Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

34105466

Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

28936314

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

Tales from the Haunted Mansion, Volume II: Midnight at Madame Leota’s by Amicus Arcane

51ps2b8ramkl-_sx363_bo1204203200_

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review Midnight at Madame Leota’s (Tales from the Haunted Mansion #2) by Amicus Arcane. The disclaimer of the ARC is even written in Haunted Mansion-ese, clever and sets the spooky stage from the beginning. This book tells the tale of William and his visit with Madame Leota and contains several stories within a story. William wants to talk to his deceased sister, but has to listen as librarian Arcane reads spooky tales to him first. The first tale is about a truly haunted house attraction at a traveling carnival. The second is the history of a vampire resident of the Haunted Mansion. Third is a spooky horror story about a man losing his beloved theatre and the last story tells a young girl’s tale and how she came to be at the Haunted Mansion. Finally, William meets Madame Leota and gets what he’s been asking for. Fun and spooky. 5 stars for this creepy addition to the Haunted Mansion volumes!

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

27202450

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure! Edna Jones almost drowned and was in a coma for over a month. Now she’s trying to regroup, regain strength and weight and get rid of the confusion that surrounds her. When Edna is released from the hospital, she doesn’t feel like she belongs back in reality and she’s completely exhausted. Joe brings flowers to Edna’s house and she feels the first sparkling of life again. Joe’s friend, Jasmine, is in a coma after a motorcycle accident and he’s her closest friend. So close that she made Joe her legal next of kin. Now, it’s on his shoulders to decide whether to keep Jasmine on life support or not. For some reason, Edna is still connected to the limbo she was in during her coma and supposedly that’s where Jasmine currently is. Joe is hoping Edna can talk to Jasmine and wake her up. A mix of strong personalities, a bit of psychic help, supernatural mystery and some romance brings the story together and I feel that I have learned from and have been inspired by this realistic fiction book. I rate But Then I Came Back 5 stars because I didn’t want the story to end!