The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A powerful, authentic read!

Starr lives in a rough part of town and after one of her best friends gets shot in a drive by shooting when they’re ten, Starr’s parents have her attend a private school that’s safer. Now Starr is sixteen and she witnesses her other childhood friend getting fatally shot by a police officer. Her friend did nothing to provoke the shooting. This is a powerful novel about much more than racism. It’s also about choices, bravery, integrity and helping others. This book has a lot of swearing which is authentic to the lifestyle of the character’s surroundings but the message of empowerment makes it a must read. 5 stars for a novel that will stick with me.

Likes/dislikes:
I liked how the author shows reality and brings her characters to life to make the readers care about them. I like that two different worlds are brought together by two teens living in both and experiencing the stark differences in each. Character development is abundant and bravery and integrity are a huge factor in the main character’s life and family. I love how the main character’s family is open to discussing everything instead of keeping secrets from each other.
Mature content: PG-13
Underage drinking, marijuana use
Page 81 foreplay (boyfriend touching of girlfriend’s pubic region)
Page 376 arousal (the boyfriend had a bulge in his pants when he kissed his girlfriend)
Violence: PG-13
Fatal Shooting at a party. Police brutality and fatal shooting of a teen male. Riots, gang beatings, starting fires.
Language: R for 100+ swears and 54 f-bombs

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-hate-u-give

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Tugged at my heart!

Edie has been in foster care for three years since her mom passed away. Her mother’s sister, Norah, brings her to their home as her new guardian to improve her. Norah and her daughters, Maria and Julia, make it their mission to improve Edie through makeovers, new clothes and unsolicited advice. Edie doesn’t feel like she belongs or is even wanted other than as a project for them. Her long ago friend, crush and first kiss, Sebastian, lives next door but he has a girlfriend, Claire. Claire’s brother Henry is a player and he’s showing interest in Edie. Edie doesn’t trust him until he shows her that he’s actually a nice, sweet guy that truly cares for her. The relationship they build helps ease crush pains. She learns a lot about herself through her relationship with Henry and grows as a person. This book is more than I expected and it tugged at my heart. 5 stars!

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

Jam-packed with action!

A young woman is searching for evidence of her mother in unmarked graves. Sloane knows that the Nightwalkers are responsible for her mother’s disappearance and she wants the proof. She’s caught by a Nightwalker and attacked. She unleashes her Scion power to save herself and burns him to ash in the process. Her identity as a Scion has to be kept secret or the rulers will kill her. She runs home to her grandfather, Baba. He has news that one of her friends ran from the draft and was killed because of it. Now three more people will be sent draft letters. She’s one of them, along with her best friend Teo. Teo has saved money and planned for the two of them to run if they are drafted. He shows Sloane his plan but she knows he’ll get killed if they run. To get him to drop his plans, Sloane threatens to turn him in. He walks off. Sloane is drafted, along with her bully Malachi. Malachi hates Sloane and wants revenge on her because she accidentally killed his family in a fire that she started. As the story continues, Sloane discovers secrets about her mother, finds possible allies and learns that not everyone is as they seem or appear to be. She also has to lose some of her humanity and empathy to sacrifice and do her part in becoming a hardened soldier. So many surprises and twists pop up in this book, making it a fast-paced read that’s also jam-packed with action and acts of violence. Sloane’s world is brutal and she makes some horrible choices to stay alive. 4 stars!

Beasts and Beauty by Soman Chainani

Fairytale retellings anthology!

Fairytale retellings in quick snippets!
Cleverly retold fairytale shorts. I think my favorites are the Cinderella and the Hansel and Gretel retellings because they both have wonderful twists in the storyline. 4 stars!

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi

Reads like an old-fashioned fairytale!

Alizeh is alone in the world, hiding her true identity and living as an overworked servant. She’s Jinn and has ice in her veins. She’ll be in danger if anyone discovers who she is because she’ll be seen as a threat to the human king. Kamran, the young prince, sees Alizeh help a homeless thief and is intrigued by her actions. The more he observes her, the more curious he becomes. The king, Kamran’s grandfather, sees that the prince is interested in the girl so he explains that their kingdom’s peace is at stake if they let her live. He orders Kamran to put her to death and then be ready to attend the planned ball the next evening and choose a wife. Alizeh works as a seamstress after her servant hours are finished for the day. She’s helping Miss Huda with several gowns. Alizeh is exhausted and after she leaves Miss Huda, she’s attacked by six men. She warns them but they laugh at her so she subdues them with the only weapons she has available, seamstress needles and scissors. Afterwards, she’s approached by a man who has been searching for her and wanting to protect her from harm. He sees the attack and knows she can protect herself. He offers her assistance and safety. He will take her away at the ball the following night. He also gives her a nosta, a rare orb that warms in your hand when the truth is told and chills like ice when a lie appears. This man’s identity is a surprising twist to the story! Huzzah!!!
The action takes over and another twist is revealed, ending the book with a bang! I can hardly stand to wait for the next book! Elegant storytelling, 5 stars!

