An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir introduces Laia and her brother Darin, who both live with their grandparents. When the Empire raids their home, Darin runs and instructs Laia to hide his sketchbook. They’re both caught and taken back inside to watch their grandparents lose their lives. Elias is introduced next. He’s a soldier of the Empire, known as a Mask. Masks are skilled soldiers and trained killers. Elias watches with the rest of the Masks as a deserter is whipped to death by the Commandant. This sickens him because he’s planning on deserting also and he thinks that he will be the next to die at the hands of the Commandant. The Commandant is Elias’ mother and she holds nothing but hatred for her son. The story alternates between Laia and Elias and suspense flows throughout the entire book, each section ending on a cliffhanger. Laia enters the Empire as the Commandant’s slave and as a spy for the resistance, in exchange for helping Darin. A new era is upon the Empire and The Trials have been set and will challenge four Masks, only two will survive and one of them will be the new Emperor. Relationships grow more complicated for both Laia and Elias and the struggle for their lives becomes more desperate. This rollercoaster of a story keeps the suspense heightened to the very last page! 5 well-deserved stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!

Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell! The story begins by showing the setting of captured girls and young women kept in cages. Some women are forced to entertain, they are called flowers, while their cage mates, called the wilted, take the punishment when the flowers do something wrong. The captured young girls are being trained to become flowers or wilted when they are teenagers and the cycle continues with young girls being kidnapped, trained and eventually taking the places of the flowers and wilted that are no longer serving their entertainment purposes and are expired or killed. The Gardener runs the Garden with a strict hand and his helper, Shears, enjoys the violence and gladly harms the entertainers. Entertaining is forbidden by the Emperor of Imperial City, but he has seemed to have recently changed his mind. After Rose’s friend Fern is killed, Rose decides to plan a distraction during entertaining the emperor so she can escape and eventually free all of the other girls. Rose uses a member of the audience as a hostage and runs. Little does she know that her hostage is the leader of the rebellion against the Emperor, Rayce. Rose is harboring a secret and she’s terrified to trust any man. She also has a lot to learn about the rebellion and the histories of the people involved. The intrigue and secrecy kept me interested and I liked the unique story line. I grew to care about several of the characters and found myself rooting for them when they were up against danger. I figured out some of the back story on my own, but not all and I appreciated the unpredictability-4 stars!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski begins with Kestrel enjoying the city with her appointed escort and they are both doing things that they know are not allowed for them, such as gambling with the locals. They wander into the slave auction and a slave with blacksmith skills and singing talent comes up for bid. The slave is told to sing for the audience, but he refuses. Kestrel admires him for his pride and bids on him. She outbids everyone else at the steep price of fifty keystones and she’s told this is the Winner’s Curse. Kestrel spends time with Arin, her slave, and she’s not sure what to think about him or his background because he is strong like a slave with manners and knowledge like an aristocrat. Strange events began to happen and Kestrel is trying to figure out why. This story has espionage, intrigue and suspense and the romance is kind of a mystery all its own. The Winner’s Curse is an enjoyable read and it left me anxious to read the sequel – 4 stars!

Girl Rising by Tanya Lee Stone

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone! The research done by Tanya Lee Stone after watching the film, Girl Rising, is attributed to the film producers sharing over forty-five hours of video interviews with her. The author combed through the videos to find touching, true, heartbreaking stories that will open up our eyes to what is happening to so many innocent young women and girls all over the world. The whole concept of Girl Rising is overwhelming and a vicious cycle. Families having too many children and they can’t afford to take care of them, so they sell or trade their daughters off to continue the cycle with another generation. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about birth control and trying to brainstorm some way of stopping the injustice. The cultural reasoning is one-sided and doesn’t take into account the loss of education and childhood/teenage-hood that these girls are missing out on. A girl’s eye view of human slavery, child marriage, lack of education and educational opportunities make this a difficult book to read, but we all need to be aware. This book is inspiring because of the highlighted stories and struggles that these girls have overcome – 4 stars! I want to get books to these places, if possible, so these young women and girls have a chance to read even if they can’t attend school on a daily basis.