At Urban Promise Prep school, strict rules keep the students in line, even to the point of harassment. Donations are given to the boys’ school in large amounts but students are told no when they ask for help with extracurricular activity funding. On a day when Principal Moore sent three teens to detention, he ends up being fatally shot and those three young men are blamed. Trey, J.B., and Ramon have to work together to clear their names. They also need help from others to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Likes/dislikes: I liked the mystery and the story behind it. I enjoyed how the suspense built throughout the story. The alternating narrative made the book more interesting. Mature content: PG-13 for implied sex Language: R for 110 swears and 12 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for fatal shooting with description of blood when finding the victim. Ethnicity: mixed-white, Black, Mexican-American
Daphne and Beatriz both receive confirmation of Sophronia’s death. Violie, Sophronia’s maid and unbeknownst spy of Empress Margareaux, helps Leopold escape to safety as she promised Sophronia she would. They meet up with Ambrose and Lord Savelle, who Beatriz freed from prison and Ambrose took on his boat to safety. At the wedding ceremony for Daphne and Bairre, an explosion occurs that kills the Empyria helping the king and now Bairre’s mother becomes the new Empyria. Beatriz and Pasquale end up in Empress Margareaux’s palace while Violie and Leopold are spying on Daphne in Bairre’s kingdom. The four work together to stop the Empress from taking over the continent and killing them all. Beatriz is convinced that their mother, Empress Margareaux, planned to kill all three of her daughters the minute she secured the kingdoms they infiltrated and now she’s trying to convince Daphne of their mother’s betrayal. The intrigue twists, turns and never stops, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the intensity which is stronger than in the first book of this series. The intrigue never ends and it twists and turns as characters change their planned actions. The character variety is entertaining. Ethnicity: predominantly white Language: PG-13 for 10 swears, no f-bombs Mature content: PG for kissing, lgbtq side character Vilence: PG-13 for bloody stabbings, imprisonment, death by an arrow to the neck, poisoning
In the imaginary continent of Vesteria, three princesses celebrate their sixteenth birthday together and mourn their time together. They will be sent off to other kingdoms to marry princes. Each princess will go to a different kingdom and marry the ruler; Sophronia is marrying King Leopold, who treats her kindly along with his family and court; Beatriz is marrying Prince Pasquale and seems unwanted by him but she’s meant to sway Lord Savelle, as her mother instructed; Daphne is marrying Cillian, who dies before she arrives, so the second heir, Bairre, takes his place in marriage. Each princess struggles with who to trust and in completing their set missions for their mother and her ultimate goals. They’re in more danger than they realize and start to see that they can’t rely on their mother for help or love.
Likes/dislikes: I had a difficult time keeping the three princesses and their corresponding kingdoms straight. I like the premise of villainous deception and seeing the changes that took place within the princesses. I enjoyed the side characters of each prince and the diversity amongst the kingdoms.
Mature Content: PG-13 for kissing and drinking wine. Language: PG-13 for 19 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for a beheading. Ethnicity: predominantly white.
Once upon a time, Mer lives in the kingdom of Wales which is full of magic and conflict. Mer is a diviner of magic who wants a peaceful life after she’s escaped from the abusive prince. The spymaster that captured her for the prince years ago offers her a job that will give her revenge on the prince and lots of coin so she can start a new life somewhere safe. She meets the rest of the group that includes a lord’s cousin with a gambling debt, a man who seeks revenge, a man that made a deal with the Otherfolk and a past acquaintance who happens to be an excellent thief. The banter and dynamics keep their journey interesting and the danger builds to intense levels. Mer will have to choose between herself and others and that will help decide her fate and the fate of the kingdom. Incredible world building, 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: The prose is beautiful and the world building is incredible. I love the variety of characters, especially the Corgi dog. I like how this book ties into the author’s book, The Bone Houses. The ethnicity is European. Language: PG for one swear and no f-bombs Violence: PG-13 Bandits burning homes with families inside. A young girl being taken from her family. Fighting to the death. A knife buried by the prince into a spy’s eye. A water horse bites a man in half. A giant magical boar stabs a man with his tusk. Mature Content: PG for kissing.
Charlie Reade lost his mom when he was a young boy and his Dad was so heartbroken that he became an alcoholic and lost his job. Charlie prayed for help and offered to do kind deeds in return for helping his family out. Charlie hears a dog howling and finds the elderly local neighborhood scary guy, Howard Bowditch, hurt. He’s fallen off a ladder and broken his leg. Charlie stays until the ambulance comes and then he promises Mr. Bowditch that he will take care of his dog, Radar, for him. Mr. Bowditch insists that Charlie call him Howard. Before he’s released from the hospital, Howard tells the staff that Charlie is the only person he wants staying at his house while he recovers from surgery. Charlie agrees. Charlie has also fallen in love with Radar and Radar loves him in return and he thinks that’s why Howard trusts him. Charlie helps Howard recover from surgery and gain back the use of his leg. Howard knows that he and Radar are old and their days are numbered. He starts confiding in Charlie, little by little. Charlie takes Howard’s word for it but checks his information out for his own safety and sanity. Howard is healing well until an incident in the shed causes him to overexert his heart. Howard knows he doesn’t have much longer so he records his secrets on a cassette tape for Charlie. What he tells Charlie is unbelievable! Charlie goes on the mission set forth by Howard and he’s tested in every way and learns to believe in magical things. A unique book for Stephen King because it’s more fantasy than horror and it’s written for young adults. I do enjoy his writing! 5 stars for this fairytale with the best main character!
