Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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A solid 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga!
In a world where kisses mean power, two royals struggle in keeping their separate beliefs from interfering with the work they need to do together- vanquishing evil. The unique storyline caught my interest and as infuriating as Princess Ivy and Prince Zach could be, they still made me smile. I enjoyed the part with the cursed amulet and the three emotional enchantments; Ivy’s and Zach’s characters shined. Intriguing and suspenseful, Kiss of the Royal earns a solid 4 stars!

Alpha by Jus Accardo

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A perfect ending to this sci-fi trilogy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Alpha by Jus Accardo. The third book in the Infinity Division series opens with Sera being held captive by Dylan. At that point, I felt like I had a grasp on who each person/dimension was but the next chapter threw it all back in my face. A chart of each person connected to their doppelgängers’ names would be helpful. Eventually, the characters and their situations became clear with the author’s help. Sera and G alternately tell the story as they run to find each other and then fight to save each other. G has been experimented on to become an Alpha, a soldier with heightened senses. During the experimental phase, G was broken through abuse. Now, he suffers extreme mood swings and can become volatile. Sera doesn’t remember her life, before she met G while they were both imprisoned. As these two characters struggle to break from the trauma they’ve been through and to overcome the physical restraints placed upon them, they lend strength to each other. This book is action-packed and ends well. 4 stars for the perfect ending to this sci-fi trilogy!

Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Watching You by Shannon Greenland. Viola is attending Ponce de Leon Academy because she’s been awarded a scholarship, a scholarship that someone else was relying on since he’s been the recipient for the past three years. Now Riel is a senior with no way to pay for school. Viola is grateful for the chance to attend the academy with its connection to MIT, where she’s dreamed of going as long as she can remember. She comes from a not-so-good background and she wants to change things and make everything better for her family. The story is told from Viola’s point of view with a creepy stalker speaking every so often. The pace picks up and the background is set, while the characters grow more interesting and intriguing. At first, Viola comes across as whiny, but the more I got to know her, the more I liked her and could understand her reasoning. I appreciate Viola’s perseverance and Riel’s strength and his dedication to his younger sister. The underlying message of how hard work and goals are important in becoming successful reminds readers that work ethic is a wonderful thing. This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages, 4 stars!

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

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Full of magic!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Black Witch by Laurie Forest!
Elloren and her brothers, Rafe and Trystan, have lived with their Uncle Edwin since a Keltic attack killed their parents years ago. He treats them well. Uncle Edwin is also very protective of Elloren and wants her to have every advantage in life that her brothers have, but he’s also hiding information about Elloren’s abilities. A missing girl calls for Elloren through a Watcher, a perceptive white bird, and gives her the mythical White Wand. Sage, the missing young woman, fears for her baby’s safety and she claims that the Council is coming for him because they believe he’s evil, then she disappears into the forest once again. Elloren visits Aunt Vyvian, keeping the White Wand a secret. Aunt Vyvian wants to use Elloren for her own political goals while she attends University and she wants Elloren to be wandfasted (engaged) immediately to the young man of Aunt Vyvian’s choosing. Elloren is in danger everywhere she goes and suffers several attacks her first day at University. It seems that she’s assumed by everyone to be prejudice just like her famous grandmother, the Black Witch, who Elloren resembles completely. Elloren’s eyes are opened to the prejudices and violence in her world and Aunt Vyvian is at the top of the worst of it. The dynamics of the characters build the story line into intrigue and complexity. Genocide is threatening on the horizon and Elloren forms loyal relationships with many people who she’s been taught not to trust. I’ve grown to care about these characters and I’m anxious to read the sequel, The Iron Flower. 5 stars for this fantasy full of magic!

