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!

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

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Interesting mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Publishing for the chance to read and review The Leaving by Tara Altebrando!
The story opens with the anticipation of people returning after being gone for eleven years, alternating between various points of view from the teens returning, individually and as a group, and their family members. Six kindergarten students were taken and five returned eleven years later with absolutely no memory of where they’ve been. Investigators and search parties found no evidence eleven years ago to help find the children but now, with the returned teens help and a few others, the investigation is making progress. The Leaving tells a tale of “what if?”, while addressing a controversial topic. 4 stars for this interesting mystery.

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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A swashbuckling read!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo!
Lira is a siren that steals someone’s heart every year for her birthday. Lira captures a Prince while her cousin Kahlia steals a queen. The Midasan prince is introduced next, Prince Elian. This prince has two lives- one in the castle and one as a pirate, captain of his own ship and crew and a siren hunter. Lira will take her mother’s place as the Sea Queen someday, but in the meantime her mother is cruel and abusive. The Sea Queen punishes Lira for being kind and weak by turning her human and leaving her stranded in the ocean. Elian and his crew rescue Lira, thinking she’s an orphan that’s lost her family to drowning, but they are wary about her story. Elian’s goal is to kill the Prince’s Bane- the siren that kills princes. Elian has no idea that the Prince’s Bane is Lira and she’s keeping her background hidden from the crew and everyone they come in contact with. As Elian works toward his goal, he makes deals along the way with separate princesses and a slave trader. Eventually, Elian and his crew start to trust Lira because of the loyalty she’s shown by saving Elian’s life. Lira’s goal is to take over as Sea Queen and rid the world of her monstrous, manipulative mother and she hopes for peace as an end result. To Kill a Kingdom bursts with action, adventure and intrigue. This fantasy full of magic creates an amazing world with unique characters and backgrounds of their own. A wonderfully fun read worth a swashbuckling 5 stars!

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

A reading delicacy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf!
The story opens with three damsels meeting the King, Queen and Prince Lucien as they are tested to become a possible new addition to the royal palace in the form of a bride for Prince Lucien. Zera is one of these supposed damsels, but she’s actually indebted to the witch, Nightsinger, who took her heart in exchange for saving her life three years ago from the murderers who killed Zera’s family. Nightsinger has two others indebted to her,Peligli , a four year old girl and Crav, a boy younger than Zera. The three of them are Nightsinger’s Heartless and they do her bidding. She keeps their hearts until she wants to free them herself. If she dies, they will be free then too. Zera is supposed to be winning the Prince over so she can take his heart and make him a Heartless also. I love Zera with her coping skills and sense of humor and Prince Lucien is interesting too. I enjoy Sara Wolf’s writing style, with the clever wit that keeps me entertained and the complexity of her characters that always make her stories hard to put down. This is the first fantasy from Sara Wolf that I’ve read and I’m greatly impressed. Just as the author dreamed of writing a grand, sweeping and unforgettable fantasy trilogy, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the beginning of it. The action, adventure and dynamic characters make a must-read fantasy, 5 stars!

 

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

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Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins and Harper Teen continues right after the demons almost caught the group of Nephilim on the island. The demons are discussing traitors and set up a demon meeting. They suspect Anna and her father of rebellion and plan to take them down. She is constantly running to keep safe. Kaidan is sent by the demons to take care of Anna and if he doesn’t, they will kill him. The only way they can be safe together and keep Anna righteous for the sword, is by getting married. The rebellion Nephilim become closer and become true, loyal friends while they help each other survive. Everything comes to a head and suspense and intensity build as the rebels find out who’s on their side and who’s against them. 5 stars for the touching end to the Sweet Evil trilogy!

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Summer Of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix!
I love the color coordinated cover that matches the title perfectly! Avery is a spoiled, entitled teenager whose father is forcing her to travel to Spain with him for his business trip during her summer vacation. He wants Avery to have a companion so she’s not lonely on the trip. He chooses a girl from her childhood playmates, Kayla. Avery hasn’t spent time with Kayla in years, so things are awkward and uncomfortable. Kayla does her best to get out of her comfort zone and explore the area where they’re staying. Avery pouts and is a party pooper but she’s in for a few shocks that she’s not remotely prepared for. I enjoyed learning about historical sites and the memorials discussed and seeing how Avery and Kayla reacted to them. This book also addresses controversial issues and explains and explores both sides of these issues. Intelligent and eye-opening, Summer of Broken Things is a thought-provoking realistic fiction read for young adults-4 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!