Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Menagerie of Japanese characters!
Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa!
The book opens with a thousand-year-old legend of a sword known as Godslayer. Tatsumi wielded this sword when it contained the demon Hakaimono. Since then, the demon has possessed Tatsumi, who continues to fight for survival against Hakaimono. Yumeko continues her mission to the Steel Feather Temple but has been waylaid with her companions to try to save Tatsumi, even though a pact was made centuries ago that if Haikaimono possessed a person, that person would be killed to stop destruction that the demon might cause. As everyone tries to thwart the demon’s plans, he shows his power and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. The plot twists as the rivalry changes and the enemy of both becomes the focus of all. Genno, the demon who wants the scroll pieces so he can summon a Kami for the wish to rule all, will be the focus of the third book in this trilogy. At times, Yumeko seems a bit dim but then she manages to pull off some amazing feats, with the help and inspiration of others; go teamwork! I also found myself struggling to keep names and descriptions straight and I’m sure that’s because I need to learn more about the Japanese culture. 4 stars for a Japanese fantasy full of a menagerie of characters!

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

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Fun, intrigue, mystery, supernatural and sci-fi rolled into one!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!
Two teenage girls, Evie and Heidi, go into an all-inclusive club and while one is having fun dancing the other one is being interrogated by Luc, who’s being extremely rude. Evie isn’t the least bit impressed with Luc and tells him so. The club gets raided and Luc takes Evie to hide inside a closet with him, claiming to be protecting her. She realizes the next day that she’s lost her phone and it’s probably at the club. She heads back to retrieve her phone, to no avail and from there, the acquaintance with Luc grows into more. In the meantime, the Luxen invasion is described and Origins are explained. Luc and Evie are fun characters, each with distinct personalities and I thoroughly enjoy their banter. This story contains several mysteries, which build then unfold throughout the book. I love the author’s writing and have devoured her realistic fiction novels, The Problem with Forever and If There’s No Tomorrow. The Darkest Star is the first supernatural novel of hers that I’ve read and it’s just as awesome, showing how talented Jennifer L. Armentrout is! Even though many mysteries come into the light, there are still unanswered questions at the ending which leads the reader into the next book, The Burning Shadow. Supernatural mystery earning a solid 5 stars!

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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Interesting characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa! Suki has been sent to the Palace of the Sun to work as a maid. Suki has been helping in her father’s flute shop but he sent her to the Palace to have a secure living so she’ll be taken care of when he passes away. She becomes a maid of the Emperor’s concubine, Lady Satomi; a beautiful but cruel lady. The concubine’s maids seem to keep running away or disappearing and we quickly find out why; she’s sacrificing her maids to a demon as pay for a favor that she wants in return. Next, we meet Yumeko, the prankster fox-girl that lives with monks as they guard a secret, part of the Dragon prayer. The third chapter introduces a Shadow Clan warrior that guards and yields an important weapon that houses a demon. This warrior has been sent to destroy two monsters. Chapter by chapter, characters are introduced and the stakes rise. Everyone wants the Dragon Scroll and death doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. The Fox girl and warrior are working together to find information about the scroll. Little does the warrior know that Yumeko has the scroll the entire time. If he knew, he wouldn’t think twice about killing her. The two of them keep saving each other and are now in each other’s debt. Along their travels, the two of them meet interesting characters, a rogue and a demon warrior, among others. Shadow of the Fox is beautifully told in the style of Japanese mythology. Intriguing characters kept me reading to the end and the epilogue made me anxious for the next book in the series, 5 stars!

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Harlequin teen. The book opens with Lena disoriented and barely waking up while hearing a voice say she’s a fighter and that will make her mother happy. She soon falls asleep after a nurse administers more medication to her. The story backs up to when Leah is looking forward to senior year and spending time with her crush, her best friend and her neighbor, Sebastian. Sebastian and Lena have a comfortable, relaxed relationship and always have until the day she gives him a quick kiss and that’s when things turn awkward. A few days later, Sebastian is back to treating Lena as a friend, as he normally does. They go to a party and he throws Lena into the pool, clothes and all. She gets angry at Sebastian and sits and talks to her friends. That’s the last thing she remembers when she wakes up in ICU after the accident. Her mom and sister Lori tell her that Cody was driving and Megan, Phillip and Chris were in the SUV also. Lena is the only survivor. Now Lena is reeling from the aftermath of the accident, her injuries, knowing she should have been driving because she was the only one sober and survivor’s guilt. With the help of a loving family, loyal and caring friends and a very capable therapist, Lena starts to face the realization of her choices and the fatalities of the accident. If There’s No Tomorrowtells a powerful story and sends a strong message to all of us, 5 stars for this deep thinking realistic fiction novel!

