The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for the opportunity to read and review The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden! This sequel to Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderful fantasy with beautiful descriptions and fascinating legendary characters of Russian heritage. Vasya is still uniquely interesting and after surviving different adventures, she meets her niece, Marya. The two of them have a great deal in common and Vasya finally has someone she can share her magical sights with, until they are forbidden to spend time together because of the impropriety of Marya showing her face in public. She truly is a girl locked in a tower. Their lives scatter out of control when a secret Vasya has kept quiet is revealed and everything spirals downward from there. I enjoyed this sequel as much as the first book and even more. The ending left me wanting more and I sure hope there’s a third book planned. I noticed on Goodreads that the next addition to the Winternight Trilogy is set to be published August 2018 and is entitled The Winter of the Witch! The Russian information and resources in the Author’s Notes helped with the understanding of legends, vocabulary and names. I am also interested in researching more of this section of Russian history, thanks to the sources mentioned. This beautiful story rates 5 stars for its atmospheric descriptions and dynamic characters!

 

Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Suspect Red by L.M. Elliott! Chapter One is entitled “June 1953”; the book opens as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for giving the Soviet Union U. S. atomic bomb technology. More factual information is given: the reason for the Berlin Wall and censorship with books, before the story begins. Set in the Cold War era, Richard enjoys reading about spies and other topics that the government frowns upon at the time. His father works for the FBI and was active in the military during wartime. The story alternates between true historical moments and photographs to the fictional characters of Richard and his family and their lives. Eye-opening and relatable, the timeline of the fictional story flows with Cold War history as it is laid out. It’s crazy how much one person affected an entire nation in such a negative way. Suspect Red is an interesting, entertaining way to gain knowledge about the state of our nation during the Cold War, 5 stars!

Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond. Miranda and Grant both have a special connection to Roanoke Island and when over one hundred citizens come up missing, Miranda and Grant feel like they are destined to help solve the mass disappearance. The two of them do not share a happy past and their resolve is tested over and over while trying to help each other. The further they dig into the mystery, the stranger things become. They discover supernatural forces controlling people and spirits from the past. Throughout their struggles, Grant and Miranda only have each other to count on. 4 stars for a historical fiction read with a paranormal twist!

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

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Haunting the deep by Adriana Mather is the sequel to How To Hang a Witch by the same author. It’s great to be back in Sam’s life. I find the historical connections that the author has to her books’ content amazing. The historical connection has Sam as a descendant of Cotton Mather in the first book, How To Hang a Witch and ancestors that survived the Titanic tragedy for this book! Sam has been ghost free for six months now and suddenly she’s seeing apparitions again. Abby, who asks Sam for her boot hook, and a dripping wet man that smells like sea water are appearing. The ghosts end up complicating Sam’s life again, but this time she has help from the Descendants. Sam has received mysterious objects and has been dreaming of being a passenger on the Titanic. While Sam is dreaming of being on the Titanic, she has no memories of her present self and she’s being manipulated by an unknown person or spirit. Elijah is helping to figure out what or who is causing the hauntings also. When Sam figures out who’s causing the problem behind the ghostly episodes, she needs all the help she can get! 5 stars for this fun, suspenseful sequel!

The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker. Rilla lives with her grandmother. After her father dies, she’s unsure about college because she worries about leaving her grandmother and she wants to keep her father’s fishing business going. The story is a bit odd but starts to pick up around chapter four when Rilla meets Sam on the small island where he’s doing research on an archeological dig. Sam knows about the Malaga Island history and he shares his research with Rilla. Rilla is worried that she’s following her mother’s footsteps because she’s seeing a ghost and hearing her voice. Rilla’s mother talked to the water people and she left her family when Rilla was very young because she wanted to keep her family safe. All Rilla knows about her mother is that she waded into the ocean with heavy rocks in her pockets weighing her down and then she admitted herself into a mental institution. Rilla has kept the apparition to herself and continues to do so until she grows comfortable enough with Sam to confide in him. She also needs his help to keep herself safe and to figure out the ghostly mystery. Little by little, the two of them piece together the visions and the island’s history and uncover a tragic event that connects Rilla and her family to Malaga Island. I love it when authors share their research with readers and explain their reasoning behind the story they’ve created. When a book is based on historical facts, I always want to dive into the research and study the truth that helped create the fiction. 4 stars for an intriguing story that pulled me into a lesser known part of American history.

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

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Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for the opportunity to read Berserker by Emmy Laybourne! Hanne has inherited Norwegian Berserker powers and supposedly this is what drove her mother away. Hanne lives with her drinking father, two brothers and a younger sister. Her eldest brother Steig wants to move to America, get a teaching job and bring his siblings to America when he has enough money. Hanne’s story alternates with Owen Bennett’s, who’s treated badly by his family because he’s the product of Mr. Bennett’s past affair. Hanne is overtaken by the Berserker powers when she senses that her family is in danger and she kills the three men that mean to cause harm to her family and her father ends up dying also. The four siblings run away from their home. Meanwhile, two men, Rolf and Ketil, are sent by a Baron, their employer, to hunt down any Nytte, anyone with Norwegian descent that has inherited Viking strengths. They all travel to America. Owen meets the siblings when he saves Sissel from a moving train so she can be with her family. Owen becomes the family’s guide. Along the way to their uncle’s home in Montana, the group braves many setbacks and they also meet Ketil and Rolf. The story comes full circle with much action and adventure involved and the loyalty of friends and family is what I enjoyed the most in this book. 4 stars for a suspense filled mythological adventure!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor

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I was able to read Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor thanks to a goodreads giveaway of a hardback book and thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an arc! Sparks of light continues the story from Into the Dim, the first book in this series. Hope is with Phoebe and their other companions in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone is adjusting to the drastic change in Hope’s mom and the baby she now has. Hope’s boyfriend Bran has gotten away from his mother, Celia, to tell the companions about his mother’s new plan. After Bran reveals Celia’s plan, the Viators make a plan of their own – to travel back to 1895 and visit Nikola Tesla and his discovery. The trip to 1895 causes extreme circumstances for Doug and Hope when they are involuntarily taken to an asylum and treated with the new drug, heroin. Intense and interesting and on the edge-of-your-seat suspense! Hope describes the asylum and its residents in detail. She also reiterates her previous knowledge of asylum history. Morbidly fascinating and scary. As the comrades work to visit Tesla, they encounter atrocities and tragedy in this time traveling adventure worth 5 stars! I am, once again, anxiously awaiting a sequel!

The Syndicate by Sophie Davis

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The Syndicate by Sophie Davis impressed me with its mix of science fiction and history. The story begins with the Prologue during May, 1796 in Florence, Italy, which is being occupied by Napoleon and the French army. The main character, Stassi, has stolen Napoleon’s letter to Josephine and she’s running to ensure her escape. She’s helped by her partner Gaige. They work for The Syndicate as runners and travel to the past to procure requested items that rich people pay a good chunk of money for. Gaige and Stassi later travel to 1925 Paris to collect a Rosenthal manuscript and they attend a party celebrating Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and its publication. Along with finding the manuscript, a serial killer on the loose adds to the suspense and danger. The elaborate cover stories of the runners, the historical background and interesting, dynamic characters make this a very fun science fiction read worthy of a 5 star rating!

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

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Cold Summer by Gwen Cole starts off with Kale sitting in his yard thinking about how his life has changed. The mystery of this change pulled me into the story. Harper is moving into her Uncle Jasper’s home where she’s spent her summers when she was younger. She’s looking forward to seeing the neighbors, Kale and his family. The alternating points of view between Kale and Harper tell their stories, bits at a time. Kale struggles with daily life and responsibilities because he gets pulled out of the present and travels to the past. He feels like he has absolutely no control over his life and he’s been kicked off the baseball team and expelled from school, slowly losing everything he cares about. He has been traveling into a World War II war zone and it’s happening more often. Harper helps Kale deal with the time traveling and gives him something to be happy about. This book is genre bending since it’s historical fiction (World War II), science fiction (time travel), contemporary and romance all in one; 4 stars.