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas opens as Feyre is trying to come to terms with the violence she endured and the choices she made Under the Mountain in helping rid the Faerie world of Amarantha. Tamlin proposed to Feyre, so planning their wedding has become a daily activity and she’s grateful for the help of Ianthe, a visiting High Priestess. On Tamlin and Feyre’s wedding day, Rhys bursts in and breaks up the celebration before vows are given. Rhys is there to claim the deal of Feyre spending one week out of every month with him in the Night Court. His first mission is for Feyre to learn how to read. Rhysand is priceless, with his lackadaisical attitude, cleverness and charm. He’s also showing tremendous patience, especially when he seems so alone. Tamlin has kept secrets from Feyre and has trapped her inside his manor, making her feel like a prisoner. Because of this, Feyre had an extremely dark, strong panic attack and Rhys’ cousin Mor saved her and brought her to Rhys. She’s now a resident of the Night Court. Rhysand made Feyre the Emissary to the Human Realm because she is a human that died and was given life by the seven High Fae Lords and will hopefully help bridge and build human-faerie relations. Rhys has given Feyre a specific mission to find and retrieve a special, hidden book that can give extreme power to the wielder. Rhys and Feyre become closer as they adjust to each other and try to overcome the evil threat to the Fae and Human Realms. A sequel full of action and suspense, A Court of Mist and Fury adds tremendous depth to this series and I cannot wait to start reading the next book; a well-earned 5 stars!

DIY KIDS’ Dress Up by Jessica Near

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Thanks to NetGalley and F+W Media for the opportunity to read and review DIY KIDS’ Dress Up by Jessica Near. Sewing Instructions for twelve costumes and templates are detailed and included, all costumes are made with felt. Felt is versatile, doesn’t need hemming and holds its shape well. These attributes make felt perfect for costume making. A tools and materials list starts off the book and helps get the costume maker prepared and ready to create. Tips are also included, such as using a razor to de-pill your felt. Colorful illustrations accompany each detailed pattern. Fun and inspiring for dress up play, 5 stars!

Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com by Nancy Hendrickson

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Thanks to NetGalley and Family Tree Books (F+W Media) for the opportunity to read and review the Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com by Nancy Hendrickson. Informative guide showing the basics plus so much more on how to use the ancestry.com website. Instructions and information of layout, memberships, searching tips and all the different ways to find information on ancestry.com-military records, census records, primary sources, wills, tax information, school directories and church histories are included. Getting DNA results and interpreting them and other websites to connect to for even more information and research, each discussed within their own chapters and are also a large part of this book. Insets, photos and helpful images show what can be found on this website, full of historical and genealogical information, to bring fruition to your family history work. 5 stars for a book that will guide you every step of the way during your family history research and more!

 

Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki

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Thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read and review Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki. This book is meant for reducing stress and the title alone relaxes me. Shinrin-yoku, nature therapy and forest therapy both embody “Japan’s Relationship with Nature”. Effects of nature on stress relief and the body are discussed with beautiful photographs interspersed between the scientific information. Information is even given for when getting outdoors to relax isn’t a possibility; tips and tricks that make you feel like you’re really out in nature can be convincing enough to relief stress. A wonderful guide to nature therapy relieves stress just by reading it, 4 stars!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas tells the story of nineteen-year-old Feyre (pronounced fA-ru).  She is the youngest of three sisters, living in a small shack with their father. Their mother died eleven years ago when they were still well off. Since then, their father has been somewhat crippled and the family has lost everything. Feyre hunts and takes care of the family when no one else will. The eldest sister Nesta is a snooty brat and Elain, the middle sister, doesn’t seem to think herself capable but she’s much kinder than Nesta. Unknowingly, Feyre kills a High-Fae. He looked like an oversized wolf and she felt like her family could benefit from its pelt. A large beast shows up at Feyre’s family home looking for retribution and offers her the choice of death or to live in Prythian with the High-Fae. She chooses to live. It takes two days to get to the beast’s home and Feyre is treated as a guest. Tamlin, the shape shifting beast, makes sure to care for Feyre’s family so she won’t worry about their welfare. He also changed their memories of Feyre being taken into something pleasant. Eventually, Feyre becomes comfortable in Tamlin’s home and they build their acquaintance into something more. The faerie world is being threatened and Tamlin worries about Feyre’s safety, so he sends her home. Trouble compounds from that point. This is a love story, reminiscent of a Beauty and the Beast fairytale, with strong characters. I especially like Rhysand with his cunning, clever personality. A wonderful beginning to a riveting fantasy series, 5 stars!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!