A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas tells the story of nineteen-year-old Feyre (pronounced fA-ru).  She is the youngest of three sisters, living in a small shack with their father. Their mother died eleven years ago when they were still well off. Since then, their father has been somewhat crippled and the family has lost everything. Feyre hunts and takes care of the family when no one else will. The eldest sister Nesta is a snooty brat and Elain, the middle sister, doesn’t seem to think herself capable but she’s much kinder than Nesta. Unknowingly, Feyre kills a High-Fae. He looked like an oversized wolf and she felt like her family could benefit from its pelt. A large beast shows up at Feyre’s family home looking for retribution and offers her the choice of death or to live in Prythian with the High-Fae. She chooses to live. It takes two days to get to the beast’s home and Feyre is treated as a guest. Tamlin, the shape shifting beast, makes sure to care for Feyre’s family so she won’t worry about their welfare. He also changed their memories of Feyre being taken into something pleasant. Eventually, Feyre becomes comfortable in Tamlin’s home and they build their acquaintance into something more. The faerie world is being threatened and Tamlin worries about Feyre’s safety, so he sends her home. Trouble compounds from that point. This is a love story, reminiscent of a Beauty and the Beast fairytale, with strong characters. I especially like Rhysand with his cunning, clever personality. A wonderful beginning to a riveting fantasy series, 5 stars!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Riveting historical fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! Eelyn goes to battle with her fellow clansmen and is saved by Iri, her brother that died five years ago. Iri fell in battle and everyone thought he had died. He fell into a ravine that his clan couldn’t get down into, but the Riki clan that they were fighting managed to get to him, save his life and help him heal. Eelyn discovers this after she followed Iri and was captured by Fiske from the Riki clan. Now she’s facing being sold to a different clan because the clan she’s with doesn’t know what to do with her. Fiske ends up buying her so no harm comes to Eelyn. Fiske and his family are the people who saved Iri, who has become part of their family and has vowed himself to the Riki clan. A world opens up to Eelyn as she sees that the two clans are alike and they both have an extremely dangerous, terrorizing common enemy. Sky in the Deep brings the lifestyle of Vikings up close and personal and allows the reader to see and feel their thoughts, reasoning and family bonds that made the Vikings formidable. 5 stars for the insightful story of love, loyalty and beliefs of the Vikings!

Wintersong and Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones

Wintersong review:

Suspenseful fantasy at its best!
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Wintersong by S. Jae Jones!
The beginning section, entitled Overture, beautifully explains the story of Elisabeth and the Goblin King. Elisabeth lives with her two siblings, mother, father and grandmother running an inn for their living. Papa drinks too much and that leaves Mother to take care of everything and everyone, with Elisabeth’s help. Josef is the youngest and musically talented. He plays the violin with Elisabeth as his accompaniment. She composes music and plays the piano while Josef helps bring her music to life with his violin. Kathe is the middle child, with beauty and a happy, bright demeanor. Kathe is captured by the Goblin King and Elisabeth must find her before the next full moon or all is lost. Little does Elisabeth know how much she must sacrifice if she’s truly going to save her sister. Suspenseful fantasy at its best, 5 stars!

Shadowsong review:

Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones!
At the onset, the author warns about content being possibly triggering due to the addressing of the issues of self-harm, addiction, reckless behaviors and suicidal ideation. Resources are also given to help. These issues have been a part of the author’s life and reality. This has given her a true understanding of these topics.
The characters reveal themselves in more than one way. Elisabeth, her brother Josef, sister Kathe and Francois, Josef’s accompaniest and friend, travel to Venice after being summoned by an unknown benefactor. The story takes place during the height of classical music. The family has a curse that some call insanity. They see goblins, the Goblin King and kingdom. The siblings are separated by the benefactors, the Count and Countess take Elisabeth and Josef to Snovin Hall for their safety while Kathe and Francois are sent away. Both parties don’t know what has happened to the other pair and are deeply concerned for them. I love the story of the wheelwright, with his loss, supposed madness and death. Beautiful writing that truly showcases the author’s work. Beautiful prose and loyal, loving characters make this story interesting and the dark danger makes it exciting. 5 stars!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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A swashbuckling read!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo!
Lira is a siren that steals someone’s heart every year for her birthday. Lira captures a Prince while her cousin Kahlia steals a queen. The Midasan prince is introduced next, Prince Elian. This prince has two lives- one in the castle and one as a pirate, captain of his own ship and crew and a siren hunter. Lira will take her mother’s place as the Sea Queen someday, but in the meantime her mother is cruel and abusive. The Sea Queen punishes Lira for being kind and weak by turning her human and leaving her stranded in the ocean. Elian and his crew rescue Lira, thinking she’s an orphan that’s lost her family to drowning, but they are wary about her story. Elian’s goal is to kill the Prince’s Bane- the siren that kills princes. Elian has no idea that the Prince’s Bane is Lira and she’s keeping her background hidden from the crew and everyone they come in contact with. As Elian works toward his goal, he makes deals along the way with separate princesses and a slave trader. Eventually, Elian and his crew start to trust Lira because of the loyalty she’s shown by saving Elian’s life. Lira’s goal is to take over as Sea Queen and rid the world of her monstrous, manipulative mother and she hopes for peace as an end result. To Kill a Kingdom bursts with action, adventure and intrigue. This fantasy full of magic creates an amazing world with unique characters and backgrounds of their own. A wonderfully fun read worth a swashbuckling 5 stars!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

A reading delicacy!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf!
The story opens with three damsels meeting the King, Queen and Prince Lucien as they are tested to become a possible new addition to the royal palace in the form of a bride for Prince Lucien. Zera is one of these supposed damsels, but she’s actually indebted to the witch, Nightsinger, who took her heart in exchange for saving her life three years ago from the murderers who killed Zera’s family. Nightsinger has two others indebted to her,Peligli , a four year old girl and Crav, a boy younger than Zera. The three of them are Nightsinger’s Heartless and they do her bidding. She keeps their hearts until she wants to free them herself. If she dies, they will be free then too. Zera is supposed to be winning the Prince over so she can take his heart and make him a Heartless also. I love Zera with her coping skills and sense of humor and Prince Lucien is interesting too. I enjoy Sara Wolf’s writing style, with the clever wit that keeps me entertained and the complexity of her characters that always make her stories hard to put down. This is the first fantasy from Sara Wolf that I’ve read and I’m greatly impressed. Just as the author dreamed of writing a grand, sweeping and unforgettable fantasy trilogy, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the beginning of it. The action, adventure and dynamic characters make a must-read fantasy, 5 stars!

 

Burning Bright by Chris Cannon

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The World of Bryn!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Burning Bright by Chris Cannon! Bryn’s story opens three months after the tumultuous events of the last book of the Going Down in Flames series. She’s had the summer break to be proper and forge ahead without anytime to mourn or recuperate since she’s had to spend the whole time with her stoic grandparents. Now Bryn’s returning to school with her friends, Clint and Ivy and Jaxon, her betrothed. As the school year moves forward, a weird and creepy set of attacks occurs, leaving everyone untrusting of each other and scared to go anywhere alone. I appreciate how easily the author brought the world and story background up to speed in Burning Bright because my memory was refreshed like I had just recently read the first four books of the series, even though it has been a while. I enjoy Bryn and her relationship with Clint and Ivy and how they work so well together, personality wise and with loyalty. It’s fun being in Bryn’s world again! 4 stars for the good story; I just felt like the ending flew by too quickly.

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

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Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins and Harper Teen continues right after the demons almost caught the group of Nephilim on the island. The demons are discussing traitors and set up a demon meeting. They suspect Anna and her father of rebellion and plan to take them down. She is constantly running to keep safe. Kaidan is sent by the demons to take care of Anna and if he doesn’t, they will kill him. The only way they can be safe together and keep Anna righteous for the sword, is by getting married. The rebellion Nephilim become closer and become true, loyal friends while they help each other survive. Everything comes to a head and suspense and intensity build as the rebels find out who’s on their side and who’s against them. 5 stars for the touching end to the Sweet Evil trilogy!

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.