For 500 years, King Eidolon has harmed the Royal twins to prevent them from taking his ruling power over the Kingdom of Aryd. Meren, 19, is trying to save her twin sister Tabra who is under some horrific spell of shadow poison. With the help of several others, Meren is collecting amulets to stop the king once and for all. The group faces danger and deception and many challenges. The shadows threaten all.
Likes/dislikes: The concept of the story is interesting but new problems were randomly added which felt like unnecessary filler material. I became bored with the repetitiveness and filler content. I was not invested enough in the characters to make it an enjoyable read. Points of view transitions were confusing and disrupted the flow of the story. The first book of this series is much better.
Language: R for 124 swears and 5 f-bombs.
Mature Content: PG-13 for implied sex, woman with sheer top showing the dusky tips of her breasts. Vaguely detailed sex.
Violence: PG for non bloody death. Bloody injury.
Ethnicity: Ethnicity is predominantly white but there’s mention of a bluish black skinned, white haired character and another person with tawny skin.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the start of the Grisha Trilogy about two orphans, Alina and Mal. Alina and Mal are being interviewed by Grisha as children, then the story jumps ahead to their young adulthood. Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is an assistant to a cartographer. The army is crossing The Fold, a place where monsters called Volcra live. Volcra attack and Mal and Alina protect each other. As the Volcra claw at her back, Alina lights up. She’s suspected of being a Sun Summoner and people will want her to light up The Fold so traveling can be safer and ports can be used once again. The Darkling takes Alina to Os Alta for her safety, her training and to serve the kingdom. Alina feels like she doesn’t fit into this life any better than her last dwelling and job as a mapmaker. She hasn’t seen Mal since she was taken to the palace. Alina has a revelation as a forgotten memory resurfaces. Alina’s power comes forth and as her power grows, it becomes easier for her to call upon and she learns who she can and cannot trust and who she truly loves. I like how the author has woven Russia into the story. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive author and her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, brought anxiety to my mind and tears to my eyes – 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The story enveloped me from the first page. I adored the characters of Alina, Mal, and Genya. The world building is flawless.
Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs.
Mature Content: PG for prolonged kissing
Violence: PG for Creatures killing and eating people, sounds described. The Cut made with magic that slices people in two. Bloody injury.
Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Brynn and Mia, now both 18, lost their friend Summer five years prior to a brutal death. Everyone in Twin Lakes, Vermont believes the two are guilty of murdering Summer. They have been stigmatized and their lives have been threatened and ruined because of this. Brynn and Mia form an alliance to find the truth about Summer’s death after not speaking to each other for the last five years. They both have their own personal struggles to cope with as they try to decipher Summer’s behavior, surroundings and mental state when she was alive to find her killer and bring justice to the community. Likes/dislikes: The story and the mystery surrounding the characters drew me in and I didn’t want to put the book down. I enjoyed how the characters brought a fantasy world into their own story by giving a book life. It saddens me to think of the harsh life and loneliness Summer had at only thirteen years old. She had to grow out of childhood too quickly but this background explains her actions and personality. Mature content: PG-13 for mention of oral sex, not detailed; kissing with no details; mention of a doodle of a teacher with a hard on. Underage drinking and smoking pot, mention of kissing, no description. Brief kisses with some details. Language: R for 87 swears and 10 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for fatal stabbing and self harm by scraping arm with scissors. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly white.
Pippa and Gabe have been married for seven years and have two girls that are both four years old. They see a woman walking by the cliff edge near their home and Gabe rushes out to talk to her and keep her from jumping in case she’s feeling suicidal. He has saved several people before but this woman, Amanda, falls off the cliff. Pippa wonders why Gabe had his arms out and palms forward as she fell and questions whether or not he pushed her. The story gradually unravels the mystery behind Gabe, Pippa, Amanda and her husband Max. Mental illness and unsure circumstances create uncertainty in Pippa’s marriage but she and Gabe stay honest with each other through it all. I didn’t become invested in the main characters Gabe and Pippa as much as I cared about Max and Amanda. Abrupt transitions made it difficult for me to love this book. The best parts are with Amanda because there’s suspense involved in her story. 4 stars!
