Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

Sibling sacrifice and great strength!

Two sisters, Nor and Zadie, are twins and best friends who live in a village where villagers reside in houses on stilts in the ocean. Their mother has planned and prepared for them to be valid princesses so the Elders can choose one of them for the prince’s wife when he’s ready to rule. Nor has a scar on her face caused by a scrape against a blood coral so the villagers assume that Zadie or Alys will be chosen by the Elders. Zadie and Nor have been best friends with Sami since they were young and now Zadie and Sami are in love, so Zadie doesn’t want to leave home. Nor has always wanted to explore the world beyond the village. When Zadie is chosen, she’s desperate to do anything to stay with Sami. After she acts on her desperation, Nor’s life is turned upside down. She travels to New Castle in the mountains far away from home so she can meet and marry the prince who turns out to be cold and unkind. Nor gathers some allies and vows to do everything she can to take care of her family, village and the kingdom she’s going to be the princess of someday. 5 stars for this fantasy involving sibling sacrifice and strength!

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Galadriel believes that she’s evil and thirsts for knowledge at the school she attends. Scholomance is a boarding school for magical teenagers and the students have to be constantly vigilant against malificaria; creatures who attack and feed off other’s magic. Orion has saved Galadriel’s life more than once and she can’t figure out his motive. People call her El for short and she’s more of a grouchy beast than evil. Eventually she realizes that Orion doesn’t have an ulterior motive other than he likes her. Naomi Novik does well with world building and elaborate descriptions. Most of the book was El’s narrative dealing with her experiences with her single mother and her school and relationship experiences. Slow moving but magically fun. 3.5 stars!

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

A wonderful twist and a fascinating ending!

Nami is on her way to the class graduation party when she receives a call from Lucy. Lucy pressures her into buying alcoholic drinks for the party. Nami stops at a mini mart and while she’s looking at what’s available to buy, a shooter enters the store. Nami jumps in front of a young girl to protect her and ends up getting shot. She wakes up later in the Infinity Courts which are run by Artificial Intelligence. Nami resists taking a pill to help with her headache and resists drinking from the fountain. Instead, she follows the lights and ends up being rescued by rebels fighting against Artificial Intelligence control. The rebels rescued her because she resisted and most people can’t. They need her for the rebellion. For some reason, Nami blends in easily with the AI and held the attention of a prince during their conversation, so the rebels want her to be a spy and gather as much information as possible so they can be taken out of control. Humans that have taken the pill are servants to the robots and are unaware of supposedly anything, surroundings, people, and their own pasts. Other humans are sent to War to fight in horrible battles. The resistance works together to free humans and end the robots and all Artificial Intelligence control, even through rough patches. Nami frustrates me a little because she’s only wanting to see one side of the resistance and stubbornly expects everyone else to understand and follow her point of view when she won’t reciprocate that understanding to others. There’s a wonderful twist and the ending was fascinating, 4 stars!

Roots of Ruin by Amber Mitchell

Roots of Ruin by Amber Mitchell
Book three in the Garden of Thorns series.
Rose/Arianna works alongside Rayce to unite their two kingdoms and to restore her rightful place as ruler of her kingdom. There’s a traitor in their group who keeps giving valuable information to the enemy and man who took Arianna’s father’s life and crown, King Ganem. As king, he has broken apart families and caused extreme poverty and violence. With Rayce’s help, they plan to bring the kingdoms together and create peace. The stress picks up at the last third of the book when the traitor is discovered and the rebels find themselves in a twisted mess. A solid ending in this YA dystopian series, 4 stars!

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Twisty mystery!

Pip is determined to never investigate another mystery until her friend’s brother ends up missing. Connor and his mom, Joanne, convince Pip that they need her help to find Jamie and the more she investigates, the more questions pop up. It’s a tangled web of people, clues and history. Ravi is with her completely, once again and Pip realizes that she’s lying to her parents more and more so they don’t get upset about her over-involvement in the investigation. This is a twisty mystery that kept me guessing, 5 stars! I’m completely looking forward to the third book of this series!

The Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Fantastic world building and strong character development, 5 stars for this series opener!

Different lives become connected through unpleasant events. Andry witnesses the horrible deaths of a group of knights that he was traveling with. One brother killed another and set loose a horde of violent corpses that kills everyone in its path. Reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings, this updated epic fantasy brings action and a gathering of many to fight a common enemy that wants to take over the world. The group of forsaken allies grows stronger after being betrayed by someone they thought was one of their own. This group is made up of a young woman with a special family line, a large and powerful Elder, an honorable squire, a young assassin and more continue to join as the story unfolds. They face dangerous creatures and powerful foes in this high, epic fantasy that opens a series bound to be a story for the ages! Fantastic world building and strong character development, 5 stars for this series opener!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Intricate, enjoyable mystery!

Pip is doing her Capstone Project on a five-year-old disappearance case that took place in her town. She isn’t sure that the case was truly solved. She introduces herself to everyone that she thinks was involved in Andie Bell’s disappearance and ruffles lots of feathers as she continues her investigation. Pip and Ravi become friends as they work on solving the mystery. Ravi’s older brother was accused of killing Andie and then committing suicide afterward. The amateur sleuths dive into the case and unravel a complicated weave of problems. Soon, Pip is receiving threats to stay away from the case and it seems that every time she finds a piece of evidence to someone’s guilt, she inevitably discovers more to the story. An enjoyable and intricate mystery, 5 stars!

Incognito by Katie Delahanty

Ellie is deep into the Keystone Academy curriculum and the story opens with her on a mission to steal a voice recording from the Andy Warhol Museum collection. The famous artist was known for saving everything. While completing her goal, a colleague arrives and sneakily steals the cassette from her. So, she fails the mission. She moves on with other students to go undercover and learn as much as they can about a new program that’s based on whether free will is real or not. The group gets brain scans and disguises and they discover who’s trustworthy and who isn’t. This new program is a little too close to Ellie’s past and her old journal becomes a topic of interest and the story ends with a twist that leaves the opening for a third book in the Keystone series. Riddles and intrigue, 4 stars!

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Whoa! That ending!

A young woman who has been without her family for ten years, is a prisoner in a camp that sounds similar to the concentration camps of World War II. She’s responsible for carving a z into the prisoners’ hands. The z represents the prison’s name and it reminds me of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, except this is a fantasy story. She’s also the prison healer in charge of treating prisoners. A well-known rebel arrives at the prison and she’s known as the Rebel Queen. She’s supposed to be put through the Trials as punishment. Kiva receives a message from her family that states they’re coming to rescue her and implores her to keep the Rebel Queen alive. She’s also threatened by another prisoner to keep the Rebel Queen alive or her younger assistant, Tipp, will be killed. Kiva sacrifices herself to the Trials hoping that she’s going to be rescued before they’re over, since no one ever survives them without magic. A new prisoner arrives, Jaren, and he befriends Tipp and Kiva because she healed his wounds. The Trials consist of four Ordeals that are insanely dangerous and fatal. Kiva doesn’t know what any of the Ordeals are before she’s thrown into each one. During the time of the Trials, a stomach sickness is ravaging the prison and Kiva and Tipp work endlessly to find a cure. This is a unique story and that ending was awesome, 4 stars!

Havoc by Mary Lindsey

Rain and Freddie are perfectly content with their present lives and the future they’ve planned together until her mother shows up. Freddie’s mother left her at birth and shows up unannounced and brings not-so-good news of a contract signed when Freddie was hours young. If Freddie doesn’t completely cut ties with Rain and marry Conrad, Rain will be killed. People are getting hurt, being attacked and being accused of illegal acts. The mystery becomes more complicated and complex before it begins to unravel. Strong characters and brave actions made me root for them. A fun read, 4 stars!