The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Deeply moving!
Thanks to Edelweiss+, NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti!
This story captivated me with it’s mysterious, traumatic event and the strength of the main character and supporting characters. Also, the charm and humor of family and all the quirks that go along with that wonderful six letter word. The story is somewhat difficult to follow; I’m sure that was on purpose by the author because the back and forth, scattered thoughts represent the stress of the main character very well. A heartbreaking and inspiring story that fully reveals the event by the end of the book. 5 stars for this deeply moving realistic fiction!

The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone

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Great mystery for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone!
Cameron travels to Washington D.C. to begin an internship under Congressman Beck. Soon after arriving, one of the other Congressman’s workers (Ariel) dies in a drunk driving accident. An FBI agent approaches Cameron for help proving that the Congressman is corrupt. He digs a bit and finds a link to someone that knew Ariel. That leads to Cameron being pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery. I enjoy the characters and Cameron is a good guy trying to figure out his path in life and he and Lena are fun together. Cameron’s roommates and fellow interns make me laugh and I enjoyed reading this entire book. The ending was awesome in more ways than one! I’m looking forward to other books by Peter Stone. 5 stars for an engaging young adult mystery!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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As a reread, this book is just as amazing the second time around!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, opens as Laia witnesses the killings of her grandparents and the capture of her brother Darin as soldiers attack their home, accusing Darin of being a part of the Resistance. Laia’s story alternates with Elias, a soldier training most of his life to serve the Empire. Laia finds the Resistance to try and save Darin while Elias debates desertion or staying and serving the Empire. Laia is bought as the Commandant’s new slave girl, a Resistance idea to find out information about Darin so they can plan how to help him. Laia discovers life as a slave is horrible and she’s having a very difficult time getting information for the Resistance. Four Masks are sent into nightmarish trials, Elias and Helene are two of the soldiers, and they must overcome their worst fears to survive as their love, loyalty and hearts are strained through horrific events. Throughout the story, Elias and Laia unexpectedly run into each other and they unwillingly get to know each other. Each chapter ends with intensity, so it’s a difficult book to put down. Dynamic, complex characters to love and hate make this story suspenseful, exciting and interesting, 5 stars!

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

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A pirating adventure full of dynamic characters!
Thanks to NetGalley and Blink for the opportunity to read and review A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.
This story introduces the daughter of King Midas, Princess Kora, who has seen the bad end of “the curse of the golden touch” which was given to her father by Dionysus. Her skin is the color of gold and she’s been kept hidden for her protection since the curse. Someone steals the king’s gold, the gold that gives him strength. Kora can sense where the gold is, so she sets off on a mission with Duke Aris to retrieve the gold and help her father gain his strength back. Kora’s cousin Hettie sneaks on board for the trip only to be disheartened when she discovers how the ship’s living conditions are unlike the palace’s. Aris has gotten the crew that he’s sailed with for years but things seem to be changing and the crew might not be trustworthy anymore. As their search for the gold continues, Kora and Hettie adapt to life on the ship, while training for sword fighting and gaining friendships. The two of them soon discover who they can and can’t trust. The crew also sees the true horror that Captain Skulls encompasses, with dire circumstances. Touch of Gold is a pirating adventure with originality and dynamic characters, 5 stars!

Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

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Much more complex than I anticipated!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel!
I assumed this would be a continuation of Black Bird of the Gallows, but it’s actually a companion novel with separate characters. Essie struggles with hallucinations, like many of her ancestors have. Dresden is the living embodiment of a curse that he received centuries ago. The two meet by chance and stop each other in their tracks. Essie sees Dresden as beautiful and wants to be in his company. Dresden is amazed at her reaction and is intrigued by her. The world building and background history are both fascinating and interesting and this story is so much more complex than I anticipated. A wonderful love story, 4 stars!

 

806 by Cynthia Weil

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Humorous storyline!
Thanks to NetGalley and Tanglewood Press for the opportunity to read and review 806 by Cynthia Weil! The main character, KT, discovers that her unknown father is a sperm donor and she begins the search for possible siblings and for sperm donor 806. She finds out that two of her male school mates are her siblings and they meet 806. After being happily introduced and visiting each other for a while, 806 realizes that he can’t be their father because of his blood type. Back to square one. KT turns the sperm donor card over and thinks the number could actually be 908 instead. After hunting and a few misadventures, the three siblings find their actual donor father and they discover that it was worth the wait. 3 stars for this unique storyline full of humor!

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Anticipating the next book already!
Legendary by Stephanie Garber shows us that Tella and Scarlett are once again playing a Caraval game. Tella thinks their mother is alive and wants information to find her, while Scarlett just wants some fun and excitement. Tella’s discovery of who her pen pal friend is floors her and she’s reeling from the revelation and its complications. Once again, the game may or may not be real, in all or parts, and the characters may or may not be trustworthy. Tella is shown an unkind memory of her mother and feels as though her mother didn’t love her at all. Her push and pull relationship with Dante is another matter she’s unsure of, but that’s just the way Caraval is. As the story concludes, it’s clear that a third book is in Caraval’s future. The enticing ending of Legendary makes me vested in this series. 4 stars!

And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Tumultuous historical fiction!
And I Darken by Kiersten White, book one of the Conqueror’s Saga tells the story of Lada (a female version of Vlad the Impaler) and her brother Radu, as well as Mehmed, who will become a great Conqueror. Lada was born with an intense and strong personality; this is the only way to catch the attention of her father. The only time she’s kind or shows weakness is in helping her younger brother. Their father wakes them before dawn and takes them to a different ruler’s home for protection, but he ends up leaving his children to receive an education. This education consists of cruelty along with their lessons. As Lada and her brother Radu grow, they each find their particular talents and tend to go their separate ways. Lada is outspoken, boisterous and skillful in fighting and Radu is quiet and personable and enjoys religion. I learned more about Islam because of this book and my appreciation of Islamic beliefs grew. The author used the historical information that she could find on two great leaders- Vlad the Impaler and Mehmed the Conqueror- to create this interesting series of intrigue, action and danger. I love when authors explain their process of creating their books and share the research they discovered. Kiersten White lists historical books of information on her subjects and also tells readers why she chose to make Vlad the Impaler a female character- Lada. Lada adds depth, drama, love, loyalty and intensity to the story. And I Darken is the beginning of the turmoil of The Conqueror’s Saga, 4 stars!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas is a book full of celebration and healing. Fun and lighthearted sums up the majority of this book, with the Solstice celebration and its traditions and the jovial manner of the way the Night Court members treat one another. I laughed at the snowball fight scene because I thought it was adorable and funny! Backstories are shared, which helps us understand the characters at a deeper level, with a sneak peek of the next book included at the end. 5 stars for this fun addition to A Court of Thorns and Roses series!