The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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Great start to a new trilogy by Kiersten White!

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it. The description drew me in and piqued my curiosity! The gorgeous cover emulates mystery and the first chapter lives up to all of my expectations! Traveling through a forest surrounded by knights, the main character heads toward Camelot and King Arthur, her husband-to-be. She loves the forest surroundings but keeps that secret to herself. When they reach a river they have to cross, her true fear comes out and Mordred, Arthur’s best knight and nephew , carries her across the water to safety. No one can understand why she’s afraid and she reminds herself to act the part of Queen Guinevere. Arthur and Merlin planned for her to play the part of the deceased Queen Guinevere so she could protect Arthur from harm, which Merlin has foretold. She has no idea where the threat is or where it will come from but she does everything in her power to protect Arthur and his kingdom. Magic has been and continues to be banished from Camelot but Guinevere keeps running across bits of magic that she eventually discovers the origins of. She enjoys spending time with Arthur and she’s grateful that he knows everything about her, so he’s the one person she can be herself around. They have a marriage of convenience and friendship but Guinevere feels more when she’s with Mordred. The author has built a wonderful setting with many enjoyable characters that I fell in love with. I’m happy that this is the first book in a planned trilogy, so I have two more books to look forward to reading! I like the strength that both Arthur and Guinevere show and the sacrifices they’re willing to make. I enjoyed Dindrane’s attitude and Mordred’s mystery. I can’t wait to continue reading this story, 5 stars!

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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Action-packed sequel!
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess!
Nettie is officially a sorcerer and while she’s at her first meeting, an Ancient sends a message requesting that the sorcerers give Nettie up. Many revelations occur and much action takes place in this second book of the Kingdom on Fire series. Betrayal, loyalty, bravery, forgiveness and power bring this story to life. So much takes place that I feel like anything I share would spoil the story. Nettie’s friends have secrets and burdens of their own, most of which are revealed. Complex and character developing best describes A Poison Dark and Drowning, 5 stars!

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Menagerie of Japanese characters!
Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa!
The book opens with a thousand-year-old legend of a sword known as Godslayer. Tatsumi wielded this sword when it contained the demon Hakaimono. Since then, the demon has possessed Tatsumi, who continues to fight for survival against Hakaimono. Yumeko continues her mission to the Steel Feather Temple but has been waylaid with her companions to try to save Tatsumi, even though a pact was made centuries ago that if Haikaimono possessed a person, that person would be killed to stop destruction that the demon might cause. As everyone tries to thwart the demon’s plans, he shows his power and what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. The plot twists as the rivalry changes and the enemy of both becomes the focus of all. Genno, the demon who wants the scroll pieces so he can summon a Kami for the wish to rule all, will be the focus of the third book in this trilogy. At times, Yumeko seems a bit dim but then she manages to pull off some amazing feats, with the help and inspiration of others; go teamwork! I also found myself struggling to keep names and descriptions straight and I’m sure that’s because I need to learn more about the Japanese culture. 4 stars for a Japanese fantasy full of a menagerie of characters!

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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I read Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee as part of the Dragons and Tea Book Club.
Min is bound and determined to prove her brother’s innocence after he’s accused of being a traitor. She runs away from home in search of her brother Jun. On her way to stowaway on a ship, Min meets her Aunt Nari, who tells Min a little about her family’s past, things she would have never guessed. Min manages, through trickery, to get on a ship and barely survives an attack. While in the infirmary, she meets a young man’s ghost. This young man, Cadet Jang, died in the same attack Min was in and she assumes his identity and uses her fox charm to look like him. He happens to be on the same ship as Min’s brother Jun. While posing as Jang, Min gains insight into what may have happened to her brother and she also gets firsthand battle experience. Min learns a lot about herself and her skills and she’s praised for her engineering skills and realizes that she does have worth. Mild intrigue and mystery, 3.5 stars!

The Deceiver’s Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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Dynamic characters!
Thanks to Edelweiss and Scholastic Press for the opportunity to read and review The Deceiver’s Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen!
Kestra is back with Lord Endrick and he wants her to be a spy by infiltrating the Corack rebellion. She refuses but Lord Endrick takes her memories to the point where she doesn’t even know who Simon is. Kestra is sent to kill Simon. Luckily, before Endrick took Kestra’s memories, she gave the Olden Blade to Basil to hide it from everyone including herself. Simon sees Kestra in his village and figures out that she doesn’t recognize him at all. Kestra is taken to the Blue Caves where her memories begin to be restored and she realizes what she’s supposed to do. Kestra and Simon seem to continuously be pulled apart by their circumstances, people around them or their separate missions. They love each other but everything is getting in their way. The two of them are running in circles and they’re surrounded by the kingdom’s chaos and rebellion. The ending leaves the story and their relationship wide open and left me anxious for the third book of this series, The Warrior’s Curse! Dynamic characters within a doomed kingdom build this great fantasy series, 5 stars!

