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!

Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton

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Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton is another wonderful fairytale creation! Shonna Slayton perfects historical fiction. Now she’s combining historical fiction with fantasy to create fun and intelligent fairytale stories. Billie has traveled with her uncle to secure her inheritance after her father’s death due to heart failure. She believes that her uncle is keeping things from her as well as gambling away her father’s estate. They stop at a mining town and meet cousin Lou. She oversees a mine with beautiful turquoise veins running through and she does all of the work by herself. Uncle Dale tells Billie that he’s searching for a special mirror that will grant wishes. Billie wants to help her ailing mother, so she wants to find the mirror also. The character pool grows to include Winn, an interesting local young man; Matron, a kind but questionable local businesswoman and Fremont, a relative with dwarfism that has also been missing for a while. Billie discovers more about cousin Lou and stumbles upon an odd window that seems somewhat like a mirror inside Lou’s shack. Billie’s life grows much more complicated than she ever thought it could. I love this book and highly recommend it to fairytale and historical fiction readers, 5 stars!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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A heartbreaking mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sadie by Courtney Summers!
Sadie seems lost. She’s searching for her stepfather to exact revenge for her younger sister’s murder. As the story is told, Sadie’s background unfolds. She’s had a life of abuse and neglect along with several “stepdads”. Sadie raised her younger sister Mattie since their mother was usually high or nonexistent in their lives. Sadie is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give anything away. The intensity and pain broke my heart but the unconditional love that Sadie has for Mattie warmed my heart back up again. Sadie’s stutter made it difficult for her to make friends and her tragic life made it impossible for her to even keep or have friends. She lives in painful loneliness and only has the idea of vengeance to keep her going. A difficult to put down mystery, Sadie pulled 100% of my attention until I finished reading the book, 5 heartbreaking stars!

Toxic by Lydia Kang

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Enjoyable sci-fi adventure!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Toxic by Lydia Kang!
Toxic is a sci-fi adventure involving an abandoned teenager created in a lab, a biological spacecraft and a team on a suicide mission. Hana’s alone on the ship after her mother and the crew left without telling her. Fenn and the rest of the mission group members are researching Hana’s ship for future progress, even though they won’t be around to see it. They went to this spacecraft knowing that they would not make it off alive. They will die with the ship, as it deteriorates, so will they. I don’t feel like I can explain much of the story without giving too much away. I can safely say that the range of characters is fun, the story is original and Toxic is an enjoyable, interesting science fiction read, 4 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Deeply moving!
Thanks to Edelweiss+, NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti!
This story captivated me with it’s mysterious, traumatic event and the strength of the main character and supporting characters. Also, the charm and humor of family and all the quirks that go along with that wonderful six letter word. The story is somewhat difficult to follow; I’m sure that was on purpose by the author because the back and forth, scattered thoughts represent the stress of the main character very well. A heartbreaking and inspiring story that fully reveals the event by the end of the book. 5 stars for this deeply moving realistic fiction!

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!

Star-crossed by Pintip Dunn

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Unique sci-fi!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Star-crossed by Pintip Dunn! Aegis eat for the entire community. They eat and then donate their nourishment, which is then made into pills for everyone to take or to use as currency. Astana is dying and her best friend, Princess Vela, steals food for her and eats more than her quota so she can give Astana her extra pills to use as currency. When Vela is caught sneaking food to her friend, she’s sentenced to administering the Fittest Trials in which one teenager is chosen, out of two hundred, to sacrifice themselves for the King. The story line seems odd at first but grows in complexity and details. The whole Aegis concept is completely unique and original. The story gains complexity as characters are introduced and more are added. Star-crossed is a sci-fi mystery that earns 4 stars for originality!

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!

When Forever Changes by Siobhan Davis

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When Forever Changes by Siobhan Davis tells the story of Dylan and Gabby and how their strong relationship withered and ultimately why. Vulgar language irritated me and distracted from the characters and plot. Dylan changes drastically in a short amount of time and cheats and shows deviant behavior. They break up and go their separate ways until Dylan has a seizure and discovers why his personality changed. After Gabby broke up with Dylan, she moved on, but when she discovers she’s pregnant she feels the need to make peace with Dylan. I felt a little thrown into the messed up parts of their relationship and I would have liked to have gotten to know Dylan and Gabby during their good, happy times before things went haywire. This would have built up my investment with the characters even more. When Forever Changes is a bittersweet tale full of wisdom in hindsight, second chances, love and loyalty. 4 stars for this new adult realistic fiction story!