A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

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Here’s my review for A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third but not final book in An Ember in the Ashes series. I love how the book opens with the Nightbringer’s point of view! The author gives us insight into the kingdom’s history and at the present time, the scholars are being extinguished but we see that in the past the scholars have done the same thing to the Jinn, the Nightbringer’s people. Very interesting and so much like the harsh reality we live in. Elias’ fate and Laia’s future hold mystery. Helene, as the Blood Shrike, stands steadfastly by her sister Livia’s side. Livia has a fortunate surprise that could change the Empire for the better. Learning more about Keris and her past was fascinating as was learning more about Laia’s mother’s story. Elias gives up everything to help others because of his kindness and tremendous strength. Reaper at the Gates hurts my heart but builds distant hope for the amazing characters, 5 stars!

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

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Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta jumps into an intense storyline. Right from the beginning, I was hooked! Faris and Thaelan live completely different lives in opposite areas of the kingdom. Faris and her sister Cadence live in poverty while Thaelan is a member of nobility. Thaelan and Faris are in love and want to run away so they can be together. Faris and Cadence are pretty much on their own because of their dysfunctional father and deceased mother; a mother that stabbed Faris in the chest, trying to kill her years ago. Cadence and Thaelan are captured while they are trying to escape, the two of them receive horrible consequences. Faris is offered a job to earn money to buy Cadence’s freedom. The job offer comes from the kingdom’s executioner and his betrothed, Princess Bryn. Things become a bit confusing when Bryn and Faris are captured and the “owners” change hands a couple of times. Once that’s settled, the situation begins to clear up again. Bryn and Faris end up riding with North, a mysterious young man with secrets of his own. The relationships sparkle and the world frightens in this dark, dreary fantasy made up of magic that cripples and sometimes completely transforms. A range of emotions surrounds the storyline and tragedy, intensity and brutality sum up the characters’ lives. Deeply dynamic, Shimmer and Burn is waiting to pull you into its world! 5 stars!

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir is an amazing sequel! On the run, Elias and Laia work together to evade capture. Helene undergoes intense, brutal interrogation but her father makes a bargain with Marcus, the Emperor, to free her. Elias ends up poisoned, so he and Laia travel to Raider’s Roost for medicine. Elias is in and out of consciousness while Laia fights to keep him alive as they travel for help. Helene has been summoned and given the order to hunt down Elias and then execute him publicly. Helene takes her chosen and trusted Masks and Harper, the commandant’s spy, as the Black Guard to search for Elias. As the story progresses, the suspense builds and I don’t want to give anything away because the suspense makes this great story even better. Each character reveals a back story and, with so many twists and surprises, the book is hard to put down. Complex characters and dynamic storytelling mixed with the author’s descriptive writing makes an intense, interesting sequel! 5 stars!

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson tells the story of Ten who has been an impressive thief since she was ten years old. She’s now a soldier for the queen and goes by the name Kazi. She encounters Jase, who has recently been made ruler due to his father’s unexpected death. Kazi and Jase become prisoners together when they are captured by labor hunters. The two of them are very similar in personalities and demeanor and at first, they drive each other crazy. They’re both clever, strong and loyal with banter that is fun and intelligent. With Kazi’s thieving background, she helps orchestrate their escape. Their relationship gets more complicated and more interesting from there. The story also becomes more complex, bringing in the backgrounds of Kazi and Jase and adding side characters and different kingdoms’ ideals and history. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Kazi and Jase and being on the sidelines of their tumultuous relationship. With interesting side characters and wonderful world building, I sped through the book and the ending left me wondering and anxiously awaiting the sequel! 5 solid stars!

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada has such a beautiful cover that drew me right in! Cover Love! The story jumps immediately into the action. Mortal Coil is a dystopian science fiction that I couldn’t put down once I began reading. Cat struggles to survive the outbreak that has almost completely destroyed the human population. She creates medical apps for the organization, Skies, which is the only helpful group left. Cataraxus took her father and her boyfriend by force two years earlier and Cat has lived in a cabin in the woods since. Agnes, a neighbor, saved her life after her father was kidnapped and the two women rely on each other for survival. A Cataraxus soldier begins to hunt her and eventually captures Cat and she starts to unravel the mystery surrounding her father and the Hydra vaccine. Her father doesn’t seem to be the kind person that she’s always believed him to be. Cole, the soldier, and Cat begin working together to save the vaccine and hopefully replicate it for human use. The two of them run into danger at every turn and her father’s legacy continues to confuse her. When Cat discovers her father’s reasons for the things he has done, she resigns herself to her fate. With one surprise after another, the suspense doesn’t end. This Mortal Coil is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read, a solid 5 stars!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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The Wicker King by Kayla Ancrum blew me away and I am still processing it! Wow, an interesting, twisted story about two teen boys, their acquaintances, family lives and their long-lasting friendship. The relationship between the young men becomes increasingly unhealthy and worries their friends, who try to help them. Things get worse before anything changes and authorities intervene. Food for thought in so many ways, 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!

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!

After the Fire by Will Hill

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Gripping realistic fiction for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review After the Fire by Will Hill! The story opens during an attack and the main character, Moonbeam, is running for her life. She’s a resident of a community made up of fellow followers of The Legion and their leader is Father John. The fenced in community is under attack by the Government. Eventually, the attack is over and Moonbeam is at a rehabilitation center for mental and physical healing and also to learn to return to what she knows as the Outside. Moonbeam tells her story and the story of her fellow community members, Legionmates, through her interviews with a therapist and a government agent. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about the Waco Siege and its similarities to the Legion community. As I read the author’s note at the end of the book, he explains his reasoning for writing about the fictional character of Moonbeam and I was impressed with how delicately and respectfully he dealt with the similarities to Karesh’s religious community near Waco, Texas and how he honors the followers. The idea of one person gripping so many people and convincing them to sacrifice everything for that leader is curious and interesting and very sad. Will Hill handles this content well and breathes life into the characters and the tragic events that they lived or didn’t live through. 5 stars for this gripping realistic fiction story for young adults!

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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A wonderful historical fiction fantasy!
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the opportunity to read and review The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth!
Evie is the youngest of the three children in her family. Her brother James and sister are both college age so she’s traveling to school on her own this year, which is 1949. She reminisces about the times the three of them were together. Five years ago, they huddled in their shelter during the war bombings in London. Evie wished they could be anywhere but there and because of this wish, they were drawn into Woodlands. The Woodlands become their home for most of their teenage years and for Evie, it turned into the home where she felt like she truly belonged. Once the three siblings return to their London home, they each struggle to readjust. In London time, they were gone for only a moment even though years passed in the Woodlands. Evie goes through dark spells of depression, especially during the winter and one day no one can find her. Everyone fears the worst and they try to move on but Evie’s sister is consumed by guilt and blames herself for Evie’s unhappiness. This beautiful story has the perfect book cover portraying its multidimensional world. A wonderful fantasy, 4 stars!