The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

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A solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest!
The story picks up right where The Black Witch left off. The Resistance works together trying to figure out how to keep their ‘unsavory’ friends safe. The prose flows smoothly and focuses on characters’ situations. An all-encompassing fantasy with a mystery that is foreshadowed throughout the series but left hidden from its readers, keeps the suspense going. Elloren and her friends are fighting for freedoms that are being taken away piece by piece. Fierce loyalty and friendship bond many different types of people and bring them together to fight against genocide and towards freedom. The Iron Flower adds much to this fantasy series and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment already; a solid 5 stars for the wonderful, complex world of the Black Witch!

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

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Full of magic!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Black Witch by Laurie Forest!
Elloren and her brothers, Rafe and Trystan, have lived with their Uncle Edwin since a Keltic attack killed their parents years ago. He treats them well. Uncle Edwin is also very protective of Elloren and wants her to have every advantage in life that her brothers have, but he’s also hiding information about Elloren’s abilities. A missing girl calls for Elloren through a Watcher, a perceptive white bird, and gives her the mythical White Wand. Sage, the missing young woman, fears for her baby’s safety and she claims that the Council is coming for him because they believe he’s evil, then she disappears into the forest once again. Elloren visits Aunt Vyvian, keeping the White Wand a secret. Aunt Vyvian wants to use Elloren for her own political goals while she attends University and she wants Elloren to be wandfasted (engaged) immediately to the young man of Aunt Vyvian’s choosing. Elloren is in danger everywhere she goes and suffers several attacks her first day at University. It seems that she’s assumed by everyone to be prejudice just like her famous grandmother, the Black Witch, who Elloren resembles completely. Elloren’s eyes are opened to the prejudices and violence in her world and Aunt Vyvian is at the top of the worst of it. The dynamics of the characters build the story line into intrigue and complexity. Genocide is threatening on the horizon and Elloren forms loyal relationships with many people who she’s been taught not to trust. I’ve grown to care about these characters and I’m anxious to read the sequel, The Iron Flower. 5 stars for this fantasy full of magic!

Inferno by Julie Kagawa

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Inferno by Julie Kagawa! The fifth and final book of the Talon Saga opens with our heroes in the jungle, searching for a hope to help them fight against Talon’s clone forces. They discover Ouroboros, a centuries old dragon that believes Talon should fall. Once again, the story alternates through the points of view of Ember, Garret, Riley and Dante. This quote from Inferno is something all of us need to take to heart, “Words couldn’t hurt you; as long as you didn’t believe them, they meant nothing.” Put in present tense: words can’t hurt you; as long as you don’t believe them, they mean nothing; this quote becomes a mantra for helping us deal with the bombardment of negativity surrounding us daily. For some reason, negative comments seem to stick with us so much more strongly than positive comments. As I read Inferno, I stopped and realized how this book pulled me in just as the first four books of this series had, with suspense, intrigue, bravery, interesting characters and complete world building. I’m invested in the characters, to the very last page! Resolution, grief, determination, loyalty, friendship and love round out the Talon saga and build it into a fantasy that I plan on revisiting in its entirety, 5 stars!

Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross! Lulu is best friends with Jek, Jayesh Emerson Kapoor, who’s a scientific genius. It seems that someone named Hyde has stolen Jek’s bank account information and Lulu wants to get to the bottom of it. This guy Hyde also paid off a teenage girl that he presumably assaulted and people are talking about him and not at all in a good way. Lulu, with the rest of the community, is trying to figure out who Hyde really is and how he’s connected to Jek, especially since Hyde seems to be wreaking havoc and ultimately commits murder. When Lulu discovers the mystery of all that is Hyde, her life changes forever. 5 stars for this engaging young adult mystery with an ending that leaves space for the imagination!
*I received a complimentary copy for voluntary consideration

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout! If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The story opens with Lena waking up and not knowing where she is. Time moves backward. Lena keeps to herself and has more than a crush on her neighbor, Sebastian. She’s kind of a homebody and enjoys reading. We get to see into all aspects of Lena’s life and the choices she makes. My heart stopped a few times during the story because of suspense. It also stopped because of the fear of what happened to Lena and her friends and, for a while, not knowing which friends were involved in the accident. This heartfelt story teaches us that we’re all capable of making mistakes and wrong choices and we’re also capable of healing. We also need people to help us overcome and handle grief. 5 stars for another great young adult book from Jennifer L. Armentrout!

I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

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I received a paperback copy of Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody through a Goodreads giveaway and I also received an ARC from Harlequin Teen and NetGalley. Everything is a bit confusing with the descriptions of the illusions as the story begins. Sorina creates illusions, she’s the daughter of a freakshow master and she has no eyes. Her family members are actually all illusions created by Sorina. The illusions act as real people do and they are leading their own lives. Someone starts killing the illusions and investigations begin. People are accused and finally the killer is found. The writing conventions are done well, but I just had a difficult time with and understanding the concept and world building of the story. 3 stars.