Language: R for 100+ swears and 19+ f-bombs Violence: PG for shooting, electric shock, a giant killing minor characters Mature content: none Likes/dislikes: The writing pulled me in with hints of mystery and foreshadowing. Kind, brave main character and gruff older man help and care for each other and the dog, Radar, bonds them together. I enjoy the mysterious feel throughout the book and Stephen King wields words to encompass the reader! The illustrations are detailed and help bring the story to life. Ethnicity: The setting is the present day America and Other realm and the ethnicities are white and Other realm characters.
Helen travels with her mom and stepdad Simon to Harrow; the place where her maternal family has resided for decades. Her grandfather has died and left Harrow and the responsibility of being the master of the manor and the family to Helen. If she doesn’t agree to stay, everyone in the family will lose their entire inheritance. Mystery surrounds the manor and the family. Several girls have disappeared through the years and it seems that Harrow is in the middle of the suspicion. An old journal is found describing the founder of Harrow, Nicholas Vaughn. In the journal are descriptions of poison and separating body parts of victims to control a being known as the Other. Nicholas wanted power and control and he found both by sacrificing girls to this being. Things have gotten out of control and the power is loose. Helen discovers more than she’s ready for and she wants to stop the violence but she’s going to need help. An unusual story about greed and twisted ideals, 4 stars!
The prologue pulled me right in! Two sisters are trying to get an interview for jobs at the Hotel Magnifique. Jani watches over her younger sister Zosa, since she’s the only family she has left. Their mother died several years ago. Jani wants to go back to their homeland and they need money to travel there. Hotel Magnifique is stopping close by and Jani talks Zosa into interviewing for a job. Secrets surround the hotel and once they’re part of the workforce, they’re separated. Jani is desperate to find her sister and when she does, she’s horrified at how Zosa is being treated. Jani also digs for the truth about how the hotel is run and who’s in charge. Alistair is the lead magician but he’s hiding much and will do anything to protect what he’s gained. Danger builds and mysteries are cracked wide open as Jani tries to save her sister and eventually everyone that’s been used by Alistair for his greedy goals. Family and friends above all, 4 stars!
Serilda enjoys creating stories to tell and embellishing the tales every time she retells them. One snowy night, she hears noises outside her house. She dares to go outside and she sees two moss maidens trying to hide from hunters. Serilda helps them hide but lies to the Erlking to keep them safe. He’s intrigued by her story of being able to spin straw into gold so he sends for her to come to his castle. After that, she’s bound to keep going back to the castle because the Erlking won’t let her go. She meets Gild, who the Erlking classifies as a poltergeist. Gild has the gift of magic that allows him to spin straw into gold. He helps Serilda but requires payment in return each time he helps her. The first two times, Serilda gives him the gifts the moss maidens gave her when she saved them from the Erlking. The third time, she offers her future firstborn child as payment. That is the only thing she has to offer. Gild accepts this offer, so his magic will work. Everything grows more complicated and the people Serilda love become endangered. The Erlking is heartless, cold and brutal. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Gilded is one of the best fairytale retellings I’ve read because Marissa Meyer adds twists and brings original characters to the story. Suspenseful, dangerous and interesting fairytale retelling, 5 stars!
Koffi and her mother are indentured servants at the Night Zoo, which is a prison that the servants can’t seem to escape. The zookeeper continues to add time to their service and they’re kept inside a brick-walled area. One night, the zoo catches on fire and the servants set the animals free and Koffi tries to escape with her mother. Her mother is struck down and Koffi realizes that she’s on her own. Ekon, a soldier, allows her to escape because she saves him from a terrifying creature, the Shetani, but he faces punishment for helping her. The Shetani has been mutilating and killing people for as long as anyone can remember. Koffi meets a kind woman who offers her a job and as she’s heading back to accept the position, she’s attacked by the night zoo manager. Koffi makes a deal with the manager; in exchange for her freedom, she’ll capture the Shetani and return to the night zoo so the creature can be caged and bring curious, paying visitors to the zoo. He agrees. Meanwhile, Ekon plans to find the creature too and bring it back to the temple so the killings can be stopped. Through some mishaps, Koffi and Ekon eventually team up to capture the Shetani and their lives change forever. This is a delightful book to read, two emotionally flawed main characters, the mystery behind the Shetani, African mythology and the unexpected twist at the ending, 5 stars!
Two sisters, Nor and Zadie, are twins and best friends who live in a village where villagers reside in houses on stilts in the ocean. Their mother has planned and prepared for them to be valid princesses so the Elders can choose one of them for the prince’s wife when he’s ready to rule. Nor has a scar on her face caused by a scrape against a blood coral so the villagers assume that Zadie or Alys will be chosen by the Elders. Zadie and Nor have been best friends with Sami since they were young and now Zadie and Sami are in love, so Zadie doesn’t want to leave home. Nor has always wanted to explore the world beyond the village. When Zadie is chosen, she’s desperate to do anything to stay with Sami. After she acts on her desperation, Nor’s life is turned upside down. She travels to New Castle in the mountains far away from home so she can meet and marry the prince who turns out to be cold and unkind. Nor gathers some allies and vows to do everything she can to take care of her family, village and the kingdom she’s going to be the princess of someday. 5 stars for this fantasy involving sibling sacrifice and strength!