A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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Action-packed sequel!
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess!
Nettie is officially a sorcerer and while she’s at her first meeting, an Ancient sends a message requesting that the sorcerers give Nettie up. Many revelations occur and much action takes place in this second book of the Kingdom on Fire series. Betrayal, loyalty, bravery, forgiveness and power bring this story to life. So much takes place that I feel like anything I share would spoil the story. Nettie’s friends have secrets and burdens of their own, most of which are revealed. Complex and character developing best describes A Poison Dark and Drowning, 5 stars!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore!

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Action, adventure, mystery, tragedy and romance all wrapped up in a fantasy, 5 stars!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a thoroughly enjoyable read! The main character Katsa has been given the Grace skill to kill well, but she hates this gift. She frees an elderly Lienid prisoner by knocking out guards and giving them each a pill that keeps them out long enough for her to complete the rescue. By doing this, she completed her mission without killing anyone. She works under King Randa’s orders and he often orders her to harm or kill people when they’ve supposedly wronged him. Katsa has few people that she’s comfortable with, her companions Giddon and Oll and her cousin Raffin, who’s also the prince.
The Lienid prisoner’s grandson, Po, has visited several places searching for his grandfather. Po’s relieved when he discovers that his grandfather is safe and being cared for by Katsa and her companions. Po is also a Grace and his skill is intuition. He’s also a skilled fighter and has passed on fighting as his Grace skill because people would be afraid of him or use him for his intuitive abilities.
Katsa and Po become friends and I enjoy their unique friendship and all of its humor. When Katsa decides she no longer wants to do King Randa’s bidding, she leaves with Po. They arrive in King Leck’s territory just as he’s killing his wife for hiding their daughter Bitterblue from him. King Leck is also the one who had Po’s grandfather kidnapped. He did this so his wife would obey him. His wife is Po’s aunt. She’s running towards Po when Leck kills her but she has time to yell at Po to protect Bitterblue. Leck is a horrible person who has a Grace of manipulation and he has used this power for his own benefit since he was young. He killed the King and Queen years ago, after they took him in as their own, so he could rule as King. He mutilates and tortures children, specifically girls, and animals. A lot of action and adventure take place in Graceling, as well as some romance in this young adult fantasy. I enjoyed the relationship and relaxed ease between Po and Katsa, it was refreshing!

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power is a dystopian sci-fi for young adults. I read an excerpt on Bookish First and was so grateful that I had an ARC from NetGalley and Delacorte Press/Random House so I could finish reading the book immediately! The opening frightened and piqued my curiosity. I also felt sorry for the Tox survivors because civilization deserted them, except for limited, intermittent supply drops from the Navy. Told in alternating points of view between friends, Hetty and Byatt. (I cannot seem to get out of my mind, the fact that if the first letters of both names are exchanged, the names would be Betty and Hyatt);) Hetty starts the story and continues until Byatt suffers a Tox episode and is taken away. Hetty searches for her, can’t find her and overhears one of the leaders on the radio talking about an exchange. Then it’s Byatt’s turn to tell the story. She wakes up in a strange place and she struggles to talk. Soon, she’s surrounded by people in surgical clothing and is forced to take a bitter tasting pill. Byatt has a few more experiences to share but the majority of the story is told through Hetty’s perspective. Strange and frightening discoveries are made and the story ends with a wide opening for more to come. I do enjoy science fiction when it’s in dystopian form and the ending left me wondering what’s next! 4 stars!

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

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Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart! I’ve been looking forward to reading this sequel since I finished Grace and Fury and the synopsis couldn’t be better! One of my favorite lines: With an un-Heir like snort… ! That description of Malachi made me chuckle. A lot takes place in this 325 page book, character development, action, power changing hands, and turns of fate. Nomi and Serina are reunited because Asa sends Nomi to Mount Ruin. Serina and Nomi share their experiences and are both surprised at what’s happened. The women on Mount Ruin are ready for rebellion and Nomi is right there with them. Asa shows his true self and as Malachi comes to terms with his father’s death and his brother’s betrayal, he uses the time to decide his future actions. Relationships grow, are torn apart, and change the future of Viridia. I enjoy the varied relationships and the story’s suspense the most out of everything else that takes place in this book. Dystopian fantasy worth 4.5 stars! I would have enjoyed more details about the relationships between Val and Serina and between Malachi and Nomi.

