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.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross! Lulu is best friends with Jek, Jayesh Emerson Kapoor, who’s a scientific genius. It seems that someone named Hyde has stolen Jek’s bank account information and Lulu wants to get to the bottom of it. This guy Hyde also paid off a teenage girl that he presumably assaulted and people are talking about him and not at all in a good way. Lulu, with the rest of the community, is trying to figure out who Hyde really is and how he’s connected to Jek, especially since Hyde seems to be wreaking havoc and ultimately commits murder. When Lulu discovers the mystery of all that is Hyde, her life changes forever. 5 stars for this engaging young adult mystery with an ending that leaves space for the imagination!
*I received a complimentary copy for voluntary consideration
Dark breaks the dawn by Sara B. Larson is a fairytale retelling of Swan Lake. It’s Princess Evelayn’s 18th birthday and she’s gotten her full powers like she’s supposed to. They are more amazing than she expected. She is happy when her mother, Queen Ilaria, makes it home on the night of her birthday. Only too soon, her mother leaves for battle once again. When the queen is struck down in battle, the kingdom is devastated. Evelayn vows to do whatever it takes to restore peace to her people. The complex world building and character descriptions are amazing and beautiful. I love the colors of skin, hair and eyes and the endless combinations of those attributes on the people of the kingdoms. I was rooting for Evelayn and Tanvir throughout the whole book. An adventure fantasy and a fairytale retelling all in one. 5 stars!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson. The sinister prologue spooked me and made me curious at the same time. Perrie is an only child living with her single father, since her mother left years ago. Her best friends are her next door neighbor and cousin, Maisie, and August, the teenage boy she has more than just friend feelings for. There’s an odd mystery about the breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Neven. One day, on their way home from school, Perrie, Maisie and August see a large building that they’ve never seen before, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. A sign stating there are job openings is hanging on the door. Curiously, Maisie has a job there by the next day. The characters are charming and the humor is refreshing, while something creepy lurks in the background. People are disappearing from their community and August and Perrie enter the Glass Vault when Maisie can’t be found. I don’t want to give anything away, but the twists floored me! A wonderful supernatural horror story full of fairy tale and historical retellings, worthy of 5 stars! Look closely at the cover for hints of retellings in this story!
I voluntarily read and reviewed Bull by David Elliott. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review this book! Bull is a retelling of the myth, “Theseus and the Minotaur”. The author makes the characters as real and relevant as possible and broadens the story to explain more of Asterion’s life from birth to childhood to the complete transformation of his character and sanity and all of this is written in poetic form and in modern language that makes it easily understandable. 4.5 stars!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray! Katie Ray has previously published works under the name of Katie Kacvinsky and her books have been popular with my library patrons. I believe that this new book of Katie’s will be a popular read also. Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a retelling of sorts. The story line is similar to the play, Cyrano de Bergerac where inner beauty overpowers outer beauty. This book is intelligent and eloquent in many ways, while still staying a young adult contemporary story! CeCe and Emmett take turns by alternating points of view throughout the book. CeCe has a scar on the right side of her face that she prefers to not be the focal point when she meets someone for the first time. Emmett is new to the school and a known high school football player. They both attend Honors Shakespeare class and are partnered on the first day. CeCe and Emmett share the trait of clever wit and they have tremendous similarities with their tastes in and knowledge of music and literature. They are both intense and dedicated athletes also; CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and Emmett is the star quarterback. I love this book with its romantic gestures, self-esteem building thoughts and loyalty and friendship. 5 stars for this amazing realistic fiction read!
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Weariland by Mary Shotwell! This fairy tale retelling of Alice in Wonderland kept me riveted. The suspense, danger, mystery and riddles pulled me in so strongly that I wanted to read the book in one sitting. Lason (like Jason with an L) is a descendant of the first Alice that fell into Wonderland (now called Weariland because of the dreariness) many generations ago. The author’s creative imagination changed Wonderland in many ways that I could have never dreamed of, such as the changing of the execution style. Instead of “off with their heads”, the Queen devised a horrible simple machine to take the prisoners feet off. We get to see more of the White Rabbit’s home and family and there is deception from the past in Lason’s family. Her grandmother disappears and Lason dives right into Weariland to solve the mystery and has to figure out everything on her own. I’m glad that Lason’s mother became stronger for her daughter as the story progressed. I grew to care for her as much as I cared for Lason. The danger and suspense kept me hooked – 4 stars!