much more attractive. Lisa bothered me with her insecurities and I understand that everyone is allowed an opinion and should take care of themselves but she seemed self-righteous at times. The comment that Matt made about not caring if Lisa isn’t cool and how he likes that she’s into books annoyed me too. It’s like he’s trying to convince himself to like her. I think I needed a bit more happy relationship events between Matt and Lisa so I could actually root for everything to work out with them but I didn’t feel invested in their relationship. I enjoyed Chris Cannon’s fantasy series, Going Down in Flames, but 99% Faking It feels rushed and lacks depth. I give it three stars for a cutesy, cohesive story.

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!

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a heart-wrenching mystery! The prologue pulled me right in, making me want to unravel what happened to Ellie. The story alternates between Ellie’s past leading up to her disappearance… and her mother Laurel’s present. A few more points of view are added in eventually, helping the reader discover more about Ellie and the other characters. I enjoyed the English setting and the author’s vivid descriptions, especially of smells. I became absorbed in the mystery and the harsh reality of tragedy caused by others and how the story comes full circle, 5 stars!