Cinderella’s Shoes by Shonna Slayton

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A lovely historical fiction book!
Cinderella’s Shoes by Shonna Slayton opens as the ceremony moving the protection responsibility from Aunt Elsie to Kate is performed by Princess Kolodenko. Kate is now ward of Cinderella’s three dresses but the shoes have been lost. Kate gets the chance to travel to Europe with the royal family and teach Princess Nessa everything she knows about the dresses. Nessa has no respect for the dresses and she’s frivolous with them. After getting to Europe, Kate travels to Poland with Lidka, who Kate isn’t sure about trusting. Princess Kolodenko shares a secret about the shoes with Kate before she leaves for Poland to meet Malwinka, a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, who supposedly has the shoes. Once Kate and Lidka reach Poland, things become frightening and magical. A lovely historical fiction book that explains much of what the story of Cinderella left out. 5 stars!

Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

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Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!

Scream All Night by Derek Milman

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Scream All Night by Derek Milman tells the story of emancipated seventeen-year-old Dario, who goes back home for his elderly father’s live funeral. Within the first chapter, Dario gets an odd call from his brother Oren, receives an invitation from an old friend Hayley, attends a party/live funeral for his father, talks to his father then watches an accidental explosion, taking his father with it- all with a sad, dry, dysfunctional humor! Characters are introduced and the will is read, leaving Dario in charge of his father’s movie studio. Moldavia Studios encompasses the mansion and the property surrounding it and that’s where the movie making has taken place. The story gets stuck on how badly the studios have been losing money and Oren’s failures and psychedelic tendencies, which slow down the book tremendously and there’s really no horror involved, even though the synopsis stated otherwise. 3 stars for the imaginative setting!

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

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Fast moving and action-packed!
In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken intensifies as the danger amps up in this third book of the Darkest Minds series. Liam’s memories are clear once again and his brother Cole continues to hide the fact that he himself is a Red. Cole doesn’t want everyone to be afraid of his powers, shun him and refuse to follow his lead. Liam, Ruby, Chubs and Zu are actually back together but their little group isn’t alone and they have to figure out how to work with the dynamics of a bigger group. The intense plot continues and more characters are introduced and brought into the action. Fast moving and action packed describe this book, 5 stars!

And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!

Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy

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Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy is a twist on a beloved fairy tale.
The prologue grabbed me with shock and fright and built my interest in the book, even more than the synopsis already had. Brielle lives with her grandmother, who’s a healer and is training Brielle to be a healer also. A few deaths have occurred and the victims have been horribly mutilated. Brielle has been having dreams about gruesome murders and when she discovers that those same victims actually have been killed, she begins to suspect that her dreams are visions. Knights have come to capture the beast that’s been killing people and the villagers are sure that the knights can rid them of this horrible beast. In the meantime, Raul (a wanderer) and Kenrick (a knight) show their feelings for Brielle and she reciprocates their feelings without even realizing and then she wonders how she can care for both of them. The tale twists and turns and grows as everything comes to light. An interesting play on a beauty and the beast type story, 4 stars!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas is a book full of celebration and healing. Fun and lighthearted sums up the majority of this book, with the Solstice celebration and its traditions and the jovial manner of the way the Night Court members treat one another. I laughed at the snowball fight scene because I thought it was adorable and funny! Backstories are shared, which helps us understand the characters at a deeper level, with a sneak peek of the next book included at the end. 5 stars for this fun addition to A Court of Thorns and Roses series!

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, an exquisite addition to A Court of Thorns and Roses series! Feyre is residing in the Spring Court once again, for the sake of gathering helpful information for the Night Court. She’s hiding her true memories and feelings and has created false stories to help Spring Court residents think that Rhysand treated her horribly. This way, the Spring Court won’t suspect anything. Feyre plays her part extremely well, causing contention between Tamlin, Lucien, Ianthe and the sentries who began to lose respect for Tamlin and Ianthe. Feyre manages to get back to the Night Court and to Rhysand, with Lucien. The two of them helping each other’s survival against the Autumn Court heirs who are trying to kill Lucien and Feyre. Feyre is once again home with her Mate and friends. Now, together they must conquer Hybern and its king, who wants to control everything for his own benefit. Feyre and the rest of the Night Court finally figure out what happened to Nesta and Elain when Hybern used the Cauldron to turn the two of them into Fae. Nesta is connected to the Cauldron and can sense when it’s being used and Elain has become a seer. A menagerie of wonderfully interesting characters ally with the Night Court and together they take on Hybern and it’s king and all his evil. This third book in The Court of Thorns and Roses thrills just as much as the first two with action, romance and the beautifully created world that Feyre resides in. 5 stars!

 

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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A young adult mean girl mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review People Like Us by Dana Mele!
Kay and her group of friends find a body floating in the water when they go on their annual Halloween night jump in the lake. They realize that it’s a classmate and it looks like she’s slashed her wrists. Kay and her group of friends act entitled and insensitive. They also seem to be untrusting and possibly untrustworthy. They are the embodiment of mean girls. Kay is the main character dealing with death in her recent past and guilt about those deaths. Since she started attending the Bates boarding school, she’s truly become spiteful and petty, making decisions from bad to worse. When murder occurs, Kay is forced to step back and evaluate her actions, who she is and who she wants to become. There’s a bit of a twist and the bulk of the book deals with Kay’s background and her relationships with everyone, from family to friends to acquaintances. A young adult mean girl mystery, 4 stars!

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 stars!