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Not what I was expecting!

This is a historical fiction book about a serial killer in 1958 that’s committing the Bloodless Murders. Police find a fifteen year old girl among the latest victims and she’s unharmed but drenched in blood. This is a story told from an observer’s point of view and the observer becomes friends with one of the accused murderers. At the latest victims’ home, Marie is captured by police when she’s found standing by the bodies. Once she’s in custody, she’ll only talk to the sheriff’s son Michael. Michael tells this story that really leaves more questions than answers. I wanted the mystery to be solidly solved and to know if Marie committed these murders on her own or if she really was being trained by an older man. I can see her being delusional and thinking there’s someone with her or being vague to throw suspicion off of herself. Then the ending…? 3.5 stars for a truly atmospheric experience that made me feel like I had been transported to the late 1950’s and the characters that pulled the tale along!

The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine

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Purely enjoyable!
Thanks to Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine, book four of the Ravenspire series. The books in this series are more companion books than sequels. Blue works with her father at the family store and she’s in the process of turning lead into gold with alchemy. Blue wants to help the homeless and poverty-stricken people in the kingdom with the gold she hopes to create. Kellan is next in line to rule the kingdom and he doesn’t enjoy the politics or having to watch his back constantly, but he does enjoy a bit of danger and fun. Dinah is losing her empire and needs money since her husband lost everything due to his gambling habit. She’s discovered that Blue is trying to make gold and Dinah wants Blue to work for her so she can claim everything Blue does. Blue’s life has been turned upside down because of Dinah’s actions, making Blue a Cinderella of sorts. Blue overhears Dinah talking loudly with someone she owes money too and she decides to help Dinah’s daughters, so they won’t be taken to pay off their family debt. Little does she know that Dinah planned for Blue to hear the conversation all along. Dinah’s manipulative nature and Blue’s integrity come to fisticuffs as the action and suspense rise. I enjoy Blue’s and Kellan’s relationship and how they’re both very stubborn. Princess Nessa is a young, extremely brave soul. The characters round out this fantasy and I enjoyed every minute reading this book, 5 stars!

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

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These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch is a pirating adventure full of conspiracy! The prologue introduces our three main characters: Ben, Lu and Vex. Chapter One starts six years later when Ben and Vex are nineteen and Lu is seventeen. Ben is royalty, Vex is a pirate and Lu was a warrior, now turned politician. Lu and Vex work together to find a missing diplomat and settle the peace in their country. I enjoy the personalities of Lu, Vex and Nayeli, who is part of Vex’s crew. I never really felt empathy or interest for Ben until his friend Jakes shows him the truth about the kingdom. After that moment, twists pop up and I couldn’t stop reading until I finished the book! These Rebel Waves contains characters with depth and humor. They were very fun to read about and I’m looking forward to the sequel, These Divided Shores. 4 stars!

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

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Perfect mix of action, loyalty and humor.
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine is the first book of the Ravenspire series. Lorelai’s mother, the Queen, died when Lorelai was very young. The King, Lorelai and her brother Leo suffered with sadness and nightmares. Lorelai’s and Leo’s maternal aunt, Irina, married the King and seemed to brighten and cheer everyone up until she decided she wanted power. Irina placed a spell over the King and Royal guards so they would do her bidding. Lorelai tried to use a spell against Irina but her father was killed and Leo and Lorelai ran away with Gabril, a Royal guard. Years later, Kol enters the story after being expelled from his school. He’s throwing a party and trying to keep his younger sister, Bryg, from drinking. Kol is called by his headmaster and assumes that he will be punished for being expelled. Instead, he’s told that his father, mother and older brother have been killed by ogres. Kol becomes King and fully responsible for his kingdom. Lorelai and Leo meet Kol and his friends when they help them out of an angry mob. Queen Irina hears rumors about the mob and the rescue and she becomes suspicious that maybe Lorelai and Leo might be alive. Kol seals a blood oath with the evil queen Irina. He has to bring the missing princess to her and then Irina will save Kol’s kingdom from the ogres in exchange. Kol has no idea that the princess is the one who saved him from the mob. The relationship between Kol and Lorelai grows more complicated as the story continues. The Shadow Queen is a fresh and wonderful retelling of the Snow White fairytale, full of action, loyalty and a dash of humor, 5 stars!

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver and published by HarperCollins tells the story of how Mia, Brynn and the whole town were left reeling from the horrible murder of Summer.
Summer, Mia and Brynn were friends. The three girls pretended that a fantasy book world, Lovelorn, was real until the devastating loss of Summer. Five years later, Mia and Brynn try to piece all of the clues of this unsolved murder together. With the help of Mia’s friend Abby and Brynn’s cousin Wade, they scour the town and surrounding areas to solve this mystery. Twisting between make-believe and reality, the story spins seemingly in circles until the truth stands out clearly. Interesting, intense and emotionally jarring, Broken Things is a 5 star must read!