The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

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The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu tells the story of Mozart and his older sister Nannerl when they were children and the fantastical world they discover together through their musical talent. I absolutely love how Marie Lu based this story on sources she found while reading about Mozart. She discovered that he did have a sister and they shared compositions along with their love of music, as well as their co-created stories of the Kingdom of Back. The historical based story fascinates me and I enjoyed every minute reading this fantasy. The struggles Nannerl dealt with because of the day and age she was born in were unfair but she persevered as much as she could. I love this story and give it a full 5 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!

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

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That ending was so much more than I expected!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz!
After the king dies in battle, his best friend makes a bonding vow with the queen to protect her and the royal heir, as well as search for the magical documents and sacred scrolls that have been missing. He has pledged his life and his heir’s life to the queen until the scrolls are found and returned. Eighteen years later, we meet Shadow and Caledon Holt (he’s the best friend’s son, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon and the Queen’s assassin). Shadow is exploring around the Abbey when Caledon saves her life by killing her would-be assassin. The bad thing is that the man Caledon kills is the queen’s brother-in-law, Prince Alast. Alast proves himself a traitor, which is shocking to Caledon. The Queen sends Caledon to Deersia Prison to appease the public and keep the traitorous evidence secret. She wants Caledon to spy and find out where the traitors stem from. Shadow catches a ride to Deersia prison as a stowaway and finds Cal and helps him escape. They move onto Montrice to discover if there’s a spy conspiring against their kingdom and Queen. Shadow and Cal are fun, dynamic characters that work together well but drive each other crazy too. I enjoyed the humor in this book as well as the intrigue and magic. The ending left me ready to read the sequel! 5 stars!

Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

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Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning. The story begins fifty years after Sea Witch. Evie is known as the Sea Witch and sea residents go to her for magic and to have their wishes fulfilled. Runa’s twin sibling, Alia, wished to become human so she could marry the prince. Runa begs for the help of Evie so she can bring her sister back home. Complications arise under the sea and on dry land. Deception, manipulation, and revenge tell this story, 4 stars!

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess!
Now that Blackwood and Nettie are engaged, they are able to fully work together. They move to Blackwood’s estate, Sorrow Fell, and Nettie discovers the curse that goes along with the stolen Fae dwelling. The Blackwood bride deteriorates for decades. Blackwood becomes Imperator and the power changes him and not in a good way. He craves honor, love and acceptance, which he never received from his parents. He yearns to control everything and this puts a wall between himself and Nettie. As the Ancients get closer, the sorcerers, magicians and witches struggle with leadership and the possibility of working together. This third and last book of the series contains more emotional upheavals and ups and downs, as well as great character development! Jessica Cluess has proven herself as a wonderful fantasy author and I would love to read this series again, 5 stars!

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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I love this cover!

Sea Witch, by Sarah Henning, opens as three young children play together and one ends up gravely injured. The story jumps to their teen years, the present time in this setting, when the Prince turns sixteen and the kingdom celebrates. Prince Nik and his best friend Evie dance and remember their third friend that is no longer with them. I like the alternating between the present time, and four years earlier around the time tragedy strikes, because it gives insight into the characters and their backgrounds and builds suspense. As the village prepares to celebrate, a young woman named Annamette appears. She confides in Evie her secrets and deepest wishes. This is where complications begin. With magic, royalty and the sea, problems brew and lives change drastically. Sea Witch is the beginning of transformation and the ending of innocence and freedom for Evie, 5 stars!

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

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Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Night Country!
The sequel to The Hazel Wood has danger, deception, and characters struggling to find purpose in this world. When murders occur, the Ex-story characters try to stick together for safety and strength. Alice feels that she’s being blamed and, after she’s attacked, she vows to capture whoever or whatever is harming others. Mysterious and twisty, The Night Country weaves worlds, characters, and creators into a fight for life, 4 stars!

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Mysterious happenings in the past!
Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert!
Alice and her mom have led a transient lifestyle and they’re the only people that they trust and feel close to. That changes when Ella, Alice’s mom goes missing. Alice needs help finding her, so she asks rich boy, Ellery Finch, for help. Little by little, Alice confides in Ellery and he’s there for her one hundred percent. Ellery is a huge fan of Althea Proserpine, Alice’s grandmother and famous, mysterious author. So Ellery helps as a friend but also out of curiosity and awe. Together they discover the danger surrounding Althea’s writings and the truth behind them. The closer Alice and Ellery get to the Hazel Wood, the more the stories come to life. Both of them get sucked in to the Hinterland and its tales, changing their lives and who they are. The Hazel Wood weaves a mysterious, fantastic story, 4 stars!

Tragedy of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy

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Thanks to Month9Books for the opportunity to read and review Tragedy of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy! Brielle feels that she’s being tormented by lost souls and she’s warned that dark magic is surrounding her. She has lost her best friend, her home and the ghosts of her victims are haunting her. Raul tries to protect her but then he becomes the target of his sister’s greed for power and her strong dark magic. Yalena uses Raul to help her find a powerful book that will gain access to the Nether, where a powerful demon resides. Yalena wants this power for her own. She forces Raul into a blood curse so Yalena won’t harm Brielle but this curse causes much more harm to Brielle, Raul and many others that he never planned on. In the meantime, Kenrick’s brother Daedric, shows up looking for Kenrick. He discovers how he’s been pulled into the Nether and Brielle shares what she’s learned about how residing in the Nether warps souls and makes them dark. Brielle and Daedric vow to go to the Nether to save Kenrick. It’s a race to see who gets to the Nether first! The way the book ends, I believe the author has more story to tell. Rebekah L. Purdy, the author, has continued writing despite her very difficult time and her family’s tragedy. My heart goes out to her. 4 stars ⭐️.

Entwined Paths by M.L. Greye

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The prologue for Entwined Paths, by M. L. Greye, is intense and thrilling with Declan and Emry running for their lives. It turns out that Emry was having a dream. A dream that truly happened years before. The story jumps to five years ago and tells how Emry ended up as an emissary to Trezim’s kingdom. While in Heerth, she learns to speak their language and to defend herself. Declan is on guard duty and he’s just getting through his days. In the meantime, people are being taken from the borders and forced to fight for their lives. The kidnapped men and women are called the Stolen. Declan ends up being one of the Stolen. Declan and Emry continuously have dreams involving each other, unbeknownst to both of them. They fall in love through their dream interactions. As time passes, they both conquer much and when they finally meet again, it’s phenomenal! The ending is just the beginning for these two, 5 stars ⭐️!