House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Mesmerizing cover and enchanting story!
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a young adult fantasy full of tragedy.
A large family, living in an estate by the sea, continues to lose family members. Several sisters and their mother die from a variety of causes. Verity, one of Annaleigh’s younger sisters, sees the deceased siblings as ghosts, who are injured according to how they died. Verity sketches what she sees but doesn’t seem frightened by the injured ghosts. Annaleigh is adamant that someone killed Eulalie because suspicion surrounds her death. On and on this tragedy continues and the sisters become confused about what’s really happened and what are illusions. The sisters love each other and have been close so the losses are tearing them apart. Annaleigh learns about a Trickster who causes chaos and she tries to figure out who called the Trickster and made a selfish deal, ending in ripping their family into pieces. Full of fantasy and mystery, this book weaves a beautifully written tale of enchantment, 5 stars!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore!

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Action, adventure, mystery, tragedy and romance all wrapped up in a fantasy, 5 stars!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a thoroughly enjoyable read! The main character Katsa has been given the Grace skill to kill well, but she hates this gift. She frees an elderly Lienid prisoner by knocking out guards and giving them each a pill that keeps them out long enough for her to complete the rescue. By doing this, she completed her mission without killing anyone. She works under King Randa’s orders and he often orders her to harm or kill people when they’ve supposedly wronged him. Katsa has few people that she’s comfortable with, her companions Giddon and Oll and her cousin Raffin, who’s also the prince.
The Lienid prisoner’s grandson, Po, has visited several places searching for his grandfather. Po’s relieved when he discovers that his grandfather is safe and being cared for by Katsa and her companions. Po is also a Grace and his skill is intuition. He’s also a skilled fighter and has passed on fighting as his Grace skill because people would be afraid of him or use him for his intuitive abilities.
Katsa and Po become friends and I enjoy their unique friendship and all of its humor. When Katsa decides she no longer wants to do King Randa’s bidding, she leaves with Po. They arrive in King Leck’s territory just as he’s killing his wife for hiding their daughter Bitterblue from him. King Leck is also the one who had Po’s grandfather kidnapped. He did this so his wife would obey him. His wife is Po’s aunt. She’s running towards Po when Leck kills her but she has time to yell at Po to protect Bitterblue. Leck is a horrible person who has a Grace of manipulation and he has used this power for his own benefit since he was young. He killed the King and Queen years ago, after they took him in as their own, so he could rule as King. He mutilates and tortures children, specifically girls, and animals. A lot of action and adventure take place in Graceling, as well as some romance in this young adult fantasy. I enjoyed the relationship and relaxed ease between Po and Katsa, it was refreshing!

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

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Illusions or truth?
Thanks to Edelweiss and Bookish First for the opportunity to read and review an advance reader copy of Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall!
The synopsis thrilled me with promises of haunted mysteries and horrific obstacles to come as Sara searches for her missing sister, Becca. It all begins with a text to Briar Glen High students about a game they can play, the same game Lucy went to play. The book contains case files, text messages, group messages and historical accounts of what happened to Lucy all those years ago. The story builds anticipation for the anniversary of Lucy’s disappearance, the search Sara and her friends are going to make and the game they are preparing for. They are all worried for Sara’s mental health and don’t want her to be alone as she searches the woods for Becca, her missing sister. Sara’s friends meet at the designated area just before midnight on the anniversary of the disappearance and Sara shows up on her own. She believes that they all broke the rules. The group of teenagers doesn’t realize the true dangers that are in their near future as the supernatural takes over. Death, confusion, memory loss and a demon await! Spooky horror story worth 4 stars!

Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!

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Creepy fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge!
Ivy’s mother recently committed suicide, so she’s going to live on the island of Darkhaven with her Uncle Simon and his housekeeper. Ivy soon learns about the Bloodgood family curse from the only other people living on the island, the Ramsey family. Veronica, the housekeeper, later explains the curse to Ivy. Uncle Simon also tells Ivy about the murders her great grandfather committed. He killed an entire household leaving only one Ramsey family member alive and then his twelve-year-old daughter walked in and saw him covered in blood. Supposedly this curse makes people crazy. Ivy does make a few friends and school isn’t too bad but living in the manor becomes stranger and scarier. Ivy sees skeletons, ghosts and finds a body covered in blood. She almost falls off the cliff but Doyle Ramsey happens to wake her just in time from her sleep walking. I would have liked a little more information about Ivy’s parents and the relationship they had but Dreaming Darkly is spooky fun with all the suspense and creepiness needed to make an edge-of-your-seat read, 5 stars!

