Verify by Joelle Charbonneau

Meri misses her mother every day since an accident took her life. She also tries to emulate and understand her mother’s artwork. Meri wants to become an artist too. Her friend Rose was able to help her get an interview to be considered to participate in the City Art Program that Meri’s mother was such a big part of before her death. Meri has a successful interview but notices strange and suspicious things happening around her. Among them, she sees someone drop paper, a traitorous and wasteful act. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she thinks she’s figuring out some of her mother’s painted clues, so she goes to sights that she believes her mother meant for her to go to. She’s given a piece of paper with the word verify written on it and talked to by a young man. She eventually learns what truly happened to her mother and the underground she was a part of in the last eighteen months of her life. Meri falls down the rabbit hole! Action, intrigue and friendship pull the story along, 4 stars and I’m ready to read the sequel, Disclose.

To Whatever End by Lindsey Frydman

Quinn has inherited a curse that follows the females in her family. This curse shows the future but each female’s version is a bit different from the others. Quinn’s mom saw choices and Quinn sees the death of each person she touches. She meets Griffin at the museum and then discovers he’s her new neighbor. He’s moved from states away for a fresh start. Quinn’s vision of Griffin shows his death by a gunshot, in the near future. Quinn struggles to change his fate and the two of them go on a relationship roller coaster. In the meantime, someone is doing cruel things to Griffin and Quinn and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it all. Someone breaks into Griffin’s apartment and smashes his guitar into pieces and later cuts the brake line on his car. The pranks don’t end there. The problem is revealed and Quinn is devastated by what she finds out. The story is an interesting mystery with a touch of romance, 4 stars!

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

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Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells surprised me with its immense world building and strong characters!
Maren and Kaia have a good relationship and Kaia wants to travel and explore when she’s old enough to. Maren plans on traveling with her. Plans change when Kaia is taken as a seer to possibly be a dragon trainer. Maren decides to leave too by telling her parents that she needs to be out on her own and independent. She’s not completely honest with them. She’s planning on rescuing Kaia. She heads to the dragon fortress and asks and then manipulates her estranged uncle for a job. She becomes the new food taster. Maren is noticed by the Aromatory, Neve, who raises baby dragons until they bond with their lords. Neve uses scents to train and appreciates Maren’s ability to pick up scents that most people can’t detect. While working, Maren meets Sev, who seems friendly but with a hidden story of his own. Things progress and Maren and Sev find each other running away to escape capture and probably death. They decide to help each other and end up discovering so much more about the empire than they ever could have guessed! The ending left me worried about the characters and their safety and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Storm the Sky. A fantasy adventure that will take you for a ride, 5 stars!

All These Monsters by Amy Tintera

In a world being endangered by scrabs (human killing creatures), Clara is ready to do anything to get away from her abusive father, so she decides to join a scrab fighting army. The privately funded army has recruits across the globe. Clara goes to Paris and London with her team. She trains, battles scrabs and builds relationships. One of her relationships turns out toxic while others feel like she belongs to a good family. Dynamics between characters and the world-building create a mix of intrigue, danger and suspense. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger so I’m struggling to wait for the second book of this duology. 5 stars for a dangerous adventure ride!

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Ominous and intense!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus!
Twins, Ellery and Ezra, travel to their Nana’s home to stay while their mother is in rehab. They’ve known about their aunt Sarah’s mysterious disappearance for a long time and when they get to Echo Ridge, they get more than they bargained for. Another young woman went missing five years ago and now new threats are popping up right before a new teen comes up missing. The story is ominous and becomes suspenseful when danger becomes reality. Endearing characters and a creepy killer sum up this book, 5 stars!

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

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Impressive mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Margaret McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick!
The book begins in August as Anna is being questioned by the police about Zoe Spanos, a young woman who has been missing for two months and looks similar to Anna. Then, the story moves back to June when Anna starts her nanny job. Little by little, Anna meets members of the community and gets to know the neighborhood. The story of Anna alternates with the local podcast, Missing Zoe, created by a Spanos family friend. The podcast explores the investigation into Zoe and her disappearance. The story keeps moving between June when Anna started her job as a nanny in Herron Mills and August when she was arrested for the manslaughter of Zoe. People tend to act strangely around Anna and she starts to wonder why. She knows it’s not just from how she looks. The mystery and questions about Zoe’s disappearance build ominously until the very end of the book. Complicated and fascinating in each part and with all of the characters, I Killed Zoe Spanos weaves a complex, twisty mystery that’s worth a full 5 stars!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Surprise ending!
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

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More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 5 stars!

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka

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Interesting and unique story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka!
Sabine has lost her mother and is now on her own. She’s attending art school and has great talent. She’s attending due to a scholarship but her art teacher is harsh and without his recommendation, she won’t keep her scholarship and will have to drop out of school. Sabine gets conned into practicing and perfecting her artistic skills by secretly painting a replica of her tough professor’s painting, that has yet to be revealed. This painting has already been sold for almost a million dollars but when it’s put out for the art exhibition, Sabine knows it’s not the professor’s painting but her copy because she can see her flaws. She’s devastated and realizes she was tricked and now she’s going to be the fall guy because the con man has fled. The story touches on homelessness and college students who struggle to make ends meet. The author has given information about homelessness in her ending notes. Riveting suspense and food for thought. 4 stars!

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Interesting characters wrapped up in intrigue!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!
Witchcraft is forbidden in Aurelia’s kingdom and the story opens as she’s sadly watching two women hang for performing witchcraft. Aurelia has performed her share of magic, even though she’s the princess. She’s being sent away to Achleva to marry the prince. In his kingdom, magic is allowed. Along the way, a plot is revealed and she escapes on her own. She disguises herself as a maid and meets other commoners, befriends them and helps them. Someone is trying to break seals and release dark magic and they finally discover who has been breaking them, only after they’ve lost a wonderful friend. I love the part when the prince stands up to the king, speaking the truth about the seal breaker. The king’s reaction raises suspicion. Some of the transitions could be more clear between reality and Aurelia’s visions but for the most part, the visions add depth to the plot. Aurelia loses people she loves and she discovers her true origins. Unpredictable and entertaining, Bloodleaf kept me riveted to the end, 4 stars!