Cakespell by Gaby Triana tells a story about Rose. Rose loves baking and has aspirations of becoming a famous baker and opening her own shop someday. Her mother hates the idea of Rose baking or working and she wants Rose to only focus on her schoolwork so she can eventually support herself, be self-sufficient and independent. Rose decides to spend her time baking at her grandpa’s house and keeps it a secret from her mother. Her grandpa, who she calls Papa, is more than happy to have Rose at his home. Papa gives Rose all of her deceased grandma’s baking utensils and her special apron that Rose has wonderful memories of. Papa believes that Rose has special baking skills like her grandmother and he teaches her a special Cakespell that makes her baked goods help people fall in love. Rose’s creations are delicious and she begins to gain customers by the dozens. Cakespell is a cute, fun story that also deals with the heavier issues of self-image, losing a loved one, friendship struggles, setting and working toward goals, sportsmanship and lack of parental support. An enjoyable young adult read with crushes, humor and love that round out this adorable tale of baking with a bit of mischief, 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi! Females, young and old, train together to learn to be strong, independent and to gain self-defense skills. This training is hidden from the rest of the kingdom because they would be in trouble and danger if anyone else found out they are more than timid servants. These women lost loved ones in a horrific act of violence against their community and have been training ever since. Zelie is a part of this group and when she was five she watched her mother being dragged away and then hung. Amari is an unhappy princess who escapes and inadvertently ends up with Zelie and her family. They run from Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, as he struggles with his internal conflict of whether or not magic is good or evil. During this time, Zelie’s magic grows and she works at controlling her powers. As Zelie, her brother Tzain and Amari learn to trust each other and work together, they encounter horrific dangers as they continue their quest for the artifacts-the scroll, sunstone and the bone dagger. With these artifacts, magic can be restored. Some romance and humor lighten the dark world that Zelie lives in and both of these help her conquer the evil and pain that drags her under. The impressive storyline, immaculate world building and strong, dynamic characters make Children of Blood and Bone an intense fantasy read worth 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes which includes a map of Witchtown and the history of Witchtown’s origins. The story begins with introducing a mother and daughter who want to live in Witchtown and their purpose is to rob the town. Aubra, the mother, is also a Natural, which means she was born with her powers. The daughter, Macie, is a Void and doesn’t have powers. Macie is very cynical because of all the moving they have done and her mother is selfish and mean-spirited and she doesn’t care about what’s good for Macie. Anytime Macie makes friends her mother becomes angry and every time they move, Aubra erases the memories of the people that knew them. The longer Macie stays in Witchtown, the more she realizes that her mother is hiding secrets from her. The story is full of suspense and twists! 5 stars for an entertaining supernatural read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. Arram, young and gifted beyond his age, attends Mage Academy with older students. He doesn’t have friends but that soon changes when he causes chaos with magic and has a conference with the Academy masters. They deem him gifted and place him with other students similar to him. Academy life becomes much more enjoyable and entertaining after the new placement. Arram, Varice and Zorne become great friends and when Arram is bullied because of his young age, his two new friends help him cope and discover how much fun their time at the academy can be. Varice is smart, fun and a very good kitchen witch while Zorne is seventh in line to the throne of the current prince. The three friends each have different gifts which grow in strength the longer they attend classes. The main focus of the story is on Arram, his powers, education and relationships but we do get a glimpse of the inner workings of the lives of Varice and Zorne. Arram has to learn to build the stomach for being around horribly injured people and his strength as a healer. Varice deals with being looked down on because she’s female and a lowly kitchen witch. Zorne is continuing to move up higher on the list of heirs to the throne, and is worried about his unhealthy mother and how to deal with his protective guards. The story is strong and the world building is a mix of renaissance and ancient Greece. I thought the whole approach to Arram’s puberty was odd and I understand that it will potentially help male preteens with their own changes. I did enjoy the Tempests and Slaughter. 5 stars for this fantasy and its underlying mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Assassin of Truths by Brenda Drake! Gia is continuing on her mission and even though she’s lost people that she cares about, she still has more to accomplish. The story is refreshed in our minds as Gia encounters characters old and new. Her trials are all-consuming and seem never ending as she travels across the globe through beautifully described libraries to complete her mission. The vivid descriptions of the different worlds, characters and libraries bring the story to life and Gia’s loyalty and integrity know no bounds. A wonderful ending to the Library Jumpers adventure fantasy series, 5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell! Emmaline and her siblings are spending a year with their father in a small, uneventful town while their mom works in Guatemala, since she received a grant. Emma attends the carnival with her friend Juliet before it leaves town and takes the last bit of entertainment with it. Benjamin works for the traveling carnival but he wants to leave it to finally stay in one place and start a life there. Emma meets and takes a Ferris wheel ride with Sidney; a young man that runs the fortune teller box attraction. Emma unknowingly submits herself to the curse and charm that runs the carnival. Her friends and family believe that she’s run away and she is nothing but trapped until she can trick someone else into taking the curse. Emma and Benjamin form a bond and they’re determined to figure out a way to break the curse once and for all. A supernatural fantasy written for young adults, 4 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read The Bone witch by Rin Chupeco. The book opens with a Bard witnessing a seemingly seventeen-year-old girl control a beast. The bard wants to tell the girl’s story and she gives seven days for the bard to observe her. The girl tells the bard that she’s a bone witch. A girl named Tea tells her story of when she unknowingly brought her brother Fox back to life. The story alternates between past and present in this girl’s life. The telling of the story sets the world and characters based on Asha and bone witch legends and mythology. Tea grows in talent and becomes an Asha and fights against a dark creature and conquers it with help from her brother Fox, other Asha and soldiers known as Deathseekers. Tea’s alternating stories have not completely lined up yet, so the ending leaves the reader expecting more explanation in the sequel, Heart Forger. 4 stars for this fantasy tale.
The Darkest of Dreams by Emigh Cannaday opens with the realization that Finn has been murdered by Talvi, his own brother. After Finn’s death, the Marinossian family is distraught and in turmoil because of the loss of Finn and Talvi’s murderous act. Talvi ends up in Bleakmoor Island Prison until his trial, while Annika is sent away from the Elven world for several reasons: her safety, secrecy and to help the Marinossian family heal. An enormous turn of events changes everything and the story unfolds while continuing to build character development and the world of the Marinossians. The beloved personalities return in this sequel and the character spectrum grows larger. Another Annika Brisby story full of suspense, danger, romance and magic. 5 stars!￼
Thanks to NetGalley and Ink Monster for the opportunity to read and review Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge! Anise wants to be a bake chef for a living but she’s having difficulties being accepted into college. After she causes a large fire at the fair, Anise believes that her future is over until her Aunt Agatha reaches out to her to become her new apprentice. A new world opens up for Anise when she reaches the magical community where Aunt Agatha’s bakery is located. Anise is able to attend college, make friends and is even given a bodyguard for her protection. Because Anise is Agatha’s niece, she’s considered to be rich and therefore in danger of being attacked. Little does she know that a warlock is after her and is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. The magical bakery makes the whole setting fun and the suspense and danger build as the story is told. The fun setting and loyal characters make this read a sweet treat worth 4 stars.