Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

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Action filled mythological adventure!
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NetGalley and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean.
Taro is the son of the emperor but, unlike his father, Taro has a kind heart. This kindness angers the emperor. Mari is an Animal Wife yokai (a human with supernatural powers that can change into a beast) with the strength and intelligence to best her opponents. She’s not beautiful, so her mother is disappointed in her and makes her train as a warrior instead. Mari’s mother wants Mari to conquer the Empire, become Empress and steal the prince’s fortune. Akira, known as the Son of Nightmares because of his scarred face, loves Mari, even though to her they will only ever be friends. He follows behind the procession taking Mari to the Empire for the Seasons Rooms competition, so he can keep an eye on her without anyone knowing. Akira has a wonderful sense of humor, even though he’s had a painful and lonely life. Mari feels overwhelmed by the competition and because of all of the young women involved but she uses her wits and her values to overcome her challenges. I enjoyed the intermittent stories of gods and goddesses that explain the creation of Mari’s world. Action packed, filled with mythology and adventure, Empress of All Seasons is an unputdownable fantasy read worthy of 5 stars!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Secrets and Folklore!
Thanks to Bookish first, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield!
Twists and turns and many characters along with their stories bring Once Upon a River to life. The book opens with a background of the setting and builds up to the present when a four-year-old girl is found and brought to the Swan, where storytelling is at its finest. The man who brought the little girl in is very injured and he loses consciousness, so no one can ask questions. The storytelling begins by the regular inhabitants of the Swan and continues to build with speculation. Everyone falls in love with the little girl and their hearts warm to her. Because of the girl’s appearance in the community, many lives are changed and things that have been hidden for years come to light. A food for thought story full of folklore and secrets, 4 stars!

Toxic by Lydia Kang

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Enjoyable sci-fi adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Toxic by Lydia Kang!
Toxic is a sci-fi adventure involving an abandoned teenager created in a lab, a biological spacecraft and a team on a suicide mission. Hana’s alone on the ship after her mother and the crew left without telling her. Fenn and the rest of the mission group members are researching Hana’s ship for future progress, even though they won’t be around to see it. They went to this spacecraft knowing that they would not make it off alive. They will die with the ship, as it deteriorates, so will they. I don’t feel like I can explain much of the story without giving too much away. I can safely say that the range of characters is fun, the story is original and Toxic is an enjoyable, interesting science fiction read, 4 stars!

Light as a Feather by Zoe Aarsen

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Light As a Feather by Zoe Aarsen published by Simon & Schuster Teen.
A group of junior girls attend a birthday party and things turn strange when the new girl describes the birthday girl’s death. They take turns, each listening to their own deaths. All of them except McKenna. Violet said that she can only sense fire but nothing else, when it comes to McKenna. McKenna’s sister, Jennie, died in their house fire years earlier. Horrible things start happening and the friends are freaking out. They decide they will do whatever it takes to stop Violet. Spooky and interesting, this story is a perfect young adult Halloween read, 5 stars!

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver and published by HarperCollins tells the story of how Mia, Brynn and the whole town were left reeling from the horrible murder of Summer.
Summer, Mia and Brynn were friends. The three girls pretended that a fantasy book world, Lovelorn, was real until the devastating loss of Summer. Five years later, Mia and Brynn try to piece all of the clues of this unsolved murder together. With the help of Mia’s friend Abby and Brynn’s cousin Wade, they scour the town and surrounding areas to solve this mystery. Twisting between make-believe and reality, the story spins seemingly in circles until the truth stands out clearly. Interesting, intense and emotionally jarring, Broken Things is a 5 star must read!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!

Neverwake by Amy Plum

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Never Wake by Amy Plum, the sequel to Dreamfall, starts right where the first book left off. Dreamfall ended with the documented knowledge that one of the teens is a psychopath. The intensity is amplified and the suspense keeps building! The dream state is lasting longer and the void is shortening, so the teens are inside nightmares longer each time and their rest time will eventually disappear. They’re already struggling to survive while the nightmares become more dangerous. The intern observing the trial keeps taking detailed notes and she’s noticed the changes and believes the patients are dreaming and she’s trying to convince the researchers. She was also able to warn Fergus about one of the teens being a psychopath, but he fell back asleep before she stated the psychopath’s name. Neverwake’s intensity kept me glued to the book and this young adult horror full of unique, interesting characters earns 5 stars!

Dreamfall by Amy Plum

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Dream Fall by Amy Plum involves a group of teenagers suffering from insomnia. They meet for the introduction of a medical treatment that’s supposed to help them all get full nights of sleep. This is a medical trial for these seven teenagers who are in the second batch of testing, the betas. One person, the alpha, has been successful with the treatment already. After the seven reach the dream state, there’s a power bump which causes them to enter a comatose state, according to the research doctors. But the teenagers are actually stuck in a horrifying dream world together. One by one, the dreaming teenagers realize that they are together in a combined dream state. None of them can remember the medical trial or any other short term happenings. While the teens sleep on, the doctors over the trial frantically try to fix their comatose state. As the group moves through each other’s nightmares, they began to recall where they are. The danger keeps increasing and death becomes all too real. The ending is a cliffhanger and the scariest part of the story. 4 stars for this young adult horror story!

Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Project Prometheus by Aden Polydoros!
This sequel dives deeper into the effects of Project Pandora. My heart broke for Hades. His story is made more powerful through the alternating points of view of Hades, Shannon and Tyler. Hades is on a mission to destroy Charles Warren, the man in charge of Project Pandora and the man who treated Hades horribly while “conditioning” him. Shannon and Tyler search for any and all information that they can find on Project Pandora and come across another project-Project Prometheus. While Project Pandora was about creating assassins through environmental control, Project Prometheus is about creating the perfect human beings to control the future through leadership roles. Hades struggles with staying in the moment and he’s unsure if what he’s seeing is actually real and happening or a hallucination. When he meets his mother, he’s unsure how to feel and when she’s uncaring, his heart grows harder. I’m glad this series hasn’t ended yet and I’m looking forward to the next installment. 5 stars for the character depth and development!

 

Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

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A scary sci-fi that I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Sanctuary by Caryn Lix!
Kenzie lives in a space prison that houses teens with super powers. Kenzie and her parents help guard the prison, with a few others, and they work for the security system company that runs the adult prison and the teen prison that both hold Earth criminals with super powers. All seems well until the prisoners of Sanctuary escape their cells. Kenzie becomes somewhat of a hostage as the teenage prisoners try to work out their escape plan. The escape plan gets overridden with an alien invasion and the struggle to stay alive. This scary sci-fi kept me reading nonstop to the ending, 5 stars!