Dorothy and the Glass Key by Christopher J. Finn

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Thanks to Austin Macaulay Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Dorothy and the Glass Key by Christopher J. Finn!
Dorothy, a twenty-five year old who is wheelchair bound, is brought to a recovery center for hopeful assistance. A friend brought her to the center after searching the world for help but not getting any changes in Dorothy. She’s catatonic but looks healthy otherwise. The center administrator is baffled so the friend tells her the story of how it all began eleven years earlier.
Rags explains the keys and worlds that he, Dorothy and their mutual friend Charlie used and visited. Traveling to each other’s worlds, building friendships with each other and helping each other cope with life’s struggles made their relationships strong. An evil presence took away all that was good, along with their memories and the pain they had endured. The story comes full circle and the ending surprised me!
Interesting concept and story but the grammatical errors took away from that, (example: taught instead of taut). I also would have liked to know more about the antagonist’s background. 3.5 stars for this fantasy mystery!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Intense and clever!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!
The story opens as Miguel walks his night shift rounds in the empty, not-yet-open office building. He hears a scream and gunshots so he calls 9-1-1 and two policemen arrive. The police are skeptical until an elevator door opens and they start shooting. When Miguel finally gets a view of the elevator, he’s disturbed because he’s never seen that much blood before. The story then jumps back to thirty-four hours earlier when four people meet in an empty office building in the South Bronx on a Friday night. Next, Sylvie, Sam, Jules and Vincent are introduced to the story and they’re all on edge since the meeting was set up last minute and is interfering with their personal plans. The meeting appears to be an escape room challenge and as the four coworkers struggle to find clues, the story alternates with Sara as she’s interviewed, hired and works for Stanhope. Fresh out of college, Sara is thrown right into the devious nature of the career path she’s chosen and the financial and investment banker world takes a devastating toll on her entire life. Greed makes people cold and brutal and Sara learns firsthand how cruel people can be. She’s upset over the supposed suicidal death of coworker Lucy and questions Vincent when she feels that Lucy didn’t really commit suicide. She asks him if he thinks that maybe there was foul play. After that discussion, Sara’s berated about her work and her appearance and she eventually loses her job. The story alternates between Sara and her four elevator-confined coworkers. The escape room clues are interesting and we learn the reasoning behind them as the trapped four work them out. A solid suspenseful tale of greed, self-absorption and actions people might take to ensure that they come out on top, 4 stars!

T-Minus by Shannon Greenland

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Thrilling read!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review T-Minus by Shannon Greenland!
The president’s daughter, Sophie, is awakened during the night when the secret service has discovered a terrorist attack in the making. The story alternates between the present, as the attack progresses, with snippets of past experiences and memories that Sophie has with her family and friends. Her brother Erik is not home and the family believes he’s in danger and they are right. The mystery gradually unravels as to the purpose behind the attack but meanwhile people are dying, being kidnapped or, as in Sophie’s case, being manipulated into doing the terrorists’ bidding. Sophie is part of the TIA, a teenage agency created by the CIA to train and teach survival skills and tactics to teens. She’s made strong friends in the TIA and they help her get to the bottom of what’s going on. Unique characters and the alternating of past and present builds the relationships up and creates empathy for the characters. A suspenseful YA mystery, 4 stars!

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

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This young adult mystery was a joy to read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
Sawyer’s life hasn’t been easy. She’s eighteen and independent because she’s pretty much raised herself. Her single mother, a bit flaky but well-meaning, has never told Sawyer the identity of her father. While Sawyer’s mother is on a date lasting more than a few days, her maternal grandmother walks into her front door, introduces herself and offers Sawyer a $500,000 contract to stay with her for one year. The only reason Sawyer agrees to and signs this contract is to uncover the identity of her father; the money doesn’t hurt either. She’s never met her mother’s family and her expectations rely on her mother’s descriptions of them. The contract specifies “debutante life for a year” which Sawyer is not remotely used to but her cousin Lily helps to navigate the social life and what’s expected of a debutante. As Sawyer adjusts as a socialite, a tragic mystery is slowly uncovered and she ends up right in the middle of the action and intrigue. I love the characters and the unique personalities, as well as the story line, which made me chuckle more than once. A fun, young adult mystery, 5 stars!

The Lost City Explorers: Volume 1 by Zack Kaplan and Alvaros Sarraseca

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Atlantis adventure, comic-book style!
Thanks to NetGalley and Aftershock for the opportunity to read and review The Lost City Explorers Volume 1 by Zack Kaplan and Alvaros Sarraseca!
Graphic novel full of gorgeous backgrounds, realistic illustrations mixed with a bit of the supernatural and a high stakes adventure! A father is presumed dead but may actually only be missing. His young adult children go with a group of friends to search for him and what they find is more than they bargained for! First volume in an Atlantean adventure series! Journal entries at the end of the graphic novel add to the mystery and built my curiosity for the next book. 5 stars for the action-adventure graphic novel series!

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

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Fun, intrigue, mystery, supernatural and sci-fi rolled into one!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout!
Two teenage girls, Evie and Heidi, go into an all-inclusive club and while one is having fun dancing the other one is being interrogated by Luc, who’s being extremely rude. Evie isn’t the least bit impressed with Luc and tells him so. The club gets raided and Luc takes Evie to hide inside a closet with him, claiming to be protecting her. She realizes the next day that she’s lost her phone and it’s probably at the club. She heads back to retrieve her phone, to no avail and from there, the acquaintance with Luc grows into more. In the meantime, the Luxen invasion is described and Origins are explained. Luc and Evie are fun characters, each with distinct personalities and I thoroughly enjoy their banter. This story contains several mysteries, which build then unfold throughout the book. I love the author’s writing and have devoured her realistic fiction novels, The Problem with Forever and If There’s No Tomorrow. The Darkest Star is the first supernatural novel of hers that I’ve read and it’s just as awesome, showing how talented Jennifer L. Armentrout is! Even though many mysteries come into the light, there are still unanswered questions at the ending which leads the reader into the next book, The Burning Shadow. Supernatural mystery earning a solid 5 stars!