The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen starts a new fantasy series full of action and a feisty main character! Kestra has been away from her father and kingdom for the last three years. Her father sent her away for her safety after she had been kidnapped. She’s traveling back to her father, along with her servants, when their metal carriage is attacked and Kestra is kidnapped again. This time the kidnappers want her to become a traitor and find the Olden Blade; the blade is the only way to kill the evil and immortal ruler of the kingdom, Lord Endrick. Kestra is a handful. One of her kidnappers, Simon, is an old acquaintance from her childhood and the two of them have animosity between them. Kestra feels unloved by her father because of how callously he treats her and how easily he sacrifices her. Kestra’s attitude is funny at times and maddening to the other characters most of the time. Action, suspense, twists and originality, with a nod or two towards J. R. R. Tolkien, make The Traitor’s Game a 5 star read!

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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Great beginning to a new fantasy series!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Crown of feathers by Nicki Pau Preto!
Val and Veronyka are sisters who can communicate with animals (animages) and convince the animals to do their bidding. The sisters also have that same effect on people (shadowmages). The law prohibits this behavior, so the sisters are in hiding and they have been for years, alone and on their own, moving from place to place to survive and hunt for Phoenix eggs to rejuvenate the Phoenix riders. They discover two eggs and one hatches; the Phoenix chick chooses Veronyka instead of the elder sister Val.
Sev is a soldier by choosing service instead of punishment for his crimes. He accidentally sees Veronyka and her Phoenix, Xyphera, while Raiders are attacking her cabin. Sev and a prisoner help her escape the notice of the raiders. Later, Val kills Xyphera because she thinks Veronyka has raised her poorly. This breaks Veronyka’s heart and she leaves Val behind to search for Phoenix eggs and Phoenix riders on her own. During her search, Veronyka meets Sparrow, an animage with a bird companion named Chirp.
Tristan is a Phoenix rider who’s afraid of fire and he feels like he’s a constant disappointment to his father. The group of Phoenix riders that Veronyka finds only accepts boys and Sparrow gives her the idea to pose as a boy, becoming Veronyka’s “brother”, Nyk. Nyk meets Tristan, the son of the Phoenix riders’ Commander. They have a tumultuous relationship for a while because Tristan is under his father’s thumb. Everything comes to a head when Nyk sees Val in the crowd! Veronyka’s life becomes much more complicated after Val shows up and many truths are revealed, leaving Veronyka questioning everything about who she is. 5 stars for this complex and unique fantasy!

Splendor and Spark by Mary Taranta

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Adventure within a dark fantasy world!
Thanks to NetGalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review Splendor and Spark by Mary Taranta!
North is on a path he doesn’t necessarily want but feels that he has to be on. Faris and Cadence are prisoners still. Bryn seems to be gaining everything she wants, power and to be queen. Cadence adores Bryn and she shows nothing but disdain for Faris. Faris struggles to let her sister be until she finally gives in to the fact that letting Cadence make her own choices is the right thing to do. North striving to find his father becomes more and more complicated. North and Faris lose much but learn a lot and, as their wisdom grows, they understand what they need to do to accomplish their goals, North with his father and Faris finding a place where she belongs. The world building is descriptive and thorough while the characters are dynamic. I especially like Alistair because he fascinates me and I want to know more about his background and past experiences. 4 stars for this dark fantasy adventure!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. Several stories intertwine from past and present within a city filled with magic. Esta uses a special piece of jewelry to travel through time. On one of her time traveling trips, the jewelry piece breaks and she can’t return home. Esta figures out the way to return home but she needs the help of a few unsuspecting people, which gets interesting. Several characters make up this story and their lives continue to affect each other. Clever writing and an interesting setting create an intelligent fantasy worth reading, 5 stars!

Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll

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Fun with a twist!
Thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the opportunity to read and review Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll!
Hallie, a teenager, focuses on her cell phone so much that she walks in front of a car and gets hit. An elderly woman, Susan, was driving the car and she blames the car’s mechanical problems for the accident. Both of them are badly injured and unconscious and while they’re in that state, they involuntarily switch places. This story reminds me of Freaky Friday except the switchers aren’t family members and ageism is prevalent. Hallie is a spunky, self-absorbed teenage girl that’s slightly boy crazy and Susan is an octogenarian that’s feeling smothered by her son and daughter-in-law. They want to take away her independence, her car and her condo and make her move into a retirement home. When Hallie and Susan trade places, they gradually grow to truly care for each other and gain a great deal of compassion. I like how the author brought ageism to light and built empathy towards both young and old. Endearing realistic fiction with a twist, 4 stars!