Never Apart by Romily Bernard

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Never Apart by Romily Bernard. This story is different from what I expected but I still enjoyed the concept, the characters, and the twist. It began as a science fiction story dealing with parallel universes and it turned into so much more! I don’t want to ruin the plot for any potential readers, so I will just say that the story alternates between then and now, the characters of Grace, Ander and Finn kept my interest and their actions kept me guessing. 4 stars for a unique book!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review A Messy Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan. The story begins with theater students putting on a show with another school and describing how much fun the improv acts turned out. I kind of wish I could have been in that audience. Later, Ellie and her stepbrother Craig head to the beach and then to a house party after being invited by Jason, the guy who acted out improv with Ellie at the show. That’s how Ellie and Jason met, an improv performance. While Ellie is walking to a fire with Jason at the party, she falls and ends up at the hospital and everyone thinks she’s broken her leg. When her mom, Craig and her friends Hana and Quinn are visiting with Ellie in her hospital room, the doctor informs Ellie that she has cancer. I love how people rally around Ellie and how she keeps her attitude as upbeat as possible. The school counselor is fantastic, Ellie’s mom is amazing and Craig is the best stepbrother ever. The author’s note describes her own battle with cancer and her involvement with improv and the similarities she has with her character Ellie and just like Ellie, she had many people show true support when she needed it most. This heartwarming story is enjoyable to read and is full of endearing characters! 5 stars for this young adult realistic fiction!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Avalonia Chronicles Books 1 and 2 by Faarah Oomerbhoy

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The Last of the Firedrakesby Faarah Oomerbhoy is a tale about a girl named Aurora. Aurora had been with her adoptive family since she was two years old until their fatal car accident and now she’s living with her adoptive father’s brother and his family. Her aunt is rude and lets Aurora know often that she’s not cared for and her cousin gives her the same treatment. The family visits an estate where Uncle christopher gives Aurora away to a dangerous looking man, named Lord Oblek. Lord Oblek takes her back into the tapestry that he came out of. Aurora is taken to a prison and placed in a pit with other prisoners who are scheduled to be executed the next morning, Kalen and Finn. The two of them are Fae and each has a distinct personality. The Black Wolf, Rafe who is a mage, saves all three from the prison confines. When they arrive at their safe meeting place, Rafe discovers who Aurora truly is as she tells him how she came to be a prisoner. Aurora is the rightful heir to the kingdom that Morgana stole from the king and queen when Aurora was two years old. Aurora needs to stay hidden or Morgana will have her killed just as she killed the king and queen all those years ago. The safest place for Aurora, according to Rafe, is with her granduncle Duke Gabriel Silverthorne. Once she has met the duke and his family, Aurora is sent to attend a magic school, Evolon, to receive magical training. On the way she meets with a thousand-year old Fae that changes Aurora’s appearance so Morgana will not find her. Aurora now goes by Rory and she’s enjoying and learning from her classes but she’s still trying to get used to her plain appearance a little at a time. This book has many similarities to Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings but stands well on its own merits of dynamic characters, increasing plot twists and conflict. The setting is described beautifully and The Last of the Firedrakes is a wonderfully told fantasy worth 5 stars!

The Rise of the Dawnstar by Farah Oomerbhoy was fantastic! Wow, this sequel to the Last of the Firedrakes really packs a punch! Full of action, adventure, intrigue and plot twists, this story continues to pull me further into its world. Love, loss and uncovered secrets built intense relationships and kept my interest. I can’t wait for the next book in the Avalonia Chronicles. 5 stars!

Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

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Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage is the beginning of a fun steampunk series. Trenton has always tinkered around with machines not realizing how much he enjoys it and how good he is at mechanics and engineering. He’s going against community rules- no inventing or improving technology. The authorities believe technology is dangerous and will destroy Cove. Trenton finds an interesting device when he fixes a machine and his life changes after that. He meets Kallista and together they dive into the greatest mystery surrounding their community. Fun and adventurous, this steampunk fantasy moves at a quick pace, 4 stars.

Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

 

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Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet begins when Cassie can’t find her twin sister Rebecca and is desperately trying to figure out where she is. Meanwhile, Becca is in a prison on death row with other teenagers. The cover states similar to Hunger games, but I feel like it’s a combination of that series plus Unwind by Neal Shusterman and the Program by Suzanne Young. The prison is full of people that fight against the main government. These people are known as Outsiders. The story doesn’t flow and it’s told in spurts and a bit choppy. I give it 4 stars for a different approach to a dystopian concept.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

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Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for the opportunity to read and review Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. Jane is stuck in a rut, unhappy with her present life situation because she’s lost her loved ones and feels alone and desolate. Kiran, Jane’s ex-tutor, invites her to visit her rich family on their private island. She takes Kiran up on her offer and meets many new people. Jane accidentally eavesdrops and overhears a strange conversation. She discovers the jobs that Kiran’s family members and visitors pursue. Two art pieces are missing, presumably stolen, and Jane wants to solve the mystery. When the art mystery is solved, Jane learns about her aunt’s true past. Then the plot changes somewhat and the story becomes more science fiction than mystery. The story just got weirder and weirder after that with strayhounds and a place called Zorsted. Though, I do appreciate the author’s notes that help explain the path of writing that this book took during its creation and the research and sources that she used. 3.5 stars.

Project You by Aubre Andrus

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Project You by Aubre Andrus! Just reading the Table of Contents made me feel relaxed and helped me look forward to reading the book. Full of de-stressing activities to help you take care of yourself and feel at peace. Self-care and self-help tips for almost every stressor plus feng shui principles, calming recipes and activities as well as energizing and replenishing tips are found in this book, along with happy music lists categorized by decade, ideas for starting a new hobby and the importance of laughing, ideas about a gratitude journal and a worry box and a cupcake for one recipe for a single serve treat. The book also has a section that explains the benefits of exercise and sunlight and sections for ideas for 30-day challenges to tackle goals, nature journals, inspiring songs list to energize, challenging yourself to build confidence and recipes and ideas for pampering yourself. Project You gives the reader help and resources for a variety of reasons. I am buying this book for the school library. 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary arc of this book for voluntary consideration.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor

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I was able to read Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor thanks to a goodreads giveaway of a hardback book and thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an arc! Sparks of light continues the story from Into the Dim, the first book in this series. Hope is with Phoebe and their other companions in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone is adjusting to the drastic change in Hope’s mom and the baby she now has. Hope’s boyfriend Bran has gotten away from his mother, Celia, to tell the companions about his mother’s new plan. After Bran reveals Celia’s plan, the Viators make a plan of their own – to travel back to 1895 and visit Nikola Tesla and his discovery. The trip to 1895 causes extreme circumstances for Doug and Hope when they are involuntarily taken to an asylum and treated with the new drug, heroin. Intense and interesting and on the edge-of-your-seat suspense! Hope describes the asylum and its residents in detail. She also reiterates her previous knowledge of asylum history. Morbidly fascinating and scary. As the comrades work to visit Tesla, they encounter atrocities and tragedy in this time traveling adventure worth 5 stars! I am, once again, anxiously awaiting a sequel!

The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi. The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi is a children’s picture book with softly drawn, subdued illustrations that make the book feel cozy and the reader sleepy. Peaceful and simple prose brings to mind the innocent pondering of a child’s thoughts. 4 stars for a comforting story.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth involves two peoples that have different beliefs and are enemies. Cyra ends up relying on and becoming friends with the enemy after he, Akos, is captured and forced into serving Cyra. Her brother thrives on hurting others and uses Cyra to accomplish this. Ryzek uses Cyra for everything he wants to gain through fear and intimidation. He wants to conquer all. Cyra and her servant Akos grow a friendship with trust and honesty which gives Cyra something she’s never experienced before. Her family has always been manipulative and cruel. Cyra and Akos are captured and the wound Ryzek gives Cyra made me physically sick. Revenge is all that Cyra wants against Ryzek because of every harm he has ever inflicted on her. This first book in the Carve the Mark duology builds the world setting and the character’s backgrounds and ends with an unfinished rebellion, leaving me ready for the sequel. 4 stars for this science fiction fantasy.