Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

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Fun sci-fi mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney!
The prologue narrator is Victor, who’s lying awake and alert but can’t move a muscle as his surgical adviser begins to saw into his arm because of extreme damage. The adviser and the surgical students observing believe that Victor is no longer alive. Lizzie has traveled to England from America for a medical degree. She’s the only female medical student at the school but she resides in the nursing students’ housing. She meets Victor and helps him by talking with him. This helps Victor form words again. His memories aren’t clear but he does remember being a medical student. The story grows more complicated as Lizzie discovers what happened to Victor and why. She also learns a great deal about who she can and can’t trust. The prologue captured my interest and the story’s uniqueness kept me reading. Mystery surrounds the school and its professors, as well as a bit of danger. Lizzie is a lovable, strong character with a thirst for knowledge. Sci-fi mystery worth 4 stars!

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!

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!

The Shining by Stephen King

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The Shining by Stephen King is a well-known horror classic in book and movie form. Jack Torrence is receiving instructions on how to take care of the Overlook Hotel for the winter. He’s just been hired as the winter caretaker and will be bringing his wife and five-year-old son along for the winter. Jack’s and Wendy’s marriage has already had struggles and Jack is lucky to have received the Overlook caretaker job because of his past drinking problems and anger issues. Danny is bright and kind and wants his parents to be happy. Little by little, Wendy can see changes in Jack. He hasn’t been drinking but he’s showing all of his old drinking signs. The story continues in much of the same way as the movie with some small differences, topiary hedges, mallet, and then the biggest difference is the ending! I like the book ending so much better than the movie ending. Classic Stephen King writing and dark imaginings create a story of possessions and seclusion in this book, 5 stars! 

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

Frequency by Christopher Krovatin

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Engaging read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Frequency by Christopher Krovatin!
Fiona sees her father and his companions threaten and beat up a young man when she’s a young girl. The story jumps to an eighteen year old Fiona and her boyfriend Horace. She’s content with her life until Horace and their mutual friends get caught up in the party life, drugs and mind altering music of Pit Viper, the DJ that was beaten up by Fiona’s father all those years ago. The mystery surrounding Pit Viper is confusing to Fiona and she’s not sure whether it’s ominous or misunderstood. Fiona enters a world that she might regret and a relationship she might not be ready for. Part science fiction, part fantasy and all engaging, 5 stars!

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!

Star-crossed by Pintip Dunn

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Unique sci-fi!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Star-crossed by Pintip Dunn! Aegis eat for the entire community. They eat and then donate their nourishment, which is then made into pills for everyone to take or to use as currency. Astana is dying and her best friend, Princess Vela, steals food for her and eats more than her quota so she can give Astana her extra pills to use as currency. When Vela is caught sneaking food to her friend, she’s sentenced to administering the Fittest Trials in which one teenager is chosen, out of two hundred, to sacrifice themselves for the King. The story line seems odd at first but grows in complexity and details. The whole Aegis concept is completely unique and original. The story gains complexity as characters are introduced and more are added. Star-crossed is a sci-fi mystery that earns 4 stars for originality!

War of the Wilted by Amber Mitchell

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Action packed!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review War of the Wilted by Amber Mitchell. Arianna, “Rose”, wants to help the rebellion but she wants vengeance above everything else. Arianna is working with Rayce, the leader of the rebellion, but she’s angry with Rayce also because he’s keeping the Gardener alive for information, even though he’s responsible for the mistreatment and killing of young women. Arianna is maddeningly stubborn and doesn’t think she makes a good leader, even though she’s independent and headstrong. Rayce becomes frustrated with her because of her actions and the fact that she’s not listening to his wishes or orders. War of the Wilted takes on a different feel than Garden of Thorns since it’s not trapped women forced into submission. Instead, it’s a rebellion within the entire empire and it requires many leaders working together to make any difference. Action packed with strong-willed characters, 4 stars!

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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Fantasy at its best!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review Rule by Ellen Goodlett!
Zofi overhears people asking her mother about her and while her mother distracts them, Zofi cuts a slash in the back of their tent and sneaks away. She’s proficient with the Blood Arts and when she makes a tiny nip in her skin with the end of her knife, energy is pulled into her blood and she makes a much quicker getaway. To her dismay, Zofi is captured anyway. Akeylah is beaten and hated by her family, especially her father, because their mother died giving birth to her. She gets help to put a curse on her father and make him sick, through the Vulgar Arts. Florencia, (Ren), is a servant, as her mother is. Ren has been raised in the palace and knows how to interact with royalty and she believes she’s guilty of a traitorous act that caused the death of almost two thousand people. The three young women have been summoned to the king and he tells them that they are his daughters and he needs one of them to take the place of his heir, Prince Nicolen, that’s no longer alive. And the king himself is sick and dying. Akeylah realizes that she’s the one who made him ill because he’s her real father. Each of the king’s daughters has a secret to hide. It seems that someone knows about their secrets because each of them has been receiving knowledgeable blackmail notes and other messages. The three sisters begin working together to figure out who the blackmailer is and end the threat. Rule is a complex fantasy that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The ending is intense! Fantasy at its best, 5 stars!