Agnes resides within a cult at Red Creek but she doesn’t realize that she’s part of a cult. She’s the eldest of several siblings and is responsible for taking care of their family because their mother is severely depressed. Agnes sneaks to the Outside once a month to retrieve insulin for her younger brother Ezekiel, even though she knows it’s against the rules. Her sister Beth, the next eldest sibling, is a rebel and doesn’t like the rules. When Beth is caught kissing a boy, she’s disgraced by their father and the community. Agnes has been betrothed as a sixth wife to a middle-aged man and before she gets married, she has to teach Beth everything so she can then become the family caretaker. The middle-aged man decides to marry Beth instead of Agnes to straighten Beth out. In the meantime, a ferocious virus is spreading throughout the world and eventually arrives at Red Creek. The Prophet releases an infected dog during a church meeting and, after a few people are bitten, he tells them about his revelation; the Rapture has arrived and everyone must move into the underground bunker. Agnes escapes with Ezekiel and is heartbroken that she’s left the rest of her siblings behind. She knows that the bunker would be a death sentence for Ezekiel because there’s no insulin for him. This is a riveting story about cults, self-worth, self-importance, bravery, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The author’s note explains the cult background information being from a nonfiction book of a survivor who escaped a true cult. A wonderfully written and all-encompassing story about love, sacrifice, and different faiths, 5 stars!
Rain and Freddie are perfectly content with their present lives and the future they’ve planned together until her mother shows up. Freddie’s mother left her at birth and shows up unannounced and brings not-so-good news of a contract signed when Freddie was hours young. If Freddie doesn’t completely cut ties with Rain and marry Conrad, Rain will be killed. People are getting hurt, being attacked and being accused of illegal acts. The mystery becomes more complicated and complex before it begins to unravel. Strong characters and brave actions made me root for them. A fun read, 4 stars!
All the Tides of Fate is the sequel to All the Stars and Teeth. Amora is ruling the kingdom after her father’s death. She’s dealing with advisers and others that are trying to show their lack of confidence in her through insubordination and rude remarks, but Amora handles it well. Bastian arrives at the meeting and announces himself an adviser. At the end of the meeting, Amora is asked to prove her magic is working and is told that she needs to be engaged to give the kingdom something to look forward to and as a distraction. Amora manages to trick the advisers into believing her magic is intact with the help of a few others. She travels with her crew to pretend to find a fiancé and search for the artifact needed to restore her magic and make her soul complete. Full of action and loyalty and deception and tough decisions, All the Tides of Fate is a perfect ending to this duology, 5 stars!
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells surprised me with its immense world building and strong characters!
Maren and Kaia have a good relationship and Kaia wants to travel and explore when she’s old enough to. Maren plans on traveling with her. Plans change when Kaia is taken as a seer to possibly be a dragon trainer. Maren decides to leave too by telling her parents that she needs to be out on her own and independent. She’s not completely honest with them. She’s planning on rescuing Kaia. She heads to the dragon fortress and asks and then manipulates her estranged uncle for a job. She becomes the new food taster. Maren is noticed by the Aromatory, Neve, who raises baby dragons until they bond with their lords. Neve uses scents to train and appreciates Maren’s ability to pick up scents that most people can’t detect. While working, Maren meets Sev, who seems friendly but with a hidden story of his own. Things progress and Maren and Sev find each other running away to escape capture and probably death. They decide to help each other and end up discovering so much more about the empire than they ever could have guessed! The ending left me worried about the characters and their safety and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Storm the Sky. A fantasy adventure that will take you for a ride, 5 stars!
In a world being endangered by scrabs (human killing creatures), Clara is ready to do anything to get away from her abusive father, so she decides to join a scrab fighting army. The privately funded army has recruits across the globe. Clara goes to Paris and London with her team. She trains, battles scrabs and builds relationships. One of her relationships turns out toxic while others feel like she belongs to a good family. Dynamics between characters and the world-building create a mix of intrigue, danger and suspense. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger so I’m struggling to wait for the second book of this duology. 5 stars for a dangerous adventure ride!
Send Me Their Souls by Sara Wolf
Zera is with Lucien, Fione and Malachite as they try to figure out how to stop Lucien’s sister’s rampage. She’s focused on destroying everything and everyone in the kingdom. The group travels and learns more about the Bone Tree and learns of the Glass Tree and its intensity and oddity. They begin to understand that the Bone Tree is taking over Varia’s mind and overpowering her judgment, causing her to seek and destroy. The group researches for solutions to stop the destruction while hoping to protect Varia at the same time. The dynamics of the characters and the loyalty make me laugh and warm my heart. Sara Wolf has a knack for endearing characters. The ending of an adventurous fantasy trilogy, 4 stars!