Myra, 34, has been a recluse since her disfiguring accident when she was a young child. She inherited a small mansion from her grandfather and step-grandmother and it seems to have a mind of its own. Alex returns home to a sick father that’s always pushed him away and he needs help running their business. Myra blogs about her miniature mansion and Alex notices that some of the furniture in his life-size mansion matches exactly to the tiny furniture in Myra’s. The characters are lovable and I appreciate the empathy shown throughout the book. The mystery behind the two mansions is written with creativity and unravels perfectly, 4 stars!
Charlize is looking for her older brother, 18 year old Cisco, who disappeared after infecting Raquel’s mom at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Cisco played a game that’s an urban myth and it backfired. Charlize, Raquel, 16, and her friend Aaron play the game to find Cisco. Twenty people have disappeared in the last year and no one has been able to get to the bottom of the problem but these three are determined to find and save Cisco so he can give information to help heal Raquel’s mom and stop the spread of infection. The game becomes creepy and brings the corruption of the past to light as the young people learn how residents were manipulated, used and pushed out of their Bronx homes. These teens have to work together to stop the corruption and save their families.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Bronx history and how it was used in the supernatural aspect of the story. The infection conveys the corruption in the community creatively. I like how Raquel, Aaron and Charlize work together and how the mystery becomes spooky quickly. Mature Content: PG-13 for high off edibles, nondescript kiss. Language: R for 85 swears and 23 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 mention of cannibalism, bloody unexplained death. Ethnicity: The ethnicities include Black, Dominicans, White, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican.
Tress has left her home of Diggen’s Point to rescue the Duke’s son Charlie from a forced trip to meet and marry a worthy woman of royalty. He’s actually been sent to the Sorceress to die. Tress disguises herself as an inspector to board a ship and when the ship is attacked she boards the winning ship, Crow’s Song. Tress has adventures involving curses, dragons, magic and surprises in store. She also discovers her strengths and loyalties and how far she will go to take care of the people she cares about. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the book. The snippets of wisdom were fun. I like the unknowns of Tress’ adventures. The prose is charming and the world building is imaginative. Mature Content: PG for brief kissing. Language: PG-13 for 12 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death. Ethnicities: The book contains a variety of ethnicities. Tress is presumably white.
Tamsin,17, and her brother Cabell are Hollowers. Their guardian Nash left them behind after taking them on hunting trips for artifacts and now they have to make it on their own. The two of them have been trying to decipher Nash’s journal and break the cipher so they can solve the mystery of what happened to him and rescue him. Tamsin realizes the artifact they’re looking for is the Servant’s ring and believes that they need to travel to Avalon, King Arthur’s resting place, to find the ring and Nash. They find their way to Avalon in the company of prestigious Hollowers who have their own agendas falling headfirst into danger beyond anything they expected and into the unknown that will change everything.
In Poppy Hills, Northern California, Prudence, 16, was a Ladybird scout, hunting creatures that feed on emotions until her best friend and fellow scout Molly died during a hunt they were on together three years prior. Prudence is now assigned to train her younger cousin Avi even though PTSD has been a problem for her since the fatal hunt. Prudence dreads her assignment but learns to embrace her leadership role and the younger scouts as she takes them under her wing. Eventually she begins to also let people break through her independent wall and become true friends. Now all she has to do is teach them how to stay alive while taking down the dreaded creatures they’re supposed to hunt. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the novel. I like the message that it helps when people work together. I also enjoyed how the author brought into the novel the figurative monsters that we all deal with. Language: R for 68 swears and 38 f-bombs. Mature content: PG-13 for underage drinking, undescribed kiss, vaping, mention of “getting high”, mention of smoking weed, brief kiss. Violence: PG for fist fight with no blood, death with no blood in the description. Ethnicity: Prudence has Puerto Rican mother and a white father. Other ethnicities are white, Italian, and El Salvadoran.