Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

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Fantasy with a dystopian undertone!
Thanks to Capstone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith. Slow to introduce the main character and to orient the reader to the setting and purpose, so the first book, The Children of Icarus, needs to be read before picking up this sequel. The action picks up the excitement in the story and the reader is still left trying to figure out who Nameless is. Danger and intrigue are prominent and no one knows who to trust and almost no one deserves trust. The ending is awesome and leaves me anticipating the third installment to this series. Fantasy with a dystopian undertone, 4 stars!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Starry Eyes is a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett!
Zorie and Lennon are neighbors at home and work. They also used to be best friends until family problems and drama got in the way. A teen group camping trip, which is supposed to be fun and not exactly “roughing it “, turns out dangerous with Lennon and Zorie stranded. Luckily, they’re both smart enough to help each other and work together to try to make it back to civilization. The two teenagers finally get the opportunity they need to talk and work out their relationship. Humor lightens the drama and Lennon and Zorie have interesting personalities that make Starry Eyes a charming, fun, mature realistic fiction for young adults. 5 stars!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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A charming book about relationships!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi! Penny lives with her single mother and every neighborhood man seems to hover around her. This embarrasses Penny to no end. Sam lives where he works, literally, and he absolutely loves to bake. Sam’s ex-girlfriend shows up to tell him she might be pregnant and that information knocks him over. By chance, Sam and Penny meet and through an unfortunate panic attack, they become friends. I enjoyed their relaxed friendship and their humor. Both Penny and Sam have family issues and other things they need to figure out. Emergency Contact shares their stories, with all the ups and downs, the good and bad and builds a charming book about relationships in the process. 5 stars!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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Wonderful and complex characters!
Thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Fire and Bookish First for the opportunities to read and review Furyborn by Claire Legrand!
The prologue opens the book with Queen Rielle as she’s delivering her baby girl. Then the story goes back two years in Rielle’s point of view, before she’s queen. The next chapter takes place over one thousand years later and introduces Eliana. The story continues on, alternating between Rielle and Eliana, chapter to chapter. Rielle has many powers and potential for more and the kingdom wonders if she’s part of a prophecy. Eliana is a hired hand for the Empire, capturing rebels as requested. Rielle does not have a handle on her powers, even though she’s been training for over a decade. She’s afraid of the destruction she might cause and ashamed of the destruction she’s already caused. Eliana lives with her mother and younger brother and she’s noticed that females are disappearing, being stolen. While she’s given a new job, she discovers that her mother is gone. She leaves in search of her mother with her brother in tow. Destruction seems to follow Eliana and her wall of anger and defiance seem to be cracking and regrets start seeping in. Foreshadowing builds the suspense to intense levels. The story comes together seamlessly and is exposed throughout the length of the book. Wonderful and complex characters make Furyborn an amazing and exciting fantasy read worthy of 5 stars! I’m already anticipating the second book in the Empirium trilogy!

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier! The book opens with a beautiful map and the prologue begins innocently enough with the introduction of characters and setting. Then it closes with a bang. Chapter one takes place eighteen years later when a map is found suggesting that the two young royal brothers and Lord Antoni may not have perished all those years ago. This introductory book in this series gives us a taste of the intrigue and danger still to come. Mercedes is bold and interesting. Elias is determined and stubborn. I’m looking forward to more character development in the next series installment! 4 stars for this fantasy fiction!

Lizzie by Dawn Ius

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The story of Lizzie Borden with fictional flair!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Lizzie by Dawn Ius! Mystery sums up the prologue with the narrator disoriented and seemingly injured. Chapter one opens five years later. Facts about the historical and infamous Lizzie Borden are scattered throughout the story and some are facts that I wasn’t already aware of, even though I have read a few books about the true story of Lizzie Borden and the mystery surrounding her. The present setting threw me off a bit but it’s because I was expecting a setting in the 1800’s. The more I learn about Lizzie, the more interested I become. The contemporary setting allows for more humor and also the addressing of the controversy surrounding sexual orientation. I don’t want to spoil any parts of the story for future readers. Lizzie is a unique book and adds a little flair to the history the story is based on; 4 stars!

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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A science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne! A science fiction retelling of “Jane Eyre”, Stella is an orphan unloved by her relatives and an engineer dreaming of being a governess. She’s an engineer on a derelict ship, Stalwart, that’s on its last leg. Stella receives notification of being hired on another ship and is on her way to her future. The Rochester holds many mysteries from Stella- a young captain, a possible ghost and ship sabotage. Brightly Burning is one science fiction story that I love! Normally, science fiction is not my favorite but this story has surprises and mysterious happenings that kept me thoroughly interested. Stella is a great heroine, not overbearing or a simpering damsel. A lengthier book would have allowed more character depth but I enjoyed Brightly Burning as is too, 4 stars!

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst

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Perseverance and Friendship!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst! Mayka, a twelve-year-old girl carved out of stone, lives on the mountain with other stone creations carved by her father, a famous stonemason. Her father is no longer alive and when the markings on the stone creatures began to fade and when Turtle no longer moves, Mayka decides to leave the mountain to find a stonemason who can carve the markings anew. She finds greed and danger but also loyalty and friendship on her search and Mayka learns and grows more than she ever realized she could. The Stone Girl’s Story is a sweet tale of hope, friendship and perseverance! 4 stars!

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

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Wonderfully informative and humorous guide to Meditation.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. I chuckled at the Table of Contents and how accurate the section and chapter titles were when applied to human nature. Some of the headings are “I Don’t Have Time for This”, “If I Get Too Happy, I’ll Lose My Edge” and “People Might Think I’m Weird”. So great and opens up the path for humor in its pages. I was excited to discover the app that accompanies the instructional meditation given in this book. The commentary is full of humor and deals with thoughts that swirl through our minds as we try to relax and meditate. Short and easily doable meditations are introduced along with helpful, concise cheat sheets. I love the “RAIN”, “Walking Through Sound” and “Ten Good Breaths”! This quote captures the true essence of this practical and useful book, “Meditation is basically the end of boredom.” I was surprised and disturbed by the results of the study “Pandora’s Box” where people were left alone in a room with no stimulus, except a button that produced an electric shock. Many of the participants chose to give themselves electric shocks because of their discomfort of being quietly alone. Wonderfully informative instructional guide on meditation for anyone who wants to try but is skeptical of meditating, 5 stars!

Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

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A perfect read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser! The sarcastic humor shines right off the beginning of the story. Caro and Markos feel more mature in this sequel to Song of the Current and their worries have taken a toll on them. I enjoyed this book more than the first one and I think it’s because the world building had already been set up and the characters show tremendous growth. I enjoyed the side characters also, with their diverse personalities. Danger, intrigue, twists and interesting characters made me love this book. Diric, the pirate, is endearingly charming with all of his good and bad attributes mixed well together. Fun, adventurous and suspenseful and a perfect read for anyone with an interest in pirates and fantasy. 5 stars!