Set in the 1980’s, Beauty’s Rose tells the story of Margot visiting an Aunt in France. Aunt Suzette owns a cozy bookshop in a small French town steeped in traditional tourist attractions, royalty, knights, jousting, and festivals. Margot meets several people her age and enjoys the scenery of Chapais. Burke is an aloof mystery to the town and Sylvain seems to be a player. When Margot starts having dreams involving conversations with a beast, she thinks she’s losing her mind. Aunt Suzette’s friends, who are actually fairies (Clove, Sage, and Thyme), let Margot in on the curse that’s taking over the local prince’s life. Burke and Margot become friends and end up trapped in a hidden mansion together as he transforms into the beast. I was saddened when the story ended because I wanted more! A gentle, contemporary 1980’s fairytale retelling about love, loyalty, and sacrifice.
The new series, by Sarah J. Maas, opens with House of Earth and Blood which involves Bryce, half-fae/half-human and her world. The cover is beautifully complex!
In the beginning of the book, Bryce is trying to calm her wolf friend because of an injustice occurring, which let a criminal receive freedom. Bryce goes on a date with her human boyfriend and he ignores her the entire time, so she dumps him and leaves to party at a club with her friends. As Bryce returns home, she can tell something is off, even though she’s wasted. Once she reaches her apartment she finds her best friend and roommate, Danika, slaughtered, as well as the rest of Danika’s wolf pack. Briggs, the criminal that had been set free, is arrested for the murders because of evidence and motive. Two years later, the same type of murder takes place while Briggs is still in prison. Bryce is assigned to work with the police to help find the murderer. She reluctantly and grudgingly let’s them follow her around for her protection and she spends more time and energy being annoying, rude and wasting the police’s time when all she needs to do is give them a list of Danika’s whereabouts and who she spent the last week of her life around. This makes Bryce seem like a completely selfish brat. While she seemed to be wasting time, she was actually gathering information to share with the Angel protecting her. Eventually Bryce and Hunt, the Angel guard, work together and try to find answers to several mysteries, not just Danika’s death. They also become friends and more to each other. Things take a turn for the worst and Hunt feels like he will be a slave forever. Twists and surprises abound and make this first book in the Crescent City a great start to a promising new series, 5 stars!
I was so excited about House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess. I enjoyed her debut series and was anxious to read her new book!
First of all, cover love! The intriguing synopsis made me want to dive right into the story. Five contestants are called to compete for the throne. Emilia has concealed her deadly, powerful magic her entire life. Lucian destroys the family sword, vowing to never use the weapon again. He’s had enough of killing. Vespir is a dragon caretaker who is chosen over the Lord’s daughter, Antonia. Vespir and Antonia also happen to love each other. Ajax is a fifteen year old younger brother in a house full of almost thirty sons. He is chosen over his father’s two true heirs. Hyperia is the eldest royal daughter and when her younger sister is chosen, Hyperia promptly slits her sister’s throat. The author handles the five characters well by transitioning in the same order to help the reader get familiar with each of them. Each of the five are sent to an island to hunt a basilisk. The hunt is the first task of four (the tasks are The Hunt, The Game, The Race and The Truth) the chosen will need to compete in. The five chosen are not expected and, in the past, the first born heirs were always chosen and groomed for the competition. These contenders are all ill-prepared except for one, Hyperia, because she’s the first born heir of her family. I enjoyed the touch of humor throughout the intensity of the story, as well as the character development. The story starts off simply and grows into a complex tale of a huge array of characters with diverse personalities and strengths. 5 stars for this fantasy adventure!
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
Rumors abound about and rewards are offered for the lost heir of Emberfall. Grey is working as a stable boy and goes by the name of Hawk. He mostly keeps to himself except for his stable companion and coworker, a young boy named Tycho. One night Grey tests out the silver bracelet Lilith gave him for transport into Harper’s world. He didn’t know if it worked anymore but when he touched the bracelet, he left the stables and when he returned, Tycho was staring at him. The ruthless leader that threatened Emberfall before has returned with her daughters to force Rhen into an alliance. The daughter named heir is like her mother while the other cares for people and their well being. Rhen brutalizes Grey and Tycho and the group escapes Emberfall because Grey unintentionally uses his magic. Grey doesn’t trust either kingdom or their rulers but the kind, wise daughter convinces the group to go to her kingdom despite worrying about her mother. A tremendous amount of character development bonded me with this story. I thought A Curse so Dark and Lonely was a wonderful read but this sequel is just as good! 5 stars for this impressive sequel that introduces even more great characters!