The Chosen by Taran Matharu!

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Twisted adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley, Feiwel and Friends and Goodreads (giveaway winner) for the opportunity to read and review The Chosen by Taran Matharu!
Cade has ended up in a reform center for juvenile delinquents because of his roommate’s theft. Cade attends the center trying to figure out how to stay under the radar. Six months into his yearlong stay, he finds himself on a cliff ledge facing a creature that wants him for a snack. The chapters alternate between Cade in the center and then somewhere else fighting for his life for a few chapters. Then the story continues with Cade trying to survive and understand his new surroundings full of creatures, people from the past and other creatures and technology that have no explanations. The codex is a tech device that Cade has never seen before and it answers several questions and explains that Cade is a contender in the qualifying round which is being counted down on the Codex’s display. The ending lays out the truth of Cade’s circumstances and all its complications. An unusual tale of a twisted adventure, 4 stars!

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

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Based on the true events of Florida’s infamous reform school!
Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read and review The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead!
Historical fiction novel based on the real reform school that horribly mistreated the boys who resided there. Traumatized young men were left to deal with the abuse on their own. The story focuses on Elwood and we learn about other boys’ stories through his eyes as he witnesses them. The prevalent racism harbored hatred to the point of punishing innocent people and sending them to this terrible reform school where even harsher acts of racism occurred. The abuse went on for decades and through several headmasters. After reading this novel, I felt compelled to research the truth behind the story and was sickened at the amount of violence and abuse that young boys had to live through. Some didn’t survive. I truly don’t understand how the adults took part in or witnessed and kept quiet about any of the abuse. What’s their excuse? The Nickel Boys is tremendously powerful, enlightening and tragic, 4 stars!

Breakout by A.M. Rose!

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Good storyline, rushed ending.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Breakout by A.M. Rose!
A prison full of young prisoners, with the last of their lives ticking away while robots guard and serve them, makes up the character pool for the first part of the book. Two cell mates try to escape since they don’t have anything to lose. They get another prisoner added to the escape party and the three of them accidentally end up in a juvenile prison for young men. The young men decide to escape also, so they go together. The main character is often mentioning that things are happening to her only, “happening to me”, like being trapped within four stone walls. Then the next paragraph states that the rest of the group is in there with her. It’s misleading. Breakout is a conglomeration of Virtual Reality and bits and pieces that are reminiscent of popular book plots, such as Hunger Games, Maze Runner and I, Robot. I don’t feel like the ending is solid and seemed almost rushed and I didn’t feel the pull towards the characters that I would have like to; 3.5 stars.

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

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Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter opens as ten-year-old Logan and his best friend Maddie witness the violence that occurs with the attempted kidnapping of his mother, the First Lady. Logan is the president’s son and his best friend is the daughter of the head of the Secret Service. Maddie’s father gets shot and badly injured during the kidnapping attempt, so he decides to move to Alaska with his daughter to recover and distance themselves from the danger. Now, six years later, Logan gets sent to stay with them for his own safety. Logan has a tendency to be careless and unconcerned about what happens to him and this has exasperated his parents. Maddie is extremely angry at Logan because she wrote letters to him for years after their move to Alaska and she never received anything from him. The day Logan arrives, Maddie’s father leaves to make a quick delivery because a terrible storm is coming. While he’s away, Maddie and Logan are confronted by an abductor who wants to use Logan for leverage. Maddie is shoved down a hill, left for dead and the kidnapper forces Logan to move on. The danger compounds because of the Alaskan wilderness and lack of food, shelter and heat. I thoroughly enjoyed Not If I Save You First for several reasons- the suspense, mystery and sarcastic humor and I love the characters! 5 solid stars for a fun, action-packed adventure!

End of the Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

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Twisting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review End of the Lie by Diana Rodriguez Wallach!
Anastasia watches her sister become more and more depressed because of her traumatic kidnapping and the bad publicity that follows. They are both trying to adjust to the new situation with their parents and unwanted fame. Twists and turns keep them running and confused but they stay by each other’s sides to get through their intense struggles. Anastasia sees the people around her change until everything comes full circle. Intense, mysterious and suspenseful all wrapped up in this finale of the Anastasia Phoenix series, 5 stars!

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Dynamic Fantasy!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters!