Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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Fantasy at its best!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review Rule by Ellen Goodlett!
Zofi overhears people asking her mother about her and while her mother distracts them, Zofi cuts a slash in the back of their tent and sneaks away. She’s proficient with the Blood Arts and when she makes a tiny nip in her skin with the end of her knife, energy is pulled into her blood and she makes a much quicker getaway. To her dismay, Zofi is captured anyway. Akeylah is beaten and hated by her family, especially her father, because their mother died giving birth to her. She gets help to put a curse on her father and make him sick, through the Vulgar Arts. Florencia, (Ren), is a servant, as her mother is. Ren has been raised in the palace and knows how to interact with royalty and she believes she’s guilty of a traitorous act that caused the death of almost two thousand people. The three young women have been summoned to the king and he tells them that they are his daughters and he needs one of them to take the place of his heir, Prince Nicolen, that’s no longer alive. And the king himself is sick and dying. Akeylah realizes that she’s the one who made him ill because he’s her real father. Each of the king’s daughters has a secret to hide. It seems that someone knows about their secrets because each of them has been receiving knowledgeable blackmail notes and other messages. The three sisters begin working together to figure out who the blackmailer is and end the threat. Rule is a complex fantasy that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The ending is intense! Fantasy at its best, 5 stars!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

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Family members left behind after a suicide face deep pain. Resources offering real help are included in this book! Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Astonishing Color of After! The main character saw her mother’s suicide and believes that her mother has visited her as a bird. No one believes her even though she has physical evidence. Her and her father visit her maternal grandparents in Taiwan and even though they don’t speak much English, they believe that the bird is true. This book is difficult to categorize into a genre, but even though it has supernatural happenings throughout the story, I feel that this is still, above all, a realistic fiction tale. The deep pain that survivors of suicidal family members face is a real problem and an intense struggle that hasn’t been addressed as much as it’s needed. The Astonishing Color of After helps! Resources are included towards the end of the book for various needs of those dealing with depression, loss, suicide and/or suicidal thoughts. The resources are categorized under the following headings: Suicide Prevention, For Suicide Loss Survivors and Understanding Mental Illness. The cultural education and coping skills made the story more interesting and I love Axel and the great friend that he is to Leigh and I appreciate the author’s honesty about her own experiences of being a suicide survivor. 4 stars!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Cruel Prince by Holly Black! The opening of the book immediately grabbed my full attention with action, intrigue and violence! Jude and Taryn, human twins, are raised with their Faerie older sister, Vivi, in the Faerie kingdom. Jude and Taryn attend school with faerie teenagers and, while Taryn seems to stay off their radar, Jude is constantly being teased by Cardan, Valerian, Locke and Nicasia. Valerian takes the teasing to violent extremes. For this reason, Jude works daily to become stronger (by taking small amounts of poison daily to become immune) and to become a warrior. Little does she know how much her self training and practice will help her kingdom until the future of her kingdom lies within her hands. Fantasy laced with action and intrigue make The Cruel Prince a must read, 5 stars! I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. Dee has received an academic scholarship to attend the boarding school she now lives at. The scholarship funds have been cut and Dee dreads going home to her dysfunctional family. Dee sees a demon. Only humans that want something can see demons. The demons seem to be an epidemic in the community and Dee needs money for boarding school. She makes a twenty-four month deal with the Agathodaemon. The demon gives Dee what she wants and keeps her heart for the entire time of their covenant and Dee has to do his bidding for the same amount of time. After making the deal, Dee holds a portal open for James and Cal and she has no idea what is going on. She’s sent to help close another void with James, Cal and Cora and she realizes that they don’t understand the voids either. The story gradually explains the background of each member of the group and how they made their deal with the demon. Together they made an interesting team. I enjoyed the characters but they weren’t as complex as I would have liked. The story concept changes and it becomes more science fiction than supernatural. The ending is the best part of the story, touching and heartfelt. 4 stars for a unique book.

Bang by Barry Lyga

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I checked out Bang by Barry Lyga on our school’s Overdrive ebooks site. The opening literally blew me away! The narrator states that his sister is gone. She’s gone because he killed her! He was four years old at the time and now he’s telling the story ten years later. The narrator, Sebastian is just living, but not enjoying anything. He’s consumed by guilt and doesn’t believe he has any right to be happy. Sebastian has been biding his time until the tenth anniversary of his sister’s death because that’s when he plans on taking his own life. This story is difficult reading at times, but other times it’s friendly and healing. I’m not going to spoil the book for you because it will take the curiosity away and this story is worth reading! Bang is contemporary, realistic fiction for a young adult audience and my rating is 4.5 stars.

Frostblood by Elly Blake

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review Frostblood by Elly Blake! Ruby is Fireblood, (can build heat and flame within her body and can expel both), and loses her mother in an attack on their home. Ruby is taken as a prisoner because Firebloods are persecuted. She spends some time in prison, then is released to go with Frostblood (can build cold and frost within their bodies and can expel both) people and taken to Forwind Abbey. The abbey catches on fire and one of the monks blames Ruby, so she runs away. Arcus, a mysterious resident of the abbey, finds her in the woods, alone, lost and with no horse. He takes her back to the abbey and she makes an agreement with Brother Thistle and Arcus that she will stay and help them if they explain their purpose to her. They finally have mutual trust and their backstories unfold gradually. This adventurous tale comes to life full of action and intrigue in a beautifully described fantasy world. I enjoyed the depth of the characters and how the explanation of the Frostblood world unfolded – 5 stars! I am anxiously looking forward to the sequel, Fireblood which is scheduled